HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >


Fun/weird / hole-in-the wall / hidden gem spots for brunch or lunch???

My mother is coming into town, and she loves a great culinary experience with "extra charm". One of our spots was Clifton's, but that's obviously on hiatus. *pout*

Any recommendations for a quirky, delish hole in the wall spots within the LA area??? I'm at a loss and I want to do something fun with her. I can only think of PDC, Taylor's Steakhouse or Olympic House of Breakfast...!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm not sure what side of town you're in....and I'm not sure I'd categorize it was weird...but there's a charming little French place with a fun patio in Santa Monica called Madame Chou Chou. Good food...charming French couple that runs it....fun atmosphere. Everyone I've taken there has loved it. I've only gone for lunch. Also love the patio at Cliff's Edge; it's kind of unusual with the giant tree in the middle. They have a new chef, and I hear the food is much better. They don't do lunch during the week; I believe just on weekends. And, though I haven't been, Inn of the Seventh Ray (I think that's the name) in Topanga used to be fun for out of town folks. Quite the California vibe.

    2 Replies
    1. re: perk

      A few weeks ago I went to S and W diner in culver city...I think it's on Washington Blvd. Small, kitchy, food was great! Only problem s there is usually acwait, and it's cash only. But if you can hande that, it was a cool, and yummy experience!

      1. re: perk

        I second the recommendations of Inn of The Seventh Ray and Cliffs Edge.

      2. Papa Cristo's for Greek and Langer's Deli (closed Sundays) for the best pastrami on earth, both near downtown. And of course the Original Farmer's Market open everyday on 3rd and Fairfax for a taste of LA.

        Papa Cristos
        2771 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006

        Langer's Delicatessen
        704 S Alvarado St, Los Angeles, CA 90057

        Farmers Market
        6333 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90036

        1. I nominate Pann's. United Nations clientele, fantastic "googie" architecture http://www.wilsonswheretoguide.com/20... and classic rock and roll at a low enough decibel level that you can still hear it while being able to converse normally, along with wonderful chicken wings (with waffles or mashed potatoes) and a patty melt that will ruin you for other patty melts (such a juicy patty that it haunts my dreams) along with some great biscuits and if you go for breakfast and the corned beef hash is available (normally only as a special on some weekends) I would have to order it.


          1 Reply
          1. re: Servorg

            +1 for Pann's 3/4 pound patty melt. So good.

            Pann's Restaurant & Coffee Shop
            6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

          2. You might consider Nick's Cafe, a quirky breakfast shack set off by itself, just north of Chinatown.

            Or Philippe's, of course, if she hasn't been yet.

            1. Or...if you're up for a ride south, Gaffey Street Diner might be a good call.


              1 Reply
              1. re: wutzizname

                I like the food at Gaffey Street Diner but the room has little to zero charm...

              2. Uncle John's Cafe.

                Still in Downtown. Super charming.

                  1. Have not been in years, but Inn of the 7th Rey in Topanga is very unique. Back to the Beach on the sand in Santa Monica is a nice venue for lunch. Off Vine or Muso Franks in Hollywood are both good lunch spots.

                    1. Casablance on Lincoln is a semi-quirky hole in the wall in my opinion. I think it's a Mexican restaurant, or at least that's what it looks like to me, and have a Sunday brunch that's pretty cheap in my opinion with fresh homeade tortillas an bottomless sangrias and other drinks. And you get flan at the end.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: waterisgood

                        +1 for all it's weirdness at Casablanca and their great tortillas and their calamari steaks.

                        220 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Thanks all for your suggestions!

                          Langer's is always on the menu :) KTCN105 is me and my friends spot...may be too trendy/artsy for her. Casablanca ew. Nickel Diner & Uncle Johns been there (close to my work!). Inn of Seventh Ray closed during winter months :/

                          Nick's Cafe, Papa Cristos (close to my house and I want to check out their market), Pann's are in the running. Madame Chou Chou looks superb for my mother/daughter brunch with my girlfriends :) Thank you all~

                        2. Another fun place is the Reel Inn (sea food) on PCH just north of Topanga. Huge sea food selection, reasonable prices and funky atmosphere across the street from the sand.

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: BSW6490

                            I think Malibu Seafood, about a mile north of Pepperdine on PCH has fresher fish but a similar vibe.

                            1. re: BSW6490

                              If you can stomach the extra drive, Neptune's Net much further north on PCH is better food, same vibe. Having said that, I just went to Reel Inn night before last and enjoyed it. MUCH better than anything else in its vicinity (Gladstone's, talking 'bout you).

                              1. re: nosmok

                                eating cardboard would be better than eating the food at gladstone's.

                                1. re: westsidegal

                                  I hope they replaced the parking lot attendant too because the last time we were there, he yelled "You did not listen - I told you to pull up over there!". Next stop, finishing school for him and another restaurant for us - went to Duke's up the street and had a great view, sugary drinks and a happy guest on her way back to London.

                                2. re: nosmok

                                  i've never seen the words "better food" and "neptune's net" is such close proximity before.

                                  don't get me wrong, i dig the place, but the food? eh.

                                  1. re: linus

                                    Don't know when y'all were last at Gladstone's, but since SBE took it over the place has really turned a corner, maybe not 180-degrees, but significantly. Menu is fully revamped, and I can't really make a bold endorsement as I've only eater there once since, but I was generally impressed that the food had been upgraded significantly. It is definitely worth another try, if you haven't been there since the long gray years.

                                    1. re: wutzizname

                                      Agree with the change since SBE took over.

                                      1. re: waterisgood

                                        So how -is- Gladstone's now that it's been revamped?

                                        1. re: sablouwho

                                          I don't think I've seen a "known" poster do a full review on the G'stone since SBE assumed control. If you would like to be the first to have that honor I'd certainly love to read your post. The only thing I've had there in the past that I at all liked was the clam chowder in the bread bowl. Wonder if it's still on the menu (I can't be bothered to go to their website and actually look, so please don't bother to do so on my account)?

                              2. I adore Chou Chou and Papa Cristos!
                                26 Beach has a funky charm on the patio and they have an extensive brunch menu. They have imho the best burgers in town (their kobe patties are sublime) but the brunch fare includes fancy a la mode waffles/pancakes.

                                The Nickel Diner has some tasty stuff, I loved the stuffed avocado with half quinoa and half chicken salad. YUM.

                                E.K. Valley is getting a lot of love on this board as a good hole-in-the-wall mexican spot but I haven't been yet.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: sarahbeths

                                  have you been to Papa Cristos on BIG FAT GREEK FAMILY STYLE DINNER THURSDAYS? How is it?

                                  1. re: ns1

                                    It's really fun. Served family style. Lots to eat with belly dancing. One seating. $24 per person.

                                2. Bawarchi
                                  Simpang Asia
                                  26 Beach
                                  Le petite Creperie
                                  Industry Cafe