You know all the things you've gotta do in LA before you die, but what about all the things you've gotta eat before heading to the big traffic jam in the sky? Here's our list of 50, from Apple Pan's hickory burger to an ice cream sandwich at Diddy Riese.
1. Chorizo breakfast burrito
Cofax Coffee ShopAddress and Info
It may only be less than a year old, but this small coffee shop's chips-and-smoked-potato-laden breakfast burrito has become a defining member of the city's hand-held tortilla-wrapped community.
Langer's DelicatessenAddress and Info
The most iconic pastrami sandwich in the city is also its most delicious. Yep, we said it.
3. Tonkotsu ramen
DaikokuyaAddress and Info
Little Tokyo (& Other Locations)
By far the most well-known Japanese noodle-and-broth combo in the city, and even with the city's ramen explosion, it's still one of the most delicious.
4. Crispy rice salad
SqirlAddress and Info
Yeah, it's got the word "salad" in the name, but you can get this unctuous dish with an egg and sausage. Which you will. And you will be very happy you did.
5. Seared Salmon Right Away
Sushi IkeAddress and Info
Available only at the bar at this raw-fish institution, the Seared Salmon Right Away melts on your tongue and makes you truly wonder why you've ever eaten second-rate sushi before.
6. Squid ink garganelli
UnionAddress and Info
This hole-in-the-wall Pasadena farm-to-table restaurant has rapidly become one of the city's go-to tables, and this dish -- with lobster, fennel, and truffle butter -- is its shining-est star.
7. Chianina steak
Chianina SteakhouseAddress and Info
It's worth exploring Long Beach to end up at this classy steakhouse, which grows and butchers its own meat, serving up limited servings of each cut that'll clean out your wallet in the most delicious way possible.
8. BBQ pork belly sandwich
AnimalAddress and Info
These slider-sized morsels have become the signature dish at Jon & Vinny's signature restaurant -- the rest of the menu changes around them, but a meal there without these fatty blasts would be sacrilege.
9. Fruit from any roadside stand
All over the city
LA's got access to the best fresh produce in the country, and at no time is that more obvious than on a hot summer day when you come across these street vendors, usually in front of a bank: get a $5 mixed bag of ultra-fresh fruit (and jicama, which always seems random) with a squeeze of limon (and if you're into the spicy stuff, some chili powder), and dig in, thankful that we've got juicy, flavorful fruit for a snack and NY's got... pretzels?
Petit TroisAddress and Info
It's simply called an "Omelette," but this perfectly buttered, Boursin cheese-stuffed fluffy egg dish is much more than that: it's Ludo Lefebvre's way of saying "I'm not just a TV-star gimmick." And after one bite, you'll agree.
11. Short rib
Odys & PenelopeAddress and Info
This dinosaur-sized bone-in hunka-hunka-delicious meat isn't just one of the best BBQ dishes in the city, it's one of the best dishes in the city, period.
12. Hickory burger
Apple PanAddress and Info
Thankfully, nothing at this WLA burger institution has changed since 1947: the space-wasting counter-only set-up, the old-school servers, and this burger -- legendary for its smoky, classic flavor.
13. Pork xiao long bao (aka soup dumplings)
Din Tai FungAddress and Info
Arcadia (& Other Locations)
That first bite, when your teeth puncture the surface of these perfect, thinly doughed pockets of soup and meatball, and the broth hits your upper lip, burning it ever-so-slightly in the process? Nirvana.
14. Chicharron quesadilla
Oaxacan Quesadilla CartAddress and Info
You may have a hard time finding this woman, but you NEED TO FIND THIS WOMAN, who hand-makes blue-corn tortillas stuffed with chicharrones, cheese, and some sort of magic insanity that makes you go "where the hell have you been my whole life???"
15. Strawberry donuts
Donut ManAddress and Info
"But, it's like a pie filling made from fresh strawberries stuffed inside a donut," say haters. To which you'll say, "DUDE IT'S LIKE A PIE FILLING MADE FROM FRESH STRAWBERRIES STUFFED INSIDE A DONUT!!!!"
16. Baseball Steak
Pacific Dining CarAddress and Info
Downtown and Santa Monica
Is this the best steak in the city? It is not. Is this the best steak in the city at 3am inside a relic from the 1950s where you're treated like Frank Sinatra in his prime? Yes. It is most certainly that.
18. Shrimp taco
Mariscos JaliscoAddress and Info
One bite of the shrimp taco and you'll understand why this truck is one of the most lauded cheap bites in the city.
