35 Quintessential LA Foods and Dining Experiences

You can’t call yourself an Angeleno until you’ve tried all of these.

Every Angeleno has had that awkward moment of being put on the spot by a friend who’s coming to visit and demanding to know every worthwhile dining experience that they should put on their calendar. And honestly, we can’t blame them. LA is teeming with exciting new food concepts and often paves the way for culinary trends that eventually go global. Over the last year while we were stuck inside, it was these standout dishes and dining experiences that helped us transcend our less-than-ideal circumstances and reminded us of all that awaited us upon reopening. Thankfully, with restrictions now lifted, we can ditch the takeout containers (at least some of the time) and treat ourselves to the full experience, which in our sprawl of a city encompasses everything from a century-old steakhouse to street-vended Mexican corn. Here are 35 of our city’s most essential foods and dining experiences:

Eat your way through Grand Central Market

DTLA 
First opened in 1917, Grand Central Market represents LA’s largest and oldest public market, with 40 food stalls that showcase the diverse communities that have historically shaped our city, including legacy vendors like China Cafe who have been serving customers on their 22-seat counter since 1959. Over the last decade, the market has become an incubator for exciting new food concepts like the now world-famous gourmet breakfast spot Eggslut and newcomers like Knead from restaurateur Maria Petulla (Union, U Street Pizza). Whether your craving leads you to woodfired pizzas, vegan ramen bowls, pupusas, oysters, or a decked-out PB&J sando, Grand Central Market is the perfect place to fuel up before or after your downtown adventures.
How to book: Most vendors welcome walk-ins. Visit individual websites for information on how to order or book a reservation.

Rappahannock Oyster Bar
Rappahannock Oyster Bar | Photo courtesy of ROW DTLA

Slurp some fresh oysters

All over
Thanks to being a coveted short distance from the Pacific Ocean, LA has become a reputable seafood destination in recent years, with eye-catching raw bar displays that are quickly becoming our new favorite restaurant centerpieces. Partake in the trend with a half- or full-dozen order—Pacific oysters are the most common variety you’ll find because, well, look where you are, but you’ll also find briny Kusshis, nutty Kumamotos, creamy Lunas, sweet and layered Olympias, and even sea-salt crisp Atlantic oysters at places like Rappahannock Oyster Bar, The Oyster Gourmet, The Jolly Oyster, Found Oyster, Broad Street Oyster Co, and Dudley Market. For a fine dining experience, make a reservation at L&E Oyster Bar in Silver Lake or Water Grill’s Santa Monica or Downtown location. 
How to book: Visit individual websites for information on how to order or book a reservation.

Compare Chicago, Brooklyn, Detroit, and even Roman-style pizzas

All over
LA is a town full of transplants, and as those transplants have made our city into their permanent home, they’ve brought with them their most nostalgic dishes and ingredients, meaning that we never have to travel far to experience global food trends. Take pizza, for example. While Chicago and NYC duke it out over whose style reigns supreme, we can enjoy the lively debate from the sidelines while alternating between biting into chunky deep dish and thin, wide slices meant for folding. Bring your appetite to Masa in Echo Park for Chicago-style, deep-dish pies, or visit Prime Pizza for thin, crispy NY-style pies with house-made dough, Wisconsin cheese, and sauce made from local California tomatoes. You can taste Detroit’s signature chewy, rectangle pies at Apollonia's, or place an order at Quarter Sheets to try the “least authentic” Detroit-style pizza in town. Bite into Roman-style pinsas at Oste, one of LA’s best new restaurants and one of just a few in the entire state that’s firing up these light and crunchy pies that are not only more digestible, but offer 50% less sugar, 85% less fat, and 100% less cholesterol than your typical ‘za.
How to book: Visit individual websites for information on how to order or book a reservation.

