Whether you’re a long-time resident or just visiting a city for a few days taking crucial selfies, everybody wants to know one thing - what are the classics? Those can’t-miss, fabric-of-the-city type spots you have to go to at least once or risk looking like you don’t know what you’re talking about. From Philippe’s to Langer’s to Apple Pan to Dan Tana’s, LA’s canon is a strong one, but it’s high time to add one more to the list - Papa Cristo’s.
The 70-year-old spot at Pico and Normandie isn’t exactly some diamond in the rough, but for so many people, it’s oddly still a relative unknown. So let us help you - Papa Cristo’s is not a restaurant. It’s a Greek grocer/bakery with a fantastic food counter in the back offering every traditional Greek dish you could possibly want. Think saganaki (sizzling cheese), moussaka (eggplant casserole), feta and spinach pizza, and a house-made Greek yogurt that puts that Fage variety-pack sitting in your refrigerator to shame.
After placing your order at the counter, you take a number and make your way to the massive eating area where you’ll find concrete floors, posters of Greece on the walls, and long tables pushed together. If it all seems more like the gymnasium at a community center than a formal dining room, that’s the point. It’s loud, boisterous, and consistently one hot plate away from being a full-on neighborhood potluck. Now, is the food itself going to make you drop your fork and rethink everything you know about culinary boundaries? Of course not. And frankly, thank god. This is the kind of food you eat in mass portions with your best friends who all talk over each other because that’s what happens when you get together. And that’s why you’re at Papa Cristo’s.
You’re also at Papa Cristo’s because in a city without much in the way of legitimate Greek food, this spot is a bonafide one-of-a-kind. You’re here because on a slightly hungover Sunday afternoon, no one can tell you that you can’t have a plate of greasy Greek sausage and some homemade baklava. And you’re here because you want to meet the real Papa Cristo, who, standing at four foot nothing with a white handlebar mustache, is an LA treasure and the closest you’ll get to experiencing Maurice from Beauty and The Beast in real life.
It’s a crucial selfie.
It’s cheese that’s fried. Order this always.
You’re going to order this feta and spinach pizza and tell all your friends that it’s for the table, but then you’re going to eat all of it yourself.
Hit the showers, hummus. This is Greek caviar and it’s all we want to eat with our bread. It’s kind of like hummus, but with a little bit of ocean.
This eggplant and cheese casserole-ish situation comes with meat if you want, but our move is to go veggie this round. You have plenty of meat still to come.
We’re not going to tell you this is best gyro you’re ever going to have, but it’s still good, and you should never say no to its power.
Served with pita, Greek potatoes, and salad, this pork sausage plate (cooked with orange peel) is our favorite among the big dishes.
Order this for dessert, order it to-go, drive all the way to Papa Christo’s just to pick some up. This is easily our favorite Greek yogurt in Los Angeles.