LA’s Proud Bird Takes Brunch by the Airport to New Heights

Plus, other spots elevating the LAX area's dining experience

One of Ayara Lūk’s most popular dishes is khao soi, a curry noodle soup it makes with free-range chicken. Ayara Lūk

The Proud Bird, the historic aviation-themed restaurant across from the LAX airport, has reopened as a high-flying food hall. 

The 50,000-square-foot space, which dates back to 1967, has been modernized and now has an outpost of Bludso’s Bar and Que for all your brisket, rib and porchetta cravings. What’s billed as The Proud Bird’s Food Bazaar also includes a coffee-and-pastries bar, burgers, pizza, salads and an Asian-food section with fried rice and Thai noodles. Chef Ted Hopson and Anne-Marie Verdi, who run The Bellwether in Studio City together, consulted on the menu. There’s a good mix of crowd-pleasing dishes at The Proud Bird.

You can come on weekdays and order a la carte or go big during the all-you-can-eat weekend brunch. The Proud Bird, which features an outdoor “airplane park” where children can touch World War II aircraft, is proud to be a destination for family-friendly Sunday fundays. This is a place where kids (who eat free here if they’re under 5) can gorge on pepperoni pizza, French fries and mini desserts while parents enjoy unlimited mimosas or order a cocktail from the bar known, naturally, as The Mile High Club.

Last Sunday, The Proud Bird was packed with young families as well as large dressed-up groups who came by after church. Brunch wasn’t the smoothest ride: There were delays to get food because of the big crowd. (And it didn’t help that many customers had to ask for beverage cups because there weren’t any next to the soda machines.) But at least there was enough grab-what-you-want food, including eggs, pizza and sweets, to keep families sated while they waited for the dishes they ordered.

This incarnation of The Proud Bird is only a few weeks old, so things will likely be streamlined in the near future. There’s a lot of potential here for both relaxed gatherings and special occasions. Plus, this is a place where many guests are happy to linger. On Sunday, the room was buzzing and so were the LAX runways providing the entertainment for the day: Plane after plane landed as plate after plate was packed with food. And you’re free to go play outside for a while before coming back in for dessert. My children and I will be back.

The Proud Bird is just one of the buzzworthy spots elevating the dining experience near the airport. There’s also chef Vanda Asapahu’s Ayara Lūk pop-up, which serves some of the best and most uncompromising Thai food in the city. Ayara Lūk changes its menu often and has become known as a place where you can play board games while you eat blood noodle soup or share a 32-ounce tomahawk steak. This is a chill restaurant with curries that bring the fire.

Another spot for bold flavors close to LAX is Roy Choi’s Kogi Taqueria at the Whole Foods Market in El Segundo, where you can pound the famed chef’s Korean tacos along with some carne asada or carnitas. El Segundo is also where you’ll find The Point, a shopping/dining complex with outposts of Superba Food + Bread and Smitten Ice Cream.

This week, Eater reported that a Michael Ovitz-funded spinoff of Westwood sushi mainstay Hamasaku will be opening at The Point. Chef Yoya Takahashi and Hamasaku general manager Jesse Duron are partners in the new restaurant, known as Umi by Hamasaku. The menu is still to be determined, but anybody’s who’s tried Hamasaku dishes like toro tartare, hamachi-dumpling soup or wagyu katsu has to be excited about El Segundo soaring to new heights.

LA’s Proud Bird Takes Brunch by the Airport to New Heights