Calling all sweet tooths, Cafe Dulce has everything you didn’t realize you needed – Fruity Pebbles donut holes, churro bread, maple bacon donuts, and mocha rolls. Wash it all down with one of their signature green tea lattes and sit back while the glorious sugar coma hits you. This is the ultimate spot for a dessert loving date or to meet up with friends when you get hit with the munchies. For the lunch crowd, they have an unexpected killer kale salad that would pair perfectly with a strawberry cream donut or blueberry roti bun.
Sandwich shop by day and cool restaurant by night, Fickle is an unexpected gem in Little Tokyo that seemed to appear within the blink of an eye and has thankfully developed a cult following. The first time I walked by their lunch-time sandwich board, it read “Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork Sandwich” and I knew I was never going to be the same. Sandwich game on point. For those seeking something a bit more elevated in the evening, their selection of oysters are quick to set the mood, followed by a delectable slab of bone marrow, good enough to make angels cry. Come hungry and leave delightfully surprised (and full).
Before Downtown LA became a “thing”, Lazy Ox Canteen was dishing out plates good enough to make your toes curl. If you ever had the chance to take a bite into their juicy 7 oz burger piled atop a fluffy bun slathered in grain mustard and pickled vegetables, you know exactly what I am talking about. If it’s brunch you seek, toss a few cold artisan beers back while you wait for your crispy cast iron chicken and ricotta pancakes topped with coffee butter and strawberries to hit the table. This isn’t one of your light LA meals, so come prepared to eat with no regrets. Welcome to a food lovers paradise.
At Marugame Monzo, udon is the game and you never lose. With a line that is visible from every way you look on 1st Street, it is clear that people are crazy for freshly prepared noodles. Some of the most flavorful udon bowls are the savory selections like uni, squid butter and curry. Not to be neglected is the magical tempura fried egg, with yolk porn so real, you’ll need to share it via Instagram. What enhances the dining experience at Monzo is the chance to watch the entire noodle process, with a “making of” fit for film, it’s that beautiful to witness. Ask for a seat near the large glass window while you watch the chef stretch, roll, and fold every single noodle to perfection.
There are a few ramen options in Little Tokyo but at Shin-Sen-Gumi you are in control. Pull up a seat, grab a pencil, and select on your paper menu how you’d like your noodles, broth, and oil prepared. Addicted to toppings? They got you. Crispy pig ears for the adventurous, and flavored eggs and bamboo shoots for the classic bowls. If you are looking for a porktastic bowl of savory broth to comfort you on those cold Fall evenings, this is exactly where you need to be.
Did someone say mochi ice cream? The creators of this dream-come-true combination answered many prayers when they began to open up storefronts across Southern California. Fresh batches of colorful little mochi balls—small enough to fit in the palm of your hand—are filled with cool ice cream flavors like green tea, plum wine, and black sesame. For only $1 a piece, why not make a game of it and see how many you can eat? For those crazy people not in love with mochi, take a peak in the gelato case and ease all your troubles away.
Image via OC Weekly
Sushi snobbery is very real in LA, but no one can argue that Sushi Gen has been doing its job for the past couple of decades, boasting now legions of followers. Locals and visitors alike live by Gen’s fresh selection of sushi and sashimi. Rarely isn’t there a line to get in; come at lunch and you’d think they were giving sushi away! People go crazy for their $35 sashimi deluxe dinner, but if you want something a bit smaller, the Chirashi Deluxe is the way to go. Their fresh fish is as vibrant as it is delicious.