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LA galbi from Shiku in Downtown Los Angeles.
LA galbi from Shiku in Downtown Los Angeles.
Cathy Chaplin

15 Brilliant LA Restaurants Changing the Way Angelenos Eat

These restaurants featured on chef Roy Choi’s Broken Bread are leading social change through food

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LA galbi from Shiku in Downtown Los Angeles.
| Cathy Chaplin

In the latest season of Broken Bread, chef Roy Choi examines complex social justice issues through the lens of food. Centered largely in Los Angeles, the six episode series shines a light on individuals and organizations using food as a platform for activism and a catalyst for systemic change. For those looking to eat well and do good by their communities, here now are 15 Los Angeles restaurants creating a more equitable and ethical restaurant industry.

New episodes of Broken Bread can be watched on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. on Tastemade and KCET.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

From superb Vietnamese cooking to progressive ideals, it’s hard to go wrong at Bé Ù. The menu, which includes popcorn chicken with a garlicky aioli and caramelized pork and eggs, is affordably priced for neighborhood locals. Additionally, Lê is committed to paying her workers above market wages, prioritizing their health and safety, and fostering a respectful and equitable culture.

Popcorn chicken with fried curry leaves and a wedge of lemon. A dish of garlic aioli is served on the side.
Popcorn chicken with fried curry leaves at Bé Ù in Silver Lake.
Wonho Frank Lee

Phoenix Bakery, Inc.

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Head over to Phoenix Bakery in Chinatown where the Chan family’s been baking since 1938. Sample traditional Chinese pastries and cookies made using family recipes or try French-style desserts like eclairs, palmiers, and fruit tarts. But don’t leave without a slice of the signature fresh strawberry whipped cream cake and a dozen almond cookies.

Strawberry cake at Phoenix Bakery.
Strawberry cake at Phoenix Bakery in Chinatown.
Cathy Chaplin

Pearl River Deli

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Headed by chef Johnny Lee, Pearl River Deli prepares Cantonese and Chinese classics including char siu, Hainan chicken, and a slew of specials that change on-the-fly.

Hop Woo BBQ & Seafood Restaurant

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Liang Ye “Lupe” Ning opened Hop Woo with his wife, Judy, in 1993 on North Broadway in Chinatown. The menu includes Hong Kong-style barbecue and Chinese American staples like orange chicken. Hop Woo’s Cantonese-style Thanksgiving turkeys are the stuff of legends.

Endorffeine

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Come into Jack Benchakul’s Endorffeine in Chinatown for carefully crafted caffeinated beverages, from classic espressos to Thai-inspired specialty drinks.

My Dung Sandwich Shop

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Chef Choi calls the banh mi served at this humble shop the “best sandwich ever.” First-timers would do well with the dac biet, the house-special banh mi filled with various cold cuts, pate, pickled vegetables, jalapenos, and cilantro.

Sara’s Market

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Handed down for three generations, Sara’s Market sells locally-made staples including wine, coffee, and tortillas. Additionally, the corner market is a haven for burgeoning restaurant entrepreneurs, with food trucks and food vendors selling in front of the store regularly.

Voodoo Vegan

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The Voodoo Vegan food truck specializes in “super tasty” Creole cajun vegan food, says Choi. Try chef Whitt’s shrimp po’ boy and the Who Dat Mac baked macaroni and cheese.

For a soulful, holistic, and homey experience, Choi recommends Shiku — a Korean food stall located in Grand Central Market. Owned and operated by husband and wife, Kwang Uh and Mina Park, Shiku is dedicated to sharing and preserving Korean vegetables lost to industrialized farming. The vegetables served at Shiku are derived from seeds provided by farmer Kristyn Leach of Second Generation Seeds.

LA galbi from Shiku in Downtown Los Angeles.
LA galbi from Shiku in Downtown Los Angeles.
Cathy Chaplin

Milpa Grille Boyle Heights

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Named after the Mesoamerican milpa system of cultivation, Milpa Grille was opened by Deysi Serrano in 2018. In addition to serving a menu chock-full of corn, beans, and squash — the trifecta of the milpa system — the restaurant welcomes up-and-comers, including Macheen and Cafe Cafe, to operate under its roof.

Macheen

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Find Macheen inside Milpa Grille in Boyle Heights from Monday through Saturday and at Smorgasburg on Sundays, where chef Jonathan Perez cooks up wildly creative breakfast tacos and burritos.

Goat Mafia

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Chefs Juan Garcia and Ivan Flores are dedicated to preserving Jalisco-style birria with Goat Mafia. In addition to classic tacos and mulitas, the pop-up serves an innovative meatless quesadilla made with beets and goat cheese.

Birria taco and mulita from Goat Mafia.
Birria taco and mulita from Goat Mafia.
Cathy Chaplin

Harun Coffee

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In addition to dishing up delightful smoothies, cold brews, and teas, this Leimert Park shop serves as a hub for the community.

Simply Wholesome

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Owned and operated by the Keeling family since 1984, Simply Wholesome is an all-in-one health food store and vegan restaurant. Come in for spinach patties and vegetarian tacos, and leave with locally-made products that line the store’s shelves.

Simply Wholesome
Island Delight with chicken, macaroni pie, plantains, potato salad, peas, and rice from Simply Wholesome.
Wonho Frank Lee

Nature’s Thirst Trap

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Founded by Imani Jackson in 2017, this smoothie and juice bar is committed to “refreshing urban communities with raw juices and love.” Nature’s Thirst Trap’s refreshing wares are available at the Voodoo Vegan food truck and for local delivery, shipping, and pick-up.

