Angelenos can often feel overwhelmed at the amount of food options in the city. You can find practically any type of food here, and LA is known for its star chefs and mixologists. But some nights you just need something a little out of the ordinary. If you feel unsatisfied with the usual buzzworthy spots, go out on a limb and swing by these unique locales. From the food offerings to the overall experience, you’ll be talking about these weirdest restaurants for weeks to come.
2020 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403
$$$$ American (New)
It’s a well-known fact that sometimes the less you use one sense, the more sharpened the rest of your senses become. To elevate the experience of taste and smell, Opaque invites food lovers to dine completely in the dark. Served by blind or visually impaired employees specially trained to serve you in this unique setting, this decadent and specially-curated meal makes for a night out unlike any other. Diners must turn off their cell phones and leave their extra belongings with the hostess to fully immerse themselves in this sensory experience.
639 N Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
For the ultimate hipster LA experience, swing by Cafe Gratitude for a totally distinctive ordering experience. The food isn’t really weird here, as it caters to vegan and vegetarian eaters with a totally organic menu, but the place is definitely a memorable one. For starters, your server will ask you a question of the day like “what brings you peace?” or “what makes you smile?” Once you decide what to order, you need to follow a specific ordering protocol by reading the menu items like a statement: I am happy, I am trusting, etc. Definitely not your average restaurant experience.
6638 Atlantic Ave.
Bell, CA 90201
$$ Sushi Bars, Mexican
Feast on sushi with a Mexican twist at Culichi Town. Offerings include everything from the Guamuchilito Roll (a roll with stuffed with shrimp, imitation crab, avocado and salsa) to the Mocorito roll (with beef, chicken, bacon, avocado and cheese). Wash it all down with a Michelada to complete the meal. The restaurant does not take reservations, so just show up with a group of other adventurous eaters for an unforgettable meal. Some nights you might even enjoy live mariachi music.
8288 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046
$$ Burgers, Bars
Hamburger Mary’s embraces its colorful personality to the fullest. Basically any night you stop by can result in debauchery, dancing and everything in between. The restaurant and gay bar features one of the most high-energy bingo nights in the city. Saturdays you can stop by for brunch complete with a drag show (featuring the Brunchettes), Tuesdays you can stop by for tacos and a hot fudge chocolate fountain, and Thursdays you can sing your heart out for a chance at a $50 karaoke prize. Grab a burger from the wildly creative menu, like the Buffy the Hamburger Slayer: a burger cooked with garlic cloves and red wine and topped with Swiss cheese, Caesar dressing, lettuce and tomato.
111 N Atlantic Blvd.
Monterey Park, CA 91754
$$ Asian Fusion
Hot pots restaurants populate plenty of areas in Los Angeles, but this particular establishment stands out for its very specific theme: Communism. Private Party features propaganda posters (albeit fake ones) and servers dress in Red Guard uniforms. Unlike other hot pot locales, this one uses coals to warm its boiling water. Diners can choose from a variety of broths, meats and vegetables to cook in the pot. You can also grill skewers at the same time. Come with an appetite, as the restaurant caters to groups who want to share a meal.
8351 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90069
$ Burgers, Hot Dogs
From afar, Carney’s looks nothing like a restaurant. It’s a a bright yellow train car with the words “Carney’s Express” emblazoned across it. When you step inside, though, the fun train theme continues with signs like “Beware of the Trains.” Take a seat at one of the homely tables and prepare to stuff your face with delicious burgers and hot dogs. The Sunset spot is especially popular: a scene was shot there for the Entourage movie. Opened in 1975, it’s a classic and kooky spot for some delicious grub.
648 Broadway Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
$$ Cafeteria, American (Traditional)
Technically, this fine establishment functions more as a cafeteria than a sit-down restaurant, but it is an integral part of Downtown LA’s history—and a memorable experience. Originally opened in the 1930s, the location recently got revamped and now includes three floors of dining tables and two bars. The entire place feels like a natural wonderland filled with secrets. You walk in, grab your food and take a seat anywhere amidst taxidermy wild animals. Wander around to find a vintage telephone booth, a secret small cave and chairs that look like they’re from the stone age. At night, the places buzzes with energy as Downtown’s hipsters settle down for a drink.