The Best Restaurants In Burbank
photo credit: Jakob Layman
No matter who you are or how long you’ve lived in Los Angeles, one thing is guaranteed: at some point, you’ll spend time in Burbank. Especially if you’re an actor. If you don’t live in the area, you probably work here. And if you don’t work here, you probably live here. And if none of that applies, you’ll still end up at Ikea one day to buy some shelves.
It may never be a trendy restaurant destination, but Burbank is home to some fantastic local spots, both new and classic. Here are the best places to eat in Burbank.
This family-run Cuban bakery is the pride and joy of Burbank. For the last half-century, they've been serving guava pastries, potato rolls, and everything else under the Valley sun, building a rabid following in the process. Come to Porto's at noon on a Tuesday and you'll be greeted by 100 other people who had the same idea as you. But not to worry, Porto's is a well-oiled machine that will have you in, out, and eating strudel for lunch alone in your car in no time.
Despite all the studios and chains out here, Burbank is still a small town filled with plenty of lovable and strange little restaurants. One of those places is Chili John’s. This diner on Burbank Blvd. has a mountain mural on the walls, a chatty crowd of people who live nearby, and pretty fantastic Texas-style chili. Of the different chili options on the menu, we like the spiciest version of the original beef that’s served on top of rice and beans with plenty of sour cream and a drizzle of apple cider vinegar on top. Just save room for lemon cream pie for dessert.
Tonir Cafe makes our favorite kabobs in the Valley. The standout on the menu is the beef lule made with ground beef, onions, and parsley, then slow-cooked over an open flame. It’s the kind of dish you try once and then immediately make follow-up plans to eat again. If you’re looking for an affordable, on-the-go lunch in Burbank, Tonir takeout is your best option. Also, in the event you need a good car snack to wolf down at stoplights, grab an extra bag of six pitas for only $3.
Located exactly one crosswalk away from Warner Brothers Studios, Smoke House has been a Valley legend since 1946. On any given night, you’ll find celebrities, set designers, and security guards swigging martinis and toasting to another day of not walking off the job. The space is essentially a series of interconnected dining rooms filled with fireplaces, wood-paneled walls, and of course, hundreds of actors’ headshots. As for food, don’t get too cute with your order. If your table isn’t loaded with caesar salads, prime rib, and several baskets of their famous garlic bread, you took a wrong turn somewhere.
Who makes the best pizza in the Valley? Dino's is in the conversation. You've probably eaten these pies on the lot without realizing their source and thought, "Hmm, this sure is good pizza" before returning to your tasks. With over 38 specialty pizzas available, Dino's menu can feel a bit like the Wild West at times, so we’ll narrow it down for you: get the lasagna pizza. Topped with Italian sausage, meatballs, and whipped ricotta, the pizza sounds like it'd be messy to eat. It's not. Between the expert placement of toppings and a crispy, medium-thick crust, everything holds together remarkably well. Dino’s runs a swift takeout operation, but you should make time to eat in their old-school dining room one day. It looks a little like the sunroom at your grandparents' fishing cabin.
Handy Market is a fantastic local grocer that sells beer, wine, and regular pantry items. Come on Saturdays for an all-out BBQ wonderland in their parking lot, with rows of tri-tip, ribs, turkey legs, corn on the cob, and sausages (and their smoky smells wafting through the neighborhood). It’s a sight to behold and a great destination to take out-of-towners who can’t fathom anything like this ever taking place in LA.
Even though My Little Home Thai Kitchen is only a few minutes away from the major studio lots, it has a surprisingly pleasant front porch. Tiny potted plants adorn the wooden walls, shade covers every table, and though Hollywood Way isn’t exactly a side street, sitting here feels far more tranquil than your other options on the major Burbank thoroughfares. But this family-run spot is more than just a peaceful patio—the food coming out of the kitchen is excellent, too. We particularly love the crispy marinated fried pork, spicy and sour tom yum soup, and the perfectly sweet yellow curry with carrots and potatoes.
Castaway is a Valley classic that sits on a hill overlooking Burbank. After a big renovation a few years ago, the place looks and feels like an expensive hotel—with a boring and pricey menu that fits right in with the scene. (Think steaks, crab cakes, shrimp cocktails.) No one comes to Castaway for the food, they come for the view that spans the northern parts of the Valley to DTLA. If you bring some out-of-towners here for snacks and drinks at sunset, they might insist you come back every night for the rest of their trip.
