The Mid-Wilshire Lunch Guide
The 14 best restaurants for your Mid-Wilshire lunch.
In the corporate nothingness of Mid-Wilshire, finding a quality lunch is nearly impossible. There are tacky chains, empty sports bars, and if you’re lucky, a wandering food truck or two. So what are the many starving office workers actually supposed to do around here? Go to nearby areas. La Brea, Beverly Grove, La Cienega, and Little Ethiopia are full of quality lunch spots and within close enough proximity to get you there and back before your boss freaks out about something pointless again. Here are the 14 best lunch spots around Mid-Wilshire.
At this point, it’s hard to even imagine lunchtime in Mid-Wilshire without Republique. The French restaurant along La Brea has been one of LA’s best restaurants for a few years now, but unlike other places of this caliber, Republique is an all-day situation. If visions of that hour-long line during the weekends are popping through your head right now, don’t worry. Come weekdays, Republique is calm, casual, and surprisingly accessible. If you’ve got a big-wig in town you want to impress, but also not sit in some stuffy old Italian restaurant, Republique is your spot.
The Sycamore Kitchen
Sycamore Kitchen is the kind of lunch spot you wish existed on every block. Great food, quick service, and lots of people wearing kaftans on a Tuesday. The menu at this order-at-the-counter spot isn’t large, but there isn’t a bad thing on it. If you go the salad route, their Italian chop is basically a legend at this point, but for our money, the spicy Vietnamese is even better. There are also sandwiches, pastries, and toasts for all those people in kaftans. Their front patio is one of our favorites in the city.
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Ray's & Stark Bar
Ray’s & Stark Bar is the ground floor restaurant at LACMA, and the kind of place you would assume is violently mediocre, but in reality is very solid. The menu has everything from a kobe burger to margherita pizza to hamachi crudo, which basically means the whole group is going to find something to eat. Their outdoor patio is massive and the perfect spot to get some fresh air and contemplate your cubicle life. Warning: they’re closed Wednesdays.
Messob Ethiopian Restaurant
Just south of Wilshire on Fairfax sits Little Ethiopia, and on that stretch sits Messob - a 30-year-old classic serving some of the best food in the neighborhood (and a great entry point if you haven’t had much Ethiopian before). Tip: stick to the combo platters and sample just about everything on the menu. This place is also very vegetarian-friendly.
If you don’t know Trejo’s Tacos by now, you will shortly because they’re basically opening in every neighborhood in the city. But down on S. La Brea, the original location (inside an old car mechanic shop) is still going strong and serving some very solid tacos. The Jidori fried chicken (served in lettuce wraps) and the steak asada are definitely our favorites, but don’t skip over the other sections of the menu either. Their guacamole, the street corn, and spicy shrimp burrito are all worth ordering too. When the temperatures start climbing, the date horchata is the real power move.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Joan's on Third
Lunchtime in LA and Joan’s on Third are basically synonymous with each other, and for good reason. The marketplace/cafe/local dog red carpet has solid food, a great sidewalk patio, and a menu large enough that everybody in the group will find something to eat. The Chinese chicken salad is a classic, but stick to any sandwich or salad and you’ll be just fine. Joan’s is a total scene, but it certainly beats sitting alone in Qdoba.
It’s 61 degrees outside, Bill from finance has the AC on full blast, and you still haven’t taken your jacket off yet. When you need to warm your soul around Mid-Wilshire, you won’t find a better spot than Jinya. The tiny place inside a strip mall at Wilshire and La Brea is definitely a chain at this point, but that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped serving solid bowls of ramen. Our go-to is the spicy umami miso or garlic-doused cha cha cha. Lines somehow never get too bad either.
AOC is an excellent option in this area to impress your client over some charcuterie and focaccia on the insanely charming patio. At night, the candlelit patio is pretty romantic, but come daytime, it’s power-lunch heaven and your spot to get the deal done and eat some solid small plates along the way. The Spanish fried chicken is a classic.
There’ll come a point at Drago Ristorante when you wonder why you’re eating a plate of pasta inside a car museum full of middle school field trips happening in full view, but then you figure said pasta is good enough that it doesn’t matter. Inside the Petersen Auto Museum, Drago certainly has a somewhat awkward location, but if want good pasta in an upscale-ish atmosphere, this is your spot.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Son of A Gun
Born into the Animal and Jon & Vinny’s restaurant family, Son of A Gun is still the most underappreciated of the bunch. The small, seafood-focused spot on W. 3rd St. is delicious, casual, and far easier to get into than its popular siblings. You’ll still drop some money here, but when you need an impressive spot for an out-of-town-client that’s still low-key, Son of A Gun can’t be beat. Everything from its lobster roll to shrimp toast to linguini and clams is amazing. But we also need to mention that fried chicken sandwich - it’s one of the best in town.
Your very intense New York boss is in town and keeps mumbling things like “aren’t you supposed to have good sushi in this town?,” as if you’re to blame that Nobu Malibu is an hour away from your Wilshire office. Take him to Matsuhisa, the nondescript building along La Cienega where the whole Nobu empire began. The menu is large, and come lunchtime you’ll find deals on everything from the omakase to the bento box. That said, expect to drop some serious money here.
Milk Jar Cookies
Co-worker Darryl just walked in with his crap to-go salad gloating about his Fitbit goals that nobody cares about. Be your own adult and head to Milk Jar Cookies. This tiny shop along Wilshire serves some of LA’s best cookies, solid ice cream, and fresh milk because they’re not monsters. Should you probably have had that salad instead? No, it’s Friday and this is your life. F*ck you, Darryl.