LAGuide

The Best Restaurants & Bars In Echo Park

Taqueros, izakayas, retro pizza parlors, and more.
The Best Restaurants & Bars In Echo Park image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Echo Park packs an incredible amount of things to do into its humble 2.4 square miles. There's Dodger Stadium of course (welcome, Shohei), swan boats in the park, and a convenience store for time travelers. It's also home to some of LA’s best pizza, sexy little wine spots, and a handful of sceney coffee shops. Overwhelmed yet? The restaurants and bars below will help narrow things down.

THE RESTAURANTS

photo credit: Ariette Armella

Japanese

Echo Park

$$$$Perfect For:Drinks & A Light BiteDrinking Good Cocktails

Opening an izakaya in the same neighborhood as Ototo and Tsubaki seems like a tough gig, but Kushiba makes it look easy. This semi-hidden spot on Sunset specializes in Osaka-style kushikatsu, or deep-fried things on sticks. There are 20 skewers on the menu, spanning from taro to pork belly, and the impulse to order all of them will be strong. But resist. Pick a few (we like the flounder and camembert), add small plates like spicy cold tofu, and save the rest of your budget for Kushiba’s cocktails. Along with martini and negroni riffs, there’s a fantastic DIY highball section with whiskey and shochu. Kushiba is a perfect jumping-off point for a night of bar-hopping or catching a show at The Echo. 

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

When it comes to a great fried fish sandwich, Little Fish has the market cornered. The beer-battered masterpiece at this all-day cafe on Sunset, served only at lunch, arrives impossibly crisp and light as a feather on a fluffy potato bun, like the Filet-O-Fish you were promised in TV commercials. But this life-affirming sando isn’t the only thing worth ordering—you’ll also find seafood-heavy breakfast dishes like trout tartine and fish congee, plus a few Nordic-esque items like brown cheese toast and cherry jam pancakes. Little Fish works for a quick solo meal, but we'd also recommend sharing a full brunch spread with a friend on the sidewalk patio.

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Set up right in front of the Walgreens on Sunset Blvd, El Ruso serves some of the best Sonoran-style tacos in LA. Each is served on a warm, handmade flour tortilla and topped with options like smoky chopped carne asada, braised chile colorado, and spicy chicharron en salsa roja. El Ruso’s tacos hover around $5 each, and we usually get full with an order of two or three (especially after adding stewed pintos, cabbage, and diced onion to create a hearty beast of a taco). They also serve a one-of-a-kind burrito wrapped in a giant, stretchy hubcap-sized Sonoran flour tortilla that’s bursting at the seams and will sustain you for several hours.

Think you’ve seen all LA’s ice cream scene has to offer? Try Fluffy McCloud’s. This Echo Park dessert shop looks like a retro soda fountain designed by Pee-Wee Herman (may he rest in peace). There’s an old-school gumball machine dispensing Lactaid pills, a jukebox sporting deer horns, and a Saturn-shaped lamp towering over the ice cream case. Naturally, TikTok is obsessed with it. And, if you enjoy a classic banana split or creamy “pistachioyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyo” ice cream, you will be too. Fluffy stays open until midnight, so it's a good place to linger with friends after drinking wine at El Prado or crowd-surfing at Echoplex.

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Elf Cafe is the little neighborhood spot everyone wishes they had a block away from their front door. This low-lit Mediterranean restaurant run by the same folks as Dune has been around since 2006 (minus a brief pandemic-era closure) and it still gets packed nightly with friends in search of wine, warm hummus, and skewers of juicy lamb shish kebab that hits the table steaming. Elf is also very vegetarian friendly, so keep it in your back pocket for when you need to feed a mixed group of plant and meat-eaters. And if you want to keep the night going, cross the street to Bar Bandini for another glass of orange wine.

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Going to Donna's is a total serotonin bump. This red sauce Italian joint from the people behind Bar Flores and Lowboy will make you—and the other diners having friend hangs, family gatherings, and tiramisu dates—happy. Bask in the room’s dinner-party energy, slosh back icy martinis in a booth, and down chicken parm and lasagna bolognese like a person with a medical degree told you they’d cure a bad day (they will). 

This izakaya near the entrance to Dodger Stadium has everything you want for date night: indoor and outdoor seating, a sake list longer than some dictionaries, and incredible Japanese food. Prioritize the yakitori (we like chicken oysters), but don't ignore the larger dishes. Tsubaki's garlic fried rice with dungeness crab is a requisite order unless you have a shellfish or fun allergy.

This tiny pizza parlor makes pan-style pies in their peak form, with buttery, inch-high crusts, and a spongy, focaccia-like interior that absorbs the flavors of the toppings. Opt for pepperoni and whatever the rotating Sicilian Corners special is, then follow up your pizza with nostalgia-rich desserts like slab cakes and pies. Even though Quarter Sheets does a swift takeout business, we recommend sitting in the dining room for the full experience. The retro, brick-walled space feels like a cross between a quirky natural wine bar and a '90s-era pizza joint you might’ve gone to after a soccer game.

photo credit: Marc L.

$$$$Perfect For:Cheap EatsLunch

Every Monday, Friday, and Saturday afternoon, you’ll find Alejandra rolling out long, oval-shaped blue tortillas on her hot griddle in Echo Park. She’s been operating this stand for over 16 years and has her process down to muscle memory—it’s almost mesmerizing to watch her stretch out fresh masa and simultaneously memorize customers’ orders. Besides the essential Oaxacan quesillo, she creates incredibly tasty fillings using chicharron stew with onions and salsa roja, huitlacoche cooked with garlic and citrusy epazote leaf, or leafy squash blossoms that complement the oozing cheese.

