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4 Restaurants to Try This Weekend in Los Angeles

Your handy guide on where to eat from the editors at Eater LA

A plate with black beans, plantains, and fried pork belly on rice from the Big Grandma’s Kitchen truck.
For soulful Salvadoran cooking: Big Grandma’s Kitchen.
Cathy Chaplin

Every Friday our editors compile a trusty list of recommendations to answer the most pressing of questions: “Where should I eat?“ Here now are four places to check out this weekend in Los Angeles. And if you need some ideas on where to drink, check out the 21 Delightful Places to Sip Cocktails Outside in LA map.

October 15, 2021

For rustic, earthy soba in bustling Sawtelle Japantown: Kaz the Soba Place

A birds eye view of soba noodles and accoutrements.
For rustic, earthy soba in the busy restaurant scene of Sawtelle Japantown: Kaz the Soba Place.
Matthew Kang

Pound for pound, there isn’t a more robust dining neighborhood in the city than Sawtelle Japantown. The slot at the end of the prime corner of Sawtelle and Mississippi has played host to various restaurants like Lemonade and the oddball Clusi Batusi, but quietly became Kaz the Soba Place, an on-the-nose description. Boasting tempura, rice bowls, and rustic, hand-cut organic buckwheat soba, the restaurant seems to be the least busy on the block. It’s a shame because the soba is pretty good, with an uneven noodle that tastes earthy and rich, reflecting the high buckwheat content. The chew was satisfying, more substantial but somehow less al dente than the soba at Ichimiann or Otafuku. Could the dipping sauce be a little better? Maybe. Could the spicy ground beef soboro rice bowl look a little more appetizing? Perhaps. Either way, it’s refreshing to have something other than ramen on the block. 2047 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

For soulful Salvadoran cooking: Big Grandma’s Kitchen

With its bright yellow paint job and back-lit signage, it’s hard not to feel giddy when the Big Grandma’s Kitchen truck rolls into town. Track down this “pupuseria on wheels” for a taste of soulful Salvadoran cooking that’s always made to order and superbly filling. The truck’s signature pupusas come stuffed with a range from ingredients — from simple cheese to beans or steak — while the composed plates always include rice, stewed black beans, and potato salad. The plate featuring chicharrones is as delicious as it is decadent. Sweet and caramelized plantains make for an ideal finish. Follow on Instagram for the truck’s latest schedule. —Cathy Chaplin

For cocktails in a lively, darkened room: La Cuevita

I’ve missed bars. Especially after inviting a friend to join me as we huddle together with cocktails and dive into a long catch up session. Highland Park’s La Cuevita is one of those spots, but only if you’re okay with the varying tunes. One night, there was nothing but incredible punk, while another evening blasted old-school rock. On a warm summer night, a DJ played 90s hip hop. Whatever the sounds, La Cuevita’s mezcal selection is ideal and vast. Drinks are reasonably priced, the kind of early 2000s reasonable that we wish could last forever in this cozy bar that’s almost always full of locals who are generally friendly, or just having an intimate time with friends in a neighborhood bar. Which is what a neighborhood bar should be. 5922 North Figueroa Street, Highland Park. —Mona Holmes

For a chance to try an Iron Chef’s fancy food in West Hollywood: Sa’Moto

A wavy medal stand holding three seafood tacos.
For a chance to try an Iron Chef’s fancy food in West Hollywood: Sa’Moto.
Matthew Kang

The little-mentioned but always recognized genre of modern Japanese lounge fare is something every Angeleno should try at least once. Originated by Matsuhisa at his namesake restaurant, the East Coast variant was always the indelible Masaharu Morimoto, an Iron Chef in both the Japanese and Food Network editions of the competitive cooking show. Morimoto’s influence casts a long shadow in cities like Philadelphia, New York, and even Vegas, but hadn’t ventured to LA (except for a forgettable kiosk at LAX). Sa’Moto, a play on words with SBE Entertainment founder Sam Nazarian and the Iron Chef, occupies a residency of sorts at Doheny Room, an ever-trendy West Hollywood clubstaurant where Morimoto’s fits so well it almost seems baked in. The fare isn’t as well executed as Nobu or even Catch, but it’s acceptable and still overall pretty tasty (I would skip the weird tuna tartare tray). The difference between Sa’Moto and its competitors is that the dining room is less about see-and-be-seen and more about relaxing with friends in a stylish environment. And the service is really friendly, too. Try the very solid cocktails, hamachi tacos on crisp wonton ‘tortillas,’ and the delicious buribap. 9077 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood. —Matthew Kang

