I have had the privilege of growing up in the very tight-knit Eagle Rock community. I went to school a block from my house at Eagle Rock Elementary, have danced at Bloom studio my whole life, which is a short walk from the school, and have eaten and shopped at nearly every small business within a 10-mile radius. Due to my veteranism in this field, I feel it is only right that I share the knowledge I have learned about Eagle Rock’s small businesses with the world (or whoever lives in the greater Eagle Rock area and happens to be reading this article). I will mainly be focusing on local places to eat (since that’s what Eagle Rock small businesses do best) with a sprinkling of places to shop. Without further ado, I present to you my extensive knowledge of the best places Eagle Rock has to offer condensed into an 8 item list of places you have to check out.
1. Four Cafe:
Technically Four Cafe and Penny Oven are two separate local restaurants, but are connected through their very close locations, and that they are both owned by Chef Michelle Wilton, whom I have had the pleasure of bumping into various times. She has always been a very sweet and down to earth person who genuinely cares about the community and her restaurants. Four Cafe has been a staple in my life for as long as I can remember. Its menu changes corresponding to the season of the year, hence the name, but it doesn’t matter if it’s November or July, they always have a super fresh and delicious selection of soups, sandwiches, and salads. However, one of my favorite aspects of Four Cafe is their lemonades! Depending on the time of year, it’ll either be rosemary, mint, basil, or lavender lemonade and all of them are, to put it plainly, *chef’s kiss*. If for some reason lemonade isn’t your cup of tea, they also have a great selection of teas and housemade sodas. Don't forget to finish off your visit to Four Cafe with one of their pastries! (At the time of writing I could really go for a lavender shortbread). The menu is way too long for me to list all my favorites, so I guess you’ll just have to check it out yourself, but I can assure you there will always be something you’ll love to eat at Four Cafe.
1.5. Penny Oven:
Moving on to Four Cafe’s younger sister restaurant, Penny Oven. Penny Oven has a wide variety of dishes, from a gourmet BLT to shakshuka, to a dutch baby. Penny Oven is not only a great breakfast and lunch place, but they also sell many farmer’s market-esque treats made in their signature woodfired penny oven. Penny Oven was named for their in-house wood-fired oven that is covered in, well, pennies! Penny Oven is more of a delicacy version of Four Cafe and honestly, it’s my favorite brunch place in town. I don’t think I’ll ever stop ordering the BLT with cheddar. Anyways both Four Cafe and Penny Oven are Eagle Rock classics and you should definitely check them out. I mean they’re across the street from one another, it’s a 2 for 1!
2. Leanna Lin’s Wonderland:
Next up is Leanna Lin's Wonderland and to be frank I have to stop myself from going in and spending all my money every time I drive down Eagle Rock Boulevard. Leanna’s has everything whimsical, artwork, just about from some of my favorite jewelry I’ve ever purchased, to stationery and crafts. Lin’s is also the perfect place to pick up a last-minute gift or card for a friend, (trust me, I’ve done it before) and you always find something that is personal, funny, and a gift they’ll love. They sell the most wonderful trinkets and not gonna lie I may have gotten distracted from writing this article quite a few times from just getting lost in their website. The owner Leanna Lin Fong, (or her mother who can also be found running the store at times) is also super sweet and willing to help you find whatever you’re looking for. For all the young creative and artistic souls who have way too much time on their hands Leanna Lin’s Wonderland is heaven on Earth.
3. Chateau Lemongrass:
Chateau Lemongrass is Eagle Rock’s local Vietnamese Restaurant and they are a 100% authentic family-run restaurant that has only the most delicious Vietnamese food to offer. Of course, their signature is their pho, but my family and I also enjoy their Banh Mis, Filet Mignon Shaken Beef, Egg Rolls, and Chicken Wings. Chateau Lemongrass is a Friday night dinner staple in the Avina household and I wouldn’t be surprised if it soon became one in yours too. Just make sure you call in or grab your table before the dinnertime rush hour!
4. The Oinkster:
The Oinkster has what I believe is the best Eagle Rock exclusive burger. Oinkster believes in slow-fast food as in fresh-made fast food, like the food you can get in a drive-through, but ten times the flavor. The Oinkster has even been featured in Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives back in 2011. They not only serve burgers, but also pastrami sandwiches and coleslaw. Their milkshakes are also the bomb! (I prefer the Dodger Blue milkshake) This might get a bit controversial, but I love dipping my fries in it. That might just be me though. If you’re looking for a classic American burger in ER, Oinkster is the place to be.
A bit new to the Eagle Rock community, Folia is a modernized version of your mom and pop’s plant shop. With a wide variety of houseplants, products to care for said plants, and other household items and decor, you’ll never leave a trip from Folia empty-handed (for better or for worse). Their products are all-natural and made for a more sustainable lifestyle. I love the aesthetic of the store. Everything is very pleasing to the eye and they display their botanical vibe perfectly. It’s as if the little plant area in the entrance to Trader Joe’s was its own store. For the plant lovers of Eagle Rock, Folia Collective is paradise.
The next Colorado Blvd. special is, *drum roll please* Milkfarm! Milkfarm is an “Artisan Cheese Shop'' as they would say, but while cheese is their main focus, they have a selection that goes way beyond. Nearly everything you could ever want on a charcuterie board is sold here. A brief range of their selection includes cheese (duh), delicacy meats like salami, prosciutto and sausages, freshly baked loaves of bread, seasonal jams, cookies, and for the older crowd locally brewed beers and aged wines. What makes Milkfarm all the more enticing is that they source all their goods from small businesses around the country. Most goods are sourced even more locally than the broad range of the U.S. Milkfarm sources from smaller companies to expose the public to hidden gems amongst them, but Milkfarm itself is Eagle Rock’s hidden gourmet grocer.
7. Comics vs. Toys:
Comics vs. Toys is a small shop filled to the brim with boxes and shelves full of comics, new ones are brought in each Wednesday. They have a varying collection of comics from the classics to more recent editions. As for the “Toys” part of their name they have a wide variety of action figures, from DC to Marvel to Godzilla. From my experience, the employee there was very friendly and knowledgeable about the products. Comics vs. Toys has a great vintage yet quality ambiance and is a must for lovers of all things comics.
8. Casa Bianca:
Casa Bianca has been my whole family’s go-to location for big family events since well forever. They are happy to accommodate our large party and the food is so delectable that even my pickiest younger cousins enjoy it. They have great authentic Italian food that never fails to hit the spot. It would be criminal to not include Casa Bianca on this list! They’ve been in their Eagle Rock location since 1955, a true locally born restaurant. With that many years of experience and success with their business, they’ve got to be doing something right. To this day if you come at the wrong time of the evening you’ll be looking at an hour or more wait time that you DO NOT want to have to sit through. Trust me it’ll be like waiting in line for Space Mountain at Disney, but you get more hungry the longer you wait as you catch a sniff of the aroma of the delicious food inside. Just be sure to call ahead or show up right at opening.
Well, that’s all folks! Well, not really... There’s plenty of amazing places in Eagle Rock beyond this list, but hopefully, now that you’ve read my recommendations you’re inspired to go check them out! Eagle Rock is a pretty wonderful little city with so many great businesses to offer.