There are so many fantastic hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Southern California that it’s impossible to create a complete list of eateries that are considered unexpected hidden gems. Here’s a nice sample of spots that you simply shouldn’t miss. From a classic deli to an old-time saloon and an incredibly authentic Mexican joint, there’s something for everyone in this restaurant mix.
1. Pappy and Harriet's -- Pioneer Town
The 4-mile scenic drive to Pioneer Town is quite the unexpected experience in and of itself. And once you get there, Pappy's saloon-style restaurant is the cherry on top.
2. Cholada Thai Cuisine -- Malibu
On the outside Thai Cholada doesn't look like anything special, but once you bite into the food you will be blown away and may never want to go anywhere else for Pad Thai.
3. San Diego Chicken Pie Shop
This no-nonsense restaurant is the real deal when it comes to the diner scene. The Chicken Pie Shop serves up classic comfort food like Pot Pie, Macaroni and Cheese, and Mashed Potatoes all warm and buttery like Granny used to make. Go hungry because the portions are ginormous.
4. The Stand Natural Foods -- Laguna Beach
For something a little less artery clogging, The Stand Natural Foods is the perfect fit as its menu is 100% Vegan. Get in line early though, as this hole-in-the-wall is tops on everyone's list.
5. Ruby's Sandwich Saloon -- Costa Mesa.
Ruby's has been a hidden gem for 40 years. Great sandwiches and sides in an old wood-paneled deli that reminds you of the kind of place Granddad took you as a little kid.
6. Samosa House - Los Angeles
Not only will you find a restaurant here featuring tasty Indian cuisine, but hiding inside Samosa House West (their original location) is one of the largest ethnic grocery stores ever. This is a total find!
7. Roscoes House of Chicken and Waffles -- Los Angeles
Chicken and waffles on the same plate! Need I say more?
8. Village Cheese and Wine Store -- Santa Barbara
The locals love this little sandwich and wine shop. It's the perfect spot to grab a to-go picnic for an afternoon lunch in the sun.
9. El Gallito -- Cathedral City
I'm a sucker for good Mexican food and this authentic eatery in the Coachella Valley doesn't disappoint. This place is always packed every day of the week so be prepared for a wait that's well worth it. And it's cash only so don't forget to pack some fivers in your pocket.
10. City Tacos -- San Diego
It may be a hole in the wall, but it's definitely no secret around here that City Tacos is everyone's go-to taco spot in the hip and funky San Diego neighborhood of North Park. Show up any time of day and the line gets pretty long, especially on Taco Tuesday when they serve up craft tacos for only three bucks.
I don’t know about you, but all of these great spots are making me hungry. What other places would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments some of your favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants in your neck of the woods.