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Amazing Hole in the Walls near Westside??

As much as I love going to a nice fancy restaurant for a great meal, I almost prefer more finding the amazing hole-in-the-wall place. These places are great because they usually aren't ridiculously expensive (meaning I can go often) and often reward you for taking a risk with amazing food. I live in Santa Monica, but am willing to try places both near and far from here. The places I'm looking for can range from literally a taco stand somewhere that might not appear to be the most sanitary place around (hopefully it is just in appearance) or a one off restaurant that is unknown by anyone but locals. Oh and I like all types of food so don't hold back on recommendations.

Here are a few places that I already know about and love.
- Tacos Por Favor (SM)
- Cha Cha Chicken (SM)
- Philly West (West LA)
- The Counter (SM)
- Baby Blues BBQ (Venice)


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  1. If you are seriously looking for hole in the wall places then I give you:

    Hole in the Wall Burger Joint
    11058 Santa Monica Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90025
    (310) 312-7013

    Hidden behind the Winchell's Donuts (basically on Bentley) in the mini mall on the SE corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Sepulveda Blvd.

    Previous Discussion Here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/562464

    17 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      One additional hidden gem (I know they are open for lunch, but I don't know about dinner) is Attari Sandwich shop. While the address is on Westwood Blvd. the shop is actually just east of Westwood Blvd. on Wilkins. This write up is from Low End Theory (a CH legend of yesteryear) in 2004, but all the information is still good and the food is still delicious.


      1. re: Servorg

        I second the burger at Hole in the Wall (tasty meat, and a delish pretzel roll), and the tongue sandwich at Attari (tender meat, fresh, crusty bread). Two of my local favs.

        1. re: Servorg

          I went to Atari late yesterday afternoon, after doing my part to stimulate the economy. I had the tongue sandwich, which was recommended on this site, as well as a side of their eggplant. Both were very, very good and I will go back, when I'm in the area.

          1. re: paralegalgs

            Glad you enjoyed it and that you reported your visit. What area of LA do you normally dine at (in?)?

        2. re: Servorg

          I had no idea this Hole in the Wall place existed -- thanks for the tip!

          BTW, try the ash soup at Attari if you haven't already -- it's divine. I also like the veggie sandwich (koo koo sabzi?).

          1. re: a_and_w

            Tried Hole-in-the-Wall burger yesterday and was really impressed! My turkey burger was cooked to order and incredibly juicy. I actually winced because the juice was so hot from the burger being fresh off the grill. Pretzel bun was fantastic, as was the pickled zucchini. The patty seemed well seasoned, but I couldn't tell if the salt came from the pretzel roll or the patty itself. Didn't try the fries based on reports here, but they actually looked pretty good -- I'll be giving them a shot next visit. The burger was a bit pricey (around $10) but worth every penny, imo. Many thanks to Servorg for the tip!

            1. re: a_and_w

              I still have that coupon for a free drink that i have to use. since the turkey burger is also good, i'll have to try (had too much beef in the past couple weeks., etc.

              1. re: kevin

                yep -- if i remember correctly, it was for either free fries or a free can of soda with the purchase of a burger. i think the coupon was good to the end of the month, maybe even the end of the year. sorry to be so vague -- its in the car on the passenger seat, but last time i considered trying it i went to zankou instead.

                1. re: nosh

                  yeah, i have it in my glove box too, i'll probably get the soda instead of the fries.

                  to cut some calories, and the fries as everyone has mentioned are supposedly pedestrian, i think it may expire by the end of the year.

                  1. re: kevin

                    Where did you guys get the coupon?

                    1. re: a_and_w

                      It came in the Sunday LA Times a couple of weeks ago as part of their ad bundle.

                      1. re: Servorg

                        darn, i tossed it before looking through it. bummer.

              2. re: a_and_w

                I finally tried Hole in the Wall tonight (as I was thwarted in my other attempts on Sat night and Sunday due to their "banker hours"), and was pleasantly surprised.

                I went with the beef patty on Pretzel bun, and thought the burger was juicy and I really liked the chipotle mayo and zucchini pickles. I thought that the pretzel bun was good, but almost a little much. Had to really open my mouth for each bite :)

                The slight downside was the price, $8 for burger, and an additional buck for avocado, bacon, onions, etc. All things considered still nowadays though, it's still a good deal, but I think for the price, Philly West's burger trumps this one.

                1. re: a_and_w

                  I had almost the identical burger that you did, but also added the sauteed mushrooms - awesome burger. We were in the general area and I didn't recall what had moved into the former house of Dainties, but I recalled something being mentioned on this board. When I saw "Hole in the Wall" on the sign, I knew I hit paydirt. The "Flatbush & J" painted on the wall next to the driveway confirmed that this would be a burger well defined. These are the same folks who ran the "Dainties" cupcakes out of the same location. As much as I miss the cupcakes, I truly enjoyed the burger. My wife ordered the beef burger and the patty is huge - it seemed almost twice as thick as the turkey patty, and was very juicy and flavorful. If you're really hungry, this is the way to go.

                  The fries are a steal at $2. While not spectacular, I'm not complaining for that price. The sweet potato fries were a little too "soft" for my tastes, and are $2 as well. We will definitely be back when in the area...


                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    If you found H - i - t - Wall Burgers without actually "looking" for it I am awarding you the Magellan award of distinction! ;-D I only finally spotted it when trying to get from our Vet's office along Animal Hospital row on Sepulveda Blvd. back to our suburbian enclave of "Ocean View" LA (Mar Vista) and home by cutting back south on the first through street off of SM Blvd. (and even then you better be looking or you'll miss it).

