Culver City is a large, office-filled place, right in the middle of the city. All of which means you’ll be eating lunch here at some point. And while there’s a lot of fast casual going on around these parts, Culver also has some of our favorite places to eat in the middle of the day. From a bakery with excellent pizzas and a cafe that’s from the future to all you can eat Indian buffets and the best tortillas on the Westside, these are the 17 lunch spots to know about in Culver City.
This little spot inside Platform has a constant line at lunch, but any wait is absolutely worth it for 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 tortillas to go with it.
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 constantly-changing menu (think hummus and pita, wood-roasted cauliflower, sandwiches, and simple pizzas) - unless you’re trying not to order too much. A word of warning: if you lay eyes on a 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 definitely 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 tastes excellent. Grab a couple co-workers you actually 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.
Citizen Public Market
Citizen is a food hall in downtown Culver City that opened in November 2020. You can think of it as an immediate upgrade for any studio or tech worker looking for a decent lunch. The place isn’t overwhelmingly large (there are only seven stalls), but it’s the range of vendors that sets Citizen apart from other food halls. There are plump bivalves and uni trays at Jolly Oyster, shrimp ceviche and carnitas tacos from Mexicology, and pizza from the mind of Nancy Silverton at Pizzette. But perhaps our favorite feature here is Bar Bohemien, the rooftop bar with excellent cocktails. It’s also a great spot to eat all the food you bought from downstairs.
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 actually 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 get to 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, you really can’t 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 pond). Use Jackson Market when you tell everyone in the office you have a lunchtime appointment, but really just want to sit in a quiet corner for an hour while you eat.
This Culver City 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 good, you can purchase the mix on Amazon.
Located in the Platform, Bianca is an all-day French/Italian/Argentinian spot that kind of does it all. While we love coming in the morning for some coffee and baked goods, at lunchtime, expect a line-up of pizza, salads, and tremendous focaccia sandwiches. We really like that the mortadella and manchego sandwich bites back, but the seared ahi tuna sandwich with pickled aioli and rucola is briney, aromatic, and our favorite on the menu.
Potato Chips Deli
If you’re roaming around downtown Culver and are craving a good sandwich, head to Potato Chips. This is technically the second location (the original is in Beverly Grove), and it’s still one of the most underrated sandwich shops in the city, with house-made ciabatta rolls stuffed with everything from tuna salad to Impossible meatballs. Favorites of ours include the roast turkey with havarti and herb aioli and the crunchy chicken Milanese.
Mateo's Ice Cream & Fruit Bars
Between their Oaxacan-style paletas, super-creamy gelatos, and sorbets that taste like freshly juiced strawberries, this incredible Mexican dessert shop is the ideal spot for a quick lunchtime cool-off or snack. There are a few locations throughout the city, with each storefront stocked with over 30 different flavors of paletas, including watermelon, mango dusted with chile, and leche quemada - a creamy smoked milk concoction that tastes exactly like someone kippered a gallon of dairy over an open flame. They also have dozens of different shakes, smoothies, and agua frescas that are perfect to take back to the office.
At just $6.95, you can get two sandwiches at Al’s Hot Chicken - one for now and one for later at your desk when you realize you’ve become addicted to LA’s spiciest hot chicken. Here they come with all the traditional characteristics of the Tennessee staple: strong cayenne flavor, crispy skin made from a fiery dry rub, and chili oil that fills all the nooks and crannies on every piece of chicken. Al’s Nash sandwich is topped with a lightly toasted bun filled with their secret sauce, a boneless breast, pickles, and a sweet yet crunchy slaw. Keep in mind that this chicken is seriously hot - one spice level even requires an actual waiver. You’ve been warned.
The most underrated Westside ramen spot is Kotoya, the only place we gladly let charge us $2 for green onions and $2.50 for nori sheets. Every penny is worth it to support this tiny Palms noodle counter, which offers a top-tier tonkotsu broth that’s rich, flavorful, and fatty while still being light enough that you can carry on with the rest of your day. Piling on tableside spicy pepper and oil is also an essential move.
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. This walk-up spot on Washington has constant lines of people waiting for their cheese-covered, crispy-shelled tacos, but it’s worth knowing that the burritos are just as good.
Japanese omesubi involve plenty of rice and seaweed, but no raw fish. Instead, the omesubi at Sunny Blue are filled with things like chicken curry, mushrooms, or (our favorite) miso beef. They’re made on the spot as you order, and are an easy and quick way to get lunch, whether you’re grabbing them to go or sitting on the quiet side patio.
If balls of rice don’t seem like an especially satisfying lunch, head next door to Humble Potato. Despite the name, you’re here for the burgers. They’re Japanese-influenced - which means you might find yuzu-jalapeno slaw on your burger and thinly sliced dried seaweed on your garlic parmesan fries. It’s a slightly fancier option than the In-N-Out drive-through you were daydreaming about.
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.