It goes without saying that Los Angeles is a hot tourist destination, with its beaches, temperate weather, and robust restaurant scene. Even its tourist-friendly restaurants have something more to offer than the average chain, like a spot that offers seafood towers and an ocean view, to an old-school Mexican restaurant that even celebrities frequent. Here are 20 restaurants that draw in travelers, but are actually really good for locals too.Read More
20 LA Tourist-Friendly Restaurants That Are Actually Good
Destination dining doesn’t always have to disappoint
Be patient when at Malibu Seafood, as the line is as legendary as the food. This small, but mighty shack on Pacific Coast Highway serves golden-fried fish and chips, creamy clam chowder, and other tantalizing seafood classics. It’s also a market, so consider buying fresh seafood to cook at home. Pick a table outdoors, or grab it to go and enjoy while at the beach.
Nothing beats dining on a breezy patio with a seafood tower and view of the ocean. Water Grill hits that sweet spot between upscale and casual, with a long beer and wine list, and plenty of fan favorites like clam chowder, lobster rolls, and a bevy of raw oyster options.
Hot Dog on a Stick
The first Hot Dog on a Stick has been a mainstay along the boardwalk in Santa Monica for good reason: The corn dogs are really good. There are wiener options — from turkey to vegetarian and beef — that have a little something for everyone, and are battered and fried to order. Pair that with a lemonade and some funnel fries for a full experience. More reason to visit? The iconic food stand that has been around for 76 years unveiled a new building in October.
Cha Cha Chicken
Don’t dismiss this beachside restaurant. Cha Cha Chicken menu features plantains, rice and black beans, jerk chicken wings, coconut fried chicken, and a patio that’s amenable to those carrying a bottle of wine.
The Window Venice Boardwalk
If venturing to the Venice Boardwalk, the Window is open seven days a week to try its popular smash burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, and grain bowls. A pro move is to order a classic chocolate s’mores milkshake, mint-cookies, or cream-dipped cones.
Casa Vega has long been a draw for celebrity clientele, from the likes of the Kardashians to Selena Gomez, as well as locals and tourists. The old-school Mexican restaurant, which has been a major part of the Sherman Oaks community for over 60 years, always has warm and welcoming service, refreshing margaritas, and massive plates topped with enchiladas, chicken mole, and rice and beans.
This beloved restaurant has been in Culver City for over 60 years, feeding generations of families its particular style of hardshell tacos stuffed with shredded beef, iceberg lettuce, and cheddar cheese. One of the stars of the show is its mild, tomato-based salsa that perfectly complements the tacos and chips.
The Kettle, a South Bay institution, has been home to brunch lovers and late night revelers for nearly 50 years. A spot that’s open 24 hours on the weekends at until midnight on other days, it’s a great gathering place for patty melts, pot roasts, and buttermilk honey fried chicken.
Lawry's the Prime Rib
Los Angeles’s Restaurant Row isn’t quite what it used to be, but that hasn’t stopped Lawry’s from continuing to anchor the La Cienega stretch, offering some of the city’s best service and prime rib. Despite the well-known name and national appeal, this first-ever location feels just as personal and important to Los Angeles as it always has.
If driving around Inglewood, always hit the Inglewood original Randy’s Donuts. Not only is the giant rooftop an iconic LA landmark, the doughnuts rival any other maker in the city. It’s also fashioned with a drive-thru, but there’s always a scene at the walk-up window.
Pampas Grill Churrascaria
A classic tourist destination, the Original Farmer’s Market has something for everyone, including a Brazilian barbecue restaurant that might be the best of the bunch. Load up a plate with grilled vegetables and salad before selecting freshly sliced Brazilian grilled meats, like picanha, leg of lamb, and garlicky chicken pieces.
Pink's Hot Dogs
With Pink’s Hot Dogs having been around for over 80 years, it’s a testament to how the team is doing something right. The Hollywood stalwart boasts an incredibly long hot dog menu that pays homage to famous people and LA institutions. (Pro tip: Always get the nacho chili cheese fries.) It’s a slice of LA history seeing the signed celebrity autographs on the walls that are both cheesy and fun. And while there may occasionally be a line, it moves rather quickly.
Musso & Frank Grill
Hollywood icon Musso & Frank’s is still one of the best places in the city for sidling up to the bar and confidently ordering a stirred martini. It helps that cocktail is one of the best in the region, the appetizers are solid, and the people-watching is even better.
This family-operated restaurant is one of Los Angeles’s oldest, churning out classic traditional enchiladas, burritos, tacos, as well as shaken margaritas from very busy bartenders. Order a dozen house-made flour tortillas for later.
Not only is Langer’s a home for celebrities trying to low-key nosh, it’s also home to what is likely the single best deli pastrami in America. Add some to an order of chili cheese fries for a gut-busting lunch.
Din Tai Fung
Los Angeles is a city known for outstanding Chinese food, but there are three locations for those unable to trek over to the San Gabriel Valley. The company added Din Tai Fung in Glendale, The Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, and the Westfield mall in Century City to find those juicy pork soup dumplings, pan-fried rice cakes, and other Chinese classics.
Howlin’ Rays’ Nashville-inspired hot chicken brought the craze to LA with perennially long lines to boot. Now that its spicy chicken tenders and sandwiches are available for walk ups, and online orders for pickup and delivery on Postmates (there’s currently no indoor dining available), it’s a lot easier for folks to get a mouth-tingling taste of the revered restaurant’s dishes.
Yang Chow Restaurant
This iconic Chinatown restaurant has been home to large groups and celebrities for 45 years, with its slippery shrimp and Szechuan chicken in orange peel sauce as its main draws. The service is always personable and the dishes on point. Over the past few years, the family-run restaurant has expanded into Pasadena and Long Beach.
Open since 1934, Cielito Lindo is one of the best stands in Los Angeles. Stationed in the historic Olvera Street, Cielito’s deep-fried taquitos drowned in avocado salsa is worth a trek. Afterward, walk through LA’s first official street for more bites and knick-knacks.
Philippe The Original
Now that the Cole’s versus Philippe’s debate as to the true progenitor of the French dip sandwich has been put to rest, there’s no better time to visit the 1908 institution that invented the jus-soaked specialty. If it’s too crowded on the bottom floor, head upstairs for a quieter meal.