The 10 Important Meals For Anybody In LA For The Tremendous Bowl

Los Angeles is one of the best food cities in America (NYers, your skepticism is noted but unfounded — learn how to make a taco and we’ll talk). So if you’re visiting the city this Super Bowl LVI weekend, lucky you! The eclectic, dynamic local scene is so full of options you could stick to one type of food (Mexican, perhaps?) and still only scratch that surface of amazing must-visit restaurants, hole in the walls, stands, or food trucks available to you.

Settling on what to eat in LA is never easy and asking a random stranger “what’s good?” isn’t always successful, considering LA is the largest and most populous city on the West Coast and its residents are often transplants. Luckily for you, I was born and raised here so I’m not just a random stranger. I’m a true Angeleno who also happens to write about food every day of the week. And I want you to have the best experience in Los Angeles you could possibly have — so I put together a guide of the most quintessential dining experiences for any Super Bowl visitors.

You could pick any one of these at random (or try and hit them all!) and you’ll be guaranteed a meal you won’t forget that also reflects what makes the LA food scene (and the city itself) so unique and special. These picks say something about who we are, culturally, and what our city values. They also feature incredible flavors in the hands of deeply skilled chefs. Let’s dive in!

Tacos — Angel’s Tijuana Tacos

There isn’t a reason to eat tacos just once during your LA visit. Get tacos multiple times per day — it’s never a bad time to have a taco or two. But if for some reason you only have time for one taco spot in all of LA, you have to have a taco from a street vendor. I promise you it’s not an experience you want to miss.

Don’t worry about food-borne illness or sanitary conditions — I’ve heard all sorts of excuses for why people are afraid of eating LA street tacos, none of them are valid. You know that great weather everyone always talks about? Eating tacos outside is what we do here, stop being a baby — food-borne illness has never stopped anyone from eating at Chipotle and it shouldn’t stop you from eating food made by street vendors. (Also, food by street vendors is cooked incredibly hot and fast, which kills foodborne illness; it’s the heat-lamp-warmed food that gets you.)

Each taco from Angel’s Tijuana Tacos is made to order on homemade tortillas with your choice of meat, salsa, cilantro and onions, and guacamole. The tacos are juicy and all that flavor is soaked up by the homemade and hand-pressed tortillas making each bite absolute perfection. Seriously, this place is an institution.

Angel’s sets up shop in Eagle Rock near a Target parking lot. Eagle Rock is a hot spot for great coffee shops, bars, and that 2010’s LA hipster vibe.

The Essential Order:

When a street taco situation rolls up with a giant spit roasting al pastor, you have to order the al pastor tacos. It’s Angel’s signature and the number one taco spot for al pastor in the city. When in Rome!

Ramen — Daikokuya

Dane Rivera

It was hard to choose a single ramen spot in Los Angeles. We’re a bit spoiled for options here and certain restaurants do certain broths better than others, so “best” varies based on what exactly you’re looking for. But for the quintessential LA experience, we’re going to have to suggest Little Tokyo’s Daikokuya.

There is just something so comforting about Daikokuya’s signature tonkotsu broth, it’s the perfect remedy to an unseasonably cold LA day (which happens, we swear).

Because of the pandemic, Daikokuya now features outside dining via a dining space in a converted parking space — sounds weird, perhaps, but it actually adds a lot of character to the vibe. There is something special about pulling up a table in the middle of bustling Little Tokyo surrounded by midcentury skyscrapers while you slurp ramen and munch on tempura.

The Essential Order:

The restaurant’s namesake Daikoku Ramen. It’s a must, the bowl features tonkotsu broth with Daikokuya’s own soy sauce blend with the most tender pork belly chasu you’ve ever had, a marinated egg, and a simple mix of bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, and fragrant green onions.

Many a Daikokuya fan swears by the Koterri version of the Daikoku, which uses soup extracted from the back fat, resulting in a richer flavor. I haven’t had it so I can’t speak to it personally, but consider it if you’re looking for something heartier. [I love everything “extra fat” and it’s far too fatty for me. Stick to the OG. — ed]

The broth in the OG is sumptuous and flavorful and the noddles are silky with the right amount of bite and soak up the flavor wonderfully. If you’re really digging on the noodles, give the Spicy Miso Ramen a try, which features thicker noodles and comes with the Kotteri stock.

