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Collage of food photographs: sandwiches, burgers, churros
Clockwise from top left: Sandwich from Wax Paper, fried skewers from Kushiba, a breakfast plate from Gudetama Cafe, churros from El Moro and hummus bil lahme from Salam Falafel
(Collage by Brandon Ly / Los Angeles Times )(Photos by Robert Gauthier, Stephanie Breijo, Dania Maxwell, Bill Addison / Los Angeles Times)

The best places to eat and drink in L.A. this month, according to our food writers

It’s hard to believe that the year is halfway over, but the approaching summer season is truly when L.A. thrives. The city adopts a “School’s out!” attitude with day parties, outdoor markets and evening concerts at our favorite museums. Our always abundant farmers markets runneth over with heirloom stone fruit, corn and pepper varieties, and local restaurants shift their menus to keep time with the seasonal rhythm.

With May Gray extending into June Gloom, you might just want to get out of town. Las Vegas is a tried-and-true road trip for Southern Californians, an easy path for escapism with blinking lights, immersive experiences, day trips, relaxing resort spas and of course, an overflowing food scene. The city has changed tremendously in recent years, with beloved L.A. chefs opening flashy restaurants on the Strip and new neighborhoods emerging as culinary destinations. Keep our updated dining guide handy if you set your sights on Sin City and save room for desserts approved by “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro.

Those who stay in L.A. won’t want for entertainment either, with openings that span a French-themed burger bar in Santa Monica, the return of a treasured Spanish restaurant on Melrose, a Buena Park cafe themed after a lackadaisical Sanrio character and late-night falafel in Koreatown. With the local restaurant industry facing even more volatility than usual, it’s also a good time to reacquaint yourself with old favorites. Here are 25 prime options to put on your dining calendar this month:

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A stacked mortadella and pistachio-cream sandwich from Florentine sandwich shop All'Antico Vinaio in Koreatown.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

All’Antico Vinaio

Koreatown Italian Sandwich Shop $$
After opening its first California location in Venice last year, the Italian sandwich shop founded by the Mazzanti family in Florence more than 30 years ago has expanded to a new location in Koreatown. Tuscan-style schiacciata bread is slathered with spreads such as ‘nduja cream, truffle honey and pistachio cream and heaped with sliced-to-order meats ranging from mortadella to prosciutto and porchetta. Espresso, spritzes and wines are available to pair with your sandwich.
Read about the second California location of the Florentine sandwich shop.
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A vertical photo of a hand holding two stacked halves of a roast pork banh mi from Bé ? restaurant in Silver Lake.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Bé ?

East Hollywood Vietnamese $
In a reported feature detailing the current realities facing the region’s restaurants, reporter Stephanie Breijo highlights chef-owner Uyên Lê’s Bé ?, a walkup window in Virgil Village that specializes in Vietnamese comfort dishes priced affordably for neighborhood residents. At the beginning of the year, Lê was transparent on social media about being forced to raise her menu prices. Even after that increase, most items are under $15, including banh mi, rice dishes and rotating weekend chef specials. Lê is hosting a fundraiser for the restaurant in June to help offset the costs of renovations, including a small patio.
Read about the challenges facing L.A. restaurants.
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LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 12: Glasses of wine are poured out for a mother and daughter celebrating Mother's Day at Bub and Grandma's on Sunday, May 12, 2024 in Los Angeles, CA. (Name / For The Times)
(Yuri Hasegawa/For The Times)

Bub and Grandma’s

Glassell Park Bakery Sandwich Shop
As restaurants struggle to remain profitable in the current climate, many are shifting their menus and expanding their hours. Take Bub and Grandma’s, a bake shop that supplies breads to restaurants and markets across the city. After opening a deli in Glassell Park in 2022, baker-owner Andy Kadin recently launched “BG Nights” on Sundays and Mondays, with live music, small plates and beer and wine, to pull in more revenue. During the day, the restaurant offers breakfast sandwiches on Kaiser rolls, salads, sides and cold sandwiches, including a tuna option that’s been praised by restaurant critic Bill Addison.
Learn how restaurant owners are coping with recent industry setbacks.
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A vertical closeup of a burger dripping with raclette cheese, a knife plunged through the top, at Burgette in Santa Monica
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Burgette

