In the land of French dip, there's no question that declaring anything "the best" can lead to a lot of beef. Fortunately, local editor Jeff Miller wasn't afraid to tab the top options in LA's eating scene, and now he's sharing them with you.
Favorite Restaurant: I keep thinking the answer to this question is going to change, but then I go back to Animal, and I have the re-realization that every dish on the menu is just, well, perfect. The BBQ pork sliders? Yes. Manischewitz ribs? Uh-huh. Whatever other part of a pig they want to feed me? OK, I'll take that too
Best Late-Night Eats: My perennial staple is Canter's. Some complain that their matzo ball soup lacks anything other than matzo and broth, but I think that's exactly what makes it so great. There're also a ton of amazing late-night Asian restaurants, including Hodori at Olympic and Vermont, who'll hit you with BBQ Korean beef and spicy rice cakes 24/7
Best Cheap Eats: I grew up in the Valley, so I've been eating at Pita Kitchen on Van Nuys since I was a kid. 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.
Best Sandwich: Everyone goes nuts for Bay Cities' Godmother, but I gotta give it up for mid-city sub-shop All About The Bread, who clearly wanted to be the rest of the city's answer to that venerable institution -- and succeeded. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery; in this case, it also eliminates a half-hour drive to the Westside
Best Dish: I've only been to West LA's Plan Check once, but if you were to enter their buttermilk fried chicken in a blind taste test, I bet I'd be able to pick it out. Perfectly moist on the inside and crispy on the outside, its like nothing I've ever had
Best Italian:We're not gonna talk about checkered tablecloth, "EhMammaMia" Italian here (OK, let's, just for a second: if you've got a big group, get some garlic knots and massive portions of pasta at C&O Trattoria in Venice). Instead, let's talk ridiculously great food: the burrata bar at Osteria Mozza, the charcuterie and pizza at Bestia downtown, and, well, everything at Gusto. Everything
Best Chinese: You gotta trust Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Gold on this one and head to the San Gabriel Valley. Din Tai Fung has amazing soup dumplings, the dim sum at Ocean Star is insanely cheap and crazy delicious, and the beef roll at Mama's Kitchen will have you begging for more hoisin. And frankly, these may not even be the best. You really can't go wrong just poking your head in around that part of town. Best Mexican: Since "best tacos" is such a hot-button issue, I'm pulling that out of the equation and going with West LA's Mariscos Chente, which is hidden away on a corner you'd never notice otherwise. The best things on the menu are raw shrimp (seriously) and whole snook (even more seriously). Smother the latter with caramelized onions, put it on their homemade chips, and you'll transported to a seaside Mexican town... minus the drug smugglers and little kids trying to sell you Chiclets
Best Food Truck: Quality-wise, no one has held a candle to Kogi/Chego!. But location is everything, and damn if those Mexican trucks outside La Descarga, or Main St in Santa Monica, don't taste perfect after a few rounds at 2a
Best Burger: I'll be honest: when I crave a burger, it usually means I crave In-N-Out, and I'm not ashamed of that. But if I'm going restaurant-style, I love Stout, 26 Beach, and the under-appreciated San Francisco Saloon
Most Gut-Busting Meal/Dish: It's impossible to go to Bludso's Bar-&-Que and not want to order literally everything -- and you basically have to, because where else are you going to get Texas-style smoked meat in LA? But then you get hit with massive servings of brisket, heaped-up ribs, and platters of links, and you start wondering if eating all that side mac & cheese was a good idea
Best Fine Dining: It's gonna hurt your wallet... a lot... but there's a reason that Providence is one of the most acclaimed restaurants in town. No one cooks seafood like Michael Cimarusti
Most Romantic: If you can't make it happen after dinner on the dim, foliage-laden patio at Silverlake's Cliff's Edge, then, dude, it just isn't happening
Best for Partying: Depends on what kind of party you want to have. Champagne, roast chicken, and -- for some reason -- a DJ? Bagatelle's for you. But a killer beer list, a massive menu, and everything from karaoke to pool? Barney's Beanery is where it's at
Best for Work: Your boss probably wants to see celebs, and -- since he's paying -- the closest thing to a sure thing is Wolfgang Puck's Beverly Hills steakhouse Cut
Best Lunch: I'm all about deals at lunch, so my go-to is Robata Jinya on 3rd. $11 gets you a bento with soup, salad, three meat skewers, rice, and tempura. Add $5 for a half-ramen, and you're still spending less than $20 while eating for three
Best Brunch: The best thing about Square One? You can eat outside under the menacing gaze of the Scientology super-center. The second-best thing about Square One? Literally everything on their menu, from super-fluffy omelets, to an actually-worth-ordering fruit plate that's got no-grapes-allowed local freshness from mango to starfruit
Weirdest Food: Ever eat blood soup? At Sapp in Thai Town, the boat noodle soup's made with blood broth and stuffed with all manner of pig -- liver, tripe, you name it. Also, it's delicious
Most Local Food: As if it were ripped out of an episode of Los Angelesia, there's a tiny little Silverlake cafe called Forage that actually uses produce from local amateur growers in dishes named after the foragers themselves, e.g., "Lewis and Tara's Pork Chop with Persimmon Butter with Santa Monica Mountain Hachiya Persimmons"
Best Donuts: It's a hike from LA proper, but Glendora's Donut Man is a serious treasure. An unassuming take-out storefront that does incredible sweets, they're best known for glazed jobs stuffed with fresh strawberries or peaches, but their bear claws and cinnamon rolls are equally, perfectly fluffy.
