A Day of Underground Eats With LA Restaurant Designer John Sofio

Dining out? Take some recs from a pro.

By Reuben Brody

A Day of Underground Eats With LA Restaurant Designer John Sofio
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12 July 2018

Creatures of habit that we are, we all tend to carve out restaurant ruts (looking at you, Sweetfin Poke).

Which is why it pays to follow someone else’s grooves from time to time.

So we talked to a guy who knows what’s what: John Sofio, the man who designed the ever-sexy Poppy, Peppermint Club and the upcoming Slab BBQ. His company, Built Inc, has won numerous awards, including AIA Design Awards for SHOREbar, Bootsy Bellows and Nice Guy.

But as much as the dude knows how to tie a room together, he also knows how to eat.

Herein, he shares his favorite places to eat and drink in L.A. when he’s not manning the galley.

Breakfast: Millie’s
“For breakfast I sit at the counter at Millie’s in Silver Lake on Sunset Blvd. The place has been there since the ‘20s. The Devil’s Mess is my go-to, with a side of homemade biscuits and a fresh squeezed orange juice to wash it down. The brothers who own the space are there every day, and also the most humble guys I know in L.A. Been eating breakfast there since I moved to Silver Lake in 1995, before the hipsters pushed out the gangs and gays.”

Coffee: Cafecito Organico
“For coffee I head to Cafecito Organico on Hoover St. in Silver Lake. They have the best coffee in LA. I drink an 8-oz. Americano with room. I love the energy and vibe of this place, it’s real L.A. There’s a street scene on the sidewalk, where the hipsters commandeered the parkway along the street; while behind the large hedges, a special space called the Hoover Wilderness provides a secret home to creatives. The space is an oasis of comfort and community hidden in the middle of the city.”

Lunch: Daikokuya Sunset
“I’m addicted to the crab fried rice at Daikokuya Sunset. This location is a short walk down the Sunset Strip from my studio, and I find myself there once or twice a week. Convenience and flavor: the best combination for a busy schedule.”

Dinner: Kettle Black
“I favor the tagliatelle bolognese from Kettle Black in Silver Lake for dinner. The fresh meat sauce takes me back to my parents’ Italian deli in New York. Growing up making pasta on authentic imported pasta machines since I was seven years old, I’m naturally skeptical when it comes to pasta in general, and tagliatelle bolognese specifically. This dish is on point.”

Drinks: Bar Stella
“For local drinks, I frequent Bar Stella on the Sunset Junction in Silver Lake. The atmosphere has a feeling of a European watering hole, while the drinks are focused and memorable. The Norteno has been my flavor for a few years. The crowd is friendly and approachable, mostly people on the creative hustle. It’s an authentic east side L.A. scene, sophisticated in the most casual way. The dark dark high gloss blue interior walls and worn-in plaster ceilings give the space a sense of being. The classic bar design and inviting side patio somehow, in an esoteric way, instill comradery between the guests.”

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