As a resident of Los Angeles, you spend more time in your car than you do on the couch, at your office, or with your supposed “loved ones” - combined. Which means the second thing you think about after you get in said car (after “How can I avoid the 405 today?”) is “What’s the parking situation like where I’m going?”
And while this is the city of valet, you don’t always want to pay $12 for someone else to take your keys and leave your car exactly where you put it. These are our favorite restaurants with easy, relatively inexpensive parking - whether that involves a strip mall lot, metered street spots, or neighborhoods that won’t tow you after 6pm. Because maybe Joni Mitchell got it wrong - sometimes, paradise is the parking lot.
The Sistine Chapel. Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” Dev Patel’s perfect, symmetrical face. And… the parking structure at Hotville Chicken? With two levels, endless spots, and square-footage nearing the length of a football field, this architectural masterpiece is exactly what we mean when we say “easy, relatively inexpensive parking.” Especially because, in this instance, “inexpensive” actually means “free.” And if all of that wasn’t enough, it definitely doesn’t hurt that Hotville is certified hot chicken royalty (the owner is related to the owner of Prince’s in Nashville) that’s also serving some of the best mac and cheese around.
There aren’t many good things that we can say about The Row DTLA, the massive, industrial outdoor mall that M. Georgina is located in. It feels like someone took an old clothing factory and turned it into a dystopian playground for luxury fashion brands. We once dropped our phone here and it cracked. Late-stage capitalism. Yet, despite all of that - the parking is magnificent. Maybe it was a gross miscalculation, or blind optimism, or perhaps just Icarus-level hubris, but whoever designed this place built a true palace of parking. Ten floors and hundreds of spots, most of which have never been christened with the presence of a vehicle. Anyway, the first two hours are always free here, with or without validation.
Located on that perpetually congested stretch of Sunset Blvd. that’s also home to Mh Zh, Night + Market Song, and not a single parking structure, trying to find a spot around Ramen Tatsunoya is like setting a social media limit for yourself on your phone - useless, disappointing, and at some point, you’ll take a good, hard look in the mirror and ask “How did we get here?” That is, unless you know about their secret lot - head to the back of the restaurant and save the emergency Skype session with your therapist for another day.
Anyone who’s ever driven past the House of Pies knows about their parking lot. Bathed in the omnipresent glow of a neon sign, its mere existence is enough to qualify it for this guide, given the neighborhood’s lack of street parking and collection of residents that can and will call the Parking Violations Bureau if your car is ever found outside of their house. But like a Penn & Teller magic trick, or your partner insisting that “It’s fine” after a tense interaction, this preliminary lot is nothing but clever misdirection. The real action is behind the restaurant, where, amongst the dumpsters and Juuling teens, lies an extra 6-8 spots.
In the interest of not relying too heavily on exaggerated statements, we’ll state this plainly - Koreatown’s parking situation is one of the worst in the city, borders on sadistic, and under the Geneva Conventions, should not exist. Luckily, we have Biriyani Kabob House to save us - although the parking lot in front of this Pakistani/Bangladeshi restaurant is small, rest assured, if you eat a meal here, it will be free and it will be protected under the watchful eye of a very attentive parking attendant.
BCD, the 24-hour soon tofu restaurant that’s served everyone from Academy Award winner Bong Joon Ho to hungover food writers eating “breakfast” at 4pm, has two locations in Ktown, but the one on Wilshire Blvd. has its own private parking lot. Which is obviously a crucial distinction, because while a good scream in the car can be quite car-thartic, there’s nothing relaxing about circling the block for 30 minutes while yelling Selina Meyer-level expletives at total strangers.
Unless you’re EGOT-winner and Malibu resident Barbra Streisand, getting to this seafood destination is no short trek. So obviously, the last thing you want to do is spend even more time in your car looking for parking. And while there are plenty of places along the PCH without lots that are more than happy to have you leave your Toyota Corolla by the ocean then run across the longest state route in California (cough cough, @ Neptune’s Net), Broad Street’s shopping-plaza location means ample parking. Which, in turn means more quality time with their amazing hot lobster roll.
King's Hawaiian Bakery
King’s has two locations in the South Bay, but our favorite, and the one we navigate to whenever we have a hard day at work and/or we remember how bad they made Chris Messina look in Birds of Prey, is their Torrance outpost. Partly because of the on-site bakery (where they make one of the best haupia cakes outside of the 808), but mostly because of their glorious on-site parking. Expansive, free, and most importantly, in range of their wifi, much like the breadsticks policy at a certain beloved Italian-American restaurant chain, the possibilities here are endless.
Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine is one of the greatest places to eat in Alhambra. Their menu is filled with incredible Indonesian/Singaporean dishes like laksa mee (spicy curry noodle soup) and nasi campur kalimantan (a mixed plate served with Chinese sausage, BBQ pork, and fried chicken over rice). The roti prata comes with a side of curry and is grilled and flipped to doughy perfection. But best of all? They’re located right next to the First Street Parking Facility, which comes with four hours of free parking, and is perhaps the first parking structure in history to be rated five stars on Google.
