Where to Eat and Drink Near Banc of California Stadium
Fill up on tacos, mariscos, dumplings, fried fish, and drinks before or after your next LAFC or ACFC match.
It’s a common critique in the sports world that LA is too full of transplants and good weather and other things to do to be a good sports city. “They” say that the sunshine has made us soft and we’ll never match up to the hardened fanatics in Philly, Chicago, Boston, or New York, and that our home games always have too many fans of the visiting team. But those people have clearly never watched a big game from the outfield pavilion at Dodger Stadium, or from the 300 level of The Crypt, or in the North End at an LAFC match at Banc of California Stadium.
Banc of California Stadium opened as a soccer-specific facility in 2018, with modern design and one of the steepest bleacher angles among MLS stadiums, which means every seat is a great one for cheering on LAFC and the brand new Angel City FC of the National Women’s Soccer League. It also has a prime location in Exposition Park, built on the former site of the LA Sports Arena, so it’s right near the 110-10 interchange, and is perfectly accessible by public transit via the Expo Line or bus. That prime location also means it’s surrounded by some great food options, for before the game, after the game, or both. Here are our favorite places to eat near Banc of California Stadium:
There was a minute when ghost kitchens seemed like something scary and untrustworthy, a trick played on an unsuspecting delivery customer. But several years on, it’s clear that they have become another path for independent restaurateurs to get their start. Jackfruit Cafe is a takeout-only vegan soul food cafe from chef and former actress Angela Means (she played Felisha in Friday) at Grand Food Depot, just across the 110 from the stadium. They’re serving a wide range of Southern and Southern California-inspired vegan food, like the Crunchwrap, Orange Chicken, and Birria Tacos. They’re also doing soul food classics like Collards, Mac and Cheese, Black Eyed Peas, and Jackfruit BBQ, so you can find exactly the right balance between fun sports food and actually eating something healthy.
How to order: Online through their website.
Mercado La Paloma/Exposition Park
It’s not really fair to lump these two restaurants together, because they’re each outstanding on their own. Chichen Itza is a long-running stall with some of the city’s very best Cochinita Pibil, Panuchos, and Habanero Salsa; Holbox is a mariscos counter with fresh, ethically-sourced seafood prepared to exacting standards with bright and acidic sauces. But both stands are in Mercado La Paloma, and both operate under the talented hand of Yucatecan expert chef Gilberto Cetina Jr. Put together, they are an unbeatable force in the Exposition Park area.
How to order: Pickup and delivery available via their separatewebsites, walk-ins also accepted.
Historic South Central
The stand informally known as Tire Shop Taqueria wasn’t the first to do Tijuana-style tacos in LA, but they were among the first to receive citywide acclaim for it, with lines quickly growing to stretch down the block. There's a good reason for that—the Carne Asada is outstanding, lashed with smoke that shines through the salsa and the dollop of avocado that they sling on top. The tortillas are made fresh by a dedicated team, and they have just the right pliancy and subtle corniness. You can get good Tijuana-style tacos all over the place nowadays, but this stand is still at the top of the class.
How to order: Walk-ups only.
There are several great Belizean restaurants on and around the stretch of Western between the I-10 and MLK Boulevard, and it is worth going on an oxtail adventure to discover your favorite among them. Joan & Sisters is particularly good, with Meat Pies that flake just so and excellent banana leaf-wrapped Belizean tamales. If you’re headed that way on a Saturday, don’t miss their special Belizean Boil-Up, a loaded stew with fish, pigtail, cassava, plantains, and more.
How to order: Walk in or call 323-735-8952 to order over the phone.
As a pre- or post-game spot it’s hard to beat a fun, raucous, and stylish patio. When you throw in chef Matt Molina’s simple but perfectly executed menu with a killer burger, and their great wine and summery cocktails, Everson Royce Bar becomes an essential stop even though it’s a little farther afield from the stadium than some other options. Knock back a michelada before heading over, and after the game their expansive book of spirits has all the interesting top-shelf liquor you could want to celebrate a big win or drown your sorrows, as the case may be.
How to order: Walk in, or book a table on Resy.
Game day food has a pretty strong overlap with college kid food—the goals tend to be something like quick, affordable, filling, and big flavors, often in that order. Northern Cafe, a counter-service Northern Chinese restaurant with a long menu focused on dumplings and noodles, hits each of those marks, with the big flavors jumping up a few spots. Their Juicy Pork Dumplings, Dan Dan Noodles, and Beef Roll are as good as just about any version you’ll find outside of the SGV, and the Chongqing Crispy Chicken is perfect sports food, fried bits of chicken tossed with an array of chiles.
How to order: Walk in or call 213-741-9050 to order over the phone.
This little counter-service bakery on Hoover pumps out fantastic Mexican breads and pastries, but it’s more than that—they also have an excellent range of Yucatecan-style specialty dishes, tacos and tortas, panuchos and salbutes which you can get filled with their excellent meats like Cochinita Pibil or pork shoulder Poc-Chuc. They also carry a selection of cheeses, snacks, and sodas, and definitely don’t overlook their fluffy Yucatecan tamales.
How to order: Walk in or call 213-748-6090 to order over the phone.
Hotel Figueroa/Downtown LA
Perhaps the chaos of live sports and a big crowd is a little too much; what you need to get into the right headspace is an oasis, with a cactus garden and maybe a body of water, and definitely with a bright, summery cocktail. La Casita, the casual poolside restaurant and lounge at Hotel Figueroa, could be just the ticket. There are good, creative drinks and a short menu of Italian-ish snacks and flatbreads, and it’s a chill and sophisticated spot that feels miles away from the craziness of the 110 freeway even though you are only a minute off of the route home. It is a thoroughly appealing way to unwind after a stressful 90 minutes on the pitch.
How to order: Walk in or reserve a table online.
Fish and chips and then a soccer match sounds like a great Saturday in the UK, and it works just as well here, albeit with a local twist. The eponymous father-son duo CW & Chris have been frying fish and fowl in South LA for 30 years and serving them over fries, with Southern sides like hush puppies, collard greens, and potato salad that are good enough to steal the show. Everything is fried to order, so you may want to call ahead if you’re cutting it close to kickoff, but it’s an excellent and affordable lunch, and a great way to build a sturdy base for all those overpriced stadium beers.
How to order: Walk in, order through the website, or place a phone order at 323-750-9403.
Sometimes the best food choice is also the most obvious one; near the stadium on game day, Occam’s fork is pointing towards The Lab, a popular gastropub with good beer, plenty of TVs, draft cocktails you can order by the liter, and straightforward well-made food. It can get pretty crowded there, especially on football Saturdays, and all of those people aren’t wrong—USC Hospitality, which owns and operates the spot, has done a great job keeping the vibe fun despite the odd and haphazardly implemented science theme.
How to order: Walk-ins only.