The Best Restaurants In Westwood
The 18 best meals in Westwood.
Westwood is home to a world-class university, over-priced celebrity condos, and soul-crushing traffic. And while most people associate Westwood with the UCLA-adjacent Village, it actually stretches from Bel-Air all the way to Century City. Though the neighborhood will never exactly be known for its food, there are still plenty of great places to check out.
From divey, late-night spots in the Village to the best Persian food in LA south of Wilshire, Westwood has quite a bit more than you think. So whether you work in the neighborhood and are looking for a quick lunch spot, or are a stoned freshman who doesn’t know where you are, here are all the places you need to be eating in Westwood.
Sichuan Impression is one of the best restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, so when they opened a new location on the southern edge of Westwood in 2018, our excitement was palpable. Update: It’s even better than the original in Alhambra. The menu is full of fragrant, intensely-flavored dishes that stay on your lips for days (the tea-rubbed ribs and mapo tofu are must-orders) and the sprawling, second-story dining room is perfect for large groups of friends. When the menu is as stacked as it is at Sichuan Impression, you’re going to need all the help you can get.
Westwood is home to the cultural heart of Southern California's massive Iranian population. If you only have time for one meal here, make is Shamshiri. Open since 1981, this Westwood landmark is one of the oldest restaurants in the neighborhood and a place you can walk into any night of the week to find first dates, family meals, and friend get-togethers all happening at the same time. We’d rank their tahchin, a baked basmati rice cake layered with yogurt, saffron, and barberries, as an essential dish of the neighborhood, and their curry stew isn’t far behind. You can get the curry as its own entree, but we prefer to order it as part of the tahdig appetizer, which comes with crusty rice and another stew of your choice.
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photo credit: Violet Bistro
We never thought we’d say this, but the most romantic patio in LA might be in Westwood. Violet is a big French restaurant in the Village that serves expensive, fussy dishes that are pretty good across the board if you’re into the finer French things. The trout amandine, for instance, holds plenty of moisture and the almonds on top have the right amount of toast. It seems like this is the go-to date night destination for couples who live in the area, so the crowd leans a little mature.
Believe it or not, the ice cream cookie sandwich was not created by a Santa Monica-based influencer in 2012. We don’t know the exact origin story, but Diddy Riese’s 30+ years of business proves our favorite dessert sandwiches existed long before everyone started taking selfies with them. Diddy Riese is a Westwood classic and the first stop for anyone in the area. The lines are treacherous, but stick with it. Because the reward is an ice cream/cookie mix-and-match showdown of your dreams. (Don’t miss the brownies either).
Attari Sandwich Shop
If you’re headed to this classic daytime-only shop on Westwood Blvd., chances are the beef tongue sandwich is on your agenda. And rightfully so, this iconic sandwich is a meaty, tangy masterpiece and one of the most well-known dishes in the neighborhood. That said, it shouldn’t be the only thing you order. We absolutely love their kuku sabzi, an aromatic, herb-based frittata, that you can get either as a sandwich or as an entree. Get both and fight about which one is better with your friends. And then grab a seat in the courtyard patio for some of the best people-watching in the neighborhood.
From the outside, Hamasaku looks like one of those uniquely-LA strip mall sushi spots, but inside, it feels like you might actually be in Japan, not next to a Coffee Bean. Their $85 omakase plays the same trick - you get a pretty high-quality product for a reasonably fair price. On top of all the sushi (including less-common options like cuttlefish and sardine), the omakase includes miso soup, egg custard, and dessert as part of the deal. The fish is fresh, the crowd is low-key, and you’ll definitely leave full.
Hakata Izakaya Hero
Hakata had the unfortunate luck of opening only a few months prior to March 2020, so this tiny izakaya on Westwood Blvd. is still a bit of an unknown commodity in the neighborhood. That needs to change. From pork tonkotsu shabu shabu and daily sashimi platters to perfectly moist teba gyo (jidori chicken wing gyozas), everything on Hakata’s tremendous menu is shareable and designed to be eaten with a big glass of beer or sake to wash it all down. This is the kind of place you might roll into at 6pm with a few friends and accidentally stay for three hours—with concrete plans to come back next month.
Taste Of Tehran
This tiny, order-at-the-counter shop makes our favorite kabobs in the neighborhood. They’re juicy and tender, while still maintaining a light crunch, courtesy of the grated onion inside. And at $15 for a full plate with rice and tomatoes, it's a solid quick lunch option that also isn't going to put a whole through your debit card. While the meats are a priority here (their citrusy cornish hen kabob is another standout), we recommend getting involved with the dips, too. The mast-o-mousir, which is strained yogurt mixed with chopped shallots, is tangy, sour, and thick. We usually order one for the meal itself and then another for the road to spread on everything else we eat throughout the week.
This tiny Korean BBQ walk-up window is a Village classic, and home to some of our favorite on-the-go food in the neighborhood. They have everything from bibimbap to udon, but at lunchtime, we go for the combo meat plate. Two meats of your choice over rice (we usually do chicken and the thinly-sliced beef), plus salad, kimchi, and a drink - for less than $17. You simply won’t find that amount of good food (it's easily two meals) at that price anywhere else in the area.
Persian-style pizza is one of the most popular street foods in Tehran, and in Westwood, our favorite version can be found at Café Glacé. The crust is thin and crunchy, there’s no tomato sauce, and there’s a lot of cheese on top. Like, Garfield’s lasagna preferred level of cheesiness. The spinach and goat cheese pizza is a standout, but our favorite pie on the menu is the “Mix.” Topped with beef mortadella, hot dogs, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and mozzarella, this is a salty, savory masterpiece and should be on any LA pizza aficionados shortlist. You’ll also probably notice the packets of ketchup and ranch sauce in your takeout box—those are for the pizza, too. Let the Neapolitan and New York-style pizza purists shout all they want, the combination of the sugar from the ketchup and creamy tang of the ranch works, and takes the pizza to a completely new level of excellence. Also, it’s open until midnight on the weekends, making it a great stop for students who are tired of their usual late-night routine.
It’s not news that a lot of the food inside Westwood Village exists mainly to service intoxicated college kids looking for the next party, but one major exception to that rule is Northern Cafe. The order-at-the-counter Chinese restaurant has a massive menu full of everything from dan dan noodles to cumin lamb to beef rolls, and while everything is good, you’re in line for the dumplings. Whether they’re stuffed with juicy pork and crab or shrimp, egg, and chive, these are some of the better tasting dumplings you’ll find in the neighborhood.
Saffron & Rose Ice Cream
When you don’t have the patience to wait in line at Diddy Riese, head a few blocks south of Wilshire to Saffron & Rose. The tiny spot has been cranking out thick, aromatic Persian ice cream for almost four decades, and still has lines out the door. First-timers can’t leave without trying the saffron-pistachio flavor, but we never leave without getting at least one scoop of the orange blossom as well.
For all the incredible Thai restaurants you’ll find in this city, there’s a bit of a desert surrounding Westwood/West LA when it comes to great curries and Thai noodle dishes. It’s also why knowing about Emporium is so useful. This family-run spot on Westwood Blvd. is easily our favorite Thai spot in the area (heck, even Cardi B endorses it) with a fun, lively dining room perfect for big groups and an expansive menu that assures even your pickiest roommate will find something to eat. That said, our favorite dish here is the bright, slightly sweet southern curry seafood (a family recipe for over three generations) with a side of crispy Phuket wings. The wings come with the same southern curry sauce, so we recommend switching it out with tamarind to give a nice tangy balance to the spiciness of the seafood.
Sunnin Lebanese Cafe
You’ll find the best shawarma in Westwood at this classic Lebanese spot. The order-at-the-counter cafe has quick service if you’re coming in on your lunch hour, and a fairly large interior if the rest of your team wants to join as well. Though you can’t beat the shawarma, we never leave without an extra order of fried cauliflower and a side of falafel.
Bella Pita is another UCLA staple and home to something called the Wowshi, which is essentially a giant pita stuffed with everything from koftah to black beans. Open super-late every day of the week, Bella Pita is where you go when you aren’t feeling late-night pizza at Lamonica’s and In-N-Out is an absolute zoo. Our move is always the half chicken/half falafel Wowshi, and all the hummus we can pump from the condiment bar.
Toranj is a Persian spot located in the heart of Westwood Village making it an ideal lunch option if you can’t veer too far from campus. They do a brisk takeout service, but if you’re interested in dining in, there’s also a large sidewalk patio. As far as the food goes, the priority here absolutely needs to be the Juicy Chicken. It’s slightly sweet, somewhat buttery, and so unbelievably tender you’ll forget you’re actually eating chicken. If you want some heat on it, order the spicy version, which has been marinated overnight in their special housemade spicy sauce. We also like their ghormeh sabzi, which is a bit more sour than other versions in the neighborhood, and goes nicely with the tahdig you should order as an appetizer.
Pink Orchid is a bakery on Westwood Blvd. with a massive dessert case filled with everything from cheesecake to tiramisu to chocolate mousse. It’s all good, but we recommend concentrating mostly on the case next to the dessert case. Here is where you’ll find their tremendous sweet crispy bread spiced with cardamom, and most importantly, the piroshkis, which are deep-fried buns filled with housemade custard. To put it simply, they’re perfect. The dough is light and pillowy, the custard is tart, but not sour, and the sugared glaze on the outside elevates all the flavors without overpowering them.
photo credit: Justin Chung
Lulu is a giant, serene restaurant with a lovely patio at the Hammer Museum in Westwood that's the perfect place to lounge around on a sunny afternoon and pretend you’re deeply embedded in Alice Waters’ inner circle. There’s an approachable a la carte menu full of fresh focaccia sandwiches, vegetable soups, and rainbow-colored salads, but the restaurant also offers a three-course prix-fixe option that changes every day. Nothing on the menu blew us away, but Lulu’s simple dishes are made with top-notch local ingredients that taste good.