15 Best Restaurants in El Centro (CA)

El Centro is a city and county seat of Imperial County, California, United States.

The City is recognized as the largest city in the Imperial Valley, the east anchor of the Southern California Border Region, the core urban area, and the principal city of the El Centro metropolitan area.

El Centro has a total estimated population of about 44,158 as of 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

There are several amazing restaurants in this city that offer a variety of dishes, including Asian, Thai, Mexican, and even vegetarian fare.

Whether you’re in the mood for a tasty breakfast, lunch, or dinner, there’s a restaurant for you in this city.

Want to know the best restaurants in El Centro? Below is a perfect list.

Best Restaurants in El Centro

1. Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que

Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que

One thing that may attract you to Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que is its legendary burgers and slow-cooked BBQ. After all, they have been at it since 1994 and are quite experienced. Moreover, they are an award-winning food restaurant with top-notch customer service.

You do not only have to sample their legendary burgers and signature sandwiches. Take advantage of some interesting features of the restaurant. These include a Takeout option, a dine-in option, curbside pickup, good seating, table service, reservations, a full bar, and television. It is remarkable to be served a top-notch meal while you watch football, baseball, and basketball simultaneously. Moreover, the restaurant is wheelchair accessible.

Also, you can take advantage of their catering services. Your guests can enjoy authentic pit-smoked BBQ with excellent dessert. Ultimately, your event can be delicious, memorable, and stress-free.

There are great choices for cuisines and meals for your dinner and lunch. Treat yourself to some boneless wings or Dave’s sampler platter for starters.

Next, you can enjoy some salads and soup like chicken Caesar salad. In any case, Dave’s hand-rubbed and slow-smoked ribeye will keep you returning for more. There are signature burgers and sandwiches as well. For lunch, you may care for some stuffed baked potatoes or some bbq tacos. Options for handcrafted desserts include bread pudding, banana pudding, or Dave’s famous sundae.

The opening hours are Sunday – Thursday: 11 am – 9:30 pm and Friday – Saturday: 11 am – 10:30 pm.

You should definitely check out Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que for its friendly atmosphere. Indeed, as Famous” Dave Anderson would put it, you would be “…surrounded with good friends and great Bar-B-Que.”

Address: 3103 S Dogwood Rd, El Centro, CA 92243 Phone: +1-760-352-9044 

2. Exotic Thai Bistro

Exotic Thai Bistro

There are times when treating yourself to some flavorful exotic Thai dishes is really worth it. You may even throw in some Chinese specialties. An ideal place for Asian and Thai treats is Exotic Thai Bistro.

Walk in to get the authentic feel of a well-decorated Thai restaurant or enjoy the outdoor seating service. They should feel authentic. After all, Exotic Thai Bistro has been in the business of serving a variety of Thai and Chinese food for over decades.

There are vegetarian-friendly and vegan options as well as general meals for dinner and lunch. The rich menu helps ensure that there is something for everyone. Kids can go for the Thai wonton soup and pineapple fried rice. Meanwhile, adults can opt for duck, garlic salmon, and spicy curries. There are fresh spring rolls and orange chicken to savor as well. What’s more? You can package some dishes to take home.

An appetizing start to your meal can be some fresh spring rolls or egg rolls filled with veggies. Next, you could continue with some vegetables and tofu or a glass noodles soup. There are accompanying green salads, Pla Goong, and a la carte to choose from. Treat yourself to some Thai spicy chicken, BBQ Pork Ribs, or Mongolian Beef. Other categories include exotic seafood, Thai curries, and Chinese delights.

The opening hours are from 1 pm – 8 pm, Monday and Tuesday. They are closed on Wednesday, Open on Thursday 1 pm – 8 pm, and on Friday and Saturday 1 pm – 9 pm, while on Sunday 1 pm – 8 pm.

Exotic Thai Bistro is a great place to eat in El Centro, CA while trying out some innovative delicacies. The superb service will have you returning for dinner or lunch.

Address: 1461 S 4th St, El Centro, CA, United States, 92243 Phone: +1 760-353-0008.

