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Yellowtail ceviche with sea urchin served on a tostada at Holbox. 
Yellowtail ceviche with sea urchin served on a tostada at Holbox in Los Angeles. 
Cathy Chaplin

The 38 Essential Restaurants in Los Angeles

LA’s definitive restaurants across an array of cuisines, neighborhoods, and price points 

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Yellowtail ceviche with sea urchin served on a tostada at Holbox in Los Angeles. 
| Cathy Chaplin

Every quarter, Eater LA publishes a map of 38 standout restaurants that best represent Los Angeles’s expansive dining scene. In this endless metropolis, there are both new and decades-old street food stands, a cornucopia of cuisines that reflect the city’s diasporic communities, and a bounty of Southern California produce so immense you’ll find it everywhere from fine dining institutions to mom-and-pop operations.

An overarching theme of LA’s food and restaurants is that flavors need to stand out — ideally heat, acid, and umami are present in some form across a menu. At its core, the city’s far-flung neighborhoods, cultures, and flavors coalesce into an array of culinary boundary-bending restaurants that make it undeniably the most compelling place to dine in the country. Here now, the 38 essential restaurants in Los Angeles.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process. If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Sadaf Restaurant

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Persian cuisine has made inroads in various locales in LA, from Glendale to the Valley and Tehrangeles in West Los Angeles thanks to intrepid restaurateurs like Ali and Shawn Salout, who opened Darya in Orange and eventually debuted Sadaf in Encino. With four restaurants now operated by Ali’s daughters Darya and Sadaf, the comforting flavors of Iran are on full display with fire-kissed kebabs, walnut-studded fesenjan, and earthy ghormeh sabzi topped with fall-apart veal. Sadaf’s Encino location offers a white tablecloth-filled dining room with plush banquettes and enough seating for big groups. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

A platter of meat, rice, and vegetables at Sadaf.
Lamb chop platter at Sadaf Restaurant.
Virali Dave

Anajak Thai Cuisine

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Anajak Thai has been the object of tremendous media attention and for good reason. Chef (and conceptual artist) Justin Pichetrungsi took over his father’s decades-old Sherman Oaks restaurant, kept its quirky but weathered interior adorned with artwork, and installed one of the best wine lists on the West Coast. The younger Pichetrunsgi adjusted the menu with top-quality seafood, such as hamachi, farm-raised shrimp, and dry-aged fish fillets dressed with nam jim sauce while retaining popular dishes like the pad kee mao, fried chicken, and Dungeness crab fried rice. The results are one of the most popular San Fernando Valley restaurants, especially on its Thai Taco Tuesdays where lines can extend to the dozens. Those willing to go big can reserve an omakase menu on the last weekend of every month that costs around $200 and shows the full breadth of this now beloved classic restaurant. Outside of those nights, it’s just a standard a la carte menu that still manages to be LA’s most inventive Thai destination. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

A floral table-top covered with an assortment of Thai street food dishes, including a white plate with meat skewers, peanut sauce, and cucumbers, a black stone bowl filled with curry and sliced chiles, and a banana leaf topped with rice and chile-laden fish sauce.
Dishes from Anajak Thai Cuisine.
Fiona Chandra

Bar Chelou

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Though many often mistake Bar Chelou’s menu for French, chef Doug Rankin loves Spanish, Californian, and Asian flavors. By utilizing the region’s produce in this endeavor, this Pasadena restaurant is one of 2023’s best restaurant openings. The menu includes plenty of dishes to show off Rankin’s skill with vegetables alongside bone-in pork chops or a dry-aged bone-in ribeye. One wouldn’t expect the carrots râpées with coconut dressing, a hint of lime, peanuts, and thin fried potatoes on top of shredded carrots to be a showstopper, but it is. The rich and salty clam toast is decadently messy, but the confident execution with the trout makes it a must-order. There’s barely a bone in sight, with a herby pil pil sauce laced over a bed of rice. If a table isn’t available, the bar is an ideal place to take in the room and watch diners obsess over dishes expedited to their table. After one visit, one will easily understand why LA diners followed Rankin from his former Bar Restaurant and right into Bar Chelou. — Mona Holmes, reporter