Like the scene in A Star Is Born where Ally performs “Shallow” for the first time (and Lady Gaga performs the worst delivery of the word “typewriter” ever recorded), Dollar Hits is a party that takes place in a parking lot. So leave your car in any one of the spaces out front, then head over to the communal grills at this street-food spot in Historic Filipinotown, where you’ll find delicious $1 sticks of BBQ chicken, pork intestine, and fried chicken head.
This casual spot is a great place for a weeknight meal - it’s hard to go wrong with anything on the Taiwanese menu, but we would circle many blocks just to eat their house-baked scallion bread. But we don’t have to, because of how easy parking is in Highland Park. It’s free (and easy to find) on residential streets throughout most of the neighborhood. And in busier areas - off York or Figueroa - there are plenty of cheap parking lots, so we have more money for dan dan noodles.
Los Feliz is definitely not known for having plentiful parking. So we’re not sure why there are always spots open near All Time. We won’t question it, though, because we would walk much, much farther than half a block for one of the best restaurants on the Eastside. There are usually spots on Hillhurst (especially across the street, by the Albertsons), and the surrounding residential neighborhood doesn’t have any parking restrictions.
There are a lot of things to hate about the area surrounding the Third Street Promenade. Tumbi, a great Indian spot, is not one of them. And, surprisingly, neither is its parking situation. There are huge public lots throughout downtown Santa Monica that never fill up, and are free for 90 minutes. They also have normal-sized parking spaces, so you won’t add to the mural of scratches on your front bumper pulling into them.
Just like that time someone told us they saw Tom Cruise at Vons, when we heard Margot offered free valet, we didn’t believe it (Tom seems like more of an Erewhon guy) - but it’s true. The rooftop restaurant at the Platform validates your parking, though maybe it’s not such a smart idea to drive, because in addition to some good pasta, this Culver City spot has some of the best cocktails on the Westside.
The original Pasta Sisters in Pico-Arlington is almost perfect, except that getting a spot in the tiny strip mall parking lot can lead to a battle royale-style showdown. But they’ve opened a second location in the Helms Bakery complex in Culver City with a parking situation that changes that. There’s plenty of inexpensive street parking you can generally drive right into, as well as a couple of lots. Turn into Hutchison Ave. from Washington and you’ll find the small free one inside the complex.
The Arts District is home to endless circling around the block and overpriced parking lots once you give up, but its next-door neighbor (the Fashion District) has a dream parking situation. It’s a part of Downtown that almost completely empties out at night, so when you’re eating at Rossoblu you’ll be able to get a street spot and put the money you saved towards an extra bowl of pasta. That’s a win-win.
photo credit: Andrea D'Agosto
Guelaguetza does have a parking lot behind the restaurant, although it’s one of those valet lots where you pay someone too much money to park your car in a space five feet away. But Guelaguetza also has that rarest of things - easy street parking in Koreatown. Just turn off of Olympic and onto one of the side streets (try Irolo), and you should be able to find a spot easily before making the quick walk towards the best mole in town.
You may already know that parking on this part of La Cienega in West Hollywood is pretty easy, with drive-in metered spots often available right out the front of Sushi Fumi (and you only have to pay until 8pm). But there is another option - the secret lot in the back. Just turn into the alley next to the strip club two doors down (identifiable by the “Girls Girls Girls” sign), and you’ll find a bunch of free spots that no one seems to know about. If only we could say the same thing about Fumi itself.
Luv2Eat Thai Bistro
Strip mall parking lots are good in theory, but in practice are always full and/or impossible to get in and out of. The strip mall that’s home to Luv2Eat is neither of those things. Which means you can pull in, park, and be at a table ordering your jade noodles and papaya salad in record time.
Salt’s Cure is a Hollywood go-to, mostly because eating here is just easy. Most nights of the week you can walk in and grab a table, and eat some fantastic food without having to deal with any hassle. Even better, there’s almost always street parking on Highland, or you can go down one of the side streets where there are no time or permit restrictions.
The Meet In The Middle Guide: Where To Eat When You’re Coming From Opposite Sides Of Town
Commerson’s location in a huge mixed-user at La Brea and Wilshire has its downsides. Mostly, the subway construction and the terrible traffic it causes. Also, there’s only so much personality a restaurant in a giant mixed-user can have. But Commerson has upsides, too - the mostly seafood menu includes a shrimp and chorizo burger that’s worth the trip, and they’ll validate your parking for the garage in the building.
ASAP Phorage is permanently closed
You’ll inevitably drive straight past ASAP Phorage on your first visit. It’s hidden at the back of a convenience store, so you might reach the ocean at the end of the street while you search for it. Turn around, look for the sign that says Gordon’s Market, and turn straight into the lot. If there aren’t any available seats inside, you have our permission to eat your noodle soup in your car.