                    1. re: Servorg

                      I used to stop by regularly when Hole in the Wall was Dainties, so the Magellan award is still up for grabs. :) It's the same folks who used to make cupcakes - they just reinvented themselves. Susan, the lady behind the register, says that the cupcakes were turning into a real pain in the arse with all the different flavors and putting serious artisan efforts into making the base for each flavor. They wanted to continue doing something out of their hole in the wall, but didn't want to choose something that would directly compete with others in the adjacent strip mall. Figuring that burgers were absent from the main food groups there, they decided on the quintessential LA meal. It's turned out much better for them. They've been able to simplify their their business strategy as well as see booming business at the same time - particularly their lunch crowd.

                      As much as I miss their cupcakes, their juicy burgers will definitely ease my nostalgia...

              3. re: Servorg

                Add me to the new converts to Hole in the Wall. I had an appointment in the neighborhood today and decided to try it after reading the posts here. Great burgers. Thick and unbelievably juicy. The sweet potato fries were great too. My only complaint was about the pretzel bun. It was good, but broke apart and I found the saltiness a bit too strong. I'll have to go back to try the turkey burger.

              4. Gilbert's El Indio (SM)

                Monte Alban (West LA)

                1. for indian food (vegetarian)
                  samosa house
                  Samosa House
                  11510 W Washington Blvd
                  Culver City, CA 90066
                  Phone: (310) 398-6766

                  1. in santa monica, across the street from SMC on pico, treat yourself to a falafal sandwich at
                    the Hungry Pocket.
                    amazingly good and amazingly cheap.
                    be sure to try their homemade piquante sauce.
                    they will also squeeze juice to order for you.
                    terrific falafal.

                    33 Replies
                    1. re: westsidegal

                      I wouldn't describe Hungry Pocket's (or Zankou's???) as a great falafel; far from it. Better, but not perfect, is Falafel King, in the Promenade's food court.

                      Attari, Monte Alban--- agreed.

                      After some more SGV exploring I am longing for something along those lines in terms of dreamily good seafood in this side of town.

                      1. re: epop

                        I think since Oriental Seafood on LIncoln in MdR changed owners then went out of business, I'd say no luck, epop... The best I've seen so far that is non-SGV and that is close to the Westside is Sea Empress in Gardena. !5 minutes from the 90...

                        1. re: bulavinaka

                          Re: Oriental Seafood: The original owner/chef sold it years ago and started up JR's. He then sold that to Hop Wu. Last I heard he was setting up something in Chinatown. Haven't heard anything about that, but this bit of information does us no good, since we need something on the Westside.

                          1. re: Ogawak

                            I personally liked OSF even after the first change of ownership. The last change of hands seems to be what did them in. We lost interest after that - seems a lot of others did as well. It's now a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf...

                        2. re: epop

                          is falafal king at the food court related to the really awful falafal king on sawtelle near sepulveda?

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            um, sawtelle and sepulveda are parallel. the only other falafel king that i know of is in westwood village on broxton.

                            1. re: wilafur

                              if you were to check a map, you would see that sawtelle and sepulveda are not parallel at all points. they meet in culver city south of roll 'n rye, north of sorrento market.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                ah that is correct, however, that do not think westside when i think of that area. lols.

                                1. re: westsidegal

                                  really a falafel king in culver city at sawtelle and sepulveda?

                                  anyhow, you're probably write it is pretty awful. and if i'm not mistaken it used to be better at least and cheaper but now has gone seriously downhill. i'm talking about the location in westwood.

                                  1. re: kevin

                                    She is mixing up Falafel King with King Kabob.

                                    King Kabob
                                    5500 Sawtelle Blvd
                                    Culver City, CA 90230
                                    (310) 390-1599

                              2. re: westsidegal

                                I don't think so. They've a Westwood location on Broxton which I haven't been to.
                                That said I haven't had a killer falafel in LA.

                                Sawtelle doesn't meet Sepulveda, I think.

                                1. re: epop

                                  Sawtelle actually comes together with Sepulveda up by Fox Hills Mall in Culver City.

                                  1. re: Servorg

                                    achso, yes. my brain didn't go there

                                  2. re: epop

                                    Sadly, I have to agree with you re falafel in LA. It's become one of my first stops when I travel to NYC. Ezra's falafel and hummus is as good as ever, and he seems much happier these days.

                                2. re: epop

                                  Hungry Pocket is a nice choice in the area but nothing I'd go out of my way for. Note that their hot sauce is Mexican salsa, not middle eastern hot sauce.

                                  I like the falafel at Zankou as a side if they're freshly fried. It's a good accompaniment for the tarna wrap and the perfect vehicle for garlic sauce.

                                  1. re: a_and_w

                                    a and w -- the hot sauce at Hungry Pocket does indeed have some green leaves in it that may be cilantro. but in no way does it taste to me like a Mexican salsa. it is indeed primarily red, but doesn't taste strongly of tomato -- my bet is that the color and much of the flavor come from roasted red bell pepper and other red chili. it packs a hot punch and zing, but tastes nothing to me like the very good hot sauce/salsa roja served at the bar at Tacos Por Favor, a few blocks N/W at Olympic at 14th.

                                    and how do you get the falafel balls at Zankou to be fresh-fried? do you have to go right when they open at 10? will they fry up a couple on request even when there are a bunch sitting underneath the heat lamp? i'm a pretty good customer, but I figure I use up just about all of my brownie points there groveling for extra containers of the garlic paste!

