I’m a huge foodie. When I say “Let’s go on a Los Angeles adventure,” it almost surely means to find a cute place to eat as judged by both atmosphere and meal quality. Though LA is most famous for its juiceries, brunch spots and bougie expensive restaurants, here are six restaurants I tried this fall that won’t break the bank. Many of them are located in Westwood, California because (you guessed it) that’s the neighborhood of UCLA.
Coral Tree Café
11645 San Vicente Blvd
The Brentwood cafe is located on the main drag of the neighborhood and has both indoor and outdoor seating. I love their caprese dishes (namely, the panini), and it has a modern relaxed atmosphere that’s good for studying (if you can find the parking nearby). You pay at the counter and dishes range from about $13-$17, which is decent for eating out but expensive for a cafe.
1064 Gayley Ave
This Chinese restaurant opened in Westwood in 2016, and their dumplings (very juicy, served in a tin) are some of their most talked-about dishes. It’s a bit more fusion than hole-in-the-wall Chinatown joints, but still has authentic flavors and delicious beef soup.
Honey Mee11301 W Olympic Blvd Suite 104
I actually wasn’t too impressed with this hip desert venue. They essentially serve sundaes with honey and fudge drizzled on top. It was subtle and pleasant after a filling meal of Korean food on Sawtelle, but not rave-worthy. They do have French sea salt because #francophilia but also ones with honeycomb on top – but personally it’s a pass.
10874 Kinross Ave
I had their Thanksgiving sandwich and it was WONDERFUL. Moist and flavorful, soft bread with cranberry, turkey and stuffing flavors melded together. I was pretty blown away since I haven’t heard much about it. It’s a cute cafe in Westwood and we even got outdoor seating.
800 Degrees Pizza
10889 Lindbrook Drive
I’ve been here twice before and always get the pizza bianca base. It’s white sauce with mozzarella and a chewy soft crust. The pizza of the day has a small discount, but otherwise it’s an expensive place to get a pizza. It has a nice rustic atmosphere for a date night or gathering with friends, as I had a club meeting there, and it serves solid individual pizzas, fresh from the oven. You can even get prosciutto on top but be warned that it gets expensive.
1030 Glendon Ave
Another new spot in Westwood, Pinches Tacos offers several flavors of street tacos and sweet horchata. I definitely recommend coming here for authentic SoCal tacos – try a variety of meats and toppings because you can’t go wrong with their juicy, dripping tacos.
5107 York Blvd
This is one of those hip donut places in Pasadena. I went one night after a UCLA football game at the Rose Bowl and there was a bit of a line. It’s popular because the donuts are vegan and have gourmet, creative flavors. My X-Ray Speculoos donut was filled with cookie butter and topped with chocolate glaze and sea salt. It was sugary and rich, but required a fork to eat it. My dessert was a bit dry but the flavors were very creative – butterfingers, bacon, lemon glaze, basil, almond are all flavors offered atop donuts. These aren’t cheap bites, but full on desserts what with the price and flavor profile. I prefer classic fried donuts to these trendy creations. Since it’s in Pasadena it also might be a bit out of the way.
1393 Westwood Blvd
I celebrated my friend’s 21st birthday at this cute Italian treasure down Westwood Boulevard. It’s classy with a slightly dimly lit atmosphere that truly does remind of Italy. The gnocchi was soft, the sauces creamy. It’s pretty average pricing – not a ton of food but for a reasonable price.
1139 Glendon Ave
Skylight Gardens is pretty close to a typical Los Angeles brunch experience – a good ambience in an indoor courtyard, expensive prices and just average food. There’s not much in the way of outdoor seating, but the indoor seats are idyllically placed around a central graceful tree and skylight roofs (hence the name). It costs about $15-$20 per entree, but if you’re planning to have a classy brunch to celebrate a friend’s birthday, as I did, Skylight Gardens is charming and calm.
The food wasn’t spectacular for the price. My avocado toast came with a hefty portion what with the slices of toast, bacon, potatoes and two poached eggs on top but I could make something that tasted just as good at home. All of the elements tasted as they should, yet it wasn’t a stand out dish, because there wasn’t a twist.
I’ve also ventured to Skylight Gardens for dinner and had their coconut horchata (came with an orchid on top – such tropical vibes) and ordered the crab risotto. Once again, it was average. I enjoyed the dish (um hello, it’s crab and risotto) but it wasn’t spectacular. The dinner total was about $20.