Los Angeles is a city blessed with a tapestry of long-standing restaurants. Even after decades of service, these places continue to thrive thanks to a loyal following of dedicated regulars who find comfort in dependable cooking and familiar hospitality. Here now are 21 classic restaurants every Angeleno must try at some point.Read More
20 Classic Restaurants Every Angeleno Must Try
Throwback to LA's best old school eateries and dives
Brent's Deli Northridge
Head to Northridge in the San Fernando Valley for a never-fail Jewish deli experience. Brent’s Delicatessen and Restaurant, operating for more than 55 years, has been serving its pastrami sandwiches, behemoth breakfast plates, and delicate blintzes to ravenous masses coming locally from the Valley and beyond. While the assortment of soups and triple-decker sandwiches bring in the out-of-towners, longtime diners tend to go for more comforting dishes: think fall-apart stuffed cabbage rolls filled with tender beef and covered in a sweet and sour sauce, plump sides of kishka, and steaming potato knishes.
Golden Bull Restaurant
Hearkening to an era of stiff martinis and big chops, Golden Bull received a second chance at life with new ownership under Mark Verge, who operates Ashland Hill and Margo’s in Santa Monica. The old school vibes continue to charm the beachside restaurant. Order the incredible prime rib.
Westside dive bar legend Chez Jay is still humming along on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica after all these years. Originally opened in 1959, the charm and kitsch of the place remains as strong as the drinks themselves.
The Apple Pan
A much-beloved Westside institution with Ohio-style burgers served in a humble diner-like stand along Pico, the Apple Pan makes consistently good sandwiches and pies. It’s hard to think of a more enduring greasy spoon in LA.
Dan Tana’s is the quintessential Hollywood hangout. Opened in 1964, the Italian-American haunt serves late every night of the week, with hits like chicken parmesan and grilled steaks. The bar continues to be a legendary place to grab a drink and hobnob with celebrities.
The Tower Bar
Legendary doesn’t even begin to describe the Tower Bar on the Sunset Strip. This Jeff Klein-owned staple hotel bar has been ground zero for innumerable Hollywood deals and covert discussions over the decades, thanks to its status as a coveted and understated home for socially mobile Angelenos. That might sound like a negative, but it’s definitely not. Tower Bar is an industry haunt in a town where power and access mean a lot, and these days a whole new generation of Old Hollywood-seeking newcomers have begun to populate the shadowy corners of the room. It’s all great fun — and great people-watching to boot.
A must-stop on the way to LAX, Pann’s is a diner study in Googie architecture. Though it’s no longer open in the evenings, sitting down to a thick mug of black coffee and a plate of eggs is still a highlight.
Smoke House Restaurant
Burbank’s Smoke House has a few things going for it: For starters, the place is a stone’s throw from some of LA’s biggest studios. It’s also got one heck of a signature dish in its cheesy garlic bread, though reducing the historic place (circa 1946) to just a side menu item wouldn’t quite be fair. No, this Lakeside Drive spot is more than all that, it’s a home for creatives who come for a charred steak and a stiff drink after work, in a dining room that looks just as rustic and fun as it always has.
Musso & Frank Grill
Hollywood’s oldest restaurant might be its very best, even after more than a century serving grilled chops and Continental classics like French onion soup. The pastas are so much better than they should be, like a super-simple fettuccine alfredo or sumptuous rigatoni vodka. And of course everyone has to order a cocktail of some kind, from the ramos gin fizzes to the legendary martinis served with an extra sidecar. There’s something about the quiet dining room, filled with only the sounds of clicking silverware and suave servers pitching the day’s specials, that makes this one of LA’s most special meals.
Opened for 22 years now, this is Koreatown’s longest standing premium barbecue destination (old-school classic Woo Lae Oak closed years ago). Chosun Galbee continues to draw fans for its tender, fatty cuts of short rib and marinated beef served with some of the best mul naengmyeon in town. It helps that the modern ambience and elegant service delivers every night.
This legendary family-operated restaurant has hit the century mark. El Cholo remains packed while still churning out classic traditional enchiladas, burritos, tacos, as well as shaken margaritas. The flour tortillas are worth ordering a dozen before leaving the premises.
Gardena continues to protect the status of its classic Japanese restaurants, from Otafuku’s soba and izakaya fare to Fukugawa’s regal breakfast bento, but Kotohira has been immortalized ever since Jonathan Gold wrote about owner Tadashi Takahashi’s udon, thick, squiggly, and bouncy like “elastic ropes.” Kotohira continues to serve majestic, affordable lunch bento along with its udon in a bustling Gardena strip mall, and the young folks searching for boba or hot pot might not realize the iconic restaurant that persists.
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Serving perhaps the greatest pastrami in America, Langer's is a fantastic diner in Westlake offering everything from reuben sandwiches and corned beef to matzo ball soup and lox. It's easily the best Jewish deli in a city full of great delis.
Bill's Taco House
Bill’s is a South LA legend, just below Downtown, that focuses primarily on one thing: the cheeseburger taco. It’s a mashup made purely for Los Angeles, the kind of last-century dining innovation that just makes perfect sense. The orange and yellow corner location today is stuffed with old photos of days gone by, and the cheeseburger taco still beckons all who come in, some 74 years later.
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Yang Chow Restaurant
The 45-year-old Yang Chow is charming in so many ways, from the celebrity photos adorning the walls to its lively dining room and attentive service. Its most popular dishes, like slippery shrimp and Szechuan chicken, have put the Chinatown restaurant on the map and keeps people from all walks of life returning for more.
Cielito Lindo has been serving its famous rolled tacos slathered in avocado salsa since 1934. The proud tradition continues today as the restaurant anchors bustling Olvera Street in Downtown's northern edge.
Philippe the Original
Opened since 1908, Philippe is famous for its bustling lunchtime crowd and made-to-order service. Served simply with one’s choice of meat — and, crucially, degree of dipped-ness — the century-old French dip is the kind of inexpensive, satisfying, and wholly unique meal that reminds eaters with every bite that Los Angeles has been cooking great food for a very long time.
Al & Bea's Mexican Food
Opened in 1966, this legendary Boyle Heights restaurant serves tremendous bean-and-cheese burritos that were immortalized by the late food writer Jonathan Gold. However, the Mexican American community has revered these burritos for much longer than Gold’s review, and this roadside stand has been a fixture in this neighborhood for almost 55 years.
La Casita Mexicana
Jaime Martín del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu first opened La Casita Mexicana in 1998 in Bell, serving classic Mexican fonda fare like enchiladas tres moles, chiles en nogada, and mole poblano in a colorful, vibrant room. Now, 25 years later, it’s arguably the finest sit-down Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, continuing to serve the Southeast LA community with polished but reasonably priced fare.
Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
One of LA’s two-decade-old Cantonese seafood and dim sum palaces continues to turn out some of the best regional, celebratory Chinese food along a busy stretch of Rosemead. Chef Tony He has opened some of the most legendary restaurants in North America, but this iconic spot, which originally opened in Vancouver, continues to draw healthy weekend lines for shumai, har gow, roast duck, fresh sauteed lobster, and steamed fish in a luxurious open dining room.