Have the ultimate Sunday funday brunch

All over
If there’s one trend that LA feels comfortable claiming, it’s the transformation of brunch from a midday meal to a veritable verb that brings with it visions of bottomless bevys and indulgent plates that can easily encompass two meals. The best brunch menus make their appearances on the weekend, but there’s something about putting on your Sunday best and clinking glasses under the bright noon rays that makes Sunday stand out as the day of choice. Plus, you can wrap up by mid-afternoon, take a leisurely nap, and wake up just in time to catch your fave streaming shows, then go to bed at a completely reasonable hour. To make things even easier, we compiled a list of our favorite brunch spots in the city
How to book: Visit individual websites for information on how to order or book a reservation.

Get your fill of Mexican history and food at Olvera Street 

DTLA 
Conveniently located across the street from Union Station is Olvera Street, a Mexican marketplace that just so happens to represent the oldest section of Los Angeles. Here you’ll find the Avila Adobe, the oldest existing home in the city, and 26 other historic buildings, plus street vendors, cafes, restaurants, and gift shops selling everything from artisanal goods to Mexican folk art and Lucha Libre masks. Founded in 1934, unassuming Cielito Lindo is a must for avocado sauce-smothered taquitos at an affordable price, while the neighboring El Paseo Inn represents LA’s oldest Mexican bar and is a favorite for strong margaritas served in a historic landmark building. Finally, you’ll want to save some room for a dessert from Mr. Churro
How to book: Visit individual websites for information on how to order or book a reservation.

Sample the best of regional Mexican cuisine

All over
Just as we shouldn’t limit the definitions of American cuisine to one region (like the South, for example), we shouldn’t assume that Mexican food begins and ends with tacos, burritos, and tortas, as the cuisine varies wildly depending on the state or region. Luckily, here in LA, thanks to our state’s beginnings as a region of Mexico, we can still easily tour the country’s most vibrant dishes without booking a flight. Indulge with Jalisco-inspired birrias, rich Oaxacan mole sauces from Guelaguetza, fresh Baja seafood at Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada, sizeable Sonoran tortillas at El Ruso, and the Yucatan’s specialty, a slow-roasted pork dish called cochinita pibil at Chichen Itza.
How to book: Visit individual websites for information on how to order or book a reservation.

Treat yourself to a Chinese banquet dinner at Phoenix Inn

This Chinatown stalwart has been serving up a satisfying mix of Cantonese homestyle dishes and modern Chinese-American staples since 1965, and has since expanded to 12 locations across Southern California. The food menu runs the gamut from deli meats and salads to seafood and other meat dishes, hot pots, porridges, fried rice, and noodle options, plus impressively long beverage and dessert lists— the red bean taro delight and coconut mango rolls are a must. Rather than twiddle over the endless options, go with a group and indulge in a family-style banquet that allows you to try all their greatest hits—just make sure you place an order of sticky-sweet tangerine chicken and roasted Peking duck with a 1,000-year-old egg. 
How to book: Walk-ins are welcome or call your preferred location for pickup.

Impress carnivorous friends with savory plant-based eats 

Another dietary trend where LA distinguishes itself from the crowd is plant-based eating. Not only are we privy to a vast array of locally grown produce that’s available year-round, but many chefs have taken to stumping diners with plant-based clones of their favorite meat-and-dairy dishes. For example, Crossroads Kitchen’s seven-course summer tasting menu that features a truffle bianca pizza with a luscious truffle bechamel sauce, and a date and blue cheese sausage with watercress and pickled red onions that act as the perfect offset to the dish’s fragrant sweetness. Or for something heartier, head to VTree and try chef Velvet’s soul plate with housemade chic’n or shrimp, baked mac and cheese, yams, cornbread, and chef’s choice of veggies. For even more can’t-believe-it’s-not-meat meals, check out our fave vegan and vegetarian spots in the city
How to book: Visit individual websites for information on how to order or book a reservation.