19. Uni Dynamite
POTAddress and Info
The dirty secret of Roy Choi's excellent Korean menu is that the best stuff is actually NOT in the pots -- rather it's side dishes like this gooey, savory, creamy uni-and-rice dish.
20. Chicken kafta plate with eggplant salad, hummus, and baba ganoush
Pita KitchenAddress and Info
Anyone who's lived in The Valley is either a Pita Kitchen disciple or has wondered what the hell the out-the-door lines on Van Nuys Blvd are all about. Well, here's the thing: they're about these spiced chicken patties, this mushy, flavorful eggplant, and this perfectly oily hummus. Two pro tips, though: pay the extra $1 for a third side (baba ghanouj!) instead of stomach-filling rice, and avoid, at all costs, the same-named ripoff restaurant on Wilshire.
Zankou ChickenAddress and Info
West Lost Angeles (& Other Locations)
There are a lot of things you don't know about this beloved Middle Eastern chain, but here's one thing you do: its chicken (and ohGodthat garlic sauce) are absurd.
Dino's Chicken and BurgersAddress and Info
Pico Union (& Other Locations)
Another half-chicken? Yep. But Dino's -- a series of roadside cafes that look about as nondescript as possible -- couldn't be more different than Zankou; its deep-red Mexi-ish bird is covered in a vinegar sauce that makes it truly moist all the way through. Pro tip: order extra sauce and let it seep into the fries or rice below for an insane carb-bomb side.
23. Tsukemen ramen
Tsujita AnnexAddress and Info
Why not get the frothy, thick tonkotsu ramen? Because the dippable tsukemen gives you the ability to have as much -- or as little -- broth on your noodles as you want, plus the inevitable leftovers travel better.
24. Chinese chicken salad
Chin ChinAddress and Info
Studio City (& Other Locations)
The Chinese chicken salad is one of LA's defining dishes, and the version at the gentrified Chinese chain Chin Chin is one of its defining variations, thanks to a gingery dressing, an abundance of nuts, and -- oh yeah -- not one, but TWO types of crispy fried noodles.
Barrel and AshesAddress and Info
Its BBQ meats may be divisive, but no one who's been to this new-ish meat-centric spot can deny the buttery, gooey hoecake, which is essentially a cornbread if cornbread were made of dreams instead of corn.
26. Smoked salmon pizza
SpagoAddress and Info
Its glory-est days may be behind it, but Wolfgang Puck's flagship restaurant is still an emblem of Hollywood decadence, and this now off-menu signature dish was once the height of LA's food scene -- and one bite in, you'll understand why.
27. Bacon breakfast burrito
Lucky BoyAddress and Info
As notable for the fact that you'll get yelled at as you try to order it as it is for the monster amounts of crazy-good bacon that the guy yelling at you will eventually stuff into it. Mmmm.
Bay Cities Italian Deli & BakeryAddress and Info
This is pretty universally considered one-of-if-not-the best sandwich in all of the LA area. If you haven't had this meat monster yet, what have you been waiting for? Really, WHAT?
29. Smoked fish platter
Wexler's DeliAddress and Info
There are so many things we could recommend at the Grand Central Market, but this platter of freshly smoked fish hits the soul in the same way as Eggslut -- without the line.
30. Dodger Dogs
Dodger Stadium (address and info)
Everyone knows that Dodger Dogs are not the best hot dogs in the city -- and everyone also knows a Dodger game is incomplete without one. The pro-tip, as always, is to get yours grilled -- they're only available from a few vendors that way, but they're so much tastier than the steamed ones you can get throughout the stadium.
31. French dip
Cole'sAddress and Info
Is Cole's or Phillipe's the best French dip in the city? That's a debate we don't want to take a side in.
32. French dip
Philippe the OriginalAddress and Info
33. Ice cream sandwich
Diddy RieseAddress and Info
It's a rite of passage to stand in line for an hour at this nearby-to-UCLA spot, asking the entire time you're in line if it's really worth all that standing around for a $2 ice cream sandwich. And then you take a bite, and, yep, it totally is.
34. Albacore belly
SugarfishAddress and Info
Downtown (& Other Locations)
What, you've only ordered the set sushi meals? Then you've missed out on the real treat: this absurdly flavorful bite, which has to be ordered separately. It's worth it. Completely.
35. Office Burger
Father's OfficeAddress and Info
Culver City/Santa Monica
Love it or hate it, Sang Yoon's defining dish set the stage for LA's reputation as a burger mecca, and still stands as one of the best ground meatwiches in the city.
