You just got ghosted by your significant other of two years, your fridge broke on an 80-degree day, and your boss just told you that she needs an attitude adjustment from you immediately. Some weeks can be great, but others dissolve into complete dumpster fires with the quickness. And when it’s been one of those kind of weeks, you need classic comfort food. Whether you’re looking for a greasy burger, a big plate of spaghetti, or a dessert to cry in, these are the LA spots where you need to be after a bad week.
Your body is doing that thing where it can’t decide if it’s fully sick or not, and you’ve been in scratchy throat purgatory since Monday. Time to go knock it out of your system once and for all at Spoon By H. The tiny Korean spot in Beverly Grove appears to be just a quiet dessert cafe from the outside, but they’re keeping a not-so-well-kept secret inside: Some of the best Korean soup and noodles in the city. We’re convinced the pork belly dumpling soup has the power to cure both emotional and physical ailments, and the spicy udon will easily unlock any lingering head congestion you’re still enduring.
Mercury’s not even in retrograde and your computer has successfully shut itself off every day this week. Make an appointment at the Genius Bar and then head immediately to Biriyani Kabob House. The family-run Indian/Pakistani restaurant in Little Bangladesh is cranking out tremendous plates of lamb biriyani, saag paneer, and fragrant curries that’ll have you forgetting all about your technological misfortunes. Plus, the space itself is quiet and low-key, assuring minimal social interaction.
Sometimes after a bad week, you just want to hide in your bedroom all weekend. Other times, you want to round up your friends and head out for a celebratory meal for no reason. When it’s the latter, our go-to pick is always Birdie G’s. The modern comfort food spot in Santa Monica has a huge, industrial space that’s ideal for big groups, and a wide-ranging menu that’ll appease even the pickiest of eaters. The Hangtown brei, spicy ravioli, and Sloppy Jeremy with strawberry-beef Bolognese all need to hit the table.
Jewish delis have long been a destination for people struggling through a tough week, but if you need some help choosing one, choose Brent’s. The Northridge institution has been around since the 1960s and is the kind of place that heals your soul the second you step through the door. Large families, neighborhood get-togethers, and regulars who’ve sat at the same table for three decades - it’s a crowd that you simply don’t find often in LA, and when coupled with tremendous comfort-food staples like stuffed cabbage and our favorite pastrami Reuben in town, you’ll struggle finding a reason to ever leave.
Against your best judgment, you agreed to feed your boss’s three clownfish while she was away on vacation, and you just found them floating at the top of the tank. Take a deep breath and go to Mantee immediately. This family-run Armenian restaurant in Studio City has tremendous food across their menu, but the namesake mantee (meat-filled raviolis topped with garlic yogurt sauce), dolma (stuffed eggplant), and sizzling hot feta should all be priorities. There’s also a hidden back patio that’s great for calming your nerves and Googling the nearest fish store.
Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine, an Indonesian/Singaporean restaurant right in downtown Alhambra, is where you’ll find us any time we need to put our head down on the table and cry a little. The expansive menu is stacked with tremendous dishes, but it’s the noodle soups that require your attention during times of need. The coconut curry-based laksa mee is pure soul-curing indulgence, and if some of your friends require similar medicine, the large space is great for a big-group meal.
You stayed up until 2am finishing a presentation, only to realize during the meeting that you misspelled the client’s name on every slide. Time to make up a doctor’s appointment, then head Downtown and let Cento make you feel better with giant bowls of pasta. This place is lunch-only (they take over a wine bar during the day), consists of a single guy cooking on hot plates behind the bar, and is perfect for a solo meal - probably with a glass of wine. The menu changes constantly, but always involves a bright pink beet pasta we are physically incapable of not ordering.
You had the best first date of your life last night, and this morning he texts to let you know he had a great time, but he’s actually moving to Fiji next month. Grab the friend who’s seen you cry the most times, head to Santa Monica, and eat very large burritos. Gilbert’s El Indio is a classic Mexican restaurant that specializes in just that - oversized, overstuffed burritos - and, as a bonus, their dining room is usually filled with people who won’t care that you’re wearing sweats. It’s the perfect place to sit in a booth and spend a couple of hours justifying why you think a girls’ trip to Fiji would be totally fun and have nothing to do with this guy.
