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Fried chicken from Hotville Chicken in Baldwin Hills
Nashville chicken from Hotville.
Leslie Rodriguez

LA's 16 Most Iconic Restaurant Dishes

Signature dishes worth seeking out

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Nashville chicken from Hotville.
| Leslie Rodriguez

With dynamic new restaurants opening every day all over the greater Southland, it’s common for in-the-know diners to seek the latest and greatest, leaving behind the beloved institutions that have paved the way. Consider this rundown a friendly PSA to support the dependable establishments that have fueled Los Angeles over the years. From an intricate duck preparation rarely seen in the U.S. to incredible Nashville-style hot chicken, here are the 16 most iconic dishes in Los Angeles.

Removed: Park’s Finest, Broad St. Oyster, Alta Adams, Philippe the Original, Father’s Office, Mini Kabob, Badmaash, Sonoratown, Tamales Elena

Added: Torta Ahogada at La Ramadita, Turkey Chop at the Serving Spoon, Rice Rolls at Elite, Lobster at Newport Seafood, Tonnarelli arrabiata at Uovo, Patty Melt at Cassell’s, Pressed Duck at Pasjoli, Tomato Bagel at Courage, Shrimp Fried Rice Omelette at Kouraku

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Cha Gio at Golden Deli

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815 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 308-0803
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Chances are good that you’ll have to wait for a table at Golden Deli, but persevere because the pork- and mushroom-stuffed cha gio (Vietnamese deep-fried spring rolls) are blistered-golden and well worth the inconvenience. Pluck some herbs and lettuce from the communal platter for garnishing and wrapping. FYI: Golden Deli will be closed for two weeks in mid-January for Tet.

2. Number 19 at Langer's Delicatessen

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704 S Alvarado St
Los Angeles, CA 90057
(213) 483-8050
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The #19 may very well be LA’s most iconic sandwich, complete with a hand-sliced stack of pastrami, Swiss cheese, and coleslaw on twice-baked rye.

3. Hickory Burger at the Apple Pan

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10801 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 475-3585
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Not all burgers are created equal, which is why the Apple Pan’s hickory burger continues to stand the test of time. Rich and served with a touch of zip thanks to a proprietary barbecue sauce blend, this burger from a West LA institution is a must-do for anyone passing through the city.

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

4. Shrimp Taco at Mariscos Jalisco

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3040 E Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90023
(323) 528-6701
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While there is no shortage of outstanding taco trucks in Los Angeles, Mariscos Jaliscos may very well be the most beloved of all thanks to Raul Ortega and his crispy shrimp tacos. The wonderful textural interplay of the crunchy shell and shrimp filling can’t be beat.

5. Pescado Zaradeado at Coni' Seafood

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3544 W Imperial Hwy
Inglewood, CA 90303
(310) 672-2339
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The legendary pescado zarandeado at Sinaloan specialist Coni’Seafood is an amazing snook that’s butterflied then grilled with precision. Served with tortillas and an onion salsa, it’s one of the most spectacular seafood dishes in the city. Also available at Coni’Seafood’s Culver City location.

Grilled snook at Coni’Seafood.
Grilled snook at Coni’Seafood.
Cathy Chaplin

6. Tortas Ahogadas La Ramadita

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5938 Vineland Ave
North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 506-6473
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For a blow-the-lid-off heat experience, opt for the tortas ahogadas at La Ramadita on Vineland. This staple operation in North Hollywood serves some of the spiciest food in greater LA, including the signature soaked sandwich in bright red chile sauce. The heat cuts through the fatty pork, the red onions offer some zing, and a squirt or two of bright lime makes the whole thing sing. Just make sure to grab extra napkins.

Tortas Ahogadas La Ramadita.
Tortas Ahogadas La Ramadita.
Farley Elliott

7. Sabich at Tel Aviv Glatt Kosher Grill

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17201 Ventura Blvd
Encino, CA 91316
(818) 774-9400
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The Valley is filled with iconic restaurant wonders, including the satisfying sabich from Tel Aviv Grill. Loaded with fried eggplant, slices of hardboiled egg, hummus and tahini, and lots of greens, this simple takeaway pita option is a must for folks traversing through the area’s ample Israeli dining scene.

