New to Downey, CA
I've never actually eaten in the City of Downey, but there's good stuff nearby: there's fish and shrimp tacos from El Taco Nazo (several locations in the southeast 562), steaks, chops and a healthy dose of a bygone era at the Dal Rae in Pico Rivera, Burmese food at Golden Triangle in Whittier, La Huasteca for "alta cocina" Mexican food in Lynwood, and if it ever reopens, Renu Nakorn, one of the premier Thai restaurants in the US, in Norwalk.
Agree with Das Ubergeek's recs and might add Casa Gamino for every day Mexican food in Pico Rivera on Slauson or the location in Paramount, whichever might be closer. Not the world beater, yet gives El Torito/Acapulco etal some good competition.
The Amapola market at 7414 Florence, Old River School cross street I believe, is a good grocery store with a very tasty deli section. Used to have restaurant but closed it - too bad, it was quite good.
Stox at 9518 Imperial Hwy is not bad for American comfort food, yet don't go thinking it will challenge any gourmet restaurants, but is fairly reliable. Some of the waitresses are a hoot, and the bar is home to some of Downey's oldest residents!!!
Jusagthing's suggestion regarding the Cuban bakery was right on. It's delicious. The Cuban sandwiches are excellent, but not the best I've ever had. Still, they do hit the spot. I believe it's called "Havana Something". It can be hard to spot--it's right next to the corner on Paramount at Florence, small building with a small blue sign. Buy anything sweet there and you will enjoy it. Friendly employees, great atmosphere.
There is a great little Chinese restuarant on Downey Ave. called "Peking Palace", I think. It's the only Chinese place on the block. Delicious Chinese food. I would eat their hot & sour soup every day if I could. Their seafood soup is also terrific and spicy. I get hungry just thinking about it. It's open 'til nine and closed on Mondays. It's nearly always crowded, so expect a wait in the evenings around dinnertime. I can't say enough good things about this place.
Across the street from that is an Italian place--I forget the name of it, but it's been there for 14,000 years and they have karaoke during the week. Very friendly place, cute decor, not the best Italian ever, but still very good and a great alternative to the Olive Garden at the mall (which is ALWAYS packed and tastes bad, besides). It was very lively when we went and packed with friendly, tipsy regulars... might've changed a bit but I know that place is still there.
There is a tiny little place called The City Deli on Downey Ave. I don't know if they're still there, but when they were, they delivered large, very tasty egg salad and chicken salad sandwiches. Perfect for a day when you're too busy to cook. Check to see if they deliver to your area.
There is a Cuban restuarant/bakery on the corner of Old River School Road and Firestone. It has a much more extensive menu but less bakery items than the other place. It's good, but I was not overly impressed with it. It's nice if you want something different and don't want to drive too far.
Pina Pizza House on Paramount is not bad. A good alternative to Pizza Hut and Domino's. Big menu, inexpensive. Order out rather than eat in--the ambience is a little chowhall-ish.
Last, but certainly NOT least, is a taco stand on Firestone, across from Home Depot. Talk about always packed! Raul's Tacos is your typical greasy, cheap tacos al carbon stand. Not to everyone's taste, of course, but there's something about their carne asada tacos that does it for me. They're open every day, and until one or two am on Fridays and Saturdays. If you're there on a Friday or Saturday, ask them for cebollitas with your order, and they'll give you a little tinfoil packet of quartered and grilled sweet onions for free. Beware: their burritos and tortas are absolute monsters.
I grew up in Downey and frequently go back to visit the family. Sadly, there are not a lot of great restaurants in the city. Back in the day Chris & Pitts and Stox were really good, but they have declined considerably. I do, however, recommend Stox for the nostalgia and the ginormous cakes. I mainly end up eating at Sambi of Tokyo (which is really good Japanese food) Mimi's Cafe or Pieloon when I'm in the area. Persico's, Pina's, Frantone's and Granata's are all Downey staples for old style Italian food. I do not recommend Peking Palace - really lousy American-style Chinese Food.
