Eagle Rock is sleepier compared to nearby Highland Park, Glendale, and Pasadena, but this family-oriented neighborhood in Northeast LA still has a lot going on. It’s quiet, hilly, and lush, with a counterculture that dates back nearly a century. It’s also where you’ll find the largest Filipino-American population in LA, President Obama’s alma mater Occidental College, and a rock with an indentation that sort of looks like an actual Eagle. We love a straightforward name and we also love eating great food. Here are 12 spots to do just that when you’re in the area.
Little Beast is one of the most popular restaurants in Eagle Rock, and where you’ll find us on a typical date night on the Eastside. The American-ish menu is good. You’ll eat dishes like spicy chipotle hummus, salmon belly mousse, and sweet corn risotto But it’s the atmosphere that’ll keep you coming back. Little Beast is located on the grounds of a large converted bungalow on Colorado Blvd. complete with a wrap-around front porch, an interior filled with various nooks and crannies, and a string-lit back patio that feels like you’re hanging out in a neighbor’s backyard. It’s romantic, but festive, and ideal for everything from a big group dinner with friends to letting the person sitting across from you know that you’re really into this.
Cacao is where you’ll find excellent upscale tacos. The duck carnitas are a signature here, which has a lot to do with how its sweet fattiness soaks perfectly into the warm blue corn tortilla. We also love the baja fish, which comes with a giant piece of golden fried fish topped with cabbage and crema, as well as the crispy guisado de pato, a mixture of duck crackling and nopal that’s been stewed in a savory chile arbol salsa. The place is technically order-at-the-counter, but there’s a large adjacent dining room with TVs and a full bar if you want to hang out.
Open since 1949, Eagle Rock Italian Bakery & Deli is a Northeast LA landmark where you can stop by for fresh-baked bread, imported giardiniera, and other assorted Italian goods. But if you arrive at this to-go only spot with an appetite, go for the Italian combo sandwich. Stacked with a variety of cured meats and cheese, lettuce, and tomato, this sub will easily keep you full until dinner - even if you get the small $7 version. Whatever you do, don’t walk out the door without a box of cannolis. Crunchy and tart with the precise amount of chill to them, these will absolutely be eaten at a red light on the way home.
Chifa was one of those mid-pandemic openings that a lot of Eastsiders couldn’t stop talking about. Partially because little heart-shaped windows tend to uplift spirits, and partially because the Peruvian-Chinese food is genuinely that good. The family-run operation was takeout-only for a while, but they’ve since reopened the truly adorable interior, as well as a back patio that’s conducive to big groups. The menu is inspired by the co-owners original restaurant by the same name in Lima, Peru, and features dishes like pollo a la brasa, mapo tofu, and traditional zongzi, sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf and filled with Chinese sausage, pork belly, and mushroom. Whatever you do, make sure you save room for a few black sesame cheesecake tarts at the end - they’re a perfectly savory way to end a meal here.
Stepping into this family-run pizza parlor is a time warp: checkered tablecloths, Italian streetscapes on the wall, and adorable couples who have been going on dates there since the ’60s. This is the kind of thin-crust Sicilian-style pizza that showed up at childhood sleepovers and instantly made the night better. Whatever kind you end up ordering, just make sure their sweet, peppery homemade sausage is on it.
This is technically Lucky Bird’s second location - the original opened at Grand Central Market in 2018 - but the expansive new space gives the fried chicken specialist its first true brick-and-mortar. The bright, airy space has long tables perfect for large group hangouts - not to mention eight rotating beer taps if you’re looking to get a little buzz. As for the food, the chicken sammie platter is our go-to, which for $8.95, gets you a giant piece of crunchy, meaty chicken topped with pickles and creamy house sauce on a soft potato bun, plus perfectly-salted fries and a side of your choice. It’s one of the most affordable, quick lunch options in the neighborhood.
The Oinkster is LA fast-food royalty and a place you probably recognize from countless cable food shows. And while the unabashed Americana-in-an-A-frame vibe is what lure most people in, it’s the food that’ll keep you coming back. You can’t go wrong with any of their burgers, but our order usually involves the applewood smoked pastrami sandwich, a side of perfectly crunchy onion rings, plus an ube milkshake to-go. It’s made with nearby Fosselman’s ice cream and is a nod to chef Andre Guerrero’s Filipino heritage, as well as the larger Filipino community in Eagle Rock itself.
With Glendale just on the other side of the 2, you’re never too far from great kabobs and shawarma in Eagle Rock. But if you’re low on time, Eagle Rock Kabob is a fantastic palce to know about. The order-at-the-counter spot is tucked inside a large strip mall off Eagle Rock Blvd, so don’t be upset if you drive past it on your first go-around. Just be sure to circle back - the food is worth it. We love the spicy, smoky chicken shawarma, and the salmon kabob wrap is a great walk-and-eat. Just don’t miss the Russian dumplings, which you’ll find on a tiny separate menu hanging on the wall. They’re dense, cheesy, and creamy, with a big herbaceous pop from the dill on top.
It’s possible you’ll catch a waft of cheese from the street, and accidentally end up spending 45 minutes inside Milk Farm. This cheese shop has a massive array of both American and European cheeses (there’s a map on the wall with pins marking where each producer is from) and charcuterie, plus a tiny fridge filled with a curated list of wine, beer, and cider. It’s a great place to stop if you need a last-minute gift or want to build a platter for the picnic you’re already late for. If you’re strolling in hungry for lunch though, go for their excellent pre-made sandwiches. The menu changes daily, but one thing you can always count on seeing is the signature grilled cheese with three different American cheeses, leeks, shallots, onions, and butter. It’s an absolute must-order.
Max City is an all-around solid BBQ spot with a big menu filled with everything tri-tip to brisket sandwiches to chicken wings. But what makes this tiny spot unique to LA is its St. Louis-style ribs. Smaller and fattier than baby back ribs, these are ideal to put out during a backyard BBQ when you simply aren’t in the mood to hover over the grill all day. Depending on the size of your gathering, spring for one of their “Feed The Crowd” platters that feed anywhere from four to fifteen people and come with a variety of meats and sides.
Open since 1948, Cindy’s is a local landmark where the atmosphere is better than food itself. That’s not to say the food at this retro diner is bad, it’s just that the atmosphere is f*cking magical. There’s a long linoleum bar facing the kitchen where locals congregate to eat omelettes and grumble about the traffic, and no matter what time of day you come, the big orange booths will be filled with groups of little old ladies eating carrot cake and doing crosswords together. Cindy’s has also been the backdrop for countless movies and TV shows, ranging from Surviving Christmas to Parenthood, making it a great spot to impress out-of-towners.
If you’re looking for a quick, healthy lunch in Eagle Rock, Four Cafe is your spot. Located right in the main commercial district on Colorado Blvd, this order-at-the-counter spot has a wide-ranging menu with everything from quinoa salads to tempeh BLTs to pulled pork plates. We like the slightly spicy jackfruit carnitas bowl with chipotle crema salsa and the sweetness of the squash curry soup. They also have a full kids menu too, in case you have to feed the whole family.