LA's Delivery-Focused Restaurants You Should Order From Right Now
For decades, diners had a binary choice when mealtime arrived: cook at home, or sit down at a restaurant. Nowadays, digital services like Uber Eats and Grubhub have made takeout and delivery easier than ever, and whole restaurant concepts have popped up explicitly for the purposes of preparing and delivering food -- no dining room or wait staff required. That's a huge bonus in the age of social distancing.
Many of LA's food delivery concepts are "clean," "lean," and keto-centric, but you can also find virtual restaurants serving up comfort food classics like fried chicken and breakfast burritos. Some chefs use independent commissaries, while others fulfill orders from collectivized ghost kitchens like Colony Cooks (West LA), Kitchen United (Pasadena), West & Mel Food Co. (East Hollywood), and CloudKitchens: a company from Uber founder Travis Kalanick with a local branch in Harvard Heights.
At these virtual food courts, customers order by app or online and assorted delivery services finish the job. Lower start-up costs mean that professional chefs and home cooks alike can take the plunge -- and consequently, the level of quality can range from vibrant and inspired to tired and slapped-together. With that said, each of the delivery-focused concepts below serves up tasty meals that travel well enough to compete with anything a waiter would bring you.
Note: Most concepts have a limited delivery radius to optimize quality, typically in the 5-mile range, so not every pick below will be available in your neighborhood.
Bed & Breakfast Burrito Co.
Hearty egg wraps fit for any meal of the day
You'll want to clear your schedule when ordering from this San Francisco-born concept within West & Mel Food Co. The 11 different hulking breakfast burritos are stuffed with fluffy eggs, melted Swiss, buttery tater tots, and proteins like “morning bacon,” “sleepy sausage,” and “hungry ham,” all swaddled in griddled flour tortillas. You can build your own burrito, or opt for a signature selection like the “deli pastrami pesto” with thin, fat-rimmed pastrami, bacon, and (of course) light pesto; or the “sweet n’ savory” breakfast burrito with ham, apricot preserves, and Dijon mustard. Orders come with two roasted salsas: milder tomato-based red and spicy jalapeño-spiked green.
Where to order:Grubhub and Postmates
Dante Fried Chicken Ghost Kitchen
Unique fried chicken and sides inspired by grandma
Dante Gonzales runs DFC out of the DTLA kitchen of nouveau retro burger joint Cassell’s Hamburgers. Gonzales, who previously ran a DFC food truck and hosted pop-ups between restaurant stints, serves truly unique fried chicken and other comfort food inspired by his grandmother's recipes. “Sock it to me” chicken tenders use juicy, free-range breast meat that’s brined in tangy buttermilk and lemon rinds, crusted with nuts, seeds, and herbs, and served with addictive apricot “crack” sauce. You can also order “taste like chicken” tofu nuggets with a matching flavor profile, and meat that tears like animal protein. Sides include crispy, 12-spice yucca fries coated with fennel, paprika, and chile powder, and served with herbaceous green “gawdess” sauce. Dante also makes inspired apricot pecan coconut slaw tossed with Asian pear, toasted pistachio, pickled shallots, and creamy coconut milk leek dressing.
Where to order: Grubhub
Eagle Rock pop-up uses Penny Oven’s wood fire at night
When chef Michelle Wilton took over the space across from sister restaurant Four Café, she was torn between a bakery and Indian cuisine. She decided on Penny Oven first, and Holi now operates as a ghost kitchen starting at 4pm, with online-only delivery and pick-up orders, and no eating in-house.
The pop-up takes its name from the colorful Hindu festival that marks winter’s end, and Wilton’s modern Indian dishes are appropriately lively. Kati rolls see marinated, house-made paneer stuffed into flaky paratha with scrambled egg, pickled onion, crunchy cabbage, and bracing green chutney. The chunky, onion-rich Kerala-style shrimp curry pairs well with steamed white rice, and sides range from spice-simmered lentils to roasted butternut squash dressed with tangy raita and pomegranate arils. They ferment cabbage kraut in-house with turmeric, and capitalize on the penny-coated oven by baking pull-apart, salt-dusted naan.
Trendy Japanese-style sandwiches
Chef Dani Sobel and her business partner Brian Leung are crafting some of LA's best Japanese-style sandos within the freeway-friendly CloudKitchens, decorating each black box with an image of the Ijuu (a mythical monkey bear monster that roams Japanese forests). The sandos feature soft, toasted and buttered shokupan -- crusts trimmed -- from Little Tokyo’s Yamazaki Bakery. They have traditional options like beef and pork, but transcend expectations with deep-fried proteins like juicy soft-shell crab, which sports a thin, crispy crust, finely shredded cabbage, garlic confit, punchy cornichons, and tartar sauce. The ham katsu sando is another highlight, teaming thick-cut smoked ham with cabbage and karashi (mustard) mayo. Sides with similarly colorful flourishes include chilled noodle salad and potato salad studded with Japanese pickles.
