These three sleepy Westside neighborhoods are filled with restaurants that reflect what the food landscape in our city has become known for: deliciousness, convenience, and diversity. You can find along a stretch of Pico, right across the mall, one of the best burgers within a 100-square-mile radius. Down the street, there's another competitor, preserving the tradition of hamburger stands that started popping up throughout the city as the car became the mode of transportation of choice. (Sidenote: These hamburger stands are becoming extinct in downtown!)
Named after the trees that dot its streets, Palms is a mix of single and multifamily residences, though, because of rezoning after World War II, apartments now predominate. In the late 19th and the first half of the 20th century, the neighborhood boasted a train line -- and, in a few month's time, the tracks will be reactivated with the opening of the Metro Expo Line, an addition that will make this Westside destination easier to get to.
Rancho Park, made up of mostly Spanish- and colonial-style homes, was named by Bill Heyler, the real-estate businessman who started his company in 1927 (it's still around today). It's home to a well-known golf course, which hosted Arnold Palmer in 1961, and the Westside Pavilion, made famous by Clueless. Coincidentally enough, the Rancho Park eateries cited below are within a stone's throw from that mall.
Originally known as Ocean Park Heights, Mar Vista boasts a topographic map that ranges from what feels relatively flat to hills that offer grand views of the city. (One of the main streets in Mar Vista, coincidentally enough, is Grand View Boulevard.) Drive through the neighborhood, and you'll notice a lot of mismatched architecture these days, the result of real-estate market driven by the neighborhood's adjacency to the beach and all the development that has came about in the last 10 years. Despite these changes, the neighborhood still keeps to its past -- an anchor of the city, Beethoven's Market, has been doing business since 1949.
Empanada's Place: Australia has the meat pie, the United Kingdom has the pasty, India has gujias, and Poland (and others) has the pierogi. Argentina's version of this easily transportable, handheld treat is the empanada. Norma Gil, the matriarch of Empanada's Place in the heart of Mar Vista, founded their sweet restaurant in 1985, along with her four sons: John, Shane, Jim, and Jesse. Meat and vegetable empanadas are on order at this restaurant, with everything ranging from criolla (meat, carrots, eggs, onions, a dash of sugar, olives, etc.) to pockets stuffed with milky ricotta. Empanada's Place also serves Argentinian sandwiches--such as the lomito corrodes--and sides and salads. 3811 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, 90066, (310) 391-0888.
El Sazón Oaxaqueño:
Los Angeles is fortunate to be home to some of the richest collections of Oaxacan restaurants in the country. El Sazón Oaxaqueño, in a league with other well-known Oaxacan restaurants in L.A., such as Guelaguetza and Monté Alban, is known for their smoky and rich red and black molés, which top everything from chicken to tortillas to steak. A favorite is the three enchiladas soaked in the red sauce, one of the best dishes on menu. If you're in the mood for a Oaxacan breakfast burrito, El Sazón includes these on the menu every morning. 12131 Washington Place, Los Angeles, 90066, (310) 391-4721.
The Apple Pan: Lately, the burger game in Los Angeles has reached Peak Burger. Despite the foie-gras, ramen-topped burgers seemingly made for the sole purpose of novelty, our city is still home to unfussy, old-school burgers. Founded in 1947, the Apple Pan is a throwback burger joint on Pico that still serves its menu mainstays, such as hamburgers, pies (part of its namesake), and ice cream. The interior takes diners back to the mid-20th century, with its U-shaped counter that encloses the cooking area. Fun fact: the burger chain Johnny Rockets was inspired by what its founder, Ronn Teitlebaum, saw when he dined at the Apple Pan.10801 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 90064, (310) 475-3585.
Beethoven Market: These days, we're accustomed to the sterility of a standard-issue big-chain supermarket. Beethoven Market, on the corner of Palms and Beethoven, is the antidote to that. This neighborhood institution, which has been doing business since 1949, is the go-to place for a bottle of milk or a copy of the L.A. Times. Family owned and operated since it opened, this market was the first place where many a kid got a taste of their first piece of candy, bought their first bottle of wine, and became friends with the resident clerk. Beethoven Market gives a face to the too-often anonymous trade of selling food. 12904 Palms Blvd, Los Angeles, 90066 (310) 397-2710.