No matter who you are or how long you’ve lived in Los Angeles, one thing is guaranteed - you have an opinion about Burbank. And it is a STRONG one. The vast suburb is very much it’s own city and yet, arguably more intertwined into the culture of LA than most neighborhoods. After all, it is home to Warner Brothers Studios, Disney Studios and a large swath of everything that makes our entertainment industry tick. Also, IKEA.
It may never be a first-rate culinary destination, but if you think Burbank isn’t home to some fantastic local spots and old-time classics, you are dead wrong. Here are the best restaurants in Burbank.
The pride and joy of Burbank, Porto’s Bakery is a straight-up classic. The family-run Cuban bakery has been serving guava pastries, potato rolls and everything else under the Valley sun for the last 55 years and built a rabid following in the process. Come here at noon on a Tuesday and be greeted by 100 other people who had the same idea as you. But not to worry, Porto’s is a well-oiled machine and will have you in-and-out and eating strudel alone in your car at lunch before you know it.
Located on a horrifying service road by the airport that can only be described as the edge of humanity, Tonir Cafe will never win your heart on location. But the food? That’s a different story. The Armenian restaurant scene is strong in Burbank, and Tonir is the cream of the crop. Kabobs rule the roost here, and though the beef lule is our favorite, you honestly can’t go wrong with anything you order. The prices are dirt cheap and the family running the place couldn’t be any nicer. What more could you want? Oh, another kabob please.
Handy’s Saturday BBQ is the kind of place you go to for the first time and realize you’re not as cool as you think you are. Because six days out of the week, Handy is a local grocer and wine shop. But on Saturdays, it turns into a one-stop shop BBQ Shangri-La. The whole operation goes down outside, in their adjacent parking lot, with eight industrial-sized grills cranking out everything from tri-tip to ribs to corn on the cob all day long. And a pound of that premiere tri-tip? $8.99. Run don’t walk, losers.
Holy Sh*t. We could frankly write a three-book miniseries about this 57 year-old diner, let alone a one paragraph blurb, but here we go. You don’t come to Tallyrand for the food. You come to look at the incredible people already there. Each and every one is basically a living Hollywood time capsule and you should know right now, you’ll never be as cool as them. These people emailed once in the 90’s and hated it, have all slept with Cloris Leachman, and are four cocktails ahead of you and judging you for it. Welcome to the best show in town.
If you can’t find Rafo’s, that means you’ve found it. Hiding in a corner strip mall next to a pawn shop and a “VIP” jewelers (same thing?), Rafo’s announces itself only by hanging an all-white sign out front that reads “Kabobs and Pizza.” And that’s exactly what’s going down here. While their kabobs are good, it’s their pizza you need to order. And more specifically, their Armenian pizza. Whether that’s a real thing or not, it is at Rafo’s and the sauce-less, goat cheese-doused pie is phenomenal.
Cafe de Olla might be one of the newer spots on this list, but don’t let that deter you. This dime-sized Mexican brunch spot has quickly established itself as a force to reckoned with. Just prepare to wait a bit on the weekends. But stick around and you’re in for a glorious Mexican breakfast (hello machaca!) and that signature cafe de olla coffee.
Despite having a footprint only slightly larger than one of those weird cigarette/newspaper shacks in Hollywood you wonder who pays rent on, Cottage Corner has a very big secret. And it’s not a well-kept one. CC has a breakfast burrito that rivals any in LA. You’ve been warned - it’s only served until 11am and that 10:30 am rush is real. And not because of a food tourist and lifestyle blogger onslaught either. It’s because Burbank locals know they have a half hour left until tomorrow.
Greetings from heaven. This tiny store in the middle of Burbank might not look like much on the outside, but inside true magic is happening. World Empanada isn’t the most authentic empanada, but it’s definitely one of the best. In a short amount of time, the well-kept little bakery has developed a gigantic following, and it’s because they’re putting a twist on a well-known comfort food and we want all of it. Get the Chile Con Carne.
