Angelenos often call Silver Lake the city’s most hipster hood, but this vibrant neighborhood is home to more than vinyl record shops, cool indie music venues, and farmers markets. These days, it’s also one of LA’s most exciting dining and drinking destinations, and thanks to its relatively small geographical area, the best spots are often heavily concentrated within a handful of streets, making it (for LA, at least) somewhat walkable. Here you’ll find old-school establishments that have evolved into beloved neighborhood landmarks, as well as a surprising number of international cuisines -- especially fresh, modern takes on traditional Southeast Asian cooking. Read on to explore 19 of the best places to eat and drink right now in Silver Lake.
Jewish-American comfort food with a few playful tweaks LA is not a city that wants for Jewish delis, but with its whimsical wallpaper, handsome dark wood, and dim lighting, Freedman’s is a gem among gems. Cured ocean trout is layered over crisp latkes made in a waffle iron and served with creme fraiche, and warm sesame challah bread gets an extra kick from seaweed butter. Even Freedman’s take on classic brisket is done with a twist: after a quick sear, it gets braised in an aromatic broth of star anise, bay leaf, burnt onion, and beef stock, lending a serious depth of flavor to the meat before it’s carved tableside. Brunch at Freedman’s calls for some rich chocolate babka and Reuben sandwich, which is generously stuffed with house-made pastrami and will leave you licking Russian dressing and grease off every last finger.
Sophisticated bistro mixing French techniques with global flavors After working in esteemed kitchens like Trois Mec, Petit Trois, and Saam at The Bazaar, Chef Douglas Rankin is bringing his talents to this newly opened spot: a stylish space with a decidedly Euro-Californian point of view. Although the menu is rooted in Rankin’s French training and techniques, it isn’t strictly French. That’s why you’ll see a smattering of global influences: things like pork tonkatsu partnered with smoked applesauce and seaweed béarnaise, or mussels in a dijon emulsion with Japanese milk bread and curly fries. Rankin’s Lebanese heritage infuses a handful of other dishes, as well, like Brussels sprouts with lebni and lamb tartare with buckwheat tabbouleh and sumac crackers. A pastry program -- designed with Chef Gregory Baumgartner -- includes a black sesame mousse (its nutty flavor perfectly balanced by the tartness of lemon curd and buttery-rich shortbread) and pecan cake, which you should definitely wash down with one of their excellent wines or cocktails.
Thai-restaurant-meets-wine-bar featuring Southeast Asian flavors and eclectic wines Over the last few years, Silver Lake’s become one of the city’s go-to destinations for excellent Southeast Asian cuisine. Located in a strip mall on the border of Silver Lake and Echo Park, restaurant/wine bar Same Same is part of this wave of kitchens putting a modern spin on traditional food from their native countries (in this case, Thailand). In addition to serving all the usual aromatic herbs and fish sauces and sour, sweet, salty, spicy flavors, Same Same boasts a superbly curated and eclectic wine list -- one that includes Txakolina, a sparkling white made from grapes grown in Basque country. That means you can wash down khao soi (a heat-inflected coconut curry with fall-apart-tender chicken, crispy noodles, and pickled cabbage) with a delicious riesling or enjoy garlic-marinated grilled ribeye with a delightful syrah.
Ideal date-night spot with a charming patio and elevated American eats If you’ve ever Googled “most romantic restaurants for a date in Los Angeles,” then you’ve heard about this Silver Lake spot famous for its light-festooned patio anchored by an ancient tree with massive, sprawling limbs that create a canopy over nearby candlelit tables. That’s where you (and ideally, your date) should sip on some of the Eastside’s most innovative cocktails, which are prepared with fresh, made-in-house syrups and infusions. The food -- well-executed new American fare like Brussels sprouts, Parker House rolls, and branzino -- is stuff you’ve likely eaten before but elevated to a whole other playing field. Take, for example, the rolls: served in a cast-iron skillet, this mouthwatering version is remarkably fluffy and served with rich, salted butter and Parmesan shavings.
