Los Angeles might bring to mind images of smoothies and Buddha bowls, but there’s plenty more to the home of Hollywood than healthy eating. From Pink’s legendary hot dogs to Canter’s Jewish staples, our guide to LA’s best restaurants is guaranteed to satisfy your cravings.
Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle Annex, 2050 Sawtelle Boulevard
Restaurant, Ramen, $$$
Tsujita LA and its sister shop, Tsujita Annex, have introduced a new way to eat noodles to the Sawtelle area. Called tsukemen, or dipping noodles, the dish is presented to customers with dry noodles and toppings in one bowl and soup in another; patrons can then dip the noodles in the broth and enjoy its rich flavor. Tsujita LA puts a twist on tsukemen by allowing diners at the restaurant the option to change the taste of the dish throughout the meal. By adding lime juice and soup wari, soup stock used to dilute the thicker tsukemen broth, people have the option to customize their meal just as they would ramen at other shops.
This popular sushi spot was created by sushi Chef Nozawa, and it is one of the most sought-after seafood restaurants in the city. There are locations all over the city, but head to the Brentwood location for a relaxed vibe. The fish is ridiculously fresh, so the rolls just melt in your mouth. It is known to be a minimalistic and traditional approach to sushi more in the style that it is eaten in Japan.
La Azteca Tortilleria’s famous chile relleno burrito has been named LA’s best so many times, by so many people, that there isn’t room to list them all. The restaurant opens at 6am, when they start making the tortillas, and closes at 3:30pm (or earlier, if they run out), so plan to stop by for lunch. It’s worth a little planning to get your hands on a burrito filled not only with refried beans but also an entire cheese-filled, battered and fried chile
For an ultra-fancy dinner in the heart of Beverly Hills, head to Mastro’s and order a massive, perfectly cooked steak complete with sides such as lobster gnocchi and gorgonzola mac ‘n’ cheese. This place is meant to be expensive, high-end, and overall amazing in every way. Perfect for celebrations, or you know, the casual celebrity dinner. So L.A.
Dried cheese, fried egg, bacon and hot sauce on a burger; the Chef’s Favorite at Plan Check will become yours too. Doubling as a restaurant and bar, plan check serves original food next to original cocktails. This burger is uniquely packed with flavors. The over easy fried egg breaks nicely over the bacon and crispy cheese. And the hot sauce in the burger will leave you wanting hot sauce on every burger hence forward.
Few restaurants in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles are given the same respect as The Original Pantry Cafe. The classic, 24/7 cash-only diner has served loyal patrons on the same corner of Figueroa and James M Wood Boulevard since 1924. Repeatedly ranked as the most famous restaurant in LA for its unchanging approach to good food and authentic 1950s diner decor, the restaurant is now owned by former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan. If you don’t mind a little wait, slide into a booth at this cavernous diner and expect servers to shuttle out towering stacks of pancakes and platters of biscuits smothered in gravy.
Blair’s is a welcome respite from the current minimalist design trend with its intimate candlelit ambiance. With a focus on New American cuisine, traditional comfort foods like deviled eggs and ribs are taken to the next level with gourmet inflections and locally-sourced seasonal ingredients. The incredible, to-die-for truffle mac ‘n’ cheese merits a trip to Silver Lake on its own but the charm of Blair’s is that it has retained the feeling of a hidden neighborhood venue in which to savor a languid evening with food and people you love.
Come into Pink’s for a taste of L.A. hot dog history and enjoy hot dogs, burgers, sides, and specialties, all under ten dollars. This casual hot dog stand has been frequented by celebrities, and one wall of the dining area is lined with celebrity photos of those who’ve visited. There’s also an outdoor dining area with plenty of umbrellas for shade.