Still can’t get verified by Instagram? Now’s probably a good time to go cry into a glass of wine and a plate of meat at Oriel, a French bistro/wine bar in Chinatown. The low-lit space is perfect for solo dining at the bar, where no one will see your tears. Plus, the excellent French onion soup is $11, which is a thing you need right now, at a price you can actually afford (especially since you won’t be making any $$ off #ads any time soon).
Two people at your company got laid off this week: You, and Brad from accounting who once got his hand stuck in the vending machine. You have some newfound free time on your hands, so you might as well use it to get yourself a Godmother sandwich from Bay Cities, eaten while staring pensively at the Pacific Ocean from your car. The legendary Italian deli/grocery in Santa Monica does all kinds of subs, but your order is always the one filled with five types of cured meat, cheese, and pretty much every other delicious sandwich topping. Brad probably doesn’t even know this place exists - you’re already doing better than him.
Your expensive new tapered sweatpants finally came last week, and two of your friends have since offered to let you use their washing machine. You know what might make you feel better? Throwing down on a meal for one. Petit Trois is an expensive French restaurant that’s also pretty casual, so you can pretend that spending a large amount of money on dinner for one is totally normal for you. The tiny spot next to Trois Mec serves stuff like a confit-fried chicken leg and cocktails in a space that only fits 21. And no one will question those sweatpants.
There hasn’t been hot water coming out of your shower since Tuesday and your landlord won’t respond to any of your distress signals. Make moves to Masa, one of our favorite Eastside spots that’s home to some of the best deep dish pizza we’ve had outside Chicago. The food is great, and the atmosphere inside this family-run operation feels like you’re back visiting your hometown for the holidays. Critical move: Call and place your pizza order right as you leave your house - deep dish takes a while.
Polka Polish is one of those places you don’t tell many friends about, because you’ve been going for years by yourself and want to continue eating in your pajamas in solitude. The family-run joint in Glassell Park has excellent Polish classics across the board, but your boss asked you twice this week “Where’s your happy version at?” so you’re here for one reason: pierogies. One of God’s great gifts to man, these little dumplings come stuffed with everything from sauerkraut to bacon to jalapeños, and you’re going to want all of them.
That cute guy from Tinder you were totally into just dropped the not-looking-for-a-relationship bomb, and you’re officially 100% done with men. Go directly to Magnolia and stick your face right into that famous banana pudding. Is this the best dessert in the universe? We say yes. A medium runs $6.25, but we both know you’d be better served getting a small bowl (which serves 8) for $38, then eating the whole thing in bed later.
We don’t need to tell you that Mexican food cures all, but when the workweek has continued to just club you over the head repeatedly, our suggestion is Casa Vega. The 64-year-old Valley institution is the kind of place where you crawl into a big large booth, get blitzed on margaritas, eat some lobster quesadillas, and watch everyone from the Kardashians to your tax guy do the exact same thing.
When it comes to Thai Town, you pretty much have your pick of comfort food spots that will do you right. But our choice is Pailin. The warm, tiny space doesn’t have anywhere near the foot traffic (or the chaotic energy) of some of the more well-known spots in the neighborhood, and that’s ideal when you want to sit in silence by yourself and stare at a wall. Their khao soi is the curry noodle soup of your dreams.
When in doubt, a plate of meat will always make life a little better. Maple Block in Culver City spot has quickly risen the ranks to become some of our favorite BBQ in the city. The brisket is the move, but also consider the pimiento cheese sandwiches. And save room for the cobbler - it’ll improve any situation.
Saturday night at Jones is admittedly a bit of a scene, but if you come during an off time, you’ll find the setting extremely conducive to eating your feelings over a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. But you’re really here for that apple pie at the end - it’s served in a skillet and has no business being as good as it is.