An assortment of plates from Bar Chelou in Pasadena, California.
Dishes from Bar Chelou in Pasadena.
Wonho Frank Lee

Chengdu Impression

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It’s been a few years since the first wave of Sichuan restaurants opened across the San Gabriel Valley, with places like Chengdu Taste and Sichuan Impression finding wide followings from chile-seeking diners. Though Chengdu Impression opened around the same time in 2017, it’s often confused with the two other restaurants and occupies a strange space with a ground-floor dining area and more group-oriented tables with ornate embellishments upstairs. Ambience aside, expect one of LA’s top Sichuan menus starting with solid versions of twice-cooked pork and dan dan noodles. Mapo tofu comes with finely ground beef instead of the more popular pork, bubbling in a wide stone bowl straight from the stove and topped with ample chile oil. It’s easily one of the best versions of Sichuan’s most iconic dish in town. Those adventurous enough to delve into the hot or dry pots will be rewarded with layered cauldrons of shaved snakehead fish boiled in water and chile-flecked oil with still-crunchy pieces of floating lotus roots and potato slivers. The lesson to take away is that the bigger the group, the more can be ordered and shared for a fiery feast. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

Chengdu Impression Exterior.
Chengdu Impression in Arcadia.
Wonho Frank Lee

Maciel's Plant-Based Butcher & Deli

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Los Angeles’s dining scene is a wonderland for vegetarians and vegans: From upscale restaurants like Crossroads and Ubuntu to fast-food spots like Hart House and Veggie Grill, plant-based options abound throughout the Southland. Even in a city with an embarrassment of produce riches, Maciel’s in Highland Park stands out for its sky-high sandwiches layered with cold cuts made in-house from recognizable ingredients like chickpeas, vegetables, seitan, and tofu. Opened in 2022 by first-time restauranteur Maciel Bañales Luna, the shop turns out fantastic Reuben sandwiches made with pastrami, sauerkraut, vegan cheese, and vegan Russian dressing on rye bread. Maciel’s Mexican ribs sandwich packs a spicy punch along with pickled onions, arugula, and vegan mayonnaise on ciabatta. Come hungry because no one leaves LA’s first vegan deli unsatisfied. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Reuben sandwich with pastrami, sauerkraut, vegan cheese, and vegan Russian dressing on rye bread at Maciel’s in Highland Park.
Reuben sandwich at Maciel’s in Highland Park.
Wonho Frank Lee

Tam's Noodle House

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A slice of Hong Kong nestled into the San Gabriel Valley, Tam’s does all-day favorites from kaya toast and pineapple buns served with Hong Kong milk tea or coffee in the morning, to stir-fried noodles, wonton soup, and rice rolls for lunch. The Cantonese food continues into the evening with deep-fried pork chops with honey garlic glaze, curried brisket bowls, or peppered wok-fried fish filets. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

Salted egg yolk fried chicken wings at Tam’s Noodle House.
Salted egg yolk fried chicken wings at Tam’s Noodle House.
Cathy Chaplin

Musso & Frank Grill

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If driving or walking near Hollywood Boulevard and Cherokee Avenue, look for the green sign that signals your arrival to Musso & Frank Grill. Head to the retro car-filled parking lot before descending into the nearly 104-year-old restaurant. While walking in, take a quick glimpse into the loud kitchen and observe the slightly faded chandeliers, wall light sconces, 1930s art, wood paneling, or even the customers who might be casually dressed or donning a tuxedo before settling into a red leather banquette or the bar. There’s something about the pageantry of uniformed waiters and bartenders wearing white or red jackets, but their skill and dedication are why management embroiders the number of years employed on their shirt cuffs. The staff gracefully move throughout the room with intention. They’re always in a hurry with a goal to make diners feel important while dropping off a glass of pinot noir or baked escargot, crab Louie, filet of sandabs, or a perfectly cooked prime rib. One might overhear a newbie diner complaining about the peeling wallpaper or lack of new dishes, but quell the haters by taking in a stirred-only martini. Musso & Frank is old-school Hollywood charm. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Ruben Rueda, bartender at Musso & Frank
Ruben Rueda, a bartender at Musso & Frank.
Musso & Frank

