If Silver Lake is the rich, successful Instagram hand model in the LA family, then Echo Park is its younger sibling who actually lives out the starving artist lifestyle that Silver Lake pretends to have. This Eastside neighborhood is home to Dodger Stadium, a lot of indie music venues, and a growing crowd of young people who can no longer afford to live west of Alvarado. And also some fantastic restaurants. From old-school staples that have been in the neighborhood for years to healthy grain bowl bars, you have a lot of reasons to be eating in Echo Park. Here are our favorite spots.
This modern izakaya near the entrance to Dodger Stadium is the best casual date night spot in the neighborhood. You’ll want to order a lot of the small plates, ranging from vegetables and noodles to steak and sashimi, and you can do so with confidence since Tsubaki’s prices are quite reasonable. If you want the ideal experience, grab a seat at the bar where the waitstaff will make sure you get drunk on the best sake possible.
We understand that deep dish pizza isn’t for everyone, but will never understand anyone who doesn’t like hanging out at Masa for a night. Eating at this casual spot feels like you’re eating at your aunt’s house that could probably use a paint job, but nobody says anything, because deep down the bright orange feels right. The waitstaff treats you like family and the two-inch deep cornmeal crust will leave you in a state of catatonic bliss. Pizzas take 45 minutes to make, but you can call ahead and get it started early if you’d like.
This is the neighborhood pizzeria every neighborhood wishes it had. Cosa Buona serves excellent pizza (and even more excellent appetizers) in a casual setting that feels like the diner that sitcom characters meet up in at the end of each episode. Aside from Friday or Saturday nights, you can usually show up without a reservation, get a table quickly, and spend the rest of the night drinking beer and eating too many mozzarella sticks.
Your dinner plans tonight are with someone who only eats food from animals listed in “Old MacDonald,” but you refuse to settle for the corporate burger bar they suggested. Head to Ostrich Farm instead. This modern American restaurant serves familiar dishes like a caesar salads and meatballs, but nothing you’ll eat here is boring. The only downside is that Ostrich Farm take a very limited amount of reservations each night, but if there’s a wait just put your name down and go grab a drink at Little Joy, Lowboy, or Sunset Beer Co. down the street.
Guisados might be a full-on chain at this point, but it’s still home to the best tacos in Echo Park. This order-at-the-counter spot is quick and affordable, with a nice back patio if you have a few minutes to sit. Get the taco sampler - six mini tacos for $7.50. Just make sure the mole poblano, the chicken tinga, and camarones make the cut.
An arcade bar isn’t usually the first place you think of when looking for good food, but Button Mash is an exception. Yes, this stripmall spot has an excellent stock of old-school arcade games to play, but it also serves some very good Chinese bar food to eat while you do it. Show up with a big group, grab a table, and share the tofu balls, the ginger wings, and the jackfruit sandwich. And then place your bets on who wins NBA Jam.
There are a whole lot of Australian cafes and restaurants in LA, but Pollen is a standout. This cafe is mostly patio, and the daytime food is mostly big plates of classic Australian breakfast food like dippy eggs, housemade bread with vegemite, and thick-cut bacon with halloumi cheese that you need on your table.
Winsome is where you take your out-of-town friends when you want a casual breakfast, but you also want to rub in their faces how nice it is to eat outside in January. It looks like a highway diner that got picked for a midcentury modern design makeover, with a side patio you could spend all afternoon hanging on. And with solid breakfast food across the board, housemade pastries, strong cocktails, and an agua fresca you’ll actually tell your friends about, no one needs to leave anytime soon.
If there’s one thing that Echo Park doesn’t need any more of, it’s coffee shops. So when Triniti opened, we weren’t exactly speed-racing over. But this tiny spot right on Sunset got it right - they serve good coffee and very good food. The menu is filled mostly with salad-y type things that don’t taste like typical salad-y things, like the little gems, which come with an XO dressing we would drink in a pint glass. If you’re looking for a mostly healthy lunch that isn’t a bummer, head to Triniti.
Dinette is a daytime-only takeout window along Sunset where you go when you have no energy to cook breakfast at home, but you also aren’t in the mood for a full sit-down meal either. Service is quick, prices are affordable, and there’s a great sidewalk patio to sit and enjoy your breakfast in peace. All their housemade pastries are great, but if you skip the waffles, you’ve made a terrible mistake.
If you aren’t from Echo Park, you probably haven’t even heard of Trencher. But if you’re in the neighborhood and craving a good sandwich, this is your spot. The order-at-the-counter place is ideal for a lunch hour or a hungover Saturday morning when you just want some food and a quick return back to your bed. Get the chicken banh mi.
This health-worshipping, new-agey breakfast place feels like one of those spots you run from because every ingredient sounds made-up and the cashier just asked if you’ve checked in with your aura lately. But, somehow, Honey Hi manages to steer clear from all that, and serve actually good food. Their bowls are big and delicious, and even the healthiest dishes don’t taste anything like dirt. And, who knows, maybe the adaptogenic mushrooms in your turmeric latte do have magical powers.
You have a date planned for tonight, and at the last minute they text you to remind you they don’t eat meat. Time to reply “oh yeah, I didn’t forget!”, cancel that Ktown BBQ reservation, and tell them to meet you at Elf Cafe. This Mediterranean restaurant serves a really good all-vegetarian menu, and the small space looks like a French bistro that’s ideal for an early-in-the-game date night or a dinner with a few close friends.
For whatever reason, Los Angeles has quite a few breweries that specialize in vegan food. Actually, the reason is probably that it’s Los Angeles. But while some of those breweries are good mostly for the beer, Sage’s vegan food is fantastic. Come here with a group of friends and share the cauliflower buffalo wings, a margherita pizza, and the spicy mac and cheese - it all tastes like the real thing, except it’s plant-based, which means it’s healthier. We think. So go ahead and order another one of their house beers.