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15 Easy Drive-Thru Restaurant Options Around Los Angeles

The original contactless food system has deep roots in Los Angeles, and is still thriving as the pandemic remains a reality

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Los Angeles’s car culture and urban sprawl are legendary. As a result of Southern California’s massive network of freeways and wide boulevards, drive-thru restaurants have proliferated in the decades since the introduction of the two-way speaker box in 1948, thanks to In-N-Out Burger. Even today, drive-thru restaurants continue to thrive in communities all over greater LA. From the iconic Randy’s Donut to a fairly new Orange County plant-based drive-thru, here are 15 of the best places to grab-and-go food from your car during the holidays and beyond.

Added: Boba Ave Express, Frosty Queen, Old Time Drive In, Tamales Elena Y Antojitos, Veg’d

Removed: B & B Donuts, Chuy’s Tacos Dorados, Rick’s Drive In & Out, Sam’s Charbroiled Burgers

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Frosty Queen

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This Granada Hills drive-thru opened its first location in 1972, and has staying power thanks to its quality burgers, soft serves, and shakes. But the majestic pastrami cheeseburger? It’s best savored with a dining partner.

Old Time Drive-In

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Open since 1985, Old Time Drive-In is a legendary old-school drive-thru in Sun Valley. The menu features familiar breakfast, lunch, or dinner splendor with pancakes, pastrami, burgers, plus an incredible patty melt.

Sam's Charbroiled Burgers

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North Hollywood option Sam’s is still going strong, offering takeout to the greater San Fernando Valley — including lots of breakfast items — daily.

The Original Tops

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It’s all about the pastrami at Tops in Pasadena, the classic Route 66 stand that has been in business for decades.

Boba Ave Express

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This is a far better option than tolerating a long stack of cars waiting for Starbucks, stop into Boba Ave Express to get some of that jasmine boba along with the popcorn chicken.

Patra's Charbroiled Burgers

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Glassell Park’s timeless Patra’s stands tall during the pandemic, serving burgers, salads, sandwiches, and more.

Gus's Drive-In

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Operating for decades out of Westlake, Gus’s menu is massive with classic breakfast, burgers, fajitas, and a ribeye steak pita. There’s also a delightfully sweet and rare find in Southern California: custard.

Lucy's Drive In

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Lucy’s is a Mid-City staple, the kind of classic do-it-all restaurant that not only runs around the clock, it has what may be the most underrated breakfast burrito in Los Angeles.

The Donut Hole

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What could possibly be better than driving through a giant replica of a doughnut while picking up a box of real doughnuts? To do just that, simply head for the Donut Hole in La Puente. Plus, the kids will love it.

Antojitos Martin

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Antojitos Martin is one of those classic LA-everything spots, done extremely well. There’s something for all, from fried plantains to horchata frappes, fresh juices, tortas, tamales, and elote. Don’t skip the surprising merch either, like the adorable Frida Kahlo children’s bank.

Randy's Donuts

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For decades, Randy’s Donuts has maintained a drive-thru with some long wait times. Go for the classic glazed, buttermilk, or cereal sprinkled variety.

US-PROPERTY-NFL-INGLEWOOD-RAMS Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images

Tamales Elena Y Antojitos

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We are fairly certain that Tamales Elena Y Antojitos is the only drive-thru featuring Afro-Mexican food in the region. Tamales are not the only specialty available, ask for the chilaquiles, pull over, and eat them while hot.

Three banana leaf tamales from Tamales Elena on a traditional plate.
Tamales Elena Y Antojitos
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

Shin-Sen-Gumi 2GO

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Ramen to go? That sounds like a plan, especially when paired with takoyaki and other delicious side dishes.

Takeout ramen bowl from Shin Sen Gumi Express in Gardena
Shin-Sen-Gumi
Matthew Kang

Plant Power Fast Food

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There’s a distinct retro-style happening at Long Beach’s Plant Power Fast Food, where familiar drive-thru dishes like burgers, root beer floats, and buffalo “wings” are found, but they’re all plant-based and delicious. There’s four SoCal locations, plus one truck.

Chef Matthew Kenney transformed a former Del Taco into a completely vegan fast-food restaurant this year, and kept the drive-thru intact. Veg’d serves plant-based American fare with burgers, fries, smoothies, and more, like a kung pao bowl with cauliflower with tofu and zucchini. Don’t skip on the breakfast sandwich or breakfast burrito.

The Veg’d plant bowl with grilled vegetables, avocado, toasted almonds, and dressing in Costa Mesa, California.
Veg’d
Courtesy of Matthew Kenney Cuisine

Frosty Queen

This Granada Hills drive-thru opened its first location in 1972, and has staying power thanks to its quality burgers, soft serves, and shakes. But the majestic pastrami cheeseburger? It’s best savored with a dining partner.

Old Time Drive-In

Open since 1985, Old Time Drive-In is a legendary old-school drive-thru in Sun Valley. The menu features familiar breakfast, lunch, or dinner splendor with pancakes, pastrami, burgers, plus an incredible patty melt.

Sam's Charbroiled Burgers

North Hollywood option Sam’s is still going strong, offering takeout to the greater San Fernando Valley — including lots of breakfast items — daily.

The Original Tops

It’s all about the pastrami at Tops in Pasadena, the classic Route 66 stand that has been in business for decades.

Boba Ave Express

This is a far better option than tolerating a long stack of cars waiting for Starbucks, stop into Boba Ave Express to get some of that jasmine boba along with the popcorn chicken.

Patra's Charbroiled Burgers

Glassell Park’s timeless Patra’s stands tall during the pandemic, serving burgers, salads, sandwiches, and more.

Gus's Drive-In

Operating for decades out of Westlake, Gus’s menu is massive with classic breakfast, burgers, fajitas, and a ribeye steak pita. There’s also a delightfully sweet and rare find in Southern California: custard.

Lucy's Drive In

Lucy’s is a Mid-City staple, the kind of classic do-it-all restaurant that not only runs around the clock, it has what may be the most underrated breakfast burrito in Los Angeles.

The Donut Hole

What could possibly be better than driving through a giant replica of a doughnut while picking up a box of real doughnuts? To do just that, simply head for the Donut Hole in La Puente. Plus, the kids will love it.

Antojitos Martin

Antojitos Martin is one of those classic LA-everything spots, done extremely well. There’s something for all, from fried plantains to horchata frappes, fresh juices, tortas, tamales, and elote. Don’t skip the surprising merch either, like the adorable Frida Kahlo children’s bank.

Randy's Donuts

US-PROPERTY-NFL-INGLEWOOD-RAMS Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images

For decades, Randy’s Donuts has maintained a drive-thru with some long wait times. Go for the classic glazed, buttermilk, or cereal sprinkled variety.

US-PROPERTY-NFL-INGLEWOOD-RAMS Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images

Tamales Elena Y Antojitos

Three banana leaf tamales from Tamales Elena on a traditional plate.
Tamales Elena Y Antojitos
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

We are fairly certain that Tamales Elena Y Antojitos is the only drive-thru featuring Afro-Mexican food in the region. Tamales are not the only specialty available, ask for the chilaquiles, pull over, and eat them while hot.

Three banana leaf tamales from Tamales Elena on a traditional plate.
Tamales Elena Y Antojitos
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

Shin-Sen-Gumi 2GO

Takeout ramen bowl from Shin Sen Gumi Express in Gardena
Shin-Sen-Gumi
Matthew Kang

Ramen to go? That sounds like a plan, especially when paired with takoyaki and other delicious side dishes.

Takeout ramen bowl from Shin Sen Gumi Express in Gardena
Shin-Sen-Gumi
Matthew Kang

Plant Power Fast Food

There’s a distinct retro-style happening at Long Beach’s Plant Power Fast Food, where familiar drive-thru dishes like burgers, root beer floats, and buffalo “wings” are found, but they’re all plant-based and delicious. There’s four SoCal locations, plus one truck.

VEG'D

The Veg’d plant bowl with grilled vegetables, avocado, toasted almonds, and dressing in Costa Mesa, California.
Veg’d
Courtesy of Matthew Kenney Cuisine

Chef Matthew Kenney transformed a former Del Taco into a completely vegan fast-food restaurant this year, and kept the drive-thru intact. Veg’d serves plant-based American fare with burgers, fries, smoothies, and more, like a kung pao bowl with cauliflower with tofu and zucchini. Don’t skip on the breakfast sandwich or breakfast burrito.

The Veg’d plant bowl with grilled vegetables, avocado, toasted almonds, and dressing in Costa Mesa, California.
Veg’d
Courtesy of Matthew Kenney Cuisine

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