Hollywood + Beverly Blvd
The storied neighborhood where locals always play
There’s a memorable blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment towards the end of last summer’s Quentin Tarantino blockbuster, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood right before Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring are ostensibly about to have their last meal. Sitting at the Mexican restaurant El Coyote, they glance east down Beverly Boulevard towards a spotlight glowing at the edge of the frame. Tate mentions that it looks like they’re having a premiere. Sebring raises his eyebrows and responds, “a premiere at the porno theater?”
It’s an inside joke that speaks almost exclusively to Los Angeles movie lovers. In 1969, the theater in question was known as the Europa Theater and exclusively screened erotic films. A half-century later, the space belongs to Tarantino. Long since renamed The New Beverly, it’s arguably the city’s premiere gathering spot for cinephiles, screening programming curated by Tarantino seven days a week, and usually featuring 35 mm films from the legendary director’s private collection.
Los Angeles has its famous neighborhoods like Santa Monica and Hollywood, Silver Lake and Chinatown, but there are vast swaths of what are effectively nameless districts (though inevitably eager real estate brokers have names for them that no resident actually uses). So, for the purposes of categorization, let’s call the neighborhood that the New Beverly calls home, the Beverly-Melrose and Highland triangle. This is one of the central charms of the city; it has many deceptively culturally vibrant areas that are often slept on at the expense of more historically glamorous sections — spots where all walks of life can connect while waiting in line for popcorn or tacos, at comic book store signings or while listening to classical music in a natural amphitheater.
It starts with the New Beverly, a crown jewel that attracts celluloid worshippers from all over the world. A place whose history doubles as a history of the neighborhood itself. Built as a nightclub at the tail end of the Roaring ’20s, it first became the New Globe, and eventually was a Yiddish theater by the start of the Eisenhower era. Surrounded by temples, this area has long served as a hub of Angeleno Orthodox Jewish life. By the middle of the ’60s, it became an adult movie house, before briefly shutting its doors in 1977. Re-opening the following year with a Marlon Brando double-bill of A Streetcar Named Desire and Last Tango in Paris, it sparked an unprecedented 42-year streak as the city’s best unofficial film graduate program. From film luminaries to aspiring screenwriters, directors, and actors—everyone with a deep love for the art form has eaten popcorn inside these walls. You can even catch an old calendar on Jon Favreau’s fridge in Swingers. During a period of financial duress, Tarantino swept in to save his favorite theater, and since 2007, he’s been at the helm.
There’s no better date night than catching an early movie at the New Beverly and a late dinner at El Coyote, the nearly 90-year-old Mexican-American landmark that serves the city’s best margaritas (according to Los Angeles Magazine and the Los Angeles Times.) The waitresses are garbed in billowing traditional dresses and serve piping hot Albondigas soup, tantalizing guacamole, and extra cheesy tacos, burritos and enchiladas that define the gut-busting excess of California Mexican cuisine. It’s not fancy, but it has an endearing familiarity that has led generations of locals to make it a tradition—from average joes, to Carol Burnett and Robin Williams, to the cast of Vanderpump Rules, who are often filmed dining at their favorite restaurant.
Due to its close proximity to Hollywood, there’s a greater concentration of historical landmarks than nearly any other section of the city. In the famed capitol of moviemaking, there is Boardner’s, the Frolic Room, the Power House Bar, and Musso and Frank’s—classic watering holes that channel the spirit of Faulkner and Fitzgerald and Charles Bukowski. But the most venerable institution in this part of town is The Hollywood Bowl, arguably the premiere concert venue in America. Built in 1929, the venue’s scallop-shaped exterior rests in a perfect natural amphitheater that the Greeks would’ve envied. From late spring to fall, it hosts the LA Philharmonic and any number of impeccably curated concerts that span across jazz, indie rock, reggae, and soul. From The Doors and The Beatles to James Brown and Frank Sinatra, to Kraftwerk and David Byrne, practically every music immortal has graced the stage. A singular charm of the venue is that there’s no such thing as a bad seat. With a 17,500 person capacity, there are usually affordable spots in the back, making it one of LA’s most accessible and democratic gathering places.
Not Fancy But Familiar
Over last several decades, the broader Hollywood and Melrose area has also been celebrated as a retail paradise. During the 1980s, the latter boulevard became infamous as a hangout for the Brat Pack and the new wave teenagers who worshipped them. In the last decade, nearby Fairfax became the streetwear capital of the world. But beyond the usual suspects like the Supreme Store and vintage emporium Wasteland, this part of town has always served as place for cultural ferment. Take Golden Apple Comics, the city’s primary locus for comic book aficionados. Long before the Marvel Comic multi-verse became a mainstream phenomenon, the comic book outpost on Melrose and La Brea served as the spot that kids begged their parents to take them every weekend (and which parents happily complied). No less than the legend Stan Lee himself once declared that it was his favorite spot: “When [I] go to a bookstore, I go to the Golden Apple,” Lee once said. “I’ve known those people for a long time and they have a lot of functions with guest artists and programs with comic book publishers. It’s a great comic book store.” Bob Wayne, the vice president of Lee’s rival, DC Comics, has called Golden Apple “one of the most important comic book stores in the world.
AS MUCH AS THE NEIGHBORHOOD HAS CHANGED, HOLLYWOOD BABYLON REMAINS ETERNAL
The newest spot in the neighborhood is also its most infamous. If you’ve never heard of the On Some Shit store, you probably haven’t been paying much attention to rap over the last few years—especially the raucous strain of the genre that has bubbled up on the Soundcloud platform.
It’s owned by Adam22, the host of No Jumper, a video podcast that the New York Times once called “the Paris Review for the face tattoo set.” In the front part of the store, there are custom made tees, BMX bikes and gear, and Kendama toys for sale. Out front, you can always find dozens of teenagers and 20-somethings clotting the sidewalk waiting to get a glimpse of the proprietor or the famous figures that have appeared on his show. It is a communal sub-culture forming in real time. The guest list includes the likes of Juice WRLD, Lil Yachty, and Trippie Redd, not to mention several of the more famed adult film stars currently working today—a reminder that as much as the neighborhood has changed, Hollywood Babylon remains eternal.