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A big table for fried chicken and lots of sides.
Tokyo Fried Chicken
[Official Photo]

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10 Delicious Things to Eat in Monterey Park

Eater editors’ favorite dishes in the San Gabriel Valley’s dynamic neighborhood

This is a series celebrating to the best dishes to eat in various neighborhoods across Los Angeles. Today we’re in Monterey Park, a thriving community in west San Gabriel Valley. From a perpetually packed dim sum hall to Mexican tortas stuffed with everything good, here now are Eater editors’ favorites in the neighborhood.


Ground lamb pies at Beijing Pie House

Beijing Pie House
Ground lamb pies at Beijing Pie House
[Official Photo]

Beijing Pie House is a staple San Gabriel Valley restaurant, known famously for its puck-sized xian bing meat pies. The Monterey Park location is a corner strip mall affair tucked under a glowing red neon sign; inside the colorful focus is on the ordering counter, where eager fans wait impatiently for plates full of pies. The most famous are the lamb and green onion/beef and green onion combos, though there are vegetarian options, steamed dumplings, noodles, and appetizers to boot. Save the money for those burnished brown dough disks stuffed with meat, though, because they’re truly the star of the show and among the best single bites one can find in Monterey Park. 846 E. Garvey Ave., Monterey Park. —Farley Elliott

Sweet silken tofu at V.P. Tofu

Sweet silken tofu at V.P. Tofu
Sweet silken tofu at V.P. Tofu
Cathy Chaplin

Silken tofu served warm and sweet is a soothing dessert with endless appeal. While you can find this Chinese delicacy at just about any restaurant serving dim sum, V.P. Tofu in Monterey Park makes the best version around. With its smooth texture and clean, mild taste, tofu can take on flavors like few ingredients can. Try it with a ginger syrup that’s as sweet as it is spicy. There’s also a pandan version that’s minty green in color and topped with creamy coconut milk. The pandan’s unmistakable fragrance transports taste buds straight to Southeast Asia. 237 South Garfield Ave., Monterey Park. —Cathy Chaplin

Pork crab dumplings at Mama Lu’s Dumpling House

Pork crab dumplings at Mama Lu’s Dumpling House.
Pork crab dumplings at Mama Lu’s Dumpling House
Cathy Chaplin

As one of Southern California’s most recognizable and smile-worthy names, Mama Lu’s Dumpling House is an institution that produces solid Chinese food. With two typically packed locations in Monterey Park, the kitchen cranks out favorites like salted fish and chicken fried rice, ginger and scallion with lamb, and saucy beef wraps all day long. But it’s called Mama Lu’s Dumpling House for a reason, and the dumplings are the restaurant’s showstopper. If ordering the crab and pork dumplings for the first time, sit back and marvel at these perfectly shaped little discs. The Mama Lu’s team spent years creating flavorful dumplings with incredible texture. They’re compact and filled with piping hot liquid, with pan-fried options that have a crispy outer layer. The crab lends a soft, salty, and slightly sweet layer to the dumpling. But don’t bite in too quickly. One false move, and broth is suddenly on clothing or dripping down chins. This could be unpleasant, so prepare by giving them a few moments to cool, using a spoon to break the dough or just endure the pain. 153 E Garvey Ave, Monterey Park. —Mona Holmes

Fried chicken at Tokyo Fried Chicken

A big table for fried chicken and lots of sides.
Fried chicken at Tokyo Fried Chicken
[Official Photo]

It’s entirely possible that, even within the broad spectrum of greater Los Angeles, the best fried chicken can be found in Monterey Park. More than a few folks have come away from a meal at Tokyo Fried Chicken convinced that its bird is the juiciest, shatteringly crispiest kind to be found, thanks to a proprietary batter and process that results, as the late Jonathan Gold said, in chicken that is “well-marinated, triple-fried, with brittle, almost translucent skin.” Lines still queue up early for the simple multi-piece meals, offered with house-made ponzu sauces on the side, as well as side dishes like coleslaw, cold tofu, or curry creamed corn. Meals scale up easily for larger groups, with the price still hovering around $15 per person. 122 S. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park. —Farley Elliott

Pineapple buns at Delicious Food Corner

Pineapple buns at Delicious Food Corner.
Pineapple buns at Delicious Food Corner
Cathy Chaplin