October 8, 2021

For music venue food that’s a clear cut above the average hot dog: Winston House

A music venue with purple lights, a stage, and small tables surrounding the stage.
For music venue food that’s a clear cut above the average hot dog: Winston House.
Matthew Kang

Venice’s Winston House feels like a genuine surprise, a bona fide musical venue with character and charm to go along with a very good food and drink menu. The night we were there, the house jazz band was warming up. The area is a little packed with tables and patrons, but proof of vaccine (with strong protocols on checking their veracity) helps ease any worries of being in tight quarters (at least for me). The food, from chef Jared Dowling, isn’t overly fussy and is often even playful. Chicken nuggets, a smash burger, and roasted duck tacos are a hell of a lot better than the standard-issue burger or hot dog at venues like this in LA. The kimchi noodles were probably the only miss of the night, served in an adorable takeout box but lacking cohesion. Still, Winston House is a pleasant nightlife surprise in Venice, one that should draw quality musical talent as the months progress (I’m still waiting to see Billie Eilish show up). Note: reservations are required. 23 Windward Avenue, Venice. —Matthew Kang

For some of LA’s best chicken parm: Sunday Gravy

Dishes from Sunday Gravy in Ingelwood, California
For some of LA’s best chicken parm: Sunday Gravy
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

The name Sunday Gravy really says it all. This young, buzzy Inglewood restaurant takes its moniker from the East Coast Italian-American tradition of making big family dinners anchored by thickened red tomato sauce and lots of pasta; the sauce is called gravy, and the connection between families and food is timeless. At Inglewood’s Sunday Gravy, it’s a story of family and perseverance that makes the restaurant stand proud, but it’s the chicken parm, hearty meatballs, and clam and shrimp linguine that make the menu stand out. Stop by before a game at SoFi Stadium, or on a warm, inviting Sunday night without all the football fuss; there really is no bad time to be eating what may be some of LA’s top Italian-American dishes, complete with lots and lots of gravy. 1122 Centinela Avenue, Inglewood. — Farley Elliott

For a bountiful Brazilian buffet: Pampas Grill

Buffets aren’t usually known for careful cooking, but here at this traditional Brazilian comida à quilo joint inside the Original Farmers Market, the food is fresh, flavorful, and paid for by the pound. Move down the line to select from an assortment of side dishes (vegetables, salads, and pastas) and finish at the churrasco station where grilled steaks, sausages, and chicken await. The top sirloin cap and bacon-wrapped chicken are favorites among the carnivorous set. 6333 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

For pizza that’s designed for comfort: Hail Mary Pizza

The space at Hail Mary Pizza in Atwater Village reminds me of an East Coast joint. Compact, colorful, and situated in an old building with hardwood floors, Hail Mary Pizza is busy and loud. It’s entirely worth it to pick it up rather than paying fees to the delivery apps, just to absorb the feel of the place. The friendly staff is also a draw, but come for the pizza. If available, grab a seat near the window or outside and order Hail Mary’s blistery, thin, gorgeous pizza that’s full of every ingredient that you want. The salami pizza with marinara, capers, fennel, and mozzarella is stunning, as is the rich and tangy Lord Cheesus pie with mornay sauce, mozzarella, gorgonzola, parmesan, raclette, feta, and goat cheese. Cut the richness with a dry champagne or beer, and order the meatballs, too. 3219 Glendale Boulevard, Atwater Village. —Mona Holmes

October 1, 2021

For steamed pork belly in its finest Korean form: Kobawoo

A plate of steamed pork belly with radishes and greens for wrapping and eating.
For steamed pork belly in its finest Korean form: Kobawoo
Matthew Kang

Koreatown favorite Kobawoo opened its dining room to an eager daytime and evening clientele hankering for its incredible bossam, perhaps the finest expression of the pork belly dish in all of Los Angeles. Served moist and sliced thin, the bossam is a marvel here, with balanced porcine richness and hints of soy and other flavorings that I’m sure is a closely held secret. The other dishes will impress here too, imbued with intensity and finesse that belies Kobawoo’s approachable pricing and hefty portions. Try the haemul pajeon (seafood pancake) and naji bokeum, which is the kind of stir-fried spicy squid dish that will put a smile on any fans of Netflix’s Squid Game’s face. 698 South Vermont Avenue, # 109, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

