Culver City will always have a bit of a tough gig. Cornered by two of the biggest freeways in Southern California, the area is quite literally cut off from the rest of Los Angeles. But it’s also full of cool shops, galleries, and movie theaters - not to mention Sony Studios and a whole cavalry of tech offices. Plus, there’s a Metro station that takes you to and from DTLA and Santa Monica, which means you can’t use Culver’s location as a reason not to visit.
And that’s crucial, because perhaps more than anything else, Culver City has become a major food destination. Old restaurants are thriving and new ones pop up every day. It’s an exciting time to be in the neighborhood – here’s your guide to hitting the best restaurants.
Citizen Public Market
Citizen is a food hall in downtown Culver City that opened in November 2020. You can think of it as an immediate upgrade for any studio or tech worker looking for a decent lunch. The place isn’t overwhelmingly large (there are only seven stalls), but it’s the range of vendors that sets Citizen apart from other food halls. There are plump bivalves and uni trays at Jolly Oyster, shrimp ceviche and carnitas tacos from Mexicology, and pizza made by Nancy Silverton at Pizzette. But perhaps our favorite feature here is Bar Bohemien, the rooftop bar with excellent cocktails. It’s also a great spot to eat all the food you bought from downstairs.
Hatchet Hall is the rare small plates restaurant where sharing isn’t just a suggestion - it’s a requirement. From savory shaved country ham and deep-fried cabbage leaves to white cheddar cornbread topped with an ice cream scoop of butter, the food at this Southern-leaning spot is so hearty and stick-to-your-ribs delicious that small plates are the only way you’re going to get through it. The space can best be described as barnyard gothic, and there’s a secret bar - appropriately called Old Man Bar - hidden in the back, just in case you needed another reason to check this place out.
Located in a part of Culver filled with very cool people who work in very creative offices, Destroyer is a daytime cafe unlike any other. We’re pretty sure the coffee machine was brought here from the future (it’s built into the counter), and it’s entirely possible the food was, too. Seemingly simple dishes like raw oatmeal and almond milk or chicken schnitzel into works of abstract sci-fi art. The whole place is straight-up weird, and also oddly Zen, but in the kind of way that has us planning a return trip as you read this.
In nearby Palms, Madre is a tremendous Oaxacan restaurant that originated in Torrance that now has a third spot in West Hollywood. We like this location though, because it’s a bit more laid back than the other two, but with the same great food and cocktails. Order any of the memelas, the negro mole, and a cauliflower taco you’ll definitely order again the same night. From there, spend the rest of your night exploring their seemingly endless stock of specialty mezcal.
This tiny bakery with a handful of tables is your best bet for breakfast in Culver. There’s not much in the way of eggs, but that’s fine, because instead there are huge slabs of avocado toast, a cured fish platter, and the world’s largest cinnamon buns. A newborn baby could probably use one as a very soft (and beautifully scented) mattress. They also make great pizzas, including a pan pizza that will unquestionably sell out unless you get there early.
Whatever the difference between a great restaurant and an elite restaurant means to you, there’s no arguing that n/naka is one of the elite. And a meal at this Palms spot comes with an elite price tag - for $285, you will be served a perfect 13-course kaiseki menu, one of Japan’s most revered culinary traditions. So no, this is not your weekly chill spot. But it is a must-experience event. And it’s worth every penny.
The second location of one of LA’s best pasta spots, Pasta Sisters at the Helms Bakery complex might be even better than the original - mainly because it’s the one where you can drink wine on a patio. Two patios, actually. Most of the bowls are build-your-own, meaning you get to choose the type of pasta and sauce (except for the clams and garlic, which they’ll only serve with spaghetti). Our favorites are the pesto with tagliatelle and bolognese with pappardelle, but when you’ve got freshly made pasta and sauces this good, you really can’t go wrong. If you’re there on Sunday, make sure you get the carbonara - it’s fantastic, and only available one day a week. We suspect that’s a good thing for our health.
Great tacos had long been the mythical creatures of the Westside... at least until Loqui opened up. The office workers of the area are clearly pleased they’ve arrived (there will be a line at lunch), and so are we. Lots of them order at the counter and take their food to go, leaving more room on the cute patio out back for you to have a transcendental taco experience. It is not an exaggeration to say we have dreams about Loqui’s flour tortillas. Because yes, we regularly have dreams about tacos - and that’s not weird at all.
Brooklyn-imported pizza spot Roberta’s was a huge deal when it first opened at Platform in 2018 - and though things have calmed down a bit, this is still a great place for a fun, casual meal. The menu has a lot on it, but focus all your attention on the pizzas - the iconic Bee Sting, which has chili honey and soppressata, is our favorite, but the Lamb Of God (homemade lamb sausage and ricotta) is great, too. The crust is cooked in a brick oven, so it’s perfectly blistered and charred, yet still chewy. Even the biggest pizza snob in your life is going to be impressed.
Annapurna is a vegetarian southern Indian restaurant in Culver City with a menu featuring specialties from the chef’s home city of Chennai. Dishes across the menu here are spicy, rich, and deeply aromatic. The biryani is a standout. Filled with carrots, potatoes, peas, cauliflower, green beans, fresh mint, and dozens of spices, this is our favorite vegetarian version in town and should be considered a must-order, along with the crispy and slightly sour masala dosa.