Located one block from the Los Angeles River in the mostly residential Frogtown neighborhood is Loreto, sister restaurant of Downtown LA’s Cha Cha Cha and counterpart to breezy daytime spot Mariscos Za Za Za. At night, chef Paco Moran serves some of LA’s best Mexican seafood in a stylish industrial space. Tostadas, ceviches, brochetas, and green curry albondigas made with shrimp and pork shine on the menu; Moran’s Nayarit-style zarandeado is grilled open-faced and served with black beans, rice, avocado, salsas, and homemade tortillas. Whether seated at the winding bar, private dining area, or on the beautifully lit patio, Loreto’s full of dazzling charm and delicious mariscos. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Mexican seafood dishes from Loreto in Elysian Valley.
Dinner is served at Loreto.
Jakob Layman

Jiang Nan Spring

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Sometimes the Chinese restaurant selections in SGV can be overwhelming. Jiang Nan Spring works as an ideal middle ground between, sporting a massive, crowd-pleasing menu, a sizeable dining room that can accommodate large groups, and reliable cooking that shows the best of LA’s top dining neighborhood. The regionally-agnostic menu does almost everything well, including fried rice cakes, honey walnut shrimp, braised pork belly, and seaweed-crusted fried fish filets. Order a bunch and know that the leftovers will be pretty good the next day. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

Seaweed fried fish at Jiang Nan Spring in Alhambra.
Seaweed fried fish at Jiang Nan Spring in Alhambra.
Matthew Kang

Pa Ord Noodle

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Pa Ord’s chef and owner Lawan Bhanduram makes a mean bowl of kway tiao ruea, or Thai boat noodle soup, an intensely flavorful dish traditionally sold from small boats along Bangkok’s canals and rivers. The pig’s blood-fortified broth is dark and delicious, while simple rice noodles provide the perfect backdrop to slurp up the fragrant flavors. Diners can choose from five different kinds of noodles to pair with the broth, including wide and flat ones that resemble Italian pappardelle or thin and delicate vermicelli. Every bowl is topped with a flourish of fresh herbs, thinly sliced beef, squeaky meatballs, and tender tripe. Spicing can be adjusted to taste but note that the Thai Town rubric is calibrated to local tastes — ordering mild is closer to medium elsewhere. While most everyone orders the boat noodle soup, Pa Ord’s crispy pork (khao kanah mu grob) is also worth trying; it’s slicked in a sweet marinade and served with Chinese broccoli, steamed rice, and a lacy fried egg. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Boat noodle soup at Pa Ord in Thai Town.
Boat noodle soup at Pa Ord in Thai Town.
Cathy Chaplin

Saffy's

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Opened for almost two years now, Saffy’s serves some of the most ambitious Middle Eastern food in Los Angeles, with no holds barred in terms of flavor, ingredient quality, and wood-fired execution. Must-order items include the ultra-smooth hummus, grilled lobster skewer with green harissa, and cherry tomatoes with smoked eggplant puree. It’s clear that Bavel and Bestia’s chefs Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis have poured their heart into this restaurant, named after their daughter Saffron, and it’s hard to think of a more stylish, effortlessly cool place for midweek dinner in East Hollywood. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

A wide shot of five metal skewers of grilled meat, plus bread, on a plate at a restaurant.
Grilled meats from Saffy’s.
Wonho Frank Lee

