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It’s the classic LA car culture dilemma, the fridge is as empty as your car is caked with dirt, which do you tackle first- the car wash or the hunger pangs? When it comes to the intersection of car washes and cuisine you might think that the options are limited to cellophane wrapped pre-made sandwiches in a glass sliding door refrigerator or cracker packs with those red spreaders and peanut butter or super soft and salty “cheese.” Well, here are three places that don’t make you go hungry while your car gets its scrub on.

  1. 1 Lilian’s Bread and Sweets at Cruisers Car Wash


    When you walk through the doors of Cruisers Car Wash in Northridge the aroma of the area’s best pancit, tapsilog, and hopia fills the air. Yes, at Lilian’s Bread and Sweets you will find authentic Filipino cuisine inside a car wash. This unusual combination will give you all the motivation you need to keep your car clean all-year-round. 

    Once you step up to the lunch buffet, be prepared to become overwhelmed by the variety of options at Lilian’s. A daily turo-turo buffet featuring a mix of mainstays and a rotating selection of dishes such as ceviche, okoy, tinsilog, kaldereta, dilis, Bicol express, bistek Tagalog, and shanghai lumpia. What of Lilian’s eponymous cuisine- bread and sweets? Hopia, filled with ube (sweetened purple yam) or mongo (sweetened mung beans), or baboy (savory peanut and onion), Bibingkang Kalamay, espasol, and Filipino empanadas, baked not fried, filled with chicken or beef and carrots, potatoes and raisins. With summer coming, how about a sweet and chilly treat? Try their halo halo, a creamy and icy layered dessert with fruit, which nearly every Yelp review dubs the best in the Valley. Are you having a party? Run in for a quick carwash while you pick-up your catering order.

    With a following who has spread the word across LA and the Internet it’s no wonder that this hidden gem has gained some recognition.

    Lilian’s Bread and Sweets at Cruisers Car Wash located at:  
    8870 Tampa Ave
    Northridge, CA 91324

  2. 2 Fernando’s Taco Inn at Downtown Car Wash


    Fernando’s Taco Inn sits among high priced chain restaurants across the street from LA Live. Being located in a car wash has not limited the length of the menu at Fernando’s. You can choose from several Mexican classics; carne asada, tortas, chile relleno, enchiladas, gorditas, taquitos, burritos, nachos, tostadas, quesadillas, and of course, tacos. They even sell burgers and fries if you’re craving the car culture classic combo. The friendly service and salsa bar will keep you coming back every time you need a carwash in Downtown LA. Their salsa has a unique flavor with a hint of cinnamon among other fresh ingredients. 

    One Yelp reviewer, Hank W., describes the taco joint in such a way that is worth sharing:

    “Tacos and burritos at a car wash in the heart of LA? Seriously? Is this some kinda indie films set where innocent love is found, or some drug deal goes bad? Nope, it’s just Fernando’s Taco Inn- a Mexican taco shop that is literally tucked away in a car wash. I’ve been here countless times for lunch and even for breakfast. Fernando’s offers decent basic Mexican food (tacos, burritos) and is the only cheap eats in the LA Live area. It’s a popular destination for breakfast burritos in the morning and tacos/burritos for lunch they have a salsa bar that serves up green and red salsas, as well as other fixings, such as radish.”

    After you smash a few tacos head into the car wash hallway to try your luck at a claw game, get your shoes shined or visit with the creepy wo-mannequin who’s been waiting for her car for God knows how long.

    Fernando’s Taco Inn at Downtown Car Wash located at:
    815 W Olympic Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90015

  3. 3 Bill’s Drive-In at Florence Car Wash


    From the street you might just miss Bill’s Drive-In if you don’t spot the bright blue menu board. Well, that may be true if you are an out-of-towner or a recent transplant, because locals have been loyal customers since they were babies and now they’re bringing their own kids. 

    Bill’s Drive-In serves up a preformed patty done right on their seasoned flat top grill. Though the cheeseburgers, steak sandwiches and chili cheese fries seem to be the go-to faves for locals, ex-Angelenos, and Californians with a big enough craving to make the drive from the Moreno Valley the menu is bigger than you’d expect. Bill’s menu also includes more than burgers such as a fried chicken dinner, breakfast sandwiches and horchata, which is “scrumdiddlyumptious” according to a Yelp review by Marciela I. 

    Bill’s Drive-In at Florence Car Wash located at:
    1664 E Florence Ave
    Los Angeles, CA 90001

    We aren’t stopping with these three car washes, Los Angeles has numerous tasty spots inside and right next to car washes. Why shouldn’t you be able to enjoy some of your favorite food while getting your car washed? 

    Please leave your favorite car wash food spot in the comments so we can add them to the list.

    Here are a few we plan to visit real soon below:

    Crazy Falafel - 19336 Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 91356
    Outdoor Grill - 12630 1/2 Washington Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90066

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Brian McCullough
Brian McCullough has been eating for over three decades - with many of those years in and around LA. Having left SoCal for college, Brian brought back with him a love for grillin' and a desire to make up for all those meals he missed in LA. When he's not eating, he's searching for where his next meal is going to come from.

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