Westwood is home to a world-class university, over-priced celebrity condos, and soul-crushing traffic. And while most people associate Westwood with the UCLA-adjacent Village, it actually stretches from Bel-Air all the way to Century City. Though the extremely wealthy neighborhood will never exactly be known for its food, there’s still plenty of great places to check out.
From dive-y, drunk-food spots in the Village to the best Persian in LA south of Wilshire, Westwood has quite a bit more than you think. So whether you work in the neighborhood and are looking for a quick lunch spot, or are a stoned Freshman who doesn’t know where you are, here are all the places you need to be eating in Westwood.
Sichuan Impression is one of the best restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, so when they opened a new location on the southern edge of Westwood in 2018, our excitement was palpable. Update: It’s even better than the original in Alhambra. The menu is full of fragrant, intensely-flavored dishes that stay on your lips for days (the tea-rubbed ribs and mapo tofu are must-orders) and the sprawling, second-story dining room is perfect for large groups of friends. When the menu is as stacked as it is at Sichuan Impression, you’re going to need all the help you can get.
Westwood is home to Little Tehran, a tiny neighborhood-within-a-neighborhood that’s home to the best Persian food in LA. If you’re looking for an entry point, go to Attari. Unlike some of the large, sit-down places along Westwood Blvd., this order-at-the-counter shop keeps things quick, casual, and affordable. The menu features a tongue sandwich that’s worth extending your lunch hour to eat, but frankly, everything is great. Prepare for a line, and for plenty of people watching on the front patio.
Ramayani is one of the oldest Indonesian restaurants in Los Angeles, and from the second you walk into the tiny space on Westwood Blvd., you can sense how special it is. The tables are filled with locals who have been coming for decades, suits from Century City, and scattered UCLA students who can’t bear eating another meal on campus. The tremendous menu is large (and a bit overwhelming), so if you want to sample a bunch of different things, go for the Nasi Uduk - a combination platter filled with everything from tofu curry to peanut fritters to Indonesian fried chicken.
Believe it or not, the ice cream cookie sandwich was not created by an Instagrammer named MacKenzye in 2012. We don’t know the exact origin story, but Diddy Riese’s 30+ years of business proves our favorite dessert sandwiches existed long before girls started taking selfies with them. Diddy Riese is a Westwood classic and the first stop for anyone in the area. The lines are treacherous, but stick with it. Because the reward is an ice cream/cookie mix-and-match showdown of your dreams. (Don’t miss the brownies either).
Located inside the Hammer Museum, Audrey’s indoor/outdoor space feels like an exhibit unto itself, complete with colorful tiling, red orbs hanging from the ceiling, and museum-goers rolling around in spinning chairs. There’s a lot going on, but this objectively beautiful restaurant is easily the best new spot to take your parents when they visit you at UCLA. As far as the food goes, stick to the porterhouse, tagliatelle, and anything with a vegetable in it. They also have excellent cocktails, which you’ll probably need before telling mom and dad you’re switching majors. Again.
From the outside, Hamasaku looks like one of those uniquely-LA strip mall sushi spots, but inside, it feels like you might actually be in Japan, not next to a Coffee Bean. Their $80 omakase plays the same trick - you get a pretty high-quality product for a reasonably fair price. On top of all the sushi (including less-common options like cuttlefish and sardine), the omakase includes miso soup, egg custard, and dessert as part of the deal. The fish is fresh, the crowd is low-key, and you’ll definitely leave full.
When it comes to Persian restaurants on Westwood Blvd., Taste of Tehran is pretty new, but this order-at-the-counter cafe has quickly established itself as one of the best spots for affordable, quick Iranian food. While you can’t go wrong with any of their kabobs and wraps, your focus really needs to be on their daily specials board, and in particular, the Cornish game hen. It’s a massive portion of perfectly marinated game hen sitting on top of a huge bed of delicious basmati rice. We’d highly recommend finishing it before heading back to the office, or else expect your coworkers to vulture it all afternoon.
It’s not news that a lot of the food inside Westwood Village exists mainly to service drunk college kids, but one major exception to that rule is Northern Cafe. The order-at-the-counter Chinese restaurant has a massive menu full of everything from dan dan noodles to cumin lamb to beef rolls, and while everything is good, you’re in line for the dumplings. Whether they’re stuffed with juicy pork and crab or shrimp, egg, and chive, these are some of the better tasting dumplings you’ll find on the Westside.
When you don’t have the patience to wait in line at Diddy Riese, head a few blocks south of Wilshire to Saffron & Rose. Located in the heart of Little Tehran, the tiny shop has been churning out thick, Persian-style ice cream for almost four decades, and is an LA institution. Almost everybody is eating the saffron and pistachio flavor, but we never leave without getting at least one scoop of the orange blossom as well.
Shamshiri Grill has been a Little Tehran staple for decades, so it’s not surprising that you can walk in any day of the week and see the entire neighborhood eating lunch here. The sprawling space is packed with large groups of friends and families sharing kebab platters, Persian stews, and shirin polo - basmati rice mixed with almonds, pistachios, and orange peel. On weekdays, you’ll find a separate lunch menu where plates hover around $10, making Shamshiri one of the most affordable lunch options in the area. That said, you can’t leave without getting the tahdig appetizer - crispy basmati rice topped with a stew of your choice (you’re going to choose the Persian curry).
Across the street from Ramayani, you’ll find the best shawarma in Westwood at this classic Lebanese spot. The order-at-the-counter cafe has quick service if you’re coming in on your lunch hour, and a fairly large interior if the rest of your team wants to join as well. Though you can’t beat the shawarma, we never leave without an extra order of the fried cauliflower and a side of falafel.
Located on the southernmost stretch of Westwood Blvd., Tacos Tu Madre is a colorful, affordable taco window serving everything from carnitas to lamb birria to Korean BBQ tacos - and it’s all pretty good. They also quietly serve an all-day breakfast burrito that isn’t the best we’ve ever had, but is definitely in the discussion.
Bella Pita is a UCLA staple and home to something called the Wowshi, which is essentially a Mediterranean calzone. Open super-late every day of the week, Bella Pita is where you go when you aren’t feeling late-night pizza at Lamonica’s and In-N-Out is an absolute zoo. Our move is always the Chicken Wowshi with falafel, and all the hummus we can pump from the condiment bar.
This tiny Korean BBQ stand might not look like much from the outside, but it makes some of our favorite on-the-go food in the neighborhood. They have everything from bibimbap to udon, but at lunchtime, we go for the combo meat plate. Two meats of your choice over rice, plus salad, kimchi, and a drink - for less than $14. You simply won’t find that amount of (good) food at that price anywhere else in the area.