Food & Drink

LA's Best Secret Off-Menu Dishes You Need to Know

Updated On 02/06/2017 at 10:00AM EST Updated On 02/06/2017 at 10:00AM EST
secret off-menu dishes los angeles
Fancy mac and cheese | Courtesy of STK

You’re understandably proud that you’ve tackled the “secret” menu at In-N-Out, and for making your way through our favorite off-menu burgers, so now you’re hungry for more secret goodness. Well, you’re in luck. After eavesdropping near the kitchens of some of LA’s best restaurants, listening to whispers from the regulars, and having numerous clandestine meetings in back alleyways, we’ve rounded up the best secret and off-menu dishes that you should be ordering right now. 

Dustin Downing/Thrillist

Mexicali fries

Mexicali Taco & Co.

Address and Info

Chinatown

If you’ve been lucky enough to feast on the loaded fries at Califas Taco, chef Esdras Ochoa’s Smorgasburg outfit, then you’ll have an idea of the excellence that awaits you here. Only available for limited runs (keep an eye on Instagram), the fresh-cut fries are stacked high with roasted peppers, Cotija cheese, spicy crema, guac, cilantro, and your choice of flame-grilled pork, chicken, or beef.

Dustin Downing/Thrillist

Brisket burger

Maple Block Meat Co

Address and Info

Culver City

While you may have tried the incredibly tender and smoky brisket at this BBQ joint, this secret menu burger allows you to appreciate it on a whole new level. Featuring 100% beef brisket patty, American cheese, iceberg lettuce, “comeback” sauce, and pickled onions on a toasted challah bun, the burger isn’t always available, and when it is it’s only at dinner -- so be sure to ask. You can even crank things up again by adding a 1/4lb of sliced brisket to the burger.

Chowder poutine

L&E Oyster Bar

Address and Info

Silver Lake

We thought we’d seen all manner of fully loaded variations of poutine -- the Québécois import of cheese-curd-gravy fries -- but the bivalve-obsessed folks at L&E have thrown us a delicious curveball. Those in the know ask for the chowder poutine, which features a mound of fries smothered with clam chowder and covered with Cheddar cheese, Nueske’s bacon, and SBEZ hot sauce.

Courtesy of FrankieLucy Bakeshop

Ube pavlovas

FrankieLucy Bakeshop

Address and Info

Silver Lake

This newly opened sweet spot from the talented team behind Crème Caramel LA and Found Coffee, serves up a delectable lineup of traditional and Filipino-inspired treats (think coconut pandan custard), and top-notch brews (try the bourbon vanilla latte). But you’ll definitely want to add to your order the off-menu pavlovas, which feature a meringue base topped with any of the available custards including bright purple ube (yam) or seasonal picks like honey espresso, and a generous sprinkle of brûléed graham cracker crumble.

Spago Beverly Hills

Spicy tuna cones and smoked salmon pizza

Spago

Address and Info

Beverly Hills

Two of the granddaddy’s of beloved secret menu options, these two iconic dishes once graced the regular menu, but are now available by request. The trio of two-bite-sized sesame miso cones come filled with spicy tuna tartare and are topped with bonito flakes, masago roe, pickled ginger, and daikon sprouts. Meanwhile, the smoked salmon pizza -- which was on the menu when the restaurant opened in 1982 -- is topped with garlic chili oil, dill crème fraîche, red onions, house-cured smoked salmon, and caviar.

Dustin Downing/Thrillist

Donut breakfast sandwich

Birdies

Address and Info

Downtown/South Park

Sometimes deciding between donuts and a breakfast sandwich is too much work after a long night. Thankfully this fried chicken and donut specialist takes the difficulty out of such a burdensome choice by combining the two remedies in the ultimate hangover preventer.

Fried kreplach

Canter’s

Address and Info

Fairfax

Because this iconic deli is not only where you might start your day after a long night, but also likely where you’ll end up in the middle of a long night, thanks to the next-door Kibitz Room, it’s good to know the classic spot still has some tricks up its sleeve. The fried kreplach is one that the older patrons may remember and younger patrons should get to know -- small pockets of dough are stuffed with brisket, and while they’re usually boiled and served in soup, you’re going to ask for them fried. And you’re gonna like it.

