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A burger from Father’s Office restaurant in Los Angeles
Father's Office Burger
Elizabeth Daniels

LA's 20 Most Iconic Restaurant Dishes, 2017 Edition

From burgers and noodles to prime rib and toast

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Father's Office Burger
| Elizabeth Daniels

The dining scene in Los Angeles continues to evolve, with flashy new restaurants and old standbys staying busy year after year. But with more competition on the market now than ever before, it's easy to find yourself chasing new flavors and exciting restaurants, leaving behind the best of what LA has been offering for decades.

Consider this list a recalibration, a way to get diners across the greater Southland back into the mode of enjoying their favorite old standby dishes, wherever they're served (and however long they've been there). This is a rundown of the truly iconic offerings of Los Angeles, from thick steaks made famous in the movies to what may well be the nation's best pastrami. Along they way you'll find new classics like Animal's oxtail poutine, endless dumplings from Taiwanese export Din Tai Fung, and plenty of burgers and sandwiches to go around. Presented in no particular order, these are the most iconic dishes in Los Angeles.

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Baseball Steak at Pacific Dining Car

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Forget Training Day; the baseball steak at Pacific Dining Car transcends any one movie or Denzel Washington catchphrase. The meaty softball-sized main is the centerpiece of a large, classic menu at the Sixth Street location, which has been providing steakhouse elegance 24 hours a day since 1921.

Langer's #19

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There is no more iconic single sandwich in Los Angeles (and no better pastrami sandwich in America) than the #19 at Langer’s. It’s the absolute pinnacle of a Jewish deli staple, complete with mile-high stacks of pastrami, Swiss cheese, and coleslaw on rye.

Omelette at Petit Trois

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A modern, casual French bistro can be surprisingly hard to find in Los Angeles, which is in part what makes Petit Trois so sought after. Having chef Ludo Lefebvre behind the bar, whipping up a decadent true French omelette, cooked slow using salty French butter and lots of movement, certainly helps.

Hickory Burger at The Apple Pan

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

Christian M./Yelp

McCarthy Salad at The Polo Lounge

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The Beverly Hills Hotel’s Polo Lounge has become synonymous for people watching and its McCarthy Salad. A favorite since 1948, the prettily arranged dish that plays on the classic Cobb winds up on nearly every table.

Sushi at SUGARFISH

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Is there a better price to quality ratio in all of Los Angeles than chef Nozawa’s “Trust Me?” Probably not, which explains the rapidly expanding empire growing across the city.

Jade Noodles at Sapp Coffee Shop

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One of LA’s most beloved Thai institutions, Sapp has become know for those gorgeous jade noodles. Loaded with barbecue pork, duck, and crab meat, it’s an outrageously delicious treat that doesn’t put much of a dent in the wallet.

Ricotta Toast at Sqirl

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Yes, you’re going to have to wait in line, but is there a more LA experience than digging into SQIRL’s ricotta toast with housemade seasonal jam (and Instagramming it after)?

Jam Y./Yelp

Butterscotch Budino at Pizzeria Mozza

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Nancy Silverton's been known as one of LA's seminal pastry chefs, but this dessert, made in conjuction with fellow James Beard winner Dahlia Narvaez, is the must-order dessert at Pizzeria Mozza. With a dense custard pudding as its base, the whipped cream and sprinkle of salt rounds out the rich flavors that'll have you swoon after having your fill of pizza. And the rosemary cookies on the side are the perfect accompaniment.

Oxtail Poutine at Animal

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Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo made their mark in the late aughts with this over the top dish, packing stewed oxtail and cheddar cheese atop french fries in a minimalist space along Fairfax. At the time, the elevated stoner fare was a revelation, and the iconic dish remains on the menu today.

AJ R./Yelp

Prime Rib at Tam O'Shanter

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Lawry's The Prime Rib is still the best overall place for prime rib in Los Angeles, but this Scottish cottage in Atwater Village, owned by the same company, offers pristine prime rib in an unbeatable space. Plus, the prices are slightly lower here, making it a bit easier for locals. Don't skip the vast Scotch and whiskey collection after you're done with dinner.

Xiao Long Bao at Din Tai Fung

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This gorgeous soup-stuffed dumplings are the signature item at Din Tai Fung, a global chain of Chinese restaurants with three locations in the greater LA area. Glendale's sparkling space inside the Americana at Brand is the easiest to get to for most Angelenos, and the waits more than worth it. Choose between pork, shrimp, and crab varieties, though the truffle dumplings are worth a splurge every once in a while.

John L./Yelp

Burger at Father's Office

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There are so many great burgers in L.A., but Sang Yoon's "burger" (some liken it to a sandwich) was probably the seminal gourmet burger in America. Using house dry-aged beef, arugula, caramelized onions, and maytag blue cheese on an elongated sandwich bun, it's big enough to share.

Jonathan Z./Yelp

French Dip at Philippe's

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There is perhaps no more iconic dish in Los Angeles than the French dip, that juicy, fall-apart tender sandwich made famous by Philippe’s all those decades ago. And better still: they’re still cheap as heck, and totally delicious.

Godmother at Bay Cities

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Perhaps the most iconic Italian deli item in Los Angeles is great mostly for the fresh baked bread, though the amalgam of meats, cheese, and tangy pickles makes for one great lunch sandwich.

Chicken and Waffles at Roscoe's

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Chicken and waffles are something of a civic dish for Los Angeles. It’s one of those plates that people who have never been here ask about, and retains a kind of homespun pride — particularly at the enduring Roscoe’s chain, where the mash-up was popularized.

Chili Burger at Tommy's

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You haven't lived in LA unless you've had a double-double from In-N-Out, but something equally awesome is the chili cheeseburger at Tommy's. With plush white buns and a dense bean-less chili, it's a taste of LA history.

Matthew Kang

Rolled Tacos at Cielito Lindo

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One of LA’s oldest restaurants also remains among its most beloved. Cielito Lindo has operated on Olvera Street since 1934, rolling tacos for decades and helping to keep the touristy walk-through thriving. This is a place with a ton of history that you can taste in each bite.

Strawberry Donