photo credit: Jakob Layman
Joan's on Third
There are certain things that become part of your LA history. Like the first time you were able to successfully navigate multiple freeway changes without the GPS telling you to re-route five times, or the weird smell in your first studio apartment in Koreatown. Or, your very specific memories of Joan’s On Third, the market/restaurant that’s become an LA lunch classic.
Maybe you once saw Ron Jeremy on the Joan’s front patio. Or you had to pick the croutons out of a Joan’s Caesar salad for your boss every day of your internship. Maybe you ate there before the first audition you ever bombed and you maintain to this day it was the Chinese chicken salad’s fault.
Love it or hate it, Joan’s is as much a part of LA as tourists driving around trying to find an entrance to the Hollywood sign. And while we will tell you we love this place, we will also tell you it’s a love mostly built on nostalgia.
Because really, there’s nothing particularly interesting or exciting about Joan’s On Third. It’s a big marketplace-like space that’s always busy, with a few different counters and a handful of inside seats, and lots of sidewalk seating out front. The menu has barely changed in 15 years, and that’s part of the Joan’s charm - once you’ve been here a couple of times, you nail your order, and you’re probably never changing it again. You’ll eat that turkey club every time you’re here, and honestly, it doesn’t really matter if it’s good or not.
And really, the food here is fine. At lunch, the sandwiches are the way to go - they’re simple, made with quality ingredients, and won’t have you looking for a snack an hour after you eat. The Chinese chicken salad, on the other hand, is covered in so much sweet dressing that it’s basically dessert, and some of the healthy-looking stuff in the deli case is pretty bland. Breakfast is maybe the best time to eat here, when there are solid burritos, fluffy pancakes, very good omelettes, and producers gossiping about which stars are the worst to work with
If you haven’t been to Joan’s On Third before, then you probably don’t ever need to come here - unless you happen to be looking for one of those extremely LA experiences. One with people wearing sunglasses inside, posing for photos for their blog outside, and no one really eating their food. But if Joan’s played a part in your LA history, you’ll still like it here. Even if you never need to see another crouton in your lifetime.
Chicken Milanese Sandwich
The sandwich we’ve always ordered and will always order. It’s extremely simple - just some breaded chicken, arugula, and mayo on a ciabatta roll. It’s always as good as we remembered.
Turkey Club Sandwich
This is our other go-to. Again, it’s not doing anything special, and that’s just why we like it.
Tiny but mighty - a mini baguette filled with butter, ham, and French cheese. It will lead to an afternoon nap and you should be ok with it.
Short Rib Sandwich
One of Joan’s more famous sandwiches, but not one of our favorites. The idea - shredded short rib with melty cheese, arugula, and onions - is better than the execution, which can be pretty greasy.
If you’re feeling indecisive, pick three things from the giant deli case - there’s everything from chicken salad to roasted beets, to quinoa with corn and dried cherries - just know that any of the sandwiches are going to be better.
Chinese Chicken Salad
This is one of LA’s iconic salads, but it doesn’t live up to the hype. A huge serving of shredded green stuff, with crispy wontons, a lot of fried chicken, and a very sweet dressing. This is a salad that doesn’t even pretend it’s good for you. We just wish it tasted better.
Egg Basket Omelette
This omelette is much better than the mediocre one you had at a hotel buffet station six months ago. It’s fluffy and well-cooked, with your choice of fillings and a very large pool of sour cream on the side.
A surprisingly solid breakfast burrito, filled with all the things you’d expect - crispy bacon, scrambled eggs, lots of cheese and guacamole, and a hash brown to really make you feel like you’ve achieved something with your morning.
Fluffy, diner-style pancakes that will make you feel like a four-year-old again.