Is LA the strip mall capital of the world? You’re damn right it is. And does being the strip mall capital of the world also mean LA has a bunch of incredible restaurants and bars next to check-cashing places and nail salons? YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT IT DOES.
Here are the 30 best of them.
What you’re getting: Combination Soon Tofu
Anthony Bourdain-approved (and now, more importantly, Thrillist-approved), Beverly Soon Tofu has some of the best soondubu jjigae (tofu stew) in the city. Big, wooden communal tables, unlimited sides, and delicious, free barley tea? Gimme. Dat.
What you’re getting: Pork neck
Meat Paradise is real, you guys. Meat Paradise is real.
What you’re getting: Albacore Special and negitoro cut roll
A lot of people say Go’s is the best sushi in LA, and we’re not gonna say they’re right, but we’re not gonna say they’re wrong, either. We’re just gonna say Go's puts creative flair into all of its fish (like shaved gold flakes!), and the flavors are absolutely unreal. Order yourself an off-menu Albacore Special, and you’ll realize the drive to Canoga Park was worth it.
What you’re getting: Sashimi
Hamasaku loves sushi. You love sushi. Together, you’re going to REALLY love sushi.
What you’re getting: Omelet
As the name would suggest, Petit Trois is a much more accessible version of Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s other gem, Trois Mec. Its omelet made our list of the 50 LA things you’ve gotta eat before you die, so get on that soon. You never know...
What you’re getting: Tandoori scallops
This internationally renowned restaurant from Ludo Lefebvre and the Animal guys is one of the hardest reservations in town, and from the outside... it still looks like a Raffallo’s Pizza.
What you’re getting: Lomo saltado
It’d be a real task to find something on the menu at Mario’s that isn’t a grand slam. The lomo saltado is *kisses fingers* and the ceviche is also *kisses fingers*. Arrive early because people line up to get their fingers (which they will then kiss) on all the goodness inside of Mario’s.
What you’re getting: Cheeseburger
Did you know there’s a modern Americana burger place hidden in a strip mall on La Brea? Well there is, and it’s great, and you need to eat there every day forever. “I’m so sick of beef burgers!” you moan. Well stop moaning, people are sleeping. Also, it has the best turkey burgers in town.
What you’re getting: Jazz Burger
“Sure Jitlada is great, but I wish it had a secret menu item that I had to order ahead of time!” Well we’ve got good news: Jitlada has a secret menu item that you have to order ahead of time. It’s called the Jazz Burger, and it contains 10 Thai chiles. You’re welcome. Your tomorrow isn’t.
What you’re getting: White Russian
If the Chimney Sweep isn’t one of the most iconic bars in the Valley, we don’t know what is. Grab a White Russian, play some pool and shuffleboard, and plan your sloppy walk to In-N-Out.
What you’re getting: Beers. Many, many beers.
Don’t want to go in because the sign has a wacky font? Bummer, dude. We're scared to think about what other mistakes you’ve been making.
What you’re getting: Yeah. Beers.
You’ve probably driven past The Woods 10 million times without noticing. Well start noticing, because The Woods has legit drinks, even more legit atmosphere, and EVEN MORE even more legit bar food (like sliders and mini wrapped hot dogs).
What you’re getting: Spicy tonkotsu ramen
The barely existent parking lot is enough to scare even the bravest of men away, but if you can find your way in, SLR will reward you. Its ramen is delicious, as are the many other goodies on the menu (like spicy tuna and salmon bowls).
What you’re getting: All the falafel it sells
This cash-only institution is a knockout -- make sure you get some of its fresh-made falafels, as well as its dolmas.
What you’re getting: Molcajete plate
You like bacon-wrapped shrimp? You like steak molcajete? You like beers the size of your whole body? You like the best effing bean dip LA has to offer? You do, don’t you? You do.
What you’re getting: Tacos
There’s not a single type of person you won’t find inside Pineapple Hill, all probably munching on the free popcorn and $1 tacos (on Mondays). The drinks are cheap, the bartenders are great, it's got trivia... what else do you need?
What you’re getting: Chicken tikka masala, saag paneer, aloo gobi
What India’s Restaurant lacks in a creative name, it makes up for in its outstanding food. And with its lunch buffet and dinner combinations, there’s no time of day you can go wrong. Unless you show up when it's closed. But like, dude, then you can just go back when it's open.
What you’re getting: Wings
Best wings in LA? Maybe. Probably.
What you’re getting: Shawarma plate
Oh, its shawarma! Oh, its tabuli! Oh, its hummus! Oh, its house-made Mediterranean hot sauce! Oh Amir’s!
What you’re getting: Taco burger, tacos, everything else it sells
Though for 51 years, Henry’s Tacos would not have made it onto this list, it unfortunately qualifies now that it was forcefully relocated from the original home up the street. Either way, the food is still that same killer quality, and it's in a strip mall now (well, on the side of a strip mall), so there ya go.
What you’re getting: Steak and oyster tartare
When this nondescript spot opened behind a red door in K-town, the whole neighborhood seemed to hipify overnight, thanks to a smart menu featuring non-Korean upscale food like steak and oyster tartare, fried chicken with snails, and scallops steamed in smoked kombu.
What you’re getting: A cheap, cheap drink. Or five.
DR is a Los Feliz institution, and the regulars can tell you how much it means to them, if you can understand them through the slurs.
What you’re getting: Flat iron steak
This tiny spot from the Silverlake Wine guy also has one of the best prix fixe deals in town: $36 for... whatever it's serving. You’ll want it.
What you’re getting: Onion bagel toasted with lox spread and tomato
East-Coasters looking for a real bagel in LA? Look no further.
What you’re getting: Catfish plate
You’ll be crying to your mom after you taste literally anything on the menu at Mom’s Bar-B-Q House (in a good way!). Its menu ranges from BBQ to Southern comfort food, including amazing catfish with collard greens and mac.
What you’re getting: Mixed poki bowl and cucumber miso
You can order everything on the menu at this hole-in-the-wall spot and not taste anything that's less than spectacular.
What you’re getting: Fish, and chips while you’re at it
It's still rockin’ Orange Bang, and it has fried pineapples. You’d think that’d be all that’s necessary, but its fish & chips are also out of this world.
What you’re getting: Foreman's Special
Relocating from across the street clearly didn’t phase it much -- Hy Mart Sandwiches is still killing it in NoHo with some of the tastiest and most inventive sandwiches in the Valley. And if they tell you a sandwich will be spicy? You better bring a fire truck. ‘Cause it’ll be really spicy. Like a fire.
What you’re getting: Please not herpes please not herpes
It's most famous for being the place where Courtney Love got her start in LA, and a night at LA’s best is-it-a-dive-bar-or-is-it-a-strip-club is always a good-bad decision. And it’s non-nude, so, uh, bring mom?
What you’re getting: Penne alla Boscaiola
Everything’s made from scratch. The pastas are outstanding. The pizzas are works of art. The calzones are, well, calzones, and that’s exactly what they’re supposed to be. Like a big Italian family, All’ Angolo has your back.
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1. Beverly Soon Tofu2717 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles
2. Soowon Galbi856 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles
3. Go's Mart22330 Sherman Way, #C12, Canoga Park
4. Hamasaku11043 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles
5. Petit Trois718 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles
6. Trois Mec716 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles
7. Mario’s Peruvian & Seafood5786 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles
8. Mo Better Burgers901 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles
9. Jitlada Thai Restaurant5233 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
10. Chimney Sweep4354 Woodman Avenue, Sherman Oaks
11. Jay's Bar4321 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
12. The Woods1533 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles
13. Silver Lake Ramen2927 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
14. Falafel Arax5101 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles
15. Salsa & Beer6740 White Oak Ave, Lake Balboa
16. Pineapple Hill Saloon & Grill4454 Van Nuys Blvd, Sherman Oaks
17. India's Restaurant4366 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles
18. Ye Rustic Inn1831 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles
19. Amir's Falafel11711 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
20. Henry's Tacos4389 Tujunga Ave, Studio City
21. Saint Martha740 S Western Ave, Los Angeles
22. The Drawing Room1800 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles
23. Papilles6221 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles
24. The Bagel Broker7825 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles
25. Mom's BBQ House14062 Vanowen St, Van Nuys
26. Daichan11288 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
27. England Fish & Chips2614 Pacific Ave, Long Beach
28. Hy Mart Sandwiches4795 Vineland Ave, North Hollywood
29. Jumbo's Clown Room5153 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles
30. All' Angolo4050 W 3rd St, Los Angeles
Anthony Bourdain-approved (and, more importantly, Thrillist-approved), Beverly Soon Tofu has some of the best soondubu jjigae (tofu stew) in the city. With big, wooden, communal tables, unlimited sides, and delicious, free barley tea, this is clearly a spot to hit.
Soowon Galbi serves high-quality Korean BBQ that won't break the bank, which means you can load up your individual grill with bulgogi and brisket without sweating the bill at the end. The speciality meat is house-marinated short rib, but there are plenty of beef options, with or without seasoning, to choose from. Aside from grilled meats, the menu includes buckwheat noodle dishes, bimimpap, and tofu stews. The space is clean and filled with large booths, so it's perfect for group dinners.
This semi-hidden spot in Canoga is doling out some serious sushi eats, from a strip mall. You can't go wrong with any of their hand rolls, sweet shrimp, or soups.
This Westwood sushi spot combines sophisticated and traditional Japanese flavors with Californian twists in an elegant and welcoming space. Tucked in the corner of a strip mall is this beloved roll-zone, as noted for its celebrity clientele as it is for its food. The rolls are deliciously over-the-top (The Lourd: spicy tuna, avocado, tempura flakes, spicy rice, mango and Jalapeño sauce. Tell me that doesn’t sound good.), and the chef takes his omakase very, very seriously.
This Hollywood bistro from Ludo Lefebvre and the Animal dudes has no phone number, no reservations, only 21 seats, and one of LA's most acclaimed chefs making French classics like steak frites and confit chicken, as well as lunch -- with only 20 servings of two sandwiches offered.
A unique Hollywood restaurant with a constantly changing menu from the guys behind Animal and LudoBites, Trois Mec does not accept reservations. Instead, you purchase tickets (just like you were going to the theatre or a sporting event), thereby ensuring that Chef Ludo Lefebvre's tasting menu is only enjoyed by those truly there for the total foodie experience.
Everything at Mario's is great, but the lomo saltado and ceviche still manage to stand out. Get there early or you'll have wait in the line out the door to get your hands on some of this Peruvian goodness.
This little gem hidden in a La Brea strip mall has some of the best turkey burgers in town and you should eat them.
If this East Hollywood spot didn't have a cult following for its over-the-top spicy Thai food, it would easily go under-the-radar thanks to its nondescript strip mall exterior. Everything on Jitlada's super-long menu will take you out of your comfort zone, like the spicy catfish salad and green mussels curry. Speaking of curry, there are plenty of varieties, all of which are pretty darn spicy. The best thing about Jitlada, aside from the occasional celebrity sighting, is the affordable price.
Chimney Sweep is choc-full of all the essentials for a dive bar, pop corn machine pumping out free corn all night, cheap drinks and friendly vibes.
Presumably owned by a dude who you're already on a first-name basis with, Jay's Bar is attempting to split the difference between dive and gastropub, with a no-frills, common-table-and-stool-and-TV interior, a dozen taps with everything from Deschutes to Nut Brown, plus eats like chili-lime dry-rubbed chicken wings and grilled bratwurst w/ sweet and sour red cabbage & crispy smashed potatoes.
Escape the urban atmosphere of the strip mall and step into The Woods, a cocktail bar with wood block-lined walls, tree trunk tables, and antlered chandeliers. The drinks are cheap (especially during happy hour) and the ambiance is reminiscent of summer camp -- but instead of guitar by campfire, there’s a DJ and a dress code. The Woods is your ticket out of the city and back to nature… cocktails included.
With its broccoli and tofu stuffed vegetarian ramen and willingness to swap out perfect-in-every-way pork belly with boring ol’ chicken, this hipster ramen spot is actually pretty darn good.
