clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Shrimp po’boy from Nola Cajun and Creole in Montebello, California
Shrimp po’boy from Nola Cajun and Creole.
Matthew Kang

18 Hidden Gem Restaurants in Los Angeles

Stellar Creole fare in Montebello, sneaky-good Korean cuisine in Gardena, and the return of a delightful Hollywood patio

View as Map
Shrimp po’boy from Nola Cajun and Creole.
| Matthew Kang

What defines a hidden gem? Most of the time, it’s a beloved neighborhood spot that serves the community without really drawing much attention to itself. Maybe the place is actually physically hard to find, or maybe it doesn’t really advertise itself from signage or other means beyond the simple name. Otherwise, a hidden gem is just a place of discovery, either hiding in plain sight or away from the main road but serving truly special things on the plate. You’ll be greatly rewarded for finding these 18 hidden gem restaurants across Los Angeles.

Added: Jiayuan Dumpling House, Nola Cajun and Creole, Danny Boy’s Pizzeria, Hamlet’s Kitchen, Trinistyle, Churrasco Chapin

Removed: Surawon, Vito, Roro’s Chicken, Giuliano’s, Tortas Ahogadas, Sabor a Malibu, Koko’s Mediterranean

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Kurrypinch

Copy Link

Sri Lankan food is far from abundant in greater Los Angeles, which makes Kurrypinch in Van Nuys all the more special. The simple storefront turns out excellent rice flour dishes like string hopper pilau, grilled meats, curries in a bowl, and lots more for those eager to sample a taste of Sri Lanka.

Hamlet's Kitchen

Copy Link

Hidden well beyond the street in the very back of a parking lot, this cash-only kebabs spot does true charcoal-grilled meats on wide skewers. The whole situation certainly seems a little sketchy, but the results in the take-out containers are the absolute truth.

Lule kebabs from Hamlet’s Kitchen grilling over charcoal.
Charcoal-grilled kebabs from Hamlet’s Kitchen.
Joshua Lurie

Chongqing Special Noodles

Copy Link

SGV’s unsung noodle specialist sits in a strip mall with not much else going on along a sleepy stretch of Las Tunas. Even the parking lot isn’t that easy to drive into, but once inside, this restaurant packs a real punch with its expansive set of Sichuan-inflected noodles.

Dan dan noodles from Chongqing Special Noodles in SGV
Dan dan noodles
Matthew Kang

Superba Food + Bread Hollywood

Copy Link

Renovated as the Hearth and the Hound a few years ago but promptly closed due to controversy, Superba has taken over the historic Cat & Fiddle courtyard patio and space in Hollywood, retaining all of its charm but installing a friendly all-day menu of sandwiches, salads, and composed dinner plates that makes this one of the nicest everyday restaurants in LA. It’s really easy to waste hours away sipping coffee or cocktails and digging into well-made food at this historic hideaway.

For a gorgeous heated outdoor dinner at an historic Hollywood patio: Superba Food and Bread.
Outdoor patio at Superba Hollywood.
Matthew Kang

El Churrasco Chapin

Copy Link

Guatemalan cuisine rarely gets the spotlight in Los Angeles, even though the Central American country has a major demographic presence in Southern California. The 6th and Bonnie Brae night market is the place to get incredible street food while this humble, but excellent strip mall restaurant highlights homestyle Guatemalan fare, from cheesy dobladas to carne guisada.

Dobladas San Carlos at Churrasco Chapin.
Dobladas San Carlos at Churrasco Chapin.
Matthew Kang

Singapore's Banana Leaf

Copy Link

Singapore’s Banana Leaf is a staple at the Original Farmers Market. While fans know the outdoor dining marketplace for its produce, its doughnuts, and its history, it’s the grilled meat satay skewers, laksa curry soups, and pan-fried noodles that really help to make this one of the best places for a bite anywhere in Los Angeles.

Sabores Oaxaqueños Restaurant

Copy Link

LA has a multitude of amazing Oaxacan food, so it’s hard to just put one place on here. It’s perhaps really unexpected to find an incredible Oaxacan place hidden away along busy 8th street, serving plates like grilled anafres, or meats with vegetables laid out on a platter, or other traditional fare like tlayudas and moles. Stalwart Guelaguetza is indeed a great destination for Oaxacan food, but don’t skimp over this smaller family-owned place nearby.

