Welcome to Palms, a relatively calm neighborhood that keeps a low profile under the smoggy armpit of the 405 and 10 interchanges. Even while the culinary pearls of Palms are often recognized, if not at times deemed world-famous, the neighborhood still exists somehow under the radar in one of L.A.’s busiest regions.
You’d expect to find avenues lined with the Mexican Fan Palms in a neighborhood named Palms. In truth, you won’t. Palms, amusingly, is named after the Palms railroad station, which was its nickname for the two palm trees planted next to it. It was one of two stops between downtown and Santa Monica around the late 1800s. In fact, Palms, which was founded in 1886, is the oldest neighborhood annexed by Los Angeles. Where those two palms were then, and where they are now, no one knows anymore.
Today you can take the Metro and get off at Palms station and enjoy a brisk 10-20 minute walk on average to eat at any of its legendary places. At the furthest point from the station is Howard’s Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers. Palms is also home to the original and world-famous Versailles Cuban Restaurant and where you’ll find the Hamburger Habit, whose 25-year-old, yellow banner, announcing that KABC declared them “the best burger in SoCal,” is the one thing in Palms that every miserable, break-pedaling soul on the 405 can’t ignore.
Some less world famous, but locally favorite, eats are at Venice Bakery, which has the best chilaquiles on the west side. You’ll also find the bottom-est bottomless mimosa brunch at Overland Cafe and beloved NY-style pizza from The Coop. This little-known neighborhood is even home to n/naka, another world-famous yet inconspicuous and intimate Japanese restaurant that has twice earned two Michelin Stars. In 2019, it was one of five restaurants in L.A. to receive that distinguished recognition.
Go to the corner of Palms and Sepulveda Boulevard to find great daytime pop-ups like Tripp Burgers and Mango Sticky Rice. This corner, next to Coffee Bean, sees many new pop-ups get their feet wet in their anxious new ventures. It’s always worth a stop if you see a tent serving food there.
With fantastic Brazilian, Korean, Greek, Thai, Indian, and Salvadoran food, you can find it all here in this roughly diamond-shaped neighborhood. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Palms is a hidden culinary gem of the west side.
And, of course, it’s also home to tacos that aren’t only legendary but, quite possibly, the best in the west.
And now… the tacos:
There was a time, before trompos and birria conquered Los Angeles, when taco trucks were referred to as “roach coaches.” That was until chef Roy Choi, co-founder of Kogi BBQ, revolutionized the taco game, by not only showing that good tacos can exist outside the borders of Mexican cuisine, but that those good tacos can pull these trucks out of the “roach coach” stereotype, propelling them as far as the gourmet food scene stratosphere. If his short rib tacos with kimchi and sriracha haven’t reached legendary status yet, they have, at the very least, acquired world fame. Palms is the neighborhood where these tacos choose to park every day.
Kogi BBQ, 3434 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Do you know which are the best tacos in all of Los Angeles? That’s an impossible question to answer. But if you ask which tacos are the best in the west, well, we can name a handful of contenders, including Brothers Cousins. When they first started popping up about four years ago, their stand had no name, and their trompo was only slightly bigger than its pineapple crown. But their crispy diced meats, including one of L.A.’s better al pastors, and the taquero banter of the brothers and cousins that run the stand, quickly conquered the hungry hearts of the west. The original Brothers Cousin stand is on Sawtelle and National, across from Primo’s Donuts (the west side’s favorite donuts, too). Three weeks ago, from the date of this article, they expanded to a second location just a radish’s throw over the 405 and inside the boundaries of Palms. You’ll find them on Sepulveda and National, in front of Vons.
Brothers Cousins, 3118 S. Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034,
Do you know what’s legendary? Owning what is possibly the largest mezcal collection in Los Angeles. You’ll find part of that collection at this original Madre location, served alongside a riveting Oaxacan experience. One eye on that bar and you’ll get the sense that founder Ivan Vasquez is on a personal mission to taste every mezcal bottle in existence, and we benefit as guests by getting to taste only the best mezcal that he brings back to his restaurants. The quality of his collection demands that the food keep up, in dishes like Madre’s barbacoa tacos, which are marinated for a whole day before being cooked with banana leaves and served in handmade tortillas. Open that up and add onion, cilantro, lime, and the green salsa they serve. Roll it back up, dip it in the cup of consome it is served with, and enjoy corn-wrapped goat barbacoa in its thick saucy marinade.
Madre, 10426 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034
El Barrio Neighborhood Tacos
If you care about the quality of your meat, these words should sound like palm fronds whispering in the breeze; wagyu brisket birria and mesquite-grilled wagyu skirt steak asada. The pork and chicken are also from all-natural farm meat, non-GMO, hormone-and-antibiotic-free. This means the meat isn’t as bad for you and the tacos are better. The burritos are great too, and what are burritos if not more enormous tacos?
El Barrio Neighborhood Tacos, 3500 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Benny’s Tacos & Rotisserie Chicken
Let’s face it; there aren’t many taquerías where someone will tell you, “try the chicken tacos,” unless we’re talking about Benny’s Tacos. And we’re not telling you to try the chicken tacos either; just that there’s something to be said about a place when even the chicken tacos are good. Their chipotle chicken and rotisserie tacos are as good as the juicy, marinated barbacoa, grilled shrimp, and grilled veggies. The kicker at this taquería is their “salsa roja,” which is not a common salsa roja. It’s closer to an orange color with noticeable bits of jalapeño or serrano greens and seeds inside. If the tacos alone put Benny’s on this list, the salsa solidifies its standing.
Benny’s Tacos & Rotisserie Chicken, 10401 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Baja California Tacos
It’s hard to find an excellent Baja-style taco in Los Angeles, especially considering how close we are to Baja. But guess what? Palms has some pretty good ones at Baja California Tacos. The grilled, soft Baja style and the shrimp tacos dorados are great picks. They’re not overly dependent on an excessive amount of chipotle mayo or buried under an overly generous amount of cabbage or slaw. They’re flavorful, enjoyable, and everything you look for in good Baja-style fish and shrimp tacos.
Baja California Tacos, 10831 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034
(Pssssst, If you’re still reading this, here’s a quick tip: Howard’s Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers has a remarkably simple, interesting, and tasty hamburger taco. It’s worth a try for those driven by curiosity.)
Like this article? We’re member supported and need your help to keep publishing stories like this one. You can contribute any amount you like, or join our membership program and get perks, event access, merch, and more. Click Here to Support L.A. TACO
Support Our Local Partners
Your email address will not be published.
We are not afraid to cover the stories the mainstream media ignores, and we explore every part of the REAL L.A.
Join us to support our mission and to help us cover this city the way it deserves to be seen. Members get exclusive merch, free tacos, and much more.