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Hippo Dining Room
Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano

The best Highland Park restaurants

Eat your way through eclectic, vegan-friendly Highland Park, where you can find Mexican, Taiwanese, Spanish, bagels and more.

Written by
Patricia Kelly Yeo
Contributors
Danny Jensen
&
Stephanie Breijo
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As one of the most high-profile gentrified neighborhoods in L.A., Highland Park now possesses a unique array of excellent brick-and-mortar restaurants and street food stands. Among them are decades-old family-run restaurants, cash-only taco spots, a relatively new neighborhood sushi bar, and a critically acclaimed Taiwanese fast-casual spot selling the finest thousand-layer egg pancake wraps outside of the San Gabriel Valley.

No matter the time of day, you’ll find excellent places to eat, with the bulk of them concentrated on York Boulevard and Figueroa Street. Whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, dinner or late-night eats, here are our favorite Highland Park restaurants.

RECOMMENDED: See more in our guide to Highland Park

Our favorite places to eat in Highland Park

  • Restaurants
  • Torterias
  • Highland Park
  • price 1 of 4

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 resembling a sandal that’s 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.

  • Restaurants
  • Taiwanese
  • Highland Park
  • price 1 of 4

Run by Vivian Ku, who also runs Pine & Crane in Silver Lake, this sleekly designed, community-focused Taiwanese spot draws sizable lines for some of the best fast-casual food in Highland Park. Efficient staff members will nimbly help you order at the counter, which features a rotating selection of various chilled Chinese starters. On its small menu, the standouts include a thousand-layer pancake with egg, cheese and basil (be sure to ask for chili oil) and the chiayi chicken rice bowl. Our favorite dish, however, is the pillowy clamshell bun, which can be made vegan with bean curd and mushrooms. If you can, save room for the peanut and black sesame hakka mochi.

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  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • Highland Park
  • price 1 of 4

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For those hunting for pizza on Fig—and really, some of the best fast-casual pizza anywhere in L.A.—head to Triple Beam’s original location in Highland Park. Helmed by local culinary icon Nancy Silverton and former Mozza chef Matt Molina, Triple Beam sells Roman-style pizza by the ounce, plus focaccia and garlic knots. Thanks to a partnership with the team behind Everson Royce Bar and Silverlake Wine, this spot also serves beer and wine. Although the team typically slices up several varieties at a time, we love their vegan-friendly pomodoro and the truffle-laced fontina, mozzarella, potato and sage; they also offer pre-ordered gluten-free whole and half-size pies.

  • Restaurants
  • Hamburgers
  • Highland Park
  • price 1 of 4

With its retro diner feel and a wooden paneled curbside patio, this all-vegan burger spot’s Highland Park location is a quaint respite from the car and pedestrian traffic on nearby Figueroa Street. Housemade vegan patties dot both classic cheeseburgers and the Brainburner: a crunchy, spicy sandwich full of jalapeño chips, chopped banana peppers, garlic aioli and vegan provolone. Although the nutty-tasting shakes and golden fries are serviceable, our favorite side order is the crispy tofu nuggets, served with a choice of two sauces.

 

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Highland Park
  • price 1 of 4

Often erroneously listed online as Dos Mujeres, Jenny’s Tacos is a small, cash-only sidewalk cart selling tacos made with six kinds of meat and vegan-friendly nopales, or prickly pear cactus pads on some of the best handmade corn tortillas in all of L.A. Open nightly from 8pm to 2am on a quieter stretch of York, Jenny’s typically offers mouthwatering juicy cuts of asada, al pastor, pollo, buche, chorizo and tripas as well as cups of at least one type of horchata or aguas frescas. Paired with a few pickled onions and jalapeño peppers, they’re quite possibly the most perfect post-drinking late-night snack.

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Highland Park
  • price 1 of 4

With all the anticipation of a Fairfax Avenue sneaker drop, sleepy patrons line up outside Belle’s Bagels early on weekend mornings, hoping to score one of the shop’s signature, double-fermented bagels. Coming in the usual flavors like everything, onion and plain, Belle’s also offers a unique cacio e pepe bagel dusted in pecorino cheese and pepper. With high-quality cream cheese in beet, scallion, lox and vegan cashew varieties, plus delicious, hefty bagel sandwiches with must-try spicy tomato jam, it’s no wonder people line up at Belle’s most days of the week. (Planners can skip the line and place an order online the day before.)

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  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • Highland Park
  • price 2 of 4

Abbreviatorily named after the space’s previous tenant—the Highland Park Post Office—Hippo is a full-service neighborhood Italian restaurant from the same Mozza-partnered crew behind adjoining Triple Beam Pizza. Indoor diners are likely to get an earful of early 2010s alt and indie rock as they dine on starters, pasta and wood-grilled proteins alongside well-made cocktails or a glass of wine from its small, curated selection of sparkling, white, orange, rosé and red wines. Although most of its pastas are made in house, Hippo also sources from Semolina Artisanal Pasta in Pasadena. Come dessert, there’s scoops of Silverton’s famous “Nancy’s Fancy” gelato, as well as a seasonal fruit-topped custard brioche tart and a passable Basque cheesecake.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Highland Park
  • price 1 of 4

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 mouthwatering dumplings are gone, you'll have to come back tomorrow. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • Highland Park
  • price 2 of 4

