The Eastside Lunch Guide
The 16 spots where you should be eating lunch on the Eastside.
It takes about five minutes driving down the eastern portion of Sunset to realize one thing - there’s no shortage of daytime food options around here. From the coffee shops serving fancy lattes and sandwiches to the date night places that also keep the lights on for a few hours in the afternoon, the Eastside is certifiable lunchtime nirvana. That said, just because a place is open at 1:30pm and has cute wallpaper doesn’t mean it’s actually worth your time. Broken down by neighborhood, here are the 16 spots where you should be eating lunch on the Eastside.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
If you haven’t heard of Sqirl by now you either just moved to LA or you don’t take lunch very seriously. The small, order-at-the-counter cafe on Virgil has had a line down the block for years now, but we’re never mad because this place delivers the goods every single time. You’re going to order the sorro pesto rice bowl and the ricotta toast with jam and something else that catches your eye because you know it’ll be excellent. If you have an extra 45 minutes to wait in line, Sqirl is still the king of Eastside lunch.
Porridge + Puffs
On a corner in Historic Filipinotown, Porridge & Puffs might look like any other daytime spot with minimalist decoration and lots of natural light. But you won’t find eggs on toast or kale salad here - just bowls of rice porridge, chewy bread puffs, and a few vegetable dishes. The porridges are fantastic, especially the one topped with five-spice braised short rib and another with Chinese sausage and black-eyed pea miso. It’s simple, confident food that you’ll want to keep coming back for, so we’re glad to hear they’ll be serving brunch and dinner soon.
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It’s Wednesday and you’ve realized this week is just never going to pull itself out from the gutter. Time for pho. Blossom has been open in Silver Lake for a while, but this subdued Vietnamese spot still flies pretty under the radar. The space is actually two stories, and you’re definitely going to want to make your way to the basement. Its low-key vibe (and attached wine cellar) is everything you need when you want to shoot a dart at everyone who talks to you. Get the pho with rare steak.
Forage is one of those places that slams the farm-to-table-to-inside-your-mouth thing pretty hard, but ultimately you aren’t annoyed by it because the food is actually good. And while the menu’s not particularly large, there’s still plenty of variety. Everything from the chicken adobo bowl to the goat cheese quiche to the hangar steak with chimichurri is worth ordering, and the cafeteria-style setup is ideal for your lunch hour.
Pine & Crane
Pine and Crane benefits from several things. For one, its Sunset Junction location couldn’t be better located if it tried. Secondly, the service is quick and the order-at-the-counter setup will get you in and out in a half hour if you need to back to the antique bicycle rehab center before 1pm. But most importantly, this modern Taiwanese/Chinese spot is serving food that’s delicious, affordable, and light enough that it won’t make you want to immediately nap afterwards.
Alcove Cafe & Bakery
If someone suggests grabbing lunch in Los Feliz, chances are the word Alcove isn’t far behind. The cafe/restaurant along Hillhurst is all but synonymous with its neighborhood, and while the weekend crowds can definitely get to be too much, its weekday scene is far more mellow. The large menu is always solid, the patio is unparalleled, and if you need liquid encouragement to get you through the day, Big Bar is also on the premises serving some pretty stellar cocktails.
Little Dom’s will always be one of the better date night spots on the Eastside, but if you don’t utilize it for lunchtime too, you’re doing it wrong. During the day, this place is remarkably casual, there are always tables available, and you can take full advantage of the breakfast menu until 3pm. And you will, because that egg, speck, and mozzarella pizza has your name all over it.
Mustard Seed Cafe
Mustard Seed has a reputation for being that place you go to when Alcove is ransacked, but the reality is this tiny sidewalk diner is fantastic all on its own. This is where you go when you have 30 minutes to spare and are simply in the market for a no-frills sandwich or salad to keep you full till dinnertime. The move is either their chopped salad or a rosemary turkey burger that we’d actually order over a regular burger. Also, keep an eye out for local celebrities - they love it here too.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Opened by the Jon and Vinny’s guys, no one’s ever accused Kismet of lacking hype. But the good news is this place is worth it. While everyone you know is making dinner reservations there, the truth is Kismet is at its best during lunch. Not only are the crowds more manageable, but its vegetable-heavy, Eastern Mediterranean-ish menu also sounds even better at 12:30pm than it does at 7:30pm. Don’t you dare leave without getting that broccoli toast.
Dune might appear at first to be just another neighborhood falafel joint, but this small shop is bordering on legend status around these parts. Why? Because that falafel is some of the best you’ll get anywhere in LA - and same goes for their hummus and fried chicken shawarma sandwich. The interior of this place is basically just the counter where you order, but their front patio is exactly where you want to be relaxing on your lunch hour.
Never heard of Wax Paper before? It’s ok. It’s not every day you’re probably roaming around neighborhood side streets in Frogtown looking for sandwich shops inside shipping containers. But if you are, Wax Paper is your holy grail. This is nothing more than a two-foot long counter that happens to be serving some absurdly good deli sandwiches. They’re only open till 4pm and once they’re out of a certain sandwich, they’re out. So get here early if you can, and get involved with one of the best-kept secrets on the Eastside.
All’Acqua stands out as being one of the few upscale-ish options in a neighborhood intent on staying as laidback as possible. And while we definitely endorse this Italian spot for date night, its lunch situation is equally as solid. If you work in Glendale and are sick of figuring out how to survive another lunch hour at the Americana, head down to All’Acqua with your co-workers for some sweet relief. Think pizzas (the margherita is a must), housemade pasta, paninis, and a tiramisu you’re going to want to save room for.
The Tam O'Shanter
Do you feel like lunch, but also sort of want to go to Medieval Times? Skip the trip to Anaheim and go to The Tam O’Shanter, an LA classic and one of the oldest restaurants in the entire city. Operating since 1922, this place feels like a Scottish travelers lodge that a Stark could walk into at any point, but come lunch time, you’re here for one thing - the Ale & Sandwich Bar. Hand-carved sandwiches, French onion soup, and all the hefty sides (prime rib chili) you could ever want. When all you need is some comfort in your life, The Tam O’Shanter is where you go.
photo credit: Holly Liss
When you get a craving for tacos, there’s very little that will stop you. Hopefully, you’re in Echo Park when it hits, so you can head right over to Guisados. This classic taco spot has expanded rapidly over the city in the last few years, but its Echo Park location remains as good as it’s always been. We still can’t ever decide which tacos we actually want here, so the move is definitely the platter. Six mini tacos of your choosing for $7 - easily the best lunch deal in the area.
Ostrich Farm is permanently closed
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Lunchtime on the Eastside is definitely a casual scene. But your scary boss from San Francisco is in town, and a $6 turkey club served inside a coffee shop just isn’t going to cut it. Head to Ostrich Farm, the nice-but-not-too-nice restaurant right in the heart of Echo Park. You’ll definitely want to order one of the tartines (the ham and gruyere is our favorite), the cheese plate, and their quinoa/sweet potato bowl to at least appear like you live a healthy lifestyle.