For a food hall adventure outside of LA: 4th Street Market

When dining out with a group with completely different tastes, opt for a food hall. Take a lap around to check out what’s good, order enough to share, and sit down together while marveling at the surprises. And while it’s always easiest for LA residents to venture to Grand Central Market, only a 40 minute drive south of Downtown is Santa Ana’s 4th Street Market. The familiar Burritos la Palma is stationed there, as well as the flavorful and plant-based Naughty Panda, Chunk N Chip’s cookies, along with Mar Seafood’s Latin-Asian flavors. Tea from Loose Leaf Boba is a must, but so is hanging out in the colorful hall. When ready to venture outside, Santa Ana’s historic city center is a stunning place to explore and very walkable. 201 East 4th Street, Santa Ana. —Mona Holmes

For a seaside view and seafood to match: the Lobster

There are restaurants along the beach, and then there is the Lobster, a Santa Monica mainstay that has been up and running (in one way or another) for nearly 100 years. Here, the restaurant’s signature crustacean finds its way into most dishes (including a pretty fantastic and simple lobster-only version of a traditional shrimp cocktail starter), and is always best paired with a few heavy pours of wine and a peek at the waves. While not an inexpensive place to dine — though what seafood restaurant is? — the Lobster still manages to feel like an appropriate place for all, with kids running around while parents slurp oysters in bibs and date night revelers hide in the corners, eager to watch the sun set. It helps, too, that star chef Govind Armstrong runs the kitchen, making for a beautiful blend of comfort food, upper-class oceanside dining, and LA-casual ambiance. This is one spot for the tourists, the locals, and just about everyone up and down the food chain. 1602 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica. — Farley Elliott

For a sugar high-filled pitstop: Donut Man

Swing into the original Donut Man in Glendora to make any eastbound or southbound road trip a bit sweeter. Jim Nakano, along with his wife, Miyoko, purchased the business shortly after they married and settled in Glendora in 1972. The shop makes an array of classic doughnuts like maple bars, glazed twists, and French crullers throughout the day. Also on hand right now are the shop’s famed strawberry doughnuts — imagine a simple glazed doughnut, butterflied like Pacman, and jammed with a pint of ripe and lightly glazed strawberries. If Glendora’s too far a trek, there’s now a location inside Downtown’s Grand Central Market. 915 East Route 66, Glendora. —Cathy Chaplin

September 24, 2021

For a salsa dance party waiting to break out in Little Tokyo: Rumba Kitchen

For a salsa dance party waiting to break out in Little Tokyo: Rumba Kitchen.
For a salsa dance party waiting to break out in Little Tokyo: Rumba Kitchen.
Matthew Kang

Omayra Dakis knew she had a good space going in Little Tokyo when she toured the former Curry House restaurant. Transforming it into Rumba Kitchen, she retained its funky, angular space and made sure the far wall gave it a sense of the street, which makes sense since she’s preparing the kind of food one would enjoy in San Juan or on Playa Piñones. “People cry when they walk in here,” says Dakis, who opened one of the only true expressions of Puerto Rico when she opened Rumba last month. The beautiful fried chiofrito red snapper is a banger from the get-go, with an amazing crust and delicious beurre blanc sauce. Dense tostones complete the dish, though the experience lacks ocean breezes (which, they can’t do anything about this far inland). The lechon mofongo and bacalaitos (salt cod fritter pancakes) were also very tasty. And be sure to try the flan designed by Omayra’s 13-year-old daughter and Master Chef Jr. competitor Maria Dakis. Once Rumba lands a beer and wine license, it’s hard to imagine this place not being the most fun dining destination in Downtown. 123 Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Street, #204, Little Tokyo. —Matthew Kang

For an easy weekend dinner in Pasadena: Luggage Room Take Away

The folks behind Pasadena’s Luggage Room Pizzeria recently took over the Sushi Kimagure space across the courtyard and transformed it into a takeout arm for the full-service restaurant. Luggage Room Take Away allows for carry out, curbside pick-up, and delivery, but there’s plenty of casual seating inside and outside for those who want to linger. The pizzeria’s full menu is offered at the annex including the finest deviled eggs in town (that come topped with bacon for no extra charge), timeless bacon-wrapped dates, and plenty of pizzas, of course. The Gladiator with pepperoni and sausage is great for meat-lovers, while the Mushroom Party and the daily-changing farmers market pie works for vegetarians. Here’s to the weekend. 260 South Raymond Avenue, Pasadena. —Cathy Chaplin

