The Los Angeles Metro Red Line celebrated its 25th anniversary just a few weeks ago. Extending from Downtown Los Angeles to North Hollywood, it delivers thousands daily to destinations like the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. In many ways and for many people, the line is emblematic of Los Angeles.
So it’s little wonder that the food stops along the line are just as distinctly Californian. For lunch or on vacation in Hollywood, these five eateries feel like home.
Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market is Downtown Los Angeles’ foodie haven, and has become an international destination for culinary aficionados everywhere. But for many in DTLA, it still remains the best place to grab lunch while at work, breakfast beforehand and a cool beer after a long day. Even if you’re not within walking distance, Grand Central Market is easily accessible via Pershing Square. Options include no shortage of tacos and Mexican food, Thai sticky rice, handmade pasta and homestyle barbecue.
Grand Central Market has dozens of vendors, offering gourmet grilled cheese or the artisanal peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Sarita’s Pupuseria features traditional Salvadoran food like tamales and pupusas. It’s a godsend on LA’s rare rainy days. Nothing tastes better during a downpour than some delicious atole or a pupusa revuelta.
Located just one block away from the Westlake/MacArthur Park station, Langer’s Deli has been providing Westlake with traditional comfort food since 1947. The main draw here is the pastrami, which has earned Langer’s acclaim across America and can come with Swiss cheese, coleslaw or sauerkraut, just to name a few options. Specialties also include Jewish delights like kasha varnishkes, potato pancakes and cheese blintzes.
The menu features hundreds of combinations, designed to appeal to Langer’s diverse clientele. This wealth of food is what makes Langer’s different from all but a few Southern California delis, many of which are content to feature basic cuts and call it a day. Word of warning: Langer’s shuts its doors at 4 p.m. If you’re looking for lunch, it’s the perfect place, but don’t let their closing time catch you by surprise.
It’s located more than a 10 minute walk from the Wilshire/Vermont station in Koreatown, but California Donuts is worth trekking four blocks up the street. Open 24/7 and sporting long lines at all hours, California Donuts has become something of a local legend due to the availability and richness of their matcha donut. Few other places tend to stand up to this treat, and it’s often that a matcha donut is treated just like any other pastry. But California Donuts’ pastry-makers know that the green tea flavored donut has to be kept moist and fluffy at all times.
California Donuts is best known for their photogenic “Panda Donut,” which features two Oreos for ears, and quickly went viral after its launch. The Panda Donut is joined on the specialty items list by cereal-topped donuts, candy-covered treats and even a chocolate bacon donut.
A Food Affair
Cozy, intimate and just a few blocks down from the Pico Red Line station, A Food Affair takes French cuisine, long considered the gold standard of culinary opulence and makes it accessible to Angelenos. The menu features handmade-from-scratch items like beef bourguignon, duck confit and fried fish that’s to die for. No detail has been overlooked in these decadent dishes, and the cornerstone of French cuisine – sauces – have been elevated to new heights here. If you’ve ever wanted to try apricot ketchup, or green peppercorn cognac sauce, now’s your chance.
French classics like escargot and quenelles are available here, each served with only what’s absolutely necessary to bring out the flavor of each dish. A Food Affair’s desserts follow the same principle, keeping things simple and delectable. Don’t let the high price tags keep you away from this indulgent inn.
Set in the heart of Hollywood and just a few minutes’ walk from the Walk of Fame and from Red Line’s Hollywood/Vine station, Mama Shelter is a boutique hotel with locations around the world. Most come to stay for the night, but few realize that the hotel is also one of Los Angeles’ best dining destinations, especially in the late afternoon. While many restaurants festoon themselves with comfy digs to create a cool atmosphere, Mama Shelter takes advantage of killer rooftop views.
On a clear day, it’s possible to see all the way to the Pacific Ocean, while you munch on California fusion food like fried rice featuring blue crab or braised pork, and sandwiches that aren’t afraid to get experimental with what’s inside. There’s also an extensive wine and cocktail menu, so you can enjoy happy hour with a view that’s classic California.