Grab a bite at our favorite Silver Lake restaurants
By now, there has been plenty written about Alimento's tortellini in brodo, a dish that is alone worthy of a visit to this Italian restaurant. But chef Zach Pollack's talent doesn't stop there. The pig in a blanket features puffy spelt pastry bookending a thick slab of mortadella, fatty and rich and piled high with stringy brovada (pickled turnips). The fried chicken sandwich is one of the best in town. And if rice pudding happens to be on the dessert menu, don't hesitate to order it. Yes, it gets a little loud at Alimento sometimes, but you'll be drowning out any conversation or excessive music with your own food-induced sighs of pleasure.
White walls, an expanse of brick and low, black leather banquettes set the stage at this Vietnamese eatery, which also has a cozy downstairs seating area boasting a glass-walled wine cellar. You're here for some of the best pho in LA: most options are beef-forward and contain pleasantly fatty brisket and beef balls that pack a peppery punch—satisfying and just right. And if you aren't down with meat? There's a stellar vegeteraian option here that appeals to just about everyone.
From the outside, Bowery Bungalow may scream beachy clothing boutique or quaint coffee shop, but enter this eatery and you'll find a homey restaurant serving modern Mediterranean food. Reinterpreted classics arrive in the form of grape leaves stuffed with a chickpea filling; a heaping bowl of couscous royale that boasts okra and figs alongside dried nuts and chickpeas; and a chicken musakhan that sits next to an airy, buttery Yorkshire pudding—not quite Mediterranean, but fantastic nonetheless. Perhaps some of the best dishes are the desserts, like the exotic konafah, whose light and stringy texture distinguishes it from the similarly composed baklava. There's an outdoor patio, too: perfect for eating outside on balmy nights or during weekend brunch.
A bar, a brunch spot, a great place to grab dinner—Café Stella embodies all of these. You may have to wait a while for a seat—the restaurant is located at Sunset Junction, next to the highly trafficked Intelligentsia, a busy area that gets crowded around meal times. But on mellower weekday nights, the atmosphere is charming and the French bistro food is better than decent: order steak frites, mussels or the famous beet salad. If you're coming for breakfast, the Moroccan eggs with stewed tomatoes, za'atar and Merguez sausage is one of the best ways to start your day.
The two-level patio at Cliff's Edge, which somehow shelters itself from Sunset Boulevard at its doorstep, is its own little island in the middle of Silver Lake. In the center grows a gnarled tree that produces miniature figs in the summer; at night, twinkling lights twist around the centerpiece to light up the space. The modern American-focused menu offers plates of crispy octopus, porcini mushroom pastilla and foie gras terrine, while the inventive cocktail list guarantees a night of satisfied sipping.
On the eastern end of Sunset Junction sits this homey café, where you'll find hungry Angelenos dining on Eastsider Tacos (seitan topped with cashew cheese) or one of the restaurant's five tasty burgers (the portobello seitan is a favorite). Sit outside and people watch as locals, all in various states of stylish dishevelment, walk by. Be sure to order one of the vegan desserts—we love the excellent lemon berry cake—which are on display in the deli cases. Many of the carbs here are gluten-free, including the pancakes, and GF substitutes are readily available. If you’re here with an unconvinced friend, just promise them a stop at the Cheese Store of Silverlake nearby.
Forage sources all of its ingredients locally—and we mean really locally. The restaurant exchanges produce from backyard farmers for free meals and gives grants to help urban farmers obtain state certification as approved food sources for markets and restaurants. Open for lunch and dinner, the ever-changing seasonal menu runs the gamut, from salmon belly tacos to a Korean brisket bowl to barbecue baby back ribs. Order at the counter and take a peek at everything on display before you choose.
It's one thing to promise a slice of New England, but it's quite another to deliver a full-fledged, Martha's Vineyard-esque lobster shop on Sunset Boulevard. Knuckle & Claw gained momentum by selling its lobster rolls at farmers' markets around LA, and now has its own brick and mortar with framed photos of the Vineyard and its landmarks hanging on the walls. The lobster roll is cold and fresh, served in two sizes (four ounces of lobster in a large bun, two ounces in a small) and accentuated by a small amount of butter and mayonnaise. A secret blend of spices top the large chunks of lobster meat. There are other items on the menu, too—a Dungeness crab roll, chowder, shrimp rolls—but, to put it in Vineyard speak: that lobstah is wicked good, and it's all you need.
