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1. Hiatus Urban BBQ
When I first recommended this spot they were relatively new, and now 2 years later they are still going strong! Andrew is killing it win this hole-in-the-wall BBQ joint. Brisket, chicken, pork or vegetables served either as a sandwich, a plate or on top a bed of kale as a salad. I highly recommend the "Sampler Sliders." An 'expert built' Blue Moo, (Beef brisket with blue cheese, horseradish sauce and onion marmalade), the Crispy Pig (Pulled pork, mustard sauce, ramen for crunch and spicy peppers) and the Cajun Cluck, (chicken, smokey sauce, Baja Brussles and Hiatus pickles that I can't get enough of.) These 3 filling sandwiches served on King's Hawaiian Bread are only $9! Park on La Brea by the Starbucks. Great food, but the receipts are in flux. Right now they can email or text you a perfectly good receipt that you have to print yourself. As this is becoming a widespread trend I think it's something we are all going to have to deal with. Convenient when heading through La Brea to or from the West Side and Hollywood or even when cutting through town from the Valley.
2. Inti Peruvian Restaurant
In the Peruvian Battle of Inti v Marios count me squarely on the Inti side. And you know you're a regular when all you have to do when you walk in is nod your order and moments later Carla brings me the Saltado Mariscos. ($12.75 - $12 for beef and chicken) The very filling 7 Mares soup is perfect for those (rare) cold days in LA. ($14) And if you are in the mood for it, they have a great ceviche mixto. ($14.25) And the Aji sauce goes well with everything. Prices were raised a year ago and it does push us over the $12 cap, especially for the seafood so expect to go a little out of pocket. However, we have an UPDATE!! Ask about THE DAILY SPECIAL, Peruvian comfort food like Grandma made and at $10.90 out the door its a steal! 1-Star Bump! Also, they will give you the proper printed "cash receipt" if you ask and you can still pay with your card at the counter. There are many parking options. Meters on Melrose east bound, free two hours Westbound West of Cahuenga and we've also rolled up in the Pavilions parking lot. And just know, that any given Friday there is a good chance you are going to see me here, and quite likely with a bunch of Set Dressers and Teamsters you just might know. Happy Inti Friday! Or with my kids on the weekend....
3. Oinkster - Hollywood
The new Hollywood version of the Eagle Rock burger stand is just as good and seemingly less crowded as the original. I love the burgers (the pork adobo is stellar) and The Cluckster is an awesome fried chicken sandwich, but the stand outs for me are the "Oinkster Pastrami" and the BBQ pulled pork with Carolina BBQ sauce. If you can find a buddy willing to split, get both and trade a half. And the Belgian fries are simply amazing. House made ketchup and a delicious garlic olio finish them off perfectly. Will go a little over the cap, parking is available on Vine and good receipts.
4. Al Wazir Chicken
A hole in the wall tucked in a mini-mall putting out tasty simple Mediterranean dishes. The grill brings out every bit of flavor of the juicy chicken kabobs, not too garlicky shawarma, tender beef kabobs, perfectly spice kafta and one of my favorites, lamb kabob. Lunch specials come with rice, hummus and salad and always hit the mark for under $10. Good receipts. Like most Hollywood places parking is tough but usually we find a meter on Hollywood, especially if you get there early. A nice alternative to Palm Thai as you basically park in the same spot. Close to the Omegas.
5. Top Round Roast Beef
While this review is based on one personal visit, I have been hearing great things about this place for over a year. And now I know why. As a kid we had a place called Rax Roast Beef, (same concept as Arby's) and I loved that place. This is that ten times better. Perfectly cooked roast beef thinly sliced served on soft buttered buns and topped with any number of options. I went 'Black and Bleu,' Bleu Cheese and caramelized onions and it was fantastic. The fresh potato curly fries fried in 100% beef fat round out the meal perfectly (next time trying 'dirty' with roast beef drippings and onion, and a kale salad.) And I hear the chicken sandwich is a winner. Inexpensive fast food made by seasoned chefs and don't be surprised to see another 'star' added to this review very soon. Parking on La Brea. Good receipts. And perfect when you are "cutting through town."
