Whether you’re working from home due to our rare and recent stormy weather or you’re hiding out from the coronavirus, you might start to go a little stir crazy as you barricade yourself in this month. But slowly depleting your pantry of dried chickpeas and pasta isn’t the way it has to be every day: Some of L.A.’s restaurants are here to help, and delivery just so happens to be their specialty.
As rents soar and delivery apps corner the market on easy at-home dining, a number of chefs are turning to virtual restaurants or “ghost kitchens” to stay in the game, and go delivery-only.
Even traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants are getting into the ghost-kitchen format—including Canter’s and Trejo’s Tacos—in order to service neighborhoods where they don’t have storefronts, saving on rent and other traditional service costs. The overhead is lower, the fanbase can grow, and it’s a win-win for diners who can get a taste of some of their favorite spots without driving across the city.
Here are some of the city’s best delivery-only options around town right now, for a taste of something different. Just be sure to tip your driver.
If the state of the world has you craving comfort food, the newest contestant in the virtual-restaurant ring has you covered. The restaurant group behind Umami Burger just launched its first delivery-only concept, and Sam's Crispy Chicken is all about fried chicken, waffle fries and crunchy tenders. Sam's uses antibiotic-free chicken, which comes either grilled or fried. You can get it in sandwich form in flavors like caesar salad, Nashville-style hot, buffalo or even on a waffles bun, or opt for chicken-topped salads, plus tenders with an array of sauces. Not craving chicken? Sam's also sports vegan chick'n, plus sides like waffle fries, buffalo cauliflower and mac and cheese.
Available through: Postmates, UberEats, Doordash, GrubHub and Caviar
Quick, affordable Southeast Asian noodles from Cassia’s Bryant Ng? The Rustic Canyon Restaurant Family made it all possible last year with the launch of its first delivery-only concept, Cassia Rice & Noodle Kitchen. They’ve since folded the RNK ghost kitchen into Cassia’s own delivery and takeout menu, but you can only find these RNK dishes virtually—which, we might add, feels like the best of both worlds. RNK noodle soups and Cassia classics like beef rendang and the Vietnamese-coffee pudding? That’s a merger we can get behind. Look for RNK-only options like lemongrass chicken fried rice, scallion bread and wonton noodle soup.
Available through: Cassia and the RNK website
You could open one virtual kitchen, sure, but if you’re Eric Greenspan, you could open an entire virtual food hall. The celebrity chef’s Alt/Grub/Faction houses four separate delivery-only concepts under one intangible roof, all of which are available from 8am to 10pm and through most food-order apps on the market.
There’s Brekkie Breakfast Burritos in case you’re in the mood for a burrito packed with eggs, cheddar, potatoes, caramelized onions and protein options like pastrami, carnitas, chicken sausage, bacon, or chorizo, plus breakfast sandwiches, French toast (one encrusted with the cereal of your choosing), acai bowls and a matcha yogurt bowl.
Looking for bodega vibes brought straight to your door? Greenspan’s 2 on a Roll offers a classic NYC bodega menu, complete with the L.A.-elusive bacon, egg and cheese (BEC) sandwich. These more upscale spins on the quick-and-cheap stalwart arrive on a poppy seed kaiser roll and filled with thick-cut, pepper-crusted bacon, with options for pastrami, maple-glazed ham, and house-made breakfast sausage. There’s also a brief deli selection with a patty melt, an egg salad sandwich, and a brick-pressed grilled cheese and more.
For more between-buns meals in the comfort of your own home, look to Bubu’s, the Alt/Grub/Faction home of burgers and chicken sandwiches. Opt for chicken sandwiches as “naked” (not fried and not spicy), “angry” (fried and spicy) or even “dirty” (topped with a sour-cherry slaw) with a range of toppings, plus wings, tenders, popcorn chicken and boneless thighs. Burgers come Okie-style, which means smothered in American cheese and charred onions, and you can round everything out with sides like cornbread waffles or sweet potato hush puppies.
The last of Greenspan’s virtual kitchens is big on fusion—and big, period. Chino slings massive orange chicken burritos, bulgogi quesadillas and other Pan-Asian–Mexican mashups, with a few set items and a bevy of options for build-your-own tortas, burritos, bowls, salads or quesadillas. There’s a carnitas bánh mì, some fried rice and even a side of wasabi guacamole, but if you’d prefer to take the meal into your own hands, you can design your own meal with the likes of hoisin-glazed fried tofu; tamarind-rubbed pork belly carnitas; orange cauliflower; house chorizo and more.
Available through: Caviar, Grubhub and Postmates
As of January you can now find Dante’s Fried Chicken IRL every Sunday at Smorgasburg, but if you need a fix any other day of the week, you’re going to have to hop online.
Dante Gonzales launched his DFC fried-chicken delivery service in Brooklyn some 15-plus years ago, grew it to a cooking show, and eventually made its way to L.A. where you can currently find it operating as the delivery-only DFC Ghost Kitchen based in Koreatown. Creative fried chicken is the name of the game here, studding the crispy skin with seeds, oats, Chex Mix, cereal and a ton of spices to create some totally unique and ultra-flavorful wings and tenders. Meats are humanely raised, and if you’re looking for plant-based bites, there are tofu nuggets and vegan sides such as yucca fries and cucumber-and-corn salad.
Available through: Grubhub and Postmates