LUKE Bar and Restaurant

An entire chili menu

LUKE Bar & Restaurant

Address and Info

Woodland Hills

Yes, that’s right, this stylish Valley spot features an entire secret menu featuring Chef Tony's award-winning Texas chili recipe if you know to ask, and now you do. Options include chili fries with house pickled serranos, beer Cheddar cheese sauce, smoked mozzarella, and cilantro, chili mac & cheese; a bowl of chili with mini jalapeño corn muffins; an open-face chili cheeseburger; and at brunch time, a Texas chili omelet. But one option you don’t want to miss is the classic Frito Pie, served table-side with two bags of Fritos, a cup of chili, chives, sour cream, and warm beer Cheddar cheese sauce. We advise not making plans afterward.

Tuna melt

Apple Pan

Address and Info

West LA

Because there may come a day when you want to order something other than the Hickoryburger (or the Steakburger if that’s how you roll), this LA institution can hook you up with a tuna melt or even a patty melt if you ask nicely. Bonus: You can also ask for some of that delicious Tillamook Cheddar to be melted over your fries and cool off with a root beer float -- both off-menu options.

Courtesy of Plan Check Kitchen + Bar

Mushroom Bun and grilled cheese

Plan Check Kitchen + Bar

Address and Info

Multiple locations

While this solidly reliable gastropub serves up excellent burgers, fried chicken, and pastrami, they also have several great options for vegetarians. Besides the on-menu Double Up Veggie Burger, those looking to skip the meat can also opt for the Mushroom Bun, which includes a roasted portobello mushroom, topped with melted Swiss, roasted garlic steak sauce, and crispy kale. Or if you’re looking to kick it after-school style, ask for the grilled cheese, which features two kinds of cheese, pickles and is served on a panko crusted crunch bun.

Dustin Downing/Thrillist

Spot shrimp Japanese ceviche

Yamashiro

Address and Info

Hollywood

Head for the hills to one of the best views in town where a recently reopened Yamashiro features several secret menu options worth braving Hollywood traffic. Ask for the Spot shrimp Japanese ceviche, which features hand cut Ora salmon, yellowtail, big eye tuna, and Spot shrimp, topped with black tobiko and chili pepper. Or you could opt for the shrimp kataifi -- jumbo prawns wrapped in shredded phyllo dough, served with a reduction of basil and cream of coconut and a yuzu ponzu sauce. Another solid off-menu option is the Wagyu beef tataki with seared Wagyu, momiji oroshi (grated daikon and chili peppers), scallions, and tosazu sauce.

Dustin Downing/Thrillist

Secret pizzas

Kettle Black

Address and Info

Silver Lake

This newish hotspot turns out some exceptional wood-fired pizzas, but if you’re looking for something beyond what’s listed on the menu, Chef Sydney Hunter III has you covered. Ask about the Chef’s Special, which features a San Marzano sauce, sopressata, cremini mushrooms, and chopped pepperoncini, or the Italian in Paradise with pineapple, large soppressata, provolone, pickled fresnos, and pancetta. Or if you feel like stealing plans for the Death Star, you could go for the Rogue One with crème fraîche, Yukon potatoes, n’duja, egg, fontina, Taleggio, Italian pancetta, pickled fresnos, and lemon dressed arugula on top.

Socially You

Inside out sandwiches

Greenspan's Grilled Cheese

Address and Info

Melrose

The only thing better than a grilled cheese sandwich on a rainy day is an award-winning grilled cheese sandwich turned inside out -- basically an open-faced sandwich on top of a whole one -- on a sunny day in LA. Any of the sandwiches on the menu can be ordered in such a crazy fashion.

Dustin Downing/Thrillist

José's taco and avocado cotton candy

The Bazaar by José Andrés

Address and Info

Beverly Hills

Decorated chef José Andrés won’t settle for just any old ordinary taco to be his namesake taco. Instead, his favorite rendition, available only by request, includes Jamón Ibérico de Bellota and Siberian sturgeon caviar garnished with chervil and extra virgin olive oil. As a bonus, vegetarians -- or cotton candy enthusiasts -- can also order the secret avocado cotton candy, the veggie version of the restaurant's iconic foie gras cotton candy. In this case you’ll find a cube of avocado, dusted in ground corn nuts, and then wrapped in cotton candy.

