You need to try these Glendale restaurants
Located at the Americana at Brand, Bourbon Steak is chef Michael Mina’s signature steakhouse, a classy establishment where you can splurge on American angus, wagyu and holstein along with Japanese and Australian wagyu in various cuts. If you’re not in the mood for steak (but c’mon—get the steak), opt for the New Zealand rack of lamb, the wild halibut with black truffle dashi, or the classic wedge salad, and don’t skip the à la carte sides of whipped potato purée, creamed spinach with feta, or truffle mac and cheese. Attached to the restaurant is Bourbon Steak’s bar and lounge, where you can also splurge on steak in addition to cheese plates, cocktails and coffee, sometimes to the tune of live jazz.
The Tcholakian family opened Carousel in the back corner of east Hollywood’s Hye Plaza in 1983, serving Lebanese-Armenian cuisine, and have since gone on to run a more elaborate branch in downtown Glendale. It’s the Khash-Khash kebab that you’ll want here—juicy, well-spiced, hand-molded skewers of ground beef lula arrive on a bed of broiled tomatoes and cracked pita, doused with yogurt, garlic and pine nuts. Carousel also has delectable chicken lula. Either way, your meal comes with buttery bulgur and garbanzo beans; grilled pita brushed with tomato sauce; roasted tomatoes and jalapenos; onion and parsley salad dusted with sumac; and a tangy cabbage slaw tossed with tomatoes, herbs and olive oil vinaigrette. Stick around for live entertainment (there will definitely be dancing) on Friday and Saturday nights.
If the San Gabriel Valley is, mentally or geographically, far from you, but xiao long bao—Chinese soup dumplings filled with hot broth and usually pork—are calling your name, then head to the Glendale iteration of Din Tai Fung. The Americana at Brand location is stylish, sleek and modern; it looks like it belongs in the sort of mall that offers valet parking (and it does). Unlike the Arcadia spot, this outpost includes a full bar and a special menu item: Soup dumplings with a slice of truffle layered on top of minced pork. If you’re in the mood for something more traditional, the restaurant’s signature juicy pork dumplings are lovely, thin-skinned pouches filled with savory pork and hot broth, eaten with a dab of soy sauce, vinegar and ginger.
This Glendale mom-and-pop joint has been serving some of the best comfort food in Los Angeles—namely its flame-licked kebabs—since the ’70s. The wood grill imparts a glorious, smoky quality to any meat, from lamb chops to lule (ground meat kebab). Each meal is around $15 or under, but the best value is undoubtedly the quail: California’s state bird, which normally commands a premium at trendier restaurants, costs only $9.99 for a pair at Elena’s. The juicy whole birds come with toasted pita and garlic butter, a heaping pile of rice, grilled pepper and tomato, pickled vegetables and a bowl of hearty lentil soup or house salad.
Foxy’s wooden A-frame sets it apart, stylistically speaking, from most other retro diners in L.A.; the dark wooden planks, including a dropped “V” rafted along the center of the ceiling, keep the interior cozily dim. The menu is a gargantuan, multi-page affair, with a photo for almost every dish and cuisine that skews towards Mexican, especially when those dishes involve eggs. Locals know this, which is why the wait times can get lengthy for weekend brunch, so come early. The Leaning Tower of Mexico couldn’t exactly be called authentic, but it’s just what you want on a carbo-load day: three corn tortillas layered with rice, black beans and two over-easy eggs, all topped with ranchero sauce, avocado and cheese.
Yes, you may leave Joon Shabu Shabu smelling like your food, but trust us—it’s totally worth it. The shabu shabu house offers a number of ways to enjoy the traditional Japanese feast, ranging from Miracle (Angus beef served over a bed of steaming vegetables) to Sukiyaki (a more old-school shabu shabu experience, featuring beef, udon noodles, veggies and tofu cooked in a savory broth). There are vegetarian options as well, and each dish allows you to choose from one of Joon’s many house-made sauces—beware of the Sizzler sauce, which uses fiery Indian chilies for a hearty kick. Cool off with some mochi to finish your meal.
