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 20 classic LA restaurants that every Angeleno must try.Read More
20 Classic Los Angeles 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 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.
Smoke House Restaurant
Burbank’s Smoke House has a lot 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.
Newport Seafood Restaurant
Opened in 1996, Newport Seafood Restaurant is one of SGV’s most popular Vietnamese Chinese establishments thanks to heaping platters of scallion, ginger, and garlic-flavored lobster and beef luc lac. Today, Sophia Lau, the daughter of owners Wendy Lam and Ly Hua, helps operate this bustling San Gabriel restaurant day-to-day, serving diners willing to line up during prime meal hours.
Musso & Frank Grill
Hollywood’s oldest restaurant might be its very best, even after more than a century of serving grilled chops and Continental classics like French onion soup. The pastas are better than they should be, like a super-simple fettuccine Alfredo or sumptuous rigatoni vodka. And of course, everyone needs a cocktail like Ramos gin fizzes and the legendary martinis served with a 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.
As classic as it gets in Thai Town (the first such neighborhood in the U.S.), Jitlada has been open since the 1970s but saw a second life in 2006 under the ownership of Jazz Singsanong and her late brother and chef Tui Sungakamee. Together, they infused Jitlada’s enormous menu with then-rare Southern Thai specialties, like crispy morning glory salad, mussels in lemongrass broth, and spicy turmeric-fried catfish. Enjoy the timeless ambiance with its packed tables and dim lighting, and bring enough people to get through a good portion of the Southern Thai dishes.
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.
Tail O' the Pup
Opened in 1946 and one of LA’s most historic programmatic theme buildings, Tail O’ the Pup has been fully revived in West Hollywood with the refurbishment of its hot dog-shaped building, which only acts as the cashier now along Santa Monica Boulevard. The updated Tail O’ the Pup is located mere blocks from the original on La Cienega Boulevard. Fans of LA history can bite into split-grilled hot dogs, fries, and cups of beef chili.
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.
One of LA’s storied lunchtime establishments, the beautiful secluded patio of Polo Lounge could tell Hollywood tales for days. Its lush garden ambience and splendid service do more than enough to compensate for the fairly basic, expensive food. You’ll want to order the classic McCarthy salad and maybe a few other midcentury plates that won’t challenge any palates, but really, you’re there for the experience of maybe hobnobbing with the stars.
Dan Sung Sa
Koreatown’s most popular pub has endured since 1997, when owner Caroline Cho wanted to open the kind of late-night, street-style drinking establishments called pojangmacha, or pocha for short, that one could only find in Korea at the time. That means grilled skewers, cheesy corn, and soul-satisfying stews that work well to soak up bottle upon bottle of beer or soju. Dan Sung Sa is open daily until 2 a.m.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 fantastic prime rib, a relatively rarity outside of Lawry’s and Tam O’Shanter in LA.
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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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.
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.