Post-Hike Food in Los Angeles

Breakfast sandwich melt at Café Vida
Breakfast sandwich melt at Café Vida  |  Photo:  Joshua Lurie

Los Angeles County features hundreds of miles of trails with views of the city and ocean, and while it can be an adrenaline rush to kick up some dust and build up a sweat, life certainly becomes sweeter (and more savory) with a post-hike reward. Discover 10 places to enjoy a meal after spending time on foot.

Pastrami sandwich at Art's Delicatessen & Restaurant
Pastrami sandwich at Art's Delicatessen & Restaurant  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Fryman Canyon - Art's Deli

Finish hiking the loop at Fryman Canyon and reinvigorate your system at the base of Laurel Canyon Boulevard with Art’s Delicatessen & Restaurant, which has been a Studio City mainstay since 1957. Art Ginsburg passed away in 2013, but the deli is still bustling. The space features a patio with blue awning, brown booths, white and wood panel walls sporting framed sandwich photos, and long, fully loaded deli and bakery cases. “Every sandwich is a work of art” and comes with a choice of potato salad, cole slaw, or fruit. A basic pastrami or corned beef sandwich stacks a half-pound of meat. “Sky high” sandwiches come on rye, topped with cole slaw and Russian dressing. If you’re really starving after wandering the hills, only triple-decker sandwiches will do. If you aren’t ravenous, “smoked fish delights” include lox, whitefish, baked salmon, cod, or sturgeon. Or just revert to deli classics like cheese blintzes, chicken noodle soup with matzo balls, knishes, or kugel.

Breakfast sandwich melt at Café Vida
Breakfast sandwich melt at Café Vida  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Temescal Canyon, Los Liones, Will Rogers State Park - Café Vida

Café Vida is a California-influenced Mexican restaurant, (or is it vice versa?) that’s centrally located in Pacific Palisades Village, not far from trails like Temescal Canyon, Los Liones and the Will Rogers State Park phalanx. They’ve expanded “food for life” to Culver City and El Segundo, which are considerably less hike-friendly. The Palisades original is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The space features a green awning and umbrellas shading sidewalk tables, a dining room with art-lined, olive green walls, and brown paneling that resembles wicker. Juices, shakes, and smoothies are all ready to restore electrolytes, as is “green” lemonade fortified with spinach and mint. Breakfast options include blueberry buttermilk pancakes, huevos rancheros, and a massive breakfast sandwich melt with eggs, cheddar, bacon, tomato, lettuce, onion, avocado, and basil mayo on toasted multi-grain bread. Lunch brings rosemary turkey burger salads, chipotle chicken quesadillas, and “el grande” steak burritos starring filet mignon tips.

Lox scramble at Cheebo
Lox scramble at Cheebo  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Runyon Canyon - Cheebo

Climb the three prongs of Runyon Canyon - which features nearly as many aspiring actors as dogs - and finish below with breakfast, lunch, or dinner from Cheebo, the orange-hued restaurant from Sandro Reinhardt that debuted in 2002. The space features patio seating under a black awning and a dining room with white bench banquettes, colorful stained glass windows, and two-tone orange and white walls sporting art and framed photos of famous musicians. Crayons and white butcher paper appear on each table for kids (or adults) to draw. One great choice is the lox scramble, featuring house-smoked salmon and onions with a side of buttery house browns. Salads and sandwiches take up plenty of remaining menu real estate, include a Cheebo chop and “pinwheel” of flank steak, prosciutto, salami, mortadella, provolone and basil on soft house-baked focaccia. Reinhardt also prides Cheebo on pizza and grass-fed Piedmontese beef burger.

Cajun tilapia plate at Malibu Seafood
Cajun tilapia plate at Malibu Seafood

Corral Canyon Park - Malibu Seafood

Malibu Seafood was already convenient for Santa Monica Mountain hikers, but ever since the Sara Wan trailhead opened at neighboring Corral Canyon Park, it’s easier than ever. Malibu Seafood showcases several varieties of by-the-pound seafood behind glass display cases, including ruby red ahi loins, wild Pacific swordfish fillets that sport as many rings as a Sequoia, Pacific oysters, plus garlic smoked mussels and pulled Dungeness crab meat. Mark Ridgeway and his partners started as lobstermen and first sold seafood on the Malibu Pier. Now they sell fresh seafood up PCH. Fresh grilled seafood comes with sides like crusty rice pilaf and crunchy, rough-cut cole slaw. Malibu Seafood also sells fried fish and shellfish, New England clam chowder, seafood cocktails and sandwiches stacked with squid steak. Eat at a red picnic table on an umbrella-covered patio and soak up views of the shimmering Pacific Ocean.

Cajun tilapia plate at Malibu Seafood
Catfish po' boy at Park Bench Grill  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Mount Lowe Railway - Park Bench Grill

At the northern end of Lake Avenue, hikers ascend a twisty trailhead to find remnants from the washed out Mount Lowe Railway and the fire-gutted Alpine Tavern. Located on Altadena’s main drag, Park Bench Grill has been operating since 1952. The business started as Kern’s Deli, became Park Bench in 1985, and rebooted as Park Bench Grill in 2013. Chef Debbie Rainey has presided over Park Bench since 1991. The space features wood and green walls lined with black and white photos of Mount Lowe Railway, a full coffee bar, and pedestals sporting citrus olive oil cake, chocolate brownies, and blueberry buttermilk cake. Holiday specials include corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day, chicken gumbo for Mardi Gras, and braised short ribs with longevity noodles for Lunar New Year (Rainey lived in Hong Kong for three years). Breakfast skillets include Italian, Greek, Creole chicken and S.F. Joe with seasoned ground beef, mushrooms, spinach, Tomato, onion, potato and eggs. Other popular dishes involve cornmeal-crusted catfish po’ boys, Buffalo chicken sandwich, roast beef on Parmesan crusted sourdough bread, hot turkey sub with stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce. Rainey devoted an entire menu section to burgers, including a mushroom burger, bacon and blue cheese burger, and Smokehouse BBQ burger with Cheddar cheese, fried onion rings, and BBQ sauce.

