LAGuide

The Best Restaurants In Mid City

This central neighborhood incorporates a bit of everything that makes LA great.

Mid City is like a cerebral philosophy book or an obscure movie on the Criterion Collection—nearly impossible to describe and everyone has a different opinion about it. The central Los Angeles neighborhood incorporates a bit of everything, existing on the borders of Koreatown, West Adams, Mid-Wilshire, and La Cienega Heights. That means many of these spots tend to get lost in the shuffle, often forgotten in larger guides of better-known neighborhoods. Not anymore.

Because while hard to define, Mid City is a bustling combination of all the cultures that make LA great, a delicious cross-section of Jamaican, Southern, Creole, Mexican, Oaxacan, and Greek restaurants. It’s home to the flagship location of Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles, as well as a post office named after Ray Charles. Long story short, there’s a lot to get through, so we made this, a guide to The Best Restaurants In Mid City.


THE SPOTS

Serving the Mid-City area for over 35 years, Natraliart is one of the oldest Jamaican restaurants in LA—and also one of the very best. The menu is stacked with oxtails, saltfish, and curry shrimp, but for us, the jerk chicken will always be the star of the show. Unlike many other spots, Natraliart doesn’t lean on a heavy marinade or sauce to carry the dish, it’s the chicken itself that does the talking here. Tender, perfectly cooked meat with a smoky-spice flavor that’ll stay on your lips for hours, the jerk chicken at Natraliart should be on everyone’s priority list.

My Two Cents is a Southern spot, and, as Southern spots sometimes do, they take hospitality really seriously. The people behind the counter shout a welcome to you when you walk in the door, and before you even order, they’ll tell you about the massive case of cakes, pies, and cobblers, or describe the specials written on a chalkboard by the register. They also happen to make one of the best shrimp and grits in the city. Buttery, meaty shrimp pieces bathe in a Creole beurre monte sauce, then are served over a bed of creamy parmesan grits. 

Stevie’s Creole Cafe serves what just might be the Holy Grail of LA gumbo. The roux is dark, rich, and impossibly silky. It’s thick enough to coat a spoon and packs just the right amount of heat—enough to remind you that it’s there, but never so hot that it overwhelms the rest of the flavors. Served over a bed of white rice and a chunk of French bread, this is the kind of comforting, nourishing meal you need to get you through the cold winter days… or what passes for cold here in LA. 

5 Great Spots For Gumbo In LA guide image

LA Guide

5 Great Spots For Gumbo In LA

Las 7 Regiones de Oaxaca has been in the same location on Pico since it opened 25 years ago. And since then, this family-owned spot has drawn in crowds from far and wide, with everyone clamoring to try their Oaxacan dishes. As expected, the mole is excellent—a velvety, rich sauce that coats juicy chicken pieces and white rice. We also recommend their traditional tamales Oaxaqueños which are wrapped in banana leaves and filled with, you guessed it, glorious mole negro con pollo. As they say, the magic is in the details, and this spot never misses.

The Best Oaxacan Restaurants In LA guide image

LA Guide

The Best Oaxacan Restaurants In LA

Open since 1975, Roscoe’s is a flat-out LA institution. They deep-fry their chicken in the same batter as they make their waffles and it’s as wonderfully tear-inducing as you might think. Maybe you were already crying because you saw your ex looking happy on Instagram a few hours ago, but these will be tears of joy. Their original flagship location on Pico has closed, but you’ll find their new spot at the corner of La Brea and Washington.

La Cevicheria is a tiny shop on Pico that serves fantastic Guatemalan ceviche. The dining room is packed with people on their lunch breaks eating shrimp, crab, and snapper marinated in lime juice with onions and avocado, as well as blood clams that are juicy, briny, and delicious. You’ll probably have to spend some time hovering over other people’s tables while you wait for a place to sit, but this fish is worth it.

LA has no shortage of traditional taco spots, but Sky’s is not one of them. This 25-year-old, order-at-the-counter spot on Pico combines Southern soul food and tacos in ways we didn’t realize were possible. There are tacos involving cajun shrimp, filet mignon, and crawfish with spiced tortillas —all topped with “sassy sauce” and all of them excellent.

