Newsflash: Sh*t kind of sucks right now.
Sure, we can distract ourselves with prestige television and pictures of Florence Pugh all day, but when it comes down to it, there’s a lot of sadness in the world. There’s loneliness and fear. There’re big, fat tears permanently sitting behind our eyelids, threatening to roll out. And while of course, it’s important to work on yourself, to understand where your emotions come from and why, sometimes that why is just because... sh*t kind of sucks right now.
The good news is you don’t have to go at it alone. You have friends, family, and iconic Jewish delis in the Valley that serve curly fries and an entire chicken in a pot. Here is our guide to where to eat when you’re feeling sad and might need to cry.
We’re not sure why, but French food seems tailor-made to be consumed whilst sad. Maybe that’s because whenever we hear the word “baguette,” our world turns to black and white. Or perhaps it’s because the last time we watched Ratatouille, we were with our ex. Anyway, if everything’s just feeling like… a lot, head to Bicyclette. This subterranean French bistro in Beverly Wood specializes in simple, heavy dishes that taste like they were injected with butter by Julia Child herself. Get the beef short ribs served with golden potato mousseline or escargot baked into wonderful pastry crust.
Jitlada is a place we’ve cried at many, many times. Some of those times have been due to emotional turmoil (it’s been a year), but others, because the food is just so damn spicy. Between the crispy catfish salad, dry beef curry, and fearsome jungle curry - a fiery, bubbling pot that’s rich and brown and resembles a volcano - there are definitely enough Scoville units at play here to justify any tears running down your face.
You know, sometimes it really all just hits you - none of this matters. When it comes to things like a fight with a friend or your favorite houseguest on Big Brother leaving the show, in the grand scheme of things, you won’t remember them. They’re tiny blips in the larger mess we call life. Which, on one hand, feels freeing, but on the other hand… am I just a little blip? Am I just as insignificant? We’re not here to make those calls (can you imagine?), but a trip to Neptune’s Net is the perfect remedy to any existential crises you might be having. A ride up the PCH, gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean, and perhaps one or two clam chowder bread bowls to soothe the soul. Filled with both biker gangs and families making memories, this little seafood shack isn’t a tourist trap, it’s a love letter to LA and yourself.
Some head to the pub at 9am, others numb their feelings with long-distance running, but whenever we need an emergency therapy session, we head to Sushi Park. It’s high-end sushi without the pretense - located in a strip mall in Hollywood, you’ll be treated to a personalized omakase for approximately $150 while some mix of 2018 Shawn Mendes and Calvin Harris blasts on the radio. The sushi chef will chat with you for a second, get to know your likes and dislikes, then serve you rounds of o-toro, albacore sashimi, and beautiful blow-torched Wagyu beef. If you happen to sniffle a little into your miso soup, will he notice? Maybe, but he’ll just slide you an extra big piece of Chilean sea bass before you go.
According to our therapist (and one, very accusing TikTok, when it comes to real heart-hurting pain, isolation is never the answer. Which, of course, sounds totally fake, but perhaps as a baby step, head to The Serving Spoon. Visiting this classic Inglewood diner is like attending a neighborhood block party - as soon as you walk in, you’ll be greeted by a sea of families, groups of friends, and solo diners who have been coming here weekly for 35+ years. The fried catfish is tremendous, and the waffles are perhaps our favorite in town. Grab a seat at the counter and let the waitstaff shower you in attention, coffee refills, and sparkling conversation.
It’s funny, but when you’re surrounded by curly fries, black pastrami Reuben sandwiches piled a mile high, and a goddamn chicken in a pot, it’s actually physically impossible to feel sad. We don’t pretend to know how it works, but it’s true. And there’s no better place to wrap yourself in that exact order than at Brent’s Deli. This iconic restaurant in the Valley has become an institution, known for defining Jewish food in the area and its 400+ item menu. The pastrami Reuben is their signature dish, but man, that chicken in the pot. Basically, it’s a fully braised chicken with carrots and boiled potatoes served in a giant crock, plus an entire helping of matzo and kreplach on the side. Cry into it, cry onto it, or cry with it, anything’s possible.
When we were unemployed for many, many months, this low-key Thai restaurant was our go-to lunch spot. Partly because the food is relatively affordable (the excellent crab-covered jade noodles cost less than $10), but mostly because we could post up with our journal, write the most depressing sh*t on Earth for a few hours, and no one would pay us any attention. At lunch especially, the crowd skews unconcerned - there might be an old man reading the newspaper, a couple or two who couldn’t care less about whatever you’re going through, and staff members who are the perfect mix of attentive and hands-off.
And finally, we’ve made it to Hinano. We almost don’t need to explain why a dive on the Venice boardwalk is an apt place to choke back tears, but in case we do, here’s the pitch: Even in the most tourist-infested area in LA, Hinano has remained a local hangout, the kind of place you go into for a single drink then leave plastered and maybe with a new henna tattoo. It’s been around since 1969 (nice) and serves a killer burger, there are three pool tables, free popcorn for everyone, a jukebox, and it opens at 8am sharp. No one will care if you’re nursing a beer in the morning, and not a soul will mind if you sob and sing along to “My Heart Will Go On” three times in a row. Break-ups, lay-offs, or whenever that special brand of “I-don’t-know-why-but-I-think-I’m-going-to-cry” hits you, go to Hinano.