No one’s ever going to confuse a meal at a 24-hour restaurant with fine dining, but most people can’t even pronounce “sous vide” at 3am. Instead, these all-night spots are where the partiers, insomniacs, and people who have to catch early flights all come together to eat giant plates of greasy food and maybe make out with a stranger in the parking lot. So if you can’t sleep, these are the places you should eat.
In no world does Canter’s pastrami compare to that of Langer’s, Brent’s, or Wexler’s, but that hardly matters when you walk into this Fairfax landmark at 3:30am. Because the entire city is here. You’ll see drunk club kids standing in line next to your 70-year-old landlord, and the band you just saw play at The Roxy passed out in a booth by the bathroom. It’s a complete mess, and also an LA rite of passage. And if you feel like you have one more round in you, head back to the Kibitz Room, the bar that’s every bit as weird as you’d think.
When you think about late-night dining, The Grove probably isn’t the first place that pops into your mind. But tucked deep inside the attached Farmers Market is Du-par’s, a classic diner that’s open 24 hours a day - a fact even people in the surrounding neighborhood forget about. We like their omelettes, turkey club, and patty melt, but we can never pass up the opportunity to take down a stack of their excellent pancakes. They have a location in Pasadena that’s also open 24 hours.
Sun Nong Dan is a classic strip mall spot in Koreatown with a full menu of excellent soups and Korean specialty dishes, but everyone is here for one thing - galbi jjim. It’s a giant cast iron plate filled with rice cakes, vegetables, spicy sauce, and massive chunks short rib that melts in your mouth. It’s a remarkable dish, and one that no one should be eating alone. Be sure to bring some friends along, no matter what time you decide to go.
25 Degrees wins the award for being the best 24-hour restaurant in LA that everybody forgets is open 24 hours. Located on the ground floor of the Roosevelt Hotel, this retro diner has plenty of solid options, but you’re here for the burgers. We usually go for the Number 2 (burrata, pesto, and crispy prosciutto), but if you come during the day, you can build your own burger, too. Also, their milkshakes are pretty great.
The Original Pantry opened Downtown in 1924, making it a legend in its own right - no matter how objectively mediocre the food is. Come to this old-school diner after the bars get out on the weekend and expect a line out the door. Come at any other point during the week and expect some of the best people-watching in town. Everybody’s eating giant plates of eggs and bacon and grumbling about the better days - even you. This is a great place to head after a late concert at Staples.
BCD Tofu has locations all over Southern California, but we love this chain because their two Koreatown locations are both 24-hours, and serve the kind of food we want to eat after a long night of hopping around the neighborhood. The soon tofu pots are the specialities, but definitely make sure some galbi, bibimbap, and kimchi dumplings hit the table as well. This is an ideal spot when you’re rolling with a big group in K-town and everybody wants something different.
This tiny strip mall spot in West Hollywood serves the kind of giant enchilada combo platters and cheese-topped burritos that taste good any time of day. That said, they taste best at 4am after a long night out in Boystown and an ill-advised stop at Mickey’s after hours. If you’re really hungry, go for the cheese enchiladas, but otherwise, the taquitos and carne asada burrito are both delicious and easy to eat while you walk.
Open since 1947, Western Bagel is an LA classic that serves quality bagels and sandwiches at locations throughout Southern California. But at their long-standing location in Van Nuys, they serve those babies out 24 hours a day. Given its location, it’s not the best spot to hit after a long night of bar-hopping, but if you’re up early in the Valley or have to catch a 6am flight out of LAX, their cheese bagel sandwiches are exactly what your body needs. Cash only.
Pacific Dining Car is one of the oldest continually operating restaurants in Los Angeles, and though its food isn’t anything to write home about, a late-night meal here is still a uniquely-LA experience. The place started out in a real railway car, but has since grown into its fairly expansive (and oddly fancy) space in Westlake, just outside of Downtown. Inside, you’ll be greeted by waiters in bowties - no matter what time it is - and led past giant pleather booths filled all the insomniacs in Los Angeles. Everybody’s eating burgers, late-night breakfast, and the famous 10oz. Baseball Steak - which runs a cool $23 from 10pm-6am. They also have a location in Santa Monica.
Some of the places on this list have food that tastes good no matter where you fall on the sobriety scale. Fred 62 is not one of them. This classic Los Feliz diner is where you go when it’s 3am, you just shut down Ye Rustic, and you need something in your stomach if you have any hope of being functional tomorrow. Our order is usually the Juicy Lucy, a peanut butter malt shake, and the largest basket of fries the waiter can carry.
Tommy’s isn’t going to win any Best Burger awards, but that doesn’t stop the crowds from gathering at this classic outdoor burger window in Historic Filipinotown after a long night out. If it’s your first time, get the double chili cheeseburger with a side of fries. If it’s your 50th time, get the exact same thing, and then go eat it while sitting on the sidewalk like everyone else. Expect pretty long lines after the bars get out.
Izzy’s is a Westside staple and one of the only full-service restaurants in Santa Monica that’s open 24 hours. Walking into this Wilshire spot on a late Saturday night is like stepping into a random diner on the Upper East Side. Expect elderly couples reading the newspaper and eating matzo ball soup, truck drivers filling up on big plates of eggs before hitting the road, and underage kids who are still a little too drunk to be seen at their parents’ house. Get the turkey pastrami.
Crispy Pork Gang gets overlooked a lot because it’s in the same plaza as Ruen Pair - one of the best spots in Thai Town - and because it sounds like what we called our sixth grade bus-stop group. But they’re open 24 hours, and have “daytime specials” that run from 8am - 12am, including tom yum soup, or crispy pork and rice, for under $8. If you’re there late night - maybe after leaving Jumbo’s down the street - get the pad see ew or the gang noodle, which has pork, crispy pork, and shrimp.