Los Angeles is just as sprawling and mercurial as everyone says it can be, but that also breeds a great hyper-local restaurant culture built on feeding people from neighboring communities. Diners in East LA aren’t likely to regularly schlep to Venice for a meal, but they will eat in the San Gabriel Valley, in Downtown, in Highland Park — and there are endless fantastic restaurants for them to choose from.
Because of LA’s size and breadth, this 24-hour dining guide will stick to restaurants within an easy enough driving distance from one another, including places generally considered to be in the so-called Eastside (as in east of the LA River, roughly), as well as in other neighborhoods nearby. If imagining a north-to-south dividing line through a section of Los Angeles, consider this to encompass places east of Western Avenue. For a general (and equally non-specific) Westside guide, head here instead, or check out a one-day run through the wilds of Orange County.
8 a.m. Coffee and some breakfast at Guerrilla Cafecito
Los Angeles is undeniably a taco town, but for breakfast it’s all about the big, eggy burritos. At Guerrilla Cafecito, the casual morning offshoot of Arts District staple Guerrilla Tacos, diners can find one of the city’s best breakfast burritos, served with hash browns, meats, avocado, and lots of cheese. Not feeling something that large? It’s okay, there are pastries and a.m. plates galore, served alongside a variety of espresso drinks and brewed coffee. It’s time to wake up. 704 Mateo Street, Los Angeles.
10 a.m. Bean and cheese burrito from Al & Bea’s
This tiny walk-up stand has been serving up fantastic Mexican fare since 1966, and fans still line up daily for a taste. The signature item, the one almost everyone orders at least as an appetizer to their main meal, is the simple bean and cheese burrito. Rich, creamy, fatty, and satisfying, this small burrito is a perfect mid-morning snack when paired with the restaurant’s zippy hot sauce. It’s got enough punch and flavor to be memorable even with a full day of eating ahead, and it tells a story about the history and resiliency of one of the oldest restaurants in Boyle Heights, LA’s historic and proudly Mexican neighborhood. 2025 East 1st Street, Los Angeles.
1 p.m. Lunch in the San Gabriel Valley
For a punch of spice and that sought-after bounce-y noodle texture, head to Lanzhou Beef Noodle (otherwise known as Lan Noodle) for a bowl of noodles. There are various hand-pulled noodle varieties available as well as a wealth of starters like spicy tofu skin and braised pig’s ears in chili oil, but the real hero here is the namesake beef noodle soup. Sweat through a meal here with a couple of friends, trying different noodles and braised meat and offal dishes along the way. 411 East Huntington Drive, Arcadia.
Want something even a bit more old school? Try Alhambra’s Kang Kang Food Court instead, where the pan-fried Shanghai buns are the must-order item on the broad menu. The service is fast here, the food arrives hot, and everyone agrees that it’s hard to pick wrong from anything on the other side of the steam table glass. 27 East Valley Boulevard, Alhambra.
3 p.m. Snack at Zhengyalov Hatz
When considering a single-serving snack, served on the go and with ease, it’s hard to do better than the tried and true wrap from Glendale Armenian restaurant Zhengyalov Hatz. This herby, light, deeply green dish is just a few dollars and can easily be split between two people (assuming each has already been eating voraciously for half a day). The dish is an ideal pick-me-up, loaded with greens and herbs and done in the style of one of the important cultural regions, Artsakh. 318 East Broadway, Glendale.
6 p.m. Cocktails at Capri Club
Aperitivos and Italian snacks are on the menu at Capri Club, the latest cool kid hangout that, surprisingly, hides at the edges of both hip Highland Park and sleepy Eagle Rock. The indoor-outdoor hang is a must for people looking to sip spritzes, smoke cigarettes, and pick at plates of vegan arancini with tofu or eggplant parm. The vibe here, a bit of old-school Italian-American charm and general Eastside low-key cool, is perfect for an early evening outing. 4604 Eagle Rock Boulevard, Los Angeles.
8:30 p.m. Dinner at a new hotspot
There’s a renewed liveliness to the Los Angeles dining scene right now, as evidenced by all of the hot restaurants that keep popping up across the city. Perhaps the most energetic new opening yet is Mother Wolf, the grand Roman ode from longtime Angeleno chef Evan Funke. Here, celebrities mix with Hollywood locals and regulars well-connected enough to score seats at a table. The bar is a welcome place for walk-ins (assuming there are seats available) but for anyone looking to really go all out, best to try to grab a reservation in advance. 1545 Wilcox Avenue, Los Angeles.
Want something a bit more neighborhood-y, but no less delicious or sought after? Try Saffy’s, the more casual Middle Eastern restaurant from Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis of Bestia and Bavel. This East Hollywood newcomer features wood-fired skewers, shawarma, and more, served from an Art Deco jewel box with a broad patio and attached daytime cafe. A reservation is still definitely recommended, so plan ahead. 4851 Fountain Avenue, Los Angeles.
11 p.m. Late-night karaoke and bites at Rosen
The recently redone Rosen is now a blitz of neon lighting and late-night Korean snacks and drinking. Open from afternoon to early the next morning, this is the best and last stop for people who have crawled through a day of Los Angeles eating. The soju arrives fast and free alongside Korean beers here, as does the menu that includes salty popcorn chicken, kimchi and rice dishes, grilled meats, and more. Score a private room with some friends, and belt the last remaining hours of the day away inside. 3488 West 8th Street, Los Angeles.