36. Chicken and waffles
Roscoe's House of Chicken and WafflesAddress and Info
Hollywood (& Other Locations)
There are a ton of variations of this dish all over the city, but Roscoe's is definitive, and still stands out for crispiness, balance, and being open late on Friday and Sat. Which never hurts. (And usually helps.)
37. All the salads
Hummus BarAddress and Info
It's worth the drive to this strip mall for two things: the skewers of meat at Kushiyu, and this Mediterranean restaurant's salads, which come with any entree order and fill the table with everything from eggplant to chopped liver, all dippable with their piping-hot homemade bread, which is sort of a mix between lavash and pita. It's outstanding.
38. Short Rib Tacos
KogiAddress and Info
The truck that started the nationwide food-truck trend still serves their signature dish, which melds Korean shortrib with mexican flavors for a perfect blast of conflicting, complementary bites. You can still chase their trucks down, or you can get the dish at their new-ish taqueria in Palms, where they're also doing magic like carnitas-and-kimchi-loaded fries. Your call.
39. Whole Snook (pescado Zarandeado)
Coni'SeafoodAddress and Info
The family that once ran Mariscos Chente and brought this dish to LA from Sinaloa has split in two, with the original chef at Inglewood's Coni Seafood and other members of his team keeping the tradition going at the original West LA location. No matter which one you end up at, you're going to want the whole snook -- a massive (bring friends), splayed-open, perfectly roasted fish, served with stewed onions, lime and homemade tortillas for build-your-own-fish-tacos that are singularly delicious.
40. Fish dip
Son of a GunAddress and Info
When they opened Son of a Gun, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo wanted to recreate the flavors they remembered from fish shacks in Florida, and they knocked it out of the park with this fish dip, going so far as to import the crackers they use to give it a hit of salty authenticity. Pro tip: even if you don't love Tabasco, it adds a killer vinegar extra to the already-great flavors.
41. Charcuterie platter
BestiaAddress and Info
So many spots in the city offer platters of cured meats, but Bestia's is all made in-house, which means the process is carefully curated, and the meats are that much better for it.
42. BBQ chicken pizza
Mulberry St PizzeriaAddress and Info
Beverly Hills (& Other Locations)
Some people may complain that the pizza here is too floppy, and yeah, it kinda is. But the ingredients in its BBQ chicken variation are top-notch, and the serving size is massive, and once it's in your mouth, who cares about that flop anyways?
43. Chili cheeseburger
Original Tommy's HamburgersAddress and Info
You could go to any of the Tommy's locations and leave happy, but if you hit the original-original-really-guys-we-mean-the-original spot, you'll be super-duper-double happy. (Until about five hours later.)
44. Mole negro
GueleguetzaAddress and Info
This sort of formerly under-the-radar Oaxacan spot just won a James Beard Award for having killer mole. Seriously, if that doesn't get you in the door, what does?
45. Kimchi fried rice
RepubliqueAddress and Info
Walter Manske's gorgeous restaurant has gotten praise for its dinners, but the real move is to go for brunch: the pastries are insane, and you can order this monstrous bowl of egg-topped, short rib-laden spicy rice and then... nap. You're definitely gonna nap.
46. Garlic knots
C&O TrattoriaAddress and Info
Going to C&O for a big-group dinner is unavoidable, and surely someone will complain in the comments below that the massive pasta plates are not up to snuff with other Italian joints in the city. Who cares? The free garlic knots -- which come both with every dinner and for whomever is waiting outside for a table as well -- are, like, insanely, insanely great.
Dan Tana'sAddress and Info
That said, if you do want Italian, and you don't mind dropping some dough, classic Italian steakhouse Dan Tana's still satisfies, especially when you're ordering something as classic as meat-stuffed lasagna.
48. Fried chicken
Honey's KettleAddress and Info
It's the #1 fried chicken in the city according to the most expert of experts. Do you really need another reason?
49. Green mussels curry
Jitlada Thai RestaurantAddress and Info
You put one of these in your mouth and it explodes with spice and flavor. Then you repeat. Then you repeat again. Then you sip some Singha. Then you repeat again.
50. Danger dog
Any random street cart
Because if you're gonna have your last meal, it may as well be bacon-wrapped and topped with onions, jalapeños, and mayo. Right?