Santa Monica French $$
Chef Sean MacDonald has unveiled Burgette, a new French-inspired burger bistro next door to his tapas- and pizza-focused Bar Monette in Santa Monica. The new restaurant puts a Parisian spin on burgers and sandwiches, which can get stacked with smashed Wagyu patties, thick raclette cheese and bone marrow butter or crispy chicken, Parisian ham and Swiss for a take on a Cordon Bleu. Small plates include an assortment of French cheeses and jams, haricots verts, baby Brussels sprouts and frites, plus orange creme br?lée and a chocolate croissant offered for dessert. With a French-leaning wine list and a low-lit interior, the gourmet burger bar is proving a prime date-night destination by the beach.
Read more about the opening of Burgette.
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The peach cobbler cheesecake from Cali Love Pie in Los Angeles.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Cali Love Pie

Harvard Heights Bakery $$
A worthy candidate for car cake — cake that you eat in the car — is Cali Love Pie, a Black-owned shop on Western Avenue and Venice Boulevard that just celebrated its one-year anniversary. Owner Amili Williams blends his grandmother’s special cheesecake recipe with various flavors of pies and desserts, such as a pecan pie cheesecake, banana pudding cheesecake and a peach cobbler cheesecake.
What is car cake? Learn here.
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A signature cream top coffee in a glass at Camel Coffee in Los Angeles.
(Julie Wolfson)

Camel Coffee

Los Feliz Coffee $
A beloved Korean coffee shop has landed in Los Feliz and is already drawing nonstop lines for its TikTok-famous drinks topped with a layer of extra-thick cream. Named after the color, the interior of the shop features a tan palette, natural wood finishes and vintage accents. The menu features the same eight coffee drinks that you’ll find at all 10 locations in Seoul and Busan, as well as two new matcha beverages and the option to top your coffee with vegan cream.
Read about the new location of Camel Coffee.
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A plate of grilled asparagus, a large bowl of salad, and a small dish of fried bacalao on green tabletop at Cobras & Matadors
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Cobras & Matadors

Fairfax Spanish $$
Fan-favorite Spanish restaurant Cobras & Matadors has reopened in the space formerly occupied by Spartina on Melrose Avenue, helmed by Steven Arroyo, who first opened the restaurant on Beverly Boulevard in 2001. The restaurateur was approached by Spartina chef-owner Stephen Kalt, about taking over the space. Not only did Kalt come on as a partner, but much of the staff remains, including head chef Ronald E. Garcia. The menu includes tapas spanning gambas al ajillo, albondigas with salsa verde, cod croquettes and pan-roasted branzino. The beverage program features wine, sangria, beer and a new cocktail menu with spicy margaritas and mezcal old-fashioneds. The restaurant hosts live jazz alongside dinner every Thursday at 6 p.m.
Read about the reopening of Cobras & Matadors.
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Black sesame cake from Flouring LA in Chinatown.
(Heather Wong)

Flouring L.A.

Chinatown Bakery $$
Columnist Jenn Harris introduces readers to car cake, namely, cake that you eat in your car that preferably remains relatively intact with minimal crumbs. For this challenge, Harris recommends the cake bars from Heather Wong’s Flouring L.A. bake shop. The idea for car cake first emerged for Wong during the pandemic when in-person dining was off limits and diners frequently ate in their cars. The baker created a dessert box with cake bars wrapped in parchment paper that are easy to hold while you drive, in flavors such as black sesame, passion fruit and lavender lemon marble. While Wong once handed off dessert boxes to customers in their cars, she now offers them out of her Chinatown bakery that opened in January.
Read about car cake.
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Guests begin lining up for new p?tisserie Fondry, in Eagle Rock, half an hour before doors open.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Fondry

Eagle Rock Bakery $
The owners behind two of L.A.’s best coffee shops have expanded with an Eagle Rock p?tisserie that’s selling some of the city’s most sought-after pastries, including ham-and-cheese-stuffed options, pistachio-cream-filled danishes, yuzu meringue croissant muffins and other French classics and variations, alongside a truncated coffee menu. Baker and partner Ivy Ku has been offering 150 and 200 pastries per day thus far, with the hopes increasing the bakery’s output and eventually expanding to madeleines, tarts, financiers and other French-originated baked goods.
Read about the viral new bakery in Eagle Rock.
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Katsu chicken and gravy from the new Japanese-inspired menu at Gran Blanco in Venice.
(Jakob Layman)