3. Chili’s Grill & Bar

Chili's Grill & Bar

You can be sure of excellent service whether you are up for a quick and savory lunch or you need a fantastic dinner after a long drive.

Chili’s Grill & Bar prides itself on always raising the bar. With over 50,000 team members, you can expect an established business culture. After all, they have been at it since 1983.

Notable features include a seating arrangement, table service, and takeout. Moreover, you can order for pickup, Curbside, or outright Delivery. Chili’s is also wheelchair accessible.

As regards the menu, you can get some sizzling Fajitas, Big Mouth Burgers, or Ribs and Steaks for appetizers. Some tea or lemonade drinks can go down nicely. Treat your taste buds to the well-known salads, soups, and Chili.

Furthermore, the 3 for Me Lunch Combo or the spicy shrimp tacos are great options for a lunch special. There are sides and sauces as well as desserts – like molten chocolate cakes – and beverages. Remarkably, Chili’s offers a gluten-friendly menu with allergen/vegetarian and nutrition options.

The opening hours are Monday to Thursday, 11:00 am – 10:00 pm, Friday and Saturday, 11:00 am – 11:00 pm, and Sunday, 11:00 am – 10:00 pm. In addition, Happy Hour drinks start at 3 pm on weekdays and all day on Saturday and Sunday.

Do not be in a hurry to leave. Try out the usual everyday margarita of the month. Likewise, remember to try out other signature Bar Food & Drinks.

Address: 3303 S Dogwood Rd, El Centro, CA 92243-9672 Phone: +1 760-352-2116

4. Denny’s



Looking for a Diner that is always open? Denny’s is America’s Diner that is always open to you for some breakfast burgers or some dinner pancakes. You will find classic American food to be satisfactorily unique. More importantly, you get to enjoy your appetizers, breakfast, lunch, or dinner in a relaxed atmosphere.

The welcoming atmosphere has been in place since 1953. As such, you can expect the staff to put the guest first. For instance, Denny’s makes a commendable effort to meet up to its social responsibility through its Annual Fundraiser (No Kid Hungry). This is an initiative to help end childhood hunger.

You have the choice of ordering online using Denny’s mobile app or the website. You can be sure of excellent pickup or delivery services for one of the best Restaurants in El Centro, CA.

Great options await you in the featured menu. There are favorites such as Moons Over My Hammy, hand-dipped Milk Shakes, and Beef Burgers.

Likewise, you can choose from Denny’s 24 favorite social stars, such as It’s Bananas Salted Caramel Pancakes.

Moreover, you can opt for Denny’s All Day Diner Deals menu. With this, you get ten delicious meals. Other menu categories include beverages, classic breakfasts, burgers, classic dinners, desserts, and much more.

Meanwhile, guests can be sure of an accommodating variety to cater to dietary preferences. There are plant-based meal options and “Build-Your-Own” options.

Denny’s always maintains open hours. This means that they can accommodate late-night stops.

Denny’s is well known for its great customer service. You can be sure to get the best advice on menu choices and great treats.

Address: 1445 Ocotillo Drive, El Centro, CA 92243 Phone: +1 760-352-2576 and Address2: 3403 Dogwood Rd. El Centro, Ca 92243 Phone Main Number (760) 337-9023

5. Farmer Boys

Farmer Boys

With close to 100 Farmer Boys restaurants located in California and Nevada, you can expect a lot from them. Founded in 1981, Farmer Boys have recorded over 40 years of service. They have award-winning burgers, cooked-to-order breakfasts, and hand-chopped salads. However, you may consider their fresh farm food as their greatest appeal.

Take advantage of their drive-through service or home delivery for your convenience. But if you do go in, you can use the free wi-fi as you enjoy your meal. The dining room is comfortable. The service is prompt. In addition, there is a Very Important Farmer Reward System in place. Essentially, you earn 1 point for each $1 you spend. Thereafter, you can enjoy increased chances of earning double points and birthday surprises reserved as exclusive member-only offers. Subsequently, you can use your points to redeem food and discounts.

Farmers Boys can create the right atmosphere you need as they host your non-profit group fundraiser event. Moreover, your group gets a percentage of the event’s sales. In that same vein of giving back, Farmers Boys continue to raise funding support for children’s hospitals, local schools, and other causes.