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1. Cofax Coffee Shop440 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles
2. Langer's Delicatessen704 S Alvarado St, Los Angeles
3. Daikokuya327 E 1st St, Los Angeles
4. Sqirl720 N Virgil Ave, #4, Los Angeles
5. Sushi Ike6051 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles
6. Union37 E Union St, Pasadena
7. Chianina Steakhouse5716 E 2nd St, Long Beach
8. Animal435 N Fairfax, Los Angeles
9. Petit Trois718 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles
10. Odys & Penelope127 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles
11. The Apple Pan10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles
12. Din Tai Fung1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia
13. Oaxacan Quesadilla Cart1246 Echo Park Ave, Los Angeles
14. The Donut Man915 E Route 66, Glendora
15. Pacific Dining Car1310 W 6th St, Los Angeles
16. Pita Kitchen14500 Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles
17. Mariscos Jalisco3040 E Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles
18. Zankou Chicken1716 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles
19. Dino’s Chicken and Burgers2575 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles
20. Tsujita Annex2014 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles
21. Chin Chin12215 Ventura Blvd, Fl 2nd, Studio City
22. Barrel and Ashes11801 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
23. Spago Beverly Hills176 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills
24. Lucky Boy531 E Walnut St, Pasadena
25. Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica
26. Wexler's Deli317 S Broadway, Los Angeles
27. Cole's118 E 6th St, Los Angeles
28. Philippe the Original1001 N Alameda St, Los Angeles
29. Father's Office3229 Helms Ave, Los Angeles
30. Hummus Bar & Grill18743 Ventura Blvd, Tarzana
31. Sugarfish600 W 7th St Ste 150, Los Angeles
32. Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles1514 N Gower St, Los Angeles
33. Diddy Riese926 Broxton Ave, Los Angeles
34. Son Of A Gun8730 3rd St, Los Angeles
35. Bestia2121 E 7th Pl, Los Angeles
36. Mulberry Street Pizzeria347 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills
37. Original Tommy's Hamburgers2575 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles
38. Gueleguetza3014 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles
39. Republique624 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles
40. C&O Trattoria31 Washington Blvd, Marina Del Rey
41. Dan Tana's9071 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood
42. Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken9537 Culver Blvd, Culver City
43. Jitlada Thai Restaurant5233 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
44. POT3515 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
Although Cofax began as a coffee shop, it quickly became a big name in the donut game when it hired a next-level pastry chef, who's churning out creative flavors like honey sea salt, lemon pistachio, and spiced crumb.
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.
A mainstay in the ramen culture of LA (some may even argue that it started the trend), Daikokuya has been serving long lines of customers for years, satisfying them with its straightforward and scrumptious bowls of chewy noodles and rich broth, plus some stupid-good gyoza. Walk inside and you'll feel as though you've entered a bare-bones side-street shop in Tokyo. Slightly grungy and reverberating the sounds of loud Japanese orders and greetings, the space has red booths for you and your friends to squeeze into, and some counter seating, too.
Sqirl single-handedly made Virgil Village a thing, evidenced by the well-deserved line that snakes out its glass doors and around the corner. Its cult following comes for globally inspired breakfast and lunch dishes at this small, minimalist-chic, vegan-friendly cafe, including a sorrel pesto rice bowl, seared polenta, and seasonal specials like a smoked whitefish tartine and buckwheat pancakes. Speaking of pancakes, you really should make Sqirl your brunch go-to, when it hits a sweet spot between healthy (“Kabbouleh” with crispy brown rice, kale, cauliflower, and sumac) and indulgent (Guittard chocolate and hazelnut butter on thick-cut brioche toast). Make sure you take some homemade, sustainable jam to go, too.
The space is simple and the prices are a bit steep, yes, but you'll get stellar raw fish prepared by skilled traditionalists, in return.
Nestled in the heart of Old Town Pasadena, Union offers Italian cuisine with a California flare. The space is cozy and inviting so guests can get intimate with their farm fresh ingredients. You must get the Squid Ink Garganelli with lobster, fennel, and truffle butter - it is truly amazing.
This swanky Italian steakhouse in Long Beach is named after Chianina cattle that the owners first tasted in the old country and loved so much that they imported to be raised in the States. The result is some of the most unique steak you'll ever taste -- each cut is marbled, juicy, and packed with flavor. Aside from the namesake beef, the menu includes pasta, oysters, and plenty of vegetable plates.
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 Hollywood bistro from Ludo Lefebvre and the Animal dudes has no phone number, no reservations, only 21 seats, and one of LA's most acclaimed chefs making French classics like steak frites and confit chicken, as well as lunch -- with only 20 servings of two sandwiches offered.