Flavorful rice packets extend beyond traditional Japanese traditions
Carol Kwan and her brother Phillip created a popular stand at farmers markets and Smorgasburg LA, and now turn out Japanese rice balls and teriyaki plates at Eats On Madison on a Pasadena side street. The siblings craft triangular onigiri and rectangular, nori-wrapped musubi with an interesting mix of classic and signature fillings. Their three-ball set is a great way to taste Mama Musubi's variety. The SPAM and tamago (Japanese omelet) is pan-seared, soy-glazed, and judiciously sweet. “Mama's special” sports a savory furikake coat and contains sweet bay shrimp, imitation crab, and piquant yuzu aioli. They also serve an oh-so-California bacon and avocado rectangle that’s fairly spicy. Each trio comes with cabbage salad, edamame, pickled radishes, and cucumbers.
Filipino rice bowls perfect for the lunch crowd
The Filipino Food Movement continues to celebrate Pinoy culinary heritage in various forms across LA, and Rice Guys does so from the lineup at West & Mel Food Co. Owners Andrew Marco and Ralph Hsiao turn out rice bowls featuring meats like adobo chicken wings, longanisa, and tocino, but the binakol may be their most impressive achievement: tender, coconut-poached chicken thigh paired with sticky, chicken broth-infused rice grains, refreshing cucumber and tomato salad, fried garlic shallots, and atchara (pickled vegetables). An accompanying lumpia -- crispy Filipino-style egg roll -- contains juicy ground pork, peas, carrots, and onions, and comes with sweet chile dipping sauce.
Where to order:Caviar, Grubhub, and Uber Eats
Handcrafted scones from a passionate baker
“Every scone has a story” according to Sconely owner Julia Friedman, and that adage holds true for her sweet and savory triangles, which are wonderfully crusty outside and soft and supple inside. Standouts include the Madagascar vanilla bean-infused Ruby Q, studded with cherries and semisweet chocolate chunks (and inspired by Friedman’s niece), and the herbaceous Zilla featuring tomatoes and tangy goat cheese. During the holidays, you'll find options like the Lucky: a sweet potato, cranberry, and rosemary scone topped with crispy leeks. Scones cost $57 per dozen and get delivered Wednesday through Saturday mornings from 8am to noon, with 48 hours notice. Sconely bakes in the DTLA Arts District, but their $10 delivery radius spans from Long Beach to the San Fernando Valley.
Where to order: Through the Sconely website
Thai rice and noodle bowls that stand out among the West LA pack
This two-location business operates from Kitchen United in Pasadena and Colony Cooks on the Westside. Some dishes are fairly straightforward, including pad Thai and chicken satay, but SamLor also serves a couple compelling standouts: the fluffy khao khai jiao poo omelet, topped with a sizable blue crab thatch, and the moo tod kratiem with crispy pork strips in spicy garlic pepper sauce. In both cases, key proteins rest atop steamed white rice, though customers can upgrade to nutty black rice, fiber-rich bamboo rice, or sweet-tart berry rice. Plates come with a tangy green chile sauce and varied pickled vegetable array that includes red and green jalapeños, cauliflower, and cucumbers. The name SamLor references Thailand’s three-wheeled “tuk tuks,” a popular taxi option; thankfully, your food arrives in faster, four-wheeled vehicles.
An East Coast native delivers delicious knots from Studio City
Philly native Kevin Bricklin hand-rolls and twists his dough to produce West Coast's beautifully chewy soft pretzels. The longtime Warner Bros. exec crafts seven different braids from his home kitchen in Studio City using a CFO (Cottage Food Operation) Class A permit. Bricklin coats pretzels with sesame seeds, melted Cheddar Jack cheese, and “everything” -- in this case, a salt, onion, garlic, and poppy/sesame seed mix. He also sells pretzel knots and braids. Delivery is available within a 4-mile radius of Ventura & Laurel Canyon Boulevards (though higher fees expand the scope out to 8 miles). It’s also possible to schedule a pick-up order outside Carpenter Ave. Elementary School.
Where to order: Through the West Coast Pretzels website. Orders start at $18, and typically take two days to fulfill.
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