LAGuide

The Best Restaurants & Bars In Echo Park

Taqueros, izakayas, sandwich takeout windows, and more.

The Best Restaurants & Bars In Echo Park guide image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

This neighborhood's been around since 1892, and while one of the smaller neighborhoods in LA, Echo Park packs an incredible amount of things to do into its 2.4 square miles. There's Dodger Stadium of course (love you, Mookie), swan boats in the park, and a convenience store for time travelers.

Oh, and fantastic restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. How could we forget about that? From wine bars to fantastic taquerias, here's Where To Eat & Drink In Echo Park.


RESTAURANTS

photo credit: Jakob Layman

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8.4

Tsubaki

Located near the entrance to Dodger Stadium, this izakaya is everything you want for date night. A mix of indoor and outdoor seating, a sake list longer than some dictionaries, and incredible Japanese food. You'll of course want a few skewers (we like the chicken meatballs), but don't ignore the larger dishes—everything, from the charcoal-grilled onigiri to garlic fried rice to soba served cold, is fantastic.

This is the neighborhood pizzeria every neighborhood wishes it had. Cosa Buona serves excellent pizza (and even more excellent 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 night drinking beer and eating too many mozzarella sticks.

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 seven of 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. 

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 a 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 really complement the oozing cheese.

This place started as a successful food truck back in the 1970s, but now has a handful of locations around the central LA area, each serving some of the city’s tastiest pupusas. Make sure to try their rice flour pupusas, which take on a similar color to the corn version, but with a distinctive chewiness we love. Common fillings like chicharron, cheese, and loroco are all on the menu, but so is the way-less-common vegan cheese pupusa. The curtido is delicious and simple with cabbage and carrot, and the tomato salsa serves as a light, spicy dressing to drench your entire order in. You can get your griddle cakes individually, as part of the double pupusa combo, or our favorite option: the desayuno típico.

One of the best pizza pop-ups of the century landed a brick-and-mortar spot in Echo Park. It’s across from Konbi and the “cheap” gas station off Sunset. Throughout 2022, service has been mixed, due to various repairs and renovations, so for now, Quarter Sheets is just offering their Detroit-style pies for takeout on the weekends. Their Instagram is where you’ll find all the latest updates and specials, like the Polish Yacht Club, a slab of dough covered in potatoes, lemon cream, caramelized onions, and chives. Or batched cocktails like the grapefruit surprise, a citrus-y mix of grapefruit, vanilla bean Bavarian, and torched meringue. Pre-orders open on Tock every Wednesday at 5:00pm.

Inspired by convenience stores in Japan, Konbi’s tiny takeout window serves all sorts of pickled vegetables, pastries, and perfectly symmetrical sandwiches. They’re all relatively snacky and can be eaten with your hands, ideal for a day at the park or eating in the backseat of your Honda Civic. Get there early enough and you might be able to snag one of their prized chocolate croissants: a buttery, golden pastry stuffed with so much chocolate, we’d happily eat it for breakfast every day until the end of time.

Located 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’ve changed their menu a lot since the start of the pandemic, but luckily, our favorite dish has remained - a savory okonomiyaki, or Japanese pancake made with cabbage, that’s filled with white corn, cheese, and topped with tuna flakes.

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Tamales Alberto

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In addition to a location in Historic Filipinotown, one of our favorite tamale shops, Tamales Alberto, also has an Echo Park outpost. The original store was founded in 1997, but owner Alberto Meija has been selling his dense, corn leaf-wrapped blocks of perfection in Los Angeles since the 1960s. Our top pick here is probably the cheese and jalapeño, but both the chicken in salsa verde and pork with red sauce are must-orders as well. Plenty of vegan and vegetarian options are also available.

Grá is the cozy, neighborhood restaurant Echo Park deserves. The patio is so pretty, adorned with tastefully curated plants and a slight warehouse vibe that makes you feel like you’re attending a dinner party at a friend’s art studio. The wine list is great, packed with lots of funky skin contacts; pizza is served on blistery sourdough and topped with cremini oysters or pickled pineapples; and there’s a gorgeous cured ham plate that we’ve definitely eaten all by ourselves before.

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Patra's Burgers

Sure, it’ll take an ungodly amount of time for your food to be ready, and part of your order might be missing, but that’s just Patra’s. And we love it with our full heart. Open since 1976, this fast food counter on Sunset does things old-school: burgers arrive wrapped in yellow parchment paper, fries are made-to-order, and half of the best things on the menu are taped up on the window. They have a small dining room (as well as outdoor seating) where you can enjoy fried chicken sandwiches, breakfast burritos, and charbroiled burgers, made just the way America intended them. Also, did you know Patra’s has free wi-fi? 

This Japanese onigiri shop makes lunch feel like an art gallery - picturesque rice balls come decorated with ikura, rimmed with black sesame seeds, or coyly covered with shiso leaves like a snack version of Adam and Eve. There are a few heftier items on the menu, like chicken curry and salmon donburi, but we prefer to stick with the classics, like spicy tuna onigiri and kimchi fried chicken.

photo credit: Jakob Layman

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Angel’s Tijuana Tacos

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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 cheese queso taco shell and you’ve got yourself a doubleheader.

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 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.