Traditional Filipino favorites with a seriously modern (and delectable) spin Southern California has one of the biggest Filipino communities outside of the Philippines, but it was only a few years ago when Filipino food started enjoying the same well-deserved mainstream attention as other Southeast Asian cuisines. Helmed by Chef Charles Olalia, whose now-shuttered Rice Bar downtown helped kick-start the LA Filipino renaissance, this lively Silver Lake spot is where you’ll find all the Pinoy classics with a contemporary twist. Olalia’s take on beloved lumpia is stuffed with a house-made blend of shrimp mousse, lardo, and sea urchin, then topped with even more sea urchin and served with homemade spicy vinegar. He also makes his own longganisa (slightly sweet, Filipino-style pork sausages) with pickled veggies, turning them into patties spread with garlic mayo and tucked between warm Hawaiian rolls. These may not be your lola’s classic dishes, but there’s still that distinctive, home-cooked, comfort-food element -- which is exactly what Filipino cooking is all about.
Cozy Italian bistro known for clever takes on pasta Not even the most diehard keto diet can resist this carb haven. Chef Zach Pollack is well-known for his pastas, especially the inventive tortellini in brodo served al contrario: instead of the traditional preparation in which stuffed pasta is served in a hearty broth, his petite dumplings are filled with the piping-hot soup (not unlike Taiwan’s thin-skinned xiao long bao). Though the tortellini is certainly the star, don’t sleep on the other pastas -- such as rich radiatori with braised pork or the simpler whole wheat bigoli tossed with tomato and pine nuts. Morning people will be happy to know Alimento recently launched brunch as well, with a host of dishes both new (ricotta doughnut holes and French toast) and tried-and-true (the chicken Milanese sammie and perfect chopped salad).
Good-for-you, contemporary Californian cuisine in a light-filled space Longtime food writers Heather Sperling and Emily Fiffer teamed up to open this all-day, farmers market-driven spot that -- without being strictly vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free -- manages to make you feel like you’re eating well and taking great care of yourself at the same time. Daytime favorites include the best-selling Turkish eggs flavored with chile-infused butter, maple-tahini toast (their healthful riff on French toast), and mouthwatering pastries made with whole grains and unrefined sugars. Evenings call for natural wines and fresh produce featuring prominently in almost every dish -- from seared kabocha squash with pomegranate seeds to marinated beets accompanied by kumquats and sprouted lentils. Carnivores and carb-lovers are well taken care of, too: order the whole chicken served Sicilian style (meaning it’s de-boned and stuffed with arugula, pine nuts, and currants) or any of the rustic pastas, all of which are hand-rolled and made without an extruder to provide more bite.
Nondescript Israeli-Mediterranean sidewalk cafe with a rotating menu Mh Zh is the accessible, no-frills, no-reservations, equally delicious counterpoint to downtown’s Bavel, where making a reservation at a decent dinner hour requires serious strategizing. Seating is mostly confined to the counter stools or the sidewalk, and the menu (which changes daily) is written in black Sharpie on brown paper bags. Dishes -- like a game-changing hummus that’s heavy on the tahini, vinegary pickled vegetables, and salty, crispy-skinned potatoes with aioli -- are often served on butcher-block paper and meant to be shared. Order the cote de beouf: a perfectly seasoned and cooked hunk of meat that, unless you specify otherwise, will arrive just about rare.
Colorful Thai restaurant with a lively atmosphere and traditional classics Night + Market Song comes on the heels of its original location in West Hollywood, sporting the same vibrant colorscape, funky vibes, and ever-present din. Chef/owner Kris Yenbamroong has no formal culinary training, but growing up in his family’s restaurant Talesai gave him all the skills he needed. His Silver Lake outpost has a few exclusive dishes, including a chopped salad studded with peanut brittle, crispy shallots, and fresh larb herbs; som tum tod, a fried nest of papaya; and papa-get-dee plaa khem, also known as Bangkok mall pasta. If you’re pining after what’s available at the WeHo location, all his signature items show up here as well -- including cold crispy rice salad with citrusy-ginger notes and the famous khao soi (get it with short rib!) made with homemade curry paste, pickled mustard greens, and chili jam.
