The Best Restaurants In Culver City
photo credit: Jakob Layman
There are lots of reasons why you might wind up in Culver City. Maybe there's an office with your name on the door, or perhaps you've scored tickets to see the real Yellow Brick Road on the Sony Pictures lot. It's also possible you just needed a convenient midpoint to meet a friend between DTLA and Santa Monica. Regardless, you'll probably need to eat something. From an old-school steakhouse where Frank Sinatra used to sip martinis to an experimental cafe where the food looks like art, here’s your guide to the best restaurants in Culver City.
Head to Sobar on days when the thermostat has decimated your willpower. This sleek soba shop specializes in juwari soba served cold, with various dipping sauces like traditional tsuyu, tomato chile, and spicy sesame. The noodles themselves are thick and chewy—juwari soba is made with 100% buckwheat, as opposed to the typical mix of buckwheat and flour—and all the sauces have that kind of muted saltiness that requires no water chugging whatsoever. Start with the Kyoto-style dashimaki tamago, a soft, slightly sweet egg omelet that’s the closest we’ve come to finding a cloud on a plate.
If you’re in the business of appearances—fashion, beauty, luxury brands that cater to overseas oil money—you probably work with people who drool over places like Juliet. Take your coworkers to this gorgeous lunch spot for French food that's having more fun than the bistro classics you've tried dozens of times. Picture a well-dressed crowd drinking wine with their endive salads, and funky chicken liver tartlets topped with flower petals that somehow taste better when there's soft French house music playing on the restaurant's speakers.
Hatchet Hall is a restaurant where sharing isn’t just a suggestion—it’s a requirement. From savory shaved country ham to white cheddar cornbread topped with an ice cream scoop of butter, the food at this Southern-leaning spot is so hearty and stick-to-your-ribs delicious that small plates are the only way you’re going to get through it. The space can best be described as barnyard gothic, and there’s a secret bar—appropriately called Old Man Bar—hidden in the back, just in case you need another reason to check this place out.
Located in a part of Culver filled with very cool people who work in very creative offices, Destroyer is a daytime cafe unlike any other. 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 food was, too. Seemingly simple dishes like raw oatmeal and almond milk or chicken schnitzel into works of abstract sci-fi art. The whole place is straight-up weird, and also oddly zen, but in the kind of way that has us planning a return trip as you read this.
Of all the stalls in Culver's Citizen Public Market, Go Go Bird should be your first priority. This chicken specialist serves Szechuan-seasoned tenders with a thick, crunchy batter that reminds us of fish and chips. Dipping sauces like spicy honey and Japanese ranch are great, but the creamy togarashi aioli pairs best with the slightly spicy chicken. Every order comes with pickles and a cheddar biscuit (drizzled in condensed milk and miso powder), plus they offer solid sides like baked mac and cheese and veggie gyoza. Come here to catch up with a friend over a reasonably priced meal.
Lonzo’s makes some of the best Peruvian food in the city. Half-bakery, half-restaurant, this Culver City staple serves beautiful honey bay oysters, made fresh and spicy with a drizzle of rocoto pepper sauce and ponzu, plus decked-out marisco cocteles piled high with seafood and a glass of leche de tigre. There’s a patio in the back, complete with heaters, just in case it’s an especially cold day on the Westside (a.k.a. below 65 degrees), making it a perfect place to stop for a quick lunch break or casual dinner with a few friends.
Mayura is a fantastic Indian restaurant that specializes in dishes from the Southern state of Kerala like fish curry, cheese uthappam, and avail, a mixed vegetable dish cooked with coconut and curry leaves. The dining room is much larger than it looks on the outside and is filled with long purple tables that are ideal for a family dinner when you know people will be joining at the last minute. There’s also a separate vegetarian section on the menu.
If you’re looking for a quick lunch that isn’t sad and/or boring, Bang Bang delivers. There might be a line at this small counter inside Citizen Public Market if you come around noon, but at least you can watch your thick, chewy noodles being slapped and stretched to order while you wait. Bang Bang’s menu is concise—three kinds of hand-pulled Chinese noodles (available dry or as a soup), plus a few small dishes like chili cucumbers and dumplings. We go back and forth between the tingling cumin and Szechuan garlic as our favorite, but either way, order your noodles dry: the bold, fragrant sauces at Bang Bang are bolder when they’re clinging to the noodles instead of bobbing in broth.