Odys and Penelope, from the married couple behind Hatfield's, is a casual grill named after the protagonists of The Odyssey. The move here: dry-rubbed smoked short ribs and grilled Snake River Wagyu tri-tip.
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.
This Asian fare leader is just one of numerous other associated restaurants around the world. Unsurprisingly, they're most well known for their extensive dumpling menu, but they serve numerous other options that are each crafted with precision and flavor in mind, at a reasonable price to boot.
Some of THE BEST Oaxacan food in LA can be found at this quesadilla cart. Hand made blue corn tortillas are stuffed with Monterey jack cheese and your choice of chicken, beef, soft potato and, if you're lucky, squash blossom or chicharron.
Glendora's beloved Donut Man is known for its fruity doughnuts, especially its peach- and strawberry-stuffed ones overflowing with slightly caramelized pieces of fresh fruit. The rest of the fried, yeast-risen pastries on offer include giant cinnamon rolls, apple fritters, French crullers, and old fashioned doughnuts dripping with cherry or orange glaze. It's open 24 hours, so should your doughnut craving strike at 3am, Donut Man's got your back.
Open since 1921, Pacific Dining Car in Downtown LA (it has a second location in Santa Monica) is a timeless steakhouse that's open 24 hours. The best part about the standard chophouse menu is that you can get a quality filet mignon at 3am, and an extra late-night menu features diner-style eats like egg specials and reuben sandwiches. The 1950s-style decor is outdated in a charming way and you definitely get the sense that the place was hoppin' in its heyday.
The chicken kafta plate is the way to go -- order it without rice, load up on hummus/baba ghanouj/eggplant "salad" (marinated to the point of being unrecognizable as a vegetable), and you'll have two to three meals' worth of amazingness for $11.
Longtime taco fanatics don’t view the drive to Mariscos Jalisco in East LA as a hassle -- it’s a pilgrimage towards perfection. Frying up massively flavorful shrimp tacos dorados from a truck along Olympic Blvd, Raul Ortega has built a following that often stretches down the block on weekends.
There are a lot of things that make this Middle Eastern chain a favorite, but here's the key: its chicken (and ohGodthat garlic sauce) are absurd.
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.
A small noodle house known for their extra-thick broth.
Sourcing recipes from various provinces in China and parts of Asia, this Chinese chain -- with locations across LA and in NYC Vegas -- is a Big Orange favorite. Try their chicken salad; it won't disappoint.
For the best barbecue in Studio City, look no further than Barrel and Ashes. The family-style menu includes out-of-this-world Texas-style brisket, wings, and tri-tip, plus a gooey, buttery, hoecake for dessert. Add a friendly staff, communal tables, and boozy cocktails, and this spot is a go-to for a casual and beyond-satisfying dinner.
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.
This fast food, cash-only joint is doling out some of the best breakfast burritos in the city.
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.
This Grand Central Market deli features traditional Jewish deli eats like house-cured beef and pastrami on plush rye bread and house-made pickles as well as black/white cookies.
Constantly locked in battle with Philippe for the enviable "oldest French dip in LA" crown, Cole’s P.E. Buffet first opened its doors to thirsty commuters arriving on Red Car trolleys to the Pacific Electric terminal beginning in 1908. The bar endured the dry years with 3¢ bitters and 10¢ "near beers", but really made bank with the city’s first check-cashing service conveniently located within the bar. The Cedd Moses revamp added the speakeasy-style back bar, The Varnish, and a few modern touches (no more sawdust-covered floors! New pickled eggs!), but hung onto the original, massive front mahogany bar, Tiffany lampshades, and old oak tables made from old railway cars.
Open since 1908, Philippe the Original is an iconic deli in LA that claims to have invented the French dip sandwich. That said, it's not your typical sandwich shop where you wait for your ticket number to be called. Here's how things go down at Philippe's: if you're getting a sandwich, get in the specified line and watch as one of the "Carvers" works his magic, then order any sides (like a bowl of chili). If you decide post-French dip bliss that you want a slice of cheesecake, line up at the non-sandwich counter instead.
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.
Hummus Bar & Grill is so much better than the pita chips and hummus you had planned for dinner tonight. This large, high-ceilinged authentic Tel Aviv-inspired menu offers delicious Middle Eastern options like 8 types of hummus (you can't find at Trader Joe's), fried cauliflower bites, Lacheme Bajeen (flat bread with steak), and tender Kabab Halabi (lamb, beef, and tomatoes). Whether you order vegetarian or not, every dish is best eaten with the piping-hot homemade bread, an outstanding mix between lavash and pita. They have some great wine, like the Gamla Chardonnay from Israel, and a standard list of draft beer. It's worth the drive to this strip mall in Tarzana for the all-you-can-eat side salads alone, but thankfully they also deliver.
