It’s happens fast. A tiny scratch in your throat, a little sniffle while you’re typing at your desk, then boom - you’re full-blown sick. While we all have our specific sick-day routines (going off the grid, chugging grapefruit seed extract, texting your friends that death is near), nothing really cures the soul while you’re battling illness quite like a warm, comforting meal. Whether that means a giant anise-filled bowl of pho, a steaming chicken pot pie covered in mashed potatoes, or sinus-clearing Chinese food, there are plenty of places in LA capable of curing your illness blues. Here are our 14 favorite.
If a giant bowl of matzo ball soup and some old-school Jewish hospitality doesn’t do the trick when you’re feeling sick, it might be more serious than you thought. Either way, you can get both at Brent’s Deli, the iconic Jewish deli in Northridge. By simply walking through the door and spotting booths filled with family gatherings and waitresses going on their third decade of employment, you’ll feel better. Grab a steaming bowl of matzo ball and kreplach soup, some stuffed cabbage, or a plate of curly fries, and you’ll walk out fully healed.
This Vietnamese restaurant in Garden Grove, open since 1982, is one of the most well-known spots in all of Orange County, and there’s an hour-long wait almost every day to prove it. But frankly, we’d wait two hours with an invading chest cold for pho this good. You can put a variety of different meats into the soup (the oxtail is their signature), but at the end of the day, it’s all about the broth. Simmered in oxtail for 12 hours and infused with star anise, it’s rich, cinnamon-y, and unlike any other pho you’ll find in California. Cash only.
When it comes to Thai Town, you have your pick of comfort food spots that will do your aching bones right, but our choice is always Pailin. The warm, tiny space doesn’t have the foot traffic or loud crowds of more well-known spots in the neighborhood, and that’s ideal when you want to sit in silence, slurp down one of the best bowls of khao soi (curry noodle soup) in LA, and text your friends that you’re probably dying.
You aren’t even sure what’s wrong with you, but your body is exhausted and crying out for some fresh air. Get one of your friends to drive you up to The Old Place. This ancient, dusty saloon in the Santa Monica Mountains (it started as a general store in the 1880s) is home to some of our favorite stick-to-your ribs food in town, including a noodle & cheese bake (basically their version of mac and cheese), cast-iron apple crisp, and a chicken pot pie with a softball-sized dollop of mashed potatoes on top. Someone’s taking a nap on the way home, and it’s definitely you.
The only good part about having a sore throat is you get to eat ice cream without feeling bad about it. While there’s no shortage of great ice cream shops in LA, when our throat is on fire, we head right to Honeymee. This tiny ice cream shop has locations all over Southern California (including Ktown, Downtown, and Sawtelle in LA proper), so the good news is you’re never far from one. The even better news is that their milk ice cream is creamy, smooth, and feels like clouds going down your throat. You can get a number of different toppings, but we recommend sticking to their natural honey.
Anytime we come down with a head cold, our only wish is to be left alone, which is exactly why you’ll always find us at Sapp Coffee Shop. This classic Thai Town spot is an actual coffee shop filled with regulars reading the newspaper, and you, slumped over in the corner, sipping on the best boat noodle soup in town. As the cinnamon-and-anise-infused broth slowly begins to bring you back to life, you might even be inclined to get an order of their equally excellent jade noodles for your inevitable Netflix binge later tonight.
Myung Dong Kyoja’s large dining room is a mix of groups of coworkers, tables full of old ladies glaring at each other, and solo lunchers like yourself trying to fight off nagging sinus infections. The name of the game here is soup - spicy cold noodles, chilled soybean noodle soup, or kalguksu with ground chicken and pork dumplings that’s among our favorite soups in Koreatown. That said, everything here is fantastic, so just listen to your body and order enough for leftovers tonight.
This porridge shop in Historic Filipinotown is a good place to sit and attempt to finally shake your never-ending sniffles. And the menu, full of warm, comforting dishes, definitely helps. The Poultry + Mushroom is our favorite of the porridges, but you should definitely get whatever their seasonal option is as well. Don’t leave without ordering a few puff donuts and the brown butter mochi, either. Your body needs the reward.
With its vaulted ceilings, mismatched chairs, and old framed photos hanging on the walls, Wood Spoon looks a lot like that Parisian flat you’ve been fantasizing about all week while being quarantined in your sh*tty apartment. The menu, made up of traditional Brazilian entrees like seafood stew in a coconut sauce, plus our favorite chicken pot pie in the entire world, feels like true home cooking, which is far more potent cure than your hourly handfuls of ibuprofen.
You’ve had this cold for so long, you can’t even remember what it was like to breathe through your nose. Go remind yourself at Sichuan Impression. This classic Chinese restaurant with locations in Alhambra, West LA, and Tustin serves the kind of spicy, no-holds-barred Sichuan food that, at least temporarily, will clear all sinuses. The tea-rubbed ribs is their signature dish, but right now you need the fragrant mapo tofu, spicy wontons, and a giant bowl of boiled fish with all the mouth-numbing peppercorns you can handle.
It’s been days since you’ve seen the sun and the time has come to unwrap yourself from your blanket cocoon and go out into the world. Good luck - and make sure your destination is Spoon By H. This tiny Korean dessert cafe has excellent shakes, boba, and shaved snow, but the real reason your here is for the small “food” section of the menu. Whether it’s Spam fried rice, spicy udon soup, or a pork dumpling soup that will have you back on your feet within hours, Spoon By H serves some of our favorite Korean food in LA, regardless of whether we’re sick or not.
A meal at this family-run Puerto Rican restaurant in North Hollywood isn’t exactly a light affair, but after a week of not even being able to keep down carbonated water, you aren’t in the business of counting calories. Our recommendation is to start with the appetizer platter that comes with beef-filled potato balls and yucca fritters, and then end with the carne guisada mofongo. It’s a mountain of deep-fried green plantains topped with a savory beef stew that’ll make a quick dent in your nutrition deficiency.
There are few things we want more when we’re dying inside than a big bowl of ramen, and Santouka is our Westside go-to. This order-at-the-counter spot is located inside the Mitsuwa food court in Mar Vista, and their shio ramen gives us enough strength for another of our favorite sick-day activities: Wandering the aisles of the epic Japanese market, loading up on Pocky and frozen gyoza.
Otafuku is a family-run Japanese restaurant in Gardena that treats soba noodles like a science. The three kinds of soba served here vary in size, texture, and taste, but all are made in-house daily, from imported Japanese flour. Our favorite noodles are the all-white seiro, but whatever you choose will be served cold on a bamboo plate with a tiny dish of garlic soy sauce for side-dipping. It’s light, refreshing, and exactly what your strep throat remnants need right now.