Los Angeles Lunching: Locally-Famous Burger Joints, Award-Winning Sandwiches, and Food Network-Approved Restaurants
By Sujata Day
No matter what you call them—power, take-out, fast food, business—Los Angeles takes great pride in lunchtime perfection. Many L.A. restaurants have been featured on Food Network and Cooking Channel television shows, like Brent’s Deli and Philippe the Original. In a hurry? No visit to Los Angeles is complete without a visit to the uber-popular In-N-Out, founded by the Snyder family in 1948. Order from the secret menu and the exceptionally friendly employees will treat you like a local. Eager to bite into the best pastrami sandwich in the universe? Stop by Langer’s Deli and order the #19, a world-famous and delectable concoction drowning in cole slaw and swiss cheese. Joan’s on Third doles out as many dessert options as lunch entrees – take a sugared molasses cookie or a marshmallow cream-filled chocolate cupcake back to the office for the afternoon ahead. Feeling fancy? Head over to Providence, a Michelin 2-Star award-winning seafood restaurant situated in the heart of Hollywood. The establishment earns high points for a creative menu and superb quality. Located within walking distance of William Morris Endeavor, one of the largest talent agencies in the world, don’t be surprised if you find yourself dining next to A-listers like Madonna, Barbra Streisand or Sean Penn at The Grill on the Alley. Itching for locally sourced, fresh ingredients? Search no further than Clementine for savory grilled mushroom panini or a hearty egg salad sandwich, and add on a cup of the day's soup for a filling midday meal. Order up and dig in!
10 Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery
Just when "they" said New York was the only big city with unbelievable corner delis, now Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery proves them wrong! Opened in 1925, Bay Cities continues to serve top-notch tasty meals at great prices. Constant chaos engulfs this tiny deli/grocery during lunch hours, as it is known around Santa Monica for its unbelievable fresh-made breads, antipasto and sandwiches. The Godmother is the most hailed of all, loaded with thick cuts of salami, lettuce and tomato. Lines can be long, so while waiting, peruse the gourmet market for its specialty Greek, Argentine and French foods. If waiting is not an option, order online and pick your eats up to-go. (310-395-8279)
9 The Grill on the Alley
This LA lunch favorite offers excellent service and attractive wood-and-leather decor. A good choice for a power lunch, The Grill is especially popular with folks in the entertainment industry. Located within walking distance of William Morris Endeavor, one of the largest talent agencies in the world, don't be surprised if you find yourself dining next to A-listers like Madonna, Barbra Streisand or Sean Penn. The menu features a wide selection of steaks, pork chops, seafood, and pastas, as well as salads and American classics like chicken pot pie and meatloaf. Multiple locations dot cities across the U.S. but the original restaurant in Beverly Hills takes the cake for superior food, service, and celebrity-spotting. Named "Best Power Lunch" by LA Magazine. (310-276-0615)
8 Apple Pan
Known for its simple one-page menu, Apple Pan has been serving up top notch burgers and succulent pies since 1947. Grab a seat at the u-shaped counter next to fellow customers and settle in for a unique burger experience that has changed little over the past 60 years. All the while, even more people stand along the wall behind those seated, willing them to finish so they can order and eat. Order the zesty Hickory Burger, sip your soft drink from a cone paper cup held by a metallic holder, and save room for the fresh apple pie with a dollop of ice cream. Drop by for a bite, and you might just run into a Jonas brother. This is the original version of fast food, only better, and the Hickory Burger is the local favorite. (310-475-3585)
7 In-N-Out Burger
What is everywhere in LA, only serves burgers, fries, and drinks, and gets rave reviews? No visit to Los Angeles is complete without a visit to the uber-popular In-N-Out, founded by the Snyder family in 1948. Everything is made fresh to order, the french fries diced from whole potatoes diced and cooked to perfection before your eyes. Locals order from the "secret menu" with favorite items such as the animal-style burger and fries (smothered in chili and cheese), protein-style (no bun, patty wrapped in lettuce), and root beer float (half root beer, half vanilla milkshake). You can eat on the patio or take it out. The service is exceptionally friendly, and the lines move fast. (800-786-1000)
This charming cafe prides itself on its use of local ingredients and its made-from-scratch cuisine. Clementine is a winning choice for all three meals, but lunch really shines with a superior selection of hot and cold sandwiches, deli salads, green salads, and soups. The regular menu changes every 2-3 months depending on neighboring Farmer's Markets and fresh, seasonal sustainable ingredients. Try a savory grilled mushroom panini or a hearty egg salad sandwich, and add on a cup of the day's soup for a filling midday meal. The restaurant offers an additional treat on Thursdays, when a reservations-only afternoon tea is served for $18.95 per person from 3pm to 5pm. (310-552-1080)
