Last time we counted, there were more restaurants on LA’s Eastside than angel-wing wall murals in the entire city. That’s a lot of restaurants (also, there are too many angel-wing wall murals, but that’s an argument for another day). The neighborhoods roughly north of Downtown, west of Pasadena, and east of Hollywood have so many good dinner choices that by the time you actually decide on a place, it’s the next morning and now you need to figure out where to get breakfast.
So we’ve narrowed them down for you. Here’s our list of the best places to grab dinner on LA’s Eastside.
You thought it would be a good idea to bring overnight oats to work for lunch today. After realizing that you just chose to eat colder, lumpier oatmeal, you have decided that you need something truly excellent for dinner tonight to make up for it. Head to Mh Zh. This small, super casual Sunset Junction restaurant does vegetable-focused Israeli/Mediterranean food, which sounds like nothing special in LA. Except every single thing on the menu is special. You pretty much have to sit outside because there are maybe three seats in the building, so come by on a warm evening, grab a drink nearby while you inevitably wait, and then order the lamb ragooooo. In fact, maybe order two. You’re going to want it for lunch tomorrow.
In two years, Frogtown will probably be full of coffee shops and alternative preschools, but for now it’s a warehouse-y area of town by the LA River with a lot of art studios. It’s also home to Salazar, the outdoor Mexican restaurant/hideaway that’s a perfect escape from whatever you need to get away from this evening. After a couple of Palomas and al pastor tacos, you’ll never want to leave. Salazar is the kind of place you can bring anyone - you’ll see plenty of families, dates, and friends grabbing after-work drinks.
You definitely didn’t forget that it was your best friend’s birthday today, and you definitely already made a restaurant reservation. For the ultimate last minute dinner that totally looks planned, book a table at Alimento. This Italian restaurant is right by the Silver Lake reservoir, and from the outside looks like a charming neighborhood standby. But it’s actually a more upscale place, with an excellent wine list and a menu full of phenomenal Italian food. It has so much going for it that your best friend will assume you spent ages looking for the perfect restaurant for her. Which you definitely did.
Second dates are tricky - you liked the person enough to at least see them again, but there’s also a good chance this person will casually bring up their belief in chemtrails and you’ll need to cut the night short. So if you’re ever planning an early-in-the-game date, goad to Same Same. This Silver Lake spot is the wine bar/Thai restaurant mashup ideal for casual dates - you can start out at the bar drinking wine, and if things go well, you can move to a table and share some khao soi. But if a plane flies overhead and your date holds their breath, you can easily down your wine and leave without any mention of getting food.
This Burmese spot looks like a low-key version of those pop-up “museums” that are basically just different rooms you can photograph yourself in. There’s a patterned wall, some neon furniture, and a unicorn head - in other words, it doesn’t exactly scream “great midweek dinner option.” But that’s exactly what it is. Eccentric atmosphere aside, the Burmese food at Daw Yee is the reason to go. Get the tea leaf salad, the tofu sticks, and the Ohnoh noodles.
Someone in your company made a small error in a calculation, and your client just found out that their new cost-saving program is saving $20 instead of $20,000. That person was you. Before you start rewriting your resume, wash down the shame with a burrito from El Fuente. This Highland Park classic has been around forever, and their giant servings of Mexican food are especially good when you need comfort food. The space is also casual enough that you can show up in sweats, and probably cry quietly at your table.
Raffi’s in Glendale serves some of our favorite kabobs in the city, in portions so huge that they either need to be shared or taken home and eaten every day for a week. Order the barg (thinly-sliced filet mignon). The space has a French bistro-ish theme, with white tablecloths, wicker chairs, and striped awnings, and also there’s a tree in the middle of the restaurant, if that’s the kind of thing that makes you excited.
If you’ve been tasked with finding a place for your team’s bonding dinner, take them to Cosa Buona. This casual neighborhood pizzeria in Echo Park feels like the kind of welcoming neighborhood spot you always see in sitcoms, without the servers making snide remarks that no human being would actually say. Also, the pizza is great, and we would come here just for the mozzarella sticks. So if you get along with your coworkers already, you’ll have great food and beer to catch up over. And if things are still awkward, you’ll be glad to have cheese to stuff into your mouth.
Your parents are in town, and your mom has reminded you for the fifth time that your dad refuses to eat anything he hasn’t heard of before. Take them to Ostrich Farm. The kinda-fancy American restaurant in Echo Park serves all the staples - meatballs, caesar salad, grilled meats - but they all have something extra that will make your parents feel adventurous because their caesar salad was charred. Baby steps.
L&E is a more than acceptable choice for pretty much any kind of semi-casual dinner. The modern spot has great oysters, along with a lot of other solid, shareable plates. You can eat downstairs in the full restaurant, or, for a drinks-and-a-light-bite situation, head upstairs to their more lounge-y bar area.
A nice thing about living in LA is that your out-of-town friends end up visiting a lot for work. Another nice thing is that they usually get to put their meals on the company card. If your college friend is in the city, rescue them from whatever expo they’re at, take them to Kismet, then convince them to pretend you’re a client and order the $80 rabbit for two.
This woodsy-themed restaurant in Los Feliz serves solid comfort food, and is a good place to go when you need to eat something familiar. The space is huge, so you can usually find a table quickly - try to get a spot out on the patio, where there’s a fire pit. You can pretend you’re glamping while you eat mac-n-cheese and ribs.
So you misread those five parking signs by your work again and got another ticket. You might need a drink before dinner. If you’re in Highland Park, grab a cocktail at Good Housekeeping, the speakeasy attached to Cafe Birdie (tell the bartender what kind of drink you like, and they’ll make you something unique). Then head back into the restaurant for some big plates of solid, familiar food.
You spent five hours smiling and nodding at strangers at a work conference today, and you’re pretty much done having conversations. Spend some quality alone time at the bar at Tsubaki, the modern izakaya in Echo Park. This spot is arguably better experienced by yourself - when you sit at the bar, the chefs will pour you sake without you even asking, tell you stories, and generally make every part of this already-great izakaya even better.
If you want pasta on the Eastside and you don’t want to exert any effort to get it, go to Farfalla. The Los Feliz restaurant is a casual space with lots of tables full of locals. It’s clearly meant to be the place you wander into, still in your work clothes, and consume some really excellent gnocchi with pesto.
If you’re the kind of person who texts your friends to go look at the the sunset, you should know about Wolfdown in Silver Lake. The converted bungalow looks like the kind of place you see in wedding magazines, with a shipwreck’s worth of distressed wood, strings of fairy lights, and an inexplicable feeling that everything is fine. The Asian-inspired food here is good (especially the spicy Korean fried chicken) and all meant to be shared - but you’re really here for the light breeze and distant birdsong.