Park the car and make time for a fantastic meal at any of these 5 standout mini-mall restaurants

By Jessica Koslow

Eat chicken the French way at Mon Petit Poulet, feed your inner Italian at Eddie’s Italian Restaurant (upper right) and dig into soul food at the Serving Spoon

One of the unique things about being a foodie in Los Angeles is that you can find some of the city’s best food in otherwise inconspicuous mini-malls.

Sure, the view from the window is a parking lot, but on the upside there’s usually available parking, the food tends to be more affordable, and the general lack of pretension keeps the restaurant’s ambitions focused squarely on what you’re about to eat.

So let’s drop the fanfare and get right to it — five mini-mall gems that should be on your culinary radar.

Tomi Sushi

Most people know about Ronnie’s Diner, the popular breakfast spot in Del Rey tucked just off Culver Boulevard near Ballona Creek. Asaya Japanese restaurant, across the parking lot, was another local favorite for 30 years. A few months ago, a new sign went up: Tomi Sushi. The community mourned Asaya’s loss on Yelp. But, thankfully, Tomi Sushi kept the same warm staff and is serving up fresh, delicious fish along with other tasty hot kitchen entrees, including bulgogi and udon. My husband and I spontaneously popped in on Valentine’s Day. Nothing says “I love you” like their signature yellowtail jalapeno sashimi special with cilantro and yuzu ponzu sauce.

12740 Culver Blvd., Del Rey | (310) 823-8944 |

Mee & Greet

Eric Ong already has a hit on his hands with Humble Potato — “comfort food with a Japanese flavor twist.” This past June he opened Mee & Greet, a comfortable space to eat Southeast Asian comfort food at the intersection of Overland Avenue and Palms Boulevard. The menu is a collaboration of flavors from Ong’s (Chinese-Indonesian) and chef Minh Phan’s (Vietnamese) backgrounds. Like Mee & Greet’s bustling surroundings, the food comes out fast. Happy hour (4 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays) includes their most popular dish: Mad for Garlic noodles. Your taste buds will thank you all night for the egg noodles swirled in a mouth-watering sauce of Parmigiano reggiano, crushed garlic crisps and garlic butter.

3500 Overland Ave., Palms | (310) 876-0838 |

Mon Petit Poulet

Who would expect the juiciest rotisserie chicken in town to be spinning behind glass in the corner of Lincoln Plaza? But that’s exactly where you’ll find your perfect lunch: a quarter chicken and two sides. I always opt for the slightly sweet ratatouille and green beans, with a fresh baguette slice and butter. The establishment is French-owned, and my favorite person behind the counter is Godefroy, whose elegant accent adds a touch of wanderlust to my order. The owners already had four restaurants in France when they landed in L.A., and they’re in the process of opening a second location downtown.

705 Lincoln Blvd., Venice | (310) 314-2016 |

Eddie’s Italian Restaurant

If you’ve ever been stuck in traffic at the intersection of Washington and Lincoln boulevards, you’ve seen the sign for Eddie’s Italian Restaurant, sharing space in the same mini-mall as a 7-Eleven. I bet you’ve wondered: Can it be good? For 30 years, faithful clientele have been pulling in to dine on the restaurant’s Italian delights, like chicken piccata and linguine pescatore. The original name of the establishment was Alejo’s, which then changed to Eddie’s under new ownership, and will remain Eddie’s even though ownership has changed once again this past December. Juliana Imoowo and her husband bought and remodeled the entire place. Much has changed, but “not the food or the staff,” says Imoowo — or the beloved fresh bread (with garlic, olive oil and cheese) that’s baked daily and comes with every meal.

4002 Lincoln Blvd., Marina del Rey | (310) 822-0095 |

The Serving Spoon

I grew up bicoastal, traveling to New York City to visit my mom. Every chance we got, mom and I would frequent the Pink Tea Cup in the Greenwich Village, the soul food brunch spot version of the bar in “Cheers.” Everybody knew everybody, and you would often catch a celebrity. When I walked into the Serving Spoon in Inglewood, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia. This neighborhood favorite since 1983 often has a line of locals outside waiting to taste turkey wings, oxtails or beef short ribs. Note that The Serving Spoon is a morning and early afternoon hotspot: it closes at 2:30 p.m. every day except Sunday, when it stays open until 4 p.m.

1403 Centinela Ave., Inglewood | (310) 412-3927 |