Located on Figueroa, this gorgeous Spanish restaurant by chef Teresa Montaño sneaks global flavors into classic dishes from Valencia and Catalonia. Here, you’ll find a crispy, mouthwatering seafood paella as well as a dizzying number of tapas—including a must-order pan con tomate with optional (but not really) jamón ibérico. Drinkwise, you’ll find gin-and-tonic goblets brimming with herbs and botanicals, vermouths, sherries, natural wines and, of course, sangria, most of which you’ll find at budget-friendly prices during “Siesta Hour,” from 4:30 to 6:30pm, along with jamon croqueta and an excellent frito mixto with lemon aioli.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Highland Park
  • price 1 of 4

Though this all-day Tex-Mex L.A. restaurant now has five locations across the city, HomeState’s Highland Park location features a charming string-lit brick patio—the perfect place to dip their excellent breakfast tacos into queso with a swig of housemade frozen margarita or paloma, or perhaps their Ranchwater cocktail made with tequila, orange liquor, Topo Chico and lime. While you can’t go wrong with any of their tacos, the must-orders are the Trinity (bacon, eggs, potato, cheddar) and Guadalupe (chorizo or soyrizo, eggs, cheddar) on HomeState’s award-winning flour tortillas, made fresh daily. For fork-and-knife fare, look towards their migas and their take on the classic Frito pie in a bag.

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  • Restaurants
  • Peruvian
  • Highland Park
  • price 1 of 4

Run by Highland Park’s Maritza Gomez, this casual, takeout-friendly Figueroa Street restaurant serves massive portions of Peruvian food at budget-conscious prices, including lomo saltado, a delectable arroz chaufa with customizable protein, and tallarín saltado (stir-fried linguini noodles). Here, you’ll also find traditional Peruvian dishes like papa a la huancaína and a zesty pollo a la brasa, served with choice of side. For a show-stopper, order the la copa nostra. Served in a giant goblet, it’s a mixed ceviche consisting of both raw and sauteéd seafood in a spicy leche de tigre.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Highland Park
  • price 2 of 4

This mid-range neighborhood sushi spot serves excellent nigiri, cut rolls and larger sushi bento sets with a variety of vegan options, including tofu cream cheese maki rolls available with both sliced beets and shiitake mushrooms. Ichijiku also offers a carefully curated selection of sake by the bottle, as well as beer, wine and green tea. Although Ichijiku’s fish selection mainly consists of more affordable, everyday cuts like salmon and albacore, those in the mood for a splurge will enjoy their fatty bluefin tuna cuts and Japanese A5 Wagyu nigiri, priced per piece. Out back, you’ll also find a cute, string-lit patio with plenty of picnic tables.

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  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian
  • Highland Park
  • price 2 of 4

This charmingly cozy café is the perfect nook for nibbling a healthy breakfast or lunch while catching up with friends over coffee. Run by ex-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.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Highland Park
  • price 2 of 4

Highland Park’s first ramen destination comes from the team behind the popular Silverlake Ramen. At this bare-bones noodle shop lined with red stools and narrow counters you can order the mini-chain’s popular pork-based tonkotsu broth or try their lighter chicken shoyu broth named “The Soul.”  There’s also a hearty vegetarian version, as well as the tsukemen dipping noodles. Not feeling ramen? There are sushi rolls and rice bowls (with option to swap for quinoa) topped with pork belly, chicken karaage and more. While there’s no booze, you can sip their cucumber mint yuzu-nade or iced green tea.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Highland Park
  • price 1 of 4

Located next door to Highland Park’s very own Chicken Boy, La Fuente serves a budget-friendly all-day menu that includes huevos rancheros and chilaquiles—otherwise known as our favorite way to eat chips for breakfast. Inside, you’ll find a pretty casual restaurant with a checkered floor, pink vinyl booths and a hodgepodge of Mexican and Wild West-themed prints on the walls. In addition to attentive service and generous portions of delicious, old school Mexican American food, each table receives a seemingly endless shower of chips accompanied by two types of red salsa.

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Highland Park
  • price 1 of 4
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The team behind the all-vegan Donut Friend might since have opened a Downtown location and ice cream-centric Creamo in Silver Lake, but their original location in Highland Park is still more than worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood. Though Donut Friend also fries up tried-and-true favorites like maple glazed old fashioned and doughnut holes, their unique, quirkily named signature flavors take the lion’s share of the limelight. Take the raised Green Teagan and Sara, which comes glazed with matcha and a sprinkling of toasted black sesame seeds and freeze dried raspberry powder. Filled doughnut lovers will enjoy the Bavarian cream-infused Youth Brulée, which cracks just like its namesake dessert when you bite in.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Highland Park
  • price 1 of 4
Outside a strip mall containing an AutoZone, Waba Grill and a Big 5 Sporting Goods sits Tacos La Guera, a cash-only sidewalk operation that serves some of the best tacos in the city, including their delicious al pastor, freshly carved off a glistening trompo, plus a selection of aguas frescas and horchata. Open nightly from 4:30pm to midnight, Tacos La Guera also operates in South Gate, Huntington Park, Boyle Heights and Venice. Though your eyes may be drawn, as ever, to the rotating spit, we’re also partial to their other tacos, including lengua (beef tongue), buche (beef cheek) and ultra-tender suadero (navel beef plate).
  • Restaurants
  • Californian
  • Highland Park

This quaint 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 the back (Good Housekeeping) for a stiff drink in a casual, intimate setting. At brunch, we suggest dining in the charming nook of a back patio, if you can nab a coveted table there.

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  • Restaurants
  • price 1 of 4

Named for a Mexico City subway station, this taqueria is known for its carnitas tacos, although 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. The best time to go is on weekends, 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, and don’t forget a glass of whatever aguas frescas available that day.

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