In honor of the DEAD RINGER release I’m revamping this old post to reflect my new favorite writing spots in LA.
As a writer I spend a good amount of time in coffee shops. This is mostly because they offer space to write at the (sometimes) small fee of a cup of Joe, but it’s also because I feel far less cool sitting at my kitchen table in my pajamas every day, and feeling cool is a major part of being a successful writer.
I wrote an entire novel outside of my apartment because I can’t be inside my apartment and not go try on clothes/eat hummus with a spoon/watch Sex & The City re-runs/play with my dog. Those fine establishments deserve credit.
Over the course of my
three five years as a L.A. based writer, I’ve developed strong opinions on the many cafes that allow people to sit for hours on end without ordering a second beverage. Here are those opinions for your reading and hopefully writing (but not on the same days and times that I’m writing, or if on those same days/times definitely not in my special seat) pleasure. All reviews will be organized in the following manner:
Name: What it is called
Neighborhood: Where (I believe) it is located
It’s Like: How I think of it, delivered in the classic “blank meets blank” format because I am a fancy entertainment person
Why I Like It: Seems clear.
Why I Don’t: Same deal.
What I Use It For: What I’m able to get done there. This will seem weird if you’re not a writer and make perfect sense if you are.
Other Things Worth Saying: I’m not sure how necessary this section is, but the above didn’t feel like quite enough, so…
Parking: Arguably the most important part of this whole review
Also. There reviews are limited to places in my general neighborhood. Sorry East siders.
Here we go!
Name: Zinque Melrose
Neighborhood: Pacific Design Center?
It’s Like: What you imagine the coolest coffee bar in Paris to be meets my dream house
Why I Like It: Plus couches line the lead glass-paned solarium room facing the tasteful patio with its fireplace and olive trees. A perfect Spotify playlist tickles the ears. The absolutely kindest barista (Nigel) makes one damn good soy latte. And it’s open at 7am.
Why I Don’t: If I don’t get there by 9:30 (lazy days) someone takes my favorite table. That is literally it.
Why I Use It For: I wrote 99% of Dead Ringer there. I should have credited them in the book.
Other Things Worth Saying: Be very careful with the street meters because the maids are the worst in that neighborhood.
Parking: Plenty of street and meter parking along Melrose.
Name: The Larder at Burton Way
Neighborhood: Beverly Adjacent
It’s Like: Martha Stewart’s kitchen meets Whole Foods
Cost of a cup: $3.25
Why I Like It: This is both brand new and not technically a coffee shop, so from, say 2pm until 6pm on weekdays it is EMPTY. The Larder is Suzanne Goin’s chain of casual, counter-service restaurants, so the food (and drink) is incredible. Also, it’s walking distance from my apartment.
Why I Don’t: I feel a little weird writing there because no one else is writing there. I suspect I’ll get over that after a few more trips to a jam-packed Coffee Bean, but for now it’s a little wonky for me.
What I Use It For: So far just editing because I’m not comfortable enough to fully write there. God I just sound more OCD with every review…
Other Things Worth Saying: THE NICEST staff. Even nicer than Alfred Coffee, and I have yet to see a celebrity at this spot.
Parking: I don’t really know because I walk, but it looks decent plus there’s a garage.
Name: Paper or Plastik
It’s Like: The entire lower east side of Manhattan meets your grandfather’s shed
Why I Like It: Where to begin… This place is nuts. In one former warehouse space is a cafe, a dance studio, and an attic treasure shop that sells really expensive things that you want for no reason. My favorite element is the second floor loft space, which I find perfect for writing because it’s tucked away and quiet. Also, very interesting and mostly beautiful people frequent the place, and they all seem to be locals, which is just lovely. Oh, also again, the dance studio in the back offers ballet classes throughout the week, so sometimes I schedule my writing sessions with the dance classes so I can watch “while I write.” Final also, the food is killer.
Why I Don’t: It gets crowded and only certain table are reserved for laptops. It’s almost like they don’t want people sitting there all day long after buying one cup of coffee.
Why I Use It For: Everything, but especially first drafts of things. I can really concentrate here for some reason.
Other Things Worth Saying: Hhmm, I said it all in the “Why I Like It” section. See, I knew this section was touch and go…
Parking: Plenty of street and meter parking.
Name: Coffee Commissary
It’s Like: Your high school science lab meets a college radio station
Cup: Like $3.00 I think? They pour over coffee is also very good here, but I think more like $4.00.
Why I Like It: Eh, I really don’t like it that much, but it’s another spot to check if the others are too crowded.
Why I Don’t: Always crowded. Always loud music. Fairly pretentious staff. So. Many. Hipsters.
Other Things Worth Saying: They sell this thing called a Caramel Rice Krispie Treat which may be the best thing you’ll ever eat in your life.
What I Use It For: I used to use it for everything, but I think they made the music louder, probably because people started using it for everything. Now I pop in here to review things only.
Parking: Fairly open on Fairfax but all 2 hr. meters.
Name: Alfred Coffee
Neighborhood: West Hollywood
It’s Like: Nantucket Island meets Cruel Intentions
Why I Like It: The people are incredibly nice and there is always, I mean always at least one celebrity there. Also it’s on Melrose Place, which just feels fancy and therefore inspiring.
Why I Don’t: Not a ton of places to sit. They did recently add a large work table, which is nice. I prefer the counter top areas with stool seating, but anything wider than a MacBook Air doesn’t fit on the ledge. I know that’s oddly specific, but if you get it, you get it.
What I Use It For: Reviewing and editing. It’s a little too cramped for me to really spread out and write write.
Other Things Worth Saying: They just started carrying food options here, and while they are delicious, they are also limited and expensive. Best to stop at Ink Sack on your way over for a delicious $4 sammy to compliment your coffee. Don’t tell them I told you to do that.
Parking: Can get a little crowded on Melrose Place because it’s so fancy and all, but try Melrose proper or the neighborhoods.
Jones Coffee Roasters Long Shot Coffee/West Hollywood Public Library
Location: West Hollywood
It’s Like: The inside of a snow globe meets the inside of a library
Why I Like It: Joe is the cafe at the base of the library that has delicious coffee and generally an open table or two. It is behind a wall full of glass, so there’s tons of gorgeous light. The library itself is my absolute favorite place to write because it is blessedly quiet and very academic feeling. You can take your coffee there if you’d like. I frequent the study tables that face The Pacific Design Center, but there are dozens of places to sit in the second floor stacks. Also, it’s FREE.
Why I Don’t: There are something like 45 stairs to get to the reading/writing space, so I always end up sweating right before I sit down to write. Also, the bathrooms are a little far from the desks, so you have to ask someone to watch your stuff. Minor details, but still.
Other Things Worth Saying: You can get books there! For Free!
What I Use It For: Everything. I go to the library from about 2:00 to 5:30 every day, and the routine is incredibly helpful.
Parking: Lot under the library. There is a fee but it’s worth it for all the knowledge you’re getting by osmosis.
Name: Any bar around 3pm (The Churchill being my fave)
Neighborhood: West Hollywood
It’s Like: A bar meets an empty bar
Cost: Cheaper than any coffee shop, though sometimes they have really awful coffee so I get the tea
Why I Like It: It feels awesome to be writing in a bar, point blank period.
Why I Don’t: Sometimes they have TVs on. Also, it can be hard to not order a glass of pink wine…
Other Things Worth Saying: Did I mention that your office is a bar?
What I Use It For: Mostly editing, though on a really quiet afternoon, I can get actual scripting done.
And finally, my secret special place that is so secret and special I have to give it to you in riddle:
Withheld The Rooftop on Wilshire (my gift to you for loyal readership)
Neighborhood: Miracle Mile adjacent
It’s Like: Heaven meets a hotel
Cost: It doesn’t matter. It’s worth whatever they’re charging.
Why I Like It: Because it’s a pool…
Why I Don’t: Because it’s hard to get a lot of work done when you’re at a pool…
Other Things Worth Saying: Not a ton of shade given the whole “it’s a pool” thing, but there are umbrellas and the lovely staff is happy to move them to where you are sitting.
What I Use It For: Reading and editing only. You can’t possibly get real work done in a bathing suit.
Parking: Not a ton of street parking and valet is $6, but if I’m in the mood to treat myself to writing at a POOL then I’m in the mood to pay the $6.
Best of luck to you! And shout out to Melissa Hunter (aka Adult Wednesday Adams) for coming up with this idea (all those years ago).
%22 of the net blog profits (sorry. I may actually make money sometime soon) and the name of my first born are coming your way, girl!