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1. JNJ Burger & Barbeque
The sudden passing of Jay Nelson caught a lot of us fans off guard and I will always remember him as a gracious man who happened to make, hands down the best BBQ in Los Angeles. And while we always miss him, I can reassure you that his legacy is living on. His son has taken over the pit, and they are still Smoking Wood in the Hood! The pulled pork, the BBQ chicken, the burnt ends, the ribs, the brisket, all amazing. And now they have something that blows all of that away, the smoked pork belly. One of the best pork dishes I've ever had (and trust me, I've had a lot!) Chose between mild, medium or spicy house made sauce. For sides, the beans, the potato salad, the mac & cheese and the collard greens with smoked ham bits are all winners. And if you are in the mood for a burger, the handmade patties are pretty special. (But I can't pass up the BBQ.) This is one of the few places I break my "only drink water" rule because I love the lemonade. Parking is decent. You can keep it around $12 but the receipts are from an adding machine and he has a stamp. Honestly, STILL one of my favorite places to eat in all of Los Angeles.
2. Normandie Cafe
Great for breakfast. As they make one of the best French baguettes in town, order the pate sandwich, the Merguez or the Turkey and Brie for a bigger meal. Or their flakey and buttery house-made croissants for something lighter. And the Croinuts are pretty decadent. Parking in the AM is easy in the parking lot next door before that business opens. In the afternoon is a lot tougher. Under $12 and good receipts.
3. Jackson Market and Deli
You're not getting a truck close to this place but if you are working at Sony it's a across the street. Quality "signature" wraps and sandwiches made on Normandie Bakery's amazing bread. A wide variety of sodas if you're inclined and it is also a small market. Nice patio out back for a relaxing lunch. They are also baking fresh desserts. The chocolate chip cookies are amazing warm and it's impossible for me to pass up the lemon squares. Easy to keep under $12 and good receipts.
4. The Conservatory for Coffee, Tea & Cocoa
House roasted coffees, an impressive array of teas and one of my favorite ham and cheese croissants in town. The turkey and cheese is pretty great too. And so is the spinach with feta. It's a short walk from Sony, or in the morning you can park on Venice with in a 3 block walk. Great if you need to kill some time with a midmorning or early afternoon snack break.
5. Tender Greens - Culver City
Much like it's Hollywood counter part, its very difficult to get a truck here, but it is a short walk from Sony. I recommend the seared tuna sandwich or the beef sandwich. Try the tomato basil soup and mashed potatoes, they're delicious. A great place if there is a vegetarian on the crew. Get here early because come 12:05 the line is out the door. Over $12 but good receipts.
6. Jerry's Market
3969 Higuera Street, Culver City, CA 90232 Phone: (310) 837-2891
A trend with the west side is poor truck parking. This is no exception. But it is a walk from Culver Studios or the stages in the Hayden Track. Its great for tacos for breakfast and I love his carnitas burrito. Grab a lotto ticket while you're at it. Under $12 but the receipts are a stamped plain register receipt.
7. Cafe Vida
Another walk from Sony, this newest addition to Downtown Culver is serving very tasty sandwiches and salads and burgers. Good for a vegetarian and there are good options for those more "health conscious." It will edge over $12 but the quality certainly is there. Good receipts.
8. Samosa House East
Getting your Personal Vehicle isn't easy here no less a truck but it's only a short walk from Sony's Overland gate. Vegetarian buffet with a wide variety. The lunch plates come with choice of white or brown rice. I ALWAYS go with the Jack Fruit and the paneer (when they have it), then pick what seems most interesting for my last 2. (Pass on the yogurt sauce and they'll give you another entree.) I get garlic naan and the samosas are the best in town. All of that comes in right at $12. Good receipts.
9. Rutts Hawaiian Cafe & Catering
Great for breakfast if you don't mind walking a few blocks from Centinela. Or PV it and pull right in front. The Royale with Kaluha pork, extra vegetables and sprouts is my favorite. And get the "Jr." The regular is massive and I've seen the King take down a few people in my day. And for kicks you can order a spam musubi. Probably the only 'pork' dish I've found that I don't like but I'm glad I did it once. Around $10 for breakfast.
10. Green Peas Casual Food
This spot has become a favorite with my crew and since we've been at Sony we've hit it at least once a week, hence the 1 Star bump up to 5! An amazing verity of sandwiches, quesadillas, salads and entrees like the mushroom risotto, or seared tuna. There is an attention to detail and the quality of the ingredients is obvious. You can eat as "heathy" as you want and it's the perfect spot if you have and vegetarians and vegans on the crew. (Or those who are lactose intolerant....) I wouldn’t call it a ‘light lunch” but it’s also not trough-sized food, it’s somewhere in between. Parking usually available right on Sepulveda.
