Eagle Rock rocks

Dine, stroll, and bowl in this small town in the big city
L.J. Williamson

Not too long ago, the stretch of Colorado Boulevard that ran through the Los Angeles neighborhood of Eagle Rock was, in the words of resident Mary Tokita, "just a place you drove on to get from the Valley to Pasadena."

Now the boulevard and Eagle Rock itself are coming into their own. For years, residents watched as Colorado Boulevard slid into decline: Storefronts receded, parking lots encroached, and neighborhood shops were replaced by automotive businesses ― more than 90, by Tokita's count. But Tokita and other residents formed a neighborhood association that fought to enhance the foot-friendly nature of the boulevard, which serves as Eagle Rock's Main Street.

Once an auto-repair shop, Fatty's & Co. ($$; closed Tue; 1627 Colorado Blvd.; 323/254-8804) is now a vegetarian cafe, although the automotive magazines for sale here provide a nice link to the past. Longer-established favorites include Casa Bianca ($; closed Sun-Mon; 1650 Colorado; 323/256-9617) for pizza and Colombo's Restaurant ($$$; 1833 Colorado; 323/254-9138) for steaks and live jazz.

Car culture hasn't been totally lost here; on the last Saturday of each month, Jim's Burgers ($; 2005 Colorado; 323/257-3892) ― as unpretentious as the name implies ― hosts the Eagle Rockin' Rodders car club. After talking shop with collectors of "vintage tin," bowl a frame or two at All Star Lanes (4459 Eagle Rock Blvd.; 323/254-2579), famous for its thwarted appointment with the wrecking ball.

Higher culture isn't neglected either. Toros Pottery (closed Sun; 4962 Eagle Rock Blvd.; 323/344-8330) is a gem of a store, with beautiful ceramics and a range of pottery classes. And Occidental College (1600 Campus Rd.; 323/259-2500) has graceful Myron Hunt-designed buildings that have been settings for numerous films, from the Hepburn-Tracy classic Pat and Mike to Star Trek III. A walk through campus makes a fine spring outing. Or enjoy a musical offering: On April 24, the Occidental-Caltech Symphony Orchestra performs for free at Thorne Hall auditorium.

Eyes on Eagle Rock

From Pasadena, take State 134 west; exit at Colorado Blvd. 323/257-2197 or www.eaglerockchamberofcommerce.com