Over in Pico-Robertson, a husband-and-wife duo—whose credits include stints at Providence, Angelini Osteria, Pizzana, and Ronan—are making Neapolitan-style pizzas with a Japanese twist. That means crusts are chewier and blistered to perfection, and usually contain much less sauce per pie. Many pizzas are even made cheese-less, like the napolena, which comes with three types of olives, anchovies, and a handful of spices. The menu includes traditional favorites, like marinara and margherita, as well as pizzas topped with shaved mushrooms, prosciutto, and anchovies, plus a bunch of salads. Open for delivery and takeout, and very limited indoor seating.

Mateo's is a Los Angeles legend, a palace of paletas that come in every color of the rainbow. Known for their Oaxacan-style paletas, Mateo’s features 30+ flavors, including strawberry, watermelon, and leche quemada, a unique smoked milk concoction that tastes like it was kippered over an open flame. But the ultimate popsicle—the paleta of the palace—is mango. Made with fresh, blended fruit (read: no artificial flavoring), this sweet, tropical pop is every purist’s dream.

You probably know about Mariscos Jalisco. After all, this Boyle Heights truck is a Los Angeles icon, not to mention number one on our list of The Best Taco Spots In Los Angeles. But did you know they also have a Mid City location? Right on La Cienaga, you'll find a truck slinging glorious tacos de camaron—deep-fried to perfection and topped with salsa—as well as very spicy aguachile tostadas and perhaps our favorite campechana in the world. It comes with a full raw oyster, need we say more?

Gish Bac is open seven days a week, but the focus should very much be on the weekends. Why? Because that’s when their barbacoa fires up, and it’s life-changing. The meat is cooked over avocado leaves, and while we can’t say exactly what the direct effect of that is, it’s still an exciting statement to say to your friends who you’re dragging along. The bright spot in Mid City is also very easy to find, with plentiful parking, and there’s a salsa bar you’re definitely getting involved with.

The food at Pips is pretty good—think racks of lamb, Creole fettuccine, and tiramisu—but you’re here for the incredible jazz performances. Since opening in 2010, this jazz club/restaurant has become a go-to casual hangout spot, a place where you’ll hear blues, R&B, or dinner showcases any night of the week. They have a patio and indoor seating, and unlike other jazz clubs, Pips sticks to a strict weekly schedule. Check their website for the latest details.

Jerk chicken, escoveitch red snapper, and cow foot simmered in Jamaican curry—this tiny Mid City restaurant serves it all. Located in a bright yellow building on Pico, Wi Jammin is a complete neighborhood staple, a place where you’ll eat among families who have been coming here for years. On the weekends, they serve crab legs, spiced and seasoned in a signature herb rub.

The ethos behind All Good Things? That they sell it. This bodega on W. 8th Street has everything from specialty chocolate bars to natural wine, to freshly roasted coffee, but also has a menu packed with great breakfast foods and Hawaiian dishes. Stop by for burritos toasted in garlic oil and stuffed with tater tots, loco mocos topped with Wagyu beef, and of course, various avocado toasts. It’s a great place to get some work done, or at least, re-caffeinate before getting some work done.

Paper Or Plastik is a true all-day spot, which makes it the ideal spot to work or catch up with a friend in an extremely in-between part of town. This cafe has multiple levels, with both quiet corners and busy main sections of the dining room. We like the food best in the daytime, when you can get things like a smoked salmon and avocado tartine, a beer-battered fried chicken sandwich, and a surprisingly good brussels sprout and kabocha grain bowl, but the pasta selection at night is solid, too.

Little known fact, the famous Boyle Heights taco truck also has a location in Mid City. Your order here is the goat birria in a quesataco (a taco with melted cheese on the shell), but the regular tacos dorados (served in deep-fried shells) are a must-order as well. Each of the excellent house salsas on the outside of the truck is made for a specific type of protein, so be sure to get the correct rundown from the owners.

You know Top Round as "that place on Wilshire you always drive by." From the outside, it's a kitschy '50s-style roast beef stand that looks as if it's been untouched since Truman was president. And on the inside, it's, well... exactly that. We love how unabashedly average their roast beef sandwiches are (even smothered in cheese), and the way their frozen custard always seems to hit the spot. You order at the window, then find a seat at one of the large red tables where the paint's peeling off.

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