Cafe Magazzino might sit in the heart of the chaotic studio lot lunch scene, but fear not. Its somewhat bizarre, dollhouse-in-the-attic vibe makes it stand out against the dearth of depressing on-the-go salad spots. But don’t get us wrong. They definitely serve salads here, and they’re definitely good. It’s just nice to sit for second, take a breath, and not worry about whose life you’re assigned to ruin later at work . Pray the zucchini fennel soup is available - it’s fantastic.
Wild Carvery works because it’s not trying to be anything else except what it is - a sandwich shop. Being located in the heart of downtown Burbank, on a street best known for its Gap store and a block-long Fuddruckers, Wild Carvery stands out for being local and unflashy. Oh, and those sandwiches? Excellent. The vibe inside is quiet and laid-back, all the more impressive considering you’re mere blocks from IKEA.
Pastrami, pastrami, and more pastrami. King’s Deli took over the old Cafe Magazzino space in the shadows of the Warner Brothers lot and gained an overnight following for cranking out New York-style deli sandwiches and house-made pastrami that will make you stop in your tracks. There’s also an espresso bar, catering smartly to the enraged studio execs in a foot-sprint to get their 7th wind.
You’re not going to find a better American breakfast in Burbank than Bea Bea’s. Everything from their waffles to their French toast is worth ordering, but our move is always the Green Tea Monster pancakes. Three gigantic matcha green tea pancakes topped with green tea mascarpone, whipped cream, and white chocolate chips. What happens in The Valley stays in The Valley.
Yes, as in that Bob’s Big Boy. Though the original location in Glendale was demolished years ago, Burbank’s 60-year-old location lives on as the oldest Big Boy in America, and one that’s overflowing with entertainment history. Sure, you’ve come here for a double-decker burger and a milkshake, but deep down you’re there to sit in the same booth that The Beatles sat in in 1964 and blast the experience on social media.
Don’t think Burbank can’t be glamorous when it wants to be. The Castaway is Burbank’s old crown jewel up on the hill. Yes, the food is pricey and somewhat average, but you’re not necessarily there for that. You’re there because it’s your boss’s birthday and you’re not paying, or you and your friends simply wanted to sit and get wine-hammered around the outdoor fire pit. Either way, you’re enjoying one of the best views in all of LA.
To put it frankly, restaurants like Commonwealth don’t exist in Burbank. Close your eyes and bite into that snapper carpaccio or duck foie gras and you’re back on the other side of the Hills eating amongst the very best. Now open them. You’re back in Burbank and still eating the very best. Commonwealth’s tapas-style menu is broad yet well-executed, and with those modest Burbank prices, it’s one spot easily worth the drive out.
Burbank will never have a bumpin’ bar scene, but that doesn’t mean it’s not home to one of our favorite bars. Tony’s Darts Away is one of those elusive triple-threats in the bar game. It’s a beer-drinker’s paradise (the menu is divided into two sections, “IPA” and “Not IPA”), their eclectic menu is so much better than it has to be (we see you, Korean Bowl), and there are enough pool tables, dart boards, and good vibes to keep you there for hours. Sign us up.
Since 1956, this classic sub shop West of downtown has been dishing out excellent (and massive) sandwiches to the masses. You’re going to hear a lot about their pastrami, but our move is the Italian cold cut - molinari, Italian salami, and capicola topped with more salt, pepper, oil, and onions than your co-workers within a 10 ft radius will be able to handle. And that’s a good thing.
Olive & Thyme is a familiar respite for all the studio people forced to work in Burbank wishing they were eating on W. 3rd St. today. This high-end “marketplace” is essentially Joan’s on Third 2.0 and for that reason alone, the crowds get ravenous. And also the food’s pretty good too. Sure, it’s a bit offensive that it took 20 minutes for your Smoked Salmon toast to arrive, but who cares? No one here appears in any rush to get back to the office.