                                    1. re: nosh

                                      Hmmm...the hungry pocket hot sauce tastes like a picante salsa to me. It's definitely more mexican than middle eastern in my estimation -- no one would confuse it with, say, amba.

                                      By freshly fried falafel at Zankou, I don't mean fried to order. They fry batches throughout lunch and put them in a big metal bowl under the heat lamp you mention. If you're lucky, and the falafel is fresh out of the fryer, it can be tasty. As with all falafel, however, the quality declines the longer it sits.

                                      I don't think the counter ladies like me -- they always charge me for the extra garlic sauce.

                                3. re: westsidegal

                                  As far as falafel at a hole in the wall goes on the westside i think the best is Habayit.
                                  Always fried fresh to order. So good, great hummus, perfect Israeli salad. I love this place. Its hidden in the corner behind the 7-11 on pico blvd just east of bundy. Definitely check it out.

                                  Also Totoraku is quite the hole in the wall and its incredible, but very expensive but yes, it is certainly an amazing hole in the wall on the west side.

                                  1. re: ldodb

                                    ah, will try out habayit.....still searching for an awesome falafel sandwich. thanks!

                                    the only problem with totoraku is that you need to be "in the know" to get a ressie. =)

                                    1. re: wilafur

                                      I got that almost. All I need now is the dough, and also make sure you can eat Raw Beef Liver (not necessarily steak tarttare).

                                      1. re: wilafur

                                        Here's the info for Habayit. Enjoy!

                                        11921 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                        1. re: ldodb

                                          Do you know their hours? They're always closed when I drive by there...

                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                            I just added their hours to the 'Places' link above.

                                          2. re: ldodb

                                            please give me another landmark. i know i will remember when my memory is jogged, but i'm just not coming up with a 7-11 on Pico just east of Bundy. south side of the street? there is cecil's bbq, then a series of storefronts. going west is trader joe's. now i know that bundy and centinela get mixed up around there... i know there is a 7-11 adjacent to the taco place but that is south of santa monica blvd. help me find it, and what makes the falafel great? does it have a zesty hot sauce like Hungry Pocket or a really great garlic sauce a la Zankou?

                                            1. re: nosh

                                              It's not a 7-11 but a Go Mart (or something like that) in the little mini mall right on the NE corner of S Westgate and Pico exactly one block east of Bundy. Habayit is tucked into a narrow space along the back wall toward the east end of the mall, and like Nook is very hard to spot.

                                              I have to say that I dropped into Habayit a few months ago to try the falafel based on board recommendations and was really underwhelmed. I didn't post about my visit based on my feelings of meh. Obviously, YMMV.

                                              "If" you go I'll be interested in reading your take on it.

                                              1. re: nosh

                                                North side. No picante or garlic sauce, though they might have amba or zhug.

                                                I agree with the Habayit rec, especially if you're craving Israel-style falafel. It's nothing earth shattering, but it scratches the itch. I just wish they had more salads available as toppings on their sandwiches. Also, the shawarma is not my favorite.

                                                1. re: a_and_w

                                                  I had only been to Habayit a few times years ago as Magic Carpet was way better and worth the drive; however, I'd go back now that Magic Carept's closed. I remember enjoying the purple vinegar cabbage freebie and the kibbeh.

                                                  I recall the parking around there being a little difficult as there is a laundromat and spaces are taken on the street because of that.

                                                  1. re: noshie

                                                    rip magic carpet.
                                                    i still miss the supurb eggplant salad.

                                                  2. re: a_and_w

                                                    they have the green sauce, the green hot sauce. it's spicey but not amba (it's not orange, nor does it have mango in there).

                                                    it's on pico directly across from chan dara.

                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                      I believe that's zhug, a yemenite hot sauce.

                                              2. re: wilafur

                                                i've heard there are a couple places in Anaheim hills for falafel that are great. My Israeli friend dislikes Habayit so I haven't tried it but should, I suppose. After having everybody's lousy falafel I've given up.

                                                Made falafel at home tonight though, in fact. Outrageous.

                                                1. re: epop

                                                  habayit is not that great in my opinion, it;'s not cheap either. which sucks.

                                          3. Not sure how a chain like the Counter becomes a hole in the wall, but Ok. Try Maxwell's in MDR.

                                            1. bob, scroll down to the very recent thread by kevin (who writes a wonderful blog full of top level tasting menu experiences) about inexpensive meals in recessionary times.

                                              you like tacos por favor, and so do i. best salsa roja/hot version on the westside. friendly people, good portions, and i thought i knew all of my favorites there until a recent thread about their excellent milanese torta. if you get downtown, my favorite taqueria in all of socal is the carnitas michaocan above chinatown on no. broadway at 19th. al pastor from a rotisserie spit, and the best salsa roja/hot sauce ever. on the westside, try taqueria sanchez, on centinela between washington and culver, for their wonderful shrimp tacos. and el super taco, the original on santa monica blvd. at brockton, for inexpensive tacos served with grilled onions and a marvelous habanero salsa that is ultra-spicy.

                                              cha cha chicken? first, get thyself to zankou for their rotisserie chicken, pita, and garlic paste. then try the chinese chicken salad at feast from the east on westwood blvd. if heading downtown, stop at dino's on pico at berendo (two blocks west of vermont) for the crazy chicken special -- half marinated grilled bird, served over fries, with slaw and tortillas for about $5, with a garlicky, vinegary, turmeric spice "sauce." if splurging, reddi-chick in brentwood/sm or honey's kettle in culver city with a 2-for-1 coupon from the l.a.times. yes, i'm leaving out california chicken cafe -- overpriced and overattitude.