6. Paramount Studios Cafe
Take the "LOT" icon literally. The only reason to go here is if you are on the Paramount Lot but realize there isn't another lot commissary or eatery I would recommend. This cafe is in the south-west corner, (not to be confused with the "Tower Grill.") Not only do they have a good breakfast, they have a great selection for lunch, a full salad bar, grill for burgers and rotating specials, a pizza and pasta station, a rotating entree and "signature" sandwiches that vary weekly which are perfectly accompanied by the house-made potato chips. (Seriously, potato chips are not hard to make but when you do they blow all others away.) They are making a real effort to bring quality and tasty food to crews. And it's all around $12.
7. Silver Lake Ramen
2927 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026 Phone: (323) 660-8100
A tiny place that fills up quick so get there early for parking and to avoid the wait. If, like me, you need the weather to be a bit brisk to hunker down to a big bowl of soup, theres a delicious in-between here when it's not "Soup Weather," the Tsukemen dipping noodle. All the noodles and toppings (pork belly, of course) served on side of an incredibly intense and rich bowl of broth. They also have a pork belly bao sandwich that is hard to pass up. Good receipts and parking is available on Sunset, but it's not easy.
8. Zermeno's Restaurant
6115 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90038 zermenosrestaurant.com
I love tacos for breakfast! And these guys have amazing tacos. They also have a juicer and it's it's reasonably priced. I usually go for a pork, beef and "something weird," lengua, cabeza or tripa and round it out with some beans and rice. And recently I tried the pollo taco...simple perfection. Parking is barely doable before 7:30 AM but it's almost impossible to get a truck near here for lunch but it's a quick walk from Paramount Studios, and it's worth it! Cap friendly and good receipts and would certainly be rated higher if we could easily get there
9. Tender Greens - Hollywood
While it's hard to get a truck here, it's only a few blocks walk from Sunset Gower Studios. And while the portions aren't huge, the quality is there. The seared tuna and medium rare beef sandwiches are delicious. I can also recommend the fried chicken sandwich. There is also a wide veriety of salads, I prefer the spinach with hazelnuts as my side. And any time there is a lamb or a pork special, order it. Also, try the tomato basil soup, it’s one of my personal favorites. A little over the $12 cap, not great on parking and definitely get there before noon. The line gets long quick.
10. La Cevicheria
3809 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90019 Phone: (323) 732-1253
Another spot that isn't 5-Ton Friendly and it's over $12 but it's on the list because the food is absolutely incredible. The Chapin Ceviche is a can't miss with the fresh seafood and mint. So are the bloody clams. And so is the shrimp in garlic oil. And so are the fish tacos. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever had anything not incredible here. Everything is made to order so this can take a while. And it's a tiny place that fills up quick so get there early and on a day you have time to kill. Going there feels like you've stopped by someone's house and they are very happy you did. CASH ONLY. Good receipts.
11. Papa Cristo's
A Los Angeles legend that actually delivers. They have a great gyro and the lamb sandwich is delicious. It is a bit pricy so you will go over $12 but being there is part of the fun. Parking is a tough so it's best to get there early. Good receipts.
12. Soot Bull Jeep
3136 West 8th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90005 Phone: (213) 387-3865
It is not 5-ton Friendly. It is well over the cap. But it's one of the best Korean BBQ spots in town and needs to be on the list. The last time I went for work our basecamp was next door and the entire crew went all in and had an amazing meal. Real charcoal grills, a wide variety of sides to accompany the meats. Feels more like a party than a work meal. At least they have good receipts.
While it isn’t the easiest to find parking we've always had success. The portions aren't huge and you might go over $12 to fill yourself up but it's high quality eats and a nice change of pace. Not for a quick bite so save it for when you have some time. Good receipts.
14. Con Sabor a Peru LA
5163 Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90019 Phone: (323) 936-4444
Good Peruvian food and sometimes great Peruvian food. I think his main battle here is with consistency. The prices are a bit high (the Soltado Mariscos is 14.75.) The rotisserie chicken is juicy and gets the flavor of the fire. I recommend with reservations. Because when it's good its great. Parking on Venice just east of Redondo. Good receipts.
15. Best Fish Taco In Ensenada
Amazing fish tacos, shrimp tacos and potato tacos. And he will vary it up with a few "not on the menu" selections but that's it, tacos and salsa. Keeping it simple and delicious. Another place that's almost impossible to get a truck near but was so good if you find your basecamp close or you're in your "P.V." it's worth the stop. Bring your water and you can keep it to $12. The show I was working on the few times I went here wasn't paying for lunches so I am unsure of the receipts.
