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LA’s Best Dining Neighborhood of 2018 According to Local Food Writers

Highland Park vs. Downtown vs. SGV

Paella at Otoño in Highland Park.
Paella and more at Otoño in Highland Park
Wonho Frank Lee
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

Welcome to Year in Eater, an annual review of some of the best and notable openings and restaurant news that took place in Los Angeles over the past year. Eater LA asks writers, editors, and food luminaries to pitch in to help summary the incredible year in dining that was 2018. Here now, LA food writers and editors give their insights on the best dining neighborhood in the city this past year.

Andrea Chang, Food Writer, LA Times

El Segundo. Oh wait, I mean downtown. Dammit.

Joshua Lurie, Food GPS Founder

Koreatown continues to house L.A.’s highest concentration of flavorful food, by far, though K-Town didn’t really deliver a breakout restaurant hit in 2018.

Danny Chau, Writer/Editor, The Ringer

Highland Park got some big-name additions in the past year, but it’s still SGV most days of the week.

Andy Wang, writer, Food & Wine

I’m going to lump Studio City and Sherman Oaks together and say the Valley won.

Katherine Spiers, host of Smart Mouth and co-author of Rogue 99

Highland Park

Euno Lee, Eater LA Contributor

This is tough! I’m biased to the SGV and Pasadena, but objectively speaking the most exciting has to be Downtown.

Hadley Tomicki, Food Writer

The San Fernando Valley really blows me away these days. There are so many good family-run restaurants with a range of cuisines—Argentine, Mexican, Central American, Armenian, Russian, Israeli, Japanese, among others. Lots of incredible things going on under the surface, too, in terms of street food and chefs cooking out of their homes.

Garrett Snyder, Food Editor at LA Magazine

Arts District for splashy dining. Highland Park for neighborhood-y spots

Esther Tseng, Food Writer

Downtown LA, which is kind of cheating because I’m including the Fashion District but also Arts District, Pershing Square, Little Tokyo, and more.

Jeff Miller, Freelance writer and founding editor, Thrillist LA

I can’t believe I’m saying this after years of being a disbeliever, but the Arts District is on fire, and it looks like that’s not stopping anytime soon.

Bill Esparza, Eater LA Contributor

Always, South-Central.

Gary Baum, Senior Writer at The Hollywood Reporter

Downtown L.A. — yet again.

Stephanie Breijo, Food & Drink Editor at Time Out

I know I’m biased, but I can’t not say Highland Park. My only grievance is that I’m not home for dinner most nights to regularly enjoy everything around me: the newcomers like Mason’s, Otoño, Joy, Triple Beam, HomeState, Hippo and the Cena Vegan pop-ups, just as much as the older standbys such as Gloria’s, Town and El Huarache. If L.A.’s restaurant scene could just slow its roll for like a week so that I could eat in my own neighborhood, I’d be so grateful.

Cathy Chaplin, Eater LA Associate Editor

In and around the San Gabriel Valley from Arcadia to Rosemead and Monterey Park. Pass the regional Chinese food, please.

Mona Holmes, Eater LA Reporter

Downtown. I can always get something that I crave within those congested city blocks.

Farley Elliott, Eater LA Senior Editor

Highland Park. From Joy to Triple Beam/GGET/Hippo to Homestate to all the vegan late night stuff (and all the classics from Mariscos El Faro on down), this Eastside community is really doing it all.

Matthew Kang, Eater LA Editor

I’m gonna be a contrarian and say West Hollywood actually had a great year. Maybe it’s because I feared dining there for so long and it was so overrun with bad restaurants, but WeHo has grown up. Places like Tesse, Viale dei Romani, Barbette, and Daughter’s Deli brought something new or original to the city-within-a-city while the newly opened Blackship is poised to become one of LA’s most impressive new restaurants once it reaches full speed in 2019.

Employees Only and Conservatory were both solid additions with excellent cocktails. The only major negatives were the sad closures of Irv’s Burgers, Ed’s Coffee Shop, and Le Petit Bistro. Still, the neighborhood will add on Momofuku Noodle Bar, Ippudo, the renovated Formosa Cafe, and Pizzana next year, bolstering one of LA’s most crowded and dynamic dining neighborhoods. (Note: I realize West Hollywood is a separate city from LA, but for cultural purposes it’s still within LA county, and essentially surrounded by the city of LA. So municipal borders are malleable here.)

Year in Eater