There’s a reason that Margot continues to be so popular - it’s one of the best places on the Westside to catch a sunset. It’s on the roof of Culver City’s Platform complex, and has excellent views of the adjacent train junction. There’s also a wide-ranging menu filled with solid tapas, pasta, and big plates of meat, but you’re really here for the gin and tonics - because they’re fantastic. And the sunset, of course.
This Culver City spot has been cranking out supremely crunchy fried chicken for nearly 20 years. You can’t go wrong with any of their chicken combos, but we love the spicy wing basket - the skin is beyond crispy, the meat is moist, and they’re coated in a sweet and spicy sauce you’ll be licking off your fingers until halftime. Oh, and that basket comes with fries and one of their buttermilk biscuits, which are so good, you can purchase the mix on Amazon.
Mayura is a fantastic Indian restaurant that specializes in dishes from the Southern state of Kerala like fish curry, cheese uthappam, and avail, a mixed vegetable dish cooked with coconut and curry leaves. The dining room is much larger than it looks on the outside and is filled with long purple tables that are ideal for a family dinner when you know people will be joining at the last minute. There’s also a separate vegetarian section on the menu.
Located in the Platform, Bianca is an all-day French/Italian/Argentinian spot that kind of does it all. You can get a solid meal here any time of day - particularly during lunch when they serve excellent focaccia sandwiches - but we love their early morning bakery the best. Here is when you can sneak in at 9am, grab some coffee, a moist Basque cake, and some croissants, and start your day off right on their serene front patio.
Pop’s Bagels started in 2017 as a catering operation, run out of the owner’s apartment. Then they opened a Smorgasburg stall and began popping up at various coffee shops around town. Now, they have a full shop in the Platform in Culver City. These bagels are super simple, doughy, dense, and very tasty. The everything is a favorite of ours - served with your choice of cream cheese (we like the pickled jalapeño, which is full of fatty and spicy flavors, but won’t overpower the bagel beneath). You should also get the What Zach Had For Breakfast, a rotating special involving sweet-and-savory combos like a sesame bagel topped with Santa Barbara Smokehouse lox on one side, and cream cheese and strawberry jam on the other.
The really great spots that remind us of old Frank Sinatra hangouts are largely concentrated in Hollywood and Weho - except for Dear John’s, the recently resurrected sort-of steakhouse on Culver Blvd. with serious Old Hollywood vibes. The drinks are strong, and the food is surprisingly interesting. There’s a bone-in chicken parm, fried and stuffed with mozzarella, and a perfectly briny tableside Caesar served by a person dressed like an old-timey butler. It’s also one of the darkest restaurants in LA, which preserves the illusion that Frank could be just down the bar throwing down martinis.
No burger in the city has caused more friendship implosions, breakups, and multi-generational family disputes than the one at Father’s Office - especially when it comes to the infamous “no ketchup” policy. But here at The Infatuation, we’ll track this classic down every time we’re near its sprawling Culver City location. Topped with caramelized onions, gruyere and Maytag blue cheese, bacon compote, and arugula, this is the perfect combination of sweet, salty, and extremely tangy. Some could argue that it’s actually just a sandwich - and they might be right - but couldn’t you argue any burger is just a sandwich? Bonus: There’s also an excellent tap list.
Located on Sepulveda, Maple Block is a cool and affordable BBQ spot that arguably set off the modern LA BBQ craze that’s still ongoing today. The brisket is tremendous, but it’s everything else on the menu that keeps us coming back: the smokey chicken wings, the pimiento cheese sandwich, and whatever dessert they easily convince us to order. We want it all.
Mateo's Ice Cream & Fruit Bars
Between their Oaxacan-style paletas, super-creamy gelatos, and sorbets that taste like freshly juiced strawberries, this incredible Mexican dessert shop reminds us of an enchanted bow and arrow, or Olivia Colman’s IMDb page - it simply doesn’t miss. There are a few locations throughout the city, with each storefront stocked with over 30 different flavors of paletas, including watermelon, mango dusted with chile, and leche quemada - a creamy smoked milk concoction that tastes exactly like someone kippered a gallon of dairy over an open flame.
Potato Chips Deli
If you’re roaming around downtown Culver and are craving a good sandwich, head to Potato Chips. This is technically the second location (the original is in Beverly Grove), but even so, it’s still one of the most underrated sandwich shops in the city, with house-made ciabatta rolls stuffed with everything from tuna salad to Impossible meatballs. Favorites of ours include the roast turkey with havarti and herb aioli and the crunchy chicken Milanese, but we’ve never eaten a sandwich here that we haven’t liked.
The most underrated Westside ramen spot is Kotoya, the only place we gladly let charge us $2 for green onions and $2.50 for nori sheets. Every penny is worth it to support this tiny Palms noodle counter, which offers a top-tier tonkotsu broth that’s rich, flavorful, and fatty while still being light enough that you can carry on with the rest of your day. Piling on tableside spicy pepper and oil is also an essential move.
Is Jackson Market actually too good to be true? Located on a hidden residential street, Jackson Market serves as deli, apothecary, wine shop, snack bar, and probably a few other things we don’t even know about. With its incredible back patio, this is the ideal place to catch up with friends after a long week.
As one of Culver City’s most iconic food spots, Tito’s has endured the test of time (over 60 years) and remains near and dear to the heart of the neighborhood. The walk-up, no-frills location still has long daytime lines that wait for the cheese-covered crunchy tacos and a whole helping of nostalgia.