Cozy Up and Dig in to Some of the Most Delicious Comfort Food in SoCal
It can be difficult to sum up comfort food in a matter of words—we could call it food that evokes a sense of well-being and consolation, but in all honesty, it’s a feeling in and of itself. Comfort food can offer a rush of dopamine with a warm side of nostalgia, leaving us with full bellies and a smile on our faces. But don’t break out your grandma’s recipes just yet. From go-to family favorites to unexpected yet welcome twists on old classics, there are plenty of spots around Southern California that are dishing out all of your comfort cravings this winter.
Social Costa Mesa’s new winter menu is filled with delicious and comforting dishes like steak frites, truffle mac and cheese and pan-seared chicken. Don’t skip out on the smoked bone marrow and petite grilled cheese as a starter for the table, along with the decadent lamb lollipops. Whether it’s after a long day at work or a weekend date night with your bae, Social Costa Mesa offers a warm and welcoming ambiance to escape the crisp weather outside. Sip on a glass of Justin cabernet or opt for a classic old fashioned for nothing but good vibes all night long.
Location: Costa Mesa
Nestled alongside the bay, Tavern House is switching up what you can usually expect from a waterfront restaurant in Newport Beach. Under Chef David Wilhelm’s direction, Tavern House’s menu features influences from coastal Southern Californian, Mexican and Hawaiian cuisines as well as a number of crowd-pleasing, creative takes on some of his favorite comfort foods. One of our personal favorites is D’s Famous Fried Chicken, served with mashed potatoes, heirloom green beans and thick, herbaceous thyme gravy. Feeling hungry? Tavern House has created a special menu specifically with comfort food enthusiasts in mind. Every Monday, patrons can enjoy a night of happy hour drinks and Monday suppers such as fried chicken, beer-battered fish and chips and short rib stroganoff. Spending a winter evening cozied up in Tavern House with harbor views, delicious food and a cocktail in hand? This is why we love where we live!
Location: Newport Beach
Whether it takes you back to walking around the county fair or fueling up at the mall between shopping sprees, there are few things that can compete with the nostalgia of a soft, warm pretzel. And if you’re enjoying one at Rock & Brews, pair it with a refreshing lager and a super chill atmosphere—it’s the ideal recipe for creating new memories.
Locations: Buena Park, El Segundo, Redondo Beach, Tustin
Like tastes and smells, music has the power to whip up fond memories. Inspired by New York supper clubs, The Drake fuses food and live music to create an intimate and memorable dining experience. Executive Chef Paul Gstrein’s menu only heightens this experience with nourishing, warming dishes like the chipotle pork chop; it’s a Duroc chop served with pepitas and mezcal chipotle barbecue sauce.
Location: Laguna Beach
With its warm spices and filling, hearty proteins, it’s easy to see why Indian cuisine is often sought out when craving comfort food. At ADYA, there’s no shortage of mouthwatering curries or masala, but don’t miss Chef Shachi Mehra and Chef Sandeep Basrur’s take on pani puri, addicting street food served with spicy tamarind water, potatoes and mint.
Epitomizing Southern California’s take on Italian cuisine, LAVO’s menu features an array of tasty plates that are sure to remind you of nonna’s kitchen. The standout item is their famous one-pound Wagyu meatball served with marinara and whipped ricotta—delizioso! Wash it down with a glass of wine or one of LAVO’s signature cocktails while easing yourself into the restaurant’s intimate and relaxing atmosphere.
Location: Gaslamp Quarter
Part butcher shop, part restaurant, Ranch 45 offers delicious meats and eats in a casual, laid-back environment. Most days, you can grab some tasty grub for breakfast and lunch, but every Thursday through Saturday, you can order dinner options from Executive Chef Aron Schwartz. Our favorite is the hearty beef stew—it’s sharable, but we won’t judge if you eat it yourself.