If you are quite partial to delicious and flavorful Farm Food, then Farmers Boys is your go-to spot. You can be sure of fresh-cooked made-to-order meals. Besides, The Scarecrow, who is the mascot and Head of Security (protecting and serving fresh farm food), is on hand to welcome you.

It’s not for nothing that Farmers Boys has a tag for the world’s greatest hamburgers. After all, they are a four-time Best Burger Winner. Furthermore, they have awards for Best Brunch, Best Diner, Best Breakfast, and many more. You can try out different varieties of their Cheeseburgers to see for yourself. You can keep returning to one of the best places to eat in El Centro, CA.

Other menu items that are great for appetizers include a barn burner and a veggie burger. Next, you can enjoy the Hog Heaven Breakfast Burrito. There are Hot Cakes and French Toast Slices to choose from as well. Other categories are salads and wraps, sandwiches, drinks, and shakes. Delicious sides Always include Crispy Fries and Zucchini sticks.

The opening hours are from Monday – Saturday, 6:00 am-10:00 pm, and Sunday, 7:00 am – 10:00 pm.

Bid your goodbyes to fast food. Cue in delicious farm fresh food. Farmers Boys has got your back.

Address: 1532 Cruickshank Dr, El Centro, CA 92243-1606 Phone: +1 760-336-0227

6. Hamburger Stand

Hamburger Stand

Talk about an American, Fast Food restaurant with quite some history. Hamburger stand has been serving delicious Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Chicken Sandwiches, and so on since 1982. However, Hamburger Stand restaurants are currently independently owned and operated.

You can take advantage of their Drive-Through option or use the Dining room. As you would expect, the hamburgers here are great.

But other menu categories such as hotdogs, sandwiches, fries, and snack combos are no slouches either.

Moreover, you can enjoy some crowd-pleasers and breakfast drinks.

The regular opening hours extend up to 24hrs – Monday to Sunday.

From the taste and bite, you would be able to tell that the Hamburgers are made of quality meat and a delicious blend of spices.

Address: 825 South Imperial Ave, El Centro, CA 92243-3720 Phone: +1 760-353-4800

7. El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco

Confirm what you have learned about Mexican Fast Foods at El Pollo Loco. It is well known for its Mexican classics. Indeed, it has grown to over 480 restaurants in the U.S. over four decades since after the El Pollo Loco restaurant started in 1980.

They offer Dinner and Lunch. Furthermore, the service options include dine-in and drive-through. Remarkably, you can use the app to explore special order and payment features. They are wheelchair accessible and have a comfortable seating arrangement. You have the opportunity to sign up to join Loco Rewards to get free small Chips & Guac. Similarly, you can earn points with each order and get birthday rewards.

The grilled Mexican chicken is great. Your taste buds will thank you for it. There are great salads, handmade guacamole, salsas, and tacos too. You can have other picks ranging from overstuffed quesadillas, fire-grilled combos, tostadas, and burritos. There are sides and drinks to go with it, strengthening its stake as one of the best restaurants in El Centro, CA.

El Pollo Loco offers you fresh and authentic fast food that will keep you coming back. The friendly staff is also there with great recommendations.

The opening hours are Mondays to Saturdays, 10 am – 10 pm.

Address:1403 N Imperial Ave, El Centro, CA 92243 Phone: +1 760-482-5557

8. Taco Bell

Taco Bell

Taco Bell is a Mexican restaurant offering Mexican-inspired breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They are known for their bold flavors. The first location opened in 1962 in Downey, California. Since then, the brand and its franchise organizations have run over 7,000 restaurants in the U.S. Remarkably, Taco Bell is the first QSR restaurant to provide menu items certified by the American Vegetarian Association (AVA).

You can order online or visit Taco Bell. Furthermore, you can check out their drive-through options to meet your midnight cravings. The mobile app is also there for you to explore.

Great menu items include classic tacos, beef burritos, quesadillas, nachos, desserts, Crunchwrap Supreme, and Cinnamon Twists.