Approachable Taiwanese-Chinese fare prepared with seasonality in mind “All the best Chinese is in San Gabriel Valley” was a common refrain until Pine & Crane opened its doors in Silver Lake. This minimalist space is the perfect setting for a menu of Taiwanese and Chinese favorites made using fresh, simple ingredients. In the spring and fall, chef/owner Vivian Ku sources seasonal produce from her cousin’s farm; as a result, Ku swaps out the veggie plates on the menu frequently in order to showcase rare and freshly harvested items. Filled to the brim with chewy udon noodles, crunchy bok choy, slightly bitter mustard greens, and tender chunks of beef, the beef noodle soup tastes fresh and clean without the cloying oiliness you may have experienced in other versions. The three-cup jidori chicken (one of Pine & Crane’s signatures) is even better with Ku’s modern upgrade: the classic dish is usually served bone-in, but hers is boneless, making the juicy, flavorful, umami-packed chunks that much easier to devour.
Chef-driven soft-serve ice cream in a range of nostalgic flavors The brainchild of husband-and-wife-and-chef team Warren and Rose Schwartz, Magpies is the hottest (coolest?) soft-serve shop on the Eastside. Instead of commonplace options like vanilla or chocolate, they’ve dreamed up unique flavors like malted milk chocolate, maple brown sugar, corn almond, or sweetened cream. Well-crafted toppings are also homemade and just as unique, ranging from chocolate-covered honeycomb to brown sugar oats and graham cracker streusel. If you’re wondering, yes, the talked-about fried ice cream pie -- a decadent, layered creation of vegan fudge, almond ice cream, honeycomb, and dense whipped cream all enveloped in fried corn flakes -- is a must-get.
Lively, old-school institution serving German brews and bites It’s hard to imagine the neighborhood without this long-established landmark, which has been around for over 55 years. And although it’s gone through a few iterations and owners -- the bar started off as an Old English pub and is now a German tavern complete with a beer garden -- its old-school, divey vibes are part of its charm. As expected, the beer list is packed with a variety of Bavarian brews -- from light, golden Hofbrau Hefeweizen to malty, earthy Kostritzer Schwarzbier -- and the menu is dedicated to German specialties like potato pancakes, sauerkraut, and schnitzel. On a Friday evening (happy hour is Monday through Friday from 12-6pm), there’s really nothing better than taking your coworkers to Red Lion’s patio for a cold brew and bratwurst on a roll.
Beloved neighborhood coffee spot with outstanding drinks and a full menu Hundreds of cafes across town serve Lamill’s premium coffee, but the best place to get a fresh cup is from its own recognizable red storefront in Silver Lake. Operated by extremists who are meticulous about every step of the coffee-making process, Lamill’s a favorite among locals as well as Westsiders who find themselves on the other side of town for the day. While Lamill’s slightly more out-of-the-ordinary drinks are a draw, like orange-infused cappuccinos and Hong Kong milk teas, the real star is the silky-smooth vanilla latte. The way it’s made at Lamill (by pouring espresso over housemade Madagascar vanilla and textured milk) gives it a silky-smooth consistency and a rich, deep flavor that’s nothing like the saccharine syrup taste of other flavored lattes. Park at one of the perfect-for-people-watching window seats, order the valrhona mocha and doughnut holes, and call it a day.
Unlike most specialty coffee spots, food isn’t an afterthought here. Breakfast ranges from the hearty (burritos with charred salsa or baked grits) to the decadently sweet (like melt-in-your-mouth chai custard French toast). If you’re in the mood for lunch, they’ve got robust salads, sammies, and shared plates.
Casual Hong Kong cafe with a curated menu of modern Cantonese dishes Chef Ryan Wong’s first project -- a small restaurant on the corner of Sunset and Hyperion that moved into the former We Have Noodles space -- is introducing Cantonese food to the neighborhood in an incredibly thoughtful, accessible way. Stacked with hot and cold dishes informed by Wong’s Cantonese heritage, the tightly edited menu doesn’t feel overwhelming -- which helps when you’re trying to decide between the deep-fried pork chop nestled inside a fluffy milk bun or the cold chicken topped with pungent ginger-scallion sauce. Then there’s an array of vegetable dishes (everything from pea shoots and goji berries to wood ear mushrooms with snow fungus) and Wong’s take on char siu. The famous Cantonese barbecued pork is marinated for 24 hours with traditional ingredients, then roasted fresh daily in small batches so it’s always perfectly juicy and paired with hot mustard for an extra hit of flavor.
