Queue the Valley
After staying the night just north of the Los Angeles metro area, we had three stops to make in LA to visit friends before heading south to San Diego. Since the first stop was in South Pasadena for brunch, I figured we could jump off of the 101 Freeway to show the kids the Brady Bunch house, then stop in at my favorite North Hollywood outdoor cafe, Aroma Coffee and Tea Company.
Years ago, when I was staying in nearby Valley Village, I loved going for a morning jog then ending up at Aroma for a fruit smoothie and a shot of espresso. To my mind, this small North Hollywood favorite has always struck the perfect balance between casual, excellent eats and a cool, Southern California vibe. The food is fresh and inventive; the service friendly and non-fussy.
Although I loved seeing the Brady house, the kids were a bit disappointed with the renovations by subsequent owners. The trees have grown, the lot seems hemmed in by other houses. Not TV; reality. But a dose of reality can be good, even in this city of dreamers.
As we pulled up to Aroma looking for a parking spot (never easy, especially on a Saturday morning), my heart sank. The line for tables was out-the-door, and we were running late. So I had to settle for a mere, slow drive-by.
Instead, we went on to our friend’s quiet craftsman bungalow in South Pasadena and a wonderful backyard brunch with, of course, excellent home-brewed coffee.