                                              can't beat philly west for a great inexpensive cheesesteak or big flame-grilled drippy burger on the westside. and i dearly miss markie d's, which closed up and became a hoagies and wings a year or so back. but if you are ever near el segundo, head to main street and try big mike's. fantastic philly cheesesteaks -- i get mine with onions and both hot and sweet peppers. they also do really good onion rings, on the thinner side (not strings) with a light batter rather than a crumb crust. lot's of meat -- i can only barely finish a six-inch at a sitting, but i order a large and have them wrap up the other half for later.

                                              baby blues is good -- tasty pulled pork on a really good english muffin-type grilled roll, a friendly vibe, and a very fun place to hang. but their brisket is just wrong, and their prices are on the high side. bbq is a testy topic, and there are naysayers, but my favorite in town is porky's, which is on manchester just east of la brea and west of the forum. huge portions, superlative pulled pork, really good ribs (i like the spareribs better than the baby backs) and tender, moist brisket (though it looks too dark). friendly people, fair prices, two for one on dinner specials on tuesdays, and really good sides. they used to serve golden bird fried chicken, no longer have the franchise to call it that, but try a piece for yourself -- they used to have a real cheap deal for a non-breast piece for a buck along with any other item. i have offered to drive friends to the airport so i have an excuse to stop at porky's on the way back.

                                              10 Replies
                                              1. re: nosh

                                                I agree with the Zankou remark...Seriously addictive, and their falafel is quite good as well, though not as earth moving as the rotisserie...

                                                Johnnie's Pastrami...Not sure how you define "hole in the wall" but this is a legendary sandwich, and rightly so. Perfectly dipped rolls piled high with delicious warm pastrami. And a fire pit for late night, post beverages, grubbing.

                                                Literally a hole in a wall, Lidia's Pupusas on Windward and Speedway in Venice serves authentic Pupusas filled with beans, pork or loroco, a Venezuelan flower. $2 each and they come with good salsa and traditional spicy slaw.

                                                Find a Let's be Frank hot dog cart or truck, http://www.letsbefrankdogs.com/index....
                                                one of the best in a new wave of quality street dogs and trucks. Look for Green Truck http://www.greentruckonthego.com/ on the westside for tasty treats, good value and high quality ingredients.

                                                If your idea of a hole-in-the-wall is a dark, small and slightly tattered place then Daikokuya is a must. Though they own quite a few different restaurants, this one is one of the originals. The signature dish is a kurobuta pork broth with braised pork belly, noodles, a marinated boiled duck egg and scallions. So damn good, so darn rich. http://www.daikoku-ten.com/dk_home.html Ignore the C grade on the door. The facility is not set up to do the volume they do and will never pass higher than a B at best.

                                                For a high-end spot make a reservation at Piccolo on 5 Dudley in Venice. So small, and seating in the alley, you will feel like you're in the other Venice if you squint just right and sip some wine while the Italian waiter rambles off the menu. http://www.piccolovenice.com/
                                                Or have brunch at Cora's Coffee Shop at the open grill and order a kobe burger from the cooks. http://www.corascoffee.com/

                                                Venice is full of options that are great. Abbot's Pizza Co. for salad pizza slices, Agra Indian Kitchen run by a husband and wife team is friendly and some solid sauces. Siam Garden is ok Thai, but a great patio hidden next to the canals.

                                                Tlapazola Grill on Gateway near Pico has incredible Mexican from Oaxaca. The chef/owner has worked in some of LAs top kitchens. http://losangeles.citysearch.com/prof...

                                                Yabu on Pico generally has good monk fish liver, and always serves steaming bowls of the house made soba noodles.

                                                1. re: luhkee

                                                  Tlapazola also has a place on LIncoln in MdR as well. It's just north of the self-serve car wash/ smog check station - very small store front. We like Tlapazola because their food is pretty good, they plating is nice, they offer a broad range of menu choices as well as a full bar, the decor is nice, and the service seems to always be good. Also, on my last couple of visits, I have noticed many people bringing their own bottles of wine - I don't know the corkage policy, but it seemed pretty matter-of-fact here. The Westside needs a lot more dining places like this that serve Mexican cuisine.

                                                  Tlapazola Grill
                                                  4059 Lincoln Blvd, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

                                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                                    i, too, am a fan of tlapazola, but i would rank it as being well above a hole-in-the-wall.
                                                    also, i believe that the place on lincoln may not have a full bar.

                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                      You gotta admit that its MdR location screams of hole-in-the-wall from the outside... I think most folks drive right by it not even knowing it's there...

                                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                                        All in all I also have to rate Tacomiendo on Gateway, Pepy's Galley in the Mar Vista Bowling Alley on the NE corner of Venice and Grandview and Gallegos Mexican Deli on the S side of Venice Blvd. just a short block west of Centinela as Holes-in-the-Wall (Suddenly I'm beginning to have an overpowering urge to listen to some Pink Floyd....).

                                                        11462 Gateway Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                                        Pepy's Galley
                                                        12125 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                                                        Gallegos Mexican Deli
                                                        12470 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                                          the dining experience that is offered inside tlapaloza on lincoln is definitely not 'hole-in-the-wall.'
                                                          it is actually a good week night place for a dinner date.
                                                          the last time i ate there, the tab for two people for dinner with a drink each was around $75 including tax and tip--definitely NOT 'hole-in-the-wall.'

                                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                                            I think you and I are going off on tangents and getting caught up in semantics. Anyways... I agree that both places serve up good dining experiences. The West LA location being the more obvious and better impression from the outside... The MdR location - well, its exterior gives no clue of what is on the inside - that is what I was referring to as, "hole in the wall." One would have no clue as to its contents based on that book's cover. I hope that clarifies my point...

