Food & Drink

The 11 Best Southern Food Spots in LA

Published On 01/13/2015 Published On 01/13/2015

With a smattering of comfort food restaurants opening in the last few months, LA has taken its already next-level Southern eats to the next next next NEXT level, one that thankfully still includes lots of muffulettas. Here are the 11 best of 'em, along with what to order at each:
 

The Little Jewel of New Orleans

Downtown
What you're getting: Crescent City Fried Oyster Po'Boy
One of the most beloved-yet-under-the-radar openings of the last year, TLJoNO aims for and accomplishes straight-up recreations of NoLa's finest food, including crawfish mac & cheese and this must-eat sandwich, both crispy and chewy at the same time.
 

Preux and Proper

Downtown
What you're getting: Frog legs
Grossed out by frog legs? Sucks to be you. The Southern specialty is straight-up fantastic, and this new spot has chefs straight from New Orleans ready to prove it to you.

Flickr/MeHongry

The Gumbo Pot

Mid-Wilshire
What you're getting: Gumbo
Okay, so someone who just moved to LA from NoLa might house this gumbo from the beloved longtime Farmer's Market stand and be a little let down -- the flavor's not as deep as it can be in the actual South, and the spiciness just doesn't have the expected kick. That said, though, in a land where there's not a ton of options, this is the best of them. Plus, the collard greens are fantastic.
 

The Old Place

Agoura Hills
What you're getting: Biscuits and gravy
This Agoura restaurant is NOT a Southern food spot -- in fact, the chef is from Germany, about as far away as you can get. But he's versed in sausage, and the little chunks of the protein are the key to this creamy, buttery, crazy-good dish.

Harold & Belle's

Harold & Belle's

Leimert Park
What you're getting: Crawfish etouffee
If you're looking for old-school Southern cooking, you can't get older-school than Harold & Belle's: they've been at it since 1969, making everything from meatloaf to catfish. The go-to is the creamy etouffee, though, like everything else there it's made with a tried-and-true recipe passed down through generations.

M&M's

M & M Soul Food

Multiple locations
What you're getting: Fried catfish
You're going to sit in this no-frills restaurant in Inglewood, or Carson, or Leimert Park, and order the catfish, and probably the mac & cheese, and hopefully you'll be with someone else so you can also get some rice and beans and ribs. You're gonna take a bite. And then you're gonna take a whole bunch more.

Orleans and York Deli

Orleans & York

Inglewood
What you're getting: O.G. Orlean Muffulettas
This beloved deli (which is expanding with locations opening soon in Carson and Downtown) serves up specialties from two very disparate-yet-great American cities -- which, no coincidence, ranked #1 and #2, respectively, on our list of the best food cities in the US. O&Y goes for purity, which's why the Muffuletta stands apart: no gourmet newfangledness, just classic mortadella, salami, capocollo, Swiss, provolone, and olive salad smashed between gluten goodness.
 

Sal's Gumbo Shack

Long Beach
What you're getting: Oxtail (Sundays & Wednesdays only)
A favorite of BBQ master Bigmista, Sal's has classics like BBQ shrimp and gumbo seven days a week, but they bring out the big guns on Wednesday and Sunday -- not just the oxtail, but turkey necks and Southern-fried turkey chops, too.

Flickr/Joan Nova

My Two Cents

Mid-Wilshire
What you're getting: Shrimp & grits
It's easy to drive past this no-frills, neighborhood mini mall spot with a genre-less name and not look twice. It's also a mistake. Chef/owner Alisa Reynolds' food is infused with deep-South joy, which makes its way into everything from the pumpkin pie to the perfectly creamy, perfectly savory shrimp & grits.

The Beignet Truck

The Beignet Truck

Various locations
What you're getting: Beignets
This roving breakfast-mobile is all about the beignets (no treble), based on the classic recipe from Cafe Du Monde. Are they as good as the originals? They're covered with enough powdered sugar that it really doesn't matter.
 

The Apple Pan

West LA
What you're getting: Pecan pie
Wait, the BURGER place? Yep: the pies are also extraordinary, and the well-crusted pecan pie is one of The Apple Pan's best (we can't call it THE best, 'cause, well, that'd be the banana cream pie).

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Jeff Miller is the Editor of Thrillist LA, and really wants to walk down Bourbon St right now. You can commiserate with him at @jeffmillerla on Instagram and @ThrillistLA on Twitter.

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1. The Little Jewel of New Orleans 207 Ord St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Downtown)

Head to this Downtown spot where you'll find straight-up recreations of New Orleans' finest food, including crawfish mac & cheese and outstanding po' boys, which are crispy and chewy at the same time.

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2. Preux & Proper 840 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90014 (Downtown)

The FiveOFour guys bring you this NOLA-inspired eatery, a two-story ode to the Big Easy with a daiquiri bar, raw bar, massive patio, and killer Muffalettas, as well as grilled short ribs with Cajun kimchee.

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3. The Gumbo Pot 6333 W 3rd St, #312, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Mid Wilshire)

As the name suggests, the dish you gotta try here is the gumbo. It may not be as flavorful and spicy as it can get in the South, but it still does the trick. Be sure to try the collard greens too.

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4. The Old Place 29983 Mulholland Hwy, Agoura Hills, CA 91301

The German-born chef at The Old Place is versed in sausage-ness, and the little chunks of the protein are the key to his creamy, buttery, crazy-good biscuits and gravy.

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5. Harold & Belle's 2920 W Jefferson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90018

You can't get older-school Southern cooking (in an old-school Southern-style kitchen) than Harold & Belle's: it's been at it since 1969, making everything from meatloaf to catfish. The go-to is the creamy étouffée, though, like everything else there, it's made with a tried-and-true recipe passed down through generations.

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6. Orleans & York 4454 W Slauson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90043

This beloved deli serves up specialties from two very disparate-yet-great American cities -- which, no coincidence, ranked #1 and #2, respectively, on our list of the best food cities in the US. O&Y goes for purity, which's why the O.G. Orlean Muffuletta stands apart: no gourmet newfangledness -- just the classic, perfected.

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7. Sal's Gumbo Shack 6148 Long Beach Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90805 (Long Beach)

This unpretentious barbecue destination is a fave of BBQ master Bigmista. Classics like BBQ shrimp and gumbo are served seven days a week, but Sal's brings out the big guns on Wednesday and Sunday -- not just the oxtail, but turkey necks and Southern-fried turkey chops, too.

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8. My Two Cents 5583 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019 (Mid Wilshire)

It's easy to drive past this no-frills, neighborhood mini mall spot with a genre-less name and not look twice; that is also a mistake. Chef/owner Alisa Reynolds' food is infused with deep-South joy, which makes its way into everything from the pumpkin pie to the perfectly creamy, perfectly savory shrimp & grits.

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9. The Apple Pan 10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064 (West La)

This West LA diner has been serving burgers, pie, and classic American sandwiches at its U-shaped counter since 1947. Not much has changed about The Apple Pan since it opened: the registers are mechanical, the cooks wear soda jerk paper hats, and the red counter stools are still intact. Thankfully, the menu is pretty much the same too, and the signature Hickoryburger, Steakburger, and banana cream pie are as popular as ever. Fun fact: Diner chain Johnny Rockets is modeled after The Apple Pan.

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