The Meet In The Middle Guide: Where To Eat When You’re Coming From Opposite Sides Of Town

Meeting people in the middle is simply a way of life in Los Angeles. Here's something that might help.
The Meet In The Middle Guide: Where To Eat When You’re Coming From Opposite Sides Of Town image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Studies show the average person will spend two years of their life waiting in line, nine years surfing the internet, and 13 years listening to music. And if you live in Los Angeles, you spend the rest of your life figuring out where to meet people halfway for dinner. That’s where we come in though. Broken up by specific—and distant—neighborhoods, this guide will finally help solve your long-distance dinner woes. 



photo credit: Jakob Layman




$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerCelebrity SightingsClassic EstablishmentDate NightDining Solo
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Pace is legendary—an unofficial landmark of the old Laurel Canyon before it became the traffic-clogged shortcut everybody takes to get to the Valley. History aside, its charm and central location are still alluring. The red sauce Italian spot is located inside a rustic, stone building that, coupled with the lush vegetation of Laurel Canyon, feels like you stumbled onto a secret farmstead in the Tuscany countryside. This is by no means the best Italian food in town, but you’ll still be able to get warm, prosciutto-topped flatbread, towering chopped salads, and a particularly good grilled salmon.


Peel off the 405 in Westwood and you’ll find Persian Square (a.k.a. Little Persia), the best place to go when another Cava bowl will potentially send you into a spiral. There’s no shortage of great options (which is why we published this Persian guide,) but Shamshiri Grill is our neighborhood go-to. This 40-year-old institution lets you watch kabobs sizzle on the grill as you dine, including beef koobideh that bursts with juices. And their chicken tahchin is an essential experience, which arrives as a baked rice cake with crispy, crackly tahdig on all sides. Slice into it with a fork, and you’ll find layers of grilled chicken, tangy yogurt, and barberries bringing pops of tartness.


photo credit: Jessie Clapp

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight Dinner

When out-of-towners insist on trying just one taco, we send them to this casual Huntington Park taquería. That's because Tacos Los Cholos makes the best Mexican grilled meats in the city, with big slabs of beef and pork sizzling over mesquite charcoal that infuses its flavor into everything. The (very good) tortillas are vessels for every delicious cut coming off this grill, including lime-marinated rib eye that melts between your teeth, charred beef rib loaded with fatty bits, and salty, crispy asada.


photo credit: Jessie Clapp



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This warm American spot sits right on the river in Frogtown (you have to walk on the bike path to get to the front entrance) and already feels like a worn-in feel neighborhood hangout even though it only opened in the spring of 2023. There’s plenty of natural wine to drink, a string-lit back patio, and a rotating menu that can best be described as elevated picnic food. Think crunchy lavash with albacore crudo, Mashti Malone’s ice cream, and a particularly good burger served on a crispy english muffin. 


With only a couple of posters on the walls, two communal tables, and a few chairs scattered on the sidewalk, Voodoo Vin feels like a no-name Parisian cafe that a local sent you to with the qualifier, “No one knows about this place—it’s great.” This quaint Virgil Village wine bar has an impressive collection of 400 bottles and a menu of simple small plates that are ideal for a snacky dinner with someone you met through a work event or a low-stakes date. Perhaps most importantly though, it’s only about a three-minute drive off the Vermont exit on the 101. 


Given its central location and abundance of great restaurants, Koreatown is an ideal neighborhood for meet-in-the-middle dinners. One of our favorite places is Here’s Looking At You. This fancy-ish spot on 6th Street has a wide-ranging menu full of unique, delicious dishes like frog legs in spicy salsa negra, tamari-laden steak tartare, and crispy duck confit—plus excellent tiki cocktails. And though the prices at HLAY make it more upscale, the brightly lit dining room is still fun, casual, and perfect for a midweek friend dinner. 


Located just south of the 10 Freeway and about equal distance between the westside and eastside, West Adams is quite literally in the middle of it all. And for something quick and casual in the area, we love Mizlala. The Israeli spot has three locations across LA, but here, you order at the counter, grab some pickled sides from the condiments bar, and take a seat on the patio. It’s the ideal place for a weeknight meal or a last-minute group dinner that won’t break the bank. The menu is small, but it’s hard to go wrong—you can order any of the main proteins in a pita, on a salad, or as a plate with rice, hummus, and veggies. We especially love their chicken shawarma.


Anyone who’s ever tried to cross under the 405 during rush hour knows it’s not for the faint of heart, which is why we always bookmark Hakata Izakaya Hero as our come-down spot. Walking into this Japanese izakaya in Westwood, you’ll be immediately hit with the tranquility of it all. The tiny, minimalist space holds about seven or so tables, with the sounds and smells of sizzling meat emanating from a semi-open kitchen in the back. The menu features dozens of shareable small plates—all of which taste great with beer or sake—but our favorites are the pan-fried Champon noodles, potato salad, and crispy chicken wings that’ve been stuffed with pork.


When it comes to finding Italian food in Brentwood, you don’t have to look far, but Divino is our favorite because it delivers on both atmosphere and food—a rare combination for the sleepy neighborhood off the 405. At this dark, nautical-themed trattoria, servers bump into your chair as they squeeze through the cramped dining room and it's also really loud—all things that are usually annoying but feel refreshing in a strip mall on San Vicente. We like the rigatoni with creamy chicken ragu, the silky beef carpaccio, and tagliatelle with monkfish.


The congested stretch of Melrose between Fairfax and Highland sees a lot of restaurant turnover, which makes Ronan all the more important for you and your midweek dinner plans. The neighborhood pizza spot is a quiet great: they have some of the best pizza in LA, salads that might make you say "wow," heavy wine pours, a full bar, and an under-the-radar side patio perfect for gossiping about a coworker. Start with the margherita for a showcase of Ronan’s expertise, then move on to much wilder creations like the Philippe's-inspired French dip calzone, stuffed with rare roast beef and hot mustard.


Part Mexican restaurant, part multi-floor labyrinth, Mírate is a deceptively huge dinner spot in Los Feliz from the people behind Beverly Hills' Mírame. There's an indoor bar area, an open-air courtyard, and even a top-floor terrace that overlooks the tree piercing the building's center. There’s alot going on here, but whether you’re with one friend or your entire work team ended up showing up, Mirate will have a table for you. Also, the food is quite good. We're big fans of the lamb flautas with feta, the smoky octopus taco arabe, and any drink that comes from the bar—especially the cold brew-spiked carajillo, which goes great with the corn churros.

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