Los Angeles’ reputation as an endless concrete suburbia is well-earned. But one of our secret weapons has always been our sneakily abundant access to all things nature. Between Malibu and Runyon Canyon, Griffith Park and our miles and miles of beaches, the outdoor culture in LA is strong. But after a few hours of sucking wind while walking up a canyon, you always need something to eat - and finding the right place to fill up is easier said than done. Here are the 15 best places to go after finishing one of LA’s major hikes.
All restaurants featured on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team.
For some reason, you decided to do the hard path at Runyon today and now you’re sore, dehydrated, and have three thorns stuck into the back of your leg. Time for some Korean bowls at BBQ + Rice. After a good sweat, our move tends to be either the bulgogi salad or tofu bowl, but you can’t really have a bad post-hike meal at this casual cafe on Sunset Blvd.
You just spent an hour jogging around people taking mask selfies and now you need a comedown meal. Head to Otus Thai. Located just a few blocks down on La Brea from the Runyon entrance, this Thai breakfast cafe certainly has some heavier dishes on its menu, but if you’re in the mood for something lighter, check out one of their excellent salads. We like the som tum or yum gai sapp salad with spicy lime dressing.
You’re starving after walking up to the Observatory, but the last thing you want to do is try to find parking again in Los Feliz on a Saturday. Good news - Griffith has its own little order-at-the-window cafe at the bottom of the hill. And while it’s not the best food on the Eastside, The Trails is certainly the most convenient after any Griffith outing. You’re going to want the turkey avocado sandwich or vegetarian chili or one of their excellent muffins (if the blueberry banana is available, get it). Takeout only.
Alcove’s massive front patio can admittedly be a “Let’s talk about my reel” apocalypse, but after a long walk around the Observatory, this is exactly where you want to eat. The large menu has every kind of wrap, salad, or scramble and even though you might have to elbow a few voiceover actors for a table, there’s no denying that patio is the perfect place to regroup.
If Alcove isn’t your speed today, you’re in luck. Just up the block is Mustard Seed - a casual sidewalk cafe with zero waits and a surprisingly strong menu. Their chopped salad is massive and good for two meals, and their turkey burger won’t make you sad either. They’re only open till 4:30pm every day, but the bonus is they serve breakfast till close.
You just totally killed it on that run, and the last you want to do right now is undo all that fitness. Your move is The Punchbowl. The tiny little cafe off Vermont is making the only real juices and health shakes you want in the area. Our move is the Power Mint (it tastes like a mint Klondike Bar, but is actually good for you), but frankly most of their shakes are worth ordering. Looking for a real punch to the face? Get the ginger shot with oil of oregano. Wah-BAM.
Kenneth Hahn Recreational Park
So you want to eat healthy after a hike, but also go somewhere cool/interesting/possibly from the future? Head for Destroyer. Located in the middle of a bunch of tech startups in Culver City, this daytime-only, order-at-the-counter spot seems like one of those places created only for Instagram, but then you try the food and realize it tastes even better than it looks. The raw oatmeal (with a frozen disk of crispy vanilla on top) is a must-order.
Cafe Vida is a solid place to pick up pretty much any kind of not-terrible-for-you food after running up and down that big staircase in Culver all morning. The place is quite popular on the weekends, so try to get there as early as you can. The menu is massive, with all the requisite salads and wraps and egg white rice bowls to fulfill your post-workout metabolism fantasies.
Jackson Market is an old-school neighborhood market/deli tucked away into a residential street in Culver City. It’s one of those places that seems like it couldn’t possibly exist in modern day LA, but the fact that it does makes it special. They have a massive menu full of pizzas, pancakes, and paninis, but after burning 750 calories walking up a hill in broad daylight, stick to one of their excellent salads instead. They’re available for takeout, but we recommend ordering at the counter and heading out back to their hidden, leafy patio.
Tacos after a hike? Choose your best life. The last time we checked, flour tortillas unfortunately still have carbs in them, but if you’re going put some into your body, might as well make them the housemade tortillas at Loqui. Because whether it’s spicy chicken or the truly magical mushrooms inside, these tacos are fantastic. If you can’t wrap your mind around eating an entire tortilla, they have a whole bowl section as well.
Malibu Creek State Park
Malibu Farm continues to be one of Malibu’s better lunch/dinner options, but its tiny cafe-sister at the far end of the pier is the even-more-casual version, and perfect after breaking a sweat in the canyons all day. The menu is simple (with everything from a fried egg sandwich to a kale Caesar), but everything on it is quite good. And, as a plus, you’re on the tip of a pier in Malibu.
Not only did you hike five miles today, you drove out to Malibu to do it. Reward yourself with a meal at Broad Street Oyster Co. This East Coast-style seafood shack is located behind the Country Mart and has an excellent front patio as well as a drive-thru option that debuted during quarantine. Their lobster roll is one of the best in LA, and while no one should be counting calories while eating it, there are healthier options on the menu as well. The oysters, ceviche, and anything else off their raw bar will be excellent.
Deep inside the very strange Malibu Country Mart “lifestyle mall” sits this shockingly low-key, order-at-the-counter sandwich shop. John’s has been making no-frills deli sandwiches with good prices ($6 - $8) for a while now, and though it has built quite a following, you never have to wait too long to get your food. If you’re in a race to get back to LA, John’s is definitely your eat-in-the-car move.
Malibu has no shortage of seafood joints along PCH, but Malibu Seafood is one of our favorites. And after a long day of walking around looking for some waterfall your roommate said they heard about on the internet, you need some fresh shrimp. Lines can get somewhat horrendous on the weekends, but you’re still at the ocean while you wait, so things could be worse.