Downey, a small city on the southeast side of Los Angeles County, has seen a history of success with food. The city is home to the third built and currently oldest standing McDonald’s building, a famous drive-in featured in many movies, and the first ever Taco Bell. Despite that emphasis on fast food, Downey also has a thriving culture of local restaurants. From holes-in-the-wall to city landmarks, these 10 restaurants are sure to impress.
Head to L.A. Buns for a fresh, juicy gourmet burger. The daily ground and hand-made patties are served on a warm brioche bun and given quirky local names. Try the simple LAX burger, which is topped with cheese, bacon, and onion. If a hamburger isn’t your style, the menu has options of hot dogs and chicken sandwiches plus side dishes like sweet potato fries and onion rings. The hole-in-the-wall look is what the masterminds behind L.A. Buns are going for; the graffitied walls and artwork and the Beastie Boys jams coming from the speakers give the restaurant an underground vibe.
L.A. Buns, 8237 2nd Street, Downey, CA, USA +1 562 923 9038
Come to Lock and Key for divine gastropub cuisine and specialty craft beers. The menu is stocked with unusual items sure to pleasantly surprise you. The friendly and knowledgeable staff can help you make selections from the lists of food, beer, and cocktails. Some of the unusual sounding but tasty dishes include chicken and waffle sliders (maple mascarpone and house strawberry jelly topped fried chicken), the Pumba pops (wild boar sausage served with mustard aioli), and the ‘amazeBALLS’ (fried Brussels sprouts served with applewood smoked bacon, candied walnuts, and granny smith apples). There are also plenty of familiar dishes like simple burgers, salads, and sandwiches that will not disappoint.
Lock and Key Social Drinkery, 11033 Downey Ave., Downey, CA, USA +1 562 822 8281
Walk by Porto’s Bakery and Café and you won’t be able to resist stepping in to taste the heavenly smelling fresh bread and baked goods. Whether you’re stopping in for a slice of cake and a coffee or a sit-down, savory lunch, Porto’s is a perfect spot. The cafe’s Cuban-style sandwiches are easily the most popular, including two medianoche sandwiches, a ropa vieja, and a Cubano. Unfortunately the secret about Porto’s great tasting food is out. Lines at the cafe tend to be long, but with service as good as its food you’ll move through before you’ve even decided what to order.
Porto’s Bakery and Café, 8233 Firestone Blvd., Downey, CA, USA +1 562 862 8888
There is no shortage of tasty burgers in Downey, and The Marketplace is another restaurant that fits the bill. Although their burgers fall on the pricy side, the beef is stacked high and the toppings are fresh and plentiful, making them well worth the price tag. For finer dining, choose one of the excellent and generously portioned pasta dishes or an entrée of salmon, chicken, or ribeye. The chefs at The Marketplace believe in nutritious, simple, and delicious food, and they choose the best ingredients to make that possible.
The Marketplace Grill and Café, 7877 Florence Ave., Downey, CA, USA +1 562 927 8700
Pacific Fish Grill opened in 2008 to provide a healthier option in the world of fast-casual dining. By sourcing local produce, responsibly raised chicken and beef, and fresh-caught fish and seafood, Pacific Fish Grill has seen their simple dream come true. Nearly everything in the kitchen is made from scratch. Try a fresh fish entrée with the fish of your choice seasoned with garlic butter, Cajun, lemon-oregano, or hoisin sauce. You can have your fish fried, skewered, wrapped in a burrito, on a sandwich, or served in a variety of other styles.
Pacific Fish Grill, 8262 Firestone Blvd., Downey, CA, USA +1 562 869 9911
Green Olive’s fresh-made Mediterranean cuisine is a local staple in Downey. The house hummus is full of garlic flavor, the meat is tenderly cooked, and the vegetables are fresh and crisp. Customers return time after time because of the restaurant’s consistently good food, generous portions, and friendly staff. Try a meat-filled kabob, a pita wrap, or a refreshing Greek salad filled with Mediterranean vegetables for a quick, healthy, and filling lunch. Top off your visit with an order of flaky, sweet baklava for dessert.
Green Olive Restaurant, 9234 Lakewood Blvd., Downey, CA, USA +1 562 862 8080
Two decades of the Madrazo family have poured their hearts and years of restaurant experience into Tropicana Bakery and Café, starting with father Melvyn, who was born in Cuba, and mother Adela, who was born in Mexico. Melvyn wanted to serve Cuban and Mexican-style chicken, and his special marinade made of a blend of Cuban citrus zing and Mexican spices brought the family success with four restaurants. Tropicana Bakery and Café, one of the family’s newest ventures, provides high-quality Latin American sweets and beverages made in-house by the family.
Tropicana Bakery and Cuban Café, 10218 Paramount Blvd., Downey, CA, USA +1 562 806 8343
Enjoy a retro, classic American diner meal in drive-in restaurant. This drive-in is remodeled on the site of the famous Harvey’s Broiler, which was replaced by Johnie’s Broiler. Today, the 1950s-style restaurant is Bob’s Big Boy Broiler, and you can sit in the restaurant or drive up in your car where skating waiters will serve you. Ordering a malt milkshake is a must, and you can’t go wrong with any burgers, salads, or sandwiches on the menu. Although the atmosphere is authentic and the food is marketed as genuine diner fare, you’ll likely be surprised by the high-quality meals. Try the ‘Best Cheeseburger On The Planet,’ a burger topped with American cheese, tomato, onion, pickle chips, lettuce, mayo, mustard, and red relish.
Bob’s Big Boy Broiler, 7447 Firestone Blvd., Downey, CA, USA +1 562 928 2627
For the best authentic Thai curries, noodles, and platters in Downey, try Narai’s Thai Cuisine. The spicy dishes provide a much-needed break from Downey’s obsession with hamburgers. Fresh spices and vegetables used in Narai’s curries make the restaurant’s dishes a flavorful and healthy dining option. Start with the Narai Sampler for an appetizer containing chicken satay skewers, crunchy egg rolls, fried wonton-wrapped shrimp, and crispy wontons. For a main dish, try the Pad See-iw, a dish of rice noodles, Chinese broccoli, egg, and a choice of meat sautéed with Narai’s special sauce and white pepper.
Narai Thai Cuisine, 7611 Firestone Blvd., Downey, CA, USA +1 562 928 4632
Get your fix of genuine Mexican spice with Gloria’s delicious, freshly made food. The restaurant’s atmosphere is festive and bright, especially when the mariachi band comes in to play. Stop in for a lunch or dinner of delicious tacos, burritos, or fajitas prepared with hand-made tortillas, or try one of the many seafood dishes like the chipotle-style shrimp. Gloria’s Cocina Mexicana has great happy hour deals and plenty of margaritas to go around.
Gloria’s Cocina Mexicana, 7401 Florence Avenue, Downey, CA, USA +1 562 776 1488