The best food near Los Angeles' LAX airport for your layover

By John Walton, October 17 2011
The best food near Los Angeles' LAX airport for your layover

Los Angeles' LAX airport isn't renowned for good food. But fortunately it's surrounded by interesting neighbourhoods -- and great places to eat.

With Inglewood, El Segundo, Westchester and Manhattan Beach nearby, there are plenty of options for a decent meal on your next LAX layover, whether you're connecting on Virgin Australia, Qantas, United or Delta flights. 

We grilled a local for the best food within a reasonable distance by taxi or rental car from LAX. Here's what she came up with.

The oldest Mexican joint in the South Bay

Pancho's Restaurant
3615 Highland Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 (map)

Pancho's is a South Bay landmark, and its margaritas are legendary. Try the Carnitas or go properly American Mexican with one of the combo plates. The sweet-toothed will love the bunuelo pastries for dessert.

It's got a Flash-based auto-playing music website (sorry), but here are the menus for brunch, lunch and dinner.

Steak, shrimp and Sinatra

The Buggy Whip
7420 La Tijera Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90045 (map)

Fancy a steak? The Buggy Whip is an old LA staple, with a Rat Pack piano player, lunch specials and lots of atmosphere. The shrimp plate comes highly recommended.

Here are lunch and dinner menus.

American modern grill and some shopping

Salt Creek Grille
2015 East Park Place (Plaza El Segundo mall)
El Segundo, CA 90245 (map)

This signature grill from chefs Tim McCune and Pete Truxaw is in a shopping centre, yes, but it's a good bet for American modern, with meat and fish cooked in an open kitchen. The pork chops come recommended by our local friend.

The website is in Flash, with auto-playing music -- but here are PDF menus for lunch, dinner and wine

Signature Californian fast-food burger chain

In-N-Out Burger
9149 South Sepulveda Boulevard
Westchester, CA 90045 (map)

It's not haute cuisine, but it's quintessentally Californian and a real trip.

In-N-Out is everywhere in the Golden State, and the nearest one to LAX is immediately north of the airport on Sepulveda. There's outdoor seating right next to the landing path for the airport, if watching planes land over your head is your thing.

There's even a secret menu. (Try the Animal Style fries.)

Your favourites

What's your top tip for a decent bite to eat near LAX? Share your insider tips with other AusBT readers in the comments below, or join the conversation with us on Twitter: @AusBT

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

22 Jul 2011

Total posts 1

If you happen to be transiting in the evening or if you have checked-out of a nearby hotel, check-out Champions Sports Bar at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott. It is a pretty a-typical sports bar with decent prices (especially for an hotel restaurant) and great food.

I normally travel through LA 3 - 4 times a year and it is always on my list especially when I am on my way back to Aus from the East Coast if I happen to get into LA early and have a couple of hours with my luggage checked through.



03 Jan 2011

Total posts 666

Nice, thanks for the rec! Last time I was through LA it was the final games of the World Series (baseball) I bet that'd have been awesome. Decent food in the bar? (By which I mean: wings by the bucket?)

I live in the city of El Segundo, which is directly south of LAX (I can hear the planes taking off as I write this). Following are three other eateries that will give you a taste of California-style cuisine. All are just minutes from LAX.

California Pizza Kitchen is the chain which made California-style pizza distinct to other regional US pizzas. Their most popular pizza is the BBQ Chicken pizza, but my personal favorite is the roasted artichoke & spinach pizza. They also have a number of tasty salads and pastas if you're not into pizza. There's a CPK in the Manhattan Village mall in Manhattan Beach. If you're traveling alone and want faster service, find a seat at the bar.
3280 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Bldg. 1 (map)
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

I like In-and-Out (I go there about once a week), but out-of-town visitors may be dismayed at the small size of their meat patties. For a really good, California-style burger, try The Counter. It's a quickly growing, upscale chain, with most locations in California. There's one is located in El Segundo in the same shopping center as the above mentioned Salt Creek Grille. This is a build-your-own burger place: After you're seated, you'll be given a clipboard where you'll mark your selections of meat, toppings, cheese, sauce, and bun. For side orders, get a fifty-fifty of onion strings and sweet potato fries. You will not go away hungry. If you want alcohol, beer and wine are available, which you cannot get at In-and-Out. If it's crowded (which it often is), I would recommend getting a set at the bar.
700-A Allied Way (map)
El Segundo CA 90245

If you'd like to try a few different California wines, check out The Crush Bistro & Wine Bar in El Segundo. Their 16-bottle automated wine bar allows you to sample a number of wines without having to buy a whole glass. They also have a trendy lunch menu and a tapas dinner menu. Local paper review.
403 Main Street (map)
El Segundo CA 90245

Oops, sorry about that. Somehow the formatting got all screwed up and ran those last three paragraphs together.

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