The 30 Best Strip Mall Restaurants and Bars in LA
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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Wilder Shaw is a regular Thrillist contributor who is WELL AWARE that he left out 10 billion incredible strip mall sushi joints, but in LA it seems like it’s hard to find good sushi outside of strip malls. Throw shade at him on Twitter at @WilderShaw_ and Instagram at @wildershaw.