Truffle pocket

Wally’s Beverly Hills

Address and Info

Beverly Hills

Imagine, if you will, the Hot Pockets of your childhood grew up, got a really well-paying job and moved to Beverly Hills -- then you’ll start to have an idea of what’s in store for you with this off-menu delight. A giant calzone-like shell that’s been perfectly crisped in the wood-fired oven is filled with fresh buffalo mozzarella, truffle paste, and a healthy dose of black truffle shavings, all of which comes oozing out in the most beautiful way when you cut into it. Should you find yourself doing the Truffle Shuffle, we won’t blame you.

Santa Barbara whelks

Terra Cotta

Address and Info

Koreatown

All right, bear with us here: Whelks -- aka sea snails -- may be a far cry from your secret menu selection at In-N-Out, but at this creatively delicious K-town spot, they’re an under-the-radar favorite. Here the dish comes with Santa Barbara sea snails, herb butter, dehydrated miso, cho gochujang, and scallions. Originally on the opening menu in the “anju” section (read Korean eats to be consumed with booze), you can still order them with your next round.

Courtesy of Katsuya

24K tartare

Katsuya

Address and Info

Downtown

The next time you’re heading to a show at L.A. Live or a game at the Staples Center and are looking to drop even more cash, swing by Katsuya and ask for the off-menu 24K tartare. You’ll be treated to the coveted toro (tuna belly) tartare with truffle nikiri soy that’s paired with Hudson Valley foie gras topped with caviar and 24K gold leaf. Your chariot awaits, your highness. (And if you’re balling on a more reasonable budget, head to the Hollywood location for the off-menu miso corn elote, made with kewpie mayo, ichiimi chile, cilantro blossom, and masa hane.)

Wexler's Deli

The Russian Hack

Wexler’s Deli

Address and Info

Santa Monica

While some of us may be satisfied with a quality Reuben or a straightforward bagel with cream cheese at Wexler’s, the true deli baller knows that he or she can ask for the Russian Hack (at the Santa Monica location only) -- a decadent sandwich of house-smoked lox, cream cheese, capers, and onions, that’s topped with 30g of Wexler’s Deli private label Oscietra caviar for a “mere” $100.

Courtesy of E.P. & L.P.

Spicy habanero chicken sandwich

E.P. & L.P.

Address and Info

West Hollywood

If you didn’t believe us before when we told you to head to the L.P. Rooftop for the fried chicken sandwich, hear us now. You’ll find the regular sandwich on the menu, but you’ll want to pump up the volume and ask for the off-menu spicy rendition, which features a house-made habanero sauce, romaine, house mayo, served on a buttery bun.

Pizza fries

Jerry’s Famous Deli

Address and Info

Multiple locations

Two of your favorite food groups together at last: French fries covered in marinara, mozzarella, and pepperoni. And all you had to do was ask.

Dustin Downing/Thrillist

Chocolate and salted caramel parfait

The Church Key

Address and Info

West Hollywood

Once you’ve stuffed yourself silly from the passing dim sum carts, you’ll want to stuff yourself sillier with this killer off-menu dessert, which features chocolate cake, salted caramel sauce, chocolate mousse, and peanut brittle.

Courtesy of Carlitos Gardel Argentine Steakhouse

The whole ribeye cap

Carlitos Gardel Argentine Steakhouse

Address and Info

Beverly Grove

While steak aficionados may know they can order a 12oz portion of the ribeye cap at this meat-lover’s paradise, if they get the crew together, they can feast on the entire cut, which usually rings in around 48-62oz. Hand-carved table side, this prized cut must be reserved in advance as they only serve two portions a night. Years ago GM Gerard Bozoghlian developed a special carving technique that allows the chef to cook the ribeye cap marbling first, which creates a cut that’s tender as filet mignon but with the full flavor of a ribeye. You’re going to want an extra order of the house chimichurri for this.

Pork confit tortellini

SALT Restaurant & Bar

Address and Info

Marina Del Rey

Soak up some stunning harbor views while feasting on this off-menu special, which features house-made tortellini stuffed with a confit of Berkshire pork that’s served in a house dashi enriched with chicken jus and rich “beurre de baratte” butter, and garnished with tea-smoked plum. Suddenly realize you have nothing much to complain about at the moment.