This cash-only spot is a home-run -- make sure you get some of its fresh-made falafels and dolmas.
You like bacon-wrapped shrimp? You like steak molcajete? You like beers the size of your face? You like the best freaking bean dip LA has to offer? You do, don’t you? You do. That's Why Salsa & Beer will become your new favorite place for an authentic Mexican meal in Los Angeles.
This local Mexican joint has $1 tacos on Mondays, free popcorn, cheap drinks and trivia. What else do you need?
A mini-mall in East Hollywood is home to India's Restaurant, a popular delivery spot that also offers all of the pan-Indian buffet specials you'd expect. The saag paneer, a creamed spinach harboring scattered cubed cheese, is a standout, and unlimited naan during the lunchtime buffet proves necessary when a spread of chicken tikka and eggplant curry is before you. Just be sure to top your lamb samosas with the spicy plum chutney.
Located in a Los Feliz strip mall, this dive bar has gained a cult following for one thing: its legendary chicken wings. The crispy, fall-off-the-bone wings can thank their vinegar-based hot sauce (and cheap price tag) for their popularity. More than just a bar, Ye Rustic Inn also serves a full dinner menu of classic American food (chicken fried steak, meatloaf, chili-cheeseburgers) and solid, unfussy drinks. The sports bar-meets-tavern space hasn't changed much since opening in 1971, so expect retro wood-paneled walls and deep leather booths.
Don't let the strip mall vibe fool you, Amir's has great Middle Eastern food across the board. Great falafel and creative salad are king at this small deli, as is the fabulous chicken shawarma.
Henry's Tacos is a 50-plus-year-old "gringo" taco eatery that once was housed in a roadside stand created via a form of architecture known as "googie," but is now in a patio-abetted window just across the street from its original location.
The guys from TART and Farmer’s Daughter opened up this resto in Koreatown. It's got a great wine selection, seasonal brews, and awesome eats.
There are only a handful of bars actually open right when it's legal to serve at 6am, and most of them are dives, but none of them are as gloriously divey as this Los Feliz institution, where you're guaranteed to get super-strong drinks and ultra-charming characters.
The first thing you notice when you walk into Papilles, a French restaurant tucked in the corner of a strip mall off the 101, is the gallery wall of artwork whose mismatching frames make the dining room feel a tiny bit like Gertrude Stein's salon. The modest and unpretentious bistro is best known for its affordable prix fixe menu that features modern Gallic dishes like frog legs with celery consomme, scallops with chanterelles, and caramelized peaches. The selection of Old World and natural French wines adds to Papille's understated elegance.
Fresh, piping hot bagels are traditionally known as a NYC favorite but The Bagel Broker has been serving them up in LA's Fairfax district since 1987. This family carbotoreum has 18 different flavors of bagels and one bialy. (Want a schmear with that?)
The menu at this casual spot ranges from BBQ to Southern comfort food, including amazing catfish with collard greens and mac. Mom's BBQ house is one of our favorite places for an authentic Southern meal in LA. It's about as close to a real Southern BBQ house as you'll get in California, if we're being honest.
This strip mall challenges everything we believed with THREE spots that are more than just tolerable -- in fact they're seriously good. But for home-made japanese food and awesome poke bowls, go to Daichan. The self proclaimed "Japanese soul food" includes menu items like Hawaiian ginger chicken and house-made cucumber miso.
This fish and chippery has still got Orange Bang and fried pinapples, and the fish and chips are out of this world.
Hy Mart Sandwiches kills it with some of the tastiest and most inventive sandwiches in the Valley. And if they tell you sandwich will be spicy, expect fire. This mom & pop establishment isn't joking around when it comes to flavor. Bonus points to the fact that most sandwiches here are under $10. Score!
Anybody who's tasted the house-made pasta at this beloved K-Town Italian gem won’t be surprised to know that its pizza is equally outstanding. You can't go wrong with anything on the menu, from the thin-crust pies topped with crispy pepperoni and breaded eggplant to the steaming calzones. The strip mall storefront is unassuming and basic, but the generous Italian-style portions will make you feel like royalty.