Before returning home to the hilly neighborhood of Highland Park in Los Angeles, I fantasized about all these plans of grandeur, from visiting art museums and hiking to shopping. But after coming home from an exhausting quarter, I ended up unmotivated to do anything. One of the few things that drove me away from my laziness was food.
Over the short seven days we had for spring break, I revisited some of my favorite places to eat in the greater Los Angeles area: Pasadena, Hollywood, Glendale, Downtown Los Angeles, Eagle Rock and Arcadia. Whether you’re up for a hike or shopping in Los Angeles, I’ve got your appetite covered. I hope you enjoy these eateries as much as I do!
You have most likely seen an overwhelming amount of “basic” Instagram posts revolving around the infamous Urth Caffé. Although many deem this now mainstream eatery as “overrated” and “overpriced,” it’s definitely worth a try for first-timers. If cognizant of time, avoid visiting during regular lunch hours. I’ve visited all of the Urth Caffé’s locations besides West Hollywood, and all are surrounded with both inside and outside seating in highly popular areas of Los Angeles. The popularity of this cafe often attracts long lines and limited amounts of seating.
The steep prices of $6 to $14 are in part due to the high-quality and certified organic ingredients utilized. But the cost pays off: their drinks are well-known around L.A., and the Los Angeles Times says that they have the “best caffe latte in all of L.A.” Their lattes, adorned with handmade designs, include green tea, honey vanilla and of course, the coffee classics. Urth also offers organic boba teas available with additional flavorings that include coconut, mango, vanilla, caramel and jasmine. The boba can either be iced or blended, but I would recommend iced because the blended tends to consist of mostly ice that overpowers and waters down the subtle flavors of the tea. Everything I have ordered here, from paninis to pizzas, and even salads, satisfied my Urth-fix, so be adventurous and try something new!
594 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91101 | (626) 844-4644 | Website
This is one of my favorite spots to visit with my friends after a hike to the Hollywood Sign or Griffith Park. Amongst the fast-paced city life of Los Angeles, this café, a rustic cabin with outdoor seating, is a breath of fresh air. This small gem hidden within Griffith Park specializes in freshly-made vegetarian sandwiches, quiches and baked goods. One of my favorites is the avocado sandwich which has the perfect balance of smooth and crisp textures. The buttery avocado contrasts nicely with the crunchy lettuce, sprouts, and tomato that adds a well-needed bite. For dessert, be sure to order a slice of their legendary pie. They tend to run out quickly so you may have to make another visit to this hideaway within the city.
2333 Fern Dell Drive, Los Angeles, California 90027 | (323) 871-2102 | Menu
This family owned seafood joint was established in 1948 as a market with a variety of “seafood, poultry, groceries and original marinades and sauces to compliment them.” The establishment recently renovated and created the “Galley Deli,” which offers freshly prepared food to eat-in or takeout. If you don’t have time to eat or are in a rush, their grab and go items are just as delicious. If the crunchy shrimp roll had not been in packaging, I would have believed the sushi was from a well-regarded sushi restaurant. The subtleness of the shrimp and eel sauce combine to create a delectable specialty roll for only $8.50. The sushi also included soy sauce, wasabi and ginger to ensure customers receive the full “sushi experience.” If sushi is not your thing, they also have inexpensive, fresh vegetable ($3.95) and shrimp spring rolls ($4.95) that include peanut and spicy sauces. Although many corporate conglomerates have made it difficult for independent shops to succeed, Fish King has remained prosperous for the past 67 years because of their dedication to “exceptional quality, fair pricing and service.”
722 North Glendale Avenue, Glendale, California 91206 | (818) 244-2161 | Website
Sul and Beans
Sul and Beans is a Korean bingsoo cafe located on the second level of the Wilshire Center. You may be wondering, what the heck is bingsoo? Bingsoo is Korea’s version of shaved ice. Their flavors include strawberry cheesecake, green tea, black sesame, mango and more, and can be accompanied with toppings that vary from chopped fruit, condensed milk, mochi cubes, rice cake powder, almond slivers … all the way to red bean paste. The delicate, fluffy texture of the shaved ice is like tasting a cloud. You can also get your injulmi fix with versions packed with honey or caramel. So if you find yourself craving sugar in Koreatown, Sul and Beans is perfect for any adventurous sweet eater.
621 South Western Avenue, Suite 208-A, Los Angeles, California 90005 | (213) 385-5510 | Facebook
Ichiban Japanese Restaurant
In Japanese, ichiban means “first,” which is fitting for my favorite restaurant with the most delicious, inexpensive Japanese cuisine. The family-friendly atmosphere with combined sports bar and sushi bar adds an Americanized appeal. But the restaurant stays true to their Japanese roots by greeting customers with irasshaimase meaning “come in” or “welcome.” The decorations also transports you from the hustle and bustle of the Americana and Glendale Galleria to a serene sanctuary.