For the scene (and food) you already know works: Bacari Silver Lake

There have been a few side-eyes and light whispers found when scanning the sidewalk in front of Bacari Silver Lake over the past couple of months. The new Sunset Boulevard restaurant did take over the long-running and beloved Cliff’s Edge space, after all, though it would be hard to tell when stepping back into the leafy patio for date night once again. The gorgeous, hip dinner destination still throws off the same good lighting and ambiance music that made its predecessor so popular, it’s just that now the food is even more familiar thanks to strategically-placed Bacari locations across the city from Glendale to Playa del Rey. Don’t worry about a thing, as the equally mellow Bob Marley would say, because even staunch former fans would have to admit, sitting on the patio and enjoying a cocktail or three: the new Bacari Silver Lake has kept the fun and the flavor. Every little thing is gonna be alright. 3626 Sunset Boulevard, Silver Lake. — Farley Elliott

For a visit to the oldest food site in Los Angeles: Grand Central Market

Reopening of California - during the Coronavirus pandemic.
For a visit to the oldest food site in Los Angeles: Grand Central Market
Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Let’s just say it: the iconic Grand Central Market is one of the best places to eat or drink in Los Angeles. The ideal mix of vendors makes it great, whether its Nicole Rucker’s incredible baked goods at Fat & Flour, pupusas at Sarita’s, bagels or pastrami at Wexler’s, Lucky Bird’s lemony and crispy fried chicken, the 52-year-old Mexican purveyor Roast To Go, the entirely plant-based Ramen Hood, or the longstanding China Cafe, it’s entirely possible for people (especially picky ones) to find something they really love, and then enjoy a meal together as a group. Plus, we are knee-deep in NFL, college football, and on the cusp on the start of NHL and NBA seasons. So nabbing a beer or glass of wine at Golden Road Grand Central Market while watching a game on one of the TV screens is a high possibility. For the non-sports fans, the eye-grabbing Oyster Gourmet always offers sustainable raw bar options with incredible wines under the oyster shell-like tiki bar. It’s lit after 7 p.m. on a Friday night. Just go. 317 South Broadway, Downtown. —Mona Holmes

September 17, 2021

For towering sandwiches in the sunshine: Heritage Sandwich Shop

Maybe it’s the Craftsman home, converted into a sunny, simple sandwich shop. Maybe it’s the picnic tables, shaded along a side street that flows, leafy and bright, towards the ocean. Maybe it’s the owners, brother-sister duo Lauren and Philip Pretty, who make Long Beach’s new Heritage Sandwich Shop sing so sweetly. Or maybe it’s just those sandwiches, behemoths on bread stuffed with high-quality ingredients like roasted Pasturebird chicken or tiger prawns and avocado. Whatever the heck is going on at Heritage, it’s working — particularly the smoked pork belly and tomato and pepper jam sandwich, stacked inside wide slices of country loaf bread. This is peak summertime decadence, a BLT with bite and a smile. When you can’t quite put your finger on all the small things that add up to mean so much; when you can’t stop taking bites as the sunshine flickers through the shade sails; when you find yourself dining out in Long Beach on a warm day and anything feels possible… that’s how you know you’ve hit on the right restaurant at precisely the right time. 2032 East 7th Street, Long Beach. — Farley Elliott

For seasonal moon cakes with all the fillings: Kee Wah Bakery

For festive moon cakes with all the fillings: Kee Wah Bakery.
For festive moon cakes with all the fillings: Kee Wah Bakery.
Cathy Chaplin

I pay attention to the Lunar calendar exactly two times each year — once during January or February for the new year and again around September for the mid-autumn festival. The fall festival lands on September 21 this year, so the Asian bakeries in and around Los Angeles are fully stocked with mooncakes right now. My favorite ones come filled with fruits, nuts, preserved meat, and a single salted egg yolk in the center. When my go-to mooncake purveyor, Phoenix Bakery in Chinatown, didn’t carry this variety, I headed to Kee Wah Bakery in Arcadia to pick up a few up ahead of the holiday rush. For those who are new to the tradition or anticipate the occasion as much as I do, enjoy a mooncake this weekend while sipping tea and gazing at the growing moon. 1010 South Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia. —Cathy Chaplin

