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(Los Angeles Times; photos: Chris Behroozian/For The Times; Coly Den Haan; Sharkey McGee; Sam Rypinski; Madin Lopez; Gloria Noto)

10 joyous L.A. spots to queer your weekend

Two years ago, this sprawling city was completely foreign to me. I’d just made the nearly 2,800-mile journey from New York and was looking for a community.

I soon found it at queer-owned restaurants, bars and shops across the county and, along the way, learned that L.A. is home to enough of them to fill multiple weekends.

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Maybe you start your day with a yoga class or lifting session at trans-owned Everybody gym and, once the endorphins are flowing, head to brunch to catch up with friends. My personal ritual is to visit El Sereno Green Grocer for my morning cup of coffee, perfectly airy square of focaccia and groceries for the week ahead.

Or if you need to get some shopping done, spend the day visiting queer-owned stores like gender-inclusive skincare brand Noto Botanics and wine and gift shop Vinovore.

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As the sun sets, find your way to a queer-owned restaurant for dinner and drinks. Jewel, in Silver Lake, is open until 8 p.m. and has delicious plant-based fare and a wine bar. With your stomach full, head to East Hollywood, where you can dance across the checkerboard floor of one of L.A.’s two lesbian bars into the wee hours.

What’s special about these spots is more than just the opportunity to support local, queer-owned businesses (though you should definitely do that). Every business on this list offers a space to connect and build community — whether that be over food, a glass of orange wine or a shared passion for button-downs without a boob gap.

Whether you’re in town for Pride, a recent transplant like me or a local looking for a new haunt, this guide has something for you. Now let’s get this weekend started!

Showing  Places
A person in a yoga pose in front of a vibrant orange sun painted on a pink and purple wall
(Sam Rypinski)

Everybody

Cypress Park Gym
At Everybody you can flow on a yoga mat, master the basics of boxing or sculpt your quads on the outdoor patio. The gym, which is trans- and woman-owned, prioritizes an inclusive, accessible environment for people of all body types and gender expressions, which starts with reading a social contract on how to show up in the gym during your first visit.

Unlike some gyms, this open, light-filled space is a place you actually want to work out in. There are potted plants throughout, a sauna and a variety of exercise and wellness rooms that cater to everything from yoga to sound baths. Camo-print murals by neighborhood artist Maria Pi?eres add bursts of color to the white walls.

“We’re here to get strong together for the inevitable battles of our lives that we face as communities that are marginalized and targeted,” co-founder Sam Rypinski said. “I like the way the artwork reflects that mission of getting stronger and preparing for battle in a way.”

Beyond an inclusive and beautiful place to work out, Everybody offers a variety of wellness services, including sound baths, nutrition counseling, massage and physical therapy. All the instructors and practitioners identify as queer or trans or are queer- and trans- friendly.

If this piques your interest, drop in for a $15 class or buy a membership, which starts at $45 a month. Your first visit is free and memberships are discounted during Pride Month.

Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
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A person leans out of a van holding a fresh loaf of bread
(Chris Behroozian / For The Times)

Black Forest Bakery

Los Feliz Bakery
On Saturday mornings, a 1971 Ford Econoline parked at the corner of Hillhurst and Finley avenues in Los Feliz transports customers to the mountains of southwest Germany.

Trans and queer baker Djo Maurer greets customers through the van’s pop-out window, bagging $15.95 sourdough loaves and chatting with the queue of customers that curls around the block. Many are regulars who return to taste flavors that remind Maurer of home: jam-filled Berliners, pretzel buns and Schwarzbrot-esque bread.

Black Forest Bakery is committed to the basics: flour, water and salt. Maurer bakes with a variety of flours, all organic, and avoids commercial yeast, instead placing his trust in the finicky natural fermentation process. This method tends to yield less consistent results than that used for mass production, but going home with a one-of-a-kind loaf is part of this food truck’s charm.