Gran Blanco

Venice Japanese $$
The buzzy restaurant that sits below the draping “Venice” sign off Windward Avenue has completely revamped its shareable menu to focus on modern Japanese flavors, including chicken katsu curry, tonkatsu Brussels sprouts and a yellowtail crudo with yuzu balsamic. The beverage menu has been similarly reimagined with sake joining a lineup of natural wines and fruit-forward cocktails.
Read about the reinvented Venice restaurant.
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A photo of an egg-topped katsu sandwich with tots on a white table at The Gudetama Cafe in Buena Park
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Gudetama Cafe

Buena Park Breakfast $
The first U.S. location of Gudetama Cafe proved an instant success upon landing in Buena Park near Knott’s Berry Farm, with fans of Sanrio’s lazy anthropomorphic egg waiting hours for the opportunity to capture selfies with character statues and Gudetama murals, in addition to ordering from a menu that centers around sunny-side-up egg dishes. The food leans more American than Gudetama Cafe locations in Singapore, Osaka and Tokyo, with cheesy, bacon-topped breakfast and katsu sandwiches and avocado toast, plus tater tots served on the side — many of the egg dishes have Gudetama’s listless expression imprinted on the yolk. Desserts are being developed for the new Southern California location, but the signature Japanese cream puff is available along with a mango-sauced version. Additional Gudetama Cafe locations are expected to be announced later this year.
Read about the opening of the first U.S. location of Gudetama Cafe.
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A wooden board holding a 12-piece nigiri omakase, photographed on an angle, at Hato Sushi in Koreatown.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Hato Sushi

Koreatown Sushi $$
Park’s BBQ alum Tony Jin is returning to Koreatown with his first restaurant, Hato Sushi. The menu spans classic starters such as karaage, okonomiyaki and tempura; flashy options such as toro garlic toast crowned with caviar and gold; nigiri that can be ordered by the piece or in sets of three and a range of house rolls; plus entrees including udon, unagi don and a chirashi bowl. Omakase sets include sashimi ($75 or $120) or nigiri ($55 or $80), with rotating toppings. Beer, plum wine and sake, including sparkling options, round out the beverage selection.
Read about Tony Jin’s first restaurant.
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A closeup of a double cheeseburger with fries in branded paper at Heavy Handed in Studio City
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Heavy Handed

Studio City American $
One of the city’s most iconic burgers has expanded to a new mustard-hued outpost in Studio City, serving up smashed short rib patties and beef-tallow fries alongside craft beers, natural wines and dipped soft serve. The second location of founders Max Miller and Danny Gordon’s smashburger spot features additional seating and a dedicated parking lot, plus a new cookies-and-cream hard shell dip.
Read about the Valley’s new smashburger spot.
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Chicken cartilage from J&G Fried Chicken in Hacienda Heights.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

J&G Fried Chicken

Hacienda Heights Fried Chicken $
Columnist Jenn Harris confirms that J&G Fried Chicken, a Taiwanese chain that opened its first U.S. location in Hacienda Heights in May, is worth the hype. Though initial crowds deterred her from visiting, a weekday visit for a late lunch proved more successful. Harris deems the flattened fillet a worthy replacement for diners who still mourn the loss of past Smorgasburg L.A. vendor Hot Star, with a crunchy breading that doesn’t detract from the juicy meat. She recommends the chicken cartilage as an item worth lining up for, with the same slightly sweet batter that’s featured in the popcorn chicken with added crunch from the cartilage.
Read about the Taiwanese fried chicken chain’s Hacienda Heights opening.
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LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 12: Kaoya: duck, soy preserves, pine mushroom course from Kato on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023 in Los Angeles, CA. (Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)
(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

Kato

Downtown L.A. Taiwanese $$$$
The No. 1 restaurant from critic Bill Addison’s 2023 101 Best Restaurants guide was awarded the 2024 Resy One to Watch award by World’s 50 Best Restaurants, becoming the first L.A. restaurant to be recognized by the organization in a decade. Only three L.A. restaurants have placed on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list — Ginza Sushiko in 2002, Spago in 2004 and the Bazaar by José Andrés on the extended 51-to-100 list in 2011. Co-owner Ryan Bailey said that he hopes that the acknowledgment will bring more attention and acclaim to the region’s restaurants. Kato’s Taiwanese-inflected tasting menu runs $275 per person, with a bar tasting menu offered for $170.
Read about Kato’s recognition by World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
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An overhead photo of an array of six kushikatsu, or fried skewers, on a ceramic plate at Japanese spot Kushiba in Echo Park.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Kushiba