Sabich from Tel Aviv Grill.
Sabich from Tel Aviv Grill.
Tel Aviv Grill

8. Turkey Chop at the Serving Spoon

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1403 Centinela Ave
Inglewood, CA 90302
(310) 412-3927
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Open since 1983, this daytime Inglewood restaurant is where to go when comfort food calls. The traditional American breakfast is done very well, but the specialty items should be first choice when settling into a booth. The Serving Spoon’s turkey chops are an iconic choice with a massive, deep-fried piece of turkey that’s perfectly encrusted and seasoned. It comes with a side of eggs prepared any way, along with a side of hearty sautéed potatoes. Prepare wisely because there will be leftovers.

Turkey chop at Serving Spoon.
Turkey chop at Serving Spoon.
Mona Holmes

9. House-Special Lobster at Newport Seafood Restaurant

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518 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 289-5998
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It’s all about the house-special lobster at Newport — live crustaceans fished from tanks and stir-fried with heaps of chopped chilies, scallions, roe, and garlic. The hunks of lobster are considerately cracked before landing on a platter slathered in the aromatic sauce.

10. Salmon Roe on Burnt Everything Bagel at Courage Bagels

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777 N Virgil Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 828-9963
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Courage Bagels has become one of the most popular places to eat in Virgil Village thanks to well-crafted bagels prepared in the Montreal style, which gives it a lighter crumb and more aggressive crust compared to the New York version. The burnt everything bagel is a special treat, especially when topped generously with fresh salmon roe, fresh dill, red onion, and a hefty smear of cream cheese.

Salmon roe bagel at Courage.
Salmon roe bagel at Courage.
Matthew Kang

11. Tonnarelli Arrabiata at Uovo

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4635 Admiralty Way #105
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
(424) 334-9336
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There’s a lot of amazing pasta in Los Angeles, but the tonnarelli arrabiata is simplicity at its finest, with the very special Italian-made fresh pasta tossed in a deeply flavored tomato sauce with a nice kick of spice. Think of it as spaghetti for grown ups, with incredible texture to the noodles.

Tonnarelli arrabiata at Uovo.
Tonnarelli arrabiata at Uovo.
Uovo

12. Pressed Duck at Pasjoli

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2732 Main St
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(424) 330-0020
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Dave Beran’s Michelin-starred French restaurant has had to evolve over the years, but the menu has continued to prepare one of the most elaborate French dishes in the cuisine: pressed duck. Originating from the chef’s time at Next in Chicago, this tableside preparation involves pressing the innards to create a sauce to be spooned over the rare-roasted duck breast. During the pandemic, the tableside show has unfortunately moved to the kitchen, but here’s to hoping it will return to the dining room some day. There might not be a more delicious duck preparation in LA.

Sliced pressed duck at Pasjoli in Santa Monica on a white porcelain plate.
Sliced pressed duck at Pasjoli in Santa Monica.
Matthew Kang

13. Patty Melt at Cassell's Hamburgers

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3600 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(213) 387-5502
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Christian Page perfected the patty melt at his Koreatown diner Cassell’s, whereupon he takes nice rye bread and riddles it around a house-ground beef patty. The cheese spills over the side, gaining a griddled edge from the plancha. There are many ways to do a patty melt, but no one does it quite like Cassell’s.

Patty melt on a plate.
Patty melt at Cassell’s.
Wonho Frank Lee

14. Rice Rolls at Elite Restaurant

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700 S Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 282-9998
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Dim sum basics like shu mai, har gow, and stewed tripe are executed very well at Elite, but best of all are the rice noodle rolls with a crunchy fried doughnut filling that contrasts brilliantly with the velvety noodle sheets. Soy sauce ties everything together with a subtle and welcomed sweetness.

A plate of rice rolls at Elite in Monterey Park.
A plate of rice rolls at Elite in Monterey Park.
Cathy Chaplin

15. Tenshin Chahan Annkake at Kouraku

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314 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 687-4972
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This classic Little Tokyo dish is a glorious rendition of omurice, a well-cooked, tender shrimp-laden omelette lovingly place over a mound of pork fried rice and then absolutely smothered with luscious gravy. The thick sauce seeps into the rice and makes every bite a savory smash hit at this beloved Little Tokyo diner.