Sushi — SUGARFISH by Sushi Nozawa

SUGARFISH is one of the most popular and visible sushi restaurants in the highly populated landscape of great LA sushi residents, and that’s for good reason. It’s some of the best tasting sushi in the city and will melt in your mouth like a sugar cube dissolving on your tongue.

The presentation (even when ordering to-go) and quality are top tier here, the fish is noticeably fresh and the highly curated menu is easy to order from and fairly priced, for the quality you get.

There are several SUGARFISH across LA but if you’re visiting for the first time you might as well hit the one on Sunset. You’ll be walking distance from other LA staples like Musso & Frank Grill, the TCL Chinese Theater, Amoeba Records, and other photo-worthy landmarks.

The Essential Order:

The Trust Me lunch special will get you edamame, tuna sashimi, albacore sushi, salmon sushi, a toro hand roll (a SUGARFISH staple), Japanese Yellowtail sushi, Hirame, and a Blue and Dungeness crab hand roll.

Hot Chicken — Howlin’ Rays

Michelle Santos

Los Angeles is absolutely obsessed with Nashville-style hot chicken. From Dave’s Hot Chicken to Main Chick, a great hot chicken spot can be found in just about every neighborhood from the densest city centers to the sprawling suburbs. And each one of those restaurants has Howlin’ Ray’s to thank for paving the way.

Started by Chef Johnny Ray Zone and his wife Amanda Chapman in 2015, Howlin’ Rays is so popular that pre-pandemic it wasn’t unusual to wait in a line for three hours just to get your hands on an order. Thankfully, that’s not a problem these days — now you simply order in advance through Postmates for either pickup or delivery, which gets some deliciously hot chicken in your hands in as quick as an hour to an hour and a half.

If you’re going to eat at one hot chicken restaurant in Los Angeles, start here. You can hit one of the others on your next trip!

NOTE: This is a messy eat, so don’t order this if you’re chilling in a park somewhere. Instead, eat it at one of the tables in Chinatown’s Far East Plaza (where Howlin’ Rays is located) and then go shopping at the nearby shops when you’re done — you’ll need some Boba tea to cool down your taste buds.

The Essential Order:

Howlin’ Rays chicken options include a boneless breast (the Skinny Jimmy, my personal fav), tenders, wings, or a chicken sandwich with 6 different levels of heat. Assuming you’re going to eat at Howlin’ Rays just once, I’d say you have to grab the Luis Style Sando Medium Plus or Hot style.

The sandwich features a boneless breast filet, comeback sauce, pickles, and cheddar cheese on a toasted bun. The flavors meld together beautifully, the whole thing melts in your mouth and is good enough to make you drool.

Korean BBQ — Park’s BBQ

Settling on a good Korean BBQ spot in Los Angeles is a bit like choosing a ramen or burrito spot, it all depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for an all you can eat situation, Parks isn’t your spot — for that, try Hae Jang Chon, you won’t be disappointed — but if you’re looking for high-quality fresh meats and an atmosphere that won’t leave your clothes smelling smokey, Parks is the jam.

Yes, it’s a little on the pricier side, but the sourcing is exceptional with beautifully marbled cuts of meat (they even have a butcher shop!). Park’s gets crowded, so expect to be packed in close, but the restaurant moves fast. It’ll likely move faster than you want it to as you scramble for a reason to stay a little longer and order more food.

Park’s is located right in the heart of Koreatown where you’ll be surrounded by great bars, stores, crowded streets, and more things to do than you’ll have time for in a single weekend.

The Essential Order:

Go with a lot of friends so that you can order as much as possible, but since you’re at Park’s, you’re going to have to get Park’s Gal-Bi. It’s the restaurant’s signature.

Best To-Go Burrito — Al and Bea’s

Given there are three options on this list that are Mexican food, it’s clearly very difficult to encapsulate the Los Angeles Mexican food scene in a single restaurant, and it’s even harder to do with a single burrito.

In Los Angeles, there is a burrito for every mood but if I had to suggest one that always delivers and never disappoints, it’s going to have to be the Al & Bea’s Special. This is the sort of burrito that is so bursting with flavor that your first bite will literally stop you in your tracks and force you to take in the moment.

