2100 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA
The Mexican food at Guisados is great simply because it doesn’t try too hard. The owners, Armando de la Torre Sr. and Armando de la Torre Jr., aim to make every dish just how mom used to make it, and they succeed on every level. From humble beginnings in Boyle Heights to outposts in Echo Park, Downtown L.A., West Hollywood, Burbank, and a Koreatown location on the second floor of the Platform 35 food hall. Guisados has flourished thanks to handmade tortillas anchored by braised chicken breast, flank steak, or pork. The mole poblano taco is especially mouthwatering, and the quesadilla con chorizo is big enough to share—though you probably will want to keep it all to yourself.
624 South La Brea Avenue
The largely French-inspired menu at Republique has more than a few surprises on it, like the generous selection of oysters and kanpachi crudo in Thai green curry and peanuts. The high ceilings, walls of windows, and loads of natural light make the atmosphere ideal, as the omnipresent line outside suggests. The grilled octopus salad—made with cabbage, Santa Barbara pistachios, chile, citrus, and lime—is a must. Brunch, however, is the real draw. The brioche French toast is doused in Vermont maple syrup; pupusas come with Oaxacan cheese, avocado, a fried egg, and roasted poblano; and the kimchi fried rice is dished up with beef short ribs and eggs.
709 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038, USA
In 1939, when Pink’s sold its first hot dogs out of a pushcart in Hollywood, owners Paul and Betty Pink couldn’t have imagined the icon it would become. By the ‘40s, the Pinks had built their brick-and-mortar location on La Brea and Melrose, where the original Pink’s location still stands. The eatery has since been featured in plenty of TV shows and movies, as well as on the Food Network and the Travel Channel. There’s a hot dog for everyone on the menu, from the classic chili dog to the Chicago Polish dog to the pastrami burrito dog, plus burgers and sides. The franchise has grown a lot since opening day and now exists in 15 locations around L.A., San Diego, Miami, Las Vegas, and more.
1050 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90015, USA
Chef Ray Garcia, a native Angeleno, is the chef and creative mind behind Broken Spanish, an upscale Mexican eatery in the heart of Downtown L.A. Here, the caracoles—snails—are slathered in mole verde and cooked with mushrooms and stinging nettles, and the result is a flavorful delight. There are also plenty of classic mainstays, such as a chile relleno, a quesadilla with oxtail and plantains, and a whole red snapper made with clams and avocado. The drink menu offers several options for mezcal-based cocktails (including one with caramelized pineapple and lime) as well as wines and Mexican beers.
9043 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069, USA
Kris Yenbamroong opened Night + Market (and its sister eateries, Night + Market Song and Night + Market Sahm) with no formal chef training. But Yenbamroong grew up in his family’s restaurant, and his Thai heritage is reflected in every dish on the menu, from the pork satay skewers to the larb gai. Night + Market has gotten nods from the James Beard Foundation and gained critical acclaim for its authenticity; a meal at any of its three outposts is an experience comparable, at least in taste, to eating at the many food stands lining the streets of Bangkok or Pak Kret.
720 N Virgil Ave #4, Los Angeles, CA 90029, USA
Since opening as a preserves shop in 2011 (and adding breakfast and lunch service in 2012), Sqirl has become an East Hollywood staple. The tiny space—only 800 square feet—invites crowds of hip Angelenos looking for a bright space for all-day breakfast and brunch that’s carnivore-, vegetarian-, and vegan-friendly. There’s an airy outdoor patio where diners can take in the L.A. sun and sip on the fresh-squeezed juice of the day while ruminating over the eclectic menu. The buckwheat pancakes make for a great healthy unhealthy breakfast: They’re made with buckwheat and cactus flour, cocoa nibs, and toasted coconut, making them vegan, gluten-free, and not-so-sinfully delicious.
2057 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025, USA
The strip of Sawtelle Boulevard between La Grange and Tennessee avenues is a hotbed of spots with unbelievable Asian cuisine, and Tsujita LA is no exception. The noodle house has two specialties: tsukemen and tonkotsu ramen. The former relies on a pork-bone soup that’s simmered for a very long time before the chef adds seafood for thickness and sweetness; diners dip noodles briefly into the strong broth and slurp them up. The latter is based on the ramen at Tanaka Shoten, a famous eatery in Tokyo. In both dishes, the broth is the star. It’s creamy and packed with flavor.