For Indian specialties with market options: Bhanu’s Indian Grocery & Cuisine

Plan carefully before making a run to the family operated Bhanu’s Indian Grocery & Cuisine. First, bring grocery bags to fill up staples like basmati rice, dal, frozen naan, cardamom, black tea, snacks, plus all the goods you didn’t know you needed. Once finished, head to Bhanu’s restaurant portion and order from the extensive menu that includes South Indian specialties like dosas or the incredible medu vada (a.k.a. lentil donuts). You will bring food home with these portion sizes. The scent from everything is worth the visit alone, which are likely the items coming from the tandoori oven or hearty curries, or thali combinations which generously comes with a choice of two side dishes, rice, raita, naan, or roti. The combo seafood thali is a worthy option with coconut fish or shrimp curry that’ll rival any Indian restaurant in the SoCal region. 7246 Rosemead Boulevard, San Gabriel. —Mona Holmes

For a feast of LA flavors tucked into fantastic ingredients: Majordomo

For a feast of LA flavors tucked into fantastic ingredients: Majordomo.
For a feast of LA flavors tucked into fantastic ingredients: Majordomo.
Matthew Kang

I’ll boldly admit that before the pandemic, Majordomo was without a doubt my favorite place to eat in Los Angeles. I didn’t partake in its takeout situation while onsite dining was shut down because I could only conceive of enjoying the food while sitting on the relaxed outdoor patio or its bustling industrial dining room. A few weeks ago, I returned and found it exactly as I had remembered more than 18 months ago. The bing was plush, redolent with yeasty, toasty smells , an ideal vehicle for the spiced, stringy lamb. Heirloom tomatoes marinated with a tangy vinaigrette and sided with peaches were so sweet that they almost stung my teeth. A special of thinly sliced pig head and pineapple terrine felt like a room temp ode to al pastor tacos, especially when scooped onto the bing. At the time, entrees were somewhat limited to the spicy bossam, a truly immense dish that feeds five or six. The dish is not a bossam in the slightest, and really shouldn’t be called it, but its heritage as a classic Momofuku icon cannot be denied, and it’s no surprise it’s retained staying power as a popular showcase for dinner parties. Big, meaty hunks throw off smoky, roasty, and porky aromas, making the effort of ripping into the pork shoulder a primal, almost ridiculous task. I’m a big fan of lacing the bottom of the bossam with escabeche, a nod to LA’s love of crunchy, pickled carrots and chiles. Majordomo has smartly kept its onsite dining until it felt confident enough that it could deliver a great dinner experience, and I believe they’ve achieved that standard. 1725 Naud Street, Chinatown. —Matthew Kang

September 10, 2021

For some of the most beautiful and delicious desserts in Los Angeles: Artelice Patisserie

For some of the most beautiful and delicious desserts in Los Angeles: Artelice Patisserie.
For some of the most beautiful and delicious desserts in Los Angeles: Artelice Patisserie.
Matthew Kang

There are a number of amazing places to get pastries and composed desserts in Los Angeles, but perhaps none is better than Artelice, which really digs into what a European-style viennoisserie and patisserie could be. Chef Farid Azarang oversees one of the most extensive and detail-oriented pastry operations in the city, with a spacious outlet in Burbank that seems to be the flagship, while a branch in Sawtelle makes it accessible to Westsiders. With turquoise blue boxes and colorful ornate decorations, everything from the Napoleon to the St. Honore to the various chocolate covered cakes are presented with impeccable style and balance, worthy of an upscale place in Paris or London. The croissants aren’t just the standard varieties either, with Azarang taking inspiration from global flavors like matcha, rose, and orange blossom. The only thing to know is that Artelice has limited service on weekends, so get there before all the good stuff sells out. 117 North San Fernando Boulevard, Burbank. —Matthew Kang

For Mediterranean fare from an LA classic: Zankou Chicken

After a years-long break from eating Zankou Chicken, I went to the new Downtown location to revisit the food I grew up on. Years ago, I simply burned out on the menu after decades of overconsumption. But the new dining room on 7th between Hope and Grand is everything I needed after a short holiday week, with a modern yet retro dining room blaring nothing but the best and cheesiest 80s music. Staff recommended a lule and shish kebab combination washed down with a cucumber lime soda. It’s still great with incredibly tender meat, that classic rice, creamy hummus, and an ample serving of pickled turnips. This is an LA classic. Get to one of Zankou’s many Southern California locations now. 611 West 7th Street, Downtownowntown. —Mona Holmes

