Looking for wonderful places to eat in Monrovia, California? These restaurants in Old Town Monrovia and beyond serve some delicious eats.
Monrovia is a charming city in California’s foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Affectionately we call it Mayberry for its small-town feel.
It’s a great city to spend a day in Los Angeles and escape the hustle and bustle of DTLA. The historic old town area is a great place to stroll and shop, and there are plenty of places to eat in Monrovia.
As locals in the neighboring city of Pasadena, we frequently visit Monrovia for its Friday night street fair, great restaurants, and all the other things to do in the area. Once upon a time, we had close family that lived in Monrovia, so we have gotten to know the city pretty well.
One of the things we love to do in Monrovia is eat! There are some great places to eat in Monrovia, CA. Unlike Old Pasadena, which gets crowded on the weekends, parking can be chaotic – sorry, Pasadena, but we still love you! Monrovia is much more relaxed.
We also love visiting these small businesses in Monrovia because the owners often work in the restaurant and are always so friendly.
So, if you’re looking for places to eat in Monrovia, we have you covered. This article shares our favorite restaurants in Old Town Monrovia and beyond, serving some of the best food.
From a charming wine bar to amazing brunch spots and delicious fried chicken, there is a tasty itinerary for everyone on this list.
What are your favorite places to eat in Monrovia?
Places to Eat in Monrovia
1. The Diplomat
Right off Myrtle Ave on E Lemon Ave, you’ll find The Diplomat.
Just passing by The Diplomat with its prohibition theme, you wouldn’t know that they serve some of the best Mediterranean food in town. We are talking hummus, grape leaves, kebobs, falafel,s and more. It’s difficult not to want to return to eating here every time we are in Monrovia.
Our favorite appetizer is their hummus topped with slices of filet beef. Not something you normally see hummus topped with, but it works and is amazing. The beef is tender, and the hummus is flavorful and creamy. Just dip your pita bread and enjoy.
We usually get lamb chops for our main dish, one of their most popular entrees. They are grilled perfectly at a medium rare and very well marinated. We can’t help but finish them by munching on the bones to ensure we get all that flavor.
The Diplomat also has a beautiful full bar. They serve an excellent old-fashioned.
The chic but rustic casual ambiance with its dim lighting and wood decor. And, in our experience, the service has always been wonderful.
One of the best restaurants in Monrovia.
2. The Saltner Wine & Cicchetti
Does Monrovia have a wine bar? YES. The Saltner is one of those hidden gems and restaurants in Old Town Monrovia.
We came upon The Saltner one day; it is one of the best discoveries we’ve made in Monrovia. The Saltner is a wine bar serving some of the best wines with small amazing dishes. And it’s right in the heart of Old Town Monrovia, off Myrtle Ave on E Colorado Blvd.
The Saltner has an impressive wine list with many different types of wines from all around the world.
And, if you’re not sure what you want, no problem! The knowledgeable staff is always happy to help you pick out a wine. They helped me pick out an amazing glass of Chianti that I still think about today, and I should have written it down.
We love their menu full of Cicchetti, which are essentially small plates. While the menu may change by season, we enjoyed and shared several dishes like a charcuterie board, the Tuscan beef stew, fettuccine alfredo, and meatballs when we were last there. Every single dish was superb.
The vibe is quaint and intimate. The perfect place for a date night or get-together with friends. You can also come in and sit at their beautiful bar and order a flight of wine. You can also not have wine and go there for the food alone.
The service and staff are so friendly. The owner and chef visited our table to discuss their passion for wine and food. The chef even recommended a couple of other places she loves in Monrovia.
Weekends can get busy. Try to make reservations or go early to see if you can snag one of their few available tables as we did.
We hear that Sunday brunch is a must!
3. Lord Empanada
We’ve had Lord Empanada on our list of places to check out in Monrovia for quite a while. Not sure why we waited as we LOVE empanadas and usually can’t resist trying a new spot serving them. The truth is we were holding off being disappointed as we do take our empanadas seriously.
Until recently, we watched this Monrovia spot featured on Yelp and across social media, and we had to find out for ourselves. Is this family-owned establishment serving some of the best empanadas in Los Angeles?
Wow. Wow. Wow. Yes. They. Are.
We ordered a variety of empanadas from their menu. Each one of them was as delicious as the next. They fry them to order. They come out piping hot. You get to bite into the perfectly flakey crust with a good bite to them, and then you get to the filling… home run.
We loved all the fillings, but our faves from what we ordered were the spinach & cheese, birria, pizza, and chicken. That chimichurri they serve on the side with them is off the hook.
After finishing our empanadas, we couldn’t leave without dessert. So we ordered a cheesecake empanada and apple pie empanadas. The dessert empanadas come out hot and covered in cinnamon sugar.
The cheesecake empanada was unexpected but creamy and delicious. The apple pie one empanada served with a small side of dulce de leche was outstanding, and it sort of reminded us of an McD’s apple pie on steroids.
Already can’t wait to return for more.
Lord Empanadas has other menu items like porchetta and trip-tip sandwiches we did not try.
Seating inside is limited. So is the parking, but more parking is available across the street.
4. Cafe de Olla
If you’re looking for a delicious brunch spot in Monrovia, that would be Cafe de Olla. Cafe de Olla is one of the newest cafes on Myrtle Ave in Old Town Monrovia. It is the second restaurant for Cafe de Olla; the original is in Burbank. They’re known for their traditional Mexican coffee, café de olla, and Mexican breakfast dishes.
Start your meal with a traditional café de olla. You can get it hot or iced.
What is Cafe de Olla? It’s a Mexican coffee that is brewed and prepared in a clay pot with cinnamon, whole cane sugar, and spices. It is sort of sweet. And you have to like cinnamon to enjoy it.
You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but we love their chilaquiles divorciada (rojos & verde), chorizo con huevos, and waffles, specifically their churro waffle. Their servings are big. If you’re going there with a friend or partner, we suggest ordering a savory and sweet option and splitting it so you get the best of both worlds.
They do have other classic breakfasts that you can choose from as well.
You can also stop by their cafe and bakery for coffee and pan dulce.
Cafe de Olla is only open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. It’s usually busy, so get there early to add your name to the list.
5. Merengue Bakery & Cafe
Merengue is one of our favorite Cuban cafes and bakeries, and it’s on Myrtle Avenue. Here you’ll find popular Cuban flavors like cafe con leche, Cuban sandwiches, empanadas, papas rellenas, and well-known pastries like pastelitos de guayaba.
It’s a small cafe with limited seating inside and outside. You order at the counter, then find a seat to enjoy your treats.
Their Cuban coffee is excellent and pairs well with a pestelito de guayaba (guava pastry) or toasted Cuban bread with butter for breakfast. They have a whole section of cakes and pastries that are hard to resist.
Lunch is available, and we recommend their Cuban sandwiches. However, our favorite is the Milanese sandwich. All their sandwiches are served with homemade fried plantain chips, which are amazing.
On the side, get a papa rellena stuffed with cheese or beef. Sometimes we grab one with a cafe con leche as a snack.
This is a popular spot in Monrovia, so you’ll find that lines will go out the door at certain hours of the day. Many are there for the bakery alone as they prepare beautiful and delicious cakes for every occasion.
6. Viet Phomula
For Pho in Monrovia, the Viet Phomula on Lemon Ave is a delicious Vietnamese restaurant in Old Town Monrovia.
This small casual spot is perfect for a quick lunch or dinner run. Their menu includes spring rolls, banh mi sandwiches, and pho.
While we have not tried their banh mi sandwiches yet, we were surprised by how good their pho is. We ordered Viet Phomula Superbowl, a whole beef short rib, beef balls, brisket, and other toppings.
The beef short rib was fall-off-the-bone tender, and the brisket was thinly sliced and cooked perfectly. The broth was flavorful and soothing. Overall, a great bowl of pho.