Legendary smash burgers starring simple, straightforward ingredients There are fancy burgers, and then there are classic burgers; Burgers Never Say Die definitively belongs in the latter category. Shawn Nee started selling his now-famous smash burgs in his backyard, before graduating to this full-fledged restaurant in Silver Lake with occasional lines out the door. Nee’s in-demand rendition consists of two ultra-thin patties (made from meat that’s ground in-house daily) seared until the edges are crisp, American cheese, ketchup, mustard, pickles, and minced onion, all served on a basic soft white bun. The beauty lies in its simplicity, as well as Nee’s perfectionism and attention to detail; when he couldn’t find a commercial smasher that suited his needs, he commissioned his own custom-made tool.
East Coast-style bagel shop serving loose bagels & classic sandwiches This neighborhood bagel shop is the dream of Jason Kaplan, an East Coast native whose mom packed him a bagel lunch every day growing up. Years later, when he moved to LA and our dearth of legit bagel shops, he decided to spend a year and a half baking a dozen a day and perfecting his own version: delightfully crispy with just the right amount of chew, and a little bit yeasty and sweet. Maury’s (based off his middle name) is his gift to Los Angeles. Choose from the array of solo bagels (which come in flavors like jalapeno-cheddar, za’atar, and salt and pepper) with a schmear, or grab one of Kaplan’s classic, open-faced bagels loaded with smoked whitefish, cream cheese, and cucumbers.
One-of-a-kind specialty coffee shop with international selection of roasters Dayglow isn’t just a cool, progressive cafe in Silver Lake; it’s also a unique coffee subscription service that aims to help people discover the best coffees in the world. To that end, the retail location is tightly curated and highly vetted, with up to 20 different roasters like Denmark’s La Cabra, Sweden’s Morgon, Canada’s Lüna, and the USA’s Little Wolf. Although founder Tohm Ifergan recommends first-timers try an espresso to get a sense of Dayglow’s brewing style, they serve a wide range of beverages (even distilled coffee, which means it’s served clear). Throughout the year, the team releases a series of signature drinks inspired by an iconic director (last year’s was Wes Anderson). This year, the chosen director is Michel Gondry -- so the elegant and complex Science of Sleep (butterfly pea flower shaken with egg white, lemon, lavender, and bolivar bitters) is a must-order.
Silver Lake staple serving all-day, home-style breakfasts for nearly a century Millie’s has been around since 1926, which is quite a feat in a neighborhood that’s evolved so much over the decades. Even though this place doesn’t serve booze, locals keep coming back for its hearty, old-fashioned comfort food -- dishes like the Slutty Bun (a soft scrambled egg sandwich that predates Eggslut) or one of the three-egg scrambles aptly named “messes.” A lot of it probably has to do with Millie’s approach to cooking: real butter used to fry eggs, the use of white cheddar cheese (instead of yellow, to avoid dyes), bread that’s baked fresh every day, and pours of fresh-ground French roast coffee.
Cheerful, all-day cafe/gift shop perfect for a quick bite What this small, sunny storefront lacks in space, it makes up for in practically everything else. The menu consists of straightforward breakfasts -- well-done avocado toasts, burritos, and a sharp cheddar scramble on an English muffin -- and solid lunch bowls, like a warm red rice and kimchi combo with a seven-minute egg. To round it out, there’s also a handful of excellent coffee drinks and smoothies (get The Scout, a concoction of banana, dates, local honey, cayenne, cinnamon, and almond butter). Plus, they’ve also managed to squeeze in a retail space that accommodates locally made items you can take home or gift, like wines, cheeses, cured meats, and ceramics.
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Tiffany Tse is a Thrillist contributor and wants everyone to know she loves hipsters. Follow her adventures around town at @twinksy.