Poppy + Rose
In the heart of the Flower District, an unexpected aroma wafts in the air, and it’s every bit as intoxicating as the sweet scent of fresh florals. It’s that magical combination of grease, batter, butter, and fried poultry, a fragrance familiar to any Angeleno who has ever stepped foot inside a Roscoe’s, and to every lover of American comfort food: chicken and waffles, fresh from the fryer. Track down the elusive scent and you’ll find the culprit on 7th and Wall, underneath a yellow striped awning: a sunny little cafe by the name of Poppy + Rose.
A hidden gem of a brunch spot, Poppy + Rose is the cheery brainchild of Chef Michael Reed and husband-and-wife duo Chef Ryan and Diana Lamon, who also run Peaches’ Smokehouse, a Southern comfort food truck. For their venture, the trio was initially attracted to the Flower District, then a culinary No Man’s Land, due to the rising cost of property in trendier areas of Downtown. However, since opening its doors to the public nearly two years ago, Poppy + Rose has cemented for itself a unique identity, one that brings a a rich country flavor to the well-worn neighborhood. “Christopher Guest should do something on the Flower District — there are just so many stories to be told,” says Diana Lamon, who picks up seasonal blooms from the The Southern California Flower Market next door to create the arrangements that brighten up and adorn each table (this week, it’s all about ranunculus).
“For instance, many of the vendors are family-run,” she continues. “They’re third-generation growers who split their time between the market and the farm. And they come here for breakfast.”
Enter the cafe on any weekday morning, as early as 6AM, and you’ll see an eclectic mix of customers — locals, flower vendors, hipsters — convening in a space that successfully marries old and new, rustic and modern. Mismatched mugs, Windsor chairs, and shabby-chic picture frames evoke a homespun feel, while chrome barstools and clean white tableware keep things current. For the aesthetic, Lamon cites wabi-sabi, the Japanese art of finding beauty in the imperfect, balance in the discordant, as a continued source of inspiration.
As for the food, expect homestyle comfort fare with a sense of nostalgia. The delectably aromatic chicken and waffles, for instance, are a subtle nod to Ryan Lamon’s mom, who first taught him how to cook fried chicken. The rest of P+R’s highly-Instagrammable breakfast offerings — locally-sourced brew from Forge Coffee, fresh-baked biscuits, grain bowls served in hot skillets; tell a story from a particular place, warm and quaint, to a brand new host of patrons. It’s a taste of a home away from home, made for someone new.
Written by Sophie He
Photographed by Caleb Thal