Where To Eat In LA After A Bad Week
19 places to grab a meal when the sh*t hits the fan.
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.
photo credit: Jessie Clapp
We’re not trained biologists, but we’re pretty sure a night filled with pizza, dessert, and wine has proven to raise the endorphin levels of the human body. It’s why when things get rocky, you’ll find us hanging inside Quarter Sheets. The casual Echo Park pizzeria specializes in pan-style pies that arrive at the table with thick, crunchy crust and fresh toppings that can range from burrata and hot peppers to BBQ chicken. It’s some of our favorite pizza in LA, and yet, the dessert here is just as big of a star. Specials change weekly, but just know that whether you’re eating a decadent princess cake and a peach-blackberry slab pie, this will be dessert that always lightens the load. A rotating list of 4-5 natural wines never hurts the situation either.
photo credit: Andrea D'Agosto
Moo's Craft Barbecue
A giant plate of smoked meat will always make life a little better, and you won’t find a better one than at Moo’s. The family-run spot in Lincoln Heights serves traditional central Texas barbecue—brisket is king here—but there’s plenty of East LA influence on the menu as well (side dishes include smoky esquites and for dessert, there’s tres leches bread pudding). The bright, colorful space is perfect for hanging out while staring vacantly at whatever sport’s on the TV, but there’s also an efficient takeout service as well—if eating alone in your car is the vibe right now.
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Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop
Usually, we would never recommend eating in a bowling alley in good faith, but Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop is the exception to the rule. The old-school diner has every American breakfast staple in the book, but you’re here for the incredible Hawaiian food. Sh*tty week or not, the kalua pork and cabbage is smoky and fatty in all the right ways, and the Hawaiian Royal—a massive plate of eggs, rice, chashu, and Portuguese sausage—is edible therapy of the highest degree. And if that’s not enough to get your mind off things, they do have an actual bowling alley, so head over there and pretend that the pins are your landlord, and the ball is your fists right after opening their latest “Rent Hike!” email.
This family-run Spanish spot in Beverly Grove feels like you’ve walked into an old tavern in Madrid with dark wooden chairs, tiled floors, and old knick-knacks hanging on the walls. In other words, it’s the perfect place to settle in with a friend,a pitcher of sangria, and let your emotions flow freely. When your tears finally give way to hunger, don’t overthink it—order the paella. Try the valenciana mixta for soft saffron-tinted rice, fresh clams, mussels, shrimp, and some tender chicken and pork. Or go for the marinera that nixes the chicken and pork for calamari and king prawns.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
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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photo credit: Jakob Layman
Agnes Restaurant & Cheesery
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.
Biriyani Kabob House
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.
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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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photo credit: Wonho Frank Lee
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.
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Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine
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.
photo credit: Holly Liss
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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Polka Polish Cuisine
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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photo credit: Jakob Layman
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.