Sandwich shops are everywhere in Burbank, a neighborhood dominated by hungry studio workers who are all short on time. If we had to pick a favorite, it would be Little Nelly. The all-day spot functions as part bakery, market, and gift shop. Come for a mayo-slicked, herby chicken salad sandwich and you'll leave with a frozen La Morra pizza, a few scones, and an artisanal rolling pin. This is a to-go operation only, so just do what you always do and eat in your car with a teeny tiny tear rolling down your face. If you’re an assistant whose job it is to feed an entire set, rely on Little Nelly for their robust catering services, which include bagel spreads, BBQ packages, and build-your-own sandwich boards.
We could frankly write a three-book series about this 64-year-old diner, but all we have is this one paragraph, so here we go. You don’t come to Tallyrand for an impeccable meal. You come to gawk at the people inside. Each and every customer is basically a living Hollywood time capsule, and you should know right now you’ll never be as cool as them. These people tried email once in the ’90s and hated it. Now they're four cocktails ahead of you and judging your inability to keep up. Welcome to the best show in town.
This tiny Mexican breakfast spot is relatively new compared to some of the classic restaurants in the area (at least in Burbank years, 2015 was practically yesterday). It gets slammed on weekends, so be prepared to wait a bit. But stick around and you’re in for glorious machaca, huevos divorciados, and multiple cups of their signature, cinnamon-infused cafe de olla coffee.
Despite having a footprint only slightly larger than one of those cigarette/newspaper shacks in Hollywood, Cottage Corner has a very big secret. And it’s not a well-kept one. CC makes a breakfast burrito that rivals the best versions in LA. It’s only served until 11 am. Be aware of the 10:30 am rush. That's when everyone who lives around the corner decides to show up.
This bakery serves incredible Argentine-style empanadas from a walk-up window in the middle of Burbank. Picture thick, flaky pockets that come stuffed with everything from sausage gravy to Nutella and bananas. The tiny shop is open every day from 11am-7pm, making it a great quick lunch or somewhere to pick up a bag of perfectly golden treats when you want to surprise your coworkers. The spicy, smoky chile con carne is our favorite on the menu. Whichever version you get, ask for extra sides of their chimichurri sauce.
You’re not going to find a place serving a better American breakfast in Burbank than Bea Bea’s. Their waffles and french toast are solid, but we always go for the Green Tea Monster pancakes—three gigantic things topped with green tea mascarpone, whipped cream, and white chocolate chips. What happens in the Valley stays in the Valley.
Yes, as in that Bob’s Big Boy. Though the original in Glendale was demolished years ago, Burbank’s 74-year-old location lives on as the oldest Big Boy in America—and it’s overflowing with entertainment history. Sure, come here for a double-decker burger and a milkshake, but we know you really just want to sit in the same booth where the Beatles hung out in 1964 and blast the experience on social media.
Burbank will never have a particularly big bar scene, but that doesn’t mean there aren't a few great places to drink. Tony’s Darts Away is an elusive triple threat. It’s a beer drinker’s paradise (the menu is divided into two sections, “IPA” and “Not IPA”), their food is so much better than it has to be (we see you, Korean Bowl), and there are enough pool tables, dartboards, and fun people to keep you there for hours.
Since 1956, this classic sub shop west of downtown has been serving excellent (and giant) sandwiches to the masses. You’re going to see a lot of fuss about their pastrami, but our order is always the Italian. It comes with salami, capicola, and provolone topped with more salt, pepper, oil, and onions than your coworkers within a 10-foot radius will be able to handle. And that’s a good thing.
Don Cuco doesn’t serve the best Mexican food in LA or even The Valley, but it benefits greatly from having a location adjacent to every major studio in Burbank—not to mention margaritas that’ll put even your most seasoned coworker under the table. You’re coming to this restaurant simply because it’s a great time, and to eat their delicious Caribbean Chicken Salad that comes so loaded with raisins, pineapple, beans, and tortilla strips that you legally can’t say you ordered a salad.