Top 5 must-try restaurants on Sawtelle Boulevard

by Gavin Meichelbock

Sawtelle Boulevard is a street packed, block to block, with some of the best poke, fried chicken and noodles Los Angeles has to offer. The street is so renowned that it is no longer a stranger to lists of must-try restaurants in LA from websites such as Eater LA, Discover Los Angeles and Time Out. Due to its reputation and proximity to campus, UCLA students have made Sawtelle their home away from Westwood when looking for a great meal. But with so many delicious options, it can be difficult to know where to start. So here are five restaurants students should visit the next time they eat at Sawtelle.

bb.q Chicken

Price: $15-$30

The name promises one thing, and boy does it deliver. Think about the best orange chicken from Panda Express and put it on steroids because that is how good bb.q Chicken is. Their Korean fried chicken wings and nuggets are perfectly breaded and expertly fried, giving the chicken a delicate yet crispy crunch. In fact, the crunch is so crispy that it doesn’t get soft even when drenched in one of bb.q Chicken’s delectable and wide variety of sauces: honey garlic, gochujang, sweet cheese, jerk sauce, etc. The highlight of them all is the spicy galbi sauce. Just the right amount of kick and a little bit of sweetness makes it the perfect sauce for a solid bite of chicken. bb.q Chicken is a fast-casual dining spot that is a great place for friends looking to share a meal.


Price $10-$15

Tucked away next to the towering Mizu 212, Anzu is the hidden gem of Sawtelle’s food scene. If the logo of a chicken in a fryer didn’t cue people in before, this restaurant is known for its karaage — tasty Japanese fried chicken nuggets made lightly breaded and subtly seasoned, dished out piping hot. Not only is the food fantastic, but the vibes are immaculate. The six-barstool outdoor seating, the one-window shack and the dope ’90s rap give Anzu a stellar laid-back feel. Another plus is actually the strangest detail about the restaurant. Despite the unique aesthetic and quality food, Anzu never has a long wait, compared to other Sawtelle restaurants which can have customers waiting over an hour just to be seated at a table. For some of the best chicken on the block, Anzu is a nugget worth everyone’s time, with little to no wait.

Black Sheep Burgers

Price $10-$20

Sawtelle is known for its Asian food, making this restaurant truly the black sheep on the street. Black Sheep Burgers features traditional-style burgers, such as the “Hickory Burger” with BBQ sauce, a “Brunch Burger” containing applewood bacon with a fried egg, and a chili burger known as the “King James.” At the same time, their menu experiments with new burger flavor combinations like California rolls, spicy tuna, peanut butter, jam, bananas and curry sauce — all uniquely blended into a beef patty. More surprisingly than their toppings is just how delicious these bizarre burgers taste. Anyone who does not think imitation crab or bananas belong on a burger shouldn’t knock it until they try it. Black Sheep Burgers is truly playing with fire by pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable on a hamburger, to which I say, let them cook!

Marugame Udon

Price: $5-$20

With all the ramen places in Sawtelle, udon is a delicious change of pace. Marugame Udon offers all the traditional broth and noodle flavors like Tonkotsu and Japanese Curry, but it all hits differently because of the noodles. The thickness of the udon noodles has such a great chew to it and provides a certain body to the dish. The tempura is also fantastic with a bunch of different options, from sweet potato to liquid squid to Tamagoyaki, as well as seasonal selections like pumpkin. In terms of bang for buck, Marugame Udon cannot be beat on Sawtelle. For $20, customers can buy a regular-size soup (trust me, you do not need the large) and a few pieces of delectable tempura. If people are seeking another incentive to check out Marugame Udon beyond the incredible food for an even better price, UCLA students can buy this filling meal with their BruinCard. For every college student living off ramen packets, try a different kind of noodle and dine at Marugame Udon.

Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles Annex

Price: $20-$30

Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles Annex has not only the best ramen on Sawtelle Boulevard but also some of the best in LA. People who go could wait an hour for this place, and it would be 100% worth it. Tsujita Annex has basically one thing on the menu: Chashu ramen, with the only deviation being how much pork you want — the answer is more. The pork is fall-apart-the-second-it-touches-the-spoon tender. The broth is so rich and flavorful; the only way to enhance that flavor is through the fattiness of the pork and the runny yolk from the soft-boiled egg. There is also a tub of garlic and chili crisps on the table, upgrading the ramen from a 10 out of 10 to a 12 out of 10. Tsujita Annex may be on the expensive end of the restaurant spectrum and customers might have to endure a long wait, but for the best bites on the block, it is worth the time and money every visit.

On a street filled with tough food competition, these five are all a must-try the next time you visit Sawtelle.

Featured Image: Marugame Udon, “Sawtelle Japantown, Los Angeles. Photo by Ali Eminov via Flickr

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