Although both lunch and dinner menus are satisfactory, I would recommend coming early enough for their lunch specials. You have a choice of three items from fish, meats and vegetables. In addition to these main courses, the special also includes salad, miso soup and rice! I’ve tried most of their specialty rolls, but I always order the white roll. This specialty roll is comprised of luscious lobster on the inside with a delicately crunchy tempura casing. On top, the roll is adorned with flying fish roe, chopped green onions and two sauces (spicy mayo and eel) that complement each other well. If you find yourself in the city of Glendale, be sure to visit Ichiban, and I promise that you’ll want to come back for seconds.
120 South Brand Boulevard, Glendale, California 91204 | (818) 242-9966 | Menu
Oinkster owner Andre Guerrero invites diners to “enjoy high-quality American classics in a relaxed, modern and fun environment.” Oinkster finds a middle way between “expensive gourmet meals” and their “cheap fast food counterparts.” Their $10 and under menu skips high prices and does not sacrifice for quality or taste. Their commitment to excellence is apparent in their house-made specialty pastramis, hamburgers and meat sandwiches that can be accompanied with real Gruyère and sharp cheddar. Don’t worry if meat isn’t your thing, because they offer the best veggie burger I’ve ever had for the low price of $6. The moist patty, along with the Thousand Island dressing, contrasts nicely with the crisp textures of dill pickles, onions, tomato and lettuce. To top off your meal, the classic Belgian Fries with their homemade garlic aioli and ketchup make the perfect side.
Oinkster also makes their own sauces, dressings, condiments and spice rubs to provide the fullest dining experience for their customers. As for dessert, their milkshakes are hand-scooped and made with Fosselman’s iconic ice cream. My all-time favorite milkshake flavors are their seasonal options, such as horchata, and their ube, which is a popular smoothie and milkshake flavor in the Philippines that tastes like a subtle variation of vanilla with a hint of coconut and a purple coloration. If shakes don’t satisfy your sweet tooth, Oinkster also tempts the taste buds with their array of homemade cupcakes and desserts.
2005 Colorado Blvd, Eagle Rock, CA 90041 | (323) 255-6465 | Website
Tasty Garden specializes in Chinese and Cantonese cuisine. The restaurant may not have the prettiest exterior, but the interior is decorated with beautiful royal purple embellishments. The large restaurant can seat quite a few people during busy times, but the service lacks whether or not it is busy.
Similar to Oinkster, the restaurant’s main dishes are less than $10. Although some customers complain about their food being too oily, the regular order I make of crispy walnut shrimp and a side of green beans with garlic never disappoints. The epic mix of perfectly battered shrimp tossed in a sweet mayonnaise mixture along with glazed walnuts and sesame seeds is mouth-watering. I’ve tried this dish at multiple restaurants hoping to find a dish that can top this one, but Tasty Garden is the place to go for sweet shrimp. I would recommend ordering the Hong Kong-style waffles after finishing your meal to avoid this delicious treat becoming soggy and cold. They are freshly baked with crisp edges and a soft center. Overall, Tasty Garden stays true to their name and provides an excellent, economical meal.
1212 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, California 91007 | (626) 445-9388 | Menu
BONUS! → Honeyboba
If you’re planning to visit Tasty Garden, you should also make a trip to the “best boba alive,” also known as Honeyboba, because it’s just around the river bend, better known as a couple blocks. Because their lines sometimes take forever, you have a good opportunity to spend time with friends or use their free WiFi to get some work done. Their overwhelming array of teas, ice crystals, frosted signature milkies and creamy smoothies can make it difficult for the indecisive customer to order from the 140 plus options and variations. Not only do you have choices for your drink, but you may also add extra toppings for 49 cents each such as the traditional honey boba, egg pudding, taro pudding, various kinds of jelly, red bean and aloe vera. For another 49 cents you can choose to get a large!
Some complain on Yelp that they dislike the fact that they only sell drinks with no food or snacks, but I don’t mind because boba is my main reason for taking a trip to the Arcadia Honeyboba near the library. I normally order a large taro milk tea, light on the ice, with honey boba and red bean, but there are numerous delicious options to choose from. You may want to consider looking at the menu beforehand to speed up the process! Best of luck deciding on what to drink!
1 West Duarte Road, Arcadia, California 91007 | (626) 446-9788 | Menu