Besides, you can opt for a bean burrito and iced tea.

The menu also provides vegetarian meals.

The Taco Bell Foundation is a non-profit organization that runs support programs like the Live Más Scholarship and the Feed The Beat program. Taco Bell emerged among the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in the world in 2016. As such, you can be sure of quality service.

The opening hours are Mondays to Sundays, 8 am – 12 am for drive-throughs and 8 am – 10 pm for dine-ins.

Address: 350 Wake Ave. El Centro, CA 92243 Phone: (760) 482-5781

Want to know more restaurants to visit in California for a memorable mealtime? Here is our guide on restaurants in Hillcrest, restaurants in Camarillo, and restaurants in Murrieta.

9. Burgers & Beer

Burgers & Beer

Picture yourself enjoying a burger of high quality and complementing the excellent taste with an ice-cold beer. The setting is comfortable and casual. This and more is what you get at Burgers & Beer.

The first Burgers & Beer restaurant was set up in 1985. It still remains a renowned restaurant for its fresh food. You can build eClub points for each visit. Subsequently, you can trade your points for free food and gifts.

Burgers & Beer has features such as takeout, available parking, and indoor and outdoor seating. Likewise, there are Highchairs available, a full bar, television, table service, and free wi-fi. The restaurant is wheelchair accessible.

From the name Burgers & Beer, you can expect that the menu will have excellent Burger options.

In the same vein, you can enjoy authentic Mexican fare and sweet potato pancakes.

You can be sure to have a great treat at Burgers & Beer. So head over there for Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, or even Late Night, Drinks. It is indeed one of the best El Centro restaurants.

The opening hours are from Monday to Sunday, 9 am – 10 pm (Dine In and Takeout).

Address: 260 N Imperial Ave, El Centro, CA 92243-2325. Phone: +1 760-353-4431

10. Johnny Carino’s

Johnny Carino's

Johnny Carino’s is a great go-to restaurant for Italian food. In addition, the setting is a great one to enjoy with friends and family. The restaurant has over two decades of experience. So you are set to enjoy your favorite Italian delicacies. Indeed, you can celebrate special occasions or pop in for a casual meal.

You have the option of ordering your food online or simply dining in.

For an appetizer, you have options of a thinly cut and lightly fried hand-breaded calamari. You could also opt for fried ravioli. Meanwhile, handcrafted pizza or BBQ chicken are great treats to consider. Likewise, the five pieces of meat (Italian sausage, pepperoni, salami, ham, bacon, etc.) are another delicacy you should not miss.

Johnny’s Carino’s is surely a place to consider amongst the best places to eat in El Centro, CA. You can make it a point to enjoy their Italian food.

The opening hours range from Sunday to Tuesday, 11 am – 10 pm, and Friday and Saturday, 11 am – 12 am.

Address: 3203 S. Dogwood Avenue, El Centro, CA 92243. Phone: +1 760-337-9588

11. Tacos Marlyn

Tacos Marlyn

The El Centro branch of Tacos Marlyn was set up in 2014. However, the first location was founded in 1986 in Mexico. Their long history makes it no surprise they are regarded as the “Best Fish Tacos in Town.”

An attractive feature for your convenience is the takeout option. Tacos Marilyn is Wheelchair Accessible

You can check them out for your Mexican, Latin, and seafood cuisines. You can enjoy Fish and Shrimp Ceviche and Cerveza. The Mexicali-flavored Fish tacos and shrimp tostadas are quite reputable. They are served with cabbage and Salsas.

A one of the top El Centro restaurants, Tacos Marilyn has great customer service who will make sure you enjoy the best fish tacos in town.

They are open from Sunday to Saturday, 10 am – 8 pm.

Address: 1614 S 4th St Sunshine Mall, El Centro, CA 92243-4504. Phone:+1 760-353-1686

12. Celia’s Restaurant

Celia's Restaurant

Celia’s restaurant has carved a niche for fresh and natural Mexican food. There are both Dine-in and Takeout options. There is Parking Available, table service and television. The restaurant is Wheelchair Accessible.

