Exploring LA: North Hollywood

The Iliad Bookshop, North Hollywood

North Hollywood is a neighborhood in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley. Its neighbors include Van Nuys and Valley Village and the 170 freeway runs through it.

Once a sort of shady industrial-heavy area, North Hollywood is now a hip, artsy neighborhood. Home to the bustling arts district, it’s is full of entertainment, bars, and restaurants.

While it has grown trendier over the years, some of the old valley quirkiness has survived. From a bar shaped like a barrel to a large neon clown and the city’s oldest tiki bar, retro valley eccentricity is alive and well in North Hollywood. Plus, with a metro stop and nearby freeways, it’s easy to get to this part of town.

Here’s your guide for what to see, eat, and drink in the Los Angeles neighborhood of North Hollywood.

Idle Hour, North Hollywood
Whisky barrel-shaped bar Idle Hour on Lankershim Boulevard

Bars and Restaurants

One of the best places to eat and drink in NoHo is Idle Hour. Idle Hour is a bar shaped like a whisky barrel on Lankershim Boulevard. The building was constructed in 1941 and was granted landmark status as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 2010. Inside, the round, wood walls and tall ceilings create a welcoming and cozy interior. Outside on the patio, a large structure in the shape of a pipe-smoking bulldog and vine-covered walls adorn the space. The atmosphere is all the more enjoyable thanks to the food and drink. Idle Hour makes great cocktails — you’ll even find some on tap — and upscale bar food.

Another fun spot in NoHo is The Federal Bar, located in the arts district. The Federal Bar is housed in a large, corner building along Lankershim (they’ve got a location in Long Beach as well). The Federal Bar has an extensive menu with bar staples and creative options, plus plenty to drink. The bar and eatery also serves as a nightclub, hosting a variety of events throughout the week.

For some classic diner fare, it’s tough to beat Four ‘N 20. They’ve got two locations, one in Sherman Oaks and one in North Hollywood. (As neighborhoods in the valley aren’t totally exact, it’s a bit up for debate whether this spot is in North Hollywood or Valley Village, but it’s close enough to include here.) Four ‘N 20 originally opened decades ago as a pie shop. Today they serve breakfast classics, plus lunch, dinner, and of course, pie. It’s the place to go for comfort food staples.

Along Magnolia Boulevard between Lankershim and Vineland, you’ll find a string of great cafes, bars, and restaurants. Among them is EAT, a popular breakfast and lunch spot. From a classic breakfast to unique dishes like breakfast pasta, plus great coffee, you’ll find something great. Be prepared for a bit of a wait here, but it’s worth it.

Along the same stretch of road you’ll find The Republic of Pie, a cool cafe serving coffee and desserts; El Tejano, a Tex-Mex spot open late with a large, festive patio; The Fat Dog, a dog-friendly gastropub; True Earth Vegan, a vegan breakfast and lunch cafe; and Kahuna Tiki, a tiki bar (more on that below), to name a few.

Tonga Hut, North Hollywood
The Tonga Hut, LA’s oldest tiki bar

Tiki Bars!

Los Angeles is the birthplace of the tiki bar, and North Hollywood is home to a few great ones.

First and foremost is the Tonga Hut, located on Victory Boulevard. The Tonga Hut opened in 1958 and is now the oldest tiki bar still in operation in Los Angeles. Inside the Tonga Hut you’ll find a dimly lit interior, round booths, and island-themed decor, along with old movies often playing on a small TV behind the bar. From classics to house specialties, they serve up some fabulous cocktails, many of which are chock-full of rum to give you that happy island feeling. The Tonga Hut doesn’t serve food, but there is sometimes a taco vendor just outside. Just make sure to plan your food accordingly so as to best enjoy the tiki-themed libations.

Another fun spot is Kahuna Tiki. As mentioned, it’s located along the stretch of Magnolia Boulevard bustling with bars and restaurants. In addition to classic tiki cocktails, Kahuna Tiki also serves sushi and Polynesian cuisine. With their large patio and tiki style, it’s a great spot to enjoy an island atmosphere.

Finally, there’s Tiki No. Tiki No is located on Lankershim Boulevard not too far from the 134. It’s a classic tiki bar serving tropical cocktails in a retro island setting. They also don’t serve food, but there are often food trucks outside.

The Iliad Bookshop, North Hollywood
A friendly cat at The Iliad Bookshop

Arts and Literature

As the home of the NoHo Arts District, there is a lot of artistic entertainment in this part of town.

Book lovers must make a stop at The Iliad Bookshop. The store, named for the Homer classic, is located on the corner of Cahuenga Boulevard and W Chandler Boulevard. This large bookshop is filled with used, rare, and unique titles. While they mainly specialize in literature and the arts, they offer a wide variety of subjects. With more than 150,000 volumes, you can spend plenty of time roaming the shelves. And don’t forget to say hello to the shop’s resident cats.

There are a variety of theaters in the neighborhood as well. For movies, there’s the Laemmle NoHo 7, showing independent titles. There are also several performing arts theaters, like Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre and the Secret Rose Theater. A handful of comedy clubs populate the neighborhood as well, like HaHa Comedy Club.

Of course, living up to its Arts District moniker, several galleries call North Hollywood home. Many of the galleries are located on or near Lankershim, right through the heart of the Arts District. Plus, the NoHo Art Walk takes place the second Saturday of the month.

Circus Liquor, North Hollywood
NoHo’s landmark liquor store: Circus Liquor

Landmarks and Outdoor Spaces

One of the most famous landmarks in North Hollywood is Circus Liquor. Movie and television fans will recognize this spot, which has been featured many times on screen. Perhaps its most notable scene is in Clueless, when Elton rudely abandons Cher after the Val party. Located on Vineland Avenue at Burbank Boulevard, the large neon clown sign stands tall. Stop on by for a bit of Hollywood lore and valley quirk.

North Hollywood has also got a large park. North Hollywood Recreation Center is full of wide open green spaces, playground equipment, walking paths and picnic areas. It’s also home to the North Hollywood Amelia Earhart Regional Library, which includes a statue of Amelia Earhart out front.

The Iliad Bookshop, North Hollywood
Inside The Iliad Bookshop

Transportation

In a city as spread out as Los Angeles, using public transportation isn’t always an easy option. Luckily, though, North Hollywood is easily accessible using the Metro system.

Near the intersection of Lankershim Boulevard and Chandler Boulevard, just north of the Arts District, is the transit hub. There’s an underground Metro stop for the Red Line and an above ground stop for the Orange Line. Both are the end stop for each line. With these Metro lines located right in the neighborhood, it’s easy to get to NoHo from other areas of the city.

If your area isn’t as public transit-friendly, then there’s always the good ol’ freeway. Both the 134 and 170 freeways run through the area. Keep in mind, though, that parking in this neighborhood can be tricky, so be prepared to pay or hunt for a spot.

North Hollywood Arts District
Roaming the NoHo Arts District

There’s so much to see in Los Angeles. With its vast network of diverse neighborhoods, spending the day in another part of town can feel like a day trip in itself. Make sure you strive to enjoy all this great city has to offer by exploring all its unique communities. Cheers!

Find more guides to help you explore Los Angeles here.

Exploring LA - North Hollywood - Los Angeles Travel Guide

Exploring LA - North Hollywood - Los Angeles Travel Guide

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