The places on Melrose have changed dramatically over the years, especially since the opening of the Grove shopping center just a few blocks away. Many of the hip chic stores have relocated or closed, and much of the funky street character has given way to cheesy cheap sleaze. But there is always hope in transition, and there are a few places which could breathe in a new life on Melrose.
For something French and new, try the French restaurant Comme Ca (which means "Like This") in the heart of the antique store area. They specialize in familiar French bistro dishes in a modern setting. One of the best places to find a typically Parisian menu of everything from oysters to steak frites, with a nice selection of cheeses and desserts. It's got the comfort food of a nice neighborhood place tucked in the suburbs of Paris but with a nod to fresh Californian vegetables. A large selection of wines by the glass keeps the small bar busy, a good place to wait for a table if you forgot to make a reservation. A nice plus is the service here, which is kind (if hurried), and another bonus is their own valet parking lot (in an area of scarce parking).
For something almost new (open since 2005), try M Cafe by Chaya which bases its' menu on macrobiotic foods and a global perspective. Breakfast is probably the best time to go and try out a scramble with tempeh or their cranberry walnut french toast. It's got a tiny lot and a few outdoor tables, so it's hard to find a place to park or eat in here, but worth going to pick up food to go that is tasty and healthy. Their prepacked lunch boxes take all the decision making out of the equation and give a good sampling of their menu. The only negative I found was their desserts looked better than they tasted (give me butter and eggs for my desserts please!).
Although Melrose Avenue has changed over the years, some things never change and keep the allure alive. The famous bookstore the Bodhi Tree, and its' annex for used books around the back, is one of the best places to met your favorite authors. If you are a fan of new age and spiritual writings, come meet the authors when they have their book signings (free). I discovered Alan Cohen's book "A Deep Breath of Life" at the Bohdi Tree and he had a book signing here when he released his latest book. The bookstore itself is a maze of sections devoted to everything from the historical and referential to the esoteric. Just wander around the maze and you will find cards, calendars, tarot cards, and gifts for the most spiritual of your friends.
Whatever your religion or spirituality, you can coexist here with the rainbow of all possibilities.