Bé Ù

Popcorn chicken with fried curry leaves and a wedge of lemon. A dish of garlic aioli is served on the side.
Popcorn chicken with fried curry leaves at Bé Ù in Silver Lake.
Wonho Frank Lee

From superb Vietnamese cooking to progressive ideals, it’s hard to go wrong at Bé Ù. The menu, which includes popcorn chicken with a garlicky aioli and caramelized pork and eggs, is affordably priced for neighborhood locals. Additionally, Lê is committed to paying her workers above market wages, prioritizing their health and safety, and fostering a respectful and equitable culture.

Popcorn chicken with fried curry leaves and a wedge of lemon. A dish of garlic aioli is served on the side.
Popcorn chicken with fried curry leaves at Bé Ù in Silver Lake.
Wonho Frank Lee

Phoenix Bakery, Inc.

Strawberry cake at Phoenix Bakery.
Strawberry cake at Phoenix Bakery in Chinatown.
Cathy Chaplin

Head over to Phoenix Bakery in Chinatown where the Chan family’s been baking since 1938. Sample traditional Chinese pastries and cookies made using family recipes or try French-style desserts like eclairs, palmiers, and fruit tarts. But don’t leave without a slice of the signature fresh strawberry whipped cream cake and a dozen almond cookies.

Strawberry cake at Phoenix Bakery.
Strawberry cake at Phoenix Bakery in Chinatown.
Cathy Chaplin

Pearl River Deli

Headed by chef Johnny Lee, Pearl River Deli prepares Cantonese and Chinese classics including char siu, Hainan chicken, and a slew of specials that change on-the-fly.

Hop Woo BBQ & Seafood Restaurant

Liang Ye “Lupe” Ning opened Hop Woo with his wife, Judy, in 1993 on North Broadway in Chinatown. The menu includes Hong Kong-style barbecue and Chinese American staples like orange chicken. Hop Woo’s Cantonese-style Thanksgiving turkeys are the stuff of legends.

Endorffeine

Come into Jack Benchakul’s Endorffeine in Chinatown for carefully crafted caffeinated beverages, from classic espressos to Thai-inspired specialty drinks.

My Dung Sandwich Shop

Chef Choi calls the banh mi served at this humble shop the “best sandwich ever.” First-timers would do well with the dac biet, the house-special banh mi filled with various cold cuts, pate, pickled vegetables, jalapenos, and cilantro.

Sara’s Market

Handed down for three generations, Sara’s Market sells locally-made staples including wine, coffee, and tortillas. Additionally, the corner market is a haven for burgeoning restaurant entrepreneurs, with food trucks and food vendors selling in front of the store regularly.

Voodoo Vegan

The Voodoo Vegan food truck specializes in “super tasty” Creole cajun vegan food, says Choi. Try chef Whitt’s shrimp po’ boy and the Who Dat Mac baked macaroni and cheese.

Shiku

LA galbi from Shiku in Downtown Los Angeles.
LA galbi from Shiku in Downtown Los Angeles.
Cathy Chaplin

For a soulful, holistic, and homey experience, Choi recommends Shiku — a Korean food stall located in Grand Central Market. Owned and operated by husband and wife, Kwang Uh and Mina Park, Shiku is dedicated to sharing and preserving Korean vegetables lost to industrialized farming. The vegetables served at Shiku are derived from seeds provided by farmer Kristyn Leach of Second Generation Seeds.

LA galbi from Shiku in Downtown Los Angeles.
LA galbi from Shiku in Downtown Los Angeles.
Cathy Chaplin

Milpa Grille Boyle Heights

Named after the Mesoamerican milpa system of cultivation, Milpa Grille was opened by Deysi Serrano in 2018. In addition to serving a menu chock-full of corn, beans, and squash — the trifecta of the milpa system — the restaurant welcomes up-and-comers, including Macheen and Cafe Cafe, to operate under its roof.

Macheen

Find Macheen inside Milpa Grille in Boyle Heights from Monday through Saturday and at Smorgasburg on Sundays, where chef Jonathan Perez cooks up wildly creative breakfast tacos and burritos.

Goat Mafia

Birria taco and mulita from Goat Mafia.
Birria taco and mulita from Goat Mafia.
Cathy Chaplin

Chefs Juan Garcia and Ivan Flores are dedicated to preserving Jalisco-style birria with Goat Mafia. In addition to classic tacos and mulitas, the pop-up serves an innovative meatless quesadilla made with beets and goat cheese.

Birria taco and mulita from Goat Mafia.
Birria taco and mulita from Goat Mafia.
Cathy Chaplin

Harun Coffee

In addition to dishing up delightful smoothies, cold brews, and teas, this Leimert Park shop serves as a hub for the community.

Simply Wholesome

Simply Wholesome
Island Delight with chicken, macaroni pie, plantains, potato salad, peas, and rice from Simply Wholesome.
Wonho Frank Lee

Owned and operated by the Keeling family since 1984, Simply Wholesome is an all-in-one health food store and vegan restaurant. Come in for spinach patties and vegetarian tacos, and leave with locally-made products that line the store’s shelves.

Simply Wholesome
Island Delight with chicken, macaroni pie, plantains, potato salad, peas, and rice from Simply Wholesome.
Wonho Frank Lee

Nature’s Thirst Trap

Founded by Imani Jackson in 2017, this smoothie and juice bar is committed to “refreshing urban communities with raw juices and love.” Nature’s Thirst Trap’s refreshing wares are available at the Voodoo Vegan food truck and for local delivery, shipping, and pick-up.

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