Eat like (and perhaps next to) a celebrity

Okay, maybe this entry is speaking more to the tourists among us, but wouldn’t it be great to have a list at the ready when a starstruck friend inquires how many celebrities you’ve met thus far? Exactly. And even though you’re not guaranteed a sighting at these spots, you can rest easy knowing you’re at least dining like the rich and famous do. While the days of spotting Disney starlets dining on The Ivy’s vine-strewn, street-front patio on Robertson Blvd are long gone, you might get lucky with a reality show taping or have the opportunity to photobomb an influencer while you dip into $17 guac and chips. If not, try your luck at Catch LA, a stunning West Hollywood rooftop with whimsical floral details that lend it a fairy tale glow and provide the perfect Instagram backdrop, plus a seafood-focused menu that just might distract you from the Hollywood hunks, especially the truffle sashimi that offers a perfectly balanced bite with fresh tuna and hamachi, caviar, chili ponzu, and a decadent black truffle puree. Other places to add to your star tour include French bistro La Poubelle in Franklin Village, Harriet’s Rooftop on the 1 Hotel in West Hollywood, Nobu’s Japanese-Peruvian fare in Malibu, Craig’s deceivingly nondescript outpost in Weho, and Mr. Chow’s in Beverly Hills, for an opulent evening you won’t soon forget. 
How to book: Visit individual websites for information on how to order or book a reservation.

Sip a martini at the bar at Musso & Frank’s

Another prime spot for people-watching, family-owned Musso & Frank’s has been serving Hollywood’s elite for over a century, including the likes of screen legends like Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin, and Marilyn Monroe. Throw on your snazziest get up and pull up a stool at the ornate bar or slide into a white-tableclothed booth and prepare to be wowed by waiters outfitted in red tuxedo jackets, plus classic cocktails that pack a Prohibition-just-ended punch. The menu tends towards steaks and other filling dishes; if you really want to time travel, try Chaplin’s go-to order of roasted lamb kidneys. Is a steak dinner not your thing? There are plenty more old-school restaurants to enjoy in LA if you’re feeling nostalgic. 
How to book: via Opentable.

Slide into a vinyl booth at the legendary Swingers Diner

Haven’t we all missed ending our nights in a well-worn diner booth and preventing tomorrow’s hangover with a generous helping of greasy griddled food? The future of classic LA diner Swingers hung in the balance for a bit, but thanks to the efforts of longtime GM Stephanie Wilson, the iconic eatery lives on (as seen in such films as Knocked Up). A bounty of vegan and vegetarian options makes Swingers distinct from other diners, plus the all-too-recognizable googie-inspired design on the exterior and kitschy plaid swinging stools and booths inside. Swingers still has reduced hours, so maybe instead of a post-nightclub nosh you stop by for an in-between meal bite. (Their perfectly crispy onion rings always hit the spot.) 
How to book: Walk-ins are welcome or order online for carryout.

Get messy with a chili cheese hot dog from Earle’s

Crenshaw
LA’s danger dogs (the name says it all) can’t compare to a juicy NY hot dog, but Brooklyn natives Cary and Duane Earle sought to recreate this delicacy when they started selling hot dogs on Venice Beach in the mid-80s. In 1992, they sated public demand for their dogs with the opening of their first brick-and-mortar in the Crenshaw District. Their menu has since expanded and now the family-owned storefront cranks out an array of links, including vegan options. 
How to order: Call for takeout or get free delivery on your first order through Grubhub.
 

Reminisce with the Obama special, #9 at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles

Multiple locations
Is it our fault that former President Barack Obama had good taste? The Obama Special, or #9 for the OGs, is the perfect introduction to the LA chain that put fried chicken and waffles on the map. It comes with three Southern fried chicken wings and a buttermilk waffle, plus potato salad or french fries (as if that’s even a choice). Add a #22 (mac and cheese, collard greens, and cornbread) or #23 (candied yams, collard greens, and cornbread) to make your order extra Presidential.
How to order: Call for pickup or order delivery through Postmates, UberEats, GrubHub, and Doordash.

