Check out these Highland Park restaurants
The stunning restaurant blends California and Mediterranean cuisine, with a menu populated by toasts (steak tartare, mushroom, burrata), salads, pastas and meat-focused plates like braised meatballs and pork collar. Stay and have a drink at the marble-topped bar, or head to the adjacent bar in back (Good Housekeeping) for a stiff swill in a more casual, intimate setting. At brunch, we suggest dining in the charming nook of a back patio, if you can nab a coveted table there.
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.
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.
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 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. Next door, don't skip the restaurant's new bakery and deli, TOPO. It's there you'll find vegan and gluten-free sandwiches, cakes, cookies and to-go items, plus gifts and knick-knacks for all.
The vibe is casual and the menu here is brief, limited to a handful of boiled and fried dumplings, one or two bao and one or two rice bowls, but it's hard to go wrong with any of them. Unless, of course, you sleep in. This fast-casual spot comes by way of the owner of Monrovia's Luscious Dumplings, which prepares the goods for both spots each day; get here early, because Mason's tends to sell out and once these dumplings are gone, you'll have to come back tomorrow.
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.
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.
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. Not feeling ramen? There are rice bowls (also available with quinoa), including pork belly or mapo 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.
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.
Who says speakeasies have to be limited to booze? Tinfoil Liquor & Grocery is Jeremy Fall's ode to the neighborhood bodega, with cold beer, top-notch liquor and hearty sandwiches. The front of the shop boasts booze and groceries, but if you're looking for something a little more substantial, utter the words "Do you sell birthday candles?" and get buzzed into the back deli, where you can find a variety of sandwiches like ham and brie, roast turkey with house-made bacon, and corned beef. The subs are hearty and totally sharable, and the sides and deli meats to-go will up your home sandwich game infinitely.
Quality pizza by the slice can be hard to come by in L.A., but Town Pizza has nailed it with their grab-and-go spot on York. 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 Mole, made with mole 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. Next door, there's a bar and seating area, if you don't want to walk and slice.
For those hunting for pizza on Fig—and really, some of the best fast-casual pizza anywhere in L.A.—head to the freshly opened Triple Beam. Mozza Complex magnate Nancy Silverton and former Mozza chef Matt Molina teamed up for Highland Park's only Roman-style pizzeria, slinging scissors-sliced pies you pay for by the ounce. Thanks to partnership with and guidance from the team behind Everson Royce Bar and Silverlake Wine, this spot also pours beer and wine. The menu is brief—serving only about five varieties at a time—but you can't go wrong with any.