LA’s most famous neighborhood is also easily its most hated. Clogged with terrified tourists from Santa Monica and sad Tickle-Me Elmos smoking blunts inside their Honda Accords, there’s certainly not much left of the old Hollywood glitz and glamour. And from a distance, the neighborhood is a certifiable food desert. But with major employers back in the area and Columbia Square welcoming all of Viacom to its brand new live/work campus on Sunset this year, an already-hefty neighborhood lunch crowd just got bigger. And we are here to help. Here is our just-updated guide to maximizing your lunch break in a part of town not particularly known for its accommodating ways.
Located in a nondescript strip mall on a nondescript section of Santa Monica Blvd., Baroo might not have the greatest curb appeal, but make no doubt about it, this is one of the most unique restaurants in Los Angeles right now. Why? One word - fermentation. We frankly don’t even know what that really means, but the result on the plate is tremendous. Everything from the (faux) oxtail ragu to the kimchi fried rice is spectacular, and its relaxed order-at-the-counter setup will get you in and out faster than you think.
When it comes to eating Thai food in Hollywood, you basically can just throw a dart into the air and it’ll land on some place amazing. But when it comes to lunch hour, our move is always Pailin. Compared to some of its more well-known neighbors, Pailin feels a bit off the beaten path and that’s exactly why we love it. It’s all about Northern Thai cuisine at this tiny, colorful spot, which means one thing - Khao soi. For anyone unfamiliar, it’s essentially a curry noodle soup, and it’s god’s greatest gift to mankind and your midweek stability.
Casual Friday has turned into a hellzone of added work projects and last minute deadlines, and you need comfort. Luckily, one of LA’s best pie shops is now operating right on Hollywood Blvd. Pie Hole is probably best known for its Cereal Killer Pie, but its new location has a solid selection of savory pies as well. Think everything from chorizo breakfast hand pie to chicken and cornbread.
At night, Gwen is pretty formal and very expensive. But during the day, it’s a completely different place. The butcher shop that’s part of the restaurant does one type of sandwich a day, and makes up for the lack of variety by making that a very, very good sandwich. You can grab and go, or head to the sidewalk patio with a sandwich and coffee that will cost you 10% of what a dinner here will.
Your call time at Sunset Gower Studios was 5am and you want to die now. Go eat your last meal at Tamarind Deli. The hole in-the-wall sandwich shop off Sunset isn’t serving the best subs in LA, but sometimes you just need an affordable, no-frills cold cut in your mouth. There’s really no seating here save for a few tables out front, so plan to walk and eat as you make your way back to the sound stage.
Do you even need us to tell you what Sugarfish is at this point? This one is right on Sunset, next to Neuehouse, and is the same deal as all the rest - great quality sushi for a not outrageous price. It’s even cheaper at lunch, and the takeaway situation is as convenient as it gets.
You just wrapped up a humiliating TJ Maxx audition in Hollywood and you have to be to Burbank for a rehearsal in an hour. You’re starving and pressed for time, and you refuse to do Taco Bell. Go to Oaks Gourmet. The gourmet wine and cheese shop up in Franklin Village has a full menu of fantastic on-the-go sandwiches and one of our favorite burgers in town. If you don’t feel like eating in your car for the fifth straight day, they have a nice patio out front as well.
The Weho brunch staple recently picked up shop and moved to Hollywood. Considering they had their primarily residential neighborhood on lock-down over there, it was a pretty strange move. Or at least we thought. The new Hollywood Salt’s Cure is the same Weho spot we know and love, just more of it. More space, more food, and a full lunch situation for your midday Hollywood needs.
Despite a name that would make most people turn around and run, this strip-mall Thai spot in the heart of Hollywood has quietly become one of the best in the area. If you’re looking for some heat to dull the pain of a long work week, Luv2Eat is your Hollywood answer. You’re coming for the crab curry, the spare ribs, and a pad ka prao that is not to be missed. Make moves.
POWER LUNCH ALERT. The sprawling restaurant inside the Columbia Square complex has delivered a much-needed upscale lunch option for a crowd that is looking for one. The menu is diverse - you can get everything from raw bar to sandwiches to a hangar steak. The prices are steeper than other, more casual places in the area, but you’re here to impress. And also that 3-course lunch option for $25 is nothing to scoff at.
Because you can’t ever have enough build-your-own-salad spots, right? Right. The East Coast chain has invaded LA in a big way this year and despite some local competition, sweetgreen has already found its way into lunch-goers hearts. And that’s because it’s quick, affordable, and always delicious. And its Columbia Square location is prime.
Down towards the southern tip of Hollywood, Kali Restaurant on Melrose provides another upscale lunch option for an area that can always use more. Nobody likes lunch with the boss, but if you’re roped in you might as well go to Kali. The stark, modern space is unstuffy, and the menu is phenomenal. The beet tartare and black barley “risotto” are great, and don’t sleep on dessert either. Your Paramount industry lunch just got way less painful.
Located on the Western fringe of East Hollywood’s Thai food sanctuary, Hoy-Ka is primely located down the street from some of Hollywood’s biggest employers and offers some extremely solid Thai food that you won’t have to drive to. The sports bar vibe inside will pressure you into ordering a beer and that’s important on a slow Tuesday at the office.
The Eagle Rock transplant opened its trendy Hollywood space a few years ago and gave you and your co-workers a hearty dose of “f*ck it” to your midweek lunch break. It’s Wednesday, you’re exhausted, and really pissed at your boss. Sometimes the only remedy is a sloppy reuben sandwich and a fantastic root beer float.
In a quiet courtyard away from the manic energy of Sunset and Vine, The Hungry Cat is a grown-up seafood paradise amidst an ocean of adolescents, where you can get grade A quality fish in the heart of Hollywood for some extremely respectable prices. We’re partial to their Cobb salad but an afternoon outing at the raw bar never hurt anyone. Don’t judge yourself for ordering a Michelada either.
There’s no better way to improve your day than a quick lunch at this bonafide Hollywood staple. All the burgers are still as good as you remember and their beer selection is short but relatively perfect. And there’s just something about sitting on that patio feeling eternally grateful you aren’t across the parking lot playing STD beer bong at Big Wang’s.
You probably haven’t heard of Tere’s and that’s because the people eating there don’t want you to know about it. Why? Because this dirt cheap, strip-mall eatery is serving up some of the best Mexican food in Hollywood. Their carne asada is special and their chicken mole is a must-order.
Despite its rather demanding name, Eat This is a comforting oasis for all the actors wandering around during rehearsal break on Santa Monica Boulevard’s theater row. All of their sandwiches and salads are way better than they should be, and the space is a much-needed respite from the otherwise dingy surroundings.
This decade-old Peruvian spot recently went under the knife and came out looking better than most things do in this town. With a new menu of both small and big plates, Los Balcones is the Peruvian food mecca Hollywood didn’t know it needed. And who doesn’t want a Pisco sour to get them through the end of the day?
If you’ve ever forced your friends to come to an improv show you paid to be in, chances are you’re currently reading this article from inside Birds. Located on that colorful strip of storefronts in Franklin Village, Birds is ground zero for actors and their friends recharging between UCB shows. The place becomes downright raucous at night, but at lunchtime the chicken-focused restaurant offers healthy-ish options between improv sets.