Pair brunch from Poppy & Rose with the Original Flower Market

DTLA
Across the street from LA’s Original Flower Market is the aptly named Poppy & Rose, a country-inspired kitchen serving up your favorite comfort foods. It’s the perfect treat after waking up early and braving the chaotic Flower Market. The menu is filled with brunch staples: try the waffle fried chicken sandwich that drizzles maple syrup and housemade hot sauce over a crispy chicken thigh and sunny side up egg before sealing them in between two fluffy waffles, and if you still have room, order a side of their crispy, housemade brick hash to finish off your meal. Obviously you’ll want to wash it all down with Poppy’s Margarita, made with a house margarita mix and agave wine.
How to order: Curbside pickup, takeout, and delivery available through ChowNow.

Chomp cheeseburgers at Hinano Cafe

Venice Beach
Renowned for being Jim Morrison’s favorite Venice haunt, Hinano Cafe has been serving up burgers and brews since 1962. The no-frills shoreside hut is cash only and open from 8am to midnight every day of the year excluding Thanksgiving and Christmas. Stroll up and order a world famous Hinano cheeseburger with a beer, cider, or wine and enjoy it in their newly converted patio (aka their former parking lot, which means you’ll have to brave street parking). 
How to order: Walk-ins welcome for patio dining; pickup and delivery via Doordash; delivery also available through UberEats.

Treat the office to Porto’s Bakery

Multiple locations
If you’ve ever worked an office job in LA, then you know the giddy joy that one experiences when coming into work in the morning (hopefully on a Monday!) and seeing that one of your coworkers has surprised the office with an assortment of baked goods from Porto’s. The family-run business specializes in Cuban pastries, with the papas rellenas (potato balls), empanadas, and Refugiados (guava and cheese pastries) being must-try items. While the flagship Glendale location is still going strong, the brand has boomed in recent years, with locations springing up all over the LA Metro area. The bakery offers nationwide doorstep delivery if you prefer to skip the notorious wait times and bake the treats yourself. 
How to order: Walk-ins are welcome. Order pickup and bake-at-home delivery through Porto’s.

Try strip mall sushi and live to tell the tale

Various locations
While tourists might scoff, LA sushi lovers know that some of the city’s best and freshest rolls are found in nondescript strip malls, especially if you’re searching for an all-you-can-eat or lunch special. Sushi Gen in Little Tokyo is your best bet for lunch deals, while Echigo in Santa Monica delivers ultra-fresh fish at moderate prices. You have your choice of Sushi Ike, Sushi Q, and LemonFish Sushi in Hollywood alone, Kura Sushi’s new location in Sherman Oaks Westfield Fashion Fair (complete with a revolving bar!), or head to hidden Sushi Park in WeHo for your best bet at a celebrity sighting (though beware that the menu also features celebrity pricing).
How to order: Visit individual websites for information on how to order or book a reservation.

Grab an elote and watch the ducks swim at Echo Park Lake 

Echo Park 
There are a handful of LA meals that are best bought from a street vendor and enjoyed on the spot; elotes—Mexican street corn that’s slathered in mayo and topped with cotija cheese, chili powder, and lime—fit that bill. With modern Mexican cuisine taking over the city, there are plenty of places you can find chef-prepared elotes, but if you want to save some bucks and eat it the traditional way, do a lap around Echo Park Lake until you find an elote vendor. Beware that the spicy-meter is not adjusted to gringo standards—do yourself a favor and order bottled water on the side. 
How to order: Walk up and order.

Get lost in the sauce at Boyle Heights taco row

Boyle Heights
Given LA’s proximity to the Mexican border and our sizable Latino communities, it’s no surprise that we have a similarly lively street food scene. While several notable chefs have brought authentic Mexican cuisine to your favorite LA kitchens, the best place to grab a traditional street taco remains, well, the street. So why not head down to Boyle Heights taco row and make a feast of it? Whether it’s birria, barbacoa, al pastor, camaron, or tacos arabe you’re craving, you’re sure to find it here. Begin your sojourn at Pepe’s Red Tacos and continue down East Olympic Blvd until you reach Mariscos Jalisco
How to order: Walk-ins are welcome or call ahead for pickup if you have somewhere specific in mind.