BARS

Stepping into Bar Flores is like entering a different, much better world. Overlooking Sunset Blvd., their second-floor space feels like a treehouse cabana: high wooden ceilings arch overhead, there’s a cozy brick patio in the back, and there’s live music every Tuesday night. This gorgeous cocktail bar is where the drinks are strong and the air smells great (seriously, is there someone pumping Aesop room fresheners in here?) The sangria—fruity and served with a flower—should win some sort of award, and the hibiscus gimlet made with lavender and lime is the perfect thing to sip on a first date. Plus, they host a monthly party for LA’s lesbian and queer community. 

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The Douglas

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Resting in the shadows of Dodger Stadium, The Douglas is the perfect place to pre-game, post-game, or just hang out whenever the weather’s nice. This casual dive bar doesn’t have much space—mostly just a few tables on the patio and sidewalk—but the energy is always relaxed and craft beers start at just $4. There are house-made vegan falafel, buttermilk fried chicken sandwiches as big as your head, and a weekly rotating sweet treat. Get the weekly rotating sweet treat.

Run by the folks next door at The Park’s Finest, Thunderbolt is a neighborhood cocktail bar that does it all - incredible drinks, Southern-style snacks, a comprehensive bottle shop, and contributions to the Echo Park Trash Club. They’re known for their extensive Madeira wine collection but also serve fun, inventive cocktails made with everything from mango to tamarind to cocoa nib bourbon. The move 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.

With their sprawling sidewalk café and menu packed with funky, orange wines, Tilda is where you go to impress the person sitting across from you. If you’re not familiar with skin contact wines (although, the fact that you’re eating in Echo Park somehow tells us you are), someone from their waitstaff will patiently walk you through their menu of native Portugal varietals and Cara Cara orange spritzes. Grab a tinned fish board or dish filled with the meatiest, most buttery Castelvetrano olives you’ve ever had in your life if you’re hungry.

It changes often, like Twitter’s White Boy of The Month, but at the time of writing, the coolest bar in Echo Park (that serves food) is Lowboy. You’ll find it in a dark, wide-open space on Sunset Blvd., crowded with Eastsiders meeting up with other Eastsiders to talk about… whatever it is they talk about. (Pilot season? Gentrification in the neighborhood? How they personally benefit from intergenerational wealth?) They’ve got a banging burger, made with smashed beef chuck smothered in garlic mayo, plus a fantastic cocktail list. We like the Little Baddie, which is a bright-pink elixir including gin, hibiscus, lavender, sugar, and lime. Plus, we just like to say the name.

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. Located in a sleepier, less busy stretch of Echo Park, there’s never a huge crowd here, especially during the week. Everyone’s here to drink great cocktails (we like the Old Fashioned) and catch up with friends, finding some secluded corner to discuss which of their mutuals hooked up with their trainer at Equinox. 


COFFEE SHOPS

Located at the very tip top of Echo Park, bordering on Angeleno Heights (for our cartography friends) is Valerie, a wonderful bakery and café that makes some of the best desserts in town. There’s not much seating, so this is very much a grab-and-go situation where you’ll find hand pies, herb and goat cheese scones, and a signature coffee crunch cake that’s two layers of sponge cake and a layer of frosted coffee whipped cream and golden crunch flakes. It is decadent, it is beautiful, and yes, you do need it at 9am on a Thursday.

From the bright violet accents to the glowing neon sign out front, this Echo Park/Historic Filipinotown coffee shop feels like someone pumped saturation straight into its walls. Run by the incredible Maurice Harris (who also owns the neighboring floral studio of the same name), Bloom & Plume is more than just a place for caffeine —it’s a form of magic and resistance. Drop by any day of the week and you’ll find a diverse assortment of community-based events, like free budgeting workshops, underwear donation drives, and weekly meditations as well as the best-looking breakfast sandwich we’ve ever seen, which comes with a fried egg, arugula, Havarti cheese, and strategically placed edible flowers.

Clark Street Bakery’s Echo Park outpost is an all-around star, joining the ranks of LeBron James, Steffi Graf, and that street performer we saw on Hollywood Blvd. last week who rapped into a microphone while doing backflips. It’s a bigger, better version of their original Grand Central Market stall, with high, soaring ceilings and an expansive front patio. The pastries, of course, are exceptional (we’re partial to the sugar-spun kouign-amann) but if you’re not ordering their incredible, three-pound burger at 7:30am, what are you even doing?

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Between the cool slabs of concrete in the dining room, tree-shaded patio, and signature drinks (many of which are intentionally made with oat milk), Laveta is any third wave-loving coffee aficionado’s dreamscape. There are people outside catching up over ube waffles and mango pesto rice bowls, while folks inside type away frantically on a deadline. It’s the best of both worlds, really.

photo credit: Jakob Layman

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Eightfold Coffee

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Hours:WED
8AM-6PM

This minimalist coffee shop is one of the neighborhood’s best places for getting work done (other than the Echo Park Library, that is). It’s one of those spaces that feel half-café, half-lesson-in-design-and-architecture, with huge glass windows, cubicle tables, and a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf filled with local zines. It’s a perfect place to grab a cup of coffee and a nice prosciutto sandwich, and post up with a computer for hours on end.

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