For many people, North Hollywood is a suburban neighborhood in the Valley littered with actors seeking low rent and more black box theater spaces than you ever realized existed in all of LA. And to a large extent, that’s what you’ll find there. But it’s also home to a diverse and exciting crop of restaurants. So here’s no excuse for you to eat chain pizza when you probably live a few blocks from a Venezuelan breakfast cafe or a tamale shop. Concentrate on these 12 spots and you’ll realize what you’ve been missing.
It’s hard to eat well when you’re waiting for your big break. Get the rest of The Actor’s Guide To Eating & Drinking In LA here.
Sri Siam is a seemingly random family-run Thai restaurant right off the 170 freeway. We say “seemingly random,” because it’s actually not random at all. Open since 1984, Sri Siam has been serving dishes like papaya salad, boat noodles, and khao soi long before you could easily find them outside of Thai Town. But aside from its historical standing, the food tastes incredible. We suggest the crispy rice salad, the panang curry, and the off-menu radish cakes. Then sit with your feast and watch Wheel of Fortune play on loop on the TV in the corner.
When you hit the stretch of North Hollywood that’s basically just semi-trucks and loading docks, it means you’re close to Mi Ranchito Veracruz. This tiny order-at-the-counter Mexican restaurant has an excellent menu stacked with burritos and chilaquiles, but everybody’s really here for the tamales. They’re served Veracruz-style (wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn husks), are perfectly cooked, and slightly sweet. Sprinkling the spicy red table salsa on top is also a must. If you’re throwing a big house party, they also do catering.
Your refrigerator broke, your muffler is doing that thing again, and all your new headshots look like they were taken in the dark. It’s been a rough week and you need comfort. Go to Mofongos. No one’s counting calories at this family-run Puerto Rican restaurant, and when the food is this good, you don’t care. Our recommendation is to start with the appetizer platter that comes with beef-filled potato balls and yucca fritters, and then end with the carne guisada mofongo. It’s a mountain of deep-fried green plantains topped with a savory beef stew that’ll make all your problems seem like a distant memory.
If you’re completely done with your regular old lunch routine of wet salads and bottled water, try working Tatang into your rotation. The modern Filipino restaurant has a bright space in a stripmall, an affordable menu (most things fall under $15), and excellent food across the board. We usually go for the chicken lumpia and tinola (chicken soup), but if you’re coming in with a few friends or coworkers, the pancit noodles easily feed three grown adults.
Despite a name that sounds like an overpriced drip coffee shop on Abbot Kinney, Coffee For Breakfast is a tiny cafe that serves traditional Venezuelan breakfast and lunch from 7:30am-4pm. Your order should include any of the cachapas (corn-based pancakes stuffed with combinations of meat and cheese), a few beef empanadas, and a cinnamon cafe con leche. The place only has a handful of tables that fill up fast, so expect a small wait on the weekends.
Located on the far northern reaches of North Hollywood, Chiba is a massive sushi restaurant and a flat-out Valley institution. Come here during the day and you’ll find a 10-car lineup at the valet and a lively crowd inside filled with everybody from local office workers to Valley housewives ready to gossip. But let it be known that these people know what they’re doing - Chiba is one of the best sushi spots in the whole Valley. If you’re coming in solo or with one other person, sit at the bar where the chefs will gladly inform you which fish is especially good that day. Don’t leave without getting at least a few of their massive and very delicious hand rolls.
Walking into Cahuenga General Store is like walking into another world, or at the very least, walking into WestWorld. This former prop shop turned sandwich cafe looks like a real 19th-century general store with creaky wooden floors, chairs hanging from the ceiling, and homemade soap on the shelves. There’s also a tiny little stage in the corner where there are live performances on most days of the week. But the real reason you’re here is for the sandwiches. With over 30 different kinds, the menu is a little overwhelming, but our strategy is to stick with anything that has pesto on it. They make it in-house, and it’s incredible.
It’s not that you’re antisocial, it’s just that you sometimes need an hour by yourself at lunch or there might be an accidental murder. When it’s time for a solo meal in North Hollywood, head to Hayat’s Kitchen. This family-run Lebanese restaurant has excellent food (get any of the kebab platters), affordable prices, and a quiet front patio that kind of feels like you’re in a forest. If sitting out here with big plates of meat and sides of hummus can’t clear your mind, nothing will.
The journey to find a healthy lunch spot that won’t make you sad inside is a long and winding one - even in this town. If you work or live around North Hollywood, HealthyCA is about as good as it gets. The tiny salad shop on Lankershim isn’t anything more than a counter and a few tables out on the sidewalk, so don’t come here for your weekly lunch outing with friends. Come here for a really fresh salad (get the namesake HealthyCA) on your lunch hour or in between auditions, and to eat it all in blissful solitude in your car.
North Hollywood has a solid crop of old-school Mexican restaurants where large groups can eat enchilada platters and drink margaritas all night. Muchos Mas is our favorite. The space itself is massive with a huge side patio and an interior that looks like the main square of a colonial mountain town. Is it cheesy? Of course it is. But the food is good, the atmosphere is always a party, and their margaritas are $3.25 during weekday lunch.
From the outside, Rustic Spoon appears to be just another Toluca Lake filler restaurant, but inside you’ll find healthy, affordable, and very delicious Thai food. This isn’t the most traditional Thai menu in town, but the cinnamon chicken curry with roti bread is special and we’d drive here at any time of day to eat it. Its location on Lankershim is especially convenient for all the catatonic studio workers walking around looking for a life-saving lunch.
The Juice Parlor might sound and look like every other overpriced health trap in this town, but their food is good enough to prove every cliche wrong. Their excellent acai bowls are the reason to come here, and at $10, they won’t break the bank either. This is the place you stop into after goat yoga or on a solo lunch run when you just want something healthy and delicious.
Fat Dog doesn’t have the best food in North Hollywood, but it’s still good, and the entire neighborhood tends to end up here on a nightly basis. The massive space in the heart of the Arts District has a huge craft beer list, a bar food menu that every person in your group will like (the Swedish meatballs are a must-order), and a weekday Happy Hour from 3-7pm. This is the kind of place you can go to with coworkers, castmates, or by yourself for a quick bite after work and walk out happy. It’s also dog-friendly.