Culver City has a tough gig. Cornered by two of the biggest freeways in Southern California, the neighborhood is quite literally cut off from the rest of Los Angeles. And for that reason, Culver City for so long stayed a nondescript city suburb, known by most Angelenos as the collection of buildings where MGM Studios (RIP) was located.
These days, Culver City is back in action as a clean city-center full of cool stores, art galleries, movie theaters, and other things that make urban areas appealing to humans. And all those people walking around? They don’t suck. There’s a subway station that takes you to and from DTLA and Santa Monica, which means you can’t you use Culver’s location as a reason not to go anymore. This is crucial, because perhaps more than anything else, Culver City’s become a major food destination. Old restaurants are thriving again, and new ones pop up every day. It’s an exciting time to be in Culver City – here’s your updated guide to hitting the best restaurants.
One of the mythical creatures of the Westside: decent tacos. Or it was mythical, until Loqui opened up. The office workers of the area are clearly pleased they’ve arrived (there will be a line at lunch), and so are we. Lots of them order at the counter and take their food to go, leaving more room on the cute patio out back for you to have a transcendental taco experience. It is not an exaggeration to say we have dreams about Loqui’s flour tortillas. Because yes, we have regular dreams about tacos and that’s not weird at all.
This tiny bakery with a handful of tables is your best bet for breakfast in Culver. There’s not an egg in sight, but that’s fine because instead there are huge slabs of avocado toast, a smoked fish platter, and the world’s largest cinnamon buns. A newborn baby could probably use one as a very soft (and beautifully scented) mattress. Sunday nights are pizza nights for which you should turn up early - they’re known to sell out.
If you live west of the 405, you probably don’t eat very much Korean BBQ, mostly because getting to Koreatown is screaming-at-each-other-breakup kind of messy. But, right in downtown Culver, Hanjip is here to bring you enormous amounts of grill your own meat on the Westside. The meat quality is excellent, and the whole restaurant has just gone all you can eat. We’re both scared and excited to think about how our next meal there is going to turn out, given you can now sample 20 things to barbecue for $29.99.
You probably guessed this part, but The Cannibal is very, very into meat. Like, you can order an entire pig’s head here, into meat. But even if you don’t feel like making pig’s head tacos for dinner (although we highly recommend you be brave and do it), this is still a very solid spot for a meal that won’t disappoint, and will involve something more than slabs of meat whacked onto a plate. If you’re in the area for lunch, the butcher shop next door makes some pretty tasty (obviously meat-filled) sandwiches.
Located in a part of Culver filled with very cool people who work in very creative offices, Destroyer is the newest spot on this list and a daytime cafe unlike any other we’ve been to. We’re pretty sure the coffee machine was brought here from the future (it’s built into the counter), and it’s entirely possible the strange-looking and sounding food was too. The tomatoes with almond curd (yep, no idea what that is either) and gooseberries was refreshing, delicious, and very unique. The whole place is straight out weird, and also oddly zen, but in the kind of way that has us already planning trips back.
In the market for something with actual nutritional value? The acai bowls at Sao Acai are some of the best we’ve found - not too watery, not too thick, and with a bunch of different options. Complete the general feeling of wellness by browsing through athleisure in the store that’s attached while you wait.
One thing Culver has a lot of: gastropubs. One things Culver does not have a lot of: Japanese food. When you’re tired of brussels sprouts, K-Zo, right next to Trader Joe’s, is a solid, and well-priced, option. Skip the appetizers and set menus and go straight for the sushi here - it’s definitely the highlight.
Lukshon is one of Culver City’s (if not Los Angeles’) most well-rounded restaurants. With a surprisingly reasonably-priced menu full of delicious Southeast Asian food and a sleek, comfortable interior, Lukshon is pretty much perfect for any occasion. Come in by yourself at lunch for an $8 bowl of noodles, or sit on the gorgeous patio eating and drinking the night away with friends.
On paper, everything seems pretty par for the course at The Wallace. Seasonal California cuisine, shared plate dining, all in a modern, airy space. But the truth is that it does all of those things better than a lot of other LA restaurants, providing consistently good food in a casual, welcoming space.
A-Frame has not been without its high and lows since its opening, but after its menu overhaul and total dedication to Hawaiian cuisine, Roy Choi’s tropical-themed restaurant (finally) feels like it’s found itself. The tiki-hut dining room will always be amongst the most unique in the city and at last, the menu has caught up.