For incredible pastries made by a newly minted worker-owned cooperative: Proof Bakery

There’s never a bad time to visit chef Na Young Ma’s Proof Bakery, which opened in Atwater Village in late 2010 and recently transitioned to a worker-owned cooperative. Mornings bring some of the city’s best croissants made with a touch of sourdough starter. The lunchtime crowd is treated to savory tarts and open-faced sandwiches. Available throughout the day is an array of stunning sweets including a superb chocolate chip cookie that comes crisp, caramelized, and complex, with a sprinkling of coarse salt and an abundance of deep, dark chocolate discs. 3156 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

For a proper pita and heaps of vegetables: Kismet Rotisserie

Jammy eggs and greens inside a pita sandwich in the sun.
For a proper pita and heaps of vegetables: Kismet Rotisserie
Wonho Frank Lee

LA’s pita game has been strong for years, thanks to the region’s culinary diversity and a general willingness to get the best out of every product available. Still, it can be stunning (in the moment) to score a bite of really great pita, sitting at a sunny yellow table on a blistering summer day in LA. At Kismet Rotisserie, the lunch-through-dinner pita sandwiches come stuffed with delicious chicken or, for those eschewing meat, a hefty pile of crunchy, just-cooked, and in some cases even lightly pickled vegetables. Everything is rich with tahini, and the inclusion of a soft, slightly runny egg puts the whole thing over the top. It’s a great meal made up of great ingredients, and made all the better when wrapped in a lightly burnished, texturally complex pita. Oh, and those schmaltzy potatoes with garlic sauce are pretty great too. 4666 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Feliz. — Farley Elliott

September 2, 2021

For a terrific grilled skewer bonanza in Silver Lake: Greekman’s

An overhead shot of meat on skewers inside a white and blue tray, with bread at the side.
For a terrific grilled skewer bonanza in Silver Lake: Greekman’s.
Andrea D’Agosto

LA in general lacks the kind of upper-middle range Greek food, or Greek food in general outside of Petros (in the South Bay), Papa Cristo’s (iconic and casual), or Avra (posh, expensive, celebrity-riddled). Jonah Freedman sought to fill this gap by converting his namesake Jewish deli into a summery, outdoor-friendly Greek restaurant with a fantastic covered patio and charcoal-grilled souvlaki. The formula is excellent, and the execution is even better. Familiar fare like salads, grilled octopus, and lemony grilled branzino give way to more innovative smoked cauliflower coated with a spicy labne, or pasta-like giganti beans coaxed into tender comfort with tomato and feta. The souvlaki sampler is a must-order, big enough for two to share (or one hefty appetite), with blackened prawns, seasoned ribeye, or seared oyster mushrooms on the platter. It’s all really terrific, especially when paired with Greek orange wines or even the licorice-y ouzo liquor. There might not be a better place to enjoy the last throes of LA summer. 2619 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.—Matthew Kang

For a delightful pizza surprise in a Valley strip mall: Gorilla Pies

An overhead shot of two pizzas on round trays with a metal sheet of cheesy bread in the top left corner.
For a delightful pizza surprise in a Valley strip mall: Gorilla Pies.
Farley Elliott

The Nextdoor threads, group chats, and Facebook posts in and around Valley Village have been lighting up for the past couple of weeks, spurred on by lots of talk about “Pittsburgh-style pizza.” While the objective reality of such a pizza sub-genre is up for (heavy) debate, there’s absolutely no denying the flavor and passion found at Gorilla Pies on Burbank Boulevard. Chef Ben Osher, who has quite literally been around the world and back cooking food, is using this pandemic pop-up turned strip mall restaurant to pull himself back towards his roots. The memories inside of him, of cheesy slices and overloaded hand-tossed pies, are on full display at Gorilla Pies now; each pizza is an opportunity to share those memories with the world. Whether it’s the Green Monster with shiitake mushrooms and a spinach-ricotta sauce, or the Rabbi with pastrami and smoked kraut, there is no other pizza restaurant matching the flavor and personality of Gorilla right now. So can one restaurant’s menu really stand in as an entire genre of regional pizza — or is Osher just trying to hack out a pathway back to his hometown? The answer lies in Valley Village, and is best parsed out over a pizza. 12417 Burbank Boulevard, Valley Village. — Farley Elliott

