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Smoked salmon pizza at Spago.
Smoked salmon pizza from Spago in Beverly Hills.
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LA's 17 Most Iconic Restaurant Dishes

Signature dishes, from fried chicken and burgers to smoked salmon pizza

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Smoked salmon pizza from Spago in Beverly Hills.
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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 17 most iconic dishes in Los Angeles.

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Dry-aged Black Sea Bream at Anajak Thai Cuisine

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Dry-aged whole fish is a trending dish in Los Angeles, thanks largely to the Valley’s seafood shop the Joint. Anajak Thai takes full advantage of this technique with an incredible nam jim-tinted black sea bream, perhaps the must-order item at a dinner at one of LA’s most impressive Thai restaurants.

Dry-aged black sea bream with nam jim seafood sauce from Anajak Thai.
Dry-aged black sea bream with nam jim seafood sauce from Anajak Thai.
Matthew Kang

Kebabs at Mini Kabob

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There are many wonderful places to get kebabs in Los Angeles, but Mini Kabob’s plate is truly sensational, featuring buttery rice, sliced onions, and some of the best-cooked grilled Armenian meats anywhere.

Kebabs plate at Mini Kabob
Mini Kabob.
Farley Elliott

Prime Rib Plate at Tam O'Shanter

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Lawry’s is the more famous prime rib restaurant, but Tam O’Shanter is an equally good, if not more low-key place for rib roast with mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and creamed spinach. The bone-in Prince Charlie cut is a feast any day of the week, with tender, well-roasted beef and ample au jus.

Bone-in prime rib from Tam O’Shanter in Atwater Village.
Bone-in prime rib from Tam O’Shanter in Atwater Village.
Matthew Kang

Cha Gio at Golden Deli

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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.

Salmon Roe on Burnt Everything Bagel at Courage Bagels

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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

Barbecue Platter at Moo's Craft Barbecue

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Moo’s Craft Barbecue has been serving in Los Angeles for many years, but its recently opened permanent location in Lincoln Heights is a smoked meat miracle for Texas barbecue fans. The platter of sausages, brisket, ribs, and sides all retain a tint of LA flavor, like the side of esquites, but the tender, juicy meat offers some of the ‘cue in the city.

A platter of barbecued meats and sides from Moo’s Craft Barbecue
Smoked meats from Moo’s Craft Barbecue.
Mona Holmes

Smoked Salmon Pizza at Spago

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One of the original California pizzas, Wolfgang Puck put smoked salmon with cream cheese on its pizzas at Spago, becoming an instant classic. A garnish of chopped chives and caviar completes this must-try LA icon.

Smoked salmon pizza at Spago.
Smoked salmon pizza at Spago.
Spago

Number 19 at Langer's Delicatessen

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

Rice Rolls at Elite Restaurant

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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

Spicy Korean Chicken at Mapo Dak Galbi

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Koreatown’s longtime chicken specialist basically serves one dish: a whopping feast of chopped chicken thighs served with cabbage, onions, gochujang sauce, rice cakes, and perilla leaves, cooked over a cast iron skillet right at the table. Basically, every table opts for the fried rice finish. A hearty, satisfying chicken dinner with flavor through the roof.

Dak galbi from Mapo in Koreatown in a steel pan.
Dak galbi from Mapo in Koreatown.
Matthew Kang

Fruit Doughnuts at The Donut Man

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Springtime strawberry and summertime peach-filled doughnuts are a sweet confection from the Glendora’s Donut Man, one of Southern California’s most iconic shops, which now has a location inside Grand Central Market in Downtown.

Two hands drop a fresh strawberry doughnut from the top.
Fresh strawberry doughnut from Donut Man.
Wonho Frank Lee

Hickory Burger at the Apple Pan

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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.

Burger from Apple Pan.
Burger from Apple Pan.
Matthew Kang

Dirty Chicken at Citrin

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The roast chicken coated with bread crumbs at Citrin was a longtime preparation at Josiah Citrin’s Mélisse. Now he’s serving it with buttery potatoes and seasonal sides like morel mushrooms for some of the juiciest, most delicious roast chicken in the city. It’s big enough for two or even three to share.

Dirty chicken at Citrin in Santa Monica.
Dirty chicken at Citrin in Santa Monica.
Matthew Kang

Shrimp Taco at Mariscos Jalisco

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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.

