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Thanks to my freelance job, I’ve discovered two new (to me) restaurants on Melrose Ave in Los Angeles. Naturally, I thought that they needed to be shared immediately.

Franco on Melrose
6919 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles

The first is a new-ish restaurant called Franco on Melrose. The chef and owner, Franco DeDominicis was the Executive Chef at the Biltmore Hotel.  The main eating area is entirely outside in a beautiful courtyard. I hesitated to go in for lunch because I’m on a tight budget, but I thought I’d give it a whirl anyway (plus, I love Italian food).  I had the penne arrabiata, and not only was it delicious, but the small portion (which is more than enough for me) was less than $10. That’s less than I was spending some days at the more fast-food places in the neighborhood (and far better for me).  Plus, there’s just something about the ambiance that I really liked. I’ve actually been back a couple of times since, and everything I’ve had has been good.

There are a couple of caveats. First, they don’t have their liquor license yet. The keyword there is “yet.” But that’s coming, and they do allow you to bring your own wine in for a very, very small corkage fee. The second is because it is an outdoor dining area, extremely hot weather could be a problem. Honestly, I was there on two days where it was in the high 80s and had no problem (there are fans). But if you are delicate, you might want to wait until it’s under 80.  There is stylized draped roofing, so you are protected if it rains.

Don’t let either of these things stop you. The food is good. It’s entirely reasonable in terms of cost and everyone there is extremely nice and helpful. Go!

Stir Crazy Coffee House
6903 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles

This is a new discovery to me, but it’s pretty obvious that the locals love it. I heard the coffee is amazing, but I’m not a coffee drinker, so I couldn’t swear to it. I can tell you that they have some amazing breakfast goodies and lunch-time sandwiches that have me visiting frequently.

But even more than the food, the place is a hideaway on a busy street that you would not expect. The first time I went in there I was struck not by the locally-sourced art hangings, the rustic decor or the music (I believe Sinatra was playing that day), but how cozy the place felt. And it isn’t manufactured cozy; it just is.  And it’s a great place to work. Don’t take my word for it, take a look around. Anytime you walk into the place the tables are loaded with people on their laptops working on the great American novel or screenplay. It’s quiet, inspiring and feels like a welcoming creative community is just inside those doors.