                                                          2. re: bulavinaka

                                                            also, since there is no obvious place to park, most folks will entirely overlook the place.
                                                            since this is a small restaurant, and a favorite 'date' restaurant' for me, i shouldn't be saying this, but,
                                                            in the evenings, one can get away with parking at the self-serve car wash next door.

                                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                                              Shhh - I won't tell if you dont - we've done the same...

                                                      2. re: luhkee

                                                        Totally agree on Lidia's pupusas. Tasty, cheap, sit on the pedestrian walk, perfect.

                                                    2. I'm not sure I'd call any of these "amazing" but here are a few of my westside haunts:

                                                      Terried Sake House has got to be my favorite westside hole in the wall, ever. I love this place. Their specialty is yakitori, but I go for the sauteed baby squid.

                                                      A recent discovery for me is Chutney's Indian - people seem to have a love/hate thing going with it, but personally I think their chicken, lamb, and their meat samosas are great.

                                                      Taco Plus is a decent alternative to TPF. I like the chorizo and cheese tacos at TPF, but I prefer all other meats at Taco Plus.

                                                      Terried Sake House
                                                      11617 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                                                      2406 S Barrington Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                                      Taco Plus
                                                      1525 S Bundy Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Vaya Con Carne

                                                        I love Terried Sake House! It's such a japanese hole in the wall. Their ochazuke comes out in a hot pot, and it's where I had it for the first time... LOVED it. (And now I know it's so easy to make at home, but the hot pot makes it better). Also the tofu with egg on the skillet dish... so yummy.

                                                      2. Sazon, corner of Washington Blvd and Centinela next to the comic's book store.

                                                        Try any of the white board specials or get the mofongo.. Definitely the flan if available. Just about everything on the menu is sub $9.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Jase

                                                          Not all hole in the walls, but affordable and tasty:
                                                          Le Saigon on Santa Monica Blv
                                                          Annapurna on Venice (Southern Indian veg buffet, all you can eat and closer than Artesia)
                                                          Juquila (like a door or two down from Terried Sake on SM Blvd)
                                                          El Abajeno (I think its on Inglewood Blvd, its almost across from other branch of Tacomiendo)
                                                          Don Felix (I think its on Inglewood too)
                                                          Siam Chan (Thai food off Santa Monica near Royal Theater, used to have more Isaan food, which is a bummer)
                                                          El Texate, Pico in SM near the bowling alley

                                                          1. re: Jase

                                                            I just had a cecina and nopales burrito with red mole sauce on top, and it was quite tasty, very nice cecina (they put a little lettuce and tomato in the burrito, which I'm not wild about, but it did not really detract too much from the really good taste of the cecina, crunchy nopales (not jarred). It did take quite awhile to be served for some reason (maybe 30 minutes from the order), so don't go if you are in a hurry. Better tasting cecina/nopales burrito than Juquila.

                                                          2. How about Sunning on Westwood Blvd for Lebanese food?

                                                            Monte Alban would be at the top of my list. (To be fair, it's at the top of any list of restaurants I put together for LA -- I love that place.)

                                                            Chez Jay's in Santa Monica is a great dive bar that also happens to serve fine food. (RIP Jay Fiondella)

                                                            Do the taco trucks on Rose/Lincoln in Venice count as holes in the wall? They're outstanding.

                                                            And La Playita, the taco stand on Lincoln in Venice, definitely needs to be on this list.

                                                            22 Replies
                                                            1. re: glutton

                                                              The taco trucks are La Oaxacena on Lincoln at Flower. Says Low End Theory's blog, "Amazing tlayuda, tacos, tortas. Oaxacan baked goods. Worth a special trip, and open late. Probably #1 on the Westside."

                                                              La Isla Bonita is on Rose at 4th. Best for the campechana and tostadas de ceviche.

                                                              La Playita can be pretty dicey as of late. Mariscos such as ceviche and cocteles are still good, but steer clear of all tacos and, really, anything else on the menu. Cheapest meat I have had at a taco stand in a long time...

                                                              1. re: luhkee

                                                                I agree about La Playita and it's downward trend. I used to go all the time--loved their carne asada burrito with avocado for less than $3. Their prices have gone up and the quality of the meat has gone down. I always expected and got a few pieces of gristle/burrito, but in the past year, it's been over the top.
                                                                It's no longer a great value and the food isn't as good, so I find myself going there only when one of the two trucks isn't around.

                                                              2. re: glutton

                                                                if you go to sunnin, i would recommend staying away from their falafal sandwiches unless you like soggy microwave reheated falafal balls served on soggy globs of wet warm white pita. there is a reason they have the microwave oven right next to the falafal fryer. . .

                                                                others on this board like their mezze

                                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                                  Re falafel: I have ordered a falafel pita sandwich at Sunnin a couple of times, both while seated at the counter. Both times the falafel was freshly fried, though they did warm or crisp up the rolled pita on the grill after composing it. I liked the sandwiches, but thought they had too much of the pickled vegetables.

                                                                  Zankou's falafel balls, which are sold mostly a la carte, are big, round, and very crunchy. But in dozens of visits to Zankou (in recent years at the W.L.A. location, before that mostly at the Sunset and Normandie branch) I have never ever seen them being made. Always prepared in advance and sitting under the heat lamp.

                                                                  Really like the Hungry Pocket -- good prices and value, nice people, freshly made food, and love that red homemade piquante hot sauce. Must say that I prefer their schwarma or gyros -- the sliced then grilled lamb meat mixture -- better than I liked the falafel, which fell apart a little too easily. But I definitely prefer Hungry Pocket to Falafel King on Broxton in Westwood Village, which is higher priced, assembly line, and mediocre.

                                                                  For falafel, I'll throw in a recommendation for Bella Pita, a few doors south of the In'n'Out on Gayley in Westwood Village. Good, crisp, hot freshmade falafel, served on a pita with a condiment bar with a number of different vegies, condiments, sauces, and other additions for one's sandwich ($4.50 last time I was in there). I remember seeing another storefront on the westside recently with the Bella Pita signs up, but I can't recall exactly where or whether it was open yet. Gotta admit that the Bella Pita on Gayley has outlived my original guesstimate of three to six months for its lifespan -- several other enterprises, most recently a hot dog shop, opened and died there a lot quicker.

                                                                  1. re: nosh

                                                                    regarding the sunnin falafal sandwich:
                                                                    how could the pita be 'crisped up' when they wrap the whole sauced sandwich up in tin foil and put the tin-foiled thing on the grill so all the ingredients steam up together and form a soggy mess inside the tin foil?
                                                                    you can't have any kind of bread 'crisp up' when it is sauced up and steamed in the sauce.

                                                                    at hungry pocket, on the other hand, the pita is put on the grill, not wrapped in anything, until it is warm and the falafal (which is being fried as the bread is warming) and the other sandwich ingredients are put in the bread one second before it is handed to you.

                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                      Very good point...there's absolutely nothing more infuriating than ordering a panini or hot sandwich or falafel 'to go' only to have them wrap it all up in foil that allows it to steam into a withering, jumbled up mess...I just say "don't wrap it please"...how do they not understand the concept in the first place?

                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                        at sunin, the whole wrapping process is part of their procedure to warm the pita. they start with COLD pita, make the sandwich with sometimes microwaved, reheated falafal balls and all the fillings including the tahini, wrap the whole thing up in the tin foil, and THEN heat it up on the grill wrapped in the foil.

                                                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                                                          ...which is why I stick to shawarma when I'm there...

                                                                        2. re: latindancer

                                                                          A few quick comments re Sunin. First, wrapping a sandwich in foil doesn't steam the insides unless the sandwich is COMPLETELY enclosed. I've been to MANY middle eastern places that use foil to prevent the pita from burning. Second, to my knowledge, only one hound has reported receiving microwaved falafel at Sunin. Doesn't mean it didn't happen, but does suggest it's rare. Third, are we 100% sure that's a microwave? I've confused microwaves with special convection ovens used to crisp up previously fried foods. Finally, I agree with glutton that shawarma is the way to go.

                                                                          1. re: a_and_w

                                                                            I eat at Sunnin all the time and have never had microwaved falafel. It's always fresh and delicious, never soggy. The microwaved sandwich must have been an isolated incident, it certainly isn't the norm.

                                                                            1. re: hrhboo

                                                                              When you eat at Sunnin all the time, where do you park? There are a couple metered spots on the street, and a couple more alongside the joint or in the lot that appears to be shared with another place or two. They've told me you can park in the lower, covered level of the Ross store up north on Westwood -- is this a legitimate arrangement or do you just hope you won't get ticketed?

                                                                              1. re: nosh

                                                                                Ross is not legit but you wont get a ticket from LA City Parking Enforcement. I've never seen anyone towed or looking to tow from their lower level.

                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                  Thanks, Servorg. Boy, I'd really be pissed at the counter guys at Sunnin if they told me it was ok to park in that lot and then I got hassled about it. And peace and a handshake to you -- I was surprised yesterday's thread lasted as long as it did...

                                                                                2. re: nosh

                                                                                  If I don't find a meter I usually park on Midvale or one of the other residential side streets. Free parking for 2 hours - the meter maids are pretty stringent so you'll have to move your car after that.

                                                                                  1. re: hrhboo

                                                                                    Midvale parking is only one hour excluding weekends when there is only permit parking. Right about the meter maids who are ever vigilant. Ross underground is the best bet.

                                                                              2. re: a_and_w

                                                                                the sandwich is enclosed enough during the heating process so that the cold bread is steamed to become a warm, soggy mees.

                                                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                  That sounds awful, and I feel your displeasure. Thankfully, that's never been my experience. Bread is typically very crisp with nicely warmed filling.

                                                                          2. re: nosh

                                                                            thanks for the falafel tip. When I think of "hole-in-the-wall falafel" I think of Amir's in Studio City. I know, I know...not the Westside. But worth it if you are in the neighborhood.

                                                                            1. re: nosh

                                                                              ..."on the westside recently with the Bella Pita signs up, but I can't recall exactly where"...

                                                                              I believe that would be:

                                                                              Bella Pita ( f.k.a = Westwood Burgers & Falafel).
                                                                              1945 1/2 Westwood Blvd., WLA (310) 475-4070


                                                                              1. re: JBC

                                                                                Yeah, this is the little stand on the west side of the street just north of Feast from the East, adjacent to the little parking lot that serves a few of the restaurants in that block (but which has insanely short time limits). Does this Bella Pita have the same condiment bar as the Westwood Village one?

                                                                                1. re: nosh

                                                                                  i'm pretty sure the directly adjacent to feast from the east is not Bella Pita.

                                                                                  It's just called Westwood burgers or Westwood falafel or something of that nature, but most assuredly not bella pita.

                                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                                    Used to be the burger place. Signs saying Bella Pita went up in the last month or two.

