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From Burger Pop Ups to Sqirl, East Hollywood May Be LA’s Hottest Dining ‘Hood

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As restaurateurs search for cheap real estate, East Hollywood earns more eyeballs

Burgers Never Say Die, an East Hollywood pop-up
Clay Larsen
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Though East Hollywood hardly comes up first in discussions of restaurant neighborhood prowess, the wide triangular section of the city just east of the 101 is as booming as it gets right now. The densely packed part of Los Angeles carries close to 100,000 residents, and offers a stunning variety of dining at just about every level. Add in all the new names that have either opened or been announced in East Hollywood in just the past year or so, and it seems one of the city’s most unheralded ‘hoods is finally ready get its due.

First, it’s important to know what’s already thriving in East Hollywood. Middle Eastern, Armenian, and Mexican food works wonders, from names like Falafel Arax to Taqueria el Zarape up on Fountain. DeSano Pizza Bakery has been there for years, along with brunch dominator Square One and Filipino mainstay L.A. Rose Cafe.

Newer names to the neighborhood have proven no less important, either. Sqirl is technically a part of East Hollywood, though most refer to their stretch as Virgil Village. The same is true for popular bar The Virgil, while up on Hollywood Boulevard (yep, still East Hollywood, at least on the south side of the street) names like Bar Covell and HomeState qualify. That means Kismet, Go Get Em Tiger, and the brand, brand new Friends & Family are all East Hollywood — along with most of your favorite Thai Town restaurants, including Jitlada.

Go Get Em Tiger on Hollywood Boulevard
Wonho Frank Lee

You want underground options? Try the tucked-away new Kukui Hut Cafe, a surprising East Hollywood Hawaiian option that’s gaining serious steam. A few blocks away is Burgers Never Say Die, a weekend backyard Instagram hit that keeps getting busier by the Sunday. Nabi is doing some of the best casual Korean bibimbap bowls from a swap meet off Santa Monica Boulevard. And last Friday night, a line of 50 people spread down the block near Tabula Rasa Bar for Dave’s Hot Chicken, which is technically in Los Feliz but has its heart in the more DIY East Hollywood food movement that’s happening right now.

And that’s to say nothing of what’s still to come. A couple of restaurant and bar vets are opening up a casual evening space with loads of patio seating soon along Virgil, to be called Melody. Brooklyn restaurant Five Leaves is still working hard on completely rebuilding one of the more beautiful Art Deco spaces along Fountain Avenue, while rumors are swirling about who will take over the recently shuttered Yuca’s hut on Hollywood. Sqirl, with its famed weekend lines for toast and coffee, is even still hoping to open up Sqirl Away, a side-project by owner Jessica Koslow that should streamline the best grab and go items from the main restaurant’s repertoire.

Whether you realize it or not, most of your favorite Eastside-ish restaurants, both new and old, have East Hollywood in their blood. Right now true Hollywood is getting all the press for its big rooftop bar openings, clubby Hollywood corners, and New York City transplant patio spaces, but just under the radar East Hollywood is becoming one of the most desirable dining neighborhoods anywhere in Los Angeles.