When you approach the window to order, you also have the option to do a good deed. To make the bread more accessible, Maurer started a pay-it-forward program, through which customers can pay for a loaf and leave it behind for someone with fewer resources to pick up for free. Maurer also welcomes customers to pay what they can. He said he turns no one away without a loaf of bread tucked under their arm.

“If we don’t have free loaves available [I] just give them a loaf,” Maurer said. “I’ve been at a place where I literally had to count pennies to buy groceries and that was so difficult. ... Everyone should have bread.”

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturdays
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The orange and green facade of El Sereno Green Grocer
(Alejandro R. Jimenez / For De Los)

El Sereno Green Grocer

El Sereno Shop
The door of El Sereno Green Grocer, a vibrant little shop in northeast L.A., is almost always propped open. A sign on the window welcomes all comelones or food lovers to step inside. Xicana couple Patricia Torres and Erika Crenshaw opened the store last summer after discussions with community members about the lack of access to healthy, nourishing foods in the neighborhood.

At the Green Grocer, baskets of ripe kumquats sit alongside pantry staples, cans of Spam and bags of Flaming Hot Cheetos. The store’s mission is to be a place for daily nourishment, and that includes foods that Torres and Crenshaw say have kept their communities alive and happy for generations.

Torres and Crenshaw source their products from local, queer-, immigrant- or BIPOC-owned farms and brands. Each pint of lychee strawberry sorbet or box of crackers comes with a story that Torres or Crenshaw will share with you as you check out. The jars of lemon- and basil-infused olive oil, for example, are sourced from Canaan Palestine, a company that partners with more than 1,000 family farms in the West Bank to harvest olive trees that have been in their families for generations.

If you stop by on the weekend, you can browse the shelves with a cup of coffee from the pop-ups Torres and Crenshaw host with local coffee vendors such as Middle Eastern- and queer-owned Saffron Cowboy Coffee. Saturdays also feature a bread drop from Out of Thin Air, with delicious black sesame loaves and focaccia. If you arrive around 9 a.m., the loaves might even still be warm.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday
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Colorful Post-It notes on a wall
(Chris Behroozian / For The Times)

The Ruby Fruit

Silver Lake Wine Bars $$
There’s a reason why Ruby Fruit co-owner Mara Herbkersman refers to her business as “the planet.”

It’s a reference, in both name and spirit, to the early-2000s TV show “The L Word.” In the show, a local lesbian-owned cafe, the Planet, bridges day and night, offering a gathering place for queer Angelenos to drink coffee in the morning and party when the sun goes down. The Ruby Fruit strives to do likewise.

Mornings at the Ruby Fruit begin at 11 a.m. During the week, the wood tables and green booths become desks for those looking to escape the office but still work communally. With sunlight streaming through the wide windows, you can spot the nods to sapphic culture that fill every corner. Books by Virginia Woolf, Katherine V. Forrest and, of course, Rita Mae Brown line the shelf above the bar and Indigo Girls songs play in an endless loop in the bathroom.

Weekdays or weekends, the Ruby Fruit also makes a great brunch spot. The menu rises to any occasion — whether that’s a date for the whole family, kids included, or with friends to debrief the night before. Co-owner Emily Bielagus recommends ordering the fillet-not-fish sandwich or the popcorn chicken basket.

At 3 p.m., the Ruby Fruit begins its transition from campy diner to sexy wine bar. The sit-down lunch menu is replaced with a list of snack-while-you’re-drinking options such as warm marinated olives and french fries. If you’re looking for something a little more filling, make sure to order the signature hot dog — which comes on a cowboy boot pottery stand — with your drink. Bielagus sources all the wines and beers from women- and queer-owned businesses. Fan-favorite cocktails include the Martha, an elderflower, citrus and white wine spritz, and the Miller Low Life (a Miller High Life served in a glass upside down).

The campy vibes and tongue-in-cheek humor don’t disappear with the sun.