2121 E 7th Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90021, USA
Husband-and-wife team Genevieve Gergis and Ori Menashe are behind Bestia, an Italian haven that consistently ranks high on local “best of” lists. The decor follows the name—which translates to “beast” in Italian—with its wall of weapons and meat-hook chandeliers. There’s no wrong choice on this menu, but the roasted marrow bone and alla ‘nduja pizza are favorites for first-timers. Without a reservation, expect to wait at least an hour, even on a weeknight. If you’re looking to dine in a big group or want a primo time slot (7 p.m. on a Saturday night, say), then you’ll need to plan ahead and make a reservation at least a month in advance.
4648 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA
Diners come in all day between 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. for the daytime and dinner menus of family-style Middle Eastern food, which has ingredients sourced from local farmers whenever possible. Must-try staples include flaky bread with labneh, lemon, and honey; the lemony chicken-and-pine-nut pie; and the Persian cucumber salad. From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. is the restaurant’s version of happy hour, with $10 glasses of wine. If you don’t want to wait in line, especially around peak dinner hours, reservations are a must—plan early, though, because this is a place that books up weeks in advance.
114 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012, USA
Located inside the rectory building of the former St. Vibiana’s Cathedral, Redbird pays homage to its historical walls by keeping decor simple and minimal. The patio outside was practically built for brunch, which features an impressively deep set of cocktail options alongside frittatas and ricotta-blueberry pancakes. The real draw of the place, though, is its fabulous dinner menu, which offers American-inspired dishes like California sea bass, Day Boat Scallops, and a thyme-heavy chicken potpie. The wine list is extensive when it comes to both bottles and sips by the glass, so follow your server’s lead when it comes to picking the perfect one for your meal.
176 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, USA
Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant Spago is simple but delicious, serving classic California fare in a bright room of dark booths and white linen tablecloths. The seasonal dinner menu is split into three courses, plus a “From the Garden” selection of sides. Fresh fish and seafood—such as Spanish octopus in young coconut and crispy black bass—are heavily featured, as well as meats like rib eye cap steak and grilled rack of lamb. The California tasting menu is another option, and, at $145 per guest, presents a good deal for what you get: Spicy tuna tartare, grilled Wagyu beef, and handmade agnolotti are among the highlights.
120 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401, USA
When 800 Degrees Pizzeria opened in the neighborhood of Westwood, there was a line out the door for days. Since then, the build-your-own-pizza place has expanded to other L.A. locations in Santa Monica, Hollywood, Downtown, Playa Vista, and LAX, as well as further afield to Las Vegas, Japan, Dubai, and Qatar. First, request your base and watch the assembly line spin raw dough into a pizza shape and make it saucy, then add your cheese. Next, pile on the toppings, wait a few minutes for the pie to come out of the oven (which is cranked up to—you guessed it—800 degrees), and enjoy. The Downtown and all new locations will be known as 800 Degrees Woodfired Kitchen to reflect its rotisserie chicken, porchetta, and other new menu items. With the menu expansion came some downsizing—the original Westwood location closed in 2018 when the space’s kitchen couldn’t support the pizzeria’s new offerings—but the close was short-lived, and the original location was back up and running again the next year.
1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401, USA
On the side of a busy Santa Monica thoroughfare, Bay Cities is an unassuming market with a big local secret: the deli inside. Here, the sandwiches aren’t just something you settle on for a quick lunch on the go. In fact, though the men behind the counter work quickly, the omnipresent line for these subs mean there’s nothing speedy about a Bay Cities lunch stop. But that’s OK, because the overstuffed Italian-style sandwiches are well worth it. Every sub is made to order with freshly baked bread (new loaves come out every 20 minutes) and whatever meats, cheeses, and veggies the deli has in stock. You may just forget that you’re not eating a lunch prepared in the Italian countryside.
267 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212, USA
You can’t talk about cafés and coffee shops in Los Angeles without mentioning one of its most popular places: Urth Caffé. For an organic fix, there’s no better place. There are a number of locations throughout the city and in Orange County, including Santa Monica, Melrose, and Beverly Hills. With their trendy ambience and large outdoor patios, they are the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon, especially if you love herbal teas, organic coffee, and green-tea Americanos—and if you’re keen to spot celebrities around the metropolis. Aside from delicious drinks, they also have a wide selection of vegetarian and vegan food options.
