This edition of a bookstore and a bar features two of my favorite literary spots in Los Feliz, Skylight Books, an indie bookstore and local landmark, and Figaro, an authentic French bistro with an outdoor patio that'll transport you to Boulevard Saint-Germain. Located on the same block of North Vermont Street, Skylight Books and Figaro are located within a stone's throw from one another and make for a perfect Sunday afternoon outing when visited in conjunction.
I suggest starting at Skylight Books. That way, you can bring your purchases to Figaro and take up residence at a café table to enjoy your new reads alongside happy hour drinks and delicious French small plates.
Every time I walk into Skylight Books, I think to myself, "Now, this is a neighborhood bookstore." A local artist's charming prints are on sale, curated staff picks complete with handwritten descriptions are on display, and a regional section dedicated to LA-based writers showcases the best local titles.
Full disclosure, I'm not sure if the tree is real. Regardless, it's the perfect metaphor for a local bookstore that's true to its roots and yet branches out to provide a substantial selection of experimental literature.
I'm a sucker for a good "Our Staff Recommends" card, and Skylight Books has some of my favorites. Many accompany delightfully unexpected choices, and some are elaborately decorated, giving as much insight into the recommender as the recommended novel.
Once you've done some damage at Skylight Books proper, stop by their art's annex as you head toward Figaro. They have a wide selection of art books, plays, graphic novels and magazines that are great for flipping through. You also won't want to miss their cardboard art installation.
Now that you've worked up and appetite and you're armed with some reading material, jaunt on over to Figaro. I recommend calling ahead to reserve a café table on the sidewalk, but the interior of the restaurant is lovely, too.
Whether you prefer an espresso-based beverage or something a little stronger, Figaro has a palate-pleasing option to suit your mood. I'm a fan of their latte, but their happy hour beer selection is pretty great, too.
Figaro's happy hour menu offers the opportunity to indulge in a mini French feast. We opted for mussels gratin, beef carpaccio, crab cakes and chicken raviolis. Everything is exceptionally delicious, but our personal favorite is the mussels gratin. Everything should be covered in parsley butter sauce.
As you're walking through the neighborhood, don't miss the Charles Bukowski murals on the side of Co-op 28, on the corner of North Vermont Street and Kingswell Avenue — right around the corner from Figaro.
What bookstores do you love in Los Angeles?
P.S. If you're in the area in the summer, you should also be sure to check out the Independent Shakespeare Company's latest production. They host a yearly Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival. Did I mention it's free?