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 freshly fried or grilled seafood with an ocean view, or an old-school Mexican restaurant that celebrities often 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.
Hot Dog on a Stick
The first Hot Dog on a Stick has been a mainstay along the boardwalk in Santa Monica for a good reason: The corn dogs are excellent. 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 lemonade and some funnel fries for a whole experience. More reason to visit? The iconic food stand that has been around for 76 years unveiled a new building in October 2022.
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.
Belles Beach House
A visit to LA will likely land tourists in Venice Beach. While the crowded Boardwalk and Abbot Kinney have plenty of places to eat, Belles Beach House manages to accommodate medium-to-large from throughout the day with its tropical vibes, stiff tiki cocktails, and Japanese-Hawaiian-influenced dishes like mochiko-fried chicken bites, sushi platters, or saucy teriyaki burgers.
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, including the likes of the Kardashians and 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.
Merkato Ethiopian Restaurant and Market
Made even more popular by HBO’s Insecure, Merkato on Fairfax Avenue is a Little Ethiopia favorite. As the name suggests, there’s both a restaurant and a market with robust offerings, including Ethiopian wine, beer, coffee, and pantry items. The menu features plenty of meat and fish alongside vegetarian and vegan offerings, making it a great place to share a few dishes with a group, like the highly spiced raw beef gored gored served with injera.
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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.
Anyone landing in Hollywood’s Walk of Fame area will likely need something to eat. 25 Degrees has remained an unexpected classic over the past 19 years serving upscaled burgers in a bordello-inspired dining room. The most popular burger combines runny crescenza and gorgonzola cheeses, crispy bacon, and thousand island over a juicy patty encased by brioche buns. Be sure to pick a boozy milk shake to pair with the burger.
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. The dining room, with zero music and all ambient sounds, remains one of the best places to get dinner in Hollywood, with well done classics like French onion soup, pasta, or grilled chops.
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.
Over the years, Timothy Hollingsworth’s landmark restaurant in Downtown LA has gained fame through the chef’s winning streak on Netflix’s The Final Table and more recently with his social media sensation Chain, a collaboration with actor B.J. Novak that serves upscaled takes on fast food. But Otium remains one of the most impressive and reliable modern LA restaurants in a highly trafficked tourist area, serving a versatile and well-executed menu of California fare, including pasta and grilled meats spread across an arresting, high energy space.
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, it’s a lot easier for folks to get a mouth-tingling taste of the revered restaurant’s dishes. There’s another location with on-site seating and even craft beers in Pasadena.
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.
Al & Bea's Mexican Food
Founded by Al and Beatrice Carreon in Boyle Heights in the mid-1960s, this popular burrito stand still makes some of the best LA-style bean and cheese burritos anywhere. While the basic bean and oozy cheddar cheese is a good starting point, combination burritos with stewed meat and the chile relleno variants are next level. Be prepared to wait as things aren’t made at fast-food speed.