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 laying dormant or closing outright. However, it looks like many restaurants and bars are finally back at full capacity.
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 generous portions at 101 Noodle Express in Alhambra are 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’s 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.
Where to find the best food in town, from tacos to pastas to dumplings
Answering the age-old question of “where should I eat tonight?”
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- Feast-Worthy Steakhouses
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- 38 Essential Tacos to Try
- Hidden Gem Restaurants
From mole to parrilladas to tlayudas, Los Angeles has some of the best Oaxacan cuisine outside of Mexico.
From high-end omakase extravaganzas to fantastic reasonably-priced chirashi bowls.
From some of the best delis to epic fried chicken sandwiches, LA knows its way around bread and meat.
Getting Around in Los Angeles
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.
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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.
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