For a culinary tour through northern Thailand: Pailin Thai Cuisine

The dishes of northern Thailand, a cuisine heavily influenced by neighboring countries Myanmar, Laos, and China, is the specialty at this Thai Town spot. The deep-fried larb balls make for an excellent starter — each wonderfully sour pork nugget fried to a crisp. Don’t pass up trying the restaurant’s popular khao soi noodles, a Burmese-influenced noodle soup comprised of curly egg noodles in a curry and coconut cream sauce. It’s an extraordinarily rich and intensely comforting bowl that’s brightened by galangal and makrut lime. 5621 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

For a festive outdoor patio with options and local beer: Blvd Markt

When heading to Downtown Montebello’s new BLVD MRKT, leave room. The welcoming patio has options for all, whether cochinita pibil from the family-owned Los Taquero Mucho, shrimp etouffee from NOLA Cajun & Creole, or pupusas from Vchos, everything is best washed down with caffeine from Cafe Santo or the outrageously delicious Mexican lollipop cider at Alchemy Craft. This shipping container food hall took years to build with a dedication to local businesses and the community as a whole. Owner Barney Santos takes care to craft a vibe-y playlist with everything you can imagine, and umbrellas are moveable as the sun shifts throughout the day. This is a place for family, groups of friends, or solo travelers looking to chill in a welcoming space. Order thoughtfully — sharing is caring — and enjoy. 520 Whittier Boulevard, Montebello. —Mona Holmes

August 27, 2021

For a festive meal on one of West LA’s best outdoor spaces: Hermanito

It’s downright steamy these days, so the best option for dining out is on a patio place that sparks joy. For me, that place is Hermanito on Sawtelle. The owner expanded the dining area to include the side driveway and rear parking lot, and it’s something to behold. There are tons of tables with ample space between them, plus a lush and covered area that takes cues from any tropical climate with wood, plants and faux grass to keep the asphalt temperature down. After taking in the space and staving off hunger with the fried avocados paired with a jalapeno-cucumber mezcal cocktail, order the five spice duck. The handmade flour tortillas, rich mole and duck a la plancha are a smoky treat. Each of the dishes are filling, so bring a crew or an empty stomach, then walk around the busy street which is evokes a busy New York vibe. 2024 Sawtelle Boulevard, Sawtelle. —Mona Holmes

For natural gelato to beat the late summer heat: Ecco un Poco

For natural gelato to beat the late summer heat: Ecco un Poco 
For natural gelato to beat the late summer heat: Ecco un Poco.
Nicole Adlman

This small, surprising gelateria wedged on a busy stretch of West Third in Beverly Grove serves not only what may be the best gelato in Los Angeles, but what may also be the city’s best (if not only?) vegan, gluten-free waffle cone. The shop is run by husband-and-wife owners Alessandro Restelli and Alejandra Unger, who were trained in the craft under gelato master — yes, gelato master — Vetulio Bondi in Florence (Restelli is originally from Northern Italy, closer to Milan; Unger is from Mexico). The Proustian choice, for me, is the Piedmont hazelnut flavor, its namesake a Piedmont hazelnut tree which, they say, is rumored to produce some of the best hazelnuts in the world. For me, it was reminiscent of the nocciola (hazelnut) gelato you can find in comunes across Italy, a perfectly earthy, nutty bite made even better when eaten in Los Angeles’s late summer heat. The gluten-free cone, meanwhile, is crunchy and stable enough to keep the gelato from spilling onto the street. 8318 West Third Street, Los Angeles. —Nicole Adlman

For a Brazilian happy hour in the sun: Nossa

For a Brazilian happy hour in the sun: Nossa.
For a Brazilian happy hour in the sun: Nossa.
Farley Elliott

What to do when wandering around at 4 p.m. on a warm Los Angeles afternoon, hungry but not starving (and trying to save a little in the tank for dinner)? If you’re in the Los Feliz area, try Nossa, the newish southern Brazilian spot on Hillhurst. The colorful, inviting space is currently closed for indoor dining but the street side patio seating and sidewalk tables offer more than enough room to sip happy hour wines and peruse the snacks list. There are plenty of bites to choose from, from the pãonini mini sandwiches to the cheese bread to the burger. The latter is a beefy boy (pun very much intended), buoyed by a brisket and short rib mix and made all the more unique thanks to a hefty slice of roasted tomato and some softened hearts of palm. It’s more than a snack, sure, but dinner isn’t for a couple of hours. 1966 Hillhurst, Los Feliz. — Farley Elliott

For hand-pulled noodles served in a slick setting: Noodle St.

