Back in the day, when the kids cried out for noodles, spaghetti hit their plates. Nowadays we use our noodle and eat it too: LA’s travel-savvy sprites choose from cuisines of many countries when a carb craving hits. And while they’re at it, they expand those tiny taste buds. With so many diverse ethnic neighborhoods, finding a noodle shop to fit your family’s fancy may take quite a while, so we’ve untangled a sampling to guide your citywide search that will help you cut to the chase.
Did you think it’s an Indian restaurant? This multi-ethnic fast casual eatery has family-friendly locations in Hollywood and Santa Monica with filling combos of noodles; what it lacks in authenticity is makes up in flavors. The ramen soups are meals in a bowl, big enough for your brood to share. Or kiddos can pick a pared-down portion of udon or chow mein from their own menu.
7475 Beverly Blvd (at Gardner)
Open: Mon-Sat Noon- 10:00 pm (Fri & Sat until 10:30 pm), Sun 4:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Santa Monica, 90401
Open: Daily 11:30 am-10:00 pm (Fri & Sat until 11:00 pm)
Good Girl Dinette
This hipster-approved diner in Highland Park serves Vietnamese comfort food. Pho (rice noodle soup) choices include Grandma’s with poached chicken breast, which soothes even the tiniest tummy troubles, and vegetarian for the meat-phobic among your ranks. There’s a little something for everyone, even ‘pint size pho’ and ‘small fry’ that big kids can enjoy too. For a new twist on an old treat, maple coconut bread pudding will make mini mouths water. Fan of riding the rails: take the Gold Line to the Highland Park station and it’s a quick 2 block walk.
Maybe the closest thing to Toyko this side of the 405, Mitsuwa’s Japanese food court offers two noodle shops – Santouka serves ramen and Sanuki Sandou has udon and soba – each with handy dandy lifelike displays to help you decifer the menu. Kidlettes press their noses to the glass to see delicious descriptions alongside each tantalizing bowl. Beware of – or rejoice in – the Hello Kitty accessories at an adjacent storefront while awaiting your number to be called. For a sweet finish, kids rave about the green tea Danish or yuzu crème roll from Hamada-ya Bakery across from the seating area. Be sure to bring cash, as the food vendors don’t take plastic.
3760 S. Centinela Ave
Mar Vista, 90066
Open: Daily 11:00 am – 8:30 pm
21515 So. Western Ave.
Open: Daily 11:00 am – 7:30 pm
A one-stop noodle shop for the pan-Asian palette, Noodle Star in Sherman Oaks is easily accessible from all Valley freeways. Here your progeny can throw out ideas and see what sticks, as ramen, Pad Thai, chow mein, udon and pho all coexist on this expansive menu. Check in at Yelp before dining for an instant discount. And they’re open until 11:00 pm, offering easy takeout after an all too rare late movie night at the nearby ArcLight (order online on the short drive over to save precious babysitter time).
4457 Van Nuys Blvd
Sherman Oaks, 91403
Open: Daily 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Pho Show makes it super-duper simple to pick the perfect combo, with a stress-free menu of flavors ranging from traditional fish to bolder brisket. They also offer plain vermicelli for the less adventurous, as well as pan-fried egg noodles for those craving a sweeter savory. What a soothing warmup after afternoon skated at the nearby Culver Ice Arena. And if you’re too busy or too tired to drag the crew out in the SUV, order online and the Show will come to you – until 10:00 pm! (If you’re within 3 miles of their Culver City spot.)
4349 Sepulveda Blvd
Culver City, 90230
1617 So. PCH, Suite 101
Redondo Beach, 90277
Both locations open: Lunch daily 11:00 am -3:00 pm, dinner 5:00 pmMmidnight, until 2:00 am in Culver City (Sun until 10:00 pm)
This popular Brentwood eatery was one of the first to bring udon and soba to the Westside. Sip a kiddie cocktail while chowing down on a bowl of steaming soup, in your own private dining alcove. The fresh sushi is also worth a try so no tummy goes home hungry. A great standby choice for takeout and delivery too.
Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles
Tsukemen is the Japanese word for ‘dipping noodle.’ And what youngster doesn’t love to dip? Queue up by 11:00 am for lunch at this tiny outpost (which originated in Japan) in the heart of WLA’s Little Osaka neighborhood – for once you’ll be grateful that little ones like to eat on the early side. The salty Tonkatsu ramen (flavored with pork) is thick and filling, as pint-sized pasta lovers prefer. Skip dinner here until they can drive themselves – the crowded, compact space is better during daytime hours with kids. A refreshing bonus: there are at least two shaved ice outposts within walking distance.
2057 Sawtelle Blvd (at Mississippi)
West LA, 90025
Open: Daily 11:00am – 2:00pm
Where do you get your noodles? Have we missed any outstanding tot faves?
— Kim Orchen Cooper
Photos courtesy of Kim Orchen Cooper, mitikusa via Creative Commons, sandburchick via Creative Commons & Bon Eats via flickr.