Mario’s is a one-stop shop for all of your deli cravings: fat Italian subs, spaghetti and meatballs, imported olive oils, pizza by the slice, house-made tiramisu and just about everything else your Italian grandmother used to make. Take, for example, the Bad Boy Sub: your choice of the day’s protein (pastrami, turkey, ham, BBQ chicken), toasted and spread with mustard, mayo or avocado, then piled high with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese and spicy cherry peppers. Want to recreate it at home? Order your cheeses and meats from the deli, grab a bottle of wine and practice your own sub-making skills. Mario’s will always be here if you fail.
Ovakim Martirosyan and his wife and son run a tiny kabob house on a Glendale side street that offers only three tables. They tend to a long and lean stovetop grill, which holds kebabs, tomatoes and peppers, churning out some of the best Armenian cuisine in all of L.A. The Mini Kabob Plate ($11) features small luleh kebabs crafted in-house with either beef chuck or chicken thigh plus salt, pepper, onion and a special "green plant" that Martirosyan refuses to reveal. Each plate comes with rice, blistered tomato, spicy jalapeño, onion, parsley and sumac salad; a basket of lavash; and a tiny ramekin of garlicky, Aleppo pepper-dusted hummus. If you can’t find a seat, take your meal to-go or curb it.
One visit to this Cuban family-owned bakery, which started as a modest cake business in Echo Park in the 1980s, and you’ll be making excuses week after week to come back for fresh-out-of-the-oven cheese rolls, decadent fruit tortes and pies, authentic Cuban sandwiches and flaky chicken empanadas. Perhaps what they’re best known for, though, is the potato balls—mashed potatoes filled with ground beef and fried to a beautiful golden brown. If you’re in the market for a birthday cake, Porto’s has exceptional deals on cakes as well (the tres leches is tops). Can’t make it to the Glendale spot? Other locations include Burbank and Downey.
Frequented by homesick Persians, large parties (a private banquet hall is available), or just anyone with a hankering for a plate full of beef kebab and lavash, the traditional cuisine at this husband-and-wife-owned eatery can be enjoyed outside in the courtyard or in the main dining room. Enter from the back, through the alley where valet parking is located, and be transported to Persia by a menu boasting meats (chicken, lamb and beef), and what Raffi’s is known for: their gigantic serving sizes. Once you’ve fully chowed down on your large skewers of ground-beef lule and filet mignon kebab, known as barg, paired with a variety of rice dishes—we recommend the sour cherry rice, albaloo polo—sip on the fragrant hot tea to end the meal.
The next time a sushi craving hits, head straight to Sushi Sasabune. Chef Nobi Kusuhara hand-selects his fish each morning, changing the menu on a daily basis to reflect the day’s best catch. The result? Rich eel, clean halibut, tender salmon and creamy sea urchin. Just don’t come looking for standard rolls: The famous sign reads, “No spicy tuna roll. No California roll. No tempura, teriyaki. Seriously!” This is where you come for omakase, hand rolls and rotating à la carte nigiri. A nice sake selection keeps the meal going well past your last bite of tamago.
Some would shudder at the prospect of having a slice of American cheese in their taco, but Taqueria el Tapatio has made a name for themselves by doing just that: laying the equivalent of a Kraft single between two tortillas and building from there. This cash-only joint is small but with a decent amount of outdoor seating—order at the window before pouncing on the next free seat. If you come for breakfast, the chorizo and egg burrito is a heavy, messy thing of beauty; any other time of day, opt for the tacos—and don’t forget that American cheese.
Zankou Chicken has a strong cult following in L.A. With locations dotting the county (and one in Anaheim), there’s a chance you’ll be able to find the family-owned Mediterranean chain when the craving for rotisserie chicken hits. The tender bird can be enjoyed on plates, wraps, skewers or as one giant, half-rotisserie chicken, but there’s also shawarma, falafel and a few vegan salads. Whatever you order, be sure to stock up on Zankou’s garlic sauce, which has inspired many imitations throughout the years—though none come close to the original.