All Day Baby

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This all-day spot from chef Jonathan Whitener and partner Lien Ta captures the freewheeling energy of eastside dining. Crowds gather in the mornings and afternoons for breakfast burritos crammed with smoked longaniza sausage, hotcakes glazed with guava, and the signature biscuit sandwich piled high with eggs, cheese, and strawberry jam. Those visiting later in the day will do well with the hot fish sandwich made with a tender filet of mahi mahi and the smoked half-chicken served with french fries and garlic aioli. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Diners eating at All Day Baby in Silverlake.
Diners eating at All Day Baby in Silverlake.
Wonho Frank Lee

Providence

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There’s a reason why the 18-year-old Providence is sold out almost every night. Chef Michael Cimarusti and partner Donato Poto took the care and time to assemble a crew that executes the best tasting menus in Los Angeles. If the timing is right, Cimarusti might offer a glass from his private whiskey collection, procured during a recent trip to Kentucky. But the emphasis here is on the seafood, a rotating menu with eight courses. The catch is as fresh as it gets, and it’s artfully prepared and presented by an experienced server who explains the process. In all, Providence is the definition of fine dining by a team who cares. — Mona Holmes, reporter

The “Ugly Bunch” dish from Los Angeles’s Providence restaurant: a gray-beige bowl filled with an artful array of uni, glistening salmon roe, and edible floral garnishes.
The Ugly Bunch dish from Providence, with uni, salmon roe, and garnishes.
Noe Montes

Bludso's BBQ

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The father of LA’s modern barbecue movement is busy in 2023. In early July, Bludso’s BBQ co-owner Kevin Bludso opened a new Santa Monica location. A month prior, Bludso won a coveted James Beard Award for his book Bludso’s BBQ Cookbook: A Family Affair in Smoke and Soul, while appearing as a judge on Netflix’s American Barbecue Showdown. Bludso, along with business partner James Starr, also operates the original location on La Brea, a takeout counter at Proud Bird near LAX, plus another barbecue restaurant in Australia. One could say that Bludso is having a moment. This Compton native’s fame and strong following are years in the making, developed through perfecting Texas-style barbecue with a Los Angeles inflection. Traditional side dishes abound on the menu with cornbread, mac and cheese, baked beans, and potato salad. Every meat is placed in a custom-built smoker for up to 14 hours, adding the perfect amount of flavorful vapor to brisket, chicken, Texas-style hot links, pulled pork, and even smoked jackfruit for vegetarians. Though the takeout business is brisk, it’s best eaten while hot on-site with one of Bludso’s strong cocktails, especially the pitmaster’s punch with Fugu vodka, pineapple, grapefruit, and ginger. — Mona Holmes, reporter

An assortment of barbecue staples from Bludso’s BBQ.
Barbecue from Bludso’s.
Bludso’s BBQ

Pijja Palace

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Pijja Palace, the runaway hit from first-time restauranteur Avish Naran, delivers to Angelenos something they didn’t know they needed: an Indian sports bar. Located on the ground floor of a Comfort Inn in Silver Lake, the restaurant’s raucous energy is undeniable, while its menu — a charming collision of Indian flavors and American bar standards — dazzles with an avalanche of flavor and spice from chef Miles Shorey. Nearly every table orders the malai rigatoni, a bowlful of ridged noodles that cling easily to a creamy tomato masala sauce. The thin-crusted bar pies are just as memorable, especially one slathered in an aromatic green chutney that rivals the rigatoni in popularity. Those in the know order the hush-hush Andy pie that comes topped with northern Makhini sauce, spicy pepperoni, fresh dill, onions, and honey. Dosa-battered onion rings, plenty of hot wings, and a luscious cardamom soft serve are on hand to round out every dinner. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Malai rigatoni at Pijja Palace in Silver Lake.
Pijja Palace.
Wonho Frank Lee

