An Eater’s Information to Los Angeles
Hollywood, the beaches, the hills, the valleys, and the wide boulevards chock-full of traffic-mired cars — it’s all part of LA’s sun-baked concrete jungle. This urban expanse of hazy light, long sunsets, vivid street art, towering skyscrapers, swaying palm trees, and celebrity mansions also boasts what some consider the country’s most vibrant restaurants. This guide will make it easy to navigate it all.
Los Angeles is anything and everything for first-time visitors. It’s the center of celebrity and influencer culture. It’s an international hub of arts, design, creativity, and entertainment. It’s also one of the greatest places to eat in the country, not only for its endless varieties of cuisines, but also for its incredible fresh produce and talented chefs. Over the past few years, the challenges for restaurants have been immense, with numerous beloved places either lying dormant or closing outright. However, it looks like many restaurants and bars are finally back at full capacity.
Eater publishes countless maps to keep restaurant-goers on top of the latest and greatest in Los Angeles. The site’s editors constantly traverse the city’s tangle of freeways to make sure that these guides are up-to-date and representative of the city’s geographic and cultural breadth. From the Essential 38 — the city’s very best restaurants — to the hottest restaurants right this minute, and everything in between, look no further than this collection to point you in the right direction.
In addition to maps that provide a broad overview of the Southland’s panoply of offerings, Eater also brings together plenty of recommendations focused on specific occasions (splurge-worthy, breathtaking views, happy hour), beloved dishes (pasta, dim sum, tacos), popular cuisines (Caribbean, Chinese, French), and local neighborhoods (Pasadena, Santa Monica, West Hollywood). Dive deep into what moves you at this moment with Eater as your dependable guide. — Cathy Chaplin
Where to find the best food in town, from tacos to pastas to dumplings
Dining room at All Day Baby with diners. Wonho Frank Lee
For a quintessential LA day of eating, start with breakfast at Pann’s in Inglewood, a classic Googie diner, or pick up a breakfast burrito from Lucky Boy’s in Pasadena. The bossam lunch special at Kobawoo is one of the best deals in town, while the Asian-inflected fare at Yang’s Kitchen in Alhambra is always a solid pick during the day. For dinner, sit down at La Casita Mexicana for a trio of moles or take in the scene at Felix in Venice, one of the top places for fresh pasta in the country. Late night, there are plenty of excellent tacos al pastor made by Indigenous cooks from Oaxaca that trained in Mexico City, but the trompos from Tamix, Leo’s, and Los Palomos are outstanding.
Answering the age-old question of “where should I eat tonight?”
Horses, Hollywood. Wonho Frank Lee
The Eater LA Heatmap has been listing the most popular new restaurant openings for well over 16 years, updated monthly with input from Eater editors who go check out the splashy openings, talked-about neighborhood finds, and anticipated restaurants from established chefs.
From mole to parrilladas to tlayudas, Los Angeles has some of the best Oaxacan cuisine outside of Mexico.
Parrillada, an array of grilled meats and sopes at Las 7 Regions in Los Angeles. Wonho Frank Lee
Among Mexico’s 32 wildly diverse culinary regions, none garners more attention than the southern state of Oaxaca, the most indigenous state south of the border. From Oaxaca, there’s mezcal, a culture of landrace corn, and recipes preserved by cultural groups that transport this rich culture to Los Angeles. Here in Oaxacalifornia, the moniker for Southern California’s Oaxacan community, Zapotecos from the Valles Centrales region have been opening restaurants since the early 1990s, primarily in the neighborhoods of Koreatown, Hollywood, Arlington Heights, and West LA.
An amazing collection of ingredients, from tlayudas, quesillo, chapulines, and chiles to mole pastes and other essential items from Oaxaca to Tijuana. Those ingredients become standout dishes like the mole negro made from scratch and grilled tlayudas as good as you’ll find in Oaxaca. There are backyard comedores (casual family-style restaurants) serving segueza (mole thickened with maize), multi-generational barbacoa cooks preparing pit-roasted lamb, and an even annual tejate festival. There’s a strong case for Los Angeles as Oaxaca’s unofficial ninth region. — Bill Esparza
From high-end omakase extravaganzas to fantastic reasonably-priced chirashi bowls.
Chef at Sushi Ginza Onodera in West Hollywood. Sushi Ginza Onodera
LA’s immense restaurant culture has had a deep love and appreciation for Japanese sushi. For years numerous LA-based chefs claimed to have created the California roll, launching a particular style of cut makizushi covered in sauces and non-traditional ingredients like avocado and mayonnaise. Recently, with the growing popularity of Edomae sushi and omakase, chefs are sourcing pristine seafood from across the country, and all the way from Japan, often aging fish to maximize flavor and placing slices over well-seasoned rice. Today, LA’s sushi scene combines its fun-loving roll scene (especially in the San Fernando Valley but across the city) with more developed, traditional sushi served at counters by talented chefs. There’s great sushi almost anywhere in America, but from top to bottom, it’s hard to argue with the incredible quality — and tradition — of Los Angeles’s sushi. — Matthew Kang
From some of the best delis to epic fried chicken sandwiches, LA knows its way around bread and meat.