Echo Park Japanese $$
Chef-owner David Schlosser of Michelin-starred Shibumi in downtown has opened a new Japanese restaurant and bar in Echo Park, this one with a more casual bent and focus on a la carte kushikatsu, or fried skewers. There are veggie options that span lotus, shiitake, asparagus and kabocha squash, plus panko-crusted mochi and Camembert cheese, as well as breaded meats such as shrimp, smelt, pork belly and Japanese Wagyu. Appetizers venture into raw and marinated dishes including mixed pickles, marinated eggplant and a potato salad with smoked eel. Omakase offers a choice of six skewers or a chef’s selection of 12 skewers and two starters, and the beverage program features sake, shochu and a full cocktail menu with an emphasis on Japanese spirits.
Read about David Schlosser’s new Echo Park restaurant.
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An overhead vertical photo of a bowl of mussels from L&E Oyster Bar in Silver Lake. A piece of grilled bread on rim of bowl.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

L&E Oyster Bar

Silver Lake Oyster Bar $$
As of July 1, California restaurants and bars will no longer be allowed to add surcharges — fees that are often used to offset the costs of employee healthcare and other benefits and balance pay discrepancies between front-of-house employees. Restaurateur Dustin Lancaster preemptively did away with the extra fees and folded them into menu prices at his 13 L.A. restaurants, including L&E Oyster Bar in Silver Lake. The moody oyster bar has been going strong since 2012 with a lengthy wine list, creative cocktails and an assortment of hot and cold seafood plates, plus a tempting Monday through Thursday happy hour from 5-7 p.m.
Read about the new California law that’s eliminating hidden fees at restaurants and bars.
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Costa Mesa, CA - December 03: El Moro churros are prepared at Mercado Gonzalez Northgate Market on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023 in Costa Mesa, CA. It's official opening was on on Nov.17, Mercado Gonzalez at Northgate Market in Costa Mesa, a concept from Northgate grocery stores, has become as place for community to gather. (Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)
(Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times)

Mercado González

Costa Mesa Mexican $
The popularity of this Mexican supermarket chain and food hall hasn’t waned since it opened in Costa Mesa last fall. Crowds jockey for space as they shop for groceries and line up at puestos specializing in tamales, mariscos, tortas, Sinaloan sushi and more, with a masa-focused fine dining concept and a 21-and-up lounge for guests looking to linger a little longer. In a recent review, restaurant critic Bill Addison advises on a strategy for eating through the massive mercado, beginning with aguachile rojo from Mariscos el Pariente, with stops at local favorite Chiva Torta for a torta ahogada and the only stateside location of Mexico City-based churro chain El Moro for coffee paired with the cinnamon-dusted dessert.
Read Addison’s review of Mercado González.
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A spread of Korean small plates with two glasses of wine from Red Room in Koreatown.
(Michael Blackshire/Los Angeles Times)

Red Room

Harvard Heights Wine Bars Bar Bites $$
A must-visit for late-night food and drinks in Koreatown, Red Room transforms the daytime Coffee MCO space with neon-red lighting, natural wine and soju cocktails and a Korean-inspired menu that branches out with a bulgogi burger topped with onion rings and a single perilla leaf and ragu over fried rice cakes. Columnist Jenn Harris describes it as a place where it’s easy to lose track of time and transition from dinner to drinks.
Read about the Koreatown restaurant that feels distinctly L.A.
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Hummus bil lahme (garnished with fried ribeye and pine nuts) is on the menu at Salam Falafel in Koreatown.
(Bill Addison / Los Angeles Times)

Salam Falafel

Koreatown Middle Eastern $
If you ever get a late-night craving for falafel, follow restaurant critic Bill Addison’s advice and head to this Koreatown strip mall for a version that resembles a version he first sampled in Beirut, with a crunchy exterior and strong flavors of cumin and garlic. You can get the falafel in a pita wrap with chopped cucumber, tomato and tahini sauce or do as Addison does and make a meal out of the falafel paired with hummus bil lahme that’s garnished with fried ribeye, pine nuts and green hot sauce. The takeout restaurant is open from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., in case you want to visit for a predawn breakfast.
Read about the late-night falafel stand in Koreatown.
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LONG BEACH, CA - FEBRUARY 6, 2024 - - Tiradito Nikkei, from left, Sushi Nikkei Tasting, Grilled Scallops on half shells and Peruvian Cebiche, upper right, are on the menu at Sushi Nikkei in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach on February 6, 2024. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times) Attention Editor: Cebiche is spelled with a “B” at the restaurant.
(Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

