It’s tough to be Culver City. Cornered by two of the biggest freeways in Southern California, the neighborhood is quite literally cut off from the rest of Los Angeles. But it’s also full of cool shops, galleries, movie theaters, and other things that make urban areas appealing to humans. Plus, there’s a Metro 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.
And that’s 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 the neighborhood – here’s your guide to hitting the best restaurants.
Hatchet Hall is the rare small plates restaurant where sharing isn’t just a suggestion - it’s a requirement. From savory shaved country ham and deep fried cabbage leaves 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 needed another reason to check this place out.
Decent tacos had long been the mythical creatures of the Westside... at least 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 regularly have dreams about tacos - and that’s not weird at all.
A lot of LA restaurants have lame soup-based puns in their names - but Phorage is one we’ll forgive, only because the titular pho is so good. Technically in Palms, a sort-of-its-own-neighborhood section of Culver, this spot is great for all sorts of Vietnamese classics. The washugyu (American wagyu) beef pho is excellent, and we love the coriander beef broken rice, too. They’ve also got a great eggplant and crispy tofu claypot, with caramel-y fish sauce that we always end up drinking out of the bowl.
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 a hen egg with crispy potatoes or chicken confit with grits are turned 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.
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.
Unless you like watching cars honking at each other on Venice Blvd., your options for dinner with a view in Culver are pretty limited. Margot is the exception to that rule - this beautiful rooftop bar and restaurant at Platform has fantastic views out towards the ocean. The best time to be here is actually for lunch, because the salads and sandwiches on housemade focaccia are excellent. As far as dinner, our favorites are all small plates, like stuffed piquillo peppers, pan con tomate, and absolutely excellent jamón Iberico. The cocktails all look like they were designed by botanists, and most involve large amounts of gin, so no matter what time you come, make sure it’s a time when you can drink.
Brooklyn-imported pizza spot Roberta’s was a huge deal when it first opened at Platform in 2018 - and though things have calmed down a bit, this is still a great place for a fun, casual meal. The menu has a lot on it, but focus all your attention on the pizzas - the iconic Bee Sting, which has chili honey and soppressata, is our favorite, but the Lamb Of God (homemade lamb sausage and ricotta) is great, too. The crust is cooked in a brick oven, so it’s perfectly blistered and charred, yet still chewy. Even the biggest pizza snob in your life is going to be impressed.
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.
Culver City is pretty much saturated with convenient, just-OK spots that you still end up eating at once a week. Amácita is here to rectify that. This Tex-Mex joint is super casual and fun - the margaritas are strong and not-too-sweet, and the michelada is one of our favorites in town. Everything here is meant to be shared, so it’s a great place for a date or dinner with some close friends. The queso is basically a required order, and you should also get the taco-spiced pork collar pibil, which comes with excellent pickled habaneros and pineapple salsa.
The really great 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. Come here soon, though, because this place has a literal expiration date: It’s set to be torn down in 2021.
Lukshon is one of Culver City’s (if not Los Angeles’) most well-rounded restaurants. With a 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 some dumplings or noodles, or sit on the gorgeous patio eating and drinking the night away with friends at dinner.
Two things you always want in your local go-to takeout spot: Reliability and affordability. Mee & Greet has both those things, plus a pretty great Happy Hour if you decide to eat there (or at least get a beer while you wait for your food). This Southeast Asian spot in Palms does a lot of things well, like Hainan chicken and rice, seriously addictive garlic noodles, and pork belly banh mi. We also like the bo luc lac (shaking beef) made with a tender and salty filet mignon.
One could make the case for Akasha being The Official 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.
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 one of the best burgers in LA. And unlike the original location on Montana Ave., the shiny Culver space affords you the room to kick back, relax, and actually enjoy the triumph (and a few craft beers) in front of you.
Mateo's Ice Cream & Fruit Bars
Mateo’s is a Culver City classic - and you’ve probably never even heard of 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.
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. And a meal at this Palms spot comes with an elite price tag - for $225, 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. And it’s 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.
As one of Culver City’s most iconic food spots, Tito’s has endured the test of time (nearly 60 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-covered crunchy tacos and a burrito that’s quietly one of the best in the city.
At first glance, Honey’s 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.
Once again we find ourselves in another strip mall, this one 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.