While many flock to nearby Silver Lake or Los Feliz for lunch, these days I find myself more intrigued by the afternoon offerings on Atwater Village’s Glendale Boulevard. The northeast L.A. neighborhood’s mix of old standards and new concepts, plus an array of ethnic cuisines, amounts to a happening lunch scene that’s slowly emerging from under the radar. Here are some of our favorite lunch spots on Atwater’s main drag and a bit beyond:
The brunch at Canelé has practically become an L.A. institution at this point (ah, that french toast), but lunch service at the little French restaurant was only a dream until recently. Late last year, Wild at Canelé, a menu from Sqirl alums Ria and Matt Wilson, debuted and is currently being served three days a week. Dishes like The Hot Stone Rice Bowl with Satsuki rice, kale, mushrooms, pickles, and pungent gochujang pop with vibrant seasonal vegetables–add a poached egg if you so desire. There’s also a fried chicken sandwich with a pan de sal bun, an ever-changing house terrine, and if you’re lucky, some uni mousse to be had.
Canelé, 3219 Glendale Blvd., 323-666-7133. Lunch is served on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
It didn’t take long for Dune to catch on, and now everyone’s lining up for chef Scott Zwiezen’s outstanding falafel and juicy lamb meatballs that just won’t quit. Brought to you by the team behind Echo Park vegetarian favorite Elf Cafe, this small counter restaurant serves some of the best Middle Eastern sandwiches for miles–that falafel comes on made-to-order pita and is dressed with creamy hummus, chopped potatoes, pickled cabbage, and fresh herbs. Dessert is rosewater dates with a sprinkle of coarse salt. Don’t miss the house-made rosemary lemonade.
Dune, 3143 Glendale Blvd. The full menu is served Monday-Saturday, starting at 11 a.m.
Tacos Villa Corona
Not much more than a kitchen with a window, Tacos Villa Corona is a classic. The breakfast burritos, which are served all day, are the big draw here. There are over ten egg-y variations, including everything from spinach to steak, but the chorizo/potato/egg is the clear winner. The burritos here aren’t gargantuan, so you can enjoy the whole thing without too many regrets. And, if you like a side of pop culture with your breakfast nachos (yes, they have those, yet ironically, hardly any tacos), legend has it that Villa Corona was a daily habit for the Beastie Boys back when they were recording Check Your Head at Atwater’s G-Son Studios.
Tacos Villa Corona, 3185 Glendale Blvd.,
Long and slim, the baguette sandwiches at Na Young Ma’s Proof Bakery are a real treat. Delicate baguettes flecked with salt are filled with tasty meaty or vegetarian combinations. The selection changes daily, but they usually have the marinated beet with pesto and goat cheese, and you can’t go wrong with the salami done up with chive butter, manchego, and arugula. The best part? The sandwiches are really light, leaving just enough room for one of Proof’s outstanding chocolate chip cookies or maybe even a seasonal tart. Check the website for daily menu options.
Proof Bakery, 3156 Glendale Blvd., 323-664-8633. Lunch is served daily.
Viet Noodle Bar
Even though the decor is slicker than your average Vietnamese restaurant, the fare at Viet Noodle Bar is consistently solid. The spring rolls, which are made to order and filled with jicama, carrots, tofu, basil, and crispy shallots, are a refreshing respite on a hot day (this side of Glendale Boulevard gets the brunt of the sun), and the turmeric fish noodles with whitefish and dill is one of the most popular dishes on the menu. Service is fast and friendly, and if you need a jolt, go for a C-Shot, a citrus drink sweetened with sugarcane and spiced up with cayenne pepper.
Viet Noodle Bar, 3133 Glendale Blvd.,
A few blocks down from the main strip, the space alone is a great reason to check out Momed’s Atwater location. The vibe is always relaxed at this expansive (mostly) patio restaurant, and the food will make you feel like you’re on a Mediterranean vacation. Create your own mezze plate, which can and should include the supremely addictive avocado hummus with tahini, garlic, and toasted cumin. There are also soups, pide flatbreads (oblong, pizza-like breads that are cooked in a wood-fired oven and layered with a variety of toppings), and hearty salads. The Tunisian Tuna Salad sandwich, with sliced hard-boiled eggs, capers, and garlic harissa, is a favorite, and it comes with a side of thinly sliced potato Momo Chips.
Momed, 3245 Casitas Ave., 323-522-3488. Lunch is served Monday-Friday, starting at 11:30 a.m.
Link N Hops
Sausages and beer–what could possibly go wrong. Not much, if you’re grabbing them here. Link N Hops, though situated in an awkward strip mall, has a full menu of gourmet links, including traditional knackwurst, andouille, and Hungarian kolbasa, and more modern variations, like duck/bacon/jalapeno or buffalo chipotle. There’s also a nice vegan selection. Get any link on a soft, toasted bolillo bun with your choice of toppings (there’s a huge list) or order a mix on a platter with fries. If you’re down for day drinking, they’ve got 24 craft beers (both local and international) on tap.
Link N Hops, 3111 Glendale Blvd., 323-426-9049. Lunch is served everyday, starting at 11 a.m.
Mellow and friendly, Village Tavern was opened by long-time neighborhood resident Maurice Rodriguez, who teamed up with Stop, Guac N Roll Mexican Smokehouse to offer a pub-food menu with a Cali-Mex slant. First, you choose your vessel (burritos, tacos, nachos, rice bowls, etc.) then pick from barbecued fillings like chicken, steak, veggies, or pulled pork, which are smoked daily. Think big chunks of avocado, fresh tomatoes, and lots of cojita cheese. A rotating, local-leaning selection of craft beer is available bottled and on tap.
Village Tavern, 3216 Glendale Blvd., 323-604-0655. Lunch is served everyday, starting at 11:30 a.m.
Baracoa Cuban Cafe
This 10-table restaurant has earned a dedicated following with homey Cuban dishes and sweet service. The cuban sandwiches, ropa vieja, and citrus-and-garlic-marinated roast chicken are popular among regulars. Papa rellenos also show up regularly, and deep-fried beef empanadas can be found on the a la carte menu. End the meal with a strong espresso.
Baracoa Cuban Cafe, 3175 Glendale Blvd.,