It’s all about Chinese hand-pulled noodles at Noodle St., a fast-growing chain with four locations in Southern California. Lunching at the newest outlet in Old Pasadena reminded me of the modern restaurants that serve local fare in pretty environs (complete with air conditioning, cushy seating, and English language menus) that are a common sight throughout Asia. Noodle St. brings that same (somewhat sterile) sensibility to LA. Try the signature hand-pulled noodles — they’re great in the Lanzhou beef noodle soup or prepared with eggs and tomatoes. The beef rolls, scallion pancakes, and lamb skewers round out the menu. 87 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena. —Cathy Chaplin

August 20, 2021

For the kind of comforting LA tacos that never get old: Los Cinco Puntos

For the kind of comforting LA tacos that never get old: Los Cinco Puntos.
For the kind of comforting LA tacos that never get old: Los Cinco Puntos
Farley Elliott

Live in Los Angeles long enough, and there’s every reason to believe that — eventually, if you’re living your life right — you’ll end up at Los Cinco Puntos, the Boyle Heights-East LA classic known for its mixed carnitas and extra-thick tortillas. Made by hand, the dense discs hold fistfuls of slowly-cooked pork of all shapes and cuts, from intestines to skin to shoulder. The guacamole add-on is a must, as are the nopales, leaving each taco teetering on the edge of madness. Two are enough, but three is better here, because you’ll always be chasing just one more bite of tender pork. 3300 East Cesar Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles. —Farley Elliott

For fantastic crudo and more in Santa Monica: Crudo e Nudo

For fantastic crudo and more in Santa Monica: Crudo e Nudo.
For fantastic crudo and more in Santa Monica: Crudo e Nudo
Matthew Kang

I’m not usually one to indulge in crudo for a Friday lunch, but last week a friend and I decided it was due time to try Crudo e Nudo, a very au courant restaurant along Main Street Santa Monica serving incredibly fresh seafood in hand-thrown ceramic dishes and beautiful chilled wines. Chef Brian Bornemann and partner Leena Culhane have a daily mix of fresh crudo, locally caught and considered “sustainable” (so don’t expect bluefin tuna or anything). The fish are served lightly dressed with seasonal ingredients and possibly the most delicious olive oil ever. The tuna toast (yes, there is some tuna on the menu) is presumably caught on a line and chopped up over seeded Gjusta bread while the caviar nachos come with masago, ikura, creme fraiche, and calabrian sauce. Expect to spend more than $100 a person for this luxurious meal, but for the quality and amount of fish, it’s worth it. 2724 Main Street, Santa Monica. —Matthew Kang

For a delicious yuzu shio broth straight out of Tokyo: Afuri Ramen

Ramen and gyoza from Afuri
For a delicious yuzu shio broth straight out of Tokyo: Afuri Ramen
Wonho Frank Lee

Afuri Ramen is barely two months into its Arts District tenure, but the famed ramen shop has already made quite the splash. It’s a bold move, as Los Angeles has a robust ramen culture, with key spots in Little Tokyo, Sawtelle, Gardena, and other South Bay communities. But Afuri’s unique yuzu shio broth is a refreshing reminder of ramen’s traditional shoyu and miso-based varieties. There’s options for all, including those in need of a plant-based broth, or noodles without gluten. But if going for Afuri’s signature style, the yuzu shio ramen comes with a slice of chashu pork, a green splash of endive leaves, and bamboo. While other restaurants offer yuzu shio in LA, it’s nice to shine a light on this style and in a gorgeous bright space with high ceilings and a welcoming patio. 688 Mateo Street, Arts District. —Mona Holmes

For a legendary burrito experience: Manuel’s Original El Tepeyac Café

There’s no use trying to pick up your burrito at El Tepeyac Café. It likely weighs over two pounds and is portioned larger than your head. Only a knife and fork will do in this situation, along with an appetite comparable to that of an Olympic swimmer. Get the famous Hollenbeck burrito, a giant flour tortilla crammed to maximum capacity with slow-cooked pork, rice, beans, and guacamole. The massive parcel is ladled with additional pork, making for a sopping and saucy creation of epic proportions. Dine outdoors for limited service or indoors for full-service. 812 North Evergreen Avenue, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

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