It is not something light to have fresh salsa and guacamole available for you every day. Moreover, you can enjoy lardless tortillas and trimmed chicken. Surely, Celia’s restaurant is among the top restaurants in El Centro, CA. You can pop in to enjoy some homestyle Mexican breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Opening hours are from Tuesday to Thursday, 11 am – 7 pm, Friday and Saturday, 10 am – 8 pm, and Sunday and Monday. However, the hours might differ.

Address: 1530 Adams Ave, El Centro, CA 92243.Phone: +1 760-352-4570

13. La Fonda Bar & Grill

La Fonda Bar & Grill

Visit La Fonda Bar & Grill for its homestyle Mexican food, but that’s not all. Their staff is quite friendly and efficient. The restaurant is a family-owned business with decades of experience.

With La Fonda Bar & Grill, you can dine in or order takeouts. There is outdoor seating, and credit cards are accepted.

An appetizer can be the soup of the day -Menudo Red or White or a Tossed Green Salad. Great choices for breakfast include Desayunos Mexicanos served with beans and tortillas. Or you could try the Spanish Omelet. A delicacy to enjoy for dinner is Chicken Asada with Guacamole. Accompanying beverages to enjoy are coffee, iced tea, and milk.

La Fonda Bar & Grill offers you fantastic Mexican food in a homely setting. You will always want to come back for more.

Opening hours are from 9 am – 8 pm on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Tuesday is closed. Saturday is 9 am – 7 pm, while Sunday is 8 am – 3 pm.

Address: 1950 S 4th St #1, El Centro, CA 92243. Phone: +1 760-353-6450

14. Grasso’s Italian Restaurant

Grasso’s Italian Restaurant

History speaks on the side of Grasso’s Italian Restaurant. Only two families have owned the restaurant since it opened in 1955. Interestingly, they have retained the same authentic recipes and remain one of the best El Centro restaurants.

They are great at hosting parties and other events. There are dining, drive-through, takeout, and Mobile Order and Pay

For appetizers, you can enjoy Pan-Fried Chicken Livers or Gizzards. Or you could choose Fried Zucchini. Next, you can savor Salad a la Liz topped with lemon-garlic grilled chicken breast. Alternatively, order Spaghetti and Meat Sauce. Cap off your meal with desserts like New York Cheesecake or Peach or Apple Cobbler.

Grasso’s Italian Restaurant has a rich menu. All the more ready then to appreciate the customer friendly service you will get. They work towards giving you an unforgettable Italian cuisine experience.

Open hours are Monday – Tuesday: Closed, Wednesday to Sunday 05:00 pm – 08:00 pm.

Address: 1902 West Main St, El Centro, CA 92243. Phone: (760) 352-4635. 

15. Broken Yolk Café

Broken Yolk Café

Broken Yolk Café is one of the top restaurants in El Centro, CA, and the perfect destination for your fluffy brown pancakes, gooey omelets, and fresh coffee. You could not ask for a better way to start your day.

Broken Yolk Café can trace its beginnings back to 1979 as a favorite destination for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. Today, it has up to 34 locations nationwide. There is a rich variety of menu options. You can start with delicious mimosas, sauces, and soups. Mouthwatering options for lunch are California chicken club and Solana Beach Burger. A fantastic vegetarian fare is Classic Avocado Toast or the Spicy Vegan Bowl.

Starting your day with an uplifting breakfast, powering up with mouthwatering lunch, or closing your day with a refreshing meal. Broken Yolk Café has fantastic options for you.

Opening hours at Broken Yolk Café are Daily, 7:00 am – 2:00 pm.

Address: El Centro, CA 3049 N Imperial Ave, El Centro, CA 92243. Phone: (760) 352-9655.

Check out our guide on restaurants in Chino Hill, restaurants in Oakdale, and restaurants in Tehachapi for a fun meal time in California.

Plan a Trip to El Centro

El Centro is blessed with many beautiful restaurants. Feel free to walk into any of them for a delicious meal experience.

As a tourist or visitor, you would not miss home because the restaurants have expansive menus and provide cool spots for relaxation.

So whether you come for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you will not be disappointed with your choice.

Plan a visit to El Centro today!