Courtesy of STK

Fancy mac & cheese

STK at W Los Angeles

Address and Info

Westwood

You didn’t come to this steakhouse to cut calories, so let’s just cut to the chase and order up the signature mac & cheese. And while you’re at it, double down by enhancing that mac & cheese with freshly shaved truffles, lobster, or crab -- all little known secret options that are well worth the indulgence.

Challah baked French toast

Clementine

Address and Info

Century City

Should you find yourself at this cozy bakery and café for breakfast -- and not at lunch for their exceptional grilled cheese -- you’re going to want to inquire about the special challah baked French toast. While sometimes available as a bake-at-home option, if you’re there when chef and owner Annie Miler is around -- who has to personally make it -- you can score one at the café.

Courtesy of Officine Brera

Farinata

Officine BRERA

Address and Info

Arts District

You’re here for the top-notch Northern Italian specialties, so why not get the fully authentic experience by ordering a super old-school dish -- we’re talking ancient Roman Empire eats here. Farinata, a popular street food in Northern Italy (especially Liguria), is a deceptively straightforward yet delicious, thin pancake made from chickpea flour, olive oil, water, and salt that’s fired in the wood-burning oven. One legend says the dish was created when Ancient Roman soldiers would cook a chickpea batter in the hot sun on their shields, while another says Genoese sailors accidentally left the batter in a bowl to bake in the sun. All we know is, we’re glad somebody else is cooking it for us.

Dustin Downing/Thrillist

Poutine

Belcampo Restaurant & Butcher Shop

Address and Info

Santa Monica

The fries at Belcampo are already tremendous, so when you ask for the off-menu poutine made with them, things are about to get bigly. Kennebec fries are piled high with cheese curds, caramelized onions, and doused in a red wine demi. Winning.

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Danny Jensen is a regular Thrillist contributor who is always willing to go off-menu in search of secrets. Whisper at him on Twitter and Instagram.

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1. Mexicali Taco & Co. 702 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Downtown)

This super simple Chinatown spot is owned by the Baja-bred Esdras Orchoa, who's changing the Mexican food game in LA with his masa harina tortillas. Not too big or too small, the corn flour tortillas are thick enough to hold the weight of beef, chicken, pork, or shrimp fillings, plus a topping of the creamy house garlic sauce. Mexicali's menu is simple and straightforward: aside from tacos, there are quesadillas, tostadas, and nachos. To really get a taste of the kitchen's Baja expertise, go for the Zuperman, a tortilla sandwich filled with a hefty portion of three meats and cheese.

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2. Smorgasburg 746 Market Ct, Los Angeles, CA 90021 (Downtown)

A West Coast outpost of the Brooklyn-born open-air market, Smorgasburg LA brings chefs from across the city to a five-acre parking lot on Alameda to serve you their favorite, most popular dishes. Every Sunday, you can walk from stall to stall at the Downtown outdoor market, visiting dozens of vendors, sampling their offerings, and shopping through creations by local artists. Bring cash and be prepared to wait in line; parking is free for two hours.

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3. Maple Block Meat Co. 3973 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230 (Culver City)

This Culver City BBQ spot is lead by a Southern-born chef who seriously knows how to work a grill and smoker. The seasonal menu at Maple Block Meat Co. serves traditional American BBQ dedicated to brisket and pork ribs, craft beers, and house-made soda. For lunch, you can order a sandwich and BBQ combo plate while dinner gets a bit fancier with small plates and Scottish ocean trout.

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4. L&E Oyster Bar 1637 Silver lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026 (Silverlake)

This bi-level bistro in Silver Lake is known for its rotating roster of East and West Coast oysters. While bivalves are king -- be they raw, fried, grilled, or Rockefeller -- other dishes, like a warm lobster roll and steak-frites, reside on the menu for the oyster-averse. The "bar" part of L&E Oyster Bar is limited to wine, plus a few beers and aperitifs; though the list isn't exhaustive, it's well-picked to complement the seafood-centric menu. In other words, you have no excuse not indulge in pairing the Daily Dozen oyster selection with a glass of chilled California wine.

