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Six Soups To Seek Out When You’re Sick In L.A.

From in Southeast L.A. to tom yum descended from local Thai food royalty, here's your prescription for soul-satisfying broths, soups, and stews throughout L.A.

4:14 PM PST on January 9, 2024

These are the six best soups in L.A. for fighting whatever… hack, hack,  cough… ails you. Yes, we’ve got it, too.

In September, an FDA advisory panel suddenly “discovered” that phenylephrine, an ingredient central to many cold medications for nearly 100 years, doesn’t really work as promised. Doh. 

But over here, we’re confident that a lunch date with a big ol’ bowl of menudo blanco, star anise-steeped pho, or a savory Sinaloan manta ray soup will do you much better than a Tylenol Cold & Flu.

Here’s where you’ll find them.

Photo via Tacos Baja.

Tacos Baja’s Cahuamanta

Once upon a time, you’d visit one of Tacos Baja’s three locations on Whittier Boulevard and enjoy the fish tacos or cocteles. And all became right with the world. But that was before the wheezing, the red nose, and strange orange stuff that we will stop talking about in this tantalizing food story. We’re sending you back to look past the tacos to the seafood-teeming caldos (broths) menu for your combined assault of lean protein and restorative liquid panacea. Specifically, we suggest diving into its red-toned Sonoran-style Cahuamanta, made with skate and vegetables. It is meant to replicate the old world’s sea turtle (caguama) soups that are now very much frowned upon by our endangered modern world. Or the simple, no less restorative “Bichi Manta,” a simpler broth steeped in manta ray, named from the Yaqui word for “naked.”

5385 Whittier Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90022. Closest transit lines and stop: Metro Bus Lines 18 and 260 or Montebello Bus Lines Route 10 - “Whittier/Atlantic.”

16032 Whittier Blvd. Whittier, CA 90603. Closest transit lines and stop: Foothill Transit Line 285 - “Whittier/1st” or Metro Bus Line 120 - "Whittier/Santa Gertrudes."

13320 Whittier Blvd. Whittier, CA 90602. Closest transit lines and stop: Montebello Bus Lines Routes 10 and 50 - “Whittier/Painter.”

Photo via Pho Filet #2/IG.

Pho Filet #2’s Pho Dac Biet

We are willing to claim the balanced, aromatic broth of Pho Filet 2’s house-special pho as one of the best in the San Gabriel Valley. We've tried over a dozen in the area. And this one still holds it down. You can have your pho with freshly handmade rice noodles as opposed to the dried stuff, and their generous use of shaved filet mignon for their rare beef makes all the difference. We also find ourselves back here because they also make a very reliable bahn xeo (Vietnamese-style crepe) with consistently crispy edges, filled with caramelized sliced pork, shrimp, and blanched bean sprouts. It's hard to find a noodle shop that makes both an excellent crepe and a damn fine bowl of pho, and this one's it. Wash it down with a durian shake—with overripe mango and green garlic undertones—and your COVID, RSV, or whatever won't know what hit it.

2643 San Gabriel Blvd. Rosemead, CA 91770. Closest transit lines and stop: Metro Bus Line 70 or Montebello Bus Lines Route 20 - “Garvey/San Gabriel.”

Photo via El Sinaloense.

El Sinaloense’s Menudo Sinaloense Blanco

Menudo has cured hangovers worse than your current sinus issues in its time. Menudo blanco, which comes from Mexico’s northwestern Pacific coastal states of Sinaloa, Nayarit, and Jalisco, is a clearer form of the beef tripe and cow foot elixir with nourishing kernels of maíz, garlic, and cilantro. The cleaner broth comes from skipping the step where various chiles are simmered in traditional menudo, leaving a blank canvas still ripe for ladling in as much heat as you need to liberate your jammed septum. It's also a flex to show how well you can clean and cook beef stomach. Think of it like the Culichi version of pho to whatever the Culichi version of bun bo hue happens to be. Maybe. Or maybe don’t. What is indisputable is that you can find it at El Sinaloense’s two addresses in Huntington Park and the restaurant in Paramount.

7601 State St. Huntington Park, CA 90255. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 251 - “State/Live Oak” or Bus Line 111 - "Florence/State."

7915 Seville Ave. Huntington Park, CA 90255. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 102, 251, and 611 - “Seville/Broadway” or Bus Line 60 - "Pacific/Broadway."

15503 Paramount Blvd. Paramount, CA 90723. Closest transit lines and stop: Metro Bus Line 265 or Long Beach Transit Line 23 - “Paramount/Jefferson”, Metro Bus Lines 128 and 258 - "Alondra/Paramount" or Metro Bus Line 127 - "Somerset/Paramount."

Santa Cecilia’s Cocido

If you’re feeling weak and your head is throbbing like the insides of a Daft Punk helmet, mid-show, go ahead and have a steamy weekend affair with Santa Cecilia’s daily-made cocido (beef stew). It’s simple, it’s rich, it’s beefy, and will leave you better than you found it. The best part is that each bowl comes with a pile of handmade corn tortillas. It's al the things you’re looking for in a lunchtime liaison. It even comes with rice. They also have a chicken broth for the faithful.

1707 Pleasant Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90033. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro E Line or Bus Line 106 - “Mariachi Plaza Station.”

Photo via Spicy Sugar.

Spicy Sugar’s Tom Yum

Sugar Sungkamee, the daughter of late Jitlada chef-mastermind Tui Sungkamee, took everything her family showed her to open two locations of her justly named Thai restaurant, Spicy Sugar, where every dish is made to order with maximal freshness, with customizable heat and a special menu for homesick Thai Angelenos. Nothing served here won’t make you feel like your soul and physical form have just been raised from a lesser state. Still, as your soup doctors, we’re prescribing the zesty, creamy tom yum with Gulf shrimp, mushrooms, lemongrass, and cilantro root to strike at that cold like a cobra. And we can assure you were not in the pockets of Big Lemongrass. The shaved beef version is great, too, as is the one with fried tofu. If you're a big baller, the one with scallops ($5 extra) is worth the upgrade, arriving with a handful of medium-to-large scallops that absorb the aromatics and remain buttery despite ordering it for takeout.

1538 E. Broadway Long Beach, CA 90802. Closest transit lines and stop: Long Beach Transit Lines 111 and 112 - “Broadway/Gaviota” or Long Beach Transit Lines 21, 22, 23, and 121 - "Ocean/Gaviota."

1271 S. La Brea Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90019. Closest transit lines and stop: Metro Bus Line 212 - “La Brea/San Vicente” or Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Line 7 - "Pico/La Brea."

Photo via Jinya.

Jinya’s Creamy Spicy Vegan Ramen

You’ve made all kinds of crazy promises in the new year about what will go into your body. And now you’re sick and questioning everything, including whether you still retain the prehensile strength to grab your car keys and find something to eat. With six locations spread across L.A., Jinya Ramen Bar is fairly accessible. It is a disposition that extends to its menu, which will accommodate you with a 20-hour ramen broth, whether you are carnivorous or plant-based. New ramen recipes made specifically for cozy winter feels include a creamy bowl of spicy vegan ramen scattered with soft tofu, spinach, garlic, and chile oils, and thick noodles, all things we would use as medicine if we were, say, Neanderthal witch doctors with no knowledge of the words C.V., or S. There’s also a new black tonkotsu ramen with thin noodles that are similarly gassed up with chashu in a pork broth, plus seaweed, garlic, and a marinated egg, which has us feeling better already from simply writing their names.

Multiple locations

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