There’s something for every mood and occasion at Delicious Food Corner, Monterey Park’s decade-old Hong Kong-style cafe. Breakfast-goers can’t resist huge bowls of porridge brimming with pork and preserved eggs, and freshly steamed rice rolls in a puddle of sesame and soy. Lunch-goers tuck into minced pork served over rice and simple sautéed greens, while the dinner crowd shares platters of fried squid and grilled steaks with black pepper sauce. Perfect anytime of day are the pineapple buns, served two to an order, split through the center, and tucked with a luscious pat of salted butter. The warm buns melt the butter just so, making each bite supremely sweet and rich. 2329 S. Garfield Ave., Monterey Park. —Cathy Chaplin

Carne asada torta at Cook’s Tortas

Carne asada torta at Cook’s Tortas.
Carne asada torta at Cook’s Tortas
Farley Elliott

Monterey Park sandwich staple Cook’s Tortas is much more than just a place for meat and bread. For starters, the menu inside the small restaurant is massive, hovering around 25 sandwiches only plus another dozen or more sides, salads, desserts, and drinks like daily agua frescas. There are classic Mexican-style sandwiches like the carne asada, shown here, as well as achiote-rubbed cochinita pork and classic breaded cutlets for milanesas. It’s easy to see the place’s direct appeal to a maximum amount of customers, which is precisely why the family-owned restaurant has just signed up to franchise with new locations across the country. More and more, it’s looking like the next decade could be a big one for this Monterey Park original. 1944 S. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park. —Farley Elliott

DIY grilled steaks at the Venice Room

DIY grilled steaks at the Venice Room.
DIY grilled steaks at the Venice Room
Cathy Chaplin

Family-owned and operated since 1955, the Venice Room encourages diners to grill their own steaks in a Venetian-themed room that’s dusty, dated, dingy, and delightful too. For just $10.95 during lunch, diners are treated to a sad but plentiful salad bar, a baked potato, a French roll, and an eight ounce slab of uncooked New York strip. Raw steaks are seasoned with dried spices before thrown on the communal grill. And while there are juicier and tenderer steaks to be had just about anywhere else, the sheer joy of rolling up one’s sleeves, figuring out how to maneuver a restaurant-grade grill, and doing it all among friends and strangers over a few cocktails is an experience that’s hard to beat. 2428 S. Garfield Ave., Monterey Park. —Cathy Chaplin

Taiwanese breakfast at Huge Tree Pastry

Taiwanese breakfast at Huge Tree Pastry.
Taiwanese breakfast at Huge Tree Pastry
Cathy Chaplin

Huge Tree Pastry is a staple spot for Monterey Park, the kind of do-it-all classic that draws legions of fans every week. The restaurant offers a variety of Taiwanese and Chinese dishes, from dumplings to beef rolls, but the specialty of the place is undoubtedly the Taiwanese breakfast dishes. The crullers and soy milk are a classic, as is the sticky purple rice fan tuan, offered with eggs and plenty of pickled vegetables inside. It’s a small but mighty morning meal all wrapped up in one, which is perfect considering the restaurant opens at 7 a.m. daily. 423 N. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park. —Farley Elliott

Whole grilled squid at King Charcoal BBQ

Whole grilled squid at King Charcoal BBQ.
Whole grilled squid at King Charcoal BBQ
Mona Holmes

This tiny, 10-table neighborhood spot is easy to miss while speeding down Garfield, just south of Garvey Avenue. King Charcoal BBQ opened in 2018 and serves eastern Chinese barbecue every night until 2 a.m. It’s what’s needed during later hours, a menu that’s easy to decipher and full of meats and vegetables. Most ingredients are skewered and thrown on a grill with no fuss, including fat and lean lamb, bacon wrapped enoki, tripe, mushrooms, gizzard, corn, and tasty curry pork ribs. The winner here is the grilled squid; it’s a tender, wonderfully pleasant dish for a ridiculously low $8.99. Come with a crew and order beer and skewered meats for a great experience in Monterey Park. 220 S Garfield Ave Monterey Park. —Mona Holmes

Crispy shrimp rice noodle roll at Elite

Crispy shrimp rice noodle roll at Elite in Monterey Park.
Crispy shrimp rice noodle roll at Elite
Cathy Chaplin

Waiting for a table at Elite on a weekend morning tests one’s dedication to the sport of dim sum. The bellies that gather here are a tenacious bunch; they don’t seem to mind waiting an hour or even two so long as the food is tops when their number finally gets called. Dim sum basics like shu mai (pork and shrimp dumplings), har gow (translucent shrimp dumplings), and tripe with ginger and scallions are executed very well. Best of all are the rice noodle rolls with a crunchy fried doughnut filling that contrasts brilliantly with the smooth noodle sheets and supple little shrimp. Soy sauce ties everything together with a subtle sweetness. 700 South Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park. —Cathy Chaplin

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