About four decades ago, the slowly declining warehouse district of downtown Los Angeles became home to a thriving arts community, its artists moving in and transforming the district’s buildings into dual work and living spaces. The city soon passed the “Artist in Residence” ordinance, giving both legality and legitimacy to the area’s new identity.
Today, a combination of enthusiastic real estate development, hip new hotspots – Handsome Roast Coffee, Wurstküche, Urth Caffe, Bestia, Americano – and a reputation for innovative thinking (think SCI-Arc and the Cleantech Incubator) has helped attract artists and craftsmen, up-and-coming young professionals, entrepreneurs and start-up companies, non-profits, and fashion designers.
The district’s historic warehouses, cold storage units, rail yards, manufacturing plants and industrial buildings have given way to one of Los Angeles’s trendiest neighborhoods. And of course, every fast growing neighborhood needs its own neighborhood bakery.
Just on the edge of LA’s downtown arts district, on the corner of 7th Street and Santa Fe, sits the Bread Lounge, a modern bakery café only a short ten-minute walk from where I work.
My co-workers and I decided to venture out into the searing afternoon heat to visit the long, high-ceilinged space with clean white walls, wood and iron tables and chairs, and generous counter display of danishes (pear, pistachio, almond), focaccia with various toppings, croissants and pain au raisin, and a wide selection of fragrant fresh-baked breads (potato and rosemary, sunflower and poppy seed, whole wheat, wheat and walnut, and more).
We sat next to the wide window, peering into the industrial bakery space and enjoying our veggie sandwiches filled with roasted slices of juicy eggplant, savory portobello mushrooms, cold mozzarella, and caramelized onions on country and multi-grain bread.
Before leaving Bread Lounge, we munched on my co-worker’s Timbale, a fluffy blueberry-topped, vanilla cream-filled brioche pastry and sipped our refreshingly slushie-like iced mint lemonades – the perfect way to savor the rest of our summer afternoon before heading back to work.
700 S. Santa Fe Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
What is your favorite hip local eatery? Tell me in the comments.