Hollywood, the beaches, the hills, the valleys, and the wide boulevards chock-full of 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 ritzy mansions also boasts what some consider to be 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 produce and talented chefs.
Eater publishes numerous guides to keep restaurant-goers on top of the latest and greatest in LA. Eater editors constantly traverse the city’s tangle of freeways to make sure that these maps are up-to-date and representative of the city’s geographic and cultural breadth. From the Essential 38 — the city’s very best restaurants — to the hottest restaurants right now, and everything in between, look no further for the best dining in town.
In addition to maps that provide a broad overview of the Southland’s panoply of offerings, Eater also brings together plenty of recommendations focused on specific occasions (splurge-worthy, breathtaking views, happy hour), beloved dishes (pasta, dim sum, tacos), popular cuisines (Caribbean, Chinese, French), and local neighborhoods (Pasadena, Santa Monica, West Hollywood).
Where to find the best food in town, from tacos to pasta to dumplings
For a quintessential Los Angeles day of eating, start with the confusing and chaotic but ultimately rewarding experience of Gjusta, a deli counter and restaurant in Venice with some of the most delicious cured fish, roasted meats, sandwiches, salads, bread, and pastries that anyone would love to have in their neighborhood. Then venture to Culver City for a hefty box of the city’s best fried chicken and maybe a plush biscuit at Honey’s Kettle. Keep going east and you’ll end up just south of Downtown at Holbox, a highly regarded Mexican seafood counter with pristine sea urchin and ceviches. In the evening, there’s three solid choices: head to Koreatown for homestyle Korean fare from Soban; old-school Hollywood vibes with grilled steaks and stiff martinis at Musso & Frank; or the sceney vibe at Silver Lake’s Pijja Palace, packed with diners eager for a malai rigatoni pasta or mustard-flecked tikka-style chicken wings.
Answering the age-old question of “where should I eat tonight?”
The Eater LA Heatmap has been listing the most popular new restaurant openings for well over 16 years, updated monthly with input from Eater editors who go check out the splashy openings, talked-about neighborhood finds, and anticipated restaurants from established chefs.
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From mole to parrilladas to tlayudas, Los Angeles has some of the best Oaxacan cuisine outside of Mexico.
Among Mexico’s 32 wildly diverse culinary regions, none garners more attention than the southern state of Oaxaca, the most Indigenous state south of the border. From Oaxaca, there’s mezcal, a culture of landrace corn, and recipes preserved by cultural groups that transport this rich culture to Los Angeles. Here in Oaxacalifornia, the moniker for Southern California’s Oaxacan community, Zapotecos from the Valles Centrales region have been opening restaurants since the early 1990s, primarily in the neighborhoods of Koreatown, Hollywood, Arlington Heights, and West LA.
An amazing collection of ingredients, from tlayudas, quesillo, chapulines, and chiles to mole pastes and other essential items from Oaxaca to Tijuana. Those ingredients become standout dishes like the mole negro made from scratch and grilled tlayudas as good as you’ll find in Oaxaca. There are backyard comedores (casual family-style restaurants) serving segueza (mole thickened with maize) like Comedor Tenchita, multi-generational barbacoa cooks preparing pit-roasted lamb at Antontonilco El Grande Barbacoa Estilo Hidalgo, and even an annual tejate festival. And that’s not to overlook classics like Gish Bac, Guelaguetza, Madre, and Poncho’s Tlayudas. There’s a strong case for Los Angeles as Oaxaca’s unofficial ninth region.
From high-end omakase extravaganzas to fantastic reasonably-priced chirashi bowls.
LA’s immense restaurant culture has had a deep love and appreciation for Japanese sushi. For years numerous LA-based chefs claimed to have created the California roll, launching a particular style of cut makizushi covered in sauces and non-traditional ingredients like avocado and mayonnaise. Recently, with the growing popularity of Edomae sushi and omakase, chefs are sourcing pristine seafood from across the country, and all the way from Japan, often aging fish to maximize flavor and placing slices over well-seasoned rice.
Today, LA’s sushi scene combines its fun-loving roll scene (especially in the San Fernando Valley but across the city) with more developed, traditional sushi served at counters by talented chefs. There’s great sushi almost anywhere in America, but from top to bottom, it’s hard to argue with the incredible quality — and tradition — of Los Angeles’s sushi. If you need a short list of the best new spots, there’s Sushi Sonagi in Gardena, Kogane in Alhambra, 715 in Arts District, and Sushi Note Omakase in Beverly Hills, all of which are reservations-required omakase establishments.
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From some of the best delis to epic fried chicken sandwiches, LA knows its way around bread and meat.
Though it may be tempting to make repeat visits to LA’s notable taco stands, Korean barbecue, and perfectly grilled Armenian cuts of meat, skipping over the city’s sandwiches would be criminal. Most Southern California neighborhoods support a celebrated local shop that produces outstanding sandwiches, with some operating for decades. If craving a sandwich from a legendary deli, head to Langer’s and order the #19 pastrami, the Italian cold cut from the almost 100-year-old Eastside Italian Deli, or just about anything from Bay Cities in Santa Monica. For a more modern option, Jeff’s Table in Highland Park operates from the rear of a liquor store where the star of the menu is a hot and melty pastrami reuben. There’s comfort in falafel nestled in pita bread from Dune, but Kobee Factory’s chicken shawarma with seared flatbread and garlicky toum hits just right, too.
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 in just the county, not including outer regions like Orange, Riverside, and Ventura counties. LA itself far eclipses 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 communities, be it Armenian, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, or beyond. It’s not so good for people who expect to want to be able to get around.
Traveling around Los Angeles is best understood as an exercise in patience. There’s pretty much traffic everywhere all the time, or at least it’ll seem that way. The best strategy is to stick to a part of town — the Westside, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Leimert Park/Inglewood, East LA, or Silver Lake, and check places out in that area until traffic subsides in the evening. Account for travel time or get to neighborhoods early and roam around. There’s always a tasty reward waiting.
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With historic buildings, modern sports venues, and major art destinations DTLA has everything from affordable fare to upscale dinner spots.
The best way to navigate through Downtown Los Angeles’ 13 districts is to select one or two areas and roam throughout Little Tokyo, bustling Chinatown, Arts District, or the flashy area that houses L.A. Live and the Lakers (and Clippers, for now). DTLA has one of the city’s most beloved buildings, the 106-year-old Grand Central Market. Filled with vendors that offer something delicious for varying tastebuds, there are baked goods, seafood, and pupusas from Sarita’s. It’s not uncommon to find a restaurant in a historic building, though the constant buzz of construction seems to never stop.
Cole’s French Dip and Philippe The Original both opened in 1908, but there’s also modern fare at Damian by famed Mexico City chef Enrique Olvera in a stunning Arts District space. One can never miss the legendary Sushi Gen where one can find some of LA’s most reasonably priced and quality sushi. Find Hong Kong-style tea and doughnuts at Little Tokyo’s Cafe Dulce for a caffeine and sugar fix. For those looking to splurge, make a reservation on the Ritz Carlton’s 24th floor at Sendero, or book a table at chef John Yao’s Kato with a tasting menu that spans Taiwanese flavors. DTLA is full of nightlife options including the Moxy/AC hotel’s Level 8 for dining and cocktails.
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