Kazunori Nozawa takes the food he perfected at his namesake restaurant and makes it more accessible to the masses without sacrificing an iota of quality. That quality's ensured by forgoing flashy rolls and fusion dishes in favor simple set preparations -- you choose from three set menus ranging from small to large-ish, and while a la carte items can be ordered on top of that, if you pick the right size and trust the master, you really won't need them.
There's one place, and one place only, to get chicken and waffles in southern California: Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles. Founded by a Harlem native on a mission to bring straight and simple soul food to LA, Roscoe's serves up miraculous plates of golden-hued fried chicken and crispy waffles. The menu is, of course, full of comfort combos like gravy-smothered chicken with biscuits and eggs-any-way breakfasts. The chain has multiple locations across the greater LA area, but the Hollywood one is in the center of it all.
Choose your own adventure at this magical ice cream sandwich emporium, where you can mix-and-match ANY of the ice cream and cookie varieties for a sweet sandwich. At two bucks a pop, the hearty desserts are certainly affordable.
The menu at this nautical Melrose spot from chef superstars Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (Animal and Jon & Vinny's) is seafood heaven with a fried chicken sandwich thrown in to remind you just how great turf can be, too. It's a hulking masterpiece with a spicy bread & butter pickle slaw and Sriracha aioli. If you're in the mood for surf, go for the trout or the octopus salad.
Since opening in 2012, Bestia's become the definitive LA restaurant, offering a menu that appeals to both eat-anything foodies and eat-carefully dieters in an industrial but homey space. The Arts District restaurant serves an Italian menu with next-level pizza, pasta, and small plates, and no matter what you get, be sure to start with the beloved charcuterie board -- all the meats are cured in-house.
Ask anyone who grew up in LA to name the pizza that makes them nostalgic for childhood, and they'll likely say the floppy pies from Mulberry Street. With two locations in Beverly Hills and two in the Valley, this checkered-tablecloth restaurant feels like a classic New York pizzeria, and it kind of is, given that the owner is from the Bronx. The flappy, thin-crust pies come in massive slices and are topped with the spot's signature marinara sauce, which is also available to buy.
Ignore all the imitators -- this is THE original location of THE Original Tommy's. Get the double chili cheeseburger (or two or three) with chili cheese fries and never look back.
This sort of formerly under-the-radar Oaxacan spot won a James Beard Award for having killer mole. Seriously, if that doesn't get you in the door, what does?
Republique hails from a crazy all-star team that includes the married chef duo Walter and Margarita Manzke -- who were among the most lauded in all of LA during their tenure at Downtown's Church and State -- and one of the restauranteurs behind Bestia and Sotto. Their 'tails and fare are definitely worth a weeks-in-advance res.
A block from the beach, C&O Trattoria is a beachside institution in Venice for classic Italian food. Not only are the portions huge, but the complimentary garlic rolls are something of a local legend. The heated outdoor patio is a must, as is the "Help Yourself" wine bar that operates on an honor system. One more thing: if sing-alongs to "That's Amore" aren't for you, then you might want to go elsewhere.
Dan Tana's has been around for 50 years and counting, largely due to its family-oriented, intimate environment -- and the fact that it offers up classic Italian dishes like chicken Parm and linguine with clams. It's also open until 1am Monday-Saturday, and until 12:30am on Sundays!
Honey's Kettle cooks up delicious golden-brown farm fresh fried chicken with the perfect crunch and juiciness. Choose a number of sides to complement your heavily battered fried chicken, such as buttermilk biscuits and honey from a spout. It's no surprise that Honey's Kettle was named Best Fried Chicken in LA by Los Angeles Magazine.
If this East Hollywood spot didn't have a cult following for its over-the-top spicy Thai food, it would easily go under-the-radar thanks to its nondescript strip mall exterior. Everything on Jitlada's super-long menu will take you out of your comfort zone, like the spicy catfish salad and green mussels curry. Speaking of curry, there are plenty of varieties, all of which are pretty darn spicy. The best thing about Jitlada, aside from the occasional celebrity sighting, is the affordable price.
POT is a group-meal spot for sure. Try as many of the pots as you can but the dirty secret of Roy Choi's excellent Korean menu is that the best stuff is actually NOT in the pots -- rather its side dishes like this gooey, savory, creamy uni-and-rice dish.