“The irony is not lost on us that a bunch of queer women are sitting around eating hot dogs,” Herbkersman said. “It’s a place to let loose and just have a freaking good time.”

Hours: 11a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday
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The interior of Wildfang features mannequins standing on steps up to a second level
(Emma Mcilroy)

Wildfang

Echo Park Clothing store
Trust me, these fitting rooms aren’t what you’re used to. The lighting isn’t overly bright and an encouragement or joke is likely scribbled on the mirror. Three hooks are labeled yup, um, nah, as a way to help you sort through your items.

That’s Wildfang in a nutshell. The Portland, Ore.-based company is committed to subverting gender norms in fashion and instead making clothes — and shopping for them — fun, versatile and accessible. Take its corset, for example. CEO Emma Mcilroy said the product can be worn in at least six different ways, including around the waist as a bustier, over the bust to create an empire silhouette and with the laces done up in the back or the front. The store’s signature coveralls, recently modeled by Hayley Kiyoko, come in both high- and drop-waist styles. Like all Wildfang items, they are available in sizes X-small through 4X.

Shopping at Wildfang’s bricks-and-mortar stores is an immersive and visual experience. A line of mannequins in the window spans a range of sizes and products are modeled in various ways — some leaning more masc, others more femme and some falling somewhere in between — throughout the store to offer inspiration. The Wildfang team also invites you to leave your mark on the carving wall, where you can find famous names like Nathalie Emmanuel and three-member rock group Boygenius. Mcilroy said she designed the space so that every customer can see themselves in it.

Whether you settle on a new suit or the brand’s bestselling button-down, every purchase comes with a durable Wildfang bag. One side reads “feeling pretty,” the other “feeling handsome.” The side of the bag urges, “If found, please keep for yourself & luxuriate in limitless gender euphoria.”

Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Monday
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A hairstylist stands behind a seated client
(Madin Lopez)

Project Q Salon

Hollywood Hair Salon
Our hair is one of the most personal forms of self-expression, which is why it can be scary to trust someone else to bring our vision to life with scissors and a razor blade. At Project Q, founder Madin Lopez understands this and is committed to seeing the you behind your hair.

Lopez opened Project Q in 2012, after 10 years working in Black salons and traditionally white ones.

“I felt like there was a space missing for folks that identify as LGBTQ or same-sex-loving and also happen to have 4C or 4B hair,” Lopez said.

Buying a haircut at Project Q helps support the nonprofit side of the business. In addition to the services for paying customers, Lopez and their team offer free haircuts to queer youth of color affected by the foster care or juvenile detention systems. Lopez also runs a six-month internship, which includes free therapy and harm reduction groups, for the youth to gain work experience in the salon.

“When you come, you’re helping other people feel good about themselves,” Lopez said.
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White bottles and boxes on shelves in Noto Botanics.
(Gloria Noto)

Noto Botanics

Highland Park Skincare
Looking to replenish your makeup stash or introduce something new into your skincare routine? Check out Noto Botanics, an L.A.-based company bringing gender inclusivity to clean beauty.

Gloria Noto founded Noto Botanics after working as a fashion and celebrity makeup artist for years. As a queer person, they noticed that the beauty industry remains tied up in the gender binary. Noto wanted to create a different relationship with selfcare through multiuse, “gender-free” products.

“In a lot of ways the product is a conduit to a bigger picture,” Noto said. “It’s a conduit to feeling good in your body and skin. And it’s a conduit to community.”

The merchandise at Noto includes the Deep Serum, a moisturizing vegan facial oil that Noto recommends as a gateway product. Also popular among customers is the Agender Oil, a hydrating vegan oil intended to “soften and protect your anywhere hair, wherever you choose to grow it.”

Stop by to explore the spacious, light-filled space — which Noto said they chose because it reminds them of a favorite cafe in Portugal — and leave with a product or two of your own. They recently launched a “practice safe sun” SPF 30 perfect for days spent poolside.

