Sure, you've gone to Langer's and had the #19, and you've had the burger at Father's Office, but now you're back, and you don't want to eat the same thing-you're-supposed-to-eat-at-Langer's-or-Father's-Office again... but you also don't want to blow it and get something totally inferior. So here're the SECOND best dishes at 11 LA spots that're best known for one thing.
Mud Hen Tavern
What You've Had: Kaya Toast
Susan Feniger has gotten so famous for this savory-and-sweet-and-egg-yolky Singaporean dish at Mud Hen Tavern that when she rejiggered the Street space to be this new gastropub, it's the menu item that she promised would stick around. It has. And everyone orders it.
What You Should Have Once You've Had Kaya Toast: Chicken and Waffle Croquettes
Okay, you're probably not going to believe this, but these are literally balls of chicken fried in waffle batter, and topped with bacon-infused maple syrup. Somehow, we left them off of this list of what to eat on 4/20. And for that, we're very, very sorry.
Din Tai Fung
What You've Had: Juicy Dumplings
Whether you've had the juicy pork, or the juicy crab, or the juicy pork and crab, or the overpriced ones with truffles, if you've been to Din Tai Fung, you've had the soup dum... sorry, the juicy dumplings, and you've been really, really happy about it.
What You Should Have Once You've Had Juicy Dumplings: Shanghai Rice Cake
Other than more juicy dumplings, this pile of carbs and whichever white meat you prefer is basically enormous, wide, chewy noodles, and super-savory blasts of meat. Winner.
What You've Had: Smoked Salmon Pizza From The "Classic" Menu
Though Wolfgang Puck redid the menu at the world-famous Spago a couple years ago, it's a non-secret-secret that you can order this guy from the old menu... and rightfully, everyone does.
What You Should Have Once You've Had Smoked Salmon Pizza: Snake River Farms Wagyu Short Rib
It may not be as shareable as that pizza, but friends are totally overrated. This short rib is moist, tender, and delicious. Apologies about your wallet, though.
What You've Had: Chicken
Though the full name of this Pico stand is "Dino's Chicken And Burgers", literally no one is here for the burgers -- they're here for the chicken. It's a crazily inexpensive, extraordinarily delicious vinegar-and-fire grilled bird that's one of the best cheap bites in the city.
What You Should Have Once You've Had Chicken: The DUI
You thought we were gonna say burgers, but nope! If you're not feeling chicken, you should order the DUI, an insane pile of fries, carne asada, pastrami, cheese, special sauce, and regrets.
What You've Had: Office Burger
Sang Yoon's world-famous, no-ketchup-allowed, dry-aged chuck meatwitch at Father's Office won just about every single accolade a burger can win.
What You Should Have Once You've Had The Office Burger: The Steak Tartare
FO's quail egg-topped tartare (which is on the menu about every other week) will hit you with the same artery-clogging, red meat goodness, but FO's version also has a savory, pickle-y hit, thanks to onions and capers.
What You've Had: #19
Langer's has got a line out the door on the daily, and you'd better bet that every single person in it is getting this famous pastrami-and-coleslaw-and-Russian-dressing sandwich.
What You Should Have Once You've Had #19: #54
It's just like #19, except they also add corned beef. So yeah, it's kinda better than #19.
What You've Had: Garlic Noodles & Roasted Crab
There're two dishes at Beverly Hills' Crustacean that have made it an institution -- the super-tasty noodles (pictured here topped w/ shrimp), and the crab, which is covered in a light sauce.
What You Should Have Once You've Had Garlic Noodles & Roasted Crab: The Centennial
This recently launched Wagyu beef filet dish is the first new menu addition in 20 years, and it comes from the secret kitchen -- a kitchen within a kitchen that only members of the family that owns Crustacean are allowed into, and where the garlic noodles and roasted crab came from initially.
What You've Had: The Godmother
Possibly the most famous sandwich in LA (which puts it in the running for most famous worldwide), the Godmother at Bay Cities a heavenly smattering of basically every Italian lunch meat ever, with Provolone cheese and "the works", which means a healthy dose of mustard, mayo, Italian dressing, and veggies, all on their insanely delicious, perfectly chewy bread.
What You Should Have Once You've Had The Godmother: Macaroni & Cheese
Here's the thing: there're two macaroni & cheese dishes they serve at Bay Cities, but there's only one that you want. It's got eight cheeses and a crusty exterior made from crumbs from their bread, and is crazy -- CRAZY -- good.
The Apple Pan
What You've Had: Hickory Burger
A perennial "best burger in LA" since your grandparents' time, the Hickory Burger at The Apple Pan is the reason the place has been around since... your grandparents' time.