Location: Solana Beach
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Not only does Cody’s La Jolla offer a homey, coastal-cool vibe, this beachy restaurant serves up breakfast and lunch all day long. It’s the perfect spot to relive your childhood with nostalgic faves like the Awesome French Toast—made with thick, griddled slices of Bread & Cie challah topped with fresh strawberries, candied walnuts and a dollop of mascarpone honey butter.
Location: La Jolla
We all know that dessert is the best way to end the day, but the sweet corn cake from AVANT Restaurant takes it to a whole new level. Like most items on Chef de Cuisine Sergio Jimenez’s four-course tasting menu, this dish features humble, familiar ingredients that are then elevated with a surprising and delightful twist—think comfort with elements of nuance and exhilaration.
Location: Rancho Bernardo
Missing family Sunday dinners? Pull up a chair in Tam O’Shanter’s cozy Tudor-style dining room and order their famous roast platter! Indulge in your choice of roasted brisket, corned beef, turkey or pork with a side of mashed potatoes and creamed corn or creamed spinach. Then wash it all down with a whisky or scotch—Tam O’Shanter has over 650 to choose from!
Location: Atwater Village
Can we all agree that noodles might be the ultimate comfort food? At Cento Pasta Bar, Chef Avner Lavi crafts beautiful pasta dishes (like Nonna’s Broccoli Bucatini) that are just waiting to be devoured. Whether you’re dining al fresco on the patio or indoors at a communal-style table, get ready to sit back and enjoy a delicious and affordable dinner.
Location: West Adams
Must Order: The Classic Ramen
Call us crazy, but we believe that delicious ramen can be enjoyed in any weather, whether it’s pouring rain outside or beating last year’s heat record. No matter the season, you can always count on Silverlake Ramen’s Classic Ramen to warm up your belly and soul with its perfectly chewy noodles, creamy pork broth, punchy black garlic and loads of veggies and protein.
Locations: Burbank, DTLA, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, Porter Ranch
There’s a reason Howlin’ Rays usually has a line out the door, and if you’re from or living in LA, you already know why. Howlin’ Rays is arguably the spot for Nashville-style hot chicken, serving up perfectly crisp and seasoned chicken ranging from no spice to the kind of heat that only a true masochist could love. Oh, and don’t miss the macaroni salad—you may need it!
Locations: China Town, Pasadena
If we seem distracted, it’s because we’re dreaming of sitting in Ristorante Mamma Gina’s romantic dining room while enjoying creamy spaghetti alla carbonara with flavorful pancetta and a rich, mouthwatering sauce. As one of Palm Desert’s favorite restaurants for over 30 years, Ristorante Mamma Gina knows exactly how to make their guests comfortable, happy and coming back for more.
Location: Palm Desert
With its diverse menu, Trio is proving that comfort food surpasses nationality! A Palm Springs staple, Trio offers a menu full of easy eats and comfort food favorites like mac and cheese, arancini and pizza. But one of our all-time favorites has to be the brunch menu’s chorizo chilaquiles, made with red enchilada sauce and a fried egg topped with cotija cheese.
Location: Palm Springs
Inside two of the Agua Caliente Casinos, you’ll find The Steakhouse, a luxurious food oasis that exudes flavor, style and class. Whether you’re craving comfort food after a long day at the tables or splashing around the pool, we recommend the deliciously melty French onion soup au gratin before indulging in one of The Steakhouse’s unforgettable entrees, where you’ll have the option of surf, turf or both!
Locations: Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage
Southern food is comfort food, plain and simple. So if you’re craving something that’ll refuel your body and soul, head down to Babe’s BBQ and Brewery. Whether you plan on ordering fried green tomatoes, brisket mac and cheese or an entree from their Lucky Smoker, you cannot miss the cast-iron skillet cornbread with honey butter—you’ll thank us later!
Location: Rancho Mirage
Born and raised near the Pacific Coast, Jordan Nishkian is a California girl through and through. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a BA in Creative Writing and a BA in Anthropology, and her favorite place to be is curled up in a comfy chair with a book in her hand and a pen in her hair.