A small boutique-y food thing that actually gives a crap
Oaks Gourmet Market: corner of Franklin and Bronson. It's on my block. When it came, I was like, "Great, another expensive waste of space."
Most places that look like this end up being heinously irritating. This is a small place, with a bit of a wine selection, a beer selection, a pastry selection, a little meat counter, a little cheese counter. Most of the times, in Los Angeles, a place like this ends up being hideously overpriced, full of crap. In LA, most of the great places are super-specialists. The Italian wine specialist. The scotch specialist. The cheese specialist. The generalists in little stores tend to be wallet-gouging opportunists.
But: weirdest of all weird: Oaks Gourmet Market, on that little hipster-satellite-annex (sort of an hipster-moon floating at near-escape-velocity from Los Feliz) of Franklin Village - is fantastic. FANTASTIC.
Their beers: they know their stuff. They have Russian River. RUSSIAN RIVER! Not always, but often. And not just Pliney the Elder - sometimes they have Damnation and stuff like that. They have Allagash. Lots of Allagash! Not just the usual stuff, but lots of little production numbers and rarities. You can ask the beer guy for a recommendation and he nails it! They have weird Japanese beers. My friend spotted a Japanese hazulnet beer with a picture of an owl on it and freaked out - she was like, "I love this and I haven't seen it in years!"
The beer selection actually rivals places like Beverage Warehouse and Wine House. (Wine House may have *more* beers, but Oaks' selection is better-curated - consistently great, and full of totally weird stuff I haven't seen.)
Their pastries are great! They sometimes carry Cakemonkey! They have nice cheeses! It is way more great than I could have expected! Hooray!
Only weakness: boring liquor selection. I can't speak to the wine selection, because I'm poor.
This is probably not worth a long-drive - they're a little more of the a-little-of-everything for the locals, then a world-spanning specialist. But who knows - maybe for the beer selection? I've definitely found things there occasionally that I've looked for and haven't found anywhere else in Los Angeles.
Caveat: my view of this place may be slanted by the fact that I'm beer-oriented and not wine-oriented at this (poverty-stricken) stage in my life.
But: Russian River and Cakemonkey (occasionally)! One-stop-shopping bliss!
By the way - no place I've seen carries Cakemonkey regularly. Anybody know if this is a supply-side problem?