Anafres, a mix of grilled vegetables at Sabores Oaxaqueños.
Anafres, a mix of grilled vegetables at Sabores Oaxaqueños
Wonho Frank Lee

Danny Boy's Famous Original Pizza

Copy Link

Daniel Holzman, who founded the Meatball Shop in NYC, has relocated to Los Angeles, dedicating his culinary efforts to New York-style pizza, salads, and sandwiches. Though it had a sleepy start due to the lack of nearby office workers, the word is out, with the place bustling at lunchtime. The slices — wide, pliable, and packed with toppings — are about as good as one can expect in LA. Getting here is a trek for those who have to venture here from elsewhere. Pro-tip is to park downstairs in the 20-minute food hall-only parking, grab a few slices, and head out before the higher parking rates kick in.

Pizza, sandwiches, and more from Danny Boy’s Famous Original Pizza in Downtown LA.
Pizza, sandwiches, and more from Danny Boy’s Famous Original Pizza in Downtown LA.
Jakob N. Layman

RiceBox

Copy Link

The Hong Kong-style roast meat over rice spot sits well inside the cavernous Spring Street Arcade. Traditionalists might cry foul at RiceBox’s methods — the char siu is held sous-vide, and the roast pork is more akin to porchetta — but there’s no denying the results. As simple rice-and-meat experiences go, it’s tough to beat.

A barbecued pork rice bowl.
RiceBox
Ariel Ip

Otomisan Restaurant

Copy Link

Years ago, Boyle Heights was an enclave for Japanese immigrants. One of the few reminders of this is Otomisan, a family-run restaurant with comfort food classics and affordable sushi. After decades of business, it’s still beloved by the community.

Sonoritas Prime Tacos

Copy Link

Sawtelle is not the first place one thinks of for great tacos. Mostly the block has incredible Asian food, from Filipino and Japanese to Korean and Chinese. But Sonoritas prepares some of the best quality carne asada using actual steak cuts, something one would see in Mexicali and other places in Sonora. So yes, when someone is looking for great carne asada, this is the first place to look.

Sonoritas Prime Tacos
Sonoritas Prime Tacos
Instagram

NOLA Cajun and Creole

Copy Link

Kieven Cross opened this ode to his family’s Louisiana roots in a shared space at the very cool BLVD MRKT in Montebello. The flavors are spot-on, with intensely spiced jambalaya, gumbo, and even shrimp po’boys packed with fresh ingredients. It’s really one of the best Southern/Creole/Cajun spots in town, hiding away in this Montebello food hall.

Jambalaya from Nola Creole and Cajun in BLVD Market in Montebello.
Jambalaya from Nola Cajun and Creole.
Matthew Kang

Swift Cafe

Copy Link

Kyndra McCrary’s Swift Cafe serves up a health-focused menu on a busy stretch of Crenshaw Boulevard. The cooking finds inspiration from Indian, Thai, Caribbean, plus Central and South American cuisines. Expect a sweet potato and cashew cheese ricotta ravioli in sage “butter,” coconut chickpea curry, and a jerk chicken bowl. Open for takeout and delivery.

Banadir Somali Restaurant

Copy Link

Banadir in Inglewood, the only Somali restaurant in LA, is a hub for the area’s Somali community. For breakfast, there’s anjera, a fermented sorghum flour pancake similar to Ethiopian injera. The anjera is served with chicken suqar, a type of stir-fry. For lunch and dinner, find large rice platters with choice of meat (goat, chicken, or fish). Both rice and spaghetti meals are served with bananas meant to be eaten with the meal. 

Trinistyle Cuisine

Copy Link

Formerly a catering and street corner operation, Trinistyle has moved into a permanent space along busy West Century Boulevard. The space, tucked into the corner, is easy to miss, but it’s worth the effort to find it. Order ahead online as the menu is very limited every day, and pick up everything from snack-worthy doubles to packed rotis. Hours are only Friday to Sunday.

Doubles from Trinistyle Cuisine
Doubles from Trinistyle Cuisine.
Wonho Frank Lee

Dong Nae Gil

Copy Link

Local Gardena restaurant Dong Nae Gil is an unassuming Korean restaurant on a block chock full of very good places (including the excellent Old Time Noodle, Village Tofu, and Yuk Dae Jang). But Dong Nae Gil is the most traditional, and possibly the most remarkable, serving time-honored classics like godeungeo joorim and jjigae with confidence.

Mackerel joorim from Dong Nae Gil
Mackerel joorim from Dong Nae Gil
Matthew Kang

Jiayuan Dumpling House

Copy Link

Located all the way down in Redondo Beach, it’s easy to miss the somewhat nondescript strip mall this Northern Chinese restaurant is located in. Founded by one of Canada’s most popular restaurants, this dumpling and noodle specialist has some of the South Bay’s best regional Chinese cuisine. Try the poached fish filet in hot chile oil for a shareable entree.

