Deep in L.A.’s Santa Monica Mountains, Topanga is a canyon of contrasts. The art-filled Great Wall of Topanga and pirate-themed facade at Hidden Treasures Vintage are vivid reminders of the area’s bohemian history. At the same time, yellow Lamborghinis and amped-up Harley Davidsons flaunt modern luxury. In summer, this winding, dramatic corridor that connects the Valley with the beaches comes alive as a vibrant spot to people-watch and grab a bite to eat. From inventive pizzas to much-ballyhooed tacos, here are our favorite places to make a pit stop.
Claire Denis has run this multi-faceted cafe with a shaded patio and bustling coffee and tea bar for 17 years. The business doubles as a gift shop selling Topanga Canyon books, T-shirts and mugs, plus aprons Claire’s mom makes in France. Mimosa bun is their signature breakfast item: an open-faced sandwich slathered with kale pesto and topped with Swiss cheese, tomato, avocado and omelet. They also make atypical drinks like frothy rosewater spice chai. As Claire puts it, “Try things you can’t get everywhere else. It’s more fun.”
395 S. Topanga Canyon Blvd., cafemimosatopanga.com
Cafe on 27 Terrace
Cafe on 27
Locals are thrilled that this bucolic restaurant, which debuted in 2019, survived the pandemic. Topanga-roasted Abalona Coffee beans are brewed at a tree-slab bar, but most action takes place on shaded, plant-lined patios overlooking the canyon. Chef Rohan Jain serves California comfort food early in the day, including a deluxe breakfast sandwich featuring eggs, three cheeses, bacon or sausage patty and aioli on a toasted English muffin. Dinner service is more ambitious and global, touting entrees like pepper steak and lamb chops, plus Indian chef specials.
1861 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., cafe-27.com
Caprese Toast at Cafe on 27
Canyon Bistro & Wine Bar
Larry Cohn owns this eclectic Cal-French bistro and wine bar in Pine Tree Circle shopping plaza. A covered patio with a trickling fountain and flower-topped sills helps to frame the space, creating what feels like an escape; you’ll forget you are in a strip mall. The menu changes seasonally, but order pan-fried crab cakes with grilled asparagus and horseradish aioli when available. Salads and sandwiches at lunch give way to steaks and pasta dishes at dinner.
120 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., canyonbistrotopanga.com
Above: A few of the vibrant dishes at Endless Color
An erupting volcano that spells “pizza” with magma greets visitors to Endless Color. A light-strung patio with pastel tables and upside-down-cactus light fixtures festoon a space that—in typical Topanga style—also houses a wine shop, record store and coffee bar. Crispy, thin-crust pizzas include the distinctive Young Italian Stallion, topped with mozzarella, artichoke hearts, thin-shaved pork loin, fontina cheese, tomato confit, black olives and basil. Seasonal salads served from the refrigerated counter display beside the register might include black lime yogurt cabbage slaw or roasted brussels sprouts with blood orange and burnt-honey harissa dressing.
123 S. Topanga Canyon Blvd., endlesscolortopanga.com
Tacos with black beans, rice, onions, guacamole and hot peppers from La Chingona Tacos
La Chingona Tacos
Tacos bring people together—in the most visceral and earthy of ways. Guatemala native and la chingona (“badass woman”) Adriana Lemus moved to Topanga in 1999 and has been feeding locals three nights a week in a real estate office parking lot. It’s quite an alfresco dining scene, with people dancing to live music and eating from tables draped with colorful cloths. Lines form in front of vivid pop-up tents, where her team presses and tops thick handmade corn tortillas with rice, beans, and a choice of gluten- and dairy-free fillings like shredded tilapia, shrimp and stewed hibiscus flowers.
137 S. Topanga Canyon Blvd., on Instagram @lachingonatacos
Malibu native Alla Rockwell parks her seasonal food truck on a PCH bridge overlooking Topanga Lagoon and Topanga Beach’s surfer-filled waves near the foot of Topanga Canyon Boulevard. Rockwell Kitchen sports a palm tree mural and epitomizes the SoCal lifestyle. Her food, including tuna burgers, lobster BLTs and shrimp scampi, appeals to more than just surfers—witness the lines that form around noon. She named J’s Burrito for a good friend, combining scrambled eggs, Dominican-style beans, rice, avocado and bacon in a griddled flour tortilla. The chef also serves cascading nitro cold brew for added fuel.
18741 Pacific Coast Hwy., rockwellkitchen.net
Topanga Living Café
Topanga Living Cafe has come a long way since the space housed a rough bar known locally as the “Stop and Fight.” Bali-born Bayu Suryawan and sister Augustina Ferguson took over the space, which at first was just a market. They then expanded to eat-in dining, creating an environment that looks like a design magazine spread and has become something of a magnet for models and influencers. A covered patio transitions to a space with tile counter, pastel pink espresso machine and geometric mirrors and shelves. The food is nearly as fashionable, including falafel salad served atop bright-purple beet hummus. Creative smoothies make for refreshing post-hike treats. An invigorating Green Leaf smoothie blends herbs, pineapple, lemon juice, coconut water and spirulina.
1704 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., topangalivingcafe.com
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