As citizens of Los Angeles, we endure several daily fears. Bracing for “The Big One,” turning 30, and trying to cross over the 405, just to name a few. And yet, all that pales in comparison to LA’s true public enemy #1: rain.
Those tortuous drops of water don’t fall often, but when they do, this city loses its mind. Suddenly every person takes it upon themselves to disregard any previous driving training, traffic lanes become mere suggestions, and in a matter of minutes our streets transform into garbage bin water parks. It’s a sh*tshow of mass proportion.
But not all is lost. With the rain comes a whole new way to experience our city. And that includes our restaurants. So, dig out that long-sleeved shirt you completely forgot you owned, google where to buy an umbrella, and go track down these excellent places to take advantage of the rain in LA.
54 degrees might seem like a heat wave to your Midwest friends, but it’s pouring rain outside and you’re currently huddled under three layers of snuggies. You need Sichuan Impression. The SGV classic recently opened up a third location in West LA with food that’s just as good (and spicy) as the original in Alhambra. Our favorites are the tea-smoked ribs, the mapo tofu, and the lamb on toothpicks, and since the space is huge and ideal for all of your friends to join, we advise you order all of those dishes.
If the thought of eating chicken pot pie on a rainy day isn’t appealing to you, there’s a decent chance you’re artificial intelligence and you don’t even know it. For all non-robots who do find creamy baked chicken tucked inside of pie crust appealing, head right to Jongewaard’s. This diner/bakery has been in operation since 1965. The menu at this Long Beach institution is quite large, but stick to the tremendous chicken pot pie which also conveniently comes with a cup of soup of your choice - which needs to be French Onion, by the way. Snag a piece of red velvet cake for when you’re home in bed later.
There is no shortage of great dim sum in the San Gabriel Valley, but Lunasia is our absolute favorite place to get it. This Alhambra institution has fantastic food across-the-board, but it’s best to concentrate on their jumbo pork siu-mai, spinach shrimp dumplings, and green beans with pork. Lunasia is also great because it’s one of the few dim sum spots that’s open all day and night. That way you can sleep in (because it’s pouring rain and you’re not a monster) and head over without worrying about a mid-afternoon closing time.
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 when it’s El Nino-ing outside, you want 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.
It’s been raining since 8am and you’re wondering if this is what seasonal depression is. Don’t wait to find out, and drive right to Daichan instead. This Japanese comfort food spot in a strip mall in Studio City is most well-known for having brought the concept of the poke bowl to LA in the 1990s, but for today, you’re focusing on the curry noodles, Japanese-style fried chicken, and giant tempura rice bowls.
We’d drive through pretty much anything for the garlic naan at Al-Noor, and that includes torrential rainstorms and the 30-mile-an-hour speeds on the 405 it causes. Once you make it down to Lawndale, you’ll be eating the best Indian food in all of Los Angeles and nothing else will matter. Not even rain.
On a rainy day, all we want is to feel the coziest we’ll ever feel, so obviously we head straight for The Tripel. This Playa Del Rey spot is the neighborhood hangout of our dreams, and is also home to one of the most underrated burgers in town. The whole place makes us feel like we’re wearing a Snuggie.
When we need to go to our happy place, we go to Mizu 212. This shabu-shabu spot on Sawtelle involves cooking your own meat and vegetables inside a pot of boiling broth in an atmosphere where sweatpants are allowed. Don’t forget to ask for the special sauce.
Phnom Penh is a Cambodian breakfast spot in Long beach that happens to be one of our favorite restaurants in the city. Open daily from 8am-3pm, this tiny place specializes in phnom penh (noodle soup made with pork bone broth), rice porridge, meat pies, and other delicious noodles. Wait times do get long on the weekends, but it beats sitting at home watching your apartment’s gutters clog after two minutes of consistent rainfall.
