Even though this entertainment studio hub turned foodie mecca is losing a bit of its star power thanks to the ascendancy of Downtown L.A., it’s as packed with good-food destinations as ever, and now it’s less crowded. It’s divided into two areas, with the hot restaurants on Culver Boulevard to the west, where Park and Lock should be renamed Park and Nosh, and the Helms Bakery home-furnishings complex to the east, where you can grab a hot dog or toss back a pint while shopping for that perfect loveseat. Plan ahead (translation: bring an ice-filled cooler) and you can cart home everything from takeout fried chicken to roasted vegetables.
Start off with a lunchtime quest for inner peace—or at least darn good star anise–ginger short ribs with parsnip purée—at AKASHA , part of the new wave of sustainable restaurant/bakery/bars. If after achieving clarity you’d like to celebrate with a nice drink, stop into BOTTLEROCK wine bar for a glass of your favorite grape and an order of bacon-wrapped dates. Grab a bottle to take home while you’re there, then head around the corner to FRAICHE for an herb-infused homemade absinthe cocktail. Stay to enjoy the lamb spezzatino (stew) with ricotta gnocchi, or, if you’re vegetarian, head around the corner to TENDER GREENS, a vegetable-lover’s cafeteria with organic fare galore, plus wine, beer and desserts. A few doors down you can get your carnivore fix with the cured meat platters at FORD’S FILLING STATION, where Harrison’s son Ben turns out stellar appetizers and flatbreads; the mains take second stage. Or revel in the charms of a pitch-perfect French bistro at LE SAINT AMOUR, where the soup is onion and the moules have frites. And consider the lively scene, great bar and excellent, upscale pub grub at Chicago import RUSH STREET. Before you leave Culver, consider stopping into HONEY’S KETTLE to pick up some amazing fried chicken for later, and by all means stop into the new L’EPICERIE MARKET, home to hard-to-find French products (mustards, candies, cheeses) to take home, croissants to nibble on for breakfast, and a good tapas happy hour.
Next, hop in the car and head down Washington to the Helms complex—or walk to work up an appetite, because it’s only threequarters of a mile. Alas, Beacon has closed, but there’s still LA DIJONAISE, where you can get a lovely, reasonably priced French-style breakfast or café lunch. At FATHER’S OFFICE, you’ll find the same famous grilled onion–blue cheese bacon burger as at the Santa Monica original, with a bonus: This one has a larger menu and a heck of a lot more space, though that doesn’t mean the line to nab a seat is any shorter. If you’re lucky, the LET’S BE FRANK cart will be parked across the street, serving its grass-fed beef dogs with caramelized onions on freshly baked buns to tide you over. Or get a fourpack to take home for later.
Just a bit east of the Helms complex is a new spot, SUBLIME FOOD LOUNGE, notable for an excellent happy hour featuring half-price flatbreads; we’re partial to the one with burrata, cippolini onions and guanciale. If you haven’t had your daily dose of carbs ‘n’ fat yet, try the macaroni and cheese—it’s worth it.
Wrap up the gloriously gluttonous day with a shopping spree at SURFAS on the bustling corner of Washington and National. It’s a cook’s Disneyland, filled with hard-tofind kitchen items you didn’t know you needed and ingredients you’ve only read about. Make sure to pick up some of the delicate little canelés from the café for tomorrow’s breakfast.
— Jenn Garbee
9543 Culver Blvd., 310.845.1700
3847 Main St., 310.836.9463
3229 Helms Ave., 310.736.2224
Ford’s Filling Station
9531 Culver Blvd., 310.202.1470
9411 Culver Blvd., 310.839.6800
Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken
9537 Culver Blvd., 310.202.5453
8703 W. Washington Blvd., 310.287.2770
9900 Culver Blvd., 310.815.1600
Le Saint Amour
9725 Culver Blvd., 310.842.8155
Let’s Be Frank Dogs
Helms Ave. parking lot across from Father’s Office, 415.515.8084
9546 W. Washington Blvd., 310.837.9546
Sublime Food Lounge
8631 Washington Blvd., 310.287.2093
8777 W. Washington Blvd., 310.559.4770
9523 Culver Blvd., 310.842.8300