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The best Highland Park restaurants

From intimate gastropubs to old-school taco stands, we're eating our way through the best Highland Park restaurants

Photograph: Leslie Rodriguez
Good Girl Dinette

As one of the most rapidly evolving neighborhoods in LA, Highland Park offers an eclectic and exciting array of dining options. From decades-old taquerias to new and bustling bistros, you can find plenty of delicious options at any time of day. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely brunch option, grabbing a quick taco or banh mi for lunch, or digging into a bowl of ramen or moules frites on a date, here are our favorite Highland Park restaurants. 

Check out these Highland Park restaurants

Maximiliano

This neighborhood favorite manages to impressively balance elevated Italian American fare with a relaxed, communal vibe. Whether you're out for a romantic date or just grabbing brunch, opt for the high-ceilinged, cheerful dining room or head out back to the secret garden-like patio. You’ll likely want to share one of the excellent wood-fired pizzas with toppings like burrata or lamb sausage before moving on to handmade pastas, including delicate cacio e pepe or bucatini all’amatriciana with guanciale and spicy pomodoro. For brunch, consider the smoked salmon pizza, short-rib hash with eggs or the brioche French toast with Nutella. You’ll also find a great wine selection and mostly local beers.

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Good Girl Dinette

Deliciously blending traditional Vietnamese flavors with the feel of a classic American diner, owner and chef Diep Tran has carved out an essential Highland Park eatery. The restaurant is bright and airy with exposed brick and vintage, fiestaware-hued seating. Start with the addictive spicy fries and scallion-adorned, blistered corn. While you can’t go wrong with the excellent banh mi, hearty porridge or filling pho—all of which have a vegetarian option—you don’t want to miss the pot pies filled with either a chicken or vegetarian yellow curry and topped with a buttermilk biscuit. To drink, opt for the Vietnamese coffee or the housemade sodas with farmer’s market ingredients.

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Sonny's Hideaway

With dark wood, vintage-style booths and dim-lighting, Sonny’s Hideaway lives up to its secretive name as an unpretentious, better-than-average gastropub. Start with a thoughtfully-crafted cocktail before making your way into shareable plates of American classics with flavor-packed twists like braised lamb meatballs with grits or smoked deviled eggs. Highlights from the bigger dishes include the ricotta dumplings with stewed tomatoes and a tender roasted chicken breast. Should you swing by on the weekend for brunch, head to the back patio and be sure to order the churro fritters to start. 

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El Huarache Azteca

For two decades, El Huarache Azteca has been drawing crowds of hungry fans for their excellent Mexico City-style huaraches. They recently underwent a stylish makeover—switching red walls to black and expanded the seating options—but have maintained the magic. For the uninitiated, huaraches are a flat, oval of masa that resembles a sandal (which is where the dish gets its name) that is topped with beans, meat or vegetables, Mexican crema, crumbled cotija cheese and cilantro. It’s a beautiful, delicious mess. Besides the signature huaraches, we also recommend the quesadillas (particularly those filled with huitlacoche, an earthy corn fungus) and the barbacoa special on weekends. Cool off with a refreshing agua fresca made with fresh fruit.

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Kitchen Mouse

This charmingly cozy café is the perfect nook for nibbling a healthy breakfast or lunch while catching up with friends over coffee. Run by former-punk-singer-turned-chef Erica Daking, the recently-expanded space is flooded with natural light and includes lots of flower-adorned, wooden tables. The mostly gluten-free and vegan menu (you can add eggs to most dishes) features plenty of market-fresh produce while still being filling for even ravenous omnivores. Favorites include the Buffalo bowl with brown rice, black beans, collard greens, yams and dill-cashew and Buffalo sauces; for something sweet, don’t miss the buckwheat pancakes topped with Vermont maple syrup, coconut and berries.

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Ba

An intimate and artfully-designed French bistro, Ba was one of the first restaurants in the recent wave of upscale date spots to hit York Boulevard. Large-paned windows peer into a cozy space—we’re talking 24 seats max—with chic chandeliers, swooping drapes and modern furniture. French classics are given the farmer’s market treatment on a menu that shifts with the seasons and features plenty of vegetarian options. The moules frites, tarragon jidori chicken and truffled risotto are tough to pass up, and you’ll definitely want to save room for the crème brûlée. Perhaps not surprisingly, the wine selection leans heavily French with a few choice beer options for good measure. Weekend brunch is always reliable with hits like the gravlax scramble and the duck confit hash.

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Recess Eatery

This recent addition to York Boulevard offers a stunning setting for a night out or a leisurely brunch. Inside you’ll find a spacious dining room with exposed brick, a vaulted bow and truss ceiling and long communal tables in the center. There’s also a beautiful patio with olive trees and a fireplace. Chef Sevan Abdessian brought much of his school-themed menu from the original Recess Eatery in Glendale, which includes modern California dishes with Mediterranean and Armenian flourishes. Start off with the falafel trio with pickled vegetables and the smoky fried cauliflower before diving into some of the larger dishes like the roasted corn and ricotta ravioli or pan-roasted chicken.

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Metro Balderas

Named for a Mexico City subway station, this bustling taqueria hasn’t been around long, but it's already a neighborhood institution. The time to go is on the weekend, when they go big with eight varieties of carnitas, left tender after being simmered in lard instead of the usual quick boil. Arrive early to beat the crowds that will inevitably gather inside the sparse, bright orange shop. If you miss the weekend taco madness, they also serve excellent sopes, quesadillas and pambazos—a sandwich whose bread has been dipped in red chile sauce, filled with potatoes and chorizo, and pressed until crisp. You’ll also want to order a giant, frosty stein of agua fresca.

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Ramen of York

Highland Park’s first ramen destination comes from the team behind the ever-bustling Silver Lake Ramen. The noodle shop is refreshingly sparse with red-topped stools lining the kitchen and narrow counters along a brick wall. The menu shifts the focus from the popular pork-based tonkotsu broth to a milder—yet still delicious—chicken variation that’s available clear (tori shio) or creamy (paitan). There’s also a hearty vegetarian version, as well as the tsukemen dipping noodles. For variety, there are rice bowls (also available with quinoa), including pork belly or mabo tofu. While there’s no booze, you can sip Japanese-inspired aguas frescas that nod to the neighborhood with options like the spicy togarashi jamaica and yuzu-spiked Japanese colada.

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Town Pizza

Quality pizza by the slice can be hard to come by in LA, but Town Pizza has nailed it with their grab-and-go spot on York Boulevard. Gluten-free and vegan options abound, along with the option to select from either a classic or signature pie. Go simple with ham and pineapple, pepperoni or cheese, or be adventurous by ordering the Town Molé, made with molé sauce, fontina cheese, roast pork and sweet corn, and topped with crumbled cotija, cilantro and pickled red onion. Don't see anything you like? Build your own pie and make it an original.

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