Antico Nuovo

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Chad Colby’s enduring Italian restaurant, unexpectedly located in a Larchmont-adjacent strip mall, serves what may be the city’s most polished pastas, grilled meats, and rustic Italian fare through an incisive California lens. The menu includes a robust focaccia (“pane”) section with add-ons like burrata and scallion oil, marinated anchovies, whipped ricotta and pistachio pesto, or duck liver pate; antipasti include seasonal salads and crudo. The windowless room manages to charm well-dressed diners eager to find stellar vintages on its wine list, and every table orders its share of house-churned ice creams. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

An overhead shot of a wooden table, with chops and steaks.
The most polished Italian can be found at Antico Nuovo.
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

Poltergeist

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Chef residencies don’t usually run for very long, but that’s not the case for Diego Argoti’s Poltergeist, which debuted in February 2023 inside Button Mash in Echo Park. With its oddball, sensational, and deliciously thought-provoking dishes, Poltergeist is a standout addition to the neighborhood. The Thai Caesar is a puzzle to figure out how to eat with its towering green puffed rice, crispy texture, and lemongrass notes, but that’s half the fun. A miso glaze, Fresno chile butter, and furikake make the Parker House rolls both savory and sweet (your table might ask for a second order). And don’t question the horchata panna cotta that’s paired with Argoti’s honey walnut prawns — just dig in. The menu changes regularly and never fails to keep Los Angeles guessing. — Mona Holmes, reporter

A pink bowl filled with Thai Caesar salad at Poltergeist at Button Mash.
Thai Caesar salad at Poltergeist at Button Mash.
Cathy Chaplin

Ototo in Echo Park may be a “younger brother” (literally, in its Japanese translation, and figuratively, to next-door izakaya Tsubaki) but its James Beard Award-winning sake program and irreverent, frequently changing menu of Japanese bar snacks has given it a main character energy all its own. Angelenos and out-of-towners — all subject to the restaurant’s egalitarian sign-yourself-in waiting list — descend upon Allison Avenue for dishes like fluke sashimi spiked with ponzu and patches of limey yuzu kararin, okonomiyaki topped with fluttering bonito flakes, and a filet-ototo-fish sandwich that can only be tamed with a two-hand grip. The sake curation is deeply intentional, with tasting notes on the menu supplemented by the knowledge of staff members who happily offer pairing suggestions for each plate. The warm, softly lit space includes a semi-private dining alcove for eight to 10 people, but often, the best place to be is at the bar, where the pours are frequent and the vibes impeccable. Nicole Adlman, cities manager

Taru Taru steak at Ototo in Echo Park.
Taru Taru steak at Ototo in Echo Park.
Wonho Frank Lee

Mapo Kkak Doo Gee

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Tucked into a busy strip mall at the corner of 6th and Normandie, Mapo Kkak Doo Gee is one of Koreatown’s oldest and homiest restaurants. The tiny dining room seats just under 30 diners and is simply furnished with wooden tables and chairs. Regulars come back time and again for the restaurant’s chill atmosphere, warm service, and familiar yet expertly executed food. The banchan selection changes daily and can include several varieties of kimchi, macaroni salad, boiled cabbage with gochujang, pickled seaweed, and little acorn jellies topped with soy sauce and scallions. The picture menu, which is plastered on the wall for easy viewing, is chock-full of homestyle Korean standards like braised codfish and grilled mackerel; both are served with purple rice. Also notable is the sujebi, a soul-satisfying “dough flake soup” that warms and comforts during Los Angeles’s chilliest months. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Spicy grilled pork, spicy braised mackerel, and banchan from Mapo Kkak Doo Gee restaurant in Koreatown.
Spicy grilled pork, spicy braised mackerel, and banchan from Mapo Kkak Doo Gee restaurant in Koreatown.
Matthew Kang