This is the neighborhood pizzeria every neighborhood wishes it had. Cosa Buona serves great pizza (and even better appetizers) in a casual setting that feels like the diner that sitcom characters meet up in at the end of each episode. Aside from Friday or Saturday nights, you can usually show up without a reservation, get a table quickly, and spend the rest of the evening drinking beer and eating potentially too many mozzarella sticks.

photo credit: Jakob Layman

$$$$Perfect For:Cheap Eats

The lines at this taqueria get long, and we mean long. If you’re in the mood for birria but a Dodger game just got out? Forget about it. However, if you’re willing to wait (or come on any other day), make sure to get some meat from that sweet, rotating trompo out front. The marinated pork coming off it is beyond tender, filled with a smoky flavor and pineapple juices dripping from the chunks at the top. Pair this with a crispy, fried queso taco shell and you’ve got yourself a doubleheader.

photo credit: Jakob Layman

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Right next to Tsubaki is Ototo, a Japanese restaurant and sake bar run by the same people. With its more casual leanings (think small, shareable plates and a sake list about 20-pages long), we consider Ototo to be Tsubaki’s less serious and more adventurous younger sibling. They change their menu a lot, but luckily, our favorite dish remains—an Osaka-style okonomiyaki filled with cheese and scallions, and then topped with the classic bonito flakes, kewpie mayo, and okonomi sauce.

This Echo Park/Historic Filipinotown joint is the only place in the city where you’ll find Filipino flavors combined with Southern barbecue techniques. You’ll find them in a cozy dining room on Temple St. filled with groups of friends, families, and recent college grads taking advantage of their Worker Wednesday deal (a massive plate filled with their top-selling items). Coconut beef adobo gets smoked for 16 hours, timuay beef tri-tip arrives by the half-pound, and sweet and glutinous cornbread bibingka comes wrapped in a banana leaf. They’re also located next to Thunderbolt, if you want to grab a quick drink after. 

We understand that deep-dish pizza isn’t for everyone, but will never understand anyone who doesn’t like hanging out at Masa for a night. Eating at this casual spot feels like you’re eating at your aunt’s house that could probably use a paint job, but nobody says anything, because deep down the bright orange feels right. The waitstaff treats you like family and the two-inch deep, cornmeal-dusted crust will leave you in a state of catatonic bliss. Pizzas take 45 minutes to make, but you can call ahead and get it started early if you’d like.


THE BARS

Dada Echo Park is a semi-hidden spot that looks like you might need a password to get in (you don’t). The doorway is in an alley behind Little Fish, and inside you’ll find a dark lounge leading to a fenced patio. Mysterious entrance aside, Dada Bar stays on the cool side of the speakeasy trend, mostly by doubling as a breezy bistro. You’ll have the option of sipping kumquat margaritas with shaggy art couples at the candlelit bar, or a sit-down dinner with a nice pork chop and brothy bean stew in the skylit dining room. On weekends, disco DJs take over the soundsystem, turning every room into a dancefloor. But even on quieter weeknights, Dada is a perfect under-the-radar hang (at least for now).

photo credit: Krystal Thompson

Overlooking Sunset Boulevard, Bar Flores' second-floor space feels like a treehouse cabana, with arched, wooden ceilings and a gorgeous deck out back. The mezcal margarita at this surprisingly chill Latin cocktail bar should win some sort of liquid-related award for being potent and refreshing at the same time. And the pistachio and pandan daiquiri is the perfect thing to sip on a first date if you're too anxious to properly look over the long list of mezcals. Plan your schedule around the bar's live music programming on Tuesday nights.

Run by the team at The Park’s Finest next door, Thunderbolt is a neighborhood cocktail bar that does it all—incredible drinks, Southern snacks, an extensive bottle shop, and contributions to the Echo Park Trash Club. They’re known for their Madeira wine collection but also serve fun, inventive cocktails made with everything from mango to tamarind to cocoa nib bourbon. Our tip is to order a few snacks from next door, like buttermilk biscuits dipped in pimento cheese, skillet cornbread slathered in honey butter, or, if you’re lucky, a seasonal cobbler.

This straightforward bar on Echo Park's main drag has been crowded since the day it opened, and it remains a great place to meet people—they’ve got fun music, a mellow crowd, and a good drink list. Aside from Lowboy's fantastic cocktail—like the particularly lethal Viva Sandia with vodka, coconut milk, and watermelon—a standout factor here is that they also serve solid drinking food, including a juicy smashburger smothered in red pepper jam and griddled onions.

At first glance, Bar Henry might seem like it was ripped out of a ‘40s noir film with its velvet leather seats, candlelit bar, and dark blue walls. Maybe The Big Sleep or Lady In The Lake. The Great Flamarion could work too. Weeknights at this cocktail bar tend to be much calmer than weekends. This makes it a useful place to catch up with friends on a random Thursday night, finding some secluded corner to discuss which of their mutuals hooked up with their Equinox trainer. 

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