The Top 5 Dishes in Highland Park

Discover dishes that span Asian and European cuisines
Minced pork on rice at Joy on York | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Highland Park has been a working class hotbed for taco trucks and casual Mexican restaurants for decades. In the past five years, the neighborhood has seen trendy redevelopment take place on two fronts: York Boulevard and Figueroa Street. Now certain blocks could pass for Abbot Kinney Boulevard, given all of the boutiques, bars, and fashionable restaurants. Of course residents haven’t welcomed every addition with open arms, but we’ve identified flavorful new neighborhood favorites. Discover five of the best dishes in Highland Park spanning different Asian and European cuisines.

Minced pork on rice at Joy on York | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Joy on York



Joy on York is part of a new wave of Asian restaurants from successful operators in other L.A. neighborhoods. Vivian Ku follows in the foodsteps of her grandfather, who ran Pine Crane Noodle in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and her parents, who run a farm in Bakersfield and provide greens. Silver Lake’s Pine & Crane spawned Highland Park’s Joy on York in 2018. The modern space touts brick and white walls and decorative bamboo. Ku’s menu is even deeper here, including buns and sesame bread sandwiches. Minced pork on rice is a repeat, but still memorable. This Taiwanese comfort food classic features sautéed ground pork shoulder and belly that’s braised in garlic, rock sugar, rice wine, fried shallots, cinnamon, soy sauce, five-spice, and white pepper. Each bowl comes topped with scallions, soy-cooked egg, and crunchy pickled daikon batons for balance’s sake.

Pan-fried pork dumplings at Mason's Dumpling Shop | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Mason’s Dumpling Shop



Michelle Wi and husband Khu built on the success of Monrovia’s Luscious Dumplings by opening Mason’s Dumpling Shop, naming this Highland Park restaurant for their son. Wi comes by dumplings honestly, since her parents founded the first Luscious Dumplings location (now closed) in San Gabriel. Mason’s Dumpling Shop boils, steams, and pan-fries assorted dumplings with a variety of fillings. I’m particularly enamored with their pan-fried pork dumplings, which mirrors the original recipe from Wi’s father Alan Lam. Thin, caramelized skins cradle firm pork fillings. A sign reads, “Authentic dumplings are to be enjoyed with light sauces, DON’T OVER DO IT!” Mix 1 part soy sauce with 2-3 parts vinegar. Add chile oil to the dipping dish if spicy food is your jam.

Spaghetti and meatballs at Maximiliano | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Maximiliano



Longtime local Andre Guerrero helped to ignite Eagle Rock’s dining scene with The Oinkster and had a similar effect on Highland Park with Maximiliano. The veteran chef named this neighborhood Italian restaurant for his older son and teamed with pastry chef/partner Jan Purdy. The personal corner space forms a triangle with wood slats and “spaghetti” walls that subliminally advertise a house specialty: pasta. Spaghetti teams juicy veal, pork and beef meatballs with bright Pomodoro and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bonus: Maximiliano is also the unofficial taproom for Pasadena’s Craftsman Brewing Co. and brewmaster Mark Jilg customized an herbed lager with oregano and thyme to pair with spaghetti and meatballs or marinara pizza.

Sarmale at Parsnip | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Parsnip



Lemon Poppy Kitchen chef/owner Anca Caliman partnered with Aracelly Flores on Parsnip, cranking up the Romanian flavors in the process. The sea blue restaurant features a prominent map of the former Eastern Bloc country on the dining room wall and vibrant Romanian comfort food on bowls and plates. Cabbage rolls are rarely packaged as well as Parsnip’s sarmale. Ground beef and pork joins rice and spices like caraway and chile flakes within tender cabbage wrappers. Rolls simmered in tomato sauerkraut sauce are plated with crispy toast, tart sauerkraut, and cooling sour cream.

Triple Beam Pizza | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Triple Beam Pizza



Roman-style pizza al taglio (by the cut) is starting to catch on in L.A. and Triple Beam Pizza is the city’s leading practitioner. Randy Clement and chef Matt Molina were hired one day apart at Campanile, and they’ve reunited with that legendary restaurant’s co-founder, baking wizard Nancy Silverton. Line up for long slabs of beautifully chewy pizza with crispy edges that cook consistently in a four-deck Polin gas oven. Staffers cut slices with scissors to customer specifications and charge by the ounce. Triple Beam utilizes non-GMO flour, local Di Stefano mozzarella, and organic DiNapoli tomatoes. Five topping combos appeal to meat lovers and veg heads alike. My favorite slice sports crispy pepperoni cups, tomato sauce, mozzarella, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil.