Maybe you just got ghosted by your significant other of two years, your fridge broke on an 80-degree day, or your boss just told you that they need an attitude adjustment from you immediately. Some weeks can be great, but others dissolve into complete dumpster fires. And when it’s been one of those kind of weeks, you need comfort food. Whether you’re looking for a giant burger, a big plate of biryani, or a dessert to cry in, these are the LA spots to hit up after a bad week.
The food from this Panorama City restaurant is the equivalent of finding $20 in a jacket you haven’t worn since last winter: super comforting, and something that will always change the trajectory of your day. From extra crispy pork pata to a rich and thick kare-kare that goes heavy on the peanuts, the food here is inspired by potlucks in Filipino home cooking - dishes that taste like they were made by a friend’s mom, or could be found laid out at a birthday party. If you don’t live in the Valley, the journey out here can be a little far, but we’d commit to that drive any day, just for a cup of their bulalo soup with beef shank, potatoes, and cabbage.
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Monday was a mess, Tuesday was even worse, and Wednesday was basically the last 90 minutes of The Day After Tomorrow. Time for cheese, soft serve, and more cheese. While you could certainly accomplish that alone on your couch, it’s way more fun to do it at Agnes. The spot in Pasadena serves Midwestern nostalgia in the form of dishes like loaded baked potato dumplings, cornbread eclairs, and ice cream topped with puppy chow. Be sure to swing by the cheesery on your way out to pick up a few treats for later.
Mercury’s not even in retrograde and your computer has successfully shut itself off every day this week. Make an appointment at the Genius Bar and then head immediately to Biriyani Kabob House. The family-run Indian/Pakistani restaurant in Little Bangladesh is cranking out tremendous plates of lamb biriyani, saag paneer, and fragrant curries that’ll have you forgetting all about your technological misfortunes. Plus, the space itself is quiet and low-key, assuring minimal social interaction.
Sometimes after a bad week, you just want to hide in your bedroom all weekend. Other times, you want to round up your friends and head out for a celebratory meal for no reason. When it’s the latter, our go-to pick is always Birdie G’s. The American comfort food spot in Santa Monica has a huge, industrial space that’s ideal for big groups, and a wide-ranging menu that’ll appease even the pickiest of eaters. The Southern kugel, cavatelli, and a whole Jeremiah’s chicken all need to hit the table.
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Jewish delis have long been a destination for people struggling through a tough week, but if you need some help choosing one, pick Brent’s. The Northridge institution has been around since the 1960s and is the kind of place that heals your soul the second you step through the door. Large families, neighborhood get-togethers, and regulars who’ve sat at the same table for three decades - it’s a crowd that you simply don’t find often in LA. When coupled with tremendous comfort food staples like stuffed cabbage and our favorite pastrami Reuben in town, you’ll struggle to find a reason to ever leave.
Steps from the Third Street Promenade, Interstellar is our favorite sit-down breakfast and lunch option in Downtown Santa Monica. The small cafe nails tons of different comfort dishes from tons of different cuisines - like bulgogi burgers, katsu curry, pasta, chilaquiles, breakfast burritos, club sandwiches, and more. We’ve never tried anything here that we wouldn’t fully endorse, and that includes venting with the staff about how our landlord insists on calling us every morning at 6:30am to talk conspiracy theories.
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Against your best judgment, you agreed to feed your boss’s three clownfish while she was away on vacation, and you just found them all floating at the top of the tank. Take a deep breath and go to Mantee immediately. This family-run Armenian restaurant in Studio City has tremendous food across their menu, but the namesake mantee topped with garlic yogurt sauce, dolma, and sizzling hot feta should all be priorities. There’s also a hidden back patio that’s great for calming your nerves and Googling the nearest fish store.
This Pasadena spot isn’t as flashy as some of the other big-name restaurants in the area, but after being told by multiple coworkers that they didn’t realize you were still with the company, you don’t need anything extravagant. You need buttery, well-executed French food. Our favorite dish is the frisée Lyonnaise salad, which comes topped with bacon lardons, poached egg, chicken liver mousse crouton, and Dijon vinaigrette. It’s a savory salad, but still light enough to not fill you completely up. And that’s important because you don’t want to miss the moules-frites with soft, garlicky mussels and properly crunchy fries and the tangy French onion soup.
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Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine, an Indonesian/Singaporean restaurant right in downtown Alhambra, is where you’ll find us any time we need to put our head down on the table and cry a little. The expansive menu is stacked with tremendous dishes, but it’s the noodle soups that require your attention during times of need. The coconut curry-based laksa mee is pure soul-curing indulgence, and if some of your friends require similar medicine, the large space is great for a big-group meal.
Gilbert's El Indio
You had the best first date of your life last night, and this morning you get a text saying they had a great time, too. But they’re actually moving to Fiji next month. Grab the friend who’s seen you cry the most times, head to Santa Monica, and eat very large burritos. Gilbert’s El Indio is a classic Mexican restaurant that specializes in just that - oversized, overstuffed burritos. Their dining room is also the perfect place to sit in a booth and spend a couple of hours justifying why you think a besties trip to Fiji would be totally fun and have nothing to do with your date.
Two people at your company got laid off this week - you and Brad from accounting who once got his hand stuck in the vending machine. Now that you have some newfound free time on your hands, get yourself a Godmother sandwich from Bay Cities, eaten while staring pensively at the Pacific Ocean from your car. The legendary Italian deli/grocery in Santa Monica does all kinds of subs, but your order is always the one filled with five types of cured meat, cheese, and pretty much every other delicious sandwich topping.
Masa of Echo Park Bakery & Cafe
There hasn’t been hot water coming out of your shower since Tuesday and your landlord won’t respond to any of your distress signals. Make moves to Masa, one of our favorite Eastside spots that’s home to some of the best deep dish pizza we’ve had outside Chicago. The food is great, and the atmosphere inside this operation feels like you’re back visiting your hometown for the holidays. Call and place your pizza order right as you leave your house - deep dish takes a while.
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Still can’t get verified by Instagram? Now’s probably a good time to go cry into a glass of wine and a plate of meat at Oriel, a French bistro/wine bar in Chinatown. The low-lit space is perfect for solo dining at the bar, where no one will see your tears. Plus, the excellent French onion soup is $11, which is a thing you need right now.
Polka Polish is one of those places we don’t tell many friends about, because we’ve been going for years by ourselves and want to continue eating in your pajamas in solitude. The spot in Glassell Park has excellent Polish classics across the board, but your boss asked you twice this week “Where’s your happy version at?” so you’re here for one reason: pierogi. One of God’s great gifts to man, these little dumplings come stuffed with everything from sauerkraut to bacon to jalapeños, and you’re going to want all of them.
This tiny spot on Sawtelle specializes in Japanese curry ramen - something you can’t easily find in the neighborhood or really anywhere in LA - and it’s one of our favorite new soups in town. The broth is a rich blend of earthy curry and salty chicken stock that’s topped with a slice of braised pork chashu, crunchy bean sprouts, and green onions. When it all comes together with chewy noodles, it’s a delicious, expertly-made bowl of soup that’s ideal after dealing with your neighbor’s “DIY jackhammer project” all week. Be sure to also try the equally-flavorful keema, a dry curry noodle that comes topped with pico de gallo, corn, and shredded chili peppers.
That cute person from Tinder you were totally into just dropped the not-looking-for-a-relationship bomb, and you’re officially 100% done with people. Go directly to Magnolia and stick your face right into that famous banana pudding. Is this the best dessert in the universe? We say yes. A medium runs $6.25, but we both know you’d be better off getting a small bowl (which serves 8) for $38.
When it comes to Thai Town, you pretty much have your pick of comfort food spots. But our choice is Pailin. The tiny space doesn’t have anywhere near the foot traffic of some of the more well-known spots in the neighborhood, and that’s ideal when you want to sit in silence by yourself and stare at a wall. Their sweet and buttery khao soi will cheer you up after any kind of crisis.
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Maple Block Meat Co.
When in doubt, a plate of meat will always make life a little better. Maple Block in Culver City spot has quickly risen the ranks to become some of our favorite BBQ in the city. The brisket is the move, but also consider the pimiento cheese sandwiches. And save room for the cobbler.
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Saturday night at Jones is admittedly a bit of a scene, but if you’re able to score a booth, you’ll find the setting extremely conducive to forgetting about your problems over a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs and drinking your share of gin martinis. You’re also here for that apple pie at the end - it’s served in a skillet and has no business being as good as it is.