The Best Lunch Spots In Culver City
photo credit: Holly Liss
Its many other charms aside, Culver City is a large office-filled area that's more or less in the middle of greater LA. This means there’s a high chance you’ll be eating lunch here at some point. Unsurprisingly there’s a lot of “fast-casual” happening around these parts, but Culver also has great sit-down options for lunch as well: a bakery with excellent pizzas, a cafe that might be from the future, and a noodle shop. These are the 15 lunch spots to know about in Culver City.
When a Mediterranean spot opens in Culver, it’s rarely headline news. But Kismet deserves attention. This counter-service spot attached to One Culver serves roasted chicken in a variety of vehicles like pitas, salads, or sandwiches. Our go-to is the quarter chicken plate, though, which comes kitted out with a mini wedge salad, hummus, pickles, pita, plus chili oil and garlic sauce. Sides of yogurt-roasted cabbage and schmaltzy potatoes are non-negotiable, too. Stop by when you need something quick and healthy-ish for lunch, without settling for the soulless cycle of pre-made salads that taste like printer paper.
There’s always a line at Go Go Bird, which can be frustrating, since there are lots of other tempting options inside Citizen Public Market. But if you want a memorable lunch that’ll cost less than $20, suck it up and stand in line. This fried chicken specialist serves Szechuan-seasoned tenders with a thick, crunchy batter that reminds us of fish and chips. Each order comes with pickles and a cheddar biscuit (drizzled in condensed milk and miso powder), plus they offer solid sides like baked mac and cheese and spicy hand-cut fries.
If you want noodles for lunch, Bang Bang delivers. There might be a short line at this counter inside Citizen Public Market, but at least you can watch biang biang makers behind a glass display throwing and cutting hand-pulled noodles like the stars of a cooking documentary come to life. Our favorite order alternates between the tingling cumin and Szechuan garlic, but either way, order your noodles dry: the fragrant sauces at Bang Bang are bolder when they’re clinging to the noodles instead of bobbing in broth.
Lonzo’s makes some of the best Peruvian food in the city. Half-bakery, half-restaurant, this Culver City staple serves heaping plates of stir-fried lomo saltado, complimentary slice baguette with aji verde, and decked-out marisco cocteles piled with seafood and a glass of leche de tigre. A bakery and cevicheria aren’t things we’d typically expect under the same roof, but at Lonzo’s it works. Plus, there’s a patio in the back where you can spend an extended lunch break sipping fresh passion fruit juice with your notifications muted.
Juliet is fancy. So take your coworkers to this gorgeous lunch spot at Platform when your company picks up the tab. The French food here is more fun than the usual bistro classics, and the glitzy brown-tone space makes slurping oysters under the rumbling sounds of the Expo Line decidedly glamorous. Plan to spend an afternoon eating endive salads and funky chicken liver tartlets topped with flower petals on a sunny sidewalk patio.
Eating a big plate of lamb chops with rice and feijoada for lunch might require an afternoon espresso run to stay awake, but you won’t be complaining if you get the chops from Cafe Brasil. This Brazilian spot is a Culver institution that’s fed the neighborhood for three decades. In addition to excellent grilled meat combos, expect great pasteis: these fried, puffed-up empanadas are available in a handful of variations, but our favorite is the mixto that oozes with ground beef and molten cheese.
This little spot inside Platform has a constant line at lunch, but any wait is worth it for some of the best tacos on this side of town. We’re especially into the mushroom ones, served on flour tortillas we regularly think about in 11am meetings. If you’d like to pretend to be healthy, they do a classier version of a burrito bowl. But you should still get one of those stretchy flour tortillas to go with it.
Unless your dentist is next door, you’ll probably have to make a specific trip for lunch at Lodge, which is on an otherwise pretty sleepy stretch of Washington Boulevard. But after you’ve done it once, you’ll be back every week. You can’t go wrong with anything on the wide-ranging menu (think hummus and pita, sandwiches, big colorful salads, and simple pizzas). A word of warning: if you lay eyes on the gigantic cinnamon roll here, you’re going to have to order one.
If people from the future came to LA and were looking for something familiar for lunch, we’d send them to Destroyer. This breakfast and lunch spot in the Hayden Tract seems like it was beamed here from outer space, and we mean that as a compliment. The food is like nothing else you’ll find in LA, but despite the odd flavor combinations and out-there presentation, they never forget the main requirement for good food: that it should taste excellent. Grab a few co-workers you like, order a bunch of stuff to share (including the incredible beef tartare), and get back to the office much later than you meant to.
Mayura is a fantastic Indian restaurant that specializes in dishes from the Southern state of Kerala like fish curry, cheese uthappam, and avail, a mixed vegetable dish cooked with coconut and curry leaves. The dining room is much larger than it looks on the outside and is filled with long purple tables that are ideal for a team lunch that continues to grow in size. There’s also a separate vegetarian section on the menu.
We understand that eating pasta during lunch is a choice, but when a choice must be made, go to Pasta Sisters at Helms Bakery. This is the second location of the Mid-City original, but we like it even better—mainly because it’s the one where you can drink wine on a patio. Two patios, actually. Most of the bowls are build-your-own, meaning you choose the type of pasta and sauce (except for the clams and garlic, which they’ll only serve with spaghetti). Our favorites are the pesto with tagliatelle and bolognese with pappardelle, but when you’ve got freshly made pasta and sauces this good, it's hard to go wrong.
Jackson Market is in a residential part of Culver, inside an actual house that you’d probably walk past if you weren’t looking for it. But you should be looking for it, because this neighborhood marketplace makes some very good sandwiches and fresh-pressed juices, and has a great back patio (complete with a pond). Use Jackson Market when you tell everyone in the office you have a lunchtime appointment, but just want to sit in a quiet corner for an hour while you eat.
This soul food spot has been cranking out supremely crunchy fried chicken for nearly 20 years. You can’t go wrong with any of their chicken combos, but we love the spicy wing basket - the skin is beyond crispy, the meat is moist, and they’re coated in a sweet and spicy sauce you’ll be licking off your fingers until halftime. Oh, and that basket comes with fries and one of their buttermilk biscuits, which are so popular, you can buy the mix online.
While Maple Block is one of our go-to spots for date night in Culver, during the day it turns into an order-at-the-counter spot that doesn’t feel weird to go to with your co-workers. There’s everything from chopped salads to giant platters of meat, and maybe this is your day to turn those co-workers into friends with a round of beers. Or maybe not. But you could still have a beer.
Culver City has a problem when it comes to restaurant turnover, but Tito’s is an exception—they’ve been around for more than 50 years, with a hardcore following to prove it. We wouldn't claim Tito's has the best tacos in town, but one of their classic cheese-covered, crispy-shelled tacos scratches a nostalgic itch in a way few other foods can. This walk-up spot on Washington has a constant line of people waiting to order their tacos by the box, but it’s worth knowing that the beef and bean combo burritos are just as good.