Santa Monica sweetheart Lo/Cal has a new(ish) location in Fairfax, just steps away from The Grove and The Original Farmer’s Market.
The manager of the Fairfax location is as sweet as their vanilla lattes, which lends to the comforting ambiance of this gorgeous, rustic space. They operate a “5th St. General Store” in tandem (think Schitt’s Creek) with local goods and artisan products like candles, succulents, books and more. Not to mention, lots of Lo/Cal swag. The inside also has brick walls, patterned black and white tiles, lots of birds of paradise and hanging plants, wood cafe tables/chairs and painted leaf murals (largely a warm boho/chic vibe)...
Stumptown is Lo/Cal’s purveyor, and the cold brew is definitely better than the hot brew. I’ve always liked Stumptown’s espresso and their light single origins (just had a delicious Ethiopian), but Lo/Cal normally only has a medium or dark blend that’s too dark for me. So I almost always get cold brew, which comes with pebble ice -- a nice differentiator and keeps from melting as fast as standard ice. As for espresso, I recommend a vanilla latte (housemade vanilla syrup). I haven’t had much food here, but I definitely recommend the pastries (from nearby Cake Monkey), specifically the sage & gruyere croissant. Mwah! Delicious -- ask for it to be warmed.
Living up to its name, Lo/Cal definitely has a neighborhood vibe, and the baristas seem to have a rapport with lots of locals (including me, of course). It took over a space that was formerly a coffee shop/yoga studio with horribly inconsistent coffee, so John and I were thrilled when a new coffee shop took over (always fear an empty space will become a bank or drugstore or something lame). When we lived closer, we’d walk to Lo/Cal every weekend with the pup (Scout), and it’s still a great spot to stop between neighborhood strolls or morning runs.
There’s some metered street parking on 5th St, otherwise look out for neighborhood permit-only parking. Seating is sparse outside, but it’s a decent churn of in-n-out customers (it’s also not super shaded, so the sun can beat down on ya if you don’t get an umbrella seat) so you won’t have to wait long for an outdoor seat; and inside there are several 2-top options. I highly recommend bringing your pup, because they give out FULL-SIZE Milkbones! (Scout has paired the treat with the place, so this is now her favorite coffee shop)
My ratings for Lo/Cal:
Cold brew: ☕☕☕
Baked goods: ☕☕☕
Customer service: ☕☕☕☕☕
First date spot: ☕☕☕
Work spot: ☕☕☕☕
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