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Bun mang vit, duck and bamboo noodle soup with herbs and sauce at Pho Ga
Pho Ga District
Wonho Frank Lee

12 Underrated Restaurants to Try in Los Angeles

Giving the city’s best gems their time to shine

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Pho Ga District
| Wonho Frank Lee

Underrated restaurants abound in Los Angeles, thanks to its urban sprawl and neighborhood density. Many, many deserving places get overlooked simply because a portion of the population isn’t willing to drive to them regularly, while still others hop aboard the hype train to lots of early fanfare before settling down into a quieter cruising speed. Thankfully, communities exist around these individual restaurants to keep them propped up and thriving on their own terms, year after year. With that, here are 12 underrated spots to eat across Southern California, from North Hollywood to Gardena and beyond, presented from north to south.

Added: Banadir Somali Restaurant, Division 3 Hollywood, Dumpling Monster, El Barrio, L.A. Super Torta, Me + Crepe, Pho Ga District, Salsa & Beer, Wood Spoon, Thai Gourmet by Sri Maya, Yup Dae Jang

Removed: Ackee Bamboo, Aliki’s Greek Taverna, Berlins, Cilantro Mexican Grill, Fox’s, Izakaya Hachi, Ingo’s Tasty Diner, Kim Hoa Hue Food To Go, Lal Mirch, Lonzo’s Bakery, Mario’s Italian Deli, New York Chicken & Gyro, Red Rock

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

Salsa & Beer

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Either arrive early, or expect to wait during mealtimes at this North Hollywood spot, where the kitchen cranks out food from Jerez, Mexico. Salsa & Beer’s large plates hold traditional enchiladas, tacos, tortas, and burritos. And as expected with a name like Salsa & Beer, the beer selection is stellar, along with the salsa bar.

Exterior shot of Salsa & Beer in North Hollywood, California
Salsa & Beer
Salsa & Beer website

Me + Crepe

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This Vancouver-based jianbing purveyor is a Pasadena gem that’s tucked away from the busy stretch of Colorado Boulevard in Old Town. Their incredible crepes can be customized, but trust the menu for some amazing flavor combinations. Me + Crepe’s Peking duck specialty is worth it with coriander, hoisin, cucumbers, and chopped duck.

Cooks making jian bing at Me + Crepe
Me + Crepe
Euno Lee

Division 3 Hollywood

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Chef/owner Matthew Dickson’s daytime spot holds locations in Glassell Park and Hollywood, where biscuits are the specialty. The fried chicken biscuit with spices and honey is a key item, but don’t skip on Dickson’s coffee-braised brisket grilled cheese sandwich, a delicious remix on a classic dish.

Dumpling Monster

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Phorage chef Perry Cheung’s dug in his heels at Dumpling Monster, where he makes handmade xiao long bao and pan-fried pork dumplings from a West Hollywood kitchen. The entire menu is festive and delicious, but order the pork and Dungeness crab soup dumplings right away.

Pho Ga District

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Pho Ga District owner/chef Phan Tran learned everything by watching her parents during her childhood. The Rosemead restaurant opened in 2017, and its namesake recipe is one of many from her father, a slightly tweaked pho ga recipe with an incredibly clean broth that fills the soul.

Bun mang vit, duck and bamboo noodle soup with herbs and sauce at Pho Ga
Pho Ga
Wonho Frank Lee

Olympic Restaurant

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Koreatown’s Olympic restaurant is a lesson in keeping the classics, well, classic. The old-school spot does homey Korean fare for throngs of local fans, all while flying under the radar of more prominent K-town spots. Try the panfried fish and spicy pork barbecue as well as the restaurant’s namesake (in its Korean name) cheonggukjang, or fermented soybean stew.

Spread at Olympic Cheonggukjang
Olympic
Matthew Kang

L.A. Super Torta

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This Boyle Heights staple is steps away from Mariachi Plaza. Formerly Super Tortas Luisitos, the name is the only thing that’s recently changed. Tortas are the house specialty, but the menu also includes fresh juices, burritos, and a chicken soup that rivals any restaurant in the city.

WOODSPOON

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Brazilian born Natalia Pereira opened Wood Spoon on the edge of the Fashion District in 2007. In one of Downtown’s tiniest kitchens, she makes Brazilian croquettes, a traditional fish soup, and a pot pie with a twist from her home country, it’s full with chicken, hearts of palm, potatoes, olives and roasted corn.

Big Boi

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Los Angeles is laced with Filipino spots, though many of them play directly to their immediate community. At Big Boi on Sawtelle, the idea is to make Filipino food for everyone by offering big, colorful (and highly photographable) plates and desserts.

An overhead shot of Big Boi food, Filipino classics with roast meat and rice and drinks.
Big Boi
Wonho Frank Lee

Banadir Somali Restaurant

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Somali menus are built on saucy halal meats and huge portions, which means it’s best to land at Banadir Somali Restaurant with a group. Or opt for a to-go container while feasting on the traditional goat or lamb. It’s marinated, then slow oven-roasted for three hours before served with a side of basmati rice, a delightful and simple salad, and bas bas sauce with basil, jalapeño, and cilantro.

A plate of Somalian food with rice, meat, and a side salad at Banadir Somali Restaurant. Mona Holmes

Yuk Dae Jang Gardena

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Arguably Gardena’s favorite Korean restaurant, this packed chainlet offers yukgaejang, or spicy Korean noodle soup, with a hearty bone broth and optionally with knife-cut wheat noodles. The menu offers other specialties like army base stew (for three people) and bossam platters. Anyone living in the South Bay can skip the trek to Koreatown now.

