Kid Hit Menu Items: Spring rolls and eggy Vietnamese crepes, especially with tofu and mushrooms, generally tend to work best for our toddler in Vietnamese restaurants, along with perhaps a small side serving of pho. For the latter, Xoia makes beef, chicken, and vegetarian options. Although when dealing with kids who are completely and utterly veg-phobic, Vietnamese food can present some challenges since some green or fresh component is included in almost everything. (Which is a big reason why this cuisine always appeals to me!)
Adult Perks: The pho beef tacos garnered attention when Xoia first opened; it’s a fusion that captures the groovy cross-cultural Echo Park vibe, and reflects the heritages of the couple who owns the restaurant. There’s also a lemongrass carnitas banh mi. Green papaya and Vietnamese chicken salads fulfill the fresh food categories, so the healthy options are plenty. No booze, but mint limeade soda quenches thirsts belonging to all ages, and Xoia serves Vietnamese iced coffee which tends to be turbocharged, should you need that boost.
Pros: Xoia’s lightweight aluminum chairs, polished concrete floors, stark and simple white and red décor, and the outdoor recessed covered patio make it highly suitable to family meals out. The owners have two small children, too.
Cons: Cash only. Not a ton of parking. (But remember, not everyone in L.A. drives anyway! And the #2 bus line on Sunset is among the city’s busiest.)
Changing Station: No
High Chairs: Yes, lots! And boosters.
Parking and Access: Street parking on Sunset or on Lemoyne.
Other Tidbits: Thien Ho and husband Jose Sarinana are Echo Park locals (and Belmont graduates) who wanted to invest in their neighborhood. The inclusive welcoming atmosphere certainly applies to families, and I could not have received kinder treatment from the staff while I enjoyed my first meal at Xoia with the baby. The outdoor space on the corner is terrific for casual eating and watching the street scene, and the contemporary planter boxes help form a nicely discrete seating area. The dining room, tucked into what was a paint store for many years, is minimally embellished but the artwork on display and bold colors give it just the right creative neighborhood feel. And the mix of adjacent businesses is typically Echo Park.
I can eat Vietnamese food every single day, so even if some folks decry the growing westward march of Vietnamese restaurants as yet another Los Angeles food trend, I’m thrilled to support it. Many of these Vietnamese restaurants tend to stand out as so darn stylish without a lot of fuss. Gotta love that.
1801 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday, noon – 10 p.m.; Friday, noon – midnight; Saturday, 12:30 p.m. – midnight; Sunday 12:30 – 10 p.m.