We all know that Alimento is pretty great. It's not news that there's decent coffee at Intelligentsia. Ever heard of a place called Night + Market Song? Yeah, thought so. But what about the lesser-known spots in and around Silver Lake? The places only a neighborhood insider would know about?
For a guide to Silver Lake's more under-the-radar gems, we turned to Jeffrey Yuguchi, an L.A. native who is now the chef at Fundamental L.A. The chef, who has held positions in some of the city's best restaurants (most recently at Animal — you've probably heard of that one as well), grew up eating all over Los Angeles and now lives in Silver Lake. On his menu at Fundamental L.A., he continues to take inspiration from the diverse flavors he grew up eating in his hometown. And he was kind enough to share his picks with us for the lesser-known spots in his own neighborhood, in and around Silver Lake.
“Giamela's is a fixture for me and I've know about it even before getting in the industry. I've been going there since I was 10, and was introduced to them by my childhood friend who lived in the area. It's an American-Italian spot serving pizza, pastas, hot and cold sandwiches. I've had basically every sandwich there, but my go-to is the pepper steak sandwich with avocado. I'm from California, so adding avocado is second nature to me. As a little kid I was blown away by this place, and still, to this day, I have a deep appreciation for it.” 3178 Los Feliz Blvd., Atwater Village. (323) 661-9444, giamelas.com.
6. Ruen Pair
“I love Thai Town. Not a lot of people understand it, though. It's small, and the only designated Thai Town in all of the United States. I discovered Ruen Pair with colleagues and friends in the industry. It's casual, fast, straightforward Thai food, well known throughout the industry. Plus side, it's open until 3 a.m. There's tom yum soup, pineapple fried rice, omelet with turnips — you can't go wrong.” 5257 Hollywood Blvd., East Hollywood; (323) 466-0153.
5. Don Felix
“My mom introduced me to Don Felix when I was in junior high. There used to be two locations but now there's only one. As a little kid I always enjoyed eating french fries. Coming to Don Felix and seeing french fries incorporated in the menu from lomo saltado, pollo saltado, etc., I was in french fry heaven. Besides my french fry fascination, Peruvian food reinformed my interest in the culture. There's a large population of Japanese people [in Peru] and I can see it through the use of soy sauce, rice and noodles. I'm half Japanese, so it's interesting to me how Japanese people made their way down to South America.” 305 N. Virgil Ave., East Hollywood. (323) 663-1088.
4. El Cochinito
“I live a block away from El Cochinito. I feel like Cuban food is not super represented in this area and there's really only a handful of places that serve it. El Cochinito has been around since the early '80s and has solid Cuban food. I'd definitely recommend maduros, pollo asado and ropa vieja.” 3508 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. (323) 668-0737, cochinitola.com.
“Aroma is this tiny Italian restaurant that popped up in Silver Lake before gentrification. I heard about it from locals who had a pulse on what was going on in the city. Word on the street was that the chef used to be a chef/employee at Valentino that came and sought out his own opportunity to have a restaurant. Aroma's a low-key, no-frills kind of Italian restaurant. Service is really good, food is straightforward and done with lots of care.” 2903 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. (323) 644-2833.
2. Bulan Thai
“My girlfriend introduced me to this place because she's vegetarian. I'm wary of vegetarian restaurants in general because I like to eat everything and not be bound by any restrictions. However, a lot of Thai food and Thai people are vegetarian. I was amazed by how good the food was and didn't feel miffed that there was no meat. I've always felt very satisfied and never came out from a meal feeling like I needed meat. The yellow curry is a must.” 4114 Santa Monica Blvd., Silver Lake. (323) 913-1488, bulanthai.com.
1. Tacos Delta
“Tacos Delta is a long-standing taco shop in Silver Lake with a walk-up window. It's a super casual place for takeout, or you can have a seat in the back. It's been in a staple in the neighborhood for almost 30 years. I found out about this place from a girl that I went to elementary school with and reconnected with in culinary school — her family actually owns it. If you want solid tacos, or Mexican food in general,Tacos Delta is where it's at.” 3806 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. (323) 664-2848.