Craving an authentic dining experience away from the tourist traps and chains? Look no further than Los Angeles’ incredible hole-in-the-wall restaurants that offer hidden gems of cuisines from around the world. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Guelaguetza, Howlin’ Ray’s, Langer’s Deli, Versailles Cuban, and Sakura Japanese are some of the top hole in the wall restaurants in LA known for their specialty dishes in a casual setting.

In this comprehensive guide, we will take you on a mouthwatering tour through LA to discover some of the city’s tastiest hole-in-the-wall eateries loved by locals. From incredible tacos and pupusas to the best pastrami sandwiches and Cuban cuisine, read on to plan your LA foodie adventure!

What is a Hole in the Wall Restaurant?

When it comes to dining out, sometimes the best meals can be found in the most unexpected places. That’s where hole in the wall restaurants come in. But what exactly is a “hole in the wall” restaurant?

Definition and Characteristics

A hole in the wall restaurant is a small, unassuming eatery that often goes unnoticed by the masses. These hidden gems are typically family-owned and operated, serving up delicious, authentic cuisine that keeps locals coming back for more.

They are often tucked away in neighborhoods or off the beaten path, lacking flashy signage or extravagant decor. Instead, the focus is on the food itself, which is usually made from scratch using fresh ingredients.

The Appeal of Hole in the Wall Restaurants

One of the main appeals of hole in the wall restaurants is the sense of discovery and adventure they offer. Stepping into one of these unassuming establishments can feel like stumbling upon a secret treasure trove of culinary delights.

The intimate atmosphere, personalized service, and often wallet-friendly prices make for a unique dining experience that is hard to find elsewhere.

Another reason why hole in the wall restaurants are so beloved is their ability to provide a taste of authenticity. Many of these establishments specialize in regional or international cuisine, offering dishes that are true to their cultural roots.

Whether it’s a family recipe passed down through generations or a traditional dish from a far-off land, the flavors and techniques used in these restaurants can transport diners to another time and place.

Exploring Hole in the Wall Restaurants in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a city known for its diverse culinary scene, and it’s no surprise that it is home to numerous hole in the wall restaurants. From hidden taco stands in East LA to unassuming noodle shops in the San Gabriel Valley, there are plenty of hidden gems waiting to be discovered by adventurous foodies.

Some popular hole in the wall restaurants in Los Angeles include:

  • Tacos El Gordo – Located in Chula Vista, this unassuming taco joint is famous for its mouthwatering carne asada tacos.
  • Howlin’ Ray’s – This Nashville hot chicken spot in Chinatown may have a long line, but the spicy, crispy chicken is worth the wait.
  • Pho 79 – Nestled in the heart of Little Saigon, this family-owned pho restaurant serves up steaming bowls of flavorful broth and tender noodles.

So, the next time you’re in Los Angeles and looking for a truly memorable dining experience, be sure to venture off the beaten path and explore the city’s hole in the wall restaurants. You never know what delicious surprises await!

Best Hole in the Wall Mexican Restaurants


Guelaguetza is a hidden gem in Los Angeles, known for its authentic Oaxacan cuisine. This family-owned restaurant has been serving up traditional dishes for over 25 years. The menu at Guelaguetza features a wide variety of options, from mouthwatering tlayudas to flavorful mole.

With its warm and inviting atmosphere, this hole in the wall restaurant is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

Tacos 1986

Tacos 1986 is a must-visit for taco lovers. This small taco stand, located in the heart of Los Angeles, is known for its delicious and affordable street tacos. Whether you prefer carne asada, al pastor, or vegetarian options, Tacos 1986 has something for everyone.

The flavors are bold, the tortillas are freshly made, and the salsas are bursting with freshness. Don’t be fooled by the simple exterior, this hole in the wall joint serves up some of the best tacos in town.

Mariscos Jalisco

Mariscos Jalisco is a hidden seafood gem in Boyle Heights. This unassuming food truck is known for its mouthwatering shrimp tacos. The tacos are filled with succulent shrimp, topped with a secret blend of spices, and served with a side of tangy salsa.

The crispy exterior and juicy interior make these tacos a true delight. It’s no wonder that Mariscos Jalisco has gained a cult following among seafood enthusiasts in Los Angeles.

Top Hole in the Wall Sandwich Spots

Langer’s Deli

Langer’s Deli, located in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, is a legendary hole in the wall sandwich spot that has been serving up delicious sandwiches since 1947. Their most famous creation is the #19, a hot pastrami sandwich that has been hailed as one of the best in the city.

The pastrami is hand-cut and cooked to perfection, with a tender and flavorful bite that will leave you craving more. The rye bread is baked fresh daily and complements the pastrami perfectly. Don’t forget to order a side of their famous homemade coleslaw to complete your meal.

Langer’s Deli is a must-visit for any sandwich lover in Los Angeles.

Bay Cities Italian Deli

When it comes to hole in the wall sandwich spots, Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica is a hidden gem. This family-owned deli has been serving up authentic Italian sandwiches since 1925 and has become a local favorite.

