While the term Eastside in Los Angeles is often loosely used to refer to any neighborhood that basically doesn’t touch the ocean, historically speaking the term is reserved for the communities directly east of the Los Angeles River that runs alongside Downtown. The area is home to countless vibrant and historic neighborhoods including Lincoln Heights, El Sereno, Boyle Heights, City Terrace, and East Los Angeles. From tacos of all kinds to old-school Japanese fare, here now are 17 essential restaurants on the Eastside of Los Angeles.Read More
17 Essential Restaurants on the Eastside of Los Angeles
Where to eat in Lincoln Heights, El Sereno, Boyle Heights, City Terrace, and East LA
Mariscos Los Lechugas
Jaime Lechuga, his wife Virginia, and their friend Epi Osuna have been preparing Ensenada-style cocteles, tostadas, and tacos at Mariscos Los Lechugas for the past decade. This trailer hitched onto the back of a pickup truck can be found on a serene-enough stretch of El Sereno everyday from 11 a.m. until early evening; the trailer departs between 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., depending on customer demand and staff fatigue.
There are few busier pound-for-pound taco stands anywhere in Los Angeles than Avenue 26, the massively busy nightly stand in Lincoln Heights. Head over late night for a seemingly endless culinary party with table after table of cooking meats, music playing, and happy crowds. Carne asada and al pastor remain perennial favorites here, but don’t sleep on the cheesy mulita either.
The Heights Deli & Bottle Shop
The Heights was among the first new restaurants to hit Lincoln Heights in recent years, and the place has continued to turn out popular takes on sandwiches and pizza, with takeaway craft beer to match.
Doomie's NextMex Express
NextMex is the all-vegan continuation of Doomie’s in Hollywood, tucked away in the hillside community of City Terrace. This standalone offshoot focuses on flavorful and completely animal-free everyday Mexican food staples in a very colorful space, including combo plates, burritos, tacos, and worthwhile nacho platters.
Carnitas el Momo
El Momo is the people’s champ, a local and citywide favorite for some of the crispiest, juiciest pork carnitas tacos possible. The Aporkalypse behemoth is a gloriously gluttonous thing of carnal beauty that is so overwhelming, it’s hard to believe the thing comes from a truck daily.
Lebanese-Oaxacan flavors marry well at X’tiosu in Boyle Heights, where tacos and hummus take unfamiliar turns towards the extraordinary. While the tacos are a worthy start, there’s also something special about ordering a falafel or chicken shawarma plate and dining al fresco.
Homey stews and braises slowly simmered in spices and aromatics are the specialty at Guisados, a restaurant that’s now expanded to multiple locations across town. The 15 or so guisados available each day are neatly scrawled on a floor-to-ceiling length chalkboard. To serve, meat or vegetable stews are heaped onto thick, hand-made corn tortillas and topped with a few embellishments including avocado, pickled red onions, cheese crumbles, or toasted seeds.
Milpa Grille in Boyle Heights focuses on the decidedly traditional, pulling its menu influences from the pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica timeline. The result is something modern, historic, and tasty at once, like the standard Milpa bowl with black beans, grilled corn, veggies, and meat. It’s a warming and satisfying (and timeless) meal.
Al & Bea's Mexican Food
The bean and cheese gods shine at Al & Bea’s, the diminutive walk-up stand known for its simple Mexican-American delights. Be prepared to wait in a short but speedy line for some of the biggest burritos in town.
The air smells of miso paste at Otomisan, the 64-year-old Japanese restaurant in Boyle Heights. Settle into a plush red booth and start with an order of the pan-fried gyozas before moving onto a sizable platter of curry with crispy pork.
Head to this cramped but cozy tortilleria for corn and flour tortillas sold by the dozen and made-to-order burritos and quesadillas. Whether it’s beef (asada), chicken (pollo), chorizo, or pork (carnitas) that you fancy, when the tortilla is this exemplary, the stuffing is almost an afterthought. The chile relleno burrito is the shop’s biggest hit.
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Los Cinco Puntos
There are few better carnitas stops to make in East LA than Los Cinco Puntos, the timeless grocery store and meat supplier known for long weekend lines and for serving up thick hand-patted tortillas with every order of hog maw, ribs, shoulder, and snout.
El Café by Primera Taza
Primera Taza no longer occupies its cafe space in Boyle Heights proper. Now the setup has gone mobile in an industrial stretch of Anderson Street beneath the under-construction Sixth Street Bridge. Owner Chuy Tovar’s coffee is as good as ever, and now there are rotating weekly pop-ups from names like Evil Cooks, too.
Stop into Liliana’s Tamales for a hearty and satisfying start to the day. Savor a warm mug of cinnamon-laced champurrado while trying to decided between the house-special tamales or the equally fantastic machaca with eggs.
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The vampiro is the thing at Asadero Chikali, the upstart Eastside specialist that trades in Mexicali flavors with lots of cheese and even more smoky carne asada.
Tacos dorados de camarones, deep-fried shrimp parcels garnished with avocado and fresh salsa, are the specialty at this seafood truck in Boyle Heights. Run by Raul Ortega and his team of friends and family, the Mariscos Jalisco truck is parked on Olympic Boulevard just south of Soto everyday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
El Ruso may be the most popular young taco stand to hit Los Angeles in 2019, thanks to its impressively delicious handmade flour tortillas and weekend Sonoran-style sobaqueras. Be sure to opt for beans and cheese inside that next order of tacos.