Los Feliz, Los Angeles
Up My Street
Mel Caselas Ayer is a California girl, born and raised. Growing up in the Bay Area, about an hour outside of San Francisco, she always dreamt of living in Los Angeles. “It had a sparkle to it,” she says. After college, she made the move and hasn’t looked back. A writer, photographer, planner, and all around girl-in-the-know, Mel can be found exploring her adopted and beloved Los Angeles, or out on tour with her husband, Kelcey Ayer of Local Natives.
Which city and neighborhood do you live in?
Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California
What street do you live on?
Where do you spend most of your time?
I probably spend most of my time at home, or walking around the neighborhood with our dog, Tasha.
What is your favorite local business?
Definitely the Living Room. They sell one of a kind vintage pieces and custom mid-century modern furniture, and I would decorate my entire house with their stuff if I could. They just recently moved their store from Silver Lake to Rancho Park, but that won’t stop me from drooling over their goods on Instagram.
Whenever I need to feel refreshed I always visit Monica at Individual Medley. She’s always smiling, and I love visiting her shop because she’s made it such a welcoming space. She often hosts workshops and parties there, and it’s a spot I can count on for friendly conversation and the perfect gift.
Left: Barnsdall Park with my friend Kristine. Right: Me! Photos by Chantal Anderson. (@chantalphoto)
Where can you get the best local bargain?
In Los Angeles, the best bargain has to be the burritos. My husband and I frequent Atwater Village for ours. Tacos Villa Corona keeps it simple, and it’s only $3-$4 for the “Papa’s Burrito” with spinach. (Cash only!) On Wednesday nights we’ll switch it up and go to Hugo’s with the monthly secret password for $2.50 burritos. We really love burritos.
Who is the most inspiring person in your neighborhood?
There are so many inspiring people in this town, which is why I love living here. I met my husband at the end of 2008, just before his band booked their first month-long residency at Silverlake Lounge. The night I saw them play was one of my first introductions to Silver Lake, and it opened my eyes to a whole new creative side of L.A. that I had never really experienced before. I think a big part of loving Los Angeles is finding the neighborhood that feels right. For me, it’s been Silver Lake / Los Feliz. It’s so inspiring to be surrounded by artists, musicians, and filmmakers, and see them work so hard to literally live the dream.
Where is your favorite place to go on a sunny day?
My husband and I love to get pancakes at Little Dom’s which is just a few blocks away from us on Hillhurst. It’s great because we can take our dog there and sit outside. Another spot I love on a sunny L.A. day is Barnsdall Park. There are usually a bunch of dogs and kids running around, and you can see the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sunset. During the summer Silverlake Wine hosts wine tastings there too.
Where is your favorite place to go on a rainy day?
We love to watch movies, so on a rainy day we’ll usually head to the Arclight in Hollywood. They sometimes show old movies in the Cinerama Dome which is super rad. We’ve watched Indiana Jones and Back to the Future there, and it was awesome to experience those classics with a whole theater full of people.
What is your favorite secret place/thing?
Our favorite secret spot is the Trails Cafe in Griffith Park. We always grab coffee there after a hike. They serve Stumptown Coffee and the BEST baked goods. Try. The. Apple. Pie.
Where is your favorite place to eat?
I always have to take new people to Sqirl. Their specialty is their homemade jam. The brioche toast with the jam of the day and nut butter is addicting. It’s a pretty small spot, and it keeps pretty busy, but if you have time, the wait is more than worth it.
Where is your favorite place to drink?
We’ve been fans of Covell Wine Bar since it opened in 2010. It’s a quiet beer + wine bar, and what I love is how they help you order. Rather than having you blindly pick something off of a list, they guide you through your ordering process by asking questions like, “red or white?” and “fruity or earthy?” I’ve learned a lot about wine just by drinking with Matthew and the rest of the staff at Covell.
Sqirl’s homemade jams. Photo via Sqirl.
Covell Wine Bar. Photo via Covell Wine Bar.
Is there any street art in your neighborhood you like?
I met Dallas Clayton at a friend’s housewarming party once, and I almost didn’t believe him when he said he wrote children’s books for a living. It sounded like the dream job — too good to be true. I started following him on Instagram soon after, and I love his drawings and daily wisdom. He recently started hanging artful signs on telephone poles around town, and they always make me smile when I see them.
Works by Dallas Clayton. (dallasclayton.com)
What is your favorite memory since you have lived on your street?
The night that kicked off our wedding weekend is one of my fondest memories. All of our closest friends and family were in town, and after an above mentioned Barnsdall Wine Tasting, we all walked back home and ended up having a dance party in our living room.
What’s left on your Los Angeles bucket-list?
My mom and I have always joked about taking one of those Hollywood Star tours, just to see what it’s about. I know it’s super silly, but when you live in L.A. it’s easy to forget that people travel far and wide to vacation here and see the sights.
What is your favorite weekend getaway?
I love driving out to Palm Springs. It’s only a 2 hour drive, and it feels like a whole different world. It’s peaceful and relaxing and completely refreshing. It seems like everyone has their own favorite spot to retreat to, but mine is definitely the Ace Hotel & Swim Club.
Mel and Kelcey dancing in the woods at Griffith Park by Christian Cruz. (@christiancruz__)