Tenshin chahan ankake at Kouraku in Little Tokyo.
Tenshin chahan ankake at Kouraku in Little Tokyo.
Matthew Kang

16. Nashville-Style Hot Chicken at Hotville Chicken

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4070 Marlton Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90008
(323) 792-4835
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Kim Prince brought her legendary family’s mentality toward Nashville Hot Chicken and brought it to the heart of Los Angeles. With a terrific, crisp exterior and deeply flavored, incredibly spicy seasonings, there’s a reason why Hotville is among the best examples of hot chicken anywhere in LA.

Hotville chicken on a tray with checkered paper and pickles.
Hotville Chicken in South LA.
Matthew Kang/Eater LA

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1. Cha Gio at Golden Deli

815 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

Chances are good that you’ll have to wait for a table at Golden Deli, but persevere because the pork- and mushroom-stuffed cha gio (Vietnamese deep-fried spring rolls) are blistered-golden and well worth the inconvenience. Pluck some herbs and lettuce from the communal platter for garnishing and wrapping. FYI: Golden Deli will be closed for two weeks in mid-January for Tet.

815 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776

2. Number 19 at Langer's Delicatessen

704 S Alvarado St, Los Angeles, CA 90057

The #19 may very well be LA’s most iconic sandwich, complete with a hand-sliced stack of pastrami, Swiss cheese, and coleslaw on twice-baked rye.

704 S Alvarado St
Los Angeles, CA 90057

3. Hickory Burger at the Apple Pan

10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064
Hickory burger from Apple Pan.
Hickory burger from Apple Pan.
Matthew Kang

Not all burgers are created equal, which is why the Apple Pan’s hickory burger continues to stand the test of time. Rich and served with a touch of zip thanks to a proprietary barbecue sauce blend, this burger from a West LA institution is a must-do for anyone passing through the city.

10801 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064

4. Shrimp Taco at Mariscos Jalisco

3040 E Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90023

While there is no shortage of outstanding taco trucks in Los Angeles, Mariscos Jaliscos may very well be the most beloved of all thanks to Raul Ortega and his crispy shrimp tacos. The wonderful textural interplay of the crunchy shell and shrimp filling can’t be beat.

3040 E Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90023

5. Pescado Zaradeado at Coni' Seafood

3544 W Imperial Hwy, Inglewood, CA 90303
Grilled snook at Coni’Seafood.
Grilled snook at Coni’Seafood.
Cathy Chaplin

The legendary pescado zarandeado at Sinaloan specialist Coni’Seafood is an amazing snook that’s butterflied then grilled with precision. Served with tortillas and an onion salsa, it’s one of the most spectacular seafood dishes in the city. Also available at Coni’Seafood’s Culver City location.

3544 W Imperial Hwy
Inglewood, CA 90303

6. Tortas Ahogadas La Ramadita

5938 Vineland Ave, North Hollywood, CA 91601
Tortas Ahogadas La Ramadita.
Tortas Ahogadas La Ramadita.
Farley Elliott

For a blow-the-lid-off heat experience, opt for the tortas ahogadas at La Ramadita on Vineland. This staple operation in North Hollywood serves some of the spiciest food in greater LA, including the signature soaked sandwich in bright red chile sauce. The heat cuts through the fatty pork, the red onions offer some zing, and a squirt or two of bright lime makes the whole thing sing. Just make sure to grab extra napkins.

5938 Vineland Ave
North Hollywood, CA 91601

7. Sabich at Tel Aviv Glatt Kosher Grill

17201 Ventura Blvd, Encino, CA 91316
Sabich from Tel Aviv Grill.
Sabich from Tel Aviv Grill.
Tel Aviv Grill

The Valley is filled with iconic restaurant wonders, including the satisfying sabich from Tel Aviv Grill. Loaded with fried eggplant, slices of hardboiled egg, hummus and tahini, and lots of greens, this simple takeaway pita option is a must for folks traversing through the area’s ample Israeli dining scene.

17201 Ventura Blvd
Encino, CA 91316

8. Turkey Chop at the Serving Spoon

1403 Centinela Ave, Inglewood, CA 90302
Turkey chop at Serving Spoon.
Turkey chop at Serving Spoon.
Mona Holmes

Open since 1983, this daytime Inglewood restaurant is where to go when comfort food calls. The traditional American breakfast is done very well, but the specialty items should be first choice when settling into a booth. The Serving Spoon’s turkey chops are an iconic choice with a massive, deep-fried piece of turkey that’s perfectly encrusted and seasoned. It comes with a side of eggs prepared any way, along with a side of hearty sautéed potatoes. Prepare wisely because there will be leftovers.

