LA is surrounded by places to escape on the weekend (like Santa Barbara, Big Bear, strange little towns in the desert where we once did [REDACTED], for starters) - but Atwater Village is barely across the river and somehow feels like a different place. There’s a small-town feel so idyllic you’ll question whether you’re actually walking through a Hallmark movie set. Old-school liquor stores are lit up by neon signs, there’s street parking wherever you look, and a UPS store on Glendale Blvd. that mysteriously never has a line.
Despite its sleepy atmosphere, Atwater Village also manages to pack an impressive number of restaurants into its two-square-mile radius. There’s a huge Scottish pub where wrought-iron chandeliers hang from the ceiling, no-frills takeout windows serving some of the best breakfast burritos in town, and a sushi restaurant run by a prolific Japanese chef. Oh, and fantastic baked goods, pizzas, dive bars, and ice cream. There’s a lot to get through, so you’re going to need a guide. Here’s Where To Eat & Drink In Atwater Village.
From six-piece sets to a personalized omakase at the bar, there’s a sushi experience for every budget at this cozy Atwater restaurant. We prefer something more in the middle, either the ten-piece nigiri set or chirashi, which comes topped with super-fresh cuts of ahi, hamachi, uni, and ebi shrimp then served with a side of fresh strawberries. It’s a luxurious, but not too expensive experience, considering the quality (the ten-piece set is $100, the chirashi is $65), ideal for a low-key date night or impressing your parents with how sophisticated you are - while simultaneously not reaching for your wallet when the bill comes.
The Tam O’Shanter is one of those vaguely European spots in Southern California (see also: Solvang, this random donut shop in Van Nuys, etc.) - that’s so strange, so out-of-place, and yet so… effortlessly perfect, that it shouldn’t exist. Between the wrought-iron chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, fireplaces in every room, and about five miles of carpet lining the floors, this Scottish pub feels like it’s been frozen in time since its opening in 1922. The food’s great too - there’s a funky Scotch rarebit (think rich, creamy cheddar sauce) and a dish called The Toad In The Hole that’s a semi-stew of sautéed filet mignon, mushrooms, onions, and gravy. This is where we imagine Maisie Williams returning to when she’s not on the awards circuit and where you’ll find us whenever we have the chance.
The crust at Hail Mary’s is chewy and crunchy, yet remarkably soft. Its shape reminds us of Tony Shalhoub’s many heads in Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams - a little deformed, sure, but in a totally endearing way. Our favorites here are the Pep Pep (with super spicy chorizo and pepperoncinis) and the Peabody (topped with the right number of salty anchovies, olives, and cherry tomatoes). Yes, “correct” amounts of anchovies is a quantifiable number.
This old-school Mexican takeout window isn’t trying to reinvent the proverbial breakfast burrito wheel - theirs are simply swaddled in a thick tortilla and filled with potatoes, eggs, and some cheese. The regular papas are good, especially the ones that come with bacon and taste like a peaceful Sunday morning, regardless of the day. But our favorite is the nopales breakfast burrito: prickly pear cactus is combined with spinach, eggs, and beans (plus a little hint of salsa) to create a texture roller coaster ride - crunchy, gooey, and exactly what you want to start the day with.
Dune might appear at first to be just another neighborhood falafel joint, but this small shop has achieved legendary status around these parts, and for good reason. The falafel is fluffy and moist - and we love their fried chicken shawarma and lamb plates too. The interior of this place is basically just the counter where you order, but their front patio is exactly where you want to be eating your Mediterranean feast.
On the weekends, lines at this super-cute bakery can get long (like, limited-edition sneaker drop on Fairfax long), but with a little patience, you’ll be treated to the best baked goods in the area. There’s a small menu of rotating sandwiches, served on crusty baguettes and filled with everything from ham and gruyere to a slightly greener option, with arugula and chives. You’ll definitely want a few pastries (we like the brioche buns, which are airy and light, like a butter-spun pillow), which are especially nice on a long drive or packed in a basket, ready for a picnic.
