Quick Trivia: What’s the most visited place in Los Angeles? It’s probably the Hollywood sign. Or maybe Rodeo Drive. Or the Santa Monica Pier. Yes, it’s definitely Santa Monica Pier. Wrong. It’s The Grove. The most visited place in Los Angeles is an outdoor mall built in 2002.
Save for the 405 Freeway, there’s not a place in LA as unanimously despised as The Grove. But whether you’re appeasing your visiting cousins or fixing your phone at The Apple Store or seeing a matinee by yourself with a water bottle of rosé at the movie theater, we all end up here at some point. And at some point, we get hungry. The Grove will never be known for its quality food options, but thanks to the adjoining Farmer’s Market, there’s more here than you might think. From old-school butcher shops to 24-hour diners to cronuts, here are all the places to eat and drink while you lose your mind at The Grove. See you on the other side.
The Grove opens every day at 10am and it all goes down from there. Here’s a tip: Arrive an hour earlier at 9am (when The Original Farmer’s Market opens) and enjoy one uninterrupted hour of absolute bliss. The place is deserted and the early morning food vendors have the place smelling incredible. Your first stop is Bob’s Coffee and Donuts. This LA institution has been around since the 1940s and has fantastic house-brewed coffee and a legendary apple fritter that’ll soften the blow of the bused-in tourists marching your way.
Did you know The Grove is also home to a year-round haunted house? It’s called The American Girl Store. You accidentally stumbled into this manic labyrinth because you couldn’t find your friend and her six-year-old niece, and now you need comfort food. Luckily, there’s Du-Par’s. From patty-melts to apple pies, Du-Par’s is don’t-count-the-calories goodness and one of the few sit-down spots at The Farmer’s Market. Which is good news, because you just witnessed a first grader create a doll in her own image, so it’s time to put your feet up.
After nearly getting t-boned twice in the parking garage by a minivan with an Arizona license plate, you’re not even sure you want to get out of your car. You do though, because Dominique Ansel’s pastries are waiting for you downstairs. Yes, there will be a wait and yes, a poorly-parented 8-year-old will try to cut you in line, but hold your ground. Whether it’s the famous cronut or a cookie shot or the DKA (Dominique’s Kouign Amann), these baked goods are fantastic and worth ignoring the fact that the dog behind you just sneezed on your calf. Just know the cronuts usually sell out by noon.
When the inevitable moment arises when you realize you can’t do this anymore, this tiny outdoor bar is the shortest walk to alcohol. They serve a few fancy bar snacks, but you’re not at The Grove to eat $70 worth of sturgeon caviar. You’re at The Grove because your parents like watching fountains and piped-in classical music happen at the same time. And that’s exactly when Fountain Bar’s build-your-own gin and tonic situation comes in handy.
You can’t miss the Dominique Ansel Bakery. It’s the first thing you see coming out of the main parking garage and the line usually wraps around the fountain. But one thing many people don’t know is that there’s an entirely separate restaurant on the second floor called 189 - and it’s actually good. The modern space is big and bright and completely void of the manic crowds outside, and they serve the kind of food you won’t find anywhere else at the grove: dishes like hen of the woods mushrooms in a cacio e pepe sauce and banh mi pork rillettes. To the shock of no one, the desserts are also a highlight. If you need to eat a real dinner at The Grove, this is where you do it.
An NYC restaurant group opened this sushi/fried chicken concept by the movie theaters in a space that absolutely no one could make work before it. So the fact that they’re still around is a triumph. The sushi is solid enough, but you’re going to ignore it. Your eyes should be focused on their fried chicken. It’s amazing and crunchy and the wasabi honey sauce is no joke. It’s also $29, which is painful. But so is The Grove and you managed to say yes to that.
Rookie mistake: You made an appointment at The Apple Store on a Saturday afternoon and now you’re forced to watch the four girls left from Fifth Harmony perform in front of a Wetzel’s Pretzels until your name is called. You deserve better. Make your way to Moishe’s, a tiny food stall that’s quietly serving some pretty tremendous Middle Eastern staples. The falafel is your order - it’s fantastic and tightly wrapped for all your walking needs.
It’s only been an hour into your Tinder date and the guy just reiterated for the fourth time how much more spiritually aligned he is this year. Leave him at the nearest crystal kiosk and go grab a steaming hot bowl of gumbo at The Gumbo Pot, because life is short and you know the only thing that truly centers you is good Southern food. Order The Gumbo Ya Ya at this cajun food counter, and make sure you get it with a side of the Creole Mustard Potato Salad. It’s secretly the best thing on the menu.
Often credited as being the original restaurant at the Farmer’s Market, Magee’s is also a good place to eat homemade comfort food while Mario Lopez talks about something unimportant into a microphone back on the main plaza. There’s no lack of good places to get some corned beef in LA, but Magee’s is as good as any you’ll find. The secret though? The cabbage. Ask for a double helping and you will not regret it.
After publicly shaming your best friend for suggesting Maggiano’s for dinner, head to Monsieur Marcel, one of our favorite spots to grab a pre-movie meal in the Farmer’s Market. The gourmet French food compound takes up an entire quadrant of the place, so you couldn’t miss Monsieur Marcel’s even if you tried. And you shouldn’t miss it. Because grabbing a house-made dessert or a cheese plate and sitting out on their terrace is a fantastic way to skip the 20 minutes of movie previews.
Congratulations. You just mouthed off to a 7-year-old wearing Minion goggles and you’re not even out of the parking structure yet. Pop a Xanax. And then grab a bag of candy from Littlejohn’s. This 90-year-old candy shop has delicious sweets across the board, but you are coming for one thing: English Toffee. Biting into a tiny chunk is like being transported to a better world, where Katy Perry didn’t cut her hair and Velveeta cheese was good for you. If you ask nicely, you’ll get a generous sample for free.
Shopping for your mom’s birthday is proving to be a complete bust and you just saw a full grown man crying in Sephora. You need meat. Luckily one of the most popular restaurants on the premises is Pampas Grill, a Brazilian churrascaria in the farmer’s market where you pay by weight. Grab a tray at the salad bar (which you should obviously skip) and move down the line as the staff cuts the meat right off the giant skewers and onto your plate.
You just witnessed a mom Instagram her child licking the hand railing on the trolley and you might call the cops. Don’t bother. Calm your germophobic nightmares and go to Fritzi Coop instead. There you’ll find solid fried chicken sandwiches, crispy tater tots, and all the hand wipes you could want.
Don’t let their light-up menu of old food photos fool you - Singapore’s Banana Leaf has some of the most reliable food at The Original Farmer’s Market. All the Indian-style curries are solid, the roti bread is nice and flaky, and the mee goreng (a spicy fried Malaysian noodle dish) is everything you need after inhaling several mouthfuls of the fake snow floating around outside.
It’s Friday night and some stoned teenager just pulled the fire alarm and now your movie got pushed back two hours. You weren’t planning on drinking, but you are now. Head to Mixology 101. It’s overpriced, of course, but the drinks are surprisingly well-made and the separate mezzanine level provides a much-needed staircase between you and all the people who don’t do staircases.