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'Cookbook' Is the Grocery That Echo Park Deserves

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What really defines a ‘neighborhood’? It is pure geography, an attempt by our brains to constantly categorize and label? Probably not; there are plenty of filled urban spaces that exist without anyone calling them a neighborhood. To fit the bill, there needs to be something more. A communal social experience, perhaps, or an open space for people to congregate. Neighborhoods require interaction and discussion, a feeling of community and a sense of purpose. Cookbook, the local Echo Park greengrocer, may not be a community all to itself, but it’s certainly got most of the qualifications, and it fights right inside Echo Park’s neighborhood nicely.

The miniscule storefront shop sits two drips away from Chango Coffee, which, if you use Chango as a reference point, is already a good sign you live nearby. If not, it’s at 1549 Echo Park Avenue, a few blocks up from Sunset, before the hills set in. The simple signage doesn’t exactly reach out and grab you, either, which means there’s a decent chance you’ve passed right by Cookbook and never even noticed it was there. Thankfully, enough keen-eyed locals have recognized the shop for exactly what it is: a small, local grocery focusing on responsibly grown produce and artisanal products from California and around the globe.

Step in past the plate glass windows and you’re practically already at the counter, which certainly makes things more intimate. A selection of fruits and vegetables square off the interior space, with shelving and a couple of coolers hugging the side walls. Then it’s back to that counter, spilling over at the bottom with namesake cookbooks and plugged up in the middle with a simple yet vibrant meat case, holding the day’s cuts. A rack along the back wall holds baskets of freshly baked bread, lightly browned and crusted with moist, warm interiors. Walking by, you’d never realize just how much there is to look at inside such a small space. Then you notice Marta Teegan.

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As the co-owner of Cookbook, you can find her most days right behind that counter, adding up purchases and offering suggestions on the cheeses and herbs that ring the store. She’s been in the neighborhood for well over a decade, getting to know the neighbors and finding out what Echo Park really needs. As it turns out, the answer may well be Cookbook. Then again, it could always use another sustainable, small-plate restaurant too. Having provided pre-mades and takeaway bites from behind the counter for years, Teegan is slowly but steadily moving into the restaurateuring world with a space around the corner on Sunset. The idea is to offer the same fresh ingredients available at her grocery, but fully prepared and presented with aplomb. Seems like another neighborhood spot in the making.

Cookbook is the sort of local greengrocer that Echo Park deserves, with focused shelves lined with sustainable products at prices that reflect the true cost of food. With Mohawk Bend just around the corner and Miles Thompson’s delicate plates bursting from the kitchen of his pop up at Allston Yacht Club nearby, there has never been a better time for Marta Teegan and her services. Except, she’s already been doing this for years. All she needed was the neighborhood.

1549 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park (map)
Open daily 8am - 8pm