5 Philippe the Original
Famed Chef Emeril Lagasse paid tribute to Philippe the Original on the 2011 premiere of his new Cooking Channel show, "The Originals with Emeril". Located near famous Dodger Stadium, this landmark eatery has established a name for itself since 1908, serving tasty French dip sandwiches that hit a home run every time. Obligatory sides of coleslaw and macaroni salad (or a million other choices) round out the sandwich menu, and tons of homemade goodies satisfy the sweet tooth. Old-time decor, replete with phone booths, a scale, and counter stools, offers a casual environment that keeps diners coming back again and again. With 10-cent cups of coffee, it's a true deal in the heart of downtown. (213-628-3781)
This Michelin 2-Star award-winning seafood restaurant in the heart of Hollywood earns high points for a creative menu and superb quality. Opt for the tasting menu to sample a variety of dishes, along with the wine pairings sure to delight the senses. Only the freshest seafood makes its way to Providence's coveted tables. This charming New American spot serves a mixture of hot selections and raw, cold ones — both excellent, according to regulars. Start with an indulgent appetizer of foie gras sauté served with braised quince and port wine before feasting on dishes like lobster with cinnamon-scented butternut squash or New Zealand tai snapper accompanied by a compote of vine-ripened tomatoes. For an exquisite dining experience with gorgeous presentation in an intimate setting, Providence reigns supreme. (323-460-4170)
3 Joan's on Third
Known primarily for its superb catering business, this tidy little spot also does a bustling take-out business at lunch and dinner (there's a handful of tables for folks who prefer to eat in). Step into the inviting kitchen with marble counters and communal tables, which bring to mind Joan's New York roots. Apricot-glazed ham and brie make for a delicious and unusual sandwich, while tarragon chicken salad with field greens and Joan's own vinaigrette is a light, healthy choice. There are almost as many dessert options as lunch entrees — take a sugared molasses cookie or a marshmallow cream-filled chocolate cupcake back to the office for the afternoon ahead. (323-655-2285)
Serving hungry Angelenos for over 65 years, Langer's has achieved iconic status for its tangy, smoky, tender pastrami, which can be had in an astonishing variety of sandwiches and hot plates. While the legendary #19 — pastrami, Swiss cheese, and cole slaw — is undoubtedly the most popular sandwich, why not go out on a limb with #28, a gargantuan $21 affair involving pastrami, corned beef, tongue, turkey, Swiss cheese, and Russian-style dressing? French dips, steaks, desserts, and an encyclopedic assortment of sides round out the menu. In February 2012, the award-winning #19 came in at a respectful #3 on L.A. Weekly's "10 Best Sandwiches in Los Angeles" List. (213-483-8050)
1 Brent's Deli
Recently featured in Food Network's hit show, "The Best Thing I Ever Ate... In a Deli," Brent's star quality continues to rise. Although the location is unassuming, this is THE deli in Los Angeles, according to aficionados. If plain brick walls, green booths, and framed pictures don't wow you, the food certainly will. Sky-high reuben sandwiches are rumored to be the best this side of New York, and eggs benedict at breakfast and meatloaf at dinner win raves as well. Brent's doesn't serve alcohol, but if you desire a frosty brew, just eat in the pub next door — your food will be passed to you through the "beer window." (818-886-5679)
About Sujata Day
Living in the land of perpetual sun, beautiful beaches, and gorgeous people has fueled Sujata Day’s creativity in myriad ways. Her short story “Forbidden Fate” won the WRITE STUFF competition sponsored by MTV and People magazine, birthing a prosperous writing career. The tale was published in a collection of short stories titled Pieces, edited by Stephen Chbosky. Reviews hail Pieces as “an exciting glimpse into the future of fiction” and “endearingly raw, undeniably bold, and engagingly inventive.” Since moving to LA from the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA, Sujata has appeared in many TV shows, films, and internet productions. TV credits include Desperate Housewives, Secret Life of the American Teenager, Campus Ladies, Greek, and The Loop. She plays a supporting role in 2009’s Down For Life, alongside Danny Glover and Snoop Dogg. Sujata produced, wrote, and starred in the web pilot Raveena and the Vampire chosen to launch as a 2010 premiere vehicle on the popular internet channel, Somebody’s Basement. Currently, she stars as ‘CeCe’ in the hit web series, Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. Sujata can be seen next starring in the film, Big Breakin', to be released in early 2012.
Read more about Sujata Day here.