Chicken basket at Reddi Chick
Chicken basket at Reddi Chick  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Santa Monica Mountains - Reddi Chick

After a run or hike on Santa Monica Mountain trails like Westridge or Sullivan Canyon, head due south to the Brentwood Country Mart, where Carol and Steve Salita have owned Reddi Chick since 1979. Order at the counter and carry a red tray topped with cardboard boats to an umbrella-shielded table or to the central octagon shaped fire pit ringed with benches. Whole chickens and racks of ribs roast on a charcoal-backed rotisserie until their coats become nice and crusty. Sides include fries dusted with a secret spice blend, sweet baked beans folded with bits of pork, or cole slaw. Reddi Chick also offers 30 types of baked potatoes, chicken tenders and fried seafood baskets. Craving more? Head next door to Edelweiss candy kitchen for a chocolate truffle or turtle.

Kunafe at Sianto's Bakery Café
Kunafe at Sianto's Bakery Café  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Verdugo Peak - Sianto’s Bakery Café

Sianto’s Bakery Café resides midway between trailheads to Beaudry Motorway or Hostetter Fire Road, which both lead to Verdugo Peak. You’ll find Lebanese comfort food in a casual strip mall setting. Owner Armine Sargsyan originally hails from Yerevan, Armenia, and retooled the business over two years ago. Sianto’s specializes in delectable savory flatbreads with toppings like spinach & cheese, zaatar, and lahma-b-ajine with ground beef, tomatoes, garlic, onion, parsley, and spices. They also serve flatbread sandwiches, kebabs, boat-shaped Georgian khachapuri baked with cheese and cracked eggs, and kunafe, a Beirut-style sesame pocket with kataifi patty, melted three-cheese patty, pitcher of orange blossom and rosewater syrup. Baklava is also a standout.

Khao Soi at Thai Fusion Bistro
Khao Soi at Thai Fusion Bistro  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Victory Trailhead - Thai Fusion Bistro

Chef Lak Nikhomkhet was venting about her restaurant employer to Nok, a hair stylist friend. They went to a Thai temple in Long Beach and the monk told them to open a restaurant together. In 2015, Nok and husband Keith Miller launched Thai Fusion Bistro with Chef Nikhomkhet near Victory Trailhead in West Hills. The space features cream colored walls, brick planters with faux bamboo, and black and red booths. Keith Miller said, “I didn’t want to just open a restaurant with a photo of pad Thai and the number 1 next to it. I wanted to offer more. That’s why we have tacos and ribs, something for everybody.” “Fusions” include curry seafood pizza, curry lamb chops with massaman curry, and pasta stir-fried with black pepper, garlic and ribeye. Taco Tuesday is available all day long, with thick, griddled tortillas topped with combos like duck with mango salsa, spicy ahi with Thai basil, and crispy white fish with Thai slaw and avocado. Khao Soi is especially notable, featuring steamed egg noodles with yellow curry, chicken, potato, and mixed veggies, topped with crispy noodles and crispy red onion.

Five-grain porridge at The Topanga Table
Five-grain porridge at The Topanga Table  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Eagle Rock Trail & Parker Mesa Overlook - The Topanga Table

You’ll find The Topanga Table not far from Topanga State Park, which leads to Eagle Rock Trail and Parker Mesa Overlook, depending on which fork you take in the trail. This idyllic California culinary refuge from William Edwards and business partner Amir Rofougaran opened in 2015 and features a screened patio with peaked roof, succulents and potted ferns. A dining room houses white walls, exposed rafters, and an L-shaped wood bar. Ease into the day with a three-egg salmon scramble with pencil asparagus, tangy sheep's milk feta, and cherry tomatoes. Five-grain porridge combines steel-cut oats, amaranth, millet, brown rice bran, quinoa, honey, blueberries, and cream. Sweeter options include French toast with baked persimmon, cardamom caramel sauce and whipped cream; and banana walnut pancakes made with spelt and quinoa. Prefer something savory? Grass-fed beef factors into patty melts and burgers. BLT capitalizes on the crusty house-made bread with Peads & Barnetts bacon, Valdivia Farms tomatoes and arugula. House-made sodas include wild sage honey and hibiscus ginger.

Egg in a Basket at The Trails
Egg in a Basket at The Trails  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Mount Hollywood - The Trails

Mickey Petralia’s outdoor café, The Trails has been located near the base of Mount Hollywood in the middle of Griffith Park since 2005, just a short climb from Griffith Observatory. A big patio featuring picnic tables topped with succulent planters. Offerings include Stumptown coffee, tea, and pastries on red and white checked pedestals, including cheddar chives biscuits, scones, seasonal pie (Meyer lemon and apple pie), chocolate chip cookies, and lavender shortbreads. Heartier fare includes egg salad sandwiches with mayo, capers and dill; peanut butter & jelly sandwiches with peanut, almond and cashew butter; and slabs of quiche with artichokes, tomato, and Parmesan. Egg in a Basket is a fun play on toad in a hole with sweet wheat bread filled with egg, topped with nutless pesto and Parmesan.