Far East Plaza gem Lasita came to life after the lights dimmed for its forerunner, Filipino American restaurant Lasa, during the pandemic. In the almost three years since its rapid rebirth, Lasita has both flourished and upped the ante on what Filipino dining can mean in Los Angeles. From start to finish, its menu offers comfort and familiarity without being well-trodden: airy shrimp chips get a dusting of sweet tamarind powder; oyster mushroom sisig, meanwhile, arrives hissing under a sunny fried egg and fermented Thai chilis; rotisserie dishes, like brined and stuffed chicken inasal and crackling pork belly lechon, are served by the half or full pound with garlic mojo, toyomansi, and other fixings. The room is alive and humming during dinner hours, flush with diners drinking plentiful glasses of thoughtfully sourced, low-intervention wines. That party-at-home atmosphere spills out onto its front patio, near where diners often perch and wait on weekends for a coveted table to open up.   Nicole Adlman, cities manager

An outdoor patio seating area in front of a light teal and orange restaurant facade.
Lasita in Chinatown.
Jakob Layman

My Dung Sandwich Shop

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My Dung (pronounced “me yoong”), a teeny tiny market-slash-sandwich-shop on Ord Street, doesn’t offer much in the way of ambiance, but that matters little with one bite of its fantastic banh mi. Every sandwich is made to order on a baguette that’s airy yet substantial and toasted to a warm, inviting crisp. It’s hard to go wrong with any of the stuffings, from simple pate to shredded chicken to the house special with cold cuts and head cheese. The next time you’re in the neighborhood and hunger pangs hit, head to the back of My Dung’s cramped quarters, fork over $6, and be prepared for one of the greatest sandwiches in town. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Split banh mi held in hand with sliced meats and pickled vegetables.
Banh mi from My Dung.
Matthew Kang

Langer’s Delicatessen

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Yes, the No. 19 pastrami sandwich is an amazing sandwich, but this long-standing deli’s pure pastrami on house-baked rye is simplicity at its best. There’s a reason why people make pilgrimages to try Langer’s pastrami and even corned beef: There is no better version anywhere in town. Try the No. 44, served on griddled rye bread with hand-sliced pastrami, nippy cheese, and sauerkraut, for a decadent take on a Reuben sandwich. But don’t skip the rest of the classic Jewish deli menu either, from potato pancakes to cheese blintzes — it’s all very well executed in one of the best daytime dining rooms in town. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

Pastrami sandwich on rye bread with pickle on a diner plate.
Langer’s #19 sandwich
Wonho Frank Lee

Pizzeria Sei

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William Joo trained at Providence and Ronan before opening his own Tokyo-style Neapolitan pizzeria in Pico-Robertson. Joo and wife Jennifer So operate this minimalist gem with a dedicated team serving a tight array of wood-fired pizzas boasting chewy, mochi-like crusts. Italian standards like margherita, marinara, and a caper-and-anchovy-topped Napoletana share menu space with more envelope-pushing pies like Joo’s Castelvetrano olive- and sopressata-topped Diavola and the prosciutto cotto-, egg-, and truffle-oil adorned Bismarck. Sei continues to garner attention for its understated excellence. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

William Joo of Pizzeria Sei puts a pizza into a woodfired oven.
William Joo of Pizzeria Sei.
Matthew Kang

After winning their historic Best Picture accolade, the director and stars of the South Korean film Parasite celebrated into the wee hours of the night at this family-owned restaurant. Soban’s tight menu features a rarity: ganjang gejang — raw marinated flower crab — which tastes like the pinnacle of Korean cuisine with its rich, slightly fermented umami and buttery sweetness (especially over warm rice). Spicy braised black cod and braised short ribs are soulful companions to help complete the experience. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

A white plate with navy blue trim filled with ganjang gejang (raw crab marinated in soy sauce) and pickled vegetables at Soban in Koreatown.
Ganjang gejang at Soban.
Matthew Kang

