This year’s Expo Line expansion revolutionized commuting, but it’s also made it easy to explore L.A. without looking for parking. A couple months into service, the train has connected hidden holes-in-the-wall with new developments. Whether you find yourself taking the train to a new area—or just trying to kill time before you leave—here are the best spots to hit along the way.
7th St./Metro Center
Head to Octopus Japanese Restaurant during happy hour (or “reverse happy hour” at the end of the night!) for octopus carpaccio, udon, and specialty rolls. Consider the $6 martinis as added incentive to arrive on time.
Aladdin’s Coffee Shop is a true diamond in the rough, serving up homemade Mexican food buffet-style to the local working community. Pile a plate with fried plantains and tamales or order a burrito a la carte from Cindi, the always-welcoming owner.
Ignore the admittedly unappetizing name—Dirt Dog does hot dogs right. The meat is succulent, and add-ons like esquites, horchata ice cream, and deep-fried Oreos round out the menu.
Azla claims the title of South L.A.’s first Ethiopian restaurant, and it quickly developed a loyal fanbase. Head chef Azla doubles as the family matriarch, and most of the dishes on the entirely vegan menu were created when her six children became vegetarians over a decade ago.
Stroll through Exposition Park’s lush rose garden to reach the always free, revamped California African American Museum. There, check out biracial artist Genevieve Gaignard’s newly opened show Smell the Roses, which uses photography and installations to challenge notions of identity.
Every Angeleno worth their salt knows the Coliseum, but the site’s historic tours still fly under the radar. That’s a shame. Spring for the 90-minute guided tour to learn about Exposition Park’s seedy history, sneak a peek of the playing field, and get the full lowdown on the world’s only building to host two Olympic Games, two Super Bowls, and the World Series.
Belizean food is criminally underrated, but no-frills spot Tracey’s Belizean Restaurant is here to bring fry jack (a popular, deep fried breakfast bread) to the masses.
Looking to break up all the Ikea in your apartment? View hundreds of Indian fine art objects at Singh Imports’ sprawling showroom. Owner Raza Singh has filled the store with pieces from over 40 years of traveling.
Mel’s Fish Shack isn’t fancy, but the colorful spot churns out top notch cajun catfish with sides of red beans and rice. Eating on public transportation is typically frowned upon, but it’s understandable if you’re tempted to take an order of hush puppies to go.
The Landing Gallery focuses on the history and legacy of Southern California Modernism, connecting underappreciated historical artists with contemporary practices. The minimalistic, 2,800 square foot space is definitely the chicest place to wait for a train in all of L.A.
Wander through aisles of vintage coin-operated rides, imposing dining room tables, and hundreds of wooden chairs at Big Daddy’s Antiques. Bonus points if you bring home the 100 percent authentic crocodile skull.
One of the clearest examples of new development along the Expo Line, Platform Mall brings a coterie of boutique chains and more unique offerings. NY gastropub expat The Cannibal is Platform’s most popular attraction, but grabbing tacos at Loqui or a non-toxic manicure at TenOverTen are equally compelling ways to spend the afternoon.
Gentleman’s Butcher Shop And Delicatessen is a carnivore’s paradise, selling everything from Wagyu French Dip sandwiches to pastrami by the pound. Come hungry—the portion sizes will make you loosen your belt.
Gulp Restaurant and Brew Pub lives up to both halves of its name, serving 36 draft beers alongside a chef-driven menu of classic bar snacks. Craft brew fans will find plenty of offerings from local breweries.
This stop is close to Sawtelle Japantown and its bounty of Asian restaurants, aka a foodie’s paradise. We recommend making the walk up the street to Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle for a bowl of slurpable ramen, but you’ll also find great sushi, bibimbap, and karaoke along the one-mile strip.
First come the tech companies, and the food trucks follow in force. The area around Bergamot station has become a popular site for start ups, and every weekday 2700 Pennsylvania Ave. becomes a pop-up food court. “Food Truck Alley” typically sees about 10-12 trucks a day from 12–2 p.m.
Mini chain Tacos Por Favor is beloved by many Westsiders for its fresh and relatively cheap tacos, and for good reason. We recently praised its breakfast machaca burrito, but don’t sleep on the lengua and carne asada.
Downtown Santa Monica
Proximity to the Third Street Promenade makes this stop the most touristy, but there’s also plenty to do. Head east to escape the crowds and snack on chicken shawarma from Sunnin Lebanese Cafe. The hummus, fool, and fried kibbeh are as authentic as you’ll find anywhere.