                                                                        3. Gotta mention Ramayani on Westwood for great Indonesian homestyle cooking

                                                                          1. Philly West is great -- they have a really tasty turkey burger if you don't want to go down the cheese steak road (although they're really good -- get w/out sauce). Also, Billingsley's on Pico is a definite must try. Great prime rib dinner and pretty cheep. Strong cocktails. Very old school.

                                                                            1. The Talpa on Pico. Been going for over 30 years. The treat everybody like family.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: rnp0123

                                                                                Definitely a great choice -- and I've also been going for 30 years. Talpa has the best chile relleno I've had in LA. The special carne asada taco is another favorite. The meat has amazing flavor, better than any taqueria I've tried, including El Parian. My only gripe about Talpa is that I don't love the tortilla they use.

                                                                              2. Been spending more time in the South Bay lately. I know El Segundo is considered South Bay for many, but it's just outside the outer cusp of the Westside. Downtown El Segundo gives one the impression of a really sleepy little town stuck in the 50s, but there's a fair amount of eateries on and around Main Street.

                                                                                Rinaldi's is known by many hounds for their great deli sandwiches that are stuffed with Boar's Head cuts - I personally think their sandwiches give Bay Cities a run for their money. Another place that we've been hitting up lately is The Havana Sandwich Company. about three blocks further south. Easy parking, good and unique menu choices, lots of good food for the $$, lots of tables, and a couple of big screens if you like to watch while you eat. Try some of the more unique brews from Spain and Guatemala. I guess I wouldn't categorize this place as hole-in-the-wall - maybe just more or less off the radar...

                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                  Main Street in El Segundo is indeed a hidden gem. Gosh, I miss the Lickety Split frozen custard place that opened there, expanded, and died. But I have a new favorite -- since the demise of Markie D's the best cheesesteak in SoCal is at Big Mike's, and they do some fine hot light crispy onion rings as well. Easy parking in the lot alongside, great place. I can't get beyond their well-stuffed cheesesteaks with both sweet and hot peppers and onions, but I'll bet they do a quality burger, eggplant parm or salad as well. Here's my problem -- when I leave, going north on Main, I can hit a T and take a left and then skirt around LAX on the ocean side -- easy, fast and fun. But damn, going to El Segundo from the north, on Lincoln, I always end up going thru all the traffic and tunnels and everything to the east of LAX and then guessing which of the little streets will get me back west to Main. How do you jog around to the west from Lincoln without violating some sort of security and being arrested as a terrorist?

                                                                                  1. re: nosh

                                                                                    That's easy. Abandon Lincoln at Jefferson. Head west on Jefferson to Vista del Mar where the Shack (great Shackburger!) is, turn south to Imperial Highway, where you turn east to your T-intersection at Main Street, El Segundo.

                                                                                    1. re: nosh

                                                                                      You can also take a shortcut if you turn left at the signal off Jefferson before you head into PdR's main drag - I think it's Pershing. You'll go up the little windy street, hit strange intersection, go left, and that will take you on to Pershing. Continue south - you should be crossing Manchester, then see a long stretch with runway to your left, dunes to the right, then you'll eventually T off at Imp Hwy. Turn left, then right on to Main Street and follow the Yellow Brick Road...

                                                                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                        bulavinaka, when you take this route you pass a sandwich shop on the west side of the street near manchester called hogan's heros. have you ever tried it? is it any good?

                                                                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                          To be honest, no I haven't. In fact, I just noticed this place about a month ago. I used to work a lot around the general airport/South Bay area so I used to eat around that intersection a fair amount - that was back in the 80s/early 90s. My wife and I mentally bookmarked that place to give it a try maybe this weekend. If I do, I'll post for sure. Thanks for reminding me...

                                                                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                            Well, wouldn't you know - I had a window of time this afternoon, and was about five minutes from Culver, so I jetted west, juked up that nasty windy street that connects to Pershing, and gave Hogan's Heroes a try.

                                                                                            I ordered their large Italian sub and a small side of potato salad - just over $10. It's a lot of food. Two can easily split the sandwich and salad. Everything on the sub was great except the bread, which was mediocre. I'm not sure if it was a little past its prime, or just wasn't up to snuff. Lots of dried italian herbs sprinkled on top of the huge sandwich - at least a foot long, cut in half. If they go another notch up on the bread, then this place is a solid rec for sandwiches. The potato salad is definitely their own house-made stuff. Like a mom would make, it's got lots of bits of this and that - eggs, olives, etc. Pretty good.

                                                                                            I do admire them for paying attention to details. When I mentioned that the order was to go, the lady asked how long it would be before I ate the sandwich. I told her about 15-20 minutes. She said that she would put the oil and vinegar in a cup so the sandwich wouldn't get soggy. The lady is probably in her 60s, kinda gruff at first, but she's really a soft marshmallow inside. Also, they cut a brown bag, set the salad and cup of dressing in it and set it on top of the clamshell inside the bag so it wouldn't slip and tip over - little attentions to detail like that. I did see a couple having a salad and a roast beef sandwich with cheese and onions - kinda hoagie-ish. Smelled pretty good... I'd probably need to visit the place a couple more times and try some of their other stuff to give an honest first opinion, but all in all, my initial impression is, pretty okay...

                                                                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                              This is a trip down memory lane for me. Hogans used to be around the corner from work on La Cienega and was a reliable friend for lunch deliveries. If there was a problem, they always took care of things in a friendly way.


                                                                                              1. re: KayZee

                                                                                                They'll still make you proud. The only gripe I had was the bread - decent, not great, but I can tell they're great folks...