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5. FrankieLucy Bakeshop 3116 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026 (Silverlake)

From the one-time forces behind Found Coffee and Crème Caramel, FrankieLucy Bakeshop is a Filipino-inspired coffee and custard collaboration in Silver Lake. The display case is stocked with signature sweets like upside down pie -- a purple-tinted ube custard concealed by graham cracker crumble -- and large servings of coffee cake, scones, and muffins. Those on a health kick can order gluten-free chia seed pudding (yum!) while those looking for a savory lunch can opt for large cuts of quiche and Spanish tortillas.

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6. Spago Beverly Hills 176 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 (Beverly Hills)

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.

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7. Birdies Fried Chicken and Doughnuts 314 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA (Downtown)

For a taste of Southern comfort in DTLA, look no further than Birdie's. Fried chicken and doughnuts are the name of the game here -- think sandwiches stacked with juicy-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside meat, crunchy cole slaw, and doughnuts in flavors like blueberry lemon and candied maple bacon. Open 'til 3am Sunday through Thursday and 24-hours a day on weekends, Birdie's is a go-to for late-night eats and/or hangover cures.

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8. Canter's Delicatessen 419 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90048 (West Hollywood)

New York City has a lot of things that other cities don’t, like sidewalks perpetually lined with garbage, Michelin-rated restaurants that serve dinner at 2am, and authentic Jewish delis. Canter's Deli has been providing Angelenos with a little slice of New York hospitality since 1931. The 24-hour diner is a landmark institution that draws celebrities and plebs alike for smoked fish, chopped liver, pastrami on rye, matzo ball soup, and more. The bagels might not be as good as they are in New York, but that's not Canter's fault.

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9. LUKE Bar & Restaurant 22616 Ventura Blvd, Woodland Hills, CA 91364

Ever find yourself wandering Woodland Hills when hunger strikes, and at a loss for places to go? It seems like the owners of LUKE Bar & Restaurant definitely faced that conundrum at one point, because their restaurant is everything you could ever want or need on an otherwise culinary destination-deprived strip in San Fernando Valley. It's a mix of upscale bar snacks, familiar comfort foods (short ribs and polenta) with a smattering of Italian cuisine (short rib lasagna) here and there, not to mention brain-twisting innovations like apple pie nachos. Yes, they are exactly what you're picturing right now, but don't take my word for it... better find out for yourself.

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10. 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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11. Plan Check Kitchen + Bar 351 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (West Hollywood)

This sophisticated gastropub -- with a few locations across Los Angeles -- is acclaimed for its burgers, whiskey, and craft beer. The namesake Plan Check burger, topped with pickles, onions, and Americanized dashi cheese, is famous for its layer of Ketchup Leather, which is a square of dehydrated tomato paste that melts over the patty like a layer of cheese. Plan Check’s comfort food vibe makes for a hip and social ambience, complemented by tall communal tables and plenty of bar seating.

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12. Yamashiro 1999 N Sycamore Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068 (Hollywood)

Perched above Hollywood Boulevard, Yamashiro is an iconic hilltop palace offering guests magnificent views of the city below, plus fresh sushi, Cal-Asian fusion plates, and cocktails. Built in 1914 and modeled after a palace in the Yamashiro province in Kyoto, the restaurant has become a Los Angeles landmark over the years, attracting many a couple looking to dine around the romantic garden and koi pond. Beyond sushi, dishes like Asian BBQ baby-back ribs, pistachio-salmon sashimi, and ahi poke line the menu, as do shareable drinks perfect for said couples, like the large-format, thematically named Koi Bowls.

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13. Kettle Black 3705 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026 (Silverlake)

From the team behind Silverlake favorite Sawyer comes Kettle Black, an Italian restaurant boasting some of the best decor in the hipster ‘hood. Below dozens of Edison bulbs dangling from the tall ceiling are tables for two, communal seating, a wall with plant life jutting out, and bottles of wine and liquor stacked seven golden shelves high behind a marble bar. The menu is full of modern pizza and pastas, like the crimini mushroom-topped funghi pie and gnocchi with braised lamb. For a front-row seat at the wood-fired oven, book a spot at the chef’s counter where you can watch pizzas emerge from the flames, crisped to perfection.

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14. Greenspan's Grilled Cheese 7465 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (West Hollywood)

Iron Chef contestant Eric Greenspan is behind this counter-serve grilled cheese temple on Melrose. With options that range from speciality sandwiches like the blue cheese and fried chicken Buffalo Blue to make-your-own-creations, Greenspan's menu is stacked with crazy inventive cheese-and-bread combos. The bright yellow space is relatively small and narrow, but there are a few tables inside and out.