What You Should Have Once You've Had The Hickory Burger: The Apple Pie
Seriously, it's called The Apple Pan. The pie is astoundingly good. Fact.
What You've Had: BBQ Pork Belly Sliders
Yes, Animal's sliders are majestic in every way -- they're fatty on the inside, crispy on the outside, served on a buttery roll with a sweet sauce... okay, we're drooling on our keyboard.
What You Should Have Once You've Had BBQ Pork Belly Sliders: Hamachi Tostada
It's hard to pick just one dish, because everything on the menu is amazing, but they rotate most of it out... most of it, that is, with the exception of the Hamachi Tostada, which is a mainstay thanks to a crunchy shell, delicious fish, and a tangy dressing that makes it surprisingly craveable.
What You Should Have Once You've Had Brussels Sprouts: Buffalo Deviled Egg
An idea so genius, it's amazing no one's thought of it before, this guy's basically a combo of two of your favorite things: deviled eggs, and Buffalo wings, with a piece of crispy chicken skin, some bleu cheese, and hot sauce. Also recommended: an Old Fashioned to wash it down.
1. Father's Office3229 Helms Ave, Los Angeles
2. Spago Beverly Hills176 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills
3. Langer's Delicatessen704 S Alvarado St, Los Angeles
4. The Apple Pan10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles
5. Dino’s Chicken and Burgers2575 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles
6. Animal435 N Fairfax, Los Angeles
7. Crustacean9646 S Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills
8. Freddy Smalls11520 Pico, Los Angeles
9. Mud Hen Tavern742 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles
10. Din Tai Fung171 Caruso Ave, Glendale
11. Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica
Chef Sang Yoon is the brains behind this nationally-acclaimed Los Angeles gastropub. Father's Office is especially famous for its Office Burger: a 100% chuck, dry-aged beef patty topped with blue cheese, arugula, and onion jam, and served on a toasted oval bun with garlic butter. Chef Yoon has a strict no modifications allowed policy on his burger, so either you like it or you don't -- but chances are you probably will.
Spago is the Wolfgang Puck restaurant that started it all. Synonymous with Southern Californian cuisine, the restaurant first opened in 1982 on the Sunset Strip before decamping to posher environs on Beverly Hill's North Canon Drive in 1997. Throughout the years and various chefs, Spago has consistently maintained Puck's brand of California cooking, which calls for the use of local ingredients in European- and Asian-inspired dishes. If you want to know what (upscale) Californian food tastes like, this is where you'll find out. And you might see some celebrities while you're at it.
Langer's has been a go-to spot for their classic hot pastrami sammy (which has been touted as the best in the WORLD) since 1947.
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.
Dino's is an LA institution; from the crazily inexpensive half chicken w/ fries to the DUI sandwich (pile of fries, carne asada, pastrami, cheese, special sauce), you really can't go wrong.
Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook's OG restaurant is a stone-cold classic in Los Angeles known for a constantly changing menu that's always creative and never stale. As the name suggests, Animal specializes in head-to-tail eating and meat-centric plates; past and present hits include a bacon crunch chocolate bar, a barbecue pork belly sandwich, and a short rib and bone marrow-blended burger.
This Beverly Hills Asian-fusion resto is well-known for their delicious (and healthy!) dishes like their special crab and garlic noodles, crab plates, and other upscale seafood options.
Not just the name of Biggie's brother who owned a panini place, Freddy's also a marble-floored West LA gastropub from the dude behind The Counter, featuring drankin' (nine microbrews, specialty cocktails like the rye/ sarsaparilla/ candied ginger/ lemon garnish "Stumbling Cowboy"), and eatin' courtesy of NY's Charlie Palmer and NorCal's Jeremy Fox. Those guys are cooking up flash-grilled steak tartare, Buffalo deviled eggs w/ crispy chicken skin, and the both dark- and white-meat "New School Chicken Parm", which has no idea what it's going to do with its degree in Social Engineering.
The Mud Hen Tavern is a neighborhood bar & restaurant that offers some great seasonal, gourmet pub food and has a great selection of both craft beers and unique cocktails.
Din Tai Fung has got it goin' on with their dim sum, pork soup dumplings, and just about every other menu item at this Glendale location.
Slinging sandwiches in Santa Monica since the 1920s, Bay Cities is responsible for masterpieces like The Godmother, a sub made with basically every Italian cured meat, Provolone cheese, and the works (mustard, mayo, Italian dressing, onions, pickles, tomato, and lettuce). More than just a sandwich specialist, the shop also serves prepared pastas like lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, and stuffed shells. While the counter crew assembles your order, browse through the grocery section that's stocked with imported Italian specialities.