This is exciting. Someone literally just got out and abandoned their own car in front of you on Pico and it’s unclear if they’re coming back. Follow them. Because they’re definitely going to John O’Groats. The West LA breakfast staple is like walking into that one restaurant in your hometown you always go to because the owners used to babysit your parents in the 50’s. It’s warm, welcoming, and those biscuits are all you need on a rainy day.
Leaving the Valley on a wet day is a fate worse than death - no one wants to be negotiating a canyon with the threat of mudslides hanging over their head. So just stick to North Hollywood and head to Sri Siam, home of the OG crispy rice salad and the off-menu radish cakes you can’t forget to order.
There are few things we want more when it’s raining than a big bowl of ramen, and Santouka is a Westside classic. It’s inside the Mitsuwa food court in Mar Vista and is an order at the counter kind of deal. Get the shio ramen, then continue the rainy day fun by loading up on Pocky and frozen gyoza at the epic Japanese market Santouka is attached to when you’re done.
Remember when it used to rain as a kid and that meant you were allowed to play video games all day inside and not get yelled at for it? That’s basically what’s happening at Button Mash, except now we’re all kids pretending to be adults because that’s what the calendar says. Oh, and Starry Kitchen manning the food situation doesn’t hurt either - this is the best Asian-fusion drunk food you’re going to find pretty much anywhere. Be ours, fried tofu balls.
Why go to one place when you can go to all the places, all at once? GCM wins the award for best collection of food you remember seeing on Instagram, and though the crowds can get downright aggressive, a rainy day will quickly cut the fat. And we can’t think of a better plan to beat the endless downpour outside than stall-hopping all day from Egg Slut to Belcampo to Sticky Rice to Horse Thief to Madcapra to Wexler’s to - alright, you get it.
This is one of our favorite noodle spots in all of the SGV. Lao Xi’er is very low-key - the menu is pretty small and the decor is mostly huge posters of their signature dishes. It’s very welcoming though, which is important when you haven’t seen the sun in 48 hours. The staff will talk you through the menu, explain that all the noodles are made by hand in-house, and strongly discourage you from ordering too much food. Which you’ll do anyway because it’s storming outside. Don’t skip the Lamb Soup Noodles - small, round rolled noodles in a fragrant, herb-filled soup.
LA’s favorite way to dodge the rain? Canceling all plans, weddings, and funerals, and heading to the movies. It’s no secret LA has the best collection of movie theaters in the entire world and iPic is our favorite. This deluxe cinema frankly makes Arclight look like a backyard projector screen, and getting served filet mignon sliders and dry martinis in a first class airplane seat is our rainy day version of nirvana.
Omg, Snapchat just told you it’s 49 degrees outside and you’re sensing death is near. The only move at this point is to order take-out from the best Thai food in the city - Jitlada. You likely won’t be the only dying genius who thought of this plan, so expect a frenzied crowd. But the line moves fast and before you know it, the most authentic (and spicy) Thai in LA will be ready for your withering body.
You just spent two hours getting up Barham and the only thing that matters is drinking beer until nothing hurts. Head immediately to The Pikey on Sunset Blvd., the classic British Pub that’s always exactly what you want it to be. And on a day where half the city’s population is introduced to hydroplaning into fire hydrants, The Pikey’s top-notch beer list and British pub menu takes on a whole new meaning.
It started raining overnight and now your bones are hurting. The good news is one of the world’s most well-known superfoods, the pierogie, is ready for you. And while there’s actually a decent number of spots around town serving these glorious babies, our move is always Polka Polish. This family-run restaurant in Glassell Park has been a neighborhood staple for years and despite a recent fire, is back and better than ever. And thank god, because those cheese and potato pierogies are everything we want on a stormy day.
Let’s be honest. If there’s even talk of rain coming to Los Angeles, you’re canceling all plans, turning on The Sopranos, and hiding under your covers until further notice. And at this restaurant, reservations are for one, clothing is optional, and the food is driving to you. Thai food? Chinese food? Pizza Hut Triple Treat Bundle? Choose your own ending and never stop dreaming in the warmth of your own bed.