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15. The Bazaar by José Andrés 465 S La Cienega, Los Angeles, CA 90048 (Beverly Hills)

The Bazaar by José Andrés delivers a whirlwind series of culinary concepts and fantastically designed spaces, all wrapped into the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills. A duo of wine bars are the opening act: Rojo embodies the traditional with textbook Spanish tapas (Catalan bruschetta, Iberian ham) while Blanca acts as the playful contemporary sister with avant-garde small plates like foie gras cotton candy. The creativity continues on the mixology-forward menu at Bar Centro, where classics are aggressively reimagined with liquid nitrogen and emulsifications (order a dirty martini and it will be topped with olive brine espuma). There’s more still: the bakery branch Patisserie turns its focus to elegant pastries in a fantastical tea house atmosphere, where afternoon high tea is defined by wanton bonbon consumption. Whatever you go for (not that you have to stop at one venue), expect dramatic furnishings and an adult playground experience.

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16. Wally's Beverly Hills 447 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 (Beverly Hills)

You’ve just finished a decadent dinner (or lunch) of flavorful French cuisine with delightfully complementary wine pairings at Wally’s, and you just don’t think you can live any longer without a bottle of that one wine you tried -- and loved -- even though you’d never heard of it before. And what would that bottle of wine be without a wheel of that obscure Burgundian cheese you tasted on your way in? Wally’s is here for you. The Beverly Hills hybrid restaurant also serves as a fine wine, spirit, and specialty foods market. While the menu is decidedly French, the wines and cheeses (there are hundreds of both) are imported from all over the world, and the options are endless, so it’s probably best to think through your impending purchase over some steak frites… you don’t want to make the wrong decision.

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17. Terra Cotta 3760 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010 (Koreatown)

Terra Cotta is a globally-influenced, lavish restaurant in Koreatown. With its proximity to the Wiltern (it’s attached), communal tables, and a wraparound bar, it’s a great option for pre- and post-theater dining and imbibing. The Asian-leaning menu is divided into categories: raw, vegetable, anju, mains, family. You can find dishes with classic Asian ingredients fused into global and regional California cuisine, like oysters with Korean pear mignonette, beets and carrots with tofu tsaziki and yuzu, and salmon with Brussels sprouts, chorizo, and yuzu kosho. The cocktails are Asian-influenced as well, with ingredients like Soju, ginger, and black sesame stirred into their signature concoctions. There’s also an entire section devoted to gin and tonics, which you’d be remiss to overlook.

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18. Katsuya 6300 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028 (Hollywood)

With locations across the globe, Katsuya is a sleek, modern Japanese restaurant with a reputation for innovation and quality. Owned and operated by one of the few Master Sushi Chefs in America, Chef Katsuya Uechi, this chain never forsakes quality, always serving fresh seafood prepared with the most intricate of techniques. Known for celebrity sightings as well as the food itself, Katsuya is a hot spot, so go early to secure a seat at happy hour, or make a reservation in advance.

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19. Wexler's Deli Santa Monica 616 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (Santa Monica)

After getting rave reviews for its Grand Central Market stand, Wexler's Deli expanded to a larger sit-down space in downtown Santa Monica. A throwback to old-school Jewish delis, the 30-seat spot serves its signature pastrami and smoked fish, plus an expanded menu that includes pastries and matzoh ball soup. It's one of the few places in LA with quality bagel-and-lox sandwiches that taste just like New York.

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20. E.P. & L.P. 603 N LA Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069 (West Hollywood)

It's a bit hard to discern which is which at this two-for-one West Hollywood spot. Downstairs is E.P., an Asian restaurant that combines Thai cooking with Chinese, Fijian, and Vietnamese elements. Meanwhile, L.P. is the upstairs patio bar serving up street food small bites and killer cocktails surrounded by stunning views of the Hollywood Hills.

