There are few restaurants more synonymous with Los Angeles than Sqirl, and for good reason. This order-at-the-counter cafe in Virgil Village serves fantastic, photogenic food that’s gives every person in America who's staring at their social media extreme envy. But that also means a meal here comes with crowds that just won’t quit.
Show up any day of the week and you’ll find a line of locals and tourists wrapped around the corner, all eager to get sorrel pesto bowls, brioche toasts, and pastries inside their bodies (and onto their Insta accounts) as soon as possible. And if you’re short on time - or patience - waiting 45 minutes for a table isn’t an option. Good thing we made this guide. From a porridge shop in Historic Filipinotown to a bike-rental store with our favorite veggie burger in town, here are your best options when the line at Sqirl is too long.
Let’s be real, half the reason you’re even at Sqirl is to make sure the brioche toast and sorrel pesto bowl make it on your socials. But seeing that the line is wrapped around the corner today, it’s time to make other moves. Head to Konbi in Echo Park. This Japanese cafe hit the Instagram jackpot with their egg salad and chicken katsu sandwiches, and while they’re both solid, it’s pastries that are the true stars here. They have a fairly set menu of croissants, caneles, and hazelnut financiers, so just do what we do: Get one of each, then argue about which is the best with your friends.
Sqirl has excellent sandwiches, but we prefer the ones at Wax Paper. This sandwich shop inside a shipping container serves giant, deli-style sandwiches that we would put up against any in the city. Our favorite is the bologna-and-salami-stuffed Larry Mantle, but if you’re vegetarian (or looking for something a little lighter), the Ira Glass is as good of a meatless sandwich as you’ll find in LA. And for those keeping track at home, yes, every sandwich is named after an NPR host.
Friends & Family is cafe/bakery/marketplace in East Hollywood that’s also one of the most overlooked breakfast/lunch spots in the neighborhood. Their menu is extensive, with everything from buckwheat pancakes and pastries in the morning to sandwiches and daily salads during the afternoon. The space is also quite large, which means no matter how many people you roll in with, you can always find a table pretty quickly. If the weekend sun is calling you outside, they also have picnic baskets to-go.
If there’s one thing that Echo Park doesn’t need any more of, it’s coffee shops. So when Triniti opened in late 2017, we weren’t exactly speed-racing over. But this tiny spot right on Sunset got it right - they serve good coffee and very, very good food. The menu is filled mostly with salad-y type things that don’t taste like typical salad-y things, like the tomato tartine with burrata and the beet salad with garlic yogurt. If you’re looking for a mostly healthy lunch that will actually satisfy you, head to Triniti.
Kismet is one of Los Feliz’s most popular restaurants, and for that reason alone, tables are at a premium during dinner. But come for an early lunch on a weekday, and you can pretty much walk right into this casual Mediterranean spot. We tend to go for the shakshuka or the full Turkish breakfast, but no matter what, don’t leave without getting an order of the flaky malawach bread with labneh, soft-boiled eggs, and tomatoes. That’s a command, not a suggestion.
Dinner at All Time is one of our favorite meals in the entire city, and a great opportunity to see your favorite stand-up wear a fedora in public. But something that’s lost on a lot of people is the fact that this casual spot in Los Feliz started out as (and still actually is) an all-day restaurant. Come before the dinner rush and you’ll find a laid-back atmosphere where all the food is ordered at the inside counter and the patio is filled mostly with laptops instead of A-List celebrities. We love the fontina-topped breakfast sandwich or the cheesy eggs on toast, but there really is no wrong order here.
LA will certainly never be a bagel town, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely devoid of good options. Case in point: Maury’s. The neighborhood bagel shop started out as a roaming truck and recently opened up a brick-and-mortar on a quiet residential street in Silver Lake, and the results are fantastic. You can come here and pick up a dozen of the glorious cylinders of compacted carbs, but the move is to concentrate on the bagel sandwiches. The traditional lox is our favorite, but if the Mori special (lox and wasabi tobiko) is there, it’s a must-order, and worth every penny of its $22 price point.
Finding a seat on Sqirl’s sidewalk or adjacent sorta-patio often requires a black belt in public hovering and an aggressive side-eye. Skip all that today and head somewhere you can always find a seat outside - Spoke. This cafe/bike shop/hangout in Frogtown is the perfect place to cruise up to with friends on a weekend, order a bunch of grain bowls and sandwiches (including our favorite veggie burger in LA), and spend the day drinking beer and wine on their tremendous patio.
Botanica is everything you want in an Eastside brunch spot - the food is healthy, the drinks are herb-infused, there’s a patio with a perpetual golden hour, and everyone looks like Father John Misty. There’s also a market attached in case you want to try (and fail) to reproduce some of Botanica’s dishes in your own home. You might want to, because Botanica does serve good food, and Sqirl is going to be crowded again tomorrow, too.
This is Moby’s vegan restaurant - 100% of profits go to animal rights organizations - and when it opened in 2015, it was quickly crowned Most Silver Lake restaurant in all of Silver Lake. And after a few years of operation, it still owns that title. But it’s also a very solid and unpretentious vegan spot that even non-vegans will love. The overly monochromatic space feels like your roommate’s Etsy page, but in a way that’s tolerable and actually nice to look at.
Open every Tuesday-Friday at 11:30am (10am on the weekends), Manuela is a Southern-ish spot inside an actual art gallery in the Arts District. Whatever sterile, white-walled environment you might be picturing in your mind right now, you can erase it, because Manuela’s charming courtyard space looks closer to a tiny European town than a converted Downtown warehouse. As far as the food goes, the current chef is from one of our other favorite Southern restaurants, The Hart and the Hunter, and that means those incredible biscuits have made the trip Downtown as well.
Located in Historic Filipinotown, Porridge & Puffs might look like any other daytime spot with minimalist decoration and lots of natural light, but you won’t find eggs on toast or kale salad here. Instead, think bowls of rice porridge, chewy bread puffs, and a few vegetable dishes. The poultry + mushroom is our favorite of the porridges, but you should definitely get whatever their seasonal option is as well. And whatever you do, don’t leave without ordering a few puff donuts and the brown butter mochi.