Best Study Spaces in Northeast LA

Ξ November 1st, 2007 | → 7 Comments | ∇ Best Of, Coffee, Food |

All of us need a place free of the distractions of home where we can get some work done or just peacefully read. Who hasn’t sat down at home to hammer out their taxes, grade some papers, or finish that almost ready to be stolen and rewritten by a major studio screenplay, and been tempted by the fruit of procrastination? Below are my ten favorite study spots in Northeast Los Angeles. Not all of them are quiet, but to one degree or another, they either provide cultural fertility for creatives or a Spartan aesthetic for the intellectual. As always, this list is completely subjective. Respond with your thoughts and tell us what you think.

10. Mr. T’s Bowl – 5621 N. Figueroa St.

This place is better known as a dive bar with live acts of varying quality every night of the week. Still, they advertise free wifi, have a coffee bar, and are open during the day. I wouldn’t eat anything I drop onto the floor here, but there is an unmistakable creative aura surrounding this converted bowling alley.

9. Petit Beaujolais – 1661 Colorado Blvd.

Affectionately known as The Boulangerie, this is a great breakfast spot where you can get a nice croissant, a good cappuccino, and get some serious reading done. Especially good for Francophiles trying to write the next Waiting for Godot. They don’t stay open late but they do serve breakfast until 5pm on weekends.

8. Lummis House – 200 E. Ave 43

Also named El Alisal, this historic home was completed by renaissance man Charles Lummis in 1910 using mostly stones from the adjacent Arroyo Seco. The surrounding gardens provide a small edenic refuge for the urban Transcendentalist in each of us. While the docents might not want you to set up camp with your coffee and a laptop, a notebook and a pen is all you’ll need to recharge your inner Thoreau.

7. The Coffee Table – 1958 Colorado Blvd.

In college, The Coffee Table in Silverlake was a place I would often heat to for an oversized cup of coffee and some hip study time. I was impressed when Eagle Rock became nice enough to warrant its own satellite location. Large windows let in lots of light, and the seating is comfortable. The food is pretty good, and there’s enough selection on the menu to keep you trying something new for a month. Still, the fact that they close at 9:30 doesn’t bode well for those of us who do our best work after dark. Also, they’ve been trying to open the Coffee Table Lunge next door for what seems like an eternity. Should this place live up to their website’s hype of 15-20 draft beers, we may have a new addition to more than one of our Best Of lists.

6. Arroyo Seco Library – 6145 N. Figueroa St.

This library used to be another Carnegie Library (see #4 below), but has been recently remodeled into a two story and very open interior space that is generally very quiet. During the day, it’s mostly empty with only a few older people perusing the stacks, and after school, it fills in a bit with local school kids who generally have their noses stuck in a book and stay quiet. Now if they could just keep the damned graffiti off the building.

5. Swork – 2160 Colorado Blvd.

Bright lighting, good coffee, and late hours draw college kids and area hipsters alike to this Eagle Rock paragon of gentrification. I couldn’t list them any higher than this because their table are so small, it can be hard to find a seat, and their food is limited to bakery items. Still, I pumped out plenty of graduate level crap with Swork caffeine providing the fuel.

4. Lincoln Heights Branch Library – 1530 Workman St.

If you get here before school lets out, you’ll be in for a hidden gem in Lincoln Heights. Constructed in 1916, the Lincoln Heights Library (also called La Biblioteca del Pueblo de Lincoln Heights) is one of only three surviving Carnegie Libraries in Los Angeles. Ironically, earthquake retrofitting, rather than earthquakes themselves, led to the destruction of scores of these historic community centers. The city has managed to retrofit this branch and maintain its impressive architecture, said to be modeled on Italy’s Villa Papa Giulio. Grab a seat by the large set of windows that opens up to the street, or grab a desk and admire the intricate tile mosaic and entryway woodwork. Just get there before 3 or you’ll be surrounded by teenagers checking their myspace pages.

3. Antigua Bread – 5703 N. Figueroa St.

Yeah, Yeah, I’m biased, but this is my article so I get to post my opinion. Antigua is well lit, has large tables, free wifi, and has excellent food. It is frequented by an interesting mix of neighborhood families, eastside hipsters, and local intellectuals. They’re also open later than most of the places on this list. Order a cachito and spill crumbs all over that screenplay.

2. Occidental College’s Mary Norton Clapp Library – 1600 Campus Way

There is one big caveat here that might require you to leave this off your list entirely: Unless you are a current student or an alumnus, you’re really not supposed to use the facility. However, security when classes are out of session isn’t particularly tight. If you want full library privileges and aren’t an alum, you can pay the approximately $100 to become a member. Another plus is that since this place is geared towards college students, it stays open much later than the local public libraries. Architecturally, the old wing of the library joins the new wing in some oddly integrated stacks. What this means is there are limitless nooks to cloister yourself in and get work done for hours on end. Just be careful of stumbling upon coeds in heat. (Copulating in the library is one of those Oxy traditions they don’t tell you on the tour). Plus, rumors abound that it’s haunted.

1. The Casa Blue – 5930 York Blvd.

Their interior space is amazing. High ceilings, a tranquil outdoor patio with a cabana, comfortable seating, large tables, wifi, inspiring art, good coffee, and decent food help the Casa Blue top my list. My only real qualm with the place is the lighting is a bit low. Some of those old=school library desk lamps would be great for reading without ruining the sedate vibe of the place. Plus, you can enjoy one of their three beers on tap if you need something to help you break through that writers block.

 


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