One could make the case for Akasha being THE Culver City restaurant. Located on the most highly trafficked corner, Akasha is the go-to spot for your all-day needs. The front cafe opens at 8am serving house-made pastries and Intelligentsia coffee, while the dining room comes alive later for a vegetarian-friendly lunch and dinner service. Oh, and there’s a bar as well.
If you haven’t heard of Father’s Office by now, just give up. If you’re still reading this, it means you have and you’ve mostly likely already shared your mouth with the best burger in LA. And unlike the original location on Montana, the shiny Culver space affords you the room to kick back, relax, and actually enjoy the triumph in front of you.
Mateo’s is a Culver City classic and you’ve probably never heard it. Located on a sparse stretch of Sepulveda in a strip mall next to a laundromat, Mateo’s is a tiny little ice cream shop and the pearly gates into paleta heaven. A paleta? A gigantic, ice cream popsicle for about $2. Bless.
Whatever the difference between a great restaurant and an elite restaurant means to you, there’s no arguing that n/naka is one of the elite. For $185 you will be served a perfect 13-course kaiseki menu, one of Japan’s most revered culinary traditions. So no, this is not your weekly chill spot. But it is a must-experience event worth every penny.
Is Jackson Market actually too good to be true? Located on a hidden residential street, Jackson Market serves as deli, apothecary, wine shop, snack bar, and probably a few other things we don’t even know about. With its incredible back patio, this is the ideal place to catch up with friends after a long week.
In the old, massive Waterloo & City space lives this funky Southern restaurant that’s made quick business of establishing itself as one of Culver’s best. The chefs have a long history in Southern cooking, and the food is excellent. The space can best be described as barnyard gothic, and we like it. Don’t miss the secret Old Man Bar hidden in the back.
As one of Culver City’s most iconic food spots, Tito’s has endured the test of time (56 years) and remains near and dear to the heart of the neighborhood. The walk-up, no-frills location still has long daytime lines that wait for the cheese-doused tacos and a burrito that’s sneakily one of the best in the city.
Famous for being the first place you could get a Roy Choi kogi taco not from a food truck, Alibi Room holds up today as a casual, neighborhood spot still serving the best bar food in town. The late-night happy hour gets dangerous, but with a menu that includes everything from kogi beef sliders to kimchi sesame quesadillas, your drunchies are in good hands.
At first glance, Honey’s Kettle looks like nothing more than another greasy, fast-casual, corporate concept. But oh, how you are mistaken. It took a few years to get rolling, but with its commitment to high-quality ingredients, Honey’s Kettle has begun its ascension towards LA’s fried chicken elite. Get in there now while you still can.
When the Texas Monthly BBQ editor (see: Best Job in America) declared Maple Block’s brisket the best barbecue in the state, all of LA took note. Brisket aside, what you’ll find at Maple Block is a modern yet casual, order-at-the-counter spot the whole neighborhood can get behind.
The long-time Culver standby got itself a major overhaul (and chef changeup) that’s helped bring it back to its nearly-elite status. We had hoped lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling would’ve phased themselves out by now, but that’s life. The place remains casual and comfortable, ideal for most scenarios. Leave room for the sticky toffee pudding.
The taco truck cult-favorite has built an empire around high-quality, seasonal ingredients. Guerrilla Tacos is unlike any other taco you’ve had before, but once you’ve had one, it’s hard to eat anything else. Lunch crowds get ravenous at its Cognoscenti Coffee location, but power through. It’s worth it.
Once again we find ourselves in a rundown strip mall, home to the premiere Indian restaurant Mayura. Mayura serves mostly vegetarian, South Indian food staples. Takeout is always an option, but if you have the time, eating in their festive dining room (with Bollywood movies playing in the back) is a worthwhile experience.
The insanely popular gourmet ice cream truck (with an architectural twist!) recently opened their beautiful brick-and-mortar near the Helms Bakery District, and the lines have only gotten longer. With Diddy Riese, Milk, and the like, LA has a long history of top-notch ice cream sandwiches and girls lining up to take photos of them. Add Coolhaus to that esteemed list.
Occupying an old auto upholstery shop and owned by actual Danes, Copenhagen Pastry is the perfect place to grab a cup of coffee on a cool morning and enjoy the best Danish pastries in town. The refurbished space looks like a modern museum in its own right on the outside, but it’s the magic happening inside that’s truly important. Custard and almond kringle cake anyone?
Haters can hate, but if you’re eating vegan, Sage is one of the best in the city. The menu can get impressively overwhelming, but no matter what you order, it’s going to be delicious. Take advantage of their well-oiled takeout situation or stay and eat in their casual, industrial space.