Larchmont is the best neighborhood you always forget about and that’s precisely how the family-friendly confines prefer it. Let Melrose, Robertson and Montana have their paparazzi glory, Larchmont Blvd. is happiest being the quiet, quintessential main street straight out of a Norman Rockwell fever dream. That’s not to say it’s undiscovered. Come down any day of the week and those well-kept sidewalks are jam-packed with anxious Paramount employees, privileged toddlers, and poorly-medicated housewives running late to yoga. And everybody’s hungry. While each restaurant on Larchmont certainly looks the part, they are not created equal. Here is our guide to eating the best possible lunch in Larchmont.
Simply stated, there are sandwiches and then there is Larchmont Wine and Cheese. The upscale wine shop might not look like much more than a place to pick up a good bottle of merlot, but there’s a not-so-well-kept secret lurking in the back and it’s in the form of one of the best sandwich counters in the city. You pick the meat and the bread and watch the magic unfold. It’s simplicity at its finest and also a bad spot to go with a group. If today’s lunch crew is rolling 4+ deep, just call it in and head back to chow down in front of your sad co-workers.
Down the road a few blocks on Melrose sits this criminally overlooked casual Italian tavern. Any neighborhood in the city should be lucky to have a spot this flexible, let alone one that’s also dishing out some fantastic Italian food. Come sit and decompress at the bar by yourself with a bowl of pasta and a glass of dark red wine or bring the boss with for a Paramount power lunch. Either way Osteria La Buca will provide you with fresh, uncomplicated Italian food in a space suited for all your needs.
One thing we’ll never lose any sleep over is whether or not Larchmont Boulevard will run out of cafes. It won’t. They’re everywhere. And the most popular one is will always be Larchmont Bungalow. Come here on a Saturday morning and you’re staring down the barrel of an hour-long wait and a mob of exhausted-looking girls stressed out about their Klout scores. Luckily, weekday lunch cools off a bit and this order-at-the-counter cafe becomes a quick and easy option for your large lunch group that just needs good food and a hefty array of choices.
Comparing LA’s bagel situation to New York’s is like sitting through the entire second season of True Detective. You can’t. We long ago conceded the bagel game to NYC, and we’re at peace with it. But that’s not to say we don’t have decent outposts anyways. Sam’s Bagels is not the best bagel shop in LA, but they do fill a much-needed void of grab-and-go food on Larchmont. You’re obviously wondering why you would eat a bagel after 11am but with everything from a classic BLT to corned beef brisket stuffed in the middle, Sam’s has your lunchtime needs covered.
Hi haters! Draw your battle lines because it’s Cafe Gratitude time. No restaurant in the city draws the equal praise and ire quite like this vegan temple to the millennial. But we find most of that ire is misplaced. Sure, having to say “I am humble” as you order your food is borderline humiliating and no, we weren’t curious as to what our waiter’s thought of the day was, but life goes on. And so does lunch. We are thankful.
It might not look like much from the outside, but Mario’s is one of the better-known Peruvian restaurants in the city and, after 25 years, is largely credited with bringing Peruvian cuisine into the LA mainstream. Come for seafood fried rice, citrus ceviche, and the best lomo saltado (stir-fried beef and french fries) in town. Don’t fear that green squeeze bottle on the table either. It’s green aji chili sauce and will make your lunch even better.
Everybody’s favorite youth basketball motivator and premiere Larchmont coffee house has a tough gig serving sandwiches on the same street as Larchmont Wine and Cheese. Admittedly, their lunch doesn’t quite hold the same cachet as their top notch breakfast situation, but it’s still pretty d*mn good. And if you are in the need of a midday pick-me-up and quick bite to keep the blood sugar up, there is no better spot on Larchmont.
Despite a few landmark joints around town, LA is largely underserved when it comes to great pizza. And pizza by-the-slice? Let’s not even get into it. Which makes Village Pizza all the more special. Because this nearly 20 year old pizzeria on Larchmont has been dishing out some of the freshest pizza in town for awhile now. Everything from the marinara sauce to the meatballs are made in-house and it’s apparent. Swing by on your lunch hour for a slice, no one’s judging.
If you’re still wondering where the old Girasole went, we found it. Over the summer owner Steve Vernetti switched up the dated space and introduced Vernetti to the hungry Larchmont hoards. With a light, crowd-pleasing Italian menu and a clean space that fits perfectly in the neighborhood, Vernetti is a welcome change to a once-fading space. For lunch, everything hovers around $15.
At some point when we weren’t looking Lemonade became a bonafide SoCal fast-casual dynasty. Even though there are nearly 20 locations now, Lemonade’s cafeteria-style formula will always work. With a high-quality product and a seemingly never-ending array of menu combinations, why wouldn’t you keep coming back? Besides, residing in a beautifully restored craftsman with a great front patio, Larchmont is arguably the best Lemonade location out there.