Hours: noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday
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A sign inside Vinovore asks "What kind of Vinovore are you?"
(Coly Den Haan)

Vinovore

Eagle Rock Wine Shop
This queer-owned wine store, which champions women, queer and trans winemakers, is a one-stop shop for all your party needs. Come for a bottle of wine or pack of beer and leave with ingredients for a cheese board, a Casey McQuiston novel and a new vibrator.

Coly Den Haan opened Vinovore in Silver Lake in 2016. Two years ago she expanded the business with a second location in Eagle Rock.

Den Haan is an expert in her selections. She knows the story behind each wine — who made it and the journey they took from grape to bottle. Among them is Camins 2 Dreams, a winery in the Santa Rita Hills of Santa Barbara county run by queer couple Mireia Taribó and Tara Gomez that specializes in naturally fermented wines with as little intervention as possible. Another is trans-owned and queer-run Ram Cellars, a Portland, Ore.-based winery that also practices natural fermentation and produces acid-forward wines. The winery raises money for organizations such as the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Trans Lifeline through sales of their VIV label wines.

Each bottle has a note card with details about the wine and its maker to guide you through your decision. And if you’re still wading into the wine scene, the shopkeeper on-site will happily help you make a selection.

Hours: noon to 8 p.m. daily
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A restaurant patio under lights and shade cloth, with a rainbow mural on one wall
(Sharky McGee)

Jewel

Silver Lake Restaurant
If you drive far enough down Lucile Avenue in Silver Lake, you’ll find a rainbow streaming across the wall of a small restaurant. A regular painted the mural, inspired by the Progress Pride Flag, during the Black Lives Matter protests in summer 2020.

“One of the goals there, because we feel that it was such a dark time for a lot of people in a lot of ways, [is that] when people drive by, it gives a little joy,” said owner and head chef Sharky McGee.

At Jewel, an entirely plant-based restaurant, the motto is “Every flavor welcome.” In line with the quote from Ava DuVernay painted on one of its walls, the team’s commitment to diversity is displayed in more than just a catchphrase.

It’s also reflected in its menu, which is easy to navigate for both longtime vegetarians and newcomers to plant-based dining. Recipes draw on flavors and dishes from various cuisines. McGee recommends the sweet and savory chicken and waffles (made with gluten-free waffles and oyster mushrooms) and the Cocomari Baja taco, stuffed with marinated coconut meat, cabbage, red salsa, pickled onion and chipotle crema, and served on corn tortillas.

Though the menu leans toward brunch, McGee said the dishes eat well no matter the hour. If you’re looking for lighter fare and a cozy, welcoming atmosphere, Jewel is for you.

Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
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The colorful interior of Honey's at Star Love, L.A.'s newest LGBTQ bar, with a checkerboard floor
(Ben Bassu)

Honey's at Star Love

East Hollywood Bar/Nightclub $$
If you’re looking for a lively night on the dance floor, head through a door on the side of the East Hollywood Super 8 motel where one of two of Los Angeles’ lesbian bars took up residence in 2023.

A nightlife haven for queer, lesbian and trans folk, the colorful bar is known for throwing a spirited dance party on its checkerboard dance floor into the early hours of the morning. Themed evenings have included an emo karaoke and dance party, as well as a lesbian dating party, humorously called Uhaul. You might even turn to see a celebrity dancing alongside you — Boygenius was spotted there last year.

What it lacks in size, Honey’s makes up for with vibrancy and charm. The interior is swathed in shades of teal and pink. Ferns dangle from the ceiling and antique lights illuminate the space. It also boasts a full bar, with an array of cocktails, wines, beers and nonalcoholic drinks on the menu.

When your feet tire from dancing, wander over to the lounge where you can take a seat on a cozy booth until you’re ready to rejoin the throng.

Hours: 8 p.m. to midnight Thursday and 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday through Saturday
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