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The best restaurants in Echo Park

From vegan spots tacos to some of the top pizza in town, the best restaurants in Echo Park are also some of the coziest, coolest hangouts in L.A.

Cochinita pibil taco at Guisados
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman Cochinita pibil taco at Guisados
By Erin Kuschner, Stephanie Breijo and Time Out contributors |
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You’d be hard-pressed to find a fine-dining restaurant in Echo Park, but that doesn’t mean this neighborhood is lacking in quality cuisine. Vegan restaurants are aplenty here, along with laid-back cafés, pizzerias and Mexican gems. After checking out the many things to do in the area—like, oh, paddling around in a swan boat—head to one of our picks for the best restaurants in Echo Park. And if you’re in need of a drink later in the day? We’ve got you covered on that, too.

RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Echo Park

The 19 best restaurants in Echo Park

1
Restaurants, Japanese

Tsubaki

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Tsubaki gave Echo Park the izakaya we never knew it needed: This dimly lit, neighborhood Japanese restaurant from Charles Namba and Courtney Kaplan is always packed, and with good cause. The pricing is sensible, the sake list is phenomenal—and you can find more next door at sibling bar, OTOTO—and the menu reinvents drinking food with options like fried sweetbreads with karashi mayo; lamb-belly yakisoba; and sake-steamed crab with French seaweed butter. The range of yakitori, small pates and heartier braised fare gives you complete control over your mix-and-match menu, with endless possibilities (and sake) in sight. 

2
Restaurants, Italian

Cosa Buona

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Cosa Buona is chef Zach Pollack’s hearty, no-frills Italian joint, an Echo Park sibling to Alimento, his acclaimed Silver Lake pasta spot. At Cosa Buona, the name is spot-on—there are a lot of good things here, including a range of antipasti, salads and pizzas for dining in or takeout and delivery. The shining star is the pizza, though, whose fermented crusts are the perfect, fluffy vessels for the no-modifications pies (especially at brunch, when you can add an egg to any pizza). Don’t even think about skipping the mozzarella sticks, nor the house-made ranch dressing, nor the Stepmother sandwich at lunch—you know what? Just order everything. 

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3
Restaurants, American creative

The Park’s Finest

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The Concordia family have been mastering the art of BBQ for generations, and it shows. The Park’s Finest spices up traditional American cuts with Filipino flavor like none other, a fitting tribute to its neighborhood nexus (it sits right at the edges of Historic Filipinotown and Echo Park, after all). Known for their “50% mom, 50% pop, 100% L.A.” mantra, this one-of-a-kind BBQ restuarant has grown from a small catering company to a popular eatery slinging 16-hour–roasted San Pablo pulled pork, Mama Leah’s sweet coconut beef and Ann’s cornbread bibingka, which was baked in a banana leaf. Drop by their adjacent new bar, Thunderbolt, for a taste of Southern comfort while you’re here.

4
Restaurants, American

Ostrich Farm

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Homey and devoid of pretense, Ostrich Farm is a place for family but also for friends, a date or a solitary post-work drink at the bar. It’s comfortable, a sentiment carried through to the mostly wood-grilled and -roasted California cuisine: Leeks and thin discs of potato top a flatbread deluxe, along with crumbles of creamy blue cheese and onions that result in a luxurious iteration of pizza. Vegetables shine in every dish, but the seafood and tender meats aren’t to be missed, either. Save room for dessert, then immediately make plans to come back for brunch.

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5
Restaurants, Mexican

Guisados

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Born in Boyle Heights, Guisados now has seven locations in L.A., including their Echo Park taqueria. Here, handmade tortillas are made to-order and filled with signature braised meats. Snag a table on the outdoor patio or inside if it’s chilly, and dig into the mouthwatering tacos—we like the moist tinga de pollo, rich and juicy mole poblano and flavorful cochinita pibil topped with spicy red onions. Wash it all down with refreshingly tart jamaica aqua fresca or creamy, spiced horchata. Can’t decide what to order? The six-taco sampler offers two-bite tastes, while spice fanatics can’t miss the chiles toreados.