1403 Centinela Ave
Inglewood, CA 90302

9. House-Special Lobster at Newport Seafood Restaurant

518 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

It’s all about the house-special lobster at Newport — live crustaceans fished from tanks and stir-fried with heaps of chopped chilies, scallions, roe, and garlic. The hunks of lobster are considerately cracked before landing on a platter slathered in the aromatic sauce.

518 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776

10. Salmon Roe on Burnt Everything Bagel at Courage Bagels

777 N Virgil Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029
Salmon roe bagel at Courage.
Salmon roe bagel at Courage.
Matthew Kang

Courage Bagels has become one of the most popular places to eat in Virgil Village thanks to well-crafted bagels prepared in the Montreal style, which gives it a lighter crumb and more aggressive crust compared to the New York version. The burnt everything bagel is a special treat, especially when topped generously with fresh salmon roe, fresh dill, red onion, and a hefty smear of cream cheese.

777 N Virgil Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90029

11. Tonnarelli Arrabiata at Uovo

4635 Admiralty Way #105, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
Tonnarelli arrabiata at Uovo.
Tonnarelli arrabiata at Uovo.
Uovo

There’s a lot of amazing pasta in Los Angeles, but the tonnarelli arrabiata is simplicity at its finest, with the very special Italian-made fresh pasta tossed in a deeply flavored tomato sauce with a nice kick of spice. Think of it as spaghetti for grown ups, with incredible texture to the noodles.

4635 Admiralty Way #105
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

12. Pressed Duck at Pasjoli

2732 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405
Sliced pressed duck at Pasjoli in Santa Monica on a white porcelain plate.
Sliced pressed duck at Pasjoli in Santa Monica.
Matthew Kang

Dave Beran’s Michelin-starred French restaurant has had to evolve over the years, but the menu has continued to prepare one of the most elaborate French dishes in the cuisine: pressed duck. Originating from the chef’s time at Next in Chicago, this tableside preparation involves pressing the innards to create a sauce to be spooned over the rare-roasted duck breast. During the pandemic, the tableside show has unfortunately moved to the kitchen, but here’s to hoping it will return to the dining room some day. There might not be a more delicious duck preparation in LA.

2732 Main St
Santa Monica, CA 90405

13. Patty Melt at Cassell's Hamburgers

3600 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020
Patty melt on a plate.
Patty melt at Cassell’s.
Wonho Frank Lee

Christian Page perfected the patty melt at his Koreatown diner Cassell’s, whereupon he takes nice rye bread and riddles it around a house-ground beef patty. The cheese spills over the side, gaining a griddled edge from the plancha. There are many ways to do a patty melt, but no one does it quite like Cassell’s.

3600 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020

14. Rice Rolls at Elite Restaurant

700 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754
A plate of rice rolls at Elite in Monterey Park.
A plate of rice rolls at Elite in Monterey Park.
Cathy Chaplin

Dim sum basics like shu mai, har gow, and stewed tripe are executed very well at Elite, but best of all are the rice noodle rolls with a crunchy fried doughnut filling that contrasts brilliantly with the velvety noodle sheets. Soy sauce ties everything together with a subtle and welcomed sweetness.

700 S Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754

15. Tenshin Chahan Annkake at Kouraku

314 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tenshin chahan ankake at Kouraku in Little Tokyo.
Tenshin chahan ankake at Kouraku in Little Tokyo.
Matthew Kang

This classic Little Tokyo dish is a glorious rendition of omurice, a well-cooked, tender shrimp-laden omelette lovingly place over a mound of pork fried rice and then absolutely smothered with luscious gravy. The thick sauce seeps into the rice and makes every bite a savory smash hit at this beloved Little Tokyo diner.

314 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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16. Nashville-Style Hot Chicken at Hotville Chicken

4070 Marlton Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90008
Hotville chicken on a tray with checkered paper and pickles.
Hotville Chicken in South LA.
Matthew Kang/Eater LA

Kim Prince brought her legendary family’s mentality toward Nashville Hot Chicken and brought it to the heart of Los Angeles. With a terrific, crisp exterior and deeply flavored, incredibly spicy seasonings, there’s a reason why Hotville is among the best examples of hot chicken anywhere in LA.

4070 Marlton Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90008

Related Maps