8428 Melrose Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90069, USA
The flagship Alfred Coffee opened on picturesque Melrose Place in 2013. Since, the café has expanded to include locations in Brentwood and Silver Lake, as well as a Studio City location, an outpost in the hip Line Hotel in ever-evolving Koreatown, a tea room in West Hollywood, and a mini location just minutes from the original. Widely known for its relatable slogan, BUT FIRST, COFFEE, and its favorite menu item, the Ten Dollar Latte (retired earlier this year to make room for more oat milk lattes), the upscale shop is full of heavily Instagrammed areas, from the lettered decals to the modern and charming accent walls and artwork. There’s always a photo shoot or two going on here, but that doesn’t seem to bother the MacBook-armed freelancers and creative types who flock to the space for the Wi-Fi and matcha lattes on weekdays.
6667 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028, USA
This restaurant is such an institution that it predates the city’s most iconic landmark—the Hollywood sign. In a way, Hollywood was born in Musso & Frank’s red booths, back when the famed boulevard was still a dirt road. The restaurant opened in 1919, and much of the menu remains from the first chef, Frenchman Jean La Rue, who used to specially prepare fettuccini alfredo for silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. Only two executive chefs have held the job since. Dinner dishes such as lobster thermidor and grenadine of beef take you back half a century, while chicken pot pie (on Thursdays only) and steaks, cooked on L.A.’s oldest open-fire grill, taste comfortingly familiar. Don’t miss brunch, which features Greta Garbo’s favorite Flannel Cake, a cross between a pancake and crepe invented by chef La Rue in the 1920s. In keeping with the authentic vintage spirit, martinis are strictly stirred—never shaken—and served with a mini glass sidecar containing the rest of the drink in its own tiny ice bucket. Pro tip: Order the off-menu slow-roasted prime rib, finished on the mesquite grill and served rare.
Downtown L.A.'s Grand Central Market has been operating in one capacity or another since 1917. Its past lives have seen it housing fish dealers, butchers, Jewish delis, flower shops, and an egg vendor. Nowadays, the market is a lunch and dinner hot spot nestled among skyscrapers full of white-collar workers. Inside, neon signs showcase the names of more than three dozen vendors. Highlights include the restaurant Eggslut, known for its creative approaches to the classic breakfast sandwich and other lunchtime edibles; Sticky Rice, serving Thai comfort food; and China Cafe, which locals just refer to as “the wonton soup place.”
6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038, USA
Servers, somms, and chef-owner Nancy Silverton all swirl around Osteria Mozza’s centerpiece Mozzarella Bar, where small dishes of freshly imported mozzarella, ricotta, and burrata are plated with pairings like bacon or braised leeks. With eyes closed, white-tablecloth diners attempt to fully savor each bite of cool, moist cheese before it melts in their mouths. These flavors are a tough act to follow, but the restaurant certainly steps up to the plate with signature meals like the Squid Ink Chittara Freddi with crab, sea urchin, and jalapeño. Just be sure to leave room for a rosemary olive oil cake for dessert: The eatery’s Dahlia Narvaez was awarded the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2016. Reservations at least one month out are recommended unless you have the flexibility to take a chance with a walk-in seat at the Mozzarella Bar itself—a one-of-a-kind experience.
972 Gayley Avenue
Fat Sal’s is just a roadside shack in Westwood, UCLA’s college town, but it regularly draws a line down the block, especially as the night goes on. The deli—which also has locations in Hollywood, Encino, San Diego, and Austin, Texas—is known for its inventive sandwiches. The classic Fat Sal comes with mozzarella sticks, onion rings, fries, and roast beef all stuffed together between two slices of garlic bread; other items on the menu manage to include between-the-bread ingredients like bacon, fried eggs, coleslaw, and chicken fingers. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that Fat Sal’s is especially popular with carousing college students on a Friday night—but the indulgent handhelds are just as effectively delicious sans alcohol, too.
822 Washington Boulevard
Dave Reiss went from DJing and throwing underground parties to opening some of L.A.'s hottest cafés, bars, and places to dine. Sunny Spot is no exception. The laid-back neighborhood eatery sits at the end of Abbot Kinney, Venice’s ritzy boutique-and-restaurant-lined boulevard, near Marina Del Rey. Patrons stop in for fresh, healthy plates at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but the café's most popular hours by far are during brunch. Snag a table and you can expect menu items like the pulled-pork breakfast burrito; the bacon, egg, and cheese bagel with habanero aioli; and the brisket hash with kale, sunny-side-up eggs, and caramelized onions. And, of course, bottomless mimosas.
11510 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066, USA
The combination platter at the family-owned Samosa House restaurant and market is one of the tastiest dining deals in the city—and it’s also available at this mini chain’s four other outposts across L.A.. For only $9, you get to pick three flavorful vegetarian Indian entrées with rice and naan. The jackfruit, with the texture of pulled pork, is a must. Other classics include saag (spinach), malai kofta (vegetable dumplings), dal (lentils), and paneer (cheese curds), all in various flavorful curries and sauces. The grocery—stocked with shelves of spices, fresh produce, and treats—extends into the dining room and surrounds you with bags of rice and flour, Hindu religious statues, jewelry, and more, all set to a Bollywood soundtrack playing on the TV.
3361 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005, USA
Ask anyone who lives from Central L.A. to Downtown where to go for steak, and we bet they’ll all say the same: Taylor’s. The steakhouse has been operating in the Koreatown area of Central L.A., just a few miles west of Downtown, since the ‘50s. It’s won all the awards: Best Steakhouse in L.A. from almost every L.A. based news outlet, as well as coveted spots on must-eat lists in Eater and Bon Appetit. The menu is classic and no frills, and the affordable prices reflect a time before celebrity chef-driven restaurant concepts. Your choice is clear: Order the Taylor’s Special Steak, a grilled filet mignon that comes loaded with grilled sweet onions, and the French onion soup.
220 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291, USA
Known for its movie-themed decor and a selection of over 250 types of tequila, and beloved for its Mexican brunch, Casablanca Restaurant opened in 1980 with a menu of traditional and lesser-known Mexican entrees that it holds to this day. The family-owned space was the brainchild of Carlos Haro, Sr., who loved the movie Casablanca almost as much as he loved Mexican-style calamari steak. The restaurant has one of the largest collections of memorabilia from the film in the world, including a life-size statue of Humphrey Bogart. Haro’s son, Carlos Haro, Jr., runs the place these days, though not much has changed since the restaurant first opened almost 40 years ago. Come for Sunday brunch, where one price includes an entree (think enchiladas or fajitas), mimosas, and unlimited tortillas—handmade right in front of you.
5359 W Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016, USA
Alta Adams’s executive chef Keith Corbin didn’t attend a culinary academy to earn his cooking stripes—instead, the Watts native spent hours on end whipping up dishes in prison while serving out a seven-year sentence for armed robbery. When he got out, Corbin entered the food scene with an entry-level job at Locol (Daniel Patterson and Roy Choi’s restaurant), where he quickly worked his way up and gained the attention of Patterson himself. Fast forward to October 2018, and Patterson and Corbin are cutting the ribbon on Alta Adams, a West Adams soul food restaurant with upscale eats for down-home prices. Where Locol failed, Alta (and the adjoining Adams Coffee Shop) aims to fit in amongst both the locals, with average incomes around $40,000 per year, and the Angelenos who travel from further afield. They’re off to a good start. Drip coffee at the adjoining cafe costs a mere $2 a cup, while cornbread off the “snacks” menu goes for $4.
512 Rose Ave, Venice, CA 90291, USA
“I am grateful” is just one of the ways you order lunch at Cafe Gratitude. “I am whole” is another; as is “I am glorious.” Every dish on the menu has a name like this, and whether you’re in the mood for gratitude (the community bowl with shredded kale, black beans, garlic tahini, and quinoa), wholeness (the macrobiotic bowl with braised butternut squash, adzuki beans, and sautéed greens), or glory (the blackened tempeh Caesar wrap), Cafe Gratitude guarantees your meal will be as much an experience in self-affirmation as a delicious jaunt into vegan fair. The Venice location is eclectic in patronage and airy in design, while the swanky Larchmont restaurant draws a more Hollywood cast of characters. Other locations include the Arts District, Newport Beach, Beverly Hills, and a little further south in San Diego. For larger events, Cafe Gratitude can also be hired for catering services.
516 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90020, USA
Few burger joints have a backstory as quintessentially L.A. as Monty’s Good Burger. Koreatown’s first all-vegan restaurant, the In-N-Out-style hole-in-the-wall serves Impossible burgers on vegan buns with lettuce, tomato, Follow Your Heart “cheese,” and a faux thousand island sauce, plus creamy shakes, loaded tots, and not-so-secret menu picks like Dog Pile loaded fries or tots (check their Instagram for the latest options). Before it was a bright blue exclamation point on the corner of Western and 5th, Monty’s was a Coachella food stall debut with a queue that gave founders Lexie Jiaras (USC class of 2017), Max Angles, and Dennis Gomez an idea. Now, Monty’s—named after Jiaras’ Maltese—is full steam ahead, with locations in Riverside and Echo Park and an Instagram following of over 100k. The food itself is especially tasty—if a bit pricey. But you pay for quality, and the locally sourced, organic ingredients deliver a cruelty-free burger that tastes pretty dang close to the real thing.