As citizens of Los Angeles, we endure several daily fears. Bracing for “The Big One,” natural gas leaks, turning 26, and Glendale, just to name a few. And yet, all that pales in comparison to LA’s true public enemy #1: rain.
Those tortuous drops of water don’t fall often, but when they do, this city loses its goddamn mind. Suddenly every person takes it upon themselves to disregard any previous driving training, traffic lanes become mere suggestions, and in a matter of minutes our streets transform into garbage bin water parks. It’s a sh*tshow of mass proportion.
But not all is lost. With the rain comes a whole new way to experience our city. And that includes our restaurants. So, dig out that long-sleeved shirt you completely forgot you owned, google where to buy an umbrella, and go track down these excellent places to take advantage of the rain in LA.
The secret best time to go to Jon & Vinny’s isn’t for dinner or breakfast. It’s at 3pm on a Tuesday. And if it’s raining at 3pm on a Tuesday? Even better. You won’t have to wait, you will eat many bowls of pasta, and they will encourage your drinking of a glass of Barolo in the middle of a weekday afternoon.
There are few things we want more when it’s raining than a big bowl of ramen, and Santouka is a Westside classic. It’s inside the Mitsuwa food court in Mar Vista and is an order at the counter kind of deal. Get the shio ramen, then continue the rainy day fun by loading up on Pocky and frozen gyoza at the epic Japanese market Santouka is attached to when you’re done.
The lines at Baroo can get a little hectic, but throw in the strange sight of water falling from the sky, and most of this town will be scared off by the threat of not getting a parking spot right in front. But you’re tough (and you own an umbrella), and your reward will be not having to hover awkwardly so you can grab a seat. Baroo’s Ragu Style was made for cold and rainy days.
When we need to go to our happy place, we go to Mizu 212. This shabu-shabu spot on Sawtelle involves cooking your own meat and vegetables inside a pot of boiling broth in an atmosphere where sweatpants are allowed. Don’t forget to ask for the special sauce.
We’d drive through pretty much anything for the garlic naan at Al-Noor, and that includes torrential rainstorms and the 30-mile-an-hour speeds on the 405 it causes. Once you make it down to Lawndale, you’ll be eating the best Indian food in all of Los Angeles and nothing else will matter. Not even rain.
Cafe Birdie might serve some of our favorite comfort food in Los Angeles, but that doesn’t mean this Highland Park spot is all doilies and older women who call you “dear”. Cafe Birdie actually feels really cool. And the fact that you can order both fried chicken and some of the best pork cheek ragu you’ve ever had, only make it that much more special.
Leaving the Valley on a wet day is a fate worse than death - no one wants to be negotiating a canyon with the threat of mudslides hanging over their head. So just stick to North Hollywood and head to Sri Siam, home of the OG crispy rice salad and the off-menu radish cakes you can’t forget to order.
On a rainy day, all we want is to feel the coziest we’ll ever feel, so obviously we head straight for The Tripel. This Playa Del Rey spot is the neighborhood hangout of our dreams, and is also home to one of the most underrated burgers in town. The whole place makes us feel like we’re wearing a Snuggie.
Tatsu is one of our ramen go-to’s, and though lines are increasingly out-of-control, there’s no doubt this place is magic when that weird wet stuff starts to turn this city into a post-apocalyptic mess. Added bonus: grab a seat facing Melrose and watch real life Mario Kart unfold before your eyes.
Remember when it used to rain as a kid and that meant you were allowed to play video games all day inside and not get yelled at for it? That’s basically what’s happening at Button Mash, except now we’re all kids pretending to be adults because that’s what the calendar says. Oh, and Starry Kitchen manning the food situation doesn’t hurt either - this is the best Asian-fusion drunk food you’re going to find pretty much anywhere. Be ours, fried tofu balls.
LA’s favorite way to dodge the rain? Canceling all plans, weddings, and funerals, and heading to the movies. It’s no secret LA has the best collection of movie theaters in the entire world and iPic is our favorite. This deluxe cinema frankly makes Arclight look low-rent, and getting served filet mignon sliders and dry martinis in a first class airplane seat is our rainy day version of nirvana.
This is exciting. Someone literally just got out and abandoned their own car in front of you on Pico and it’s unclear if they’re coming back. Follow them. Because they’re definitely going to John O’Groats. The West LA breakfast staple is like walking into that one restaurant in your hometown you always go to because the owners used to babysit your parents in the 50’s. It’s warm, welcoming, and those biscuits are all you need on a rainy day.
Why go to one place when you can go to all the places, all at once? GCM wins the award for best collection of food you remember seeing on Instagram, and though the crowds can get downright aggressive, a rainy day will quickly cut the fat. And we can’t think of a better plan to beat the endless downpour outside than stall-hopping all day from Egg Slut to Belcampo to Sticky Rice to Horse Thief to Madcapra to Wexler’s to - alright, you get it.
Generally speaking, we don’t send even our worst enemies to Santa Monica on a rainy day. But there’s one giant exception - Aussie Pie Kitchen. This hole-in-the-wall pie shop is the best thing you definitely didn’t know existed on Main St. and yes, we’ve been to Basement Tavern bro. Just don’t come to APK looking for dessert. This is Aussie pie territory and that means breakfast, lunch, and dinner meat pie paradise. Get a Classic Aussie or the spicy Surfer’s Paradise with a Tiger Stack (two sides and gravy) as the deluge hits and instantly feel better.
Omg, Snapchat just told you it’s 49 degrees outside and you’re sensing death is near. The only move at this point is to order take-out from the best Thai food in the city - Jitlada. You likely won’t be the only dying genius who thought of this plan, so expect a frenzied crowd. But the line moves fast and before you know it, the most authentic (and spicy) Thai in LA will be ready for your withering body.
You just spent two hours getting up Barham and the only thing that matters is drinking beer until nothing hurts. Head immediately to The Pikey on Sunset Blvd., the classic British Pub that’s always exactly what you want it to be. And on a day where half the city’s population is introduced to hydroplaning into fire hydrants, The Pikey’s top-notch beer list and British pub menu takes on a whole new meaning.
One would think finding a first-rate churro in this city wouldn’t be too hard a task, but that would be the wrong assumption. For however intertwined Mexican cuisine and LA are, the churro has been cruelly left behind. Hello Churros Calientes. This tiny shop on Santa Monica is quietly cranking some of the finest churros around. Come in on a rainy day, order a fresh batch and a cup of their Spanish hot chocolate (for dipping, obviously), and die happy.
It started raining overnight and now your bones are hurting. The good news is one of the world’s most well-known superfoods, the pierogie, is ready for you. And while there’s actually a decent number of spots around town serving these glory babies, our move is always Polka Polish. This family-run restaurant in Glassell Park has been a neighborhood staple for years and despite a recent fire, is back and better than ever. And thank god, because those cheese and potato pierogies are everything we want on a stormy day.
Let’s be honest. If there’s even talk of rain coming to Los Angeles, you’re canceling all plans, turning on Jessica Jones, and hiding under your covers until further notice. And at this restaurant, reservations are for one, clothing is optional, and the food is driving to you. Thai food? Chinese food? Pizza Hut Triple Treat Bundle? Choose your own ending and never stop dreaming in the warmth of your own bed.