11. Swanya Thai Cuisine
Swanya has some really good and inexpensive lunch plates and you can split the pineapple fried rice, with shrimp and chicken served in a pineapple and still keep it under $12 a person. I've become a bit obsessed with the spicy Thai Basil dish Ka-Prow, (you can see my version here) and use it as my go-to judge of a thai restaurant. (I think my days of ordering Pad Thai are over...) and the one here is quite good. The curry is always a hit with the curry lovers. Parking on Sepulveda is easier before noon. Good receipts.
12. Taste of Tehran
1915 Westwood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90025 Phone: (310) 470-0022 tasteoftehran.com
Another place that doesn't get the 5-Ton Friendly marks but the food is so good I have to share it. A tiny place that is putting out some amazing Persian dishes. The kabobs are tender and juicy, the eggplant is smoky and seasoned just right and if they have fessenjoon, chicken stewed in pomegranate walnut sauce do yourself a favor and order it. On the lighter side try one of their delicious wraps. It's a perfect balance of sweet and tart and they have one of the best I've ever had. If I ever find the spot to get a truck there I will let you all know, but for now it's Personal Vehicles Only. Over $12 and completely worth it. Good receipts.
13. Venice Bakery
A good sandwich starts with a good bread, and the bolillo at Venice Bakery on Venice Blvd is AMAZING! Holds the perfectly tender beef like an angelic pillow. The breakfast menu is extensive and very inexpensive, and best of all the lunch menu is available all day long! With their extensive selection of pastries it's also a great place to stop for a quick bite. And they open at 5 AM, (when it's easier to park) it's another great stop when you are working out of or close to Sony. Full disclosure, haven't tried to hit this place for lunch in a big truck, so I am not 100% sure how easy it is to find a space. Yet.
14. Juquila Restaurant #2
I have been saying they needed to change the name of this place from Villa Tacos because tacos aren't what they do best and while I know I had nothing to do with it, they finally did it. Juquila Restaurant still has the same great food, service and prices. The chicken enchiladas in Coloradito (red mole) sauce is a can't miss dish at $9. The carne asada is tender and juicy and they offer daily lunch specials at a great price, usually under $10. The house made Tortilla chips and salsa are top notch. Some have complained about the portion size, but I think they there's a good amount of quality food on the plate at a great price. Quality Oaxacan food right in Culver City. It's walking distance from Sony and there is metered parking available on Venice. Good receipts.
15. Casablanca Restaurant
After years of passing this place by I finally stopped in on a recommendation and was not disappointed. Surprisingly good Mexican (Not Moroccan) food for a great price. Try the red snapper Vera Cruz. The olives and capers balance the sweet tomato sauce. And the hand made tortillas round out the meal perfectly. The sizable lunch specials are all around $8-$10. Receipts are hand written. Park a couple of blocks south behind the Smart-N-Final on Lincoln. A cheaper alternative to Baby Blues BBQ or Würstkucher.
16. Dot Saigon
Welcome to the one, and so far, only Mall Food Court recommendation from 5 Ton Friendly. Maybe Sony Prop House is on your run sheet, or maybe you are filming at the mall itself, or maybe you just want really great Food Truck Vietnamese food but want to have a steady permanent spot to pick it up. Either way, this is the place. From the Bahn Mi, (the caramelized pork belly is stellar,) to the fresh spring rolls, to the noodles and the Pho, it's all delicious and all well priced. And they have something I never knew was "A Thing," what they call Viet Coffee, New Orleans' very own CDM coffee served iced cold and with sweetened condensed milk...It's worth going out of the way for. Park in the Mall and find this on the 2nd level food court where there are a few other spots if you have a crew that can't seem to decide on what they all want. (BiBiGO is a pretty good spot too.) Since this is my "Home Mall," I'm here quite a lot and they constantly put out great food. So why am I giving it 4 stars??? I'm not!
17. Chicken Maison
Working at Manhattan Beach Studios? Put this place on the List. High quality Mediterranean Food at a great price. While I can only attest to the Redondo Beach location, I can tell you it's delicious. Try the falafel wrap, perfectly seasoned, with pickled turnips, tomatoes and one of my favorite veggies, green onions. Also a must get is what has become one of my favorite slaws outside of my own kitchen, The Greek Slaw, no mayo, herbaceous and delicious. They also have a perfectly seasoned and perfectly grilled steak kabob. The combos come with an equally expertly grilled vegetable kabob and your choice of 2 sides. Or if you want, try the gyro. Fantastic. I can almost promise a rise in the ranking as I make more return visits. Big parking lot around the back of the mini-mall. Expect to see some fellow set dressing crews there. Word is getting out.
18. Baja Fish
611 S Gaffey St, San Pedro, CA 90731 Phone: (310) 521-1931
I don't make it down to San Pedro that often, but over the last 20+ years when ever I do I try to stop at Baja Fish. Fresh seafood, served as a Plate with rice and beans, like the grilled red snapper for only $7.95! Or try any number of tacos, soups and chowders, or if you are in the mood for fried seafood, they have you covered. The calamari is always a crowd pleaser. Street parking isn't easy but it doable. And it's a tiny place, so like with most of the places we go, get there early. Good receipts.