16. Palms Thai Restaurant
Palms Thai is a mainstay mainly because it's fast, cheap and quick. It can also handle a big crowd. The food is OK and generally constant. While that might not sound like a ringing endorsement that may have more to do with the frequency we sometimes go there than the food itself. Lunch specials are cheap enough that appetizers can be shared with the table and be absorbed in the $12 per person cap. Parking is decent on Hollywood but it can get filled up with other crews quickly so its better to get there before noon rather than after.
17. Tere's Mexican Grill
While it's true they raised their prices a few years ago, the quality is still there. Ordering a plate edges up to our $12 limit but the burrito is sizable and well under the cap. The chili verde is tender, juicy and full of flavor. The carnitas are lean and delicious. It's gets crowded so I advise going early. Park either on Melrose or the Pavilions parking lot like we do for Inti Peruvian. Also walking distance from Paramount. Plan it before an HSG run so you can get a cookie for your desert and say "hi" to Fausto. Stamped receipts are becoming more and more Verboten, so there's that.
18. Hoy Ka Thai Restaurant
A general rule of thumb is where there is a dish that shares the name of the restaurant, order it. And another rule of thumb is if pork is an option, order it. And in this case you will be most satisfied. The Hoy-Ka noodle bowl is flat out amazing. But be warned, when they ask "mild, medium or hot" on the spice, "mild" does not equal "no spice." It still packs a punch so order "no spice" if that's an issue. Excellent wait staff who are always happy to recommend a dish, like the Roasted Duck Noodle Soup, thai basil packed Kra Prao, or the jam-packed Jade Noodles. The only bummer about this place is the handwritten receipts as not all accounting departments will take them. Parking is tough in that area but it's a short walk if you are at Sunset Gower or Sunset Bronson. And this is a perfect example of how you can't let a "3-Star" review steer you away, if parking and receipts aren't a concern, it's a 5-star spot!
19. La Numero Uno
One bite into the enmolades and I was hooked. Then when I had the pupusa I was obsessed. Hand-made to order (so allow for more time) and filled with the most delicious options (pork and spinach are standouts) and served with a tangy cabbage slaw and red sauce that ties the whole thing together nicely. Located in the restaurant bonanza of Fountain and Vine with plenty of options for a crew with different ideas on lunch. Metered parking on Vine is usually available especially before 12:30, great food, but hand written receipts.
20. La Monarca Bakery
I can't recommend this place enough...for breakfast. Please, never eat at the Denny's on Sunset and Gower ever again! Park your truck by the Studio before 7 AM like we always do and walk across the street for amazing coffees, incredibly delicious quiches, puff pastry squares, or even a torta. There's even a massive assortment for those who like their breakfast snack on the sweeter side. And I while I can only speak to the Hollywood location, I hear the quality is at all 6 current locations. (If you ever read this, La Monarcha Baker, PLEASE come to Culver City!!!) By-pass the Gower Gulch Starbucks and get some amazing coffee and snacks. You will not be disappointed. And if you are working at Sunset Bronson or Sunset Gower, it is walking distance for lunch. Just saying...
21. Cactus #1 Tacos
950 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90038 Phone: 323-464-5865
After 20+ years of driving past this place I finally stopped. And it is good. Very good. I love tacos AND dining alfresco when the SoCal weather is amazing. Try the Shrimp tostado, delicious with a little heat. And then any number of tacos, like the lengua (tender) asada (delicious) or the carnitas. All that and it's under $12! Great receipts and there is usually parking on Vine. If you can find a spot on the curb, just hit the flashers and park in the center lane like my good friend Level-5-Pro Teamster Nelson does!
22. Roro's Chicken
Roro's was almost in the inaugural edition of this website but it had been so long since I had been there I wanted a return trip to confirm what I thought I new. Confirmed! Absolutely delicious shawarma. The lamb and beef shawarma was incredible and the kafta is perfectly seasoned. I also shared some of the best hand cut and freshly fried french fries in town. You have to wait for them, and they are definitely worth the wait. The only draw back to Roro's for us, lousy parking. And I mean terrible-lousy-awful. If I ever find the secret to getting a truck around here I'll pass it on, but for now, use a personal vehicle like we did. And get there early. Another one of those tiny places that fills up quickly because it's so darn good. Good receipts. Walking distance to Hollywood Athletic Club, a popular location and/or basecamp spot.