Your best bet is to head over to Cerritos. There are some great Chinese and Thai restaurants - Ten Ten, Happy House, Four Seasons Cafe (crazy Hong Kong style food) and Sweetee Thai. There is also a branch of Wood Ranch for great barbecue.
smfoodie, is the service at Ten Ten Cerritos the same as Ten Ten Anaheim? In Anaheim they've got the Hostess From Planet Beeyotch at the front. I mean, GOD. Have some more attitude, ducks, I'm not revolted enough. I won't go anymore. It's perfectly good Cantonese food but I can get the same quality Cantonese food at King Harbour and be treated like a person, not an obstacle to world takeover.
re: Das Ubergeek
No problem for me either at the Artesia one. Then again, I never really expect friendly service, particularly from the hostess, at large busy Chinese restaurants. In fact, a little 'tude kinda adds to the overall ambience. Swing on by the Artesia branch some day. IMO, at least the dim sum, is on par with ones I've tried in Monterey Park/Alhambra.
I'm going to second Sambi (cooked food is better than sushi), Pieloon (great prime rib specials), Frantone's (love their antipasto and those Italian doughnuts), and the idea of going to the Cerritos area for Chinese. Kim Tar's (Artesia) a good dive for Chinese BBQ. One of my best friends is Indian and she took me to some really great Indian lunch buffets in Artesia when we were growing up...haven't been back since, but it was as good as her mom's cooking! I love Frisco's in Downey...their sourdough parmesan melts and ice cream shakes can instantly make you happy. South Street Cafe in Cerritos is a nice family-owned place that's really good for breakfast...but I love the special artichokes allouette (artichokes stuffed with cream cheese that's battered and fried)...it's no longer on the menu, but the chef can make it if the restaurant's slow. I particularly love Marino's Italian Restaurant in Bellflower for homemade Italian food...their Minestrone and Chicken Marsala is truly delicious.
I'm not sure that I would agree that Sambi's serves very good Japanese food... it reminds me of Japanese food from back in the '60s and '70s. It's got a delightfully cheezy interior, a lunch buffet, a servicable sushi counter, and a menu loaded with teriyaki in a million forms. It's not inedible or anything like that, but it's not exactly going to compete with Sawtelle in West LA.
One option that nobody has mentioned is Artesia -- it's just down Norwalk Blvd. Great, great Indian food, including Tirupathi Bhimas, which Das Ubergeek gave a glowing review to just a few days ago.
Other than that omission, I would agree with Das Ubergeek's recs. Let's all pray for Renu Nakorn to re-open.
Well, for Downey it is good food - you can't compare food from the Westside to food from Downey. When it opened in the 70's it was one of the most authentic Japanese restaurants outside of Japan. All of the staff was from Japan. Sadly, it has not aged well and the kimono clad waitresses are gone.
Hey Wayne, keep telling people about Friscos. The food and 50's ambiance are BOTH great. I second each item you mentioned.
Another place I like to eat at down in Downey is Speedee. That place also has a great 50's ambiance but this is an original. Somehow the food is better when it is served over that original walk-up counter. I can still vision my Dad enjoying his coffee and burger there when we use to drive to the beach (before the 605 fry) on a hot summer's day from the SGV.
Historic Speedee McDonald's -- oldest McDonalds
10207 Lakewood Blvd. (at Florence Ave.)
Downey, CA 90240
arthur's is near downey, on rosemead and telegraph, they serve a sinful chilicheese omelet, it come with your choice of hash browns or country potatoes, ask for the later one extra crispy, and wash it all down with one of their orange julius made with real orange juice
the manager has weekly $ 2.00 lunch specials available at the drive thru only.....oh yeah, this cafe has a drive thru
service is excellent too
you said downey, so I'll recommend some of my favorite joints in the city (although there is wonderful, wonderful food in the surrounding areas)
7611 Firestone Blvd
Downey, CA 90241
Phone: (562) 928-4632
I'm going to second (third?) Peking Palace as a rec - my family and I've been going there since I was a kid. Their jjamppong (seafood noodle) and jjajjangmyun (black bean noodles) was FAMOUS in the community of korean families in the area. Its hard to find good jjamppong in this area, and Peking Palace is one of the few who do it the best. It's spicy and flavorful, and I don't even like seafood that much. Over the years, the main customer base has switched from mainly Korean to the more mainstream community, and the dishes have changed accordingly. A lot of their items are chinese-korean fusion dishes, but the flavors are a lot stronger and more intense then they used to be (which might, in my opinion, account for the occasional fastfoody feel to the place). Some of favourites: the sizzling beef, garlic shrimp, llajoogi (I don't remember the english name... I think it's spicy chicken?) WITH the bone still in, and the jellyfish. Also, a word of caution: I know that most people go straight for the sweet and sour, but that dish is a little variable here. Sometimes its delicious with a thick and rich sauce with crispy outside/soft inside pieces of pork, but every once in a while the meat is dry and tasteless and the sauce bland. Plus, the chef and the manager (they're married) are the nicest people in the world!