Compare the French dips at Philippe’s and Cole’s 

DTLA
Classic LA diners Philippe the Original and Cole’s have each claimed themselves as the originator of the French dip sandwich and you’re not a real Angeleno until you’ve tasted both for yourself. Cole’s might have a perceived leg up since they hold the title of LA’s oldest bar—they claim the sandwich was made at their restaurant nine to ten years before it was even a twinkle in Philippe’s eyes—but most of their evidence is hearsay while Philippe’s original owner Philippe Mathieu went on record with his version of events in the LA Times in 1951. With no personal stakes in the rivalry, you’re free to enjoy both sandwiches in peace.
How to order: For Philippe’s, walk-ins welcome for patio dining, nationwide delivery is available through GoldBelly, and pickup via Chownow. For Cole’s, walk-ins are welcome for indoor and patio dining or call 213-622-4090 for takeout.

Time travel at America’s original Bob’s Big Boy

Burbank 
Southern California is bursting with burger history and the oldest remaining Big Boy’s in America, built in 1949, and home of the original double-decker hamburger, can be found in the grassy suburb of Burbank, easily spotted by its retro exterior, not to mention the huge neon “Bob’s” sign that sits out front. In 1993, owners began restoring the drive-thru diner to its former glory with an exterior patio, a weekend car hop service, and a Classic Car Show every Friday night. The Original Big Boy combo is their classic dish and comes topped with two never-frozen burger patties, lettuce, cheese, mayo, and the chain’s special red relish, plus fries and a drink. It’s the best 24-hour diner you’ll find in the area, plus the huge Bob out front is totally Insta-worthy. 
How to order: Walk-ins welcome for patio dining, drive-thru is open, or call for takeout.

Take in the views from Yamashiro

Hollywood Hills
Here’s a little equation that every Angeleno knows: the more terrifying and windy the drive (bonus points if it’s a too-narrow, two-way street), the greater the payoff when you make it to your destination. Yamashiro is a prime example of this, with verdant gardens, a tranquil koi pond, stunning architecture, and unobstructed views of the Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Hills awaiting you at the top, not to mention a Cal-Asian menu that makes it perfect for sushi lovers and those with pickier palates. The restaurant’s new menu features the fresh, made-to-order sushi rolls they’re known for, plus premium steak options.
How to order: Reservations can be made on Resy. Pickup via ChowNow

Let the good times roll at Harold & Belle’s

Jefferson Park 
Los Angeles is a melting pot of a city, and one thing that sets our food scene apart is the abundance of authentic cuisine from all over the globe. When you’re in the mood for down-home New Orleans Creole cooking, look no further than Harold & Belle’s, a family-run restaurant that’s served the community for more than 50 years. With dark roux, ground sassafras, shrimp, sausage, ham, blue crab, and chicken, a pot of file gumbo is a must for special occasions, while the po’boy sandwiches are great for wolfing down on the go.
How to order: Call 323-735-9023 for indoor and outdoor dining reservations. Pickup and delivery available through ChowNow.

Celebrate the holidays with a tamale from La Mascota Bakery

Boyle Heights
Family-owned La Mascota has been serving the Boyle Heights community for 65 years, dishing out their famous tamales, pan dulces, flans, tarts, and other Mexican desserts alongside a savory menu that includes Mexican breakfast staples and a variety of torta options, plus a hot drink menu that pairs perfectly with their sweets. The obvious choice is to stop by on a Tuesday for tamales that are just $1.75 a piece, and while you’re there, snag whatever delicacies are fresh out of the oven. Tamales are a typical Christmas dish for many Latino cultures so make sure you order in advance if it’s during the holiday season. 
How to order: Pre-order online via Chownow. Delivery through UberEats.