6
Restaurants, Japanese

Konbi

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Sure, this streamlined Japanese-inspired café probably seems like The House That Instagram Built, but the truth is, it offers much more than its so-photogenic egg salad sandwich. It even offers two speeds: dine-in at a 10-seat counter, or to-go from a walk-up window situated right along Sunset Boulevard. Either option you pick, you’ll be greeted with the same mouthwatering menu of katsu sandwiches on milk bread, plus seasonal sides, and some of the city’s best croissants and canelés—all best enjoyed with imported Japanese teas and innovative espresso concoctions.

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7
Restaurants, Thai

Sticky Rice

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Grand Central Market’s popular Thai eatery planted a flag in Echo Park with this colorful, flavorful outpost, which comes complete with a vintage arcade nook, for while you wait for your khao soi and other traditional dishes. The menu leans fun and focused on street food like BBQ red pork, Northern Thai sausage, fried fish balls and house-made pork jerky, but you can always get the America-beloved classic curries, pad Thai and fried rice dishes, too.

8
Restaurants, Cafés

Valerie Echo Park

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Valerie Gordon’s empire includes a confections shop or two, so even though this Echo Park bakery and café is focused on teas and fantastic all-day fare, just know you’ll always be able to find some killer sweets here, too. Brunch and lunch options include sandwiches—we love the prosciutto with butter and pickled mustard seed—and the tea-sized tartines, to try a bite of a few things at once. The house-made granola with fruit and honey—or any of the petit fours, honestly—makes for the perfect morning fuel or afternoon snack.

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9
Restaurants, Pizza

Masa of Echo Park

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The Chicago deep dish at Masa is the real deal. You’ve got your two-inch-deep pan, your fresh cornmeal crust, your cheesy sauces and chunky fillings for days. The cozy, family-owned vibe matches with an irresistible menu of classic Italian- and Chicago-style edibles (vegan options, too!) and turns an average night out into a hug in meal form. Pick from menu favorites like the Lots of Cheese (True to its name, it consists of mozzarella, romano and buffalo mozzarella cheese—“and lots of it”), or create your own with toppings that range from rosemary chicken breast to anchovies. If all goes well, you’ll be rolling out of there like a hunk of stuffed crust.

10
Restaurants, American

Honey Hi

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The name may sound cutesy (it’s also a Fleetwood Mac song), but Honey Hi is serious about making flavorful, healthy dishes for the Echo Park crowd. The minimalist shop features a deli case and a fridge full of locally made goods like kimchi, kombucha and vegan cheese. Grain bowls dominate the menu: That Grain Bowl is a colorful mix of rice, kale, roasted squash, turmeric-pickled onions, nettle pesto and more, while the Miso Bowl is a little more hearty with jade rice, cabbage, carrots, chicken, a ginger-and-chickpea miso dressing and spiced almonds. A selection of smoothies abound, as do sipping broths and any other possibly stereotypical (but oh-so-delicious) items for the trendy Echo Park set.

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11
Restaurants, Vegan

Sage Vegan Bistro

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Imaginative and hearty, dishes at Sage feel like they’re nudging vegan cuisine in a new direction. Jackfruit is employed often here—dressed up with chilies in street tacos or as a tuna substitute in the “tuna” melt. Quinoa corn cakes are served with a sharp and crunchy slaw for just the right amount of zing, while the Bowl of Soul is served with a decadent, gluten-free mac-and-cheese ball for comfort. The extensive plant-based menu is one of the best in town, and you should always finish with a scoop of Icekreme—cashew, almond milk and coconut–based ice cream—scooped straight from the ice cream counter.

12
Restaurants, Contemporary Asian

Button Mash

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Whatever you want to call it—restaurant, bar, arcade—Button Mash has created a category all its own in L.A. The food is fantastic. Vietnamese spring rolls, a decadent double cheeseburger and a selection of rice dishes, noodles, sandwiches and larger plates, bring bright, spicy and herbaceous notes to this neighborhood hang. The drink menu includes a unique list of beer and wine, which you can peruse before you hit the 50-ish arcade machines from the ’70s to ’90s. Frogger, Tron, Donkey Kong and Food Fight are just a sampling that populate the floor (some even have second, hidden games!), and a row of pinball machines have their own section by the bar.