Tropicana Bakery and Cuban Cafe
10218 Paramount Blvd
Downey, CA 90241
A lot of people in the area compare it to the famous Porto's over in Burbank. Pretty much everything is good here. Flan, potato balls, empanadas,a huge cake that's actually a glazed shell filled with fruit (really good....), sandwhiches, etc etc. Plus, it's a charming place with wonderful friendly people! Just a warning - it's a little awkward to locate so keep your eye out. I haven't been in a while, but if everything is still the same, the driveway to get into the parking lot is tiny and a little difficult to spot/maneuver
Downey Pizza Company
9990 Lakewood Blvd
Downey, CA 90241
I'll second hegger's recommendation - AMAZING pizza. Their pastrami pizza in particular is DELICIOUS, but all their pies are pretty great. From my experience, though, I wouldn't recommend anything else on the menu (which is a little overpriced anyway). Particularly avoid their spaghetti - it's bland and watery. But the pizza is most definitely worth going out of the way for (it's slightly more expensive than the big chains, though)
J J's #10 Burger
9841 IMPERIAL HW
562 803 4811
So most people even in the immediate area don't recognize the beauty of JJ's, but my dad, sister and I have long been fans of their chili fries. They've got this addicting kick to it - slightly spicy and with chunks of meat and lots of flavor. To be honest, I haven't tried anything else there
7811 Firestone Blvd
Downey, CA 90241
I haven't been there myself for some reason, but Pete's Patio was a favorite at my high school and in the local community. Their chili fries are supposed to be especially good
I know i said i'd stick to Downey, but these two are in the very south end of Pico Rivera on the border between pico and downey (go down lakewood and turn onto telegraph) so here it goes anyway:
9367 Telegraph Rd
Pico Rivera, CA 90660
It's a local favorite known for their heart clogging DUIs. What's a DUI you ask? The most amazing thing EVER at 1 am in the morning when everything else is closed. It's chili fries loaded with pastrami and carne asada - absolutely wondrous. They're also known for their pastrami sandwhiches (HUGE), and their burgers are pretty good too. But the DUI... you'll die happy, I promise
9020 Telegraph Rd
Downey, CA 90240
My best friend is an avid fan of their guacamole. Other than that, most of the things on the menu are pretty delicious - bean and cheese burrito, taquitos, tacos, etc etc. However, I did try an enchilada here once and it was gross. I guess enchiladas are best in sit down restaurants when they're piping hot and fresh.
Narai Thai at 7665 Firestone Blvd has an extensive and excellent menu. They have take out, but the restaurant is also a pleasant place to dine. The snow crab rice is terrific. For something different, try their Thai ice cream for dessert. The service is friedly and good;.
For Chinese, I think Hong Kong Chef (a little hole in the wall at 10311 1/2 Lakewood Blvd) is the best in town; however, don't expect much in terms of ambience if you dine there. Try the delicious won ton soup, the Mongolian beef, and the seafood pan fried noodles.
For taco stand-type Mexican food, I suggest Pepe's at 9020 Telegraph Road (good breakfast burritos), and El Taco (7665 Firestone Blvd, and a second location at Florence and Tweedy Lane). El Taco has tasty beef taquitos, and a terrific carnitas burrito which, based on my experience, is indigestion-free despite its size and substance.
As for pizza, although my kids prefer Downey Pizza Company, my heart and taste buds are clearly on the side of Pina Pizza (at 2nd and Paramount). The Persico family has owned and operated this establishment for years, and any pizza which includes their sausage (ground and seasoned in their kitchen) is sublime!