Taste innovative, non-traditional Indian dishes at Badmaash

Downtown LA and West Hollywood 
Badmaash means naughty and mischievous in Hindi, which the father-and-two-son team named their restaurant in honor of their non-traditional take on Indian food inspired by their Toronto upbringing. The result is dishes like chicken tikka poutine, a piping hot heap of masala fries doused in beef gravy with cheese curds and topped with spicy tandoori chicken tikka and cilantro. Vegetarians will want to try the channa masala poutine, which smothers masala fries with mashed Punjabi chickpeas, cheese curds, pickled onions and cilantro—ask for it without the cheese curds if you prefer non-dairy. Badmaash also features traditional Indian dishes like their 24-hour slow-cooked dal that’s made with black lentils and kidney beans, and butter chicken that sits in a 48-hour marinade of yogurt and spices before its charred in the tandoor and finished in a creamy tomato curry flavored with fenugreek. 
How to order: Reservations can be made on their website; pickup and delivery through DoorDash

Soak up the jungle vibes at Openaire

Koreatown 
Two-Michelin starred chef and native Angeleno Josiah Citrin sought to reflect the bounty of California’s land and sea at his second story terrace restaurant at the Line Hotel, an endeavor we feel confident saying he’s successfully pulled off. Openaire features a greenhouse design with lush plant life throughout and string lights draped across the patios. The seasonal menu reflects the diversity of the city and scoffs at any specific categorization; you’ll find Asian- and Latin-inspired choices rotating alongside traditional main courses, with most dishes intended to be shared. The beverage menu takes similar inspiration, featuring simple herbaceous cocktails and a lengthy wine list. 
How to order: Reservations can be made on OpenTable

Take advantage of all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ 

Multiple Locations
A densely populated neighborhood in Central LA, Koreatown is home to one of the largest Korean immigrant communities in the country, meaning there are few places stateside that are better for Korean food, and bar none when it comes to Korean BBQ. Korean BBQ refers to a communal, DIY-style of preparing meat on gas or charcoal grills that are built into dining tables. Locals can never agree on the best KBBQ in the city (and it will depend on factors like quality and types of meat, wait times, and cost) so check out our roundup of the best spots and find one that fits your needs.
How to order: Call your preferred restaurant for dining, pickup, and delivery options. 

Taste Persian ice cream at Saffron & Rose

Westwood
Saffron & Rose owner Ali Kashani- Rafye first began making ice cream in Tehran, Iran over 75 years ago and brought his unique, Persian-style ice cream with him when he relocated to Southern California in the 1970s. Kashani-Rafye’s family still runs the Westside ice cream joint, which is a great option for your vegan and dairy-free friends—their menu includes a long list of fruity, floral, and nutty flavors, with Saffron & Pistachio being their signature choice, alongside standouts like Fig & Cranberry, Poppy Seed Slush, and Lavender.
How to order: Walk-ins are welcome.
 

Step up to the counter at Eastside Market Italian Deli

Chinatown
A Chinatown fixture since 1929, family-owned Eastside Market remains one of your best options for an authentic Italian deli experience in LA. The Hot Roast Beef & Pastrami sandwich is their most popular, but the Italian Meatball trails close behind, and you can’t beat their Lasagna with Meatballs when you’re in the mood for stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. The rich, ricotta-stuffed cannolis with powdered sugar, cinnamon, chocolate chips, and pistachio on the ends will have you serenading the city with “That’s amore.”
How to order: Order pickup through their website.

Pair fresh food with ocean air and views at Malibu Farm

Malibu
Outside of the city, but still in LA county, beachside dining in Malibu is a beloved rite of passage that will immediately quell any doubts you might have about silly things like cost of living and bumper-to-bumper traffic—it’s all obviously worth it when you take in the view from Malibu Pier. Malibu Farm has expanded wildly in only a few years of business (the farm has additional locations in Newport Beach, Cabo, Lanai, Miami, Montecito, New York, and Tokyo), and you can choose to dine at the original Malibu Farm Cafe at the end of the pier that overlooks the ocean if you prefer a casual cafe experience, or Malibu Farm Restaurant at the beginning of the pier if you’re coming for weekend brunch or dinner and drinks. Both the cafe and restaurant menus feature simple, seasonal ingredients with fresh-picked produce and sustainably sourced meats; we like the smoked salmon hash with their rainbow mimosa selection (orange, kale apple, and watermelon) for brunch and the lobster mac and cheese for dinner.
How to order: Walk-ins welcome at Malibu Farm Cafe. Reservations for Malibu Farm Restaurant can be made on Yelp; pickup and delivery through Toast Tab