For gluten-free eaters with a bit of money to spend, True Foods Kitchen is a great lunch or dinner spot. Catering more toward the health conscious, most menu items are simple and colored with seasonal fruits and vegetables. The Vegetable Crudites (a large bowl of raw veggies with two dipping sauces) is a popular starter, as is the Herb Hummus, which can be ordered with warm gluten-free pita bread. Main lunch and dinner options include the Street Tacos, the Quinoa Burger served on a gluten-free bun, Turkey Lasagna and the ginger-infused Panang Curry over brown rice. Menu items particularly exciting for Celiacs are the gluten-free pizzas, all cooked and prepared separately from flour-based crusts. The staff handles the dietary concerns of their diners with extreme concern, notifying the kitchen of any allergies. The open layout of the restaurant puts customers even more at ease, with the kitchen completely visible from the dining tables, making it an ideal spot for those with serious intolerances.
On Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Matthew Kenney‘s Plant Food + Wine offers a more refined and high-end experience revolving around delicious organic vegan food. They support local growers, foster relationships with farmers, and even boast an onsite edible garden. Recognized for their eco-friendly measures and practices, the restaurant was recently awarded a Sustainable Restaurant Award by the Sustainable Business Council of LA. Offering the best in organic wines from both California and France in an open patio setting, this restaurant evokes feelings of an elegant backyard dinner party with friends, replete with lush greenery and olive trees. Overall, Kenny’s is a cutting-edge approach to plant-based meals with a menu guided by the seasons and sourced locally.
Zam Zam Market moved from Culver City to Hawthorne in 2016, but it still serves up delicious Pakistani and Indian food in a bare-bones space. The menu is quite small, but they’re best known for their lamb pulao, served on Friday afternoons, and a chicken biryani that many visitors claim is the best in the Los Angeles area. Zam Zam Market’s name is not a misnomer; you can also buy various sundries here. Closed on Mondays, and you may want to call ahead as hours can vary.
Located in the heart of Panorama City, this hidden gem serves a true Filipino-style breakfast and lunch buffet. The best part of Bamboo Bistro, however, is the kamayan dinner, a meal eaten with your hands at a long table covered with banana leaves. Friendly staff members chat with you as they set the table with traditional kamayan dishes such as garlic rice, seafood, lechon kawali(crispy fried pork belly), salted egg and tomato salad, BBQ pork, and plenty of napkins. During the meal, karaoke with the employees or a comedy show serve as the night’s entertainment.
A recipient of the Ospitalità Italiana and part of Los Angeles’ culinary scene since 1984, La Bruschetta is a classic favourite for Italian-lovers. Having generated a welcoming neighbourhood venue where everyone is treated like family, owner Angelo Peloni offers a warm and comfortable space where diners can feast upon a host of home-style dishes. Highlights sure to tickle guests’ taste buds include risotto with porcini mushrooms and peas, lasagna with Bolognese sauce, and large prawns in a spicy tomato sauce atop a bed of linguini. Between the culinary offerings, friendly service, and extensive wine collection — handpicked by the owner himself — it’s easy to see why people return again and again to this Los Angeles treasure.
Perched atop the romantic Malibu hillside, Geoffrey’s Malibu offers exquisite views of the Southern California coastline. The flower-filled patio that overlooks the Pacific offers an ideal spot for a romantic candlelit dinner or a weekend brunch with family and friends. One of the dinner specialties include the sautéed day boat sea scallops, while a must-have during a weekend brunch is the crab cake benedict. Offering sweeping ocean views from nearly every seat, the beautiful and luxurious restaurant attracts an elite clientele and makes you feel like you are enjoying a vacation under the beautiful Malibu sun.
Canter’s Deli opened its doors in 1931, and has since become an LA landmark. Open 24/7 on Fairfax Blvd, Canter’s is managed by the third and fourth-generation children of the original owners. The ambiance is welcoming, complete with friendly staff and a stylish 1950s decor. Next door is the Kibitz Room, a 1961 addition where The Doors, Joni Mitchell, members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Guns n’ Roses have come to shmooze and chat. Canter’s apricot hamentashens are delicious, as well as their famous house-made pickles and fresh rye bread.