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13
Restaurants, Diners

Brite Spot

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Its future was uncertain, but under new ownership, this Echo Park staple from the ’40s is flourishing. Like so many of the neighborhood’s worthiest eateries, Brite Spot has a knowing sort of charm: The retro décor, still intact with rosewood tufted booths and shiny display cases, matches the menu, which can best be described as classic diner with a SoCal twist. The pies here remain the move, so even if you’re full from that patty melt, don’t you dare skip dessert.

14
Restaurants, Contemporary American

The Park Restaurant

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This cozy bistro is where locals go because they know they can always find dependable food and service all set against a charming, traditional black-and-white checkered floor. The menu offers some eclectic items, such as Szechuan fried calamari and cauliflower cakes, along with staples that include roast chicken, osso buco, and spaghetti and meatballs. Browse the beer and wine list for a good selection of reds and whites by the glass, as well as tasty craft beers.

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15
Restaurants, Vegetarian

Elf Cafe

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This neighborhood haunt is a date night go-to for vegetarians and omnivores alike—and especially for those who tend to fall for Middle Eastern and Mediterranean menus. Call ahead to claim a spot at the counter or table, rubbing elbows with your date (or neighbor) inside the cozy, dimly-lit dining room. Choose from the well-curated wine and cocktail menu and toast over vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options like Moroccan vegetable tagine and walnut-pesto pappardelle. The kitchen at Elf also whips up the likes of rich, wild-mushroom risotto and a housemade labneh topped with date-olive tapenade—tangy, cool and ready to be scooped up with pieces of warm pita.

16
Restaurants, Cafés

Pollen

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L.A.’s Aussie invasion brought a number of Aussie cafés to the city, but Pollen is one of the best of them. This disarmingly cute all-day café and espresso bar serves light bites and sunny fare like honey yogurt, poppyseed pancakes and mushroom toast. (Lest ye forget, Aussies love their “brekkie.”) Take a seat with a full meal on the heated patio, sip lattes from enamelware mugs or simply grab a pastry to-go, all from one of Echo Park’s most cheery neighborhood spots.

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17
Restaurants, Sandwich shops

Trencher

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Just off one of Echo Park’s most foot-beaten stretches of Sunset Boulevard is Trencher, a small shop named for the medieval open-faced predecessor of the sandwich. A cozy dining room with a laid-back vibe, Trencher is a purveyor of specialty sandwiches with novel ingredients such as puréed garlicky parsnip served over brisket, or portobello mushrooms with red peppers, onions and basil. Each sandwich is expertly composed and served alongside house-made chips or one of the kitchen’s scrumptious hot sides, including smashed potatoes, mac and cheese or buffalo cauliflower.

18
Restaurants

Beacon

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You could start your day with a boring breakfast, or you could start it with a view of the always-gorgeous Echo Park Lake while you nosh on locally sourced and sustainably raised avocado toasts, acai bowls, breakfast sandwiches and other light fare from Beacon. This bright and casual breakfast-and-lunch spot serves chef-driven meals that skew healthy, plus coffee, tea and pastries. Sure, that’s not too uncommon in Echo Park, but this restaurant boasts one of the best views for miles around.

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19
Restaurants, Cafés

Dinette

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Dinette is a tiny café where you order from a counter after perusing cake stands filled with quiches, tarts and cookies, all separated by a sleek glass window. There’s no indoor seating area, only scattered chairs and tables in a small alcove bound by plants and the sidewalk lining Sunset Boulevard. Tarts and toasts rule the roost here: The potato, leek and bacon tart is crisp and savory (the crust is excellent), and an ideal morning snack with a cup of coffee. There’s an avocado toast, of course, because this is L.A., and the pastries upon pastries are drooled over by residents no matter the time of day.

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