As you might have guessed from the name, The Jerk Spot serves some of the best jerk chicken in town. Their standout element is the spicy jerk sauce that comes with every order. If they sold it by the bottle, we’d buy it in bulk. And yes, we’ve asked. They also give you the option of ordering their jerk chicken with just white meat or dark meat. Whatever route you end up going, make sure you order some festival bread to go with it. We usually take our order to-go from this casual Jamaican operation, but The Jerk Spot does have a few tables inside its narrow, counter-service dining room.
Whether it’s the restaurant’s all-day breakfast options or delicious feijoada, all the food at this Brazilian café has been feeding the neighborhood for the past three decades. Late mornings at Café Brasil usually involve scrambled eggs with collard greens, fried plantains, pão de queijo, and fresh passion fruit juice. And if you’re coming for lunch, expect some great pasteis—fried empanadas stuffed with ground beef, cheese, or hearts of palm.
This tiny bakery with a handful of tables is your best bet for breakfast in Culver. There’s not much in the way of eggs, but that’s fine, because instead there are huge slabs of avocado toast, a cured fish platter, and the world’s largest cinnamon buns. A newborn baby could probably use one as a very soft (and beautifully scented) mattress. They also make great pizzas, including a pan pizza that will unquestionably sell out unless you get there early.
The second location of one of LA’s best pasta spots, Pasta Sisters at the Helms Bakery complex might be even better than the original—mainly because it’s the one where you can drink wine on a patio. Two patios, actually. Most of the bowls are build-your-own, meaning you get to choose the type of pasta and sauce (except for the clams and garlic, which they’ll only serve with spaghetti). Our favorites are the pesto with tagliatelle and bolognese with pappardelle, but when you’ve got freshly made pasta and sauces this good, you really can’t go wrong. If you’re there on Sunday, make sure you get the carbonara—it’s fantastic, and only available one day a week. We suspect that’s a good thing for our health.
Banana Leaf in Culver City has 20 different biryanis on their menu, and if you feel the need to try every single one, that’s a journey that’ll result in eating 20 very good biryanis. That said, if you only have time to try one, we recommend the Chicken 65. This spicy, deep-fried chicken dish was first invented at Buhari Hotel in Chennai in 1965 (hence the name), and while it’s a delicious dish on its own, when mixed with herb and spice-filled basmati rice like it is at Banana Leaf, it’s taken to new levels of excellence.
This Culver City spot has been cranking out supremely crunchy fried chicken for nearly 20 years. You can’t go wrong with any of their chicken combos, but we love the spicy wing basket: the skin is beyond crispy, the meat is moist, and they’re coated in a sweet and spicy sauce you’ll be licking off your fingers until halftime. Oh, and that basket comes with fries and one of their buttermilk biscuits, which are so good, you can purchase the mix on Amazon.
The old-school spots that remind us of old Frank Sinatra hangouts are largely concentrated in Hollywood and Weho—except for Dear John’s, the recently resurrected sort-of steakhouse on Culver Blvd. with serious Old Hollywood vibes. The drinks are strong, and the food is surprisingly interesting. There’s a bone-in chicken parm, fried and stuffed with mozzarella, and a perfectly briny tableside Caesar served by a person dressed like an old-timey butler. It’s also one of the darkest restaurants in LA, which preserves the illusion that Frank could be just down the bar throwing down martinis.
No burger in the city has caused more friendship implosions, breakups, and multi-generational family disputes than the one at Father’s Office—especially when it comes to the infamous “no ketchup” policy. Still, we’ll track this classic down every time we’re near its sprawling Culver City location. Topped with caramelized onions, gruyere and Maytag blue cheese, bacon compote, and arugula, this is the perfect combination of sweet, salty, and extremely tangy. Some could argue that it’s a sandwich—and they might be right—but couldn’t you argue any burger is just a sandwich? Bonus: There’s also an excellent tap list.
Located on Sepulveda right off the 405, Maple Block is a cool and affordable BBQ spot that arguably set off the modern LA BBQ craze that’s still ongoing today. The brisket is tremendous, but it’s everything else on the menu that keeps us coming back: the smoky chicken wings, whatever dessert they easily convince us to order. We want it all.
Is Jackson Market 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.