Reuben sandwich from Brent’s Deli in Northridge. Stan Lee
Sandwiches are a near-perfect food delivery form, on par in Los Angeles with tacos and burgers. And while each is endlessly modifiable in its own way, it is the sandwich alone that offers maximum portability and ease of use, particularly on a hot summer day at the beach. Los Angeles is no slouch when it comes to sandwich diversity, either, with eggy breakfast options making way for Italian cold-cut combos, quick-service banh mi, thick-cut pastrami on rye, and even regional staples like Philadelphia-style cheesesteaks. In a city known for taking it easy and living well, it is the laid-back sandwich that helps us eat well, too. — Farley Elliott
Cars and buildings in Downtown LA. Shutterstock
Los Angeles is big — really big. Part city, part county, part region, the landscape alone covers 469 square miles and fits over 10 million people, eclipsing cities like San Francisco, Chicago, and New York in size and breadth. That’s great news for diners who want to experience huge concentrations of cuisines from large expat communities, be it Armenian, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, or beyond. It’s not so good for people who expect to easily jaunt from one side of the city to the other in a matter of minutes.
Traveling around Los Angeles is best understood as an exercise in patience. The city’s storied traffic is real, and coming for one-off events like an NFL game usually translates into an all-day affair. Instead, try dining locally in some of LA’s best neighborhoods like Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Downtown before boldly attempting to make an early reservation at some far-away restaurant during rush hour. No matter what, you can rest assured that there is always a delicious payoff at the end.
You’re probably going to go to Disneyland at some point. Good news is that the food, drinks, and desserts at the Happiest Place on Earth are better than ever.
Hand-dipped ice cream bar at Clarabelle’s at Disney’s California Adventure. disneyland
With historic buildings, modern sports venues, and major art destinations DTLA has everything from affordable fare to upscale dinner spots.
China Cafe at Grand Central Market in Downtown LA. Stan Lee
In the early 2000s, before Downtown became an influential dining destination, office workers left work and abandoned the area at 5 pm But the mid-2000s, all the way through to 2020, brought immense economic investment to the area, making it one of the hottest destinations to live, work, and visit. Though challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic have triggered a slowdown, Downtown restaurants are still some of the city’s best, including chef Josef Centeno’s Bar Ama, Filipino darling Petite Peso, or chef Natalia Pereira’s 15-year-old staple, Woodspoon.
Downtown is a maze of different neighborhoods that are as unique as the next. The Arts District hosts spots like the highly successful Bavel, the second-level charmer, Cha Cha Chá, or Guerrilla Tacos. For fine dining, the options are vast, especially for those who want something to eat before attending a show at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Directly below the historic venue is chef Ray Garcia’s Asterid, which is a short walk away from Otium. If looking for views, 71 Above or Broken Shaker provides dinner or cocktails with LA skylines. — Mona Holmes
The Los Angeles food glossary
Korean BBQ: Thinly sliced meats, beef, pork, and chicken, but also duck, seafood, and lamb, grilled tabletop and served with a variety of banchan (palate-cleansing snacks). Premium barbecue spots tend to get most of the glory, but the reasonably priced all-you-can-eat variety are numerous in Koreatown and cost less than $20 per person.
pupusa: a thin Salvadoran pancake stuffed with cheese, a unique green vegetable slaw called loroco, and various meats. Best when topped with a fermented cabbage slaw called curtido.
Acai bowl: A traditionally Brazilian snack that takes blended acai fruit and tops it with more fresh fruit. LA versions take the idea a step further with more toppings: nuts, berries, grains, and other ingredients to give the bowls an extra dose of flavor.
French dip: A meat-filled sandwich with crusty bread served with a side of jus. Purportedly invented at Philippe the Original in Chinatown, but also claimed by Cole’s in Downtown.
Tlayuda: A thin, wide tortilla slathered with asiento (unrefined lard), beans, cabbage, salsa, avocado, and Oaxacan cheese then grilled over charcoal or gas. Meats are also added, such as tasajo (dried beef), moronga (blood sausage), chorizo, and cecina (thin, salted meat).
Carne asada: Grilled beef, typically over charcoal, though also over gas and less ideally on a flattop. Most common styles in Los Angeles are Tijuana-style (like Tire Shop Taqueria) and Sinaloa-style (Tacos La Carreta).
Shawarma: Shawarma has a special place in Southern California’s heart, owing to the region’s robust Armenian, Lebanese, Israeli, and Arabic populations. For shaved Middle Eastern meat of all stripes (from chicken to lamb and beef and beyond) it’s best to head to the San Fernando Valley for its many strip-mall restaurants, or pockets of Glendale and East Hollywood.
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