Sarita's Pupuseria

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Sarita’s Pupuseria, which was made famous in the movie La La Land, is one of the earliest Salvadoran restaurants in Los Angeles. El Salvador native Sara Clark opened the restaurant inside Grand Central Market in 1998 when Salvadoran dishes were less widespread in the city. It’s still family-owned and operated by Clark, Paul Serrano, and Paul Serrano Jr., who prepare the specialty of the house: pupusas. The masa discs are stuffed with everything delicious including cheese and beans, chicharron, and the herby loroco flower. Sarita’s griddled pupusas bear a slight crunch, though wait until the heat mellows before taking a bite. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Sarita’s Pupuseria at Grand Centra Market.
Sarita’s Pupuseria at Grand Centra Market.
Cathy Chaplin

Tacos Tamix

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Los Angeles’s taco rigs and trucks are an unshakable pillar of its pulsing street food scene. Tamix, which has four roving locations, including outside the Shell gas station at the corner of Venice and Sepulveda, answers the call of hungry nighttime revelers looking for an affordable plate of food in a truck’s warming light. Here, the al pastor is the main event: the pork, nearly neon from its reddish-orange marinade, is sliced thinly over fresh-griddled corn tortillas. A wider hunk of pineapple, cut from the trompo’s upper spike, crowns the dish, as do Tamix’s salsas, pico de gallo, escabeche, and radishes — all to be doled in an amount to taste from the truck’s counterside station. The pastor alambre is maybe the best choice for sharing (ideal for, say, a quick pull-over on your way home from a Saturday or Sunday at the beach): a behemoth plate of glistening pastor meat, fatty bacon, and blistered peppers topped with molten cheese — all waiting to be scooped with still-steaming tortillas.   Nicole Adlman, cities manager

Tacos Tamix
Tacos Tamix.
Matthew Kang

H&H Brazilian Steakhouse

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LA’s Brazilian barbecue scene hasn’t evolved much beyond the always-solid Fogo de Chão, a chain with numerous locations, and the excellent by-the-pound grilled meats at Pampas, but H&H Brazilian is looking to change that, with two handy locations in LA featuring organic salad bar ingredients and prime-grade meats. An expansive Beverly Center restaurant offers seared picanha, lamb leg, short ribs, and garlic culotte sliced fresh at the table while the original Downtown outlet has another all-you-can-eat bonanza that works great for after-work feasts. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

Picanha from H&H Brazilian Steakhouse in Los Angeles.
Carving meat.
Matthew Kang

The Apple Pan

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Timeless burger stand the Apple Pan from late founders Ellen and Alan Baker has served in West Los Angeles since 1947, when the city lacked freeways and a lot of the area still boasted farmland. But the Apple Pan’s Midwestern-style burgers have become synonymous with Los Angeles burger culture (it even inspired the Johnny Rockets chain of burger restaurants). Wait for a seat at the U-shaped counter and pick either a steak or hickory burger, with or without a thick slice of Tillamook cheddar cheese. The steak burger offers a sort of relish ketchup sauce above a griddle-seared patty, pickles, mayonnaise, and a perfectly-shaped mound of iceberg lettuce. The hickory burger boasts a slightly smoky ketchup with the same accompaniments. First-timers might not be blown away, but millions of fans over the decades have come to love its ineffable greatness, a true sum-is-greater-than-its-parts charm that includes the unchanged diner decor, sometimes gruff service, and of course, a sweet slice of apple, boysenberry, or seasonal pie to finish. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

Hickory burger from Apple Pan.
Hickory burger from Apple Pan.
Matthew Kang

Kato Restaurant

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Chef Jon Yao and his team have carried the torch of Taiwanese cuisine for almost seven years since its origins at a West LA strip mall. In its dining room in Downtown LA’s expansive Row project, Kato has a menu focused on the subtle, elegant flavors served in a handsome but relaxed space. The tasting menu, featuring intricate bites of caviar-studded Dungeness crab with Chinese celery or grilled freshwater eel served over seaweed fried rice, costs about twice what it did in West LA. But the menu boasts a more thoughtful progression of whimsical bites to more substantial explorations of Taiwanese comfort fare, and the service situation is multitudes better than the original Kato. Plus, everything from the wine list to the cocktail menu are world-class, with compelling vintage bottles to inventive milk punches or shaken drinks designed by bartender Austin Hennelly. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