When the original Night + Market arrived in West Hollywood at the end of 2010, diners were immediately taken by chef Kris Yenbamroong's autheniticity and bold flavors. The only logical thing to do? Open a second location. At Night + Market Song, a Thai banner, beads and a random-but-fitting picture of Cindy Crawford hanging on the wall channel the streets of northern Thailand. Sticky rice comes wrapped in cellophane in a bamboo basket, and even the hor ab (a catfish tamale) channels street food with its packaging, a banana leaf that wraps up the fish and chili and herbs like a present. A few vegan options are available as well, like the gaeng hanglay jay, a Burmese-style curry with tofu and cauliflower. Just be warned: this place doesn't go easy on the spice.
This Taiwanese eatery has developed a loyal following since its opening, so don't be surprised to find a line out the door at both lunch and dinnertime. Order at the counter, then snag a spot to sit either inside or at picnic tables shared by neighboring businesses outside. A succint menu is comprised of cold appetizers, vegetables, small plates, noodles and rice. The mapo tofu, a traditional Sichuan dish, is on point, with well-seasoned ground pork and soft tofu that dissolves in your mouth. The beef noodle soup is packed with equally satisfying additions: thick udon noodles that only get better the longer they soak, bright green stalks of bok choy, and slightly bitter mustard greens that offset the chunks of beef shank resting on the surface. One bite and you'll be a loyal fan of Pine & Crane, too.
Silver Lake Ramen has been a crowd pleaser since it first opened, drawing a steady clientele to its small, 30-seat restaurant every night of the week. Start with a light bite—try the cucumber salad with slivers of crab, sprouts, sesame seed and house vinaigrette—and move on to heartier Japanese staples like chicken karaage or handmade grilled gyoza filled with juicy pork, cabbage and green onion. For the main course, stick with the house specialty—spicy tonkotsu ramen that boasts thick cuts of pork belly, green onions, spinach, bean sprouts, dried seaweed, garlic sauce and chewy noodles all bathed in a rich pork broth, cooked for 16 hours.
What started as a preserves company is now one of LA's most coveted eateries: Sqirl, a small nook of a restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch made with farm-fresh ingredients. Jessica Koslow is still churning out jams, but this time you can get it spread on thick cuts of brioche toast with Sqirl's house ricotta. If you're not ordering toast here, you're probably ordering one of the rice bowls, filled to the brim with the best ingredients LA has to offer: sorrel pesto and radishes, sheep feta and a poached egg, scallions and cilantro and house sausage. The only downside? Everyone loves it here and Sqirl has a monstrous line to show for it at all hours of the day. Maybe bring a book?
If quick and greasy is what you’re after, Tacos Delta is a colorful little stand on the corner of Lucile and Sunset in Silver Lake that serves up chilaquiles, enchiladas and, of course, fresh tacos. The stand's specialties range from shrimp and fish tacos to a whopper of a breakfast burrito. Get them to go or enjoy them in Tacos Delta’s backyard seating area.
The Kitchen is what you hope for when you're looking for a regular neighborhood spot. It's a place where the staff will know your name after a few visits, where service is friendly but not overbearing, where you can come for piping hot donut holes on the weekends and buttermilk fried chicken on weeknights. Inside, cozy tables hug a brick wall, while outside there's plenty of seating to enjoy lunch on a warm afternoon. Brunch is available on the weekends, and trust us—you'll want to get those donut holes.
Tomato Pie Pizza Joint was opened by a New York transplant who—you guessed it—desperately missed the NY-style pizza from back home. So he started his own pie shop, which now has three locations (Silver Lake, Mid-City and South Pasadena) and is dishing out thin-crust pizza to homesick transplants. Try the Mr. White, a garlic, olive oil and three-cheese variation, or the traditional Grandma, a margherita pie that is simple, classic and oh-so New York.