Their most popular sandwich, the Godmother, is a combination of Genoa salami, mortadella, coppa, ham, prosciutto, and provolone cheese, all topped with a tangy Italian dressing. The bread is freshly baked in-house and is the perfect vessel for the flavorful fillings.

Be prepared to wait in line, as this deli is always busy, but trust us, it’s worth it.

Wexler’s Deli

Wexler’s Deli, with locations in Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica, is a modern take on the classic Jewish deli. Their sandwiches are made with traditional Jewish recipes and high-quality ingredients, resulting in mouthwatering creations. One of their standout sandwiches is the O.G.

Pastrami, made with house-cured and smoked pastrami, mustard, and pickles, all served on freshly baked rye bread. The pastrami is tender and flavorful, with a perfect balance of smokiness and spice. Wexler’s Deli also offers a selection of homemade pickles and a variety of bagels and schmears, making it a great spot for breakfast or brunch.

These top hole in the wall sandwich spots in Los Angeles are a testament to the city’s diverse culinary scene. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic Jewish deli sandwich, an authentic Italian creation, or a mouthwatering pastrami masterpiece, these restaurants have you covered.

Don’t be fooled by their unassuming exteriors – the sandwiches they serve are anything but ordinary.

Hidden Gem Asian Restaurants

Sakura Japanese

If you’re looking for an authentic Japanese dining experience, Sakura Japanese is a must-visit. Tucked away in a quiet corner of Los Angeles, this hidden gem offers a wide range of traditional Japanese dishes that will satisfy any sushi lover.

From their fresh sashimi to their mouthwatering tempura, every bite is a delight. The cozy and intimate atmosphere adds to the charm, making it a perfect spot for a romantic date night or a relaxed evening with friends.

101 Noodle Express

For those craving Chinese cuisine, 101 Noodle Express is a true hidden gem. Located in a nondescript strip mall, this restaurant may not look like much from the outside, but the flavors inside are out of this world.

Their hand-pulled noodles are a specialty and are often praised as some of the best in town. Whether you’re in the mood for their famous beef noodle soup or their delectable dumplings, you won’t be disappointed. Don’t let the humble exterior fool you – this place is a culinary treasure.

Lunasia Dim Sum House

If you’re a fan of dim sum, Lunasia Dim Sum House is a must-try. Tucked away in the heart of Los Angeles, this hidden gem offers a wide variety of traditional dim sum dishes that are sure to satisfy your cravings.

From their delicate steamed dumplings to their flavorful barbecue pork buns, every bite is a taste of perfection. The restaurant’s elegant and modern ambiance adds to the dining experience, making it a great place to celebrate special occasions or simply indulge in some delicious dim sum.

For more information on Sakura Japanese, visit their website at

For more information on 101 Noodle Express, visit their website at

For more information on Lunasia Dim Sum House, visit their website at

Other Can’t-Miss Hole in the Wall Finds

Versailles Cuban

If you’re a fan of Cuban cuisine, then Versailles is a must-visit hole in the wall restaurant in Los Angeles. Located in the heart of Culver City, this hidden gem has been serving up authentic Cuban dishes for over 30 years.

From their famous garlic chicken to their flavorful black beans and rice, Versailles will transport you straight to Havana with every bite. Don’t forget to try their mouthwatering Cuban sandwiches and refreshing mojitos.

With its cozy atmosphere and incredible flavors, Versailles is a true hidden treasure.

For more information, visit their website:

Howlin Ray’s

If you’re in the mood for some finger-licking good fried chicken, look no further than Howlin Ray’s. Tucked away in Chinatown, this hole in the wall joint serves up Nashville-style hot chicken that will leave you craving for more.

From mild to extra hot, their spicy chicken is marinated in a secret blend of spices and fried to perfection. Be prepared for a long line, but trust us, it’s worth the wait. The friendly staff and lively atmosphere add to the overall experience.

So, if you’re up for a spicy adventure, make sure to try Howlin Ray’s.

For more information, visit their website:

Pampas Grill Brazilian Steakhouse

For meat lovers, Pampas Grill is a hidden gem in the Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles. This Brazilian steakhouse offers an all-you-can-eat experience that will satisfy even the heartiest of appetites.

With a variety of succulent grilled meats, such as picanha, linguiça, and fraldinha, served with traditional sides like feijoada and farofa, Pampas Grill is a carnivore’s paradise. The casual and laid-back atmosphere makes it the perfect spot for a hearty and delicious meal with friends or family.

For more information, visit their website:


Los Angeles is a vibrant melting pot of cuisines from around the world. Venturing into its hole-in-the-wall eateries lets you discover the city’s diverse flavors like a local. From the spicy Nashville hot chicken at Howlin’ Ray’s to Versailles’ authentic Cuban specialties, LA’s holes in the wall offer culinary gems sans the hype. Use our guide to explore the city bite by bite and find your own favorite hidden LA food gem!

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