When you’re as iconic as Beverly Hills, you’re never known for just one thing. There’s Rodeo Drive and its highly expensive stores, the Beverly Hills Hotel and its wine-guzzling housewives waiting for school to get out, and the bone-crushing traffic absolutely everywhere else. Oh and really, really, really, expensive restaurants.
Some of those expensive restaurants are fantastic and among the best in the city. But most are just expensive because they know they can be. And that’s simply not good enough. But luckily, affordable spots actually do exist here. And even more surprisingly, most of them are actually pretty good. So, next time you’re cutting across the city for a 1pm meeting (tomorrow?) or have time to kill before that audition (tomorrow?), skip the $27 bowl of regrettable pasta and head to these places instead.
In an area where botox is a common attribute, Nate N’ Al’s remains one of the last remaining real things about Beverly Hills. This old-school delicatessen in the heart of downtown sticks out like a sore (old) thumb and that’s exactly what makes it so great. You’ll definitely find better pastrami elsewhere in LA, so stick with the other classics - stuffed cabbage, matzo ball soup, and perhaps our favorite bagel and lox in town. Service is quick and to-the-point, making a quick lunch drop-in extremely doable.
The housewife lunch scene in Beverly Hills is frankly an attraction in and of itself. And the best ticket in town is at The Farm. The long-time lunch staple has serves recognizable American comfort food and luckily, everything is pretty good. And for as many reality show power lunches you see happening here, The Farm remains largely casual and easy to get in-and-out of. Besides, a cup of that housemade turkey chili and lamb burger for $15 is never something we’ll complain about.
For all intents and purposes, Saffron is Chipotle of Indian food. And that’s a wonderful thing to be in our books. But to be able to track down a really solid saag paneer for $8 on S. Beverly Dr. is even more wonderful. Saffron is where you go when you literally have 15 minutes to eat and there’s no way you’re doing Panera again across the street. Definitely get the rice and not the salad if you get a plate though. There’s a chutney bar off to the side to spice it all up.
Chaumont is basically what every single cafe in Beverly Hills wants to be, but can’t figure how to achieve it. This stark French bakery/cafe has a simple concept - delicious food, affordable prices, and a back-kitchen that keeps things moving. A lot of people come to Chaumont simply to stock up on those fresh daily pastries and we don’t blame them. But our move is to sit for a second, scarf down that spicy tuna sandwich, and then stock up on those fresh daily pastries.
At first glance, Il Tramezzino appears to be yet another bland Italian sidewalk cafe in Beverly Hills. And after a few more glances, you realize it probably is. The menu is full of your typical mediterranean salads and penne pastas that never cease to excite people around these parts, but you’re not here for any of that. You’re here for one thing and one thing only - the Chicken Special Panini. This baby is magic. Sun-dried tomatoes, avocado, provolone, and that life-altering garlic basil sauce on a delicious chicken breast make this the best $10 sandwich in Beverly Hills.
Correct. The Japanese BBQ chain restaurant you blacked-out in four years ago at your roommate-you-no-longer-talk-to’s birthday party has made the list. And why wouldn’t it? Sure, there are locations all over America these days, but we’ll still stand by Gyu-Kaku as a solid, fun Japanese BBQ place with one of the all-time best Happy Hours in the history of humanity. All cuts of meat are about $7 or less, with some items hovering just above free, and there’s even a 12-item pre-fixe menu that’ll cost you about $20. Either way, all are life choices we condone.
Another Beverly Hills relic that’s somehow dodged the next-big-thing wrecking ball all these years, Brighton Coffee Shop is an old-school, NYC-style coffee shop and a solid place to pick up some bacon or eggs, or a quick sandwich before heading to Century City for that 11:30pm meeting you have. The food isn’t going to blow anyone anyway (except that meatloaf), but you don’t necessarily come here for that. You come here to drink some coffee, study all the weird people, and realize that at 86 years old, this is the oldest anything’s ever admitted being in Beverly Hills.
Located on the strangely quiet Roxbury Blvd., Cafe Modigliani is a gigantic breath of fresh air from all the vaping Euro-bros and red Mazda Miatas doing laps around Rodeo Drive for no reason. This tiny little cafe has a great vibe inside and a fantastic menu with almost everything residing under the $10 mark. And while you can’t wrong with any of the soups, salads or sandwiches, we generally head right for the teriyaki menu. Wait what? Correct. There’s a teriyaki menu at Modigliani and it’s the real deal. Their $8.99 chicken teriyaki plate is one of our go-to moves this side of town.
Attached to the behemoth (and always crowded) S. Beverly Grill, Hillstone smartly built-out Honor Bar as the casual, grab-and-go burger bar for the local lunch crowd that can’t give an hour of their time next door. And the concept works perfectly. Nothing off the sandwich menu is over $15 and that’s important. This is Hillstone. Nobody knows how to make a more crowd-pleasing sandwich better than these guys. Get the crispy chicken sandwich or you’re dead to us.
We don’t need to talk about Bouchon. It’s one of the most recognizable restaurant names in LA and a cornerstone to the Beverly Hills dining culture. But you may have forgotten the tiny (and affordable) bakery hiding downstairs in the back. If it’s 2pm on a Wednesday and all you want is a fist full of macaroons, than Bouchon Bakery is your life line. They also might have the most delicious pre-made sandwiches in town. Either way, take whatever you ordered and head out to the Beverly Canon Gardens and try to guess what everyone here does for a living. (Trick question).
At the ripe old age of 30, Al Gelato sits right on the cusp of what could be considered a classic in Beverly Hills so we’ll just say it. Al Gelato is a classic. On a rather sleepy section of S. Robertson, Al Gelato doesn’t get the foot traffic that downtown does and that’s what makes it appealing. This is a hole-in-the-wall family Italian joint serving the kind of meatball sandwiches and red sauce pastas that frankly don’t exist west of Chicago. Oh, and that gelato? Save room. A lot of room.
It’s not everyday you wake up craving crepes in Beverly Hills, but when you do, it doesn’t get much better than Harajuku. And as your context clues probably suggest, Harajuku serves Japanese-style crepes. That means crepes rolled into a sugar cone shape and filled with everything from bananas to green tea ice cream to eggs and ham. And it’s all pretty d*mn excellent.
Just across the street from Saffron, on S. Beverly’s fast-casual restaurant row, Momed is a casual, modern Mediterranean spot and the kind of place this culture-less strip really needed. The salads are probably the best in the area (and that’s actually really saying something), but our midday go-to is their flatbread. Go for the Khachapouri Pide: over-easy egg, akawi cheese, kalamata olives, and spicy soujok beef sausage. Yes please.