To partake in this immense pleasure, take a trip to the east side of LA (the real east side, not what transplants call the east side) to Boyle Heights and hit up Al & Bea’s. There isn’t much to do for a tourist in the general area, so eat your burrito at the outdoor tables, outside at your car, or take a walk to nearby Hollenbeck Park and chill there. You could also hop in your car (or Uber) and head to Grand Park in downtown, where you’ll be a few blocks away from Chinatown, Little Tokyo, and the Arts District. Who says LA isn’t walkable?

The Essential Order:

The Al & Bea’s Special. The burrito features beans, shredded beef, rice, cheese, lettuce, green chili (which is for some reason orange while it’s hot), and guacamole. It’s the best paper-wrapped burrito you’ll eat all weekend, I promise you.

Best Sit-Down Burrito — El Tepeyac

El Tepeyac isn’t a trendy burrito spot, it’s not busy at all hours of the day with LA’s young hip celebrity/ celebrity-adjacent socialites, it’s not near any must-visit clubs, bars, or parks. Instead, it’s tucked away in Boyle Heights, and full of locals who have been frequenting the tiny cafe for generations. That’s usually a good sign.

What El Tepeyac doesn’t have in flash, it makes up for with flavor. This is the most authentically “LA burrito” experience you can hope to find in the city. No cap.

The Essential Order:

The Hollenbeck Burrito. It features seared pork, rice, beans, guacamole, red chili, and smothered in chili verde sauce, with melted cheese sprinkled on top. It’s a wet burrito you’ll need a knife and fork to eat and is big enough to share with an entire table. Which gives you an opportunity to eat the taquitos.

Best Vegan/Plant-Based — Sage Bistro & Brewery

Beloved by strict LA vegans and flexitarians alike, Sage Bistro and Brewery has a little something for everyone. From smoothies and desserts to nutritious veggie bowls, classic LA avocado toast, and Super Bowl worthy sides, Sage has few specialties but an extensive people-pleasing menu. This is the place to go to live out that health-focused hippie retreat-visiting LA lifestyle that people love to satirize the city for. It’s a real thing, you will meet people who know Jared Leto, talk about crystals, and (to their credit!) look years younger than their actual age.

The plates at Sage are always wonderfully balanced with fresh ingredients that pack the flavor and pair perfectly with the bistro’s own in-house kombucha and beverages. There are several Sage Bistro’s scattered throughout LA, I’d suggest you eat at the Echo Park or Culver City locations to be nearest to the action in the city.

The Essential Order:

Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings for the table with smashed avocado toast (because you’re in LA) and a BBQ pulled pork jackfruit sandwich with an Orange Creamsicle Kombucha. It’s the most LA meal you’ll ever eat.

Coffee — Urth Caffé

If you’ve been to LA but haven’t visited the Urth Caffé can you really say you’ve been to LA? Probably not. Urth Caffé isn’t the best coffee you’ll find in the city but it’s pretty damn good and the Downtown LA Arts District location is a must-visit for the location alone.

The Urth Caffé isn’t a grab-and-go coffee shop, so only go here if you intend to sit down, take in the surroundings, and slow slip your fresh prepared beverage. Whether you’re a hard espresso fan, prefer sweet matcha tea, or want to keep things creamy and rich with a cappuccino, Urth Caffé will keep you well supplied and offers vegan-friendly breakfast foods and baked goods, as well as classic LA staples like Huevos Rancheros burritos and yogurt bowls.

The Essential Order:

Honestly, we could do a whole deep dive on the Urth Caffê menu, but you can’t go wrong with the espresso macchiato, the red tea bebero, or the Mocha Mint for those hotter days.

When All Else Fails — Grand Central Market

If you’re for some reason trying to stay out of a car for as long as possible while visiting (you do realize you’re in LA right?) you could just hit up the Grand Central Market for all of your meals. Even before its recent renovation — which brought a lot of hip new eateries to the space — this food court has been a staple of good authentic Los Angeles food.

Whether you’re feeling Japanese cuisine, fresh bread loaves, BBQ, fancy peanut butter and jam sandwiches, wood-fired pizza, fresh fruit, chicken sandwiches, or ice cream, the Grand Central Market has it all under one roof. LA isn’t known for its sense of community (it exists, but not really for tourists) but the Grand Central market will give you a good idea of all the different types of food the city prides itself on.

The Essential Order:

Just follow your nose and your eyes.

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