Yuk Dae Jang’s yookgaejang kalguksu, a spicy beef noodle soup with knife cut noodles
Yuk Dae Jang’s yookgaejang kalguksu, a spicy beef noodle soup with knife cut noodles
Matthew Kang

El Barrio Neighborhood Tacos

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South Bay native and chef Ulises Pineda-Alfaro uses family recipes for Redondo Beach’s El Barrio Neighborhood Tacos. Everything on the menu is non-GMO, with meats free of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics, along with hand made corn tortillas for tacos and mulitas stuffed with choice of birria de res, nopales, and Baja-style fried fish.

Salsa & Beer

Either arrive early, or expect to wait during mealtimes at this North Hollywood spot, where the kitchen cranks out food from Jerez, Mexico. Salsa & Beer’s large plates hold traditional enchiladas, tacos, tortas, and burritos. And as expected with a name like Salsa & Beer, the beer selection is stellar, along with the salsa bar.

Exterior shot of Salsa & Beer in North Hollywood, California
Salsa & Beer
Salsa & Beer website

Me + Crepe

This Vancouver-based jianbing purveyor is a Pasadena gem that’s tucked away from the busy stretch of Colorado Boulevard in Old Town. Their incredible crepes can be customized, but trust the menu for some amazing flavor combinations. Me + Crepe’s Peking duck specialty is worth it with coriander, hoisin, cucumbers, and chopped duck.

Cooks making jian bing at Me + Crepe
Me + Crepe
Euno Lee

Division 3 Hollywood

Chef/owner Matthew Dickson’s daytime spot holds locations in Glassell Park and Hollywood, where biscuits are the specialty. The fried chicken biscuit with spices and honey is a key item, but don’t skip on Dickson’s coffee-braised brisket grilled cheese sandwich, a delicious remix on a classic dish.

Dumpling Monster

Phorage chef Perry Cheung’s dug in his heels at Dumpling Monster, where he makes handmade xiao long bao and pan-fried pork dumplings from a West Hollywood kitchen. The entire menu is festive and delicious, but order the pork and Dungeness crab soup dumplings right away.

Pho Ga District

Pho Ga District owner/chef Phan Tran learned everything by watching her parents during her childhood. The Rosemead restaurant opened in 2017, and its namesake recipe is one of many from her father, a slightly tweaked pho ga recipe with an incredibly clean broth that fills the soul.

Bun mang vit, duck and bamboo noodle soup with herbs and sauce at Pho Ga
Pho Ga
Wonho Frank Lee

Olympic Restaurant

Koreatown’s Olympic restaurant is a lesson in keeping the classics, well, classic. The old-school spot does homey Korean fare for throngs of local fans, all while flying under the radar of more prominent K-town spots. Try the panfried fish and spicy pork barbecue as well as the restaurant’s namesake (in its Korean name) cheonggukjang, or fermented soybean stew.

Spread at Olympic Cheonggukjang
Olympic
Matthew Kang

L.A. Super Torta

This Boyle Heights staple is steps away from Mariachi Plaza. Formerly Super Tortas Luisitos, the name is the only thing that’s recently changed. Tortas are the house specialty, but the menu also includes fresh juices, burritos, and a chicken soup that rivals any restaurant in the city.

WOODSPOON

Brazilian born Natalia Pereira opened Wood Spoon on the edge of the Fashion District in 2007. In one of Downtown’s tiniest kitchens, she makes Brazilian croquettes, a traditional fish soup, and a pot pie with a twist from her home country, it’s full with chicken, hearts of palm, potatoes, olives and roasted corn.

Big Boi

Los Angeles is laced with Filipino spots, though many of them play directly to their immediate community. At Big Boi on Sawtelle, the idea is to make Filipino food for everyone by offering big, colorful (and highly photographable) plates and desserts.

An overhead shot of Big Boi food, Filipino classics with roast meat and rice and drinks.
Big Boi
Wonho Frank Lee

Banadir Somali Restaurant

Somali menus are built on saucy halal meats and huge portions, which means it’s best to land at Banadir Somali Restaurant with a group. Or opt for a to-go container while feasting on the traditional goat or lamb. It’s marinated, then slow oven-roasted for three hours before served with a side of basmati rice, a delightful and simple salad, and bas bas sauce with basil, jalapeño, and cilantro.

A plate of Somalian food with rice, meat, and a side salad at Banadir Somali Restaurant. Mona Holmes

Yuk Dae Jang Gardena

Arguably Gardena’s favorite Korean restaurant, this packed chainlet offers yukgaejang, or spicy Korean noodle soup, with a hearty bone broth and optionally with knife-cut wheat noodles. The menu offers other specialties like army base stew (for three people) and bossam platters. Anyone living in the South Bay can skip the trek to Koreatown now.

Yuk Dae Jang’s yookgaejang kalguksu, a spicy beef noodle soup with knife cut noodles
Yuk Dae Jang’s yookgaejang kalguksu, a spicy beef noodle soup with knife cut noodles
Matthew Kang

El Barrio Neighborhood Tacos

South Bay native and chef Ulises Pineda-Alfaro uses family recipes for Redondo Beach’s El Barrio Neighborhood Tacos. Everything on the menu is non-GMO, with meats free of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics, along with hand made corn tortillas for tacos and mulitas stuffed with choice of birria de res, nopales, and Baja-style fried fish.

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