                                                                                    2. I love Feast From the East. Awesome chinese chicken salad. I've not tried any of their other food because I love the salad so much.

                                                                                      Feast From the East
                                                                                      1949 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: attran99

                                                                                        I love the Chinese chicken salad from Feast from the East too. So much so that I buy their dressing in the big jars on display in the case -- it keeps pretty much forever in the fridge. Also buy their fried wonton crisps. Buy chicken breasts when on sale at Ralph's and use the easy poaching method you can look up on www.melindalee.com. The sliced almonds and romaine hearts are easy and cheap at Trader Joe's. Add some sliced scallions and there you have it -- at a fraction of the price.

                                                                                      2. Ok, maybe not amazing depending on what you are craving, but Hinano delivers a good burger. I think it's Costco meat but I love it sometimes. Also Hamburger Habit has great service and a delicious product.

                                                                                        Hinano Cafe
                                                                                        15 Washington Blvd, Venice, CA 90292

                                                                                        Hamburger Habit WLA
                                                                                        11223 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: luhkee

                                                                                          I've read good things about the burger at Hinano, but unless you are extremely lucky, parking there is a crapshoot or expensive (it is at the foot of Washington at the southern end of the Venice boardwalk). Hamburger Hamlet's best days, and its ubiquitous commercials late night on cable, were both two decades ago, as were the "best burger" reviews they display.

                                                                                          1. re: nosh

                                                                                            You meant, of course Habit and not Hamlet (RIP Hamlet). I have never been able to find anything that would draw me back to the Habit (I won't make it a habit to go there for sure). And that's after 3 or 4 tries. Enough is enough.

                                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                                              Thanks for the catch, Servorg. The Habit put out a decent burger almost 20 years ago, and they also had one unique idea -- jotting down the order on the paper plate they ultimately served the burger on. There was the location at Sepulveda and National, and another in WeHo south of Sunset across from the Pavilions. Funny, I think there was a Hamlet within shouting distance of that one, too.

                                                                                              1. re: nosh

                                                                                                I grew up here in what used to be called Westdale. I remember people lining up for and hour for the hamlet (back before the expansion southward. I had a teenage job at the Mobil where the Habit is now. We, the family go the habit about twice a year when we just can't face going to the mexican (border grill?) next door yet again. It ain't nothin to write home about. I always like the fries though.


                                                                                                1. re: KayZee

                                                                                                  There is actually a "Westdale" sign or two. Has anyone mentioned Tacomiendo yet? They do great tlayudas

                                                                                        2. Tara's Himalayan Cuisine
                                                                                          10855 Venice Blvd
                                                                                          Los Angeles, CA 90034
                                                                                          (310) 836-9696

                                                                                          Just go.

                                                                                          There are not many places in LA where you can eat and feel the love coming from the kitchen and Tara herself who is a walking smile. The food is an unbelievable value and it's a great place for a birthday party for up to 25-30 guests.

                                                                                          The food is out of this world. I recommend the Lamb Jalfrezi, the chicken sekewa, the eggplant appetizer and entree... really everything is great. Momos too... I just had dinner and I'm making myself hungry!

                                                                                          1. Wakasan on Westwood Blvd.
                                                                                            Nanbankan on Santa Monica Blva.

                                                                                            1. I also agree with the posters who recommend Hole in the Wall Burger Joint. Best burgers I have had recently, and I had to eat burgers all over town for a story, so I tried many, many burgers. It is literally a hole in the wall called Hole in the Wall.

                                                                                              1. Outdoor Grill in Culver City on Wasington - right where it does the weird v thing...Washington Place/Blvd. Great ribs.

                                                                                                1. I absolutely agree with the Philly West recommendation. My job brought me to UCLA for a month, and I must have eaten here 10 times for lunch.

                                                                                                  Their cheese steaks and their burger both come in a very slightly crispy french bread with a moist and soft (but not doughy) inside. The cheese steak has the usual savory thin cut steak (rib eye?) with onions cooked to enough to have some give to them (but retaining a satisfying snap), and just enough marinara sauce to add flavor without overpowering or drenching the thing. I've eaten at all the hot spots in philly, and I like this place better. (for real connoisseurs, Jake's Philly Cheese Steaks in Houston, TX is still a little bit better...man I miss that place!)

                                                                                                  The burger was a surprise to me. You get a huge, juicy, flame-grilled patty served in the same bread as the cheese steaks....a welcome departure from the usual soft bun. They don't overcook the thing...there was always a little pink in mine, and I never had to ask them to cook it medium.

                                                                                                  It's a small place and there's just one lady behind the counter who took care of the bar and the few tables every time I was there. Most of the people at the restaurant seemed to be regulars. But for new people who came in she was a riot; she was flat out rude to those who were either rude to her or came in with ridiculous requests. I got a kick out of it, and I highly recommend this place to anyone who wants a greasy, delicious afternoon fix.

                                                                                                  1. So funny -- two new posts on this very long and old thread when I clicked on it this morning, and both are burgers, and both are within a few blocks of each other. Philly West is the old-timer, always underrated, not as well known or respected as deserved. Especially for the price. Hole-in-the-Wall is the new challenger, brash and flashy, with all of the options and accoutrements. Each has its strengths, and your preference may depend on whether you prefer a divy bar or a sorta weird patio aside a street, a flame-grilled vs. griddled patty, a roll vs. a glitzy pretzel bun, or a beer vs. a soda. While Philly West's burger is less expensive, if you share an order of fries and add the cost of a drink and tip, your bill is going to be very similar. Time for a Chowdown!