Sushi Nikkei

Long Beach Nikkei $$
Times OC reporter Sarah Mosqueda checks in with Peruvian-style sushi at Sushi Nikkei, which just celebrated its two-year anniversary in Long Beach’s Bixby Knolls neighborhood. From chef Eduardo Chang and his wife and business partner, Daiwa Wong, the restaurant celebrates the Japanese Peruvian cuisine that Chang’s mother and grandmother made for him growing up, including tiradito plates, Nikkei-style sushi, Peruvian cebiche and a Parmesan scallop that’s basted with lemon butter and placed on top of a mound of rice. The beverage program features selection of Japanese beers and sake.
Read about the Peruvian sushi restaurant in Long Beach.
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A vampiro mixto with a healthy dollop of guacamole, one of the standout tacos José Morales's Tacos La Carreta in Whittier
(Bill Addison / Los Angeles Times)

Tacos La Carreta

Santa Fe Springs Mexican $
In the Tasting Notes newsletter, critic Bill Addison zeroes in on Sinaloa-style tacos from José Manuel Morales Bernal’s Tacos La Carreta, with locations in a Whittier strip mall and a food truck in Long Beach. The taqueria was named in Addison’s 2023 101 Best Restaurants guide, earning new fans with chorreadas that feature crisp corn tortillas, melted shredded cheese that melds with nutty asiento and chopped carne asada, with cool cabbage, onion and red salsa on top. Addison also recommends the vampiro mixto, which features the same recipe without asiento and your choice of carne asada, tripe, adobada or all three meats. A puffy pellizcada, with a consistency between a tortilla and a sope and the same taco dressings, is another must-order.
Read about the Sinaloan specialities at Tacos La Carreta.
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PICO RIVERA, 3/23/2024--Taquearte California's chilaquiles with chorizo.
(Laurie Ochoa / Los Angeles Times)

Taquearte California

Pico Rivera Mexican $
General Manager Laurie Ochoa nudges readers toward the mom-approved chilaquiles at Pico Rivera’s Taquearte California in the Tasting Notes newsletter. Opened late last summer, the taqueria layers its chilaquiles with tortilla chips softened by red or green sauce — or divorciado, with both sauces, for even more flavor — two sunny side up or over-easy eggs and your choice of meat (steak, pork chop, chicken or chorizo) on top. The Mexico City-style tacos served after noon are worth saving room for, and so oversize they come open-faced in a bowl with baked potato, caramelized onion, meat and optional avocado.
Read about some of L.A.’s best chilaquiles.
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The double oxtail smash burger from The Jerk Grill in Redlands.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

The Jerk Grill

Redlands Caribbean $
Columnist Jenn Harris hails the double oxtail smashburger from the Jerk Grill as one worth trekking to Redlands for, with ground beef, oxtail, gravy and cheese spilling out of the bun. The rest of the menu follows a similar format of bridging chef-owner Lerone Mullin’s upbringing in Jamaica with his Southern California surroundings, including fries and burritos topped or stuffed with proteins such as jerk steak, curry and brown-stew chicken, plus more traditional plates like Jamaican patties and plantains.
Read about the Jamaican restaurant in Redlands with an amazing oxtail burger.
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Los Angeles, CA, Thursday, May 9, 2024 - Scenes from Wax Paper in Chinatown, a sandwich shop that closed in 2023 until its owners, husband-and-wife team Peter and Lauren Lemos, realized they were so financially under water that it made more financial sense to reopen the restaurant and struggle than to flat-out close it. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Wax Paper

Chinatown Sandwich Shop $
The already volatile restaurant industry has seen immense changes in recent years, especially here in Los Angeles, where a rising minimum wage, legislation around hidden service fees and entertainment industry strikes have significantly impacted local restaurants. Reporter Stephanie Breijo explored some of the challenges facing the city’s chefs and restaurateurs in an in-depth report that featured husband-and-wife team Lauren and Peter Lemos of Wax Paper, a sandwich shop with locations in Chinatown and Frogtown, weighing in about some of their struggles. Despite the duo’s fears about the future of their industry, the sandwich shop remains a favorite with items named after popular NPR hosts, such as the Garth Trinidad with roasted turkey, a citrusy jalape?o slaw, pickled carrots, cilantro and furikake on Bub and Grandma’s foccacia. They also offer rotating flavors of soft serve, including a vegan Dole Whip.
Read about the state of L.A. restaurants.
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