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21. Jerry's Famous Deli 13181 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292 (Marina Del Rey)

The word “Deli” in the name of a restaurant is basically synonymous with pastrami sandwiches on rye, dill pickles, and chicken soup. Jerry’s Famous Deli is exactly that… but better, because it also has pizza and burgers (among a long list of other things you wouldn’t likely find at a deli). Jerry’s is serving up its famous noshes -- plus all of those other things -- from various locations across Southern California. And for those of you that aren’t in the know, there is one thing Jerry’s is famous for that’s not listed on the menu: French fries topped with marinara, mozzarella, and some pepperoni for good measure. You’re welcome.

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22. The Church Key 8730 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069 (West Hollywood)

The Church Key gets aggressively inventive with its Asian-influenced interpretations of modern American cuisine. Waiters push dim carts around the dining room featuring small plates that are familiar enough for you to recognize (sweet potato gnocchi, curried chicken pot pie) but exciting enough that some will only appeal to the most adventurous of eaters (pig ear cheetos). Signature cocktails continue to challenge expectations: Negronis come in a can and boozy popsicles are a common sighting.

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23. Carlitos Gardel Restaurant 7963 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

Carlitos Gardel is a restaurant born out of nostalgia, founded on family recipes and tradition, and set in an old world-reminiscent space -- a departure from the Los Angeles steakhouse scene. The Argentine steakhouse on Melrose is quite possibly as close to Argentina you can get… from Beverly Grove, at least. The meat is sourced, treated, and prepared exactly as it would be in Argentina, with authentic, house-made chimichurri -- because you can’t have an Argentine steak without it. This is not the steakhouse serving crudo and crab legs to start, it's the steakhouse serving blood sausage and its famous garlic fries to start. And there’s no Cru Burgundy here (though there are a few French wines on offer), the wine list at Carlitos is an expansive showcase of the beautiful new world wines Argentina and its surrounding regions have to offer.

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24. SALT 13534 Bali Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292 (Marina Del Rey)

Located inside the Marina del Rey Hotel, SALT is a quintessential Southern California restaurant with seasonal cuisine, harbor views, and an airy outdoor patio. The menu features a solid mix of small and large seafood and meat plates. The interior feels chic and modern with light wood, warm lighting, and communal tables.

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25. STK Los Angeles 930 Hilgard Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024 (Westwood)

STK is a posh steakhouse in the W Hotel in Westwood, with a sleek design and DJ beats to make you feel like you're in Vegas. Your meal will certainly vie with the sultry aesthetic for your attention: the menu of market salads, starters, raw selections, entrees, steaks, and sides plates exquisitely composed dishes like beef carpaccio with pickled mustard, garlic chips, and walnut oil, seared tuna with shiitake brown butter, ponzu, and roasted baby turnips, and roasted pork chop with maple sweet potato and apple marmalade. Steaks can be ordered in small, medium, and large varieties and can be topped with a pat of truffle butter, shrimp, or a hunk of king crab or lobster.

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26. Clementine 1751 Ensley Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024 (Century City)

Clementine is a quaint cafe and bakery counter serve in Westwood with all of the expected cafe and bakery things, plus a build-your-own grilled cheese sandwich option that makes the inevitable wait in line, the crowded quarters, and hard-to-find parking all well worth your efforts. The grilled cheese is piled high with your choice of cheese (there’s a vegan-friendly version made with cashew cheese for the dairy-averse) and toppings, and pressed on the grill. There’s really no telling why this grilled cheese reigns supreme, so you’ll either have to take my word for it, but you should really just try it for yourself.

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27. Officine Brera 1331 East 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90022 (Downtown)

Inspired by the landscape and cuisine of Northern Italy, this cozy DTLA restaurant serves seasonal fare in a warm and open space. Enjoy artisanal craft cocktails and Italian wine on the outdoor terrace, or take a seat in the plush indoor dining room and mangiare on homemade gnocchi and slow-braised beef shoulder. The glass-enclosed kitchen offers an exciting look into how the food is prepared.

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28. Belcampo Santa Monica 1026 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (Santa Monica)

Part-butcher-shop, part-restaurant, Belcampo Meat Co. sources all of its grass-fed, organic beef from its own sustainable farm. The restaurant at the Santa Monica location serves innovative dishes like goat tartare, mutton chops, and the infamous cheeseburger, sandwiched on a toasted brioche bun with a thick slice of Cheddar, caramelized onions, and house sauce. The butcher shop up front sells cuts to go, plus ready-made meals so you can have a locally sourced, carnivorous feast in the comfort of your own home.

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