1. Animal435 N Fairfax, Los Angeles
2. Hodori1001 S Vermont, Los Angeles
3. Pita Kitchen14500 Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles
4. All About The Bread7111 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles
5. Plan Check Kitchen + Bar1800 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles
6. C&O Trattoria31 Washington Blvd, Marina Del Rey
7. Ocean Star145 N Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park
8. Mariscos Chente4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles
9. Stout Burgers & Beers1544 N Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles
10. 26 Beach3100 Washington, Los Angeles
11. San Francisco Saloon11501 W Pico, Los Angeles
12. Bludso's811 S Long Beach Blvd, Compton
13. Cliff's Edge3626 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
14. Bagatelle755 N La Cienega, Los Angeles
15. Barney's Beanery1351 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica
16. CUT9500 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills
17. Robata JINYA8050 W 3rd St, Los Angeles
18. Sapp Coffee Shop5183 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles
19. Forage3823 W Sunset, Los Angeles
20. The Donut Man915 E Route 66, Glendora
21. Canter's Delicatessen419 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles
22. Din Tai Fung1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia
23. Square One Dining4854 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles
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.
Hodori's a brightly lit, 24hr K-town spot for after-hours club-kid people-watching (i.e., cute chicks in small dresses), also serving up killer spicy stir-fried pork daeji bulgogi and soluntang, a noodle-filled bone soup.
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.
Spicy capocollo, mortadella, prosciutto di Parma, ham, Genoa salami, and provolone... that's right, it's a recreation of Santa Monica's fav sandwich: The Godfather. Even though it's a copycat, it saves you the long drive you'd otherwise be making for one of these babies.
Southern-inspired pub fare in vibrant flavors and colors. This location once housed a liquor store, so serving spirits is in their blood.
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.
This low-priced dim sum specialist is a Monterey Park favorite, serving up sumptuous dumplings and other Chinese specialties seven days a week.
Mariscos Chente is hidden away on a corner you'd never notice otherwise. The best things on the menu are raw shrimp (seriously) and whole snook (even more seriously). Smother the latter with caramelized onions, put it on their homemade chips, and you'll transported to a seaside Mexican town.
Whether you're craving rosemary bacon or crispy prosciutto with your beef patty, the best pub-style burgers in Hollywood hold are more than a match. What's more, each of the signature burgers on Stout's menu includes a pairing suggestion for the best style of beer to amplify your chosen flavors. Stop by during happy hour (4-6pm on weekdays), and you'll get that burger half off (a measly $6).
Here's a pro tip: When driving towards Marina Del Rey, all chain burger joints along Washington can be ignored -- it's 26 Beach you want. What outwardly appears to be a swanky, modern seafood restaurant is actually a funky little vintage eatery where goliath burgers dominate the menu (you still, however, can get a few seafood entrees here). Whether you go for the classic like The 26er or one of the other 30 more experimental creations, you'll have to throw manner aside to fit one of these towers in your mouth (and, most likely, your stomach.
Right across the street from Fantasy Island, this bar's NorCal'd up w/ a Golden Gate mural and brews like Anchor Steam, as well as an incredibly thick burger, which's thankfully not a Sex and The City reference...or is it?
This BBQ mecca serves up incomparably juicy burgers, thickly shredded pulled pork, and melt-in-your mouth ribs. Opener Kevin Bludso moved to LA from TX, so he specializes in the thick, slow-cooked meat his state is famous for. Sides include baked beans, mac & cheese and potato salad, each perfect in its own right.
Get your fill of local ingredients and seasonal craft cocktails at this somewhat-swanky hipster hang, which features a sick patio.
The epic, East-Coast-infamous brunch is the move at this La Cienega French-inspired resto.
In the mood for a killer beer list, a massive menu, and everything from karaoke to pool? Barney's is where it's at.
Wolfgang Puck's high-end Beverly Hills steakhouse is part of a mini chain that fancy pants around the world (there are locations in Dubai and Singapore) swear by. The pricey cuts are worth every penny, and the cocktails, appetizers, desserts, and general ambience will have you swooning by the end of the night.
The menu at Robata Jinya might be a bit perplexing at first due to the many options and combinations you can order, but once you sort out what you desire, this "robata-yaki" (fireside cooking) joint will send your taste buds to Tokyo while you sit comfortably in West Hollywood.
If you're a fan of boat noodles and happen to be in Hollywood, you'll wanna check out this Thai-style coffee shop. Don't know what boat noodles are? No, problem. Still pop in for some Thai tea or coffee and some food that's anything but the norm.
This cafe's got a creative menu w/ entrees like Niman Ranch beef & pork shoulder braised meatballs w/ grilled bread, and a pork belly sandwich w/ fennel pickles and Mexican Pationa.
This isn't your everyday, standard, glazed or powdered sugar dilemma: here, you'll find monster pastries overflowing with the likes of frosting or fresh, seasonal fruit. Other donuts include devil's food cake, French cruller, and glazed apple fritters.
This Fairfax Ave institution serves up New York deli classics -- pastrami on rye, cheesecake, burgers -- 24/7.
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.