Nashville-Style Hot Chicken at Hotville Chicken

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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

Pressed Duck at Pasjoli

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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 someday. 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

Pescado Zaradeado at Coni' Seafood

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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

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Dry-aged Black Sea Bream at Anajak Thai Cuisine

Dry-aged whole fish is a trending dish in Los Angeles, thanks largely to the Valley’s seafood shop the Joint. Anajak Thai takes full advantage of this technique with an incredible nam jim-tinted black sea bream, perhaps the must-order item at a dinner at one of LA’s most impressive Thai restaurants.

Dry-aged black sea bream with nam jim seafood sauce from Anajak Thai.
Dry-aged black sea bream with nam jim seafood sauce from Anajak Thai.
Matthew Kang

Kebabs at Mini Kabob

There are many wonderful places to get kebabs in Los Angeles, but Mini Kabob’s plate is truly sensational, featuring buttery rice, sliced onions, and some of the best-cooked grilled Armenian meats anywhere.

Kebabs plate at Mini Kabob
Mini Kabob.
Farley Elliott

Prime Rib Plate at Tam O'Shanter

Lawry’s is the more famous prime rib restaurant, but Tam O’Shanter is an equally good, if not more low-key place for rib roast with mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and creamed spinach. The bone-in Prince Charlie cut is a feast any day of the week, with tender, well-roasted beef and ample au jus.

Bone-in prime rib from Tam O’Shanter in Atwater Village.
Bone-in prime rib from Tam O’Shanter in Atwater Village.
Matthew Kang

Cha Gio at Golden Deli

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.

Salmon Roe on Burnt Everything Bagel at Courage Bagels

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

Barbecue Platter at Moo's Craft Barbecue

Moo’s Craft Barbecue has been serving in Los Angeles for many years, but its recently opened permanent location in Lincoln Heights is a smoked meat miracle for Texas barbecue fans. The platter of sausages, brisket, ribs, and sides all retain a tint of LA flavor, like the side of esquites, but the tender, juicy meat offers some of the ‘cue in the city.

A platter of barbecued meats and sides from Moo’s Craft Barbecue
Smoked meats from Moo’s Craft Barbecue.
Mona Holmes

Smoked Salmon Pizza at Spago

One of the original California pizzas, Wolfgang Puck put smoked salmon with cream cheese on its pizzas at Spago, becoming an instant classic. A garnish of chopped chives and caviar completes this must-try LA icon.

Smoked salmon pizza at Spago.
Smoked salmon pizza at Spago.
Spago

Number 19 at Langer's Delicatessen

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

Rice Rolls at Elite Restaurant

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

Spicy Korean Chicken at Mapo Dak Galbi

Koreatown’s longtime chicken specialist basically serves one dish: a whopping feast of chopped chicken thighs served with cabbage, onions, gochujang sauce, rice cakes, and perilla leaves, cooked over a cast iron skillet right at the table. Basically, every table opts for the fried rice finish. A hearty, satisfying chicken dinner with flavor through the roof.

Dak galbi from Mapo in Koreatown in a steel pan.
Dak galbi from Mapo in Koreatown.
Matthew Kang

Fruit Doughnuts at The Donut Man

Springtime strawberry and summertime peach-filled doughnuts are a sweet confection from the Glendora’s Donut Man, one of Southern California’s most iconic shops, which now has a location inside Grand Central Market in Downtown.

Two hands drop a fresh strawberry doughnut from the top.
Fresh strawberry doughnut from Donut Man.
Wonho Frank Lee

Hickory Burger at the Apple Pan

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.

Burger from Apple Pan.
Burger from Apple Pan.
Matthew Kang

Dirty Chicken at Citrin

The roast chicken coated with bread crumbs at Citrin was a longtime preparation at Josiah Citrin’s Mélisse. Now he’s serving it with buttery potatoes and seasonal sides like morel mushrooms for some of the juiciest, most delicious roast chicken in the city. It’s big enough for two or even three to share.

Dirty chicken at Citrin in Santa Monica.
Dirty chicken at Citrin in Santa Monica.
Matthew Kang

Shrimp Taco at Mariscos Jalisco

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.

Nashville-Style Hot Chicken at Hotville Chicken

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

Related Maps

Pressed Duck at Pasjoli

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 someday. 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

Pescado Zaradeado at Coni' Seafood

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

Related Maps