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Cafe Birdie Marks the Tipping Point in Highland Park's Dining Scene

A first look inside the casual dinnertime charmer hitting LA's hippest block

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Welcome in to the next phase of Highland Park, a rapidly-changing neighborhood filling up with more new food and beverage options every single day. There are great longstanding eateries too, alongside elegant retouches of old favorites like Highland Park Bowl, but Figueroa Boulevard has never had a place quite like Cafe Birdie.

Duck into Cafe Birdie soon and you’ll find a marble-topped bar, high ceiling, and elegant lighting you might expect from a casual Parisian bistro, tucked out away from the tourists. Even the cafe seating, those round marble two-tops that fill the center of the room and the copper tables that run along the large open banquette, speak to an elevated sort of calm that Los Angeles often lacks.

It’s all, of course, very much by design. Owners Wade McElroy and Russell Malixi have an eye for tone, as evidenced by their Downtown outdoor dining hit Horse Thief BBQ. At their sophomore site in Highland Park, the pair partnered up with Sally Breer of ETC.ETRA to let the charm of the 1920’s era building shine through with high, open rafters, a soaring back bar, and enough hanging pendant lighting to pinpoint the mood.

You’ll also find a wide window box cut into the back wall that gives diners access to chef/partnerJoey Booterbaugh’s kitchen. The former Hungry Cat chef is plotting a menu filled with a strong seasonal menu that latches onto flavors from the Mediterranean and beyond. Expect the usual slew of rotating farmers market salads, handmade pastas, and simply-prepared proteins, plus lots of toast and elevated takes on comfort dishes like fried chicken.

The Courage & Craft team will oversee the bar program at both the restaurant and the back-alley speakeasy-ish spot behind the building. You’ll connect to both spaces via a small back patio, where exposed brick, string lights, and just a hint of greenery give every reason to dine al fresco.

Cafe Birdie joins a Highland Park stretch that has changed dramatically in the past year alone, with strong openings on the same block from Highland Park Bowl, Civil Coffee, and ETA. Others like HomeState are still planning to arrive by next year, while around the corner new neighbors like Mr. Holmes Bakehouse look to start firing as soon as a few weeks. The plan with Cafe Birdie, the team says, is to help anchor the booming new block with an every night dining experience that the neighborhood can embrace.

Cafe Birdie opens for dinner tomorrow night, keeping hours from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, with an extension to midnight on Friday and Saturday night. Expect brunch down the line as well.

Cafe Birdie
5631 Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA

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