Have a Sinatra-approved steak dinner at Dear John’s

Culver City 
When Frank Sinatra urges you to leave your Hollywood career behind and open a piano bar, you don’t think twice, you just do it. Or at least that’s what Johnny Harlowe did in 1962 when his pal Frank urged him to open this haunt near Sony Studios. The rest is history—one that you can be a part of since award-winning chefs and restaurateurs Hans Röckenwagner and Josiah Citrin teamed up to reopen Dear John’s in April of 2019, updating the menu to include old-school cocktails and all your steakhouse favorites. 
How to order: Reservations for patio dining can be made on Resy; order pickup through Toast Tab.

Order Italian-American favorites from Jon & Vinny’s

Fairfax and Brentwood 
Chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo bring their Trois Mec experience to this laid-back American-Italian eatery that’s named in their honor, impressing with bubbly, charred crusts and chewy-on-the-inside pies that are topped with unexpected ingredients, like Salad Days, which is decked out with little gem lettuce, red onion, caciocavallo, sungold tomatoes, and creamy Italian dressing with a thick tomato sauce underneath. Their legendary fusilli alla vodka rivals any OG versions you’ll find at NYC’s best Italian spots. 
How to order: Make a reservation or order takeout and delivery through their website.

Scarf down Zankou Chicken straight from the takeout box

Multiple locations
Walk by one of Zankou’s many Southern California locations and you’ll be hard-pressed to understand why Angelenos go crazy over this fast-casual Meditteranean chain. However, all of those doubts will be immediately vanquished as soon as their secret garlic sauce makes contact with your mouth. All of their meats (tri-tip shawarma, chicken tarna, rotisserie chicken, and kabobs) are mouth-wateringly juicy and likely to tempt you into eating your meal fresh out of the box in the Zankou parking lot (don’t worry, you won’t be the only one with this idea). Make sure you order plenty of pickled turnips on the side, as well as extra garlic sauce.
How to order: Choose a location to find the pickup and delivery options near you.
 

Snag a table at Jitlada Thai Restaurant

East Hollywood
Don’t let the strip mall location fool you, Michelin-starred Jitlada is your go-to option for affordable, fast, and flavorful Thai food with none of the fuss. Chef/owner Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong has built a cult following since she and her brother took over the restaurant in 2006, specializing in comforting Southern Thai dishes that remind them of home. Be mindful that their “medium spicy” food label requires a glass of water on-hand and that enduring their spicy challenge just might permanently sear your taste buds. The green mussels curry are a standout dish, and the super-spicy, lettuce-wrapped burger that finally got added to the menu after years of being a by-request-only dish is one of the best in LA
How to order: Walk-ins only for dine-in. Call 323-667-9809 for takeout; delivery through UberEats, DoorDash, and Grubhub.

Head to SGV for a self-guided dumpling tour

Monterrey Park
San Gabriel Valley is a mecca for Asian cuisine, thanks to a large (and growing) Asian immigrant and Asian-American community. So the next time that dumpling craving strikes, head over the hill and take your pick from options like Cantonese hargow, shengjianbao hailing from Shanghai, and silky Sichuan chaoshou, that you’ll find steamed, boiled, fried, or a combination of all three. Try Mama Lu’s guotie, with pan-fried bottoms that add a pleasant crunch to softly steamed dumplings. Or put in an order at Din Tai Fung for soup dumplings that burst with a savory broth upon each bite. Whatever kind of dumpling you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it in SGV.
How to order: Visit individual websites for information on how to order or book a reservation.

Sign up here for our daily LA email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun Los Angeles has to offer.

Danielle Dorsey is the Los Angeles Editor at Thrillist.