Viet Phomula | 113 E Lemon Ave, Monrovia | Google Map It
7. Nano’s Cafe
Nano’s Cafe is a cozy little family-run cafe on the corner of Mayflower and Duarte Road. It’s a local favorite for breakfast and brunch on the weekends in Monrovia.
They have an all-day breakfast menu with pancakes, omelets, scrambles, and other specialties like Egg Florentine and a country skillet. They also have a lunch menu with sandwiches, salads, and burgers.
One of our favorite things to eat at Nano’s is their Cinnamon Roll French Toast, which we always get as a side to share with the rest of our breakfast. When we were last there, we got different scrambles to go along with it and, as always, fresh and perfectly prepared.
If you can get a side of fruit, do so, as it’s always a beautiful and fresh mix of seasonal fruits.
What makes Nano’s Cafe special, aside from its solid breakfast, is the warm and family-friendly environment. It’s great for groups, family breakfasts, and brunch – we have had our share of brunches here with family. The servers are kind and great with kids.
Nano’s Cafe is open every day from early morning to mid-afternoon. We suggest you get there early on weekends for breakfast. They also have another location in Sierra Madre.
8. K-Chicken & Beer
Strolling down Myrtle late one night after visiting the fair, we almost bump into a woman coming out of K-chicken & beer. After apologizing, I looked up at the K-Chicken & Beer sign, turned to hubby, and said, “We have to try this place.” With leftovers in hand, the woman licks her lips and says, “It’s so good! You have to try it.”
So we did. If you want delicious Korean fried chicken in Monrovia, come to K-Chicken & Beer.
One of the ultimate comfort foods is fried chicken, and Korean Fried chicken is some of the best as it’s double fried and perfectly crisp with a very thick coating of batter on the chicken. Then it’s covered in scrumptious seasonings and flavors of your choice.
You can get finger-licking chicken with sinful sides like bulgogi fries, Korean fried rice, and even Korean-style pizza at this casual bar and grill. Pair that with a beer and some friends, and maybe watch a sports game on their TVs for a fun and amazing dinner in Monrovia.
You can order a whole chicken, chicken wings, drumsticks, and even boneless chicken. We normally order the large 18-piece chicken that allows us to get up to two flavors because we normally like the opposite type of seasons. Give me some spice. Give hubby some sweetness.
There are many flavors of chicken, and you may have a hard time choosing cause they all sound good. We chose the K-sweet & spicy and soy garlic. The chicken wings were perfectly cooked with a crispy batter and came hot like they just came out of the fryer.
We also ordered the popular bulgogi fries with a fried egg on top. This is a combination of sweet and savory, but mostly sweet. So if you’re eating this with Korean fried chicken, you may want to combine it with a more savory seasoning to balance out the sweetness. Other than that, we loved the fries, but it is a meal or perfect for sharing with the table.
This is definitely a place you’ll want to bring your appetite to.
9. J B Burgers
J B Burgers is a popular old-school burger joint and one of the Old Town Monrovia restaurants that have been part of the community since 1973. You’ll find classic burgers, chili cheese fries, hot dogs, pastrami sandwiches, and Mexican-style plates. Breakfast items are also available. But they are mostly known for their burgers and breakfast burritos.
Locals flock to J B Burgers to get their fix. You almost always will find a line, but the service is fast. There is indoor and outdoor seating. Expect a casual vibe.
This is one of the spots we visit this spot when we want a greasy and delicious burger. The double cheeseburger is a favorite. As you know, we think California has some of the best burger joints.
J B Burgers | 627 S Myrtle Ave, Monrovia | Google Map It
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Monrovia has many places to eat, but these restaurants are some of the favorites that we frequent and want to share with you. All the restaurants featured serve delicious food, whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
We hope you enjoy trying out some of these places the next time you’re in Monrovia.
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Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she's become a pro at crafting unforgettable tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.