Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


Grown-Up Versions Of Junk Food We Love

Support your source for local news!
Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

Just because you're all grown up doesn't mean you can't enjoy some good ol' fashioned junk food from time to time. Thankfully, some of the city's best chefs have improved upon the classics, using quality ingredients to deliver that same crave-worthy dose of deliciousness. Here are some of our favorites.

Photo courtesy of Top Round on Facebook
Arby's Roast Beef Sandwiches at Top Round

The sammies at the retro-inspired Top Round on Olympic and La Brea are prepared with choice roast beef, slow roasted over 10 hours. The classic beef and cheese comes on a butter-toasted onion kaiser roll with a generous shake of seasoning, homemade cheese whiz, Top Round sauce. Don't forget to grab a "concrete" shake on the side. The thick shake will make a Frosty look like child's play.

Support for LAist comes from

Top Round is located at 1000 S. La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, (323) 549-9559

McDonald's Apple Pies at Greenspan's Grilled Cheese

The throwback apple pie on chef Eric Greenspan's dessert menu is a throwback to the days when McDonald's used to deep fry their handheld pies. They've since been discontinued on most of the franchise's menus save for a select few locations, but Greenspan has a black market connection to the supplier who makes those old school American treats. He deep fries them and tops them with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream or with a slice of American cheese or—if you're feeling particularly daring—both.

Greenspan's Grilled Cheese is located at 7461 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, (323) 591-0177

Oreos at La Brea Bakery

It's hard to beat the original Oreo cookie, but Nancy Silverton's La Brea bakery has been breaking out these fantastic knock-offs for some time now. The advantage to buying them there is that you aren't tempted to eat the entire package late at night. Silverton admits that Oreos are one of her favorite junk foods. Her version is made by sandwiching a frosting made from vanilla, shortening, sugar and butter in between two freshly baked chocolate wafers. As with the OG, a milk for dunking is a must.

La Brea Bakery is located at 468 S. La Brea Ave. , Los Angeles, (323) 939-6813

Photo courtesy of Fritzi Dog on Facebook
Hot Dog on a Stick at Fritzi Dog

Growing up, a trip to the Sherman Oaks Galleria was hardly complete without a trip to Hot Dog on a Stick for a fresh lemonade, corn dog, and gander at the ridiculously endearing uniforms. Thankfully Neal Fraser doesn't make his employees rock silly hats at his stand at the Original Farmers Market stand. He's also opted for more eco-friendly ingredients, using humanely-raised meats without all the junk. For $5, you can dip any of their dogs in batter. Our personal favorite is the 100% piggy dog, called the Porker, but you can also get a vegan version called the Carrot, which is sous vide and grilled with all sorts of Arabic spices to give it flavor.

Support for LAist comes from

Fritzi Dog is located at 6333 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, (323) 936-9436

Cheesy Tater Tots at Umami

The off-menu cheesy tater tots are definitely worth splurging on at Umami. Though it's hard to beat the original you enjoyed as a kid, this more rustic version—fried balls of hash brows flecked with parmesan cheese strips and a gooey cheesy center—certainly satisfies. The arancini-esque tots go great with the Manly Burger topped with beer-cheddar cheese, smoked salt-onion strings, and bacon lardons.

Umami has several locations throughout Los Angeles. You can check their site for more details.

Photo courtesy of Baco Mercat on Facebook
Chalupas at Baco Mercat

Chef Josef Centeno might hate the fact that we're comparing his signature flatbread sandwich to drive thru Mexican food, but to us it's a compliment; we loved those soft shells stuffed with all the fixins back in high school. His dishes use much better ingredients and flavor profiles of course. The original bäco at Lot 1 was the crispy pork belly and beef carnitas with caraway pepper. It gained so much popularity that he opened an entire restaurant dedicated to the handheld treats in Downtown. Now he uses everything from beef to seafood and vegetables as fillings, and there's a stellar bar to boot. Take that, Taco Bell.

Baco Mercat is located at 408 S Main St, Los Angeles, (213) 687-8808

Ho-Hos and Pop Tarts at Nickel Diner

Nickel Diner became poplar for their bacon maple donuts long before bacon everything became a trend, so it's easy to overlook some of their other pastries. But you shouldn't, because chef Monica May's ho-hos and Pop-Tarts are to die for. Other places like C+ M and Joans on Third make fresh versions of the latter as well, but hers are our favorites. They are made with strawberry filling and a traditional glaze just like they came out of the toaster back in the day, but with better pastry dough and interior texture. Sometimes its worth it to reinvent the wheel.

Nickel Diner is located at 524 S Main St, Los Angeles, (213) 623-8301

Most Read