Tile fish with basil at Kato in Downtown.
Tile fish with basil at Kato in Downtown.
Wonho Frank Lee

Yangban

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Katianna and John Hong aren’t the type of chefs to rest on their laurels. Since opening Yangban in 2022, the couple has reimagined the restaurant several times to better reflect their vision and meet diners’ needs. The restaurant’s latest reboot pairs the Hong’s signature modern Korean cooking with a vibey space decked out in original artwork. This iteration, with its dinnertime focus, bold shareable plates, and polished service, feels the most cohesive and approachable. The menu winds through big and small plates and the sujebi dumplings are one of the best. Prepared with a white kimchi beurre blanc, poached ocean trout, trout roe, and dill, the dish tastes like the ultimate Jewish Korean mash-up. The crispy Korean-style fried chicken and honey-glazed carrots have been popular from the start, while Yangban’s banchan — a delightfully mercurial, ever-rotating selection — is perfect for grazing and sharing. Order as many banchan as the table can handle and save room for a slice of lighter-than-it-looks cheesecake to finish. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

An overhead shot of five black bowls of vegetable snacks on a wooden board at LA restaurant Yangban.
Banchan is served at Yangban.
Wonho Frank Lee

Chefs Daniel Patterson and Keith Corbin’s Alta Adams is a neighborhood cornerstone in West Adams with a wine shop, restaurant, and bar that stays busy on weekend nights. The dining room and outdoor patio fills up with one of the more diverse crowds in Los Angeles for Corbin’s “California soul” menu with signature items like black-eyed pea fritters, fried chicken, and oxtails and rice that have a hint of soy sauce, ginger, and miso. There’s always a seasonal pie on the dessert menu and a sweet potato cheesecake with salted caramel drizzle that never fails to deliver. The bartenders come through with solid recommendations, but the Abuela Frecia that’s like a Mexican hot chocolate with a bit of heat usually hits the spot. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken

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Fried chicken is one of America’s true culinary heroes, an infinitely malleable and variable food that beckons opinions from every angle. It’s hard, however, to argue against the excellence of Honey’s Kettle, founded in 2000 by Vincent Williams and basically, at least from the perspective of this writer, perfected. Williams’s batch frying method, something that helps this restaurant go through hundreds of pounds of chicken a day, yields beautifully golden brown crusts so shatteringly crunchy and crisp that the most treasured shell of legs and thighs and breasts will be fought over among the table. The meat is juicy but not overly seasoned, tasting of chicken more than brine or other seasonings. Pair with biscuits and fries, and have a sauce party with tangy hot sauce, honey packets, and ketchup. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

Fried chicken under a warmer.
Fried chicken at Honey’s Kettle.
Matthew Kang

Even with its counter dormant during a 2023 remodel, Gilberto Cetina’s jewel box of a mariscos restaurant, Holbox (pronounced ol-bosh), kept crowds gathered just outside the doors of Mercado La Paloma with a truck parked in front. There, diners could order from a tightened menu that included some of the 6-year-old restaurant’s greatest hits: the taco de pulpo en su tinta, “su tinta” referencing the ink-stained sofrito the curled octopus tentacle rests upon; limey, lip-puckering aguachiles and cocteles served with tostadas and Saladitas crackers, respectively; a smoked kanpachi tostada topped with bay scallop and zigzags of a nutty chile de arbol sauce. Its $115 8-course tasting menu, which features a rotating selection of Cetina’s most-loved dishes, returned in May with a few more seats at the counter. Still, better to make a reservation for the two dinnertime seatings, which are held on Thursdays and Fridays at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. only. — Nicole Adlman, cities manager