An oval plate of dumplings lightly crisped from pan frying.
Pan-fried dumplings from Jiayuan Dumpling House in Redondo Beach.
Matthew Kang

Tortas Ahogadas La China

Copy Link

A delicious destination for spicy tortas ahogadas, this soaked sandwich from veteran tortero Rigoberto Escobedo has a hefty, crusty bread with tender pork meat served at a handy street stand in Wilmington.

A torta ahogada with two tacos dorados from La China.
Torta ahogada with two tacos dorados from La China
Matthew Kang

Loading comments...

Kurrypinch

Sri Lankan food is far from abundant in greater Los Angeles, which makes Kurrypinch in Van Nuys all the more special. The simple storefront turns out excellent rice flour dishes like string hopper pilau, grilled meats, curries in a bowl, and lots more for those eager to sample a taste of Sri Lanka.

Hamlet's Kitchen

Lule kebabs from Hamlet’s Kitchen grilling over charcoal.
Charcoal-grilled kebabs from Hamlet’s Kitchen.
Joshua Lurie

Hidden well beyond the street in the very back of a parking lot, this cash-only kebabs spot does true charcoal-grilled meats on wide skewers. The whole situation certainly seems a little sketchy, but the results in the take-out containers are the absolute truth.

Lule kebabs from Hamlet’s Kitchen grilling over charcoal.
Charcoal-grilled kebabs from Hamlet’s Kitchen.
Joshua Lurie

Chongqing Special Noodles

Dan dan noodles from Chongqing Special Noodles in SGV
Dan dan noodles
Matthew Kang

SGV’s unsung noodle specialist sits in a strip mall with not much else going on along a sleepy stretch of Las Tunas. Even the parking lot isn’t that easy to drive into, but once inside, this restaurant packs a real punch with its expansive set of Sichuan-inflected noodles.

Dan dan noodles from Chongqing Special Noodles in SGV
Dan dan noodles
Matthew Kang

Superba Food + Bread Hollywood

For a gorgeous heated outdoor dinner at an historic Hollywood patio: Superba Food and Bread.
Outdoor patio at Superba Hollywood.
Matthew Kang

Renovated as the Hearth and the Hound a few years ago but promptly closed due to controversy, Superba has taken over the historic Cat & Fiddle courtyard patio and space in Hollywood, retaining all of its charm but installing a friendly all-day menu of sandwiches, salads, and composed dinner plates that makes this one of the nicest everyday restaurants in LA. It’s really easy to waste hours away sipping coffee or cocktails and digging into well-made food at this historic hideaway.

For a gorgeous heated outdoor dinner at an historic Hollywood patio: Superba Food and Bread.
Outdoor patio at Superba Hollywood.
Matthew Kang

El Churrasco Chapin

Dobladas San Carlos at Churrasco Chapin.
Dobladas San Carlos at Churrasco Chapin.
Matthew Kang

Guatemalan cuisine rarely gets the spotlight in Los Angeles, even though the Central American country has a major demographic presence in Southern California. The 6th and Bonnie Brae night market is the place to get incredible street food while this humble, but excellent strip mall restaurant highlights homestyle Guatemalan fare, from cheesy dobladas to carne guisada.

Dobladas San Carlos at Churrasco Chapin.
Dobladas San Carlos at Churrasco Chapin.
Matthew Kang

Singapore's Banana Leaf

Singapore’s Banana Leaf is a staple at the Original Farmers Market. While fans know the outdoor dining marketplace for its produce, its doughnuts, and its history, it’s the grilled meat satay skewers, laksa curry soups, and pan-fried noodles that really help to make this one of the best places for a bite anywhere in Los Angeles.

Sabores Oaxaqueños Restaurant

Anafres, a mix of grilled vegetables at Sabores Oaxaqueños.
Anafres, a mix of grilled vegetables at Sabores Oaxaqueños
Wonho Frank Lee

LA has a multitude of amazing Oaxacan food, so it’s hard to just put one place on here. It’s perhaps really unexpected to find an incredible Oaxacan place hidden away along busy 8th street, serving plates like grilled anafres, or meats with vegetables laid out on a platter, or other traditional fare like tlayudas and moles. Stalwart Guelaguetza is indeed a great destination for Oaxacan food, but don’t skimp over this smaller family-owned place nearby.

Anafres, a mix of grilled vegetables at Sabores Oaxaqueños.
Anafres, a mix of grilled vegetables at Sabores Oaxaqueños
Wonho Frank Lee

Danny Boy's Famous Original Pizza

Pizza, sandwiches, and more from Danny Boy’s Famous Original Pizza in Downtown LA.
Pizza, sandwiches, and more from Danny Boy’s Famous Original Pizza in Downtown LA.
Jakob N. Layman

Daniel Holzman, who founded the Meatball Shop in NYC, has relocated to Los Angeles, dedicating his culinary efforts to New York-style pizza, salads, and sandwiches. Though it had a sleepy start due to the lack of nearby office workers, the word is out, with the place bustling at lunchtime. The slices — wide, pliable, and packed with toppings — are about as good as one can expect in LA. Getting here is a trek for those who have to venture here from elsewhere. Pro-tip is to park downstairs in the 20-minute food hall-only parking, grab a few slices, and head out before the higher parking rates kick in.

Pizza, sandwiches, and more from Danny Boy’s Famous Original Pizza in Downtown LA.
Pizza, sandwiches, and more from Danny Boy’s Famous Original Pizza in Downtown LA.
Jakob N. Layman

RiceBox

A barbecued pork rice bowl.
RiceBox
Ariel Ip

The Hong Kong-style roast meat over rice spot sits well inside the cavernous Spring Street Arcade. Traditionalists might cry foul at RiceBox’s methods — the char siu is held sous-vide, and the roast pork is more akin to porchetta — but there’s no denying the results. As simple rice-and-meat experiences go, it’s tough to beat.

A barbecued pork rice bowl.
RiceBox
Ariel Ip

Otomisan Restaurant

Years ago, Boyle Heights was an enclave for Japanese immigrants. One of the few reminders of this is Otomisan, a family-run restaurant with comfort food classics and affordable sushi. After decades of business, it’s still beloved by the community.

Sonoritas Prime Tacos

Sonoritas Prime Tacos
Sonoritas Prime Tacos
Instagram

Sawtelle is not the first place one thinks of for great tacos. Mostly the block has incredible Asian food, from Filipino and Japanese to Korean and Chinese. But Sonoritas prepares some of the best quality carne asada using actual steak cuts, something one would see in Mexicali and other places in Sonora. So yes, when someone is looking for great carne asada, this is the first place to look.

Sonoritas Prime Tacos
Sonoritas Prime Tacos
Instagram

NOLA Cajun and Creole

Jambalaya from Nola Creole and Cajun in BLVD Market in Montebello.
Jambalaya from Nola Cajun and Creole.
Matthew Kang

Kieven Cross opened this ode to his family’s Louisiana roots in a shared space at the very cool BLVD MRKT in Montebello. The flavors are spot-on, with intensely spiced jambalaya, gumbo, and even shrimp po’boys packed with fresh ingredients. It’s really one of the best Southern/Creole/Cajun spots in town, hiding away in this Montebello food hall.

Jambalaya from Nola Creole and Cajun in BLVD Market in Montebello.
Jambalaya from Nola Cajun and Creole.
Matthew Kang

Swift Cafe

Kyndra McCrary’s Swift Cafe serves up a health-focused menu on a busy stretch of Crenshaw Boulevard. The cooking finds inspiration from Indian, Thai, Caribbean, plus Central and South American cuisines. Expect a sweet potato and cashew cheese ricotta ravioli in sage “butter,” coconut chickpea curry, and a jerk chicken bowl. Open for takeout and delivery.

Banadir Somali Restaurant

Banadir in Inglewood, the only Somali restaurant in LA, is a hub for the area’s Somali community. For breakfast, there’s anjera, a fermented sorghum flour pancake similar to Ethiopian injera. The anjera is served with chicken suqar, a type of stir-fry. For lunch and dinner, find large rice platters with choice of meat (goat, chicken, or fish). Both rice and spaghetti meals are served with bananas meant to be eaten with the meal. 

Trinistyle Cuisine

Doubles from Trinistyle Cuisine
Doubles from Trinistyle Cuisine.
Wonho Frank Lee

Formerly a catering and street corner operation, Trinistyle has moved into a permanent space along busy West Century Boulevard. The space, tucked into the corner, is easy to miss, but it’s worth the effort to find it. Order ahead online as the menu is very limited every day, and pick up everything from snack-worthy doubles to packed rotis. Hours are only Friday to Sunday.

Doubles from Trinistyle Cuisine
Doubles from Trinistyle Cuisine.
Wonho Frank Lee

Related Maps

Dong Nae Gil

Mackerel joorim from Dong Nae Gil
Mackerel joorim from Dong Nae Gil
Matthew Kang

Local Gardena restaurant Dong Nae Gil is an unassuming Korean restaurant on a block chock full of very good places (including the excellent Old Time Noodle, Village Tofu, and Yuk Dae Jang). But Dong Nae Gil is the most traditional, and possibly the most remarkable, serving time-honored classics like godeungeo joorim and jjigae with confidence.