The Vietnamese food at this bare bones spot is across the board pretty good. The chicken, beef, and vegan pho options all soothe the soul, and the banh mi come on freshly baked baguettes loaded with succulent protein fillings. But there’s one standout on the menu, and it’s really what you should order every time you come - the tumeric fish noodle. Springy vermicelli noodles are tossed with cilantro, green onions, fish sauce, crunchy shallots, and perfectly cooked flaky fish that sends turmeric coursing through your sinuses. You’ll notice this dish on almost every table, and that’s because it’s delicious.
If we could be on a first-name basis with the staff at any of the places on this guide, it would be at Giamela’s. This is an old-school Italian deli that specializes in subs and pizza, though you can absolutely get a plate of spaghetti and meatballs here, too. We like it best for a midweek pick-me-up sub, when the leftovers in our fridge just won’t cut it. The people behind the counter here are often very busy, but when they take your order they’ll make you feel just as special as a singular meatball lovingly plated on the side (which yes, you should order). We go back and forth between the hot pepper steak sub and the Mr. G’s with soppressata, salami, and capocollo. but anything you order here will be hard to eat with any manners, because it’s just too salty, spicy, and stacked. No wonder they’ve been in business since 1964.
Housed in a vintage auto shop, Glendale Tap is a wonderful neighborhood bar that every other neighborhood is probably jealous of. Over the last year, they’ve turned into one of the best craft beer shops in town, featuring a rotating list of hard-to-find beers like hazy IPAs, sours from De Garde, and barrel-aged stouts shipped in from Anchorage. It’s a beer-lover’s wet dream, as well as a hub for the hottest pop-ups in town, like Kuya Lord, Love Hour, and AGL Craft Meats - a.k.a. the best of all possible worlds?
There are a lot of dive bars in Atwater Village, and as you can imagine, not all of them are winners. Club Tee Gee is the antidote to all that. After a major renovation in 2018, the 75-year-old drinking spot returned with a banging roster of live music, monthly dance parties, karaoke nights, and a hot dog pop-up on Sundays. Musical acts range from all-night disco parties to record-spinning cowboy DJs, black leather booths line the walls, and there’s a nice, spacious patio in the back. It’s the perfect under-the-radar neighborhood hang, the kind of place we wish we didn’t have to tell you about.
Another great option if you’re in the area and in desperate need of a dirt-cheap vodka. Do you need to cancel your plans or drive long distances to drink here? Not really. The Roost is a dive bar in its purest form - no-frills, cash-obnly, and pitch-black, save for the year-round Christmas lights that illuminate the bar with red, green, and purple. It’s one of those places where you could take your dad and know he’ll have a good time, or possibly find a time portal to the 1980s in the bathroom.
For anyone not living in a 2014 Tumblr world, Wanderlust’s schtick - ice cream inspired by countries around the world - might seem a bit eyeroll-y. But what’s in the cones themselves, the actual ice cream, is truly some of the best in the city. There’s an equal amount of signature flavors, like sticky rice swirled with bright-orange mango (Thailand) and ube malted crunch (Philippines), mixed in with seasonal favorites. Right now they’re featuring a churro con cajeta (Mexico) that we like, which comes smothered in goat milk caramel, as well as a lilikoi li hing pineapple (Hawai’i) that we like even more. Passionfruit sorbet is sprinkled with salted, preserved plums, tasting sour and sweet, exactly what you’d eat after a soccer game in Hawai’i.
One of the Eastside’s greatest - and most sustainable - coffee roasters, Cafecito Organico has a small operation in Atwater Village. Unlike their Silver Lake outpost, which is known for its brightly colored building and huge outdoor patio, this location is a little more muted, with plain white walls and much less surface area, like a quiet younger sibling who grew up in their older sibling’s shadow. That’s not a bad thing though, you’ll still find them serving their signature micro-roasted beans sourced directly from Central American farms, which makes for coffee that tastes smooth and silky, plus a peaceful patio on the sidewalk. Come here to read a book, bask in the sun, or tweet and delete , like, a thousand times.
Some people say Bigfoot Lodge’s woodsy theme is cheesy, and to them we say not cheesy enough. We live in the land of January pool days, so we’ll take all the lumberjack vibes we can get. Big Foot is always a good time thanks to its great cocktail list, unpretentious crowd, and room to get a little rowdy. Plus, if you’re competitive, brilliant, or have a lovely voice, you should know they host karaoke on Mondays and trivia on Wednesdays.
Atwater’s local sports bar, Link n Hops, feels like a national chain restaurant - think slick logo that lacks personality and an interior that’s just a smidge too shiny - but as everyone in the area knows, this the best place to grab a pint and watch the game. (It’s also their only location, after a recent closing in Sunland.) In typical sports bar fashion, there are TV screens on nearly every surface as well as a full row of craft beer on tap. The titular links are quite good as well - thick, juicy sausages that are nestled in a bun and topped with onions, garlic, and spices. If you’re with some friends, get the traditional platter so you don’t have to choose, leaving room to argue about more pressing matters, like if Mookie Betts is better at baseball or bowling.
The Morrison is a solid bar/restaurant on Los Feliz Blvd., the kind of place you walk into once and leave as a regular. There’s a huge dining room and outdoor patio, so feel free to bring the biggest group you can scrounge together here, plus an excellent craft beer list, decent cocktails, and a happy hour every day from 3-7pm. If you’re hungry, they’ve also got a Kobe beef burger that’s approximately the size of the world’s heaviest paper weight and topped with port salut cheese, grilled mushrooms, and a smear of truffle oil.
With four locations throughout the city (they also have storefronts in Chinatown, Downtown LA, and Santa Monica), Blossom is a certified mini-chain. And it feels like it - the self-described “Vietnamese noodle shop of sorts” has a sleek, uniformed look, with minimalist decor and stark white walls. The main event here is their phở, big, steaming bowls of the rice noodle soup topped with shrimp, beef balls, or hefty portions of rare steak. Is it the best phở in the world? Certainly not. But it’s a great addition to the neighborhood and exactly where you should be on a cold Los Angeles day (70 degrees or below).
Every self-respecting Eastside neighborhood needs one, breezy Mediterranean restaurant with a carefully curated design plan that makes you feel like you’re an extra in Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! (see: Saso. And for Atwater Village, that restaurant is Momed. They used to be in Beverly Hills but are now in a huge space on Casitas Ave., complete with cabana seating, a full bar, and long communal tables (if that’s your thing). The food is Mediterranean, with dishes like avocado hummus, grilled lamb chops, and a whole-roasted orate that’s bathed in a lemon, herb-y sauce we wish we could actually bathe in. But what you’re really here for are the casual, laidback vibes and channeling your best Meryl Streep with a tan.
The energy at Black Elephant is very third-wave coffee: light wood fixtures, plants hanging from the ceiling, Stumpton coffee in all of the mugs. If drip isn’t really your thing, they also have a creative menu of specialty drinks, like blueberry matcha mixed with agave and edible cornflowers or CMC-laced pumpkin spiced lattes. Plus, there’s plenty of covered sidewalk seating outside, ideal for when you’ve been staring into the blue glow of your computer screen for hours and need a quick distraction via passing traffic.
This cute little provisions shop is the type of place where you might meet the love of your life while reaching for the same bottle of bespoke hot sauce. Your fingers will brush against each other, flustered sorries will be exchanged, forced references about the Scoville scale will be made, and sparks will fly. It’s love. It’s also a great market whenever you need a quick housewarming gift, cheese and a bottle of wine, or need some ingredients but just don’t feel like going to a supermarket. The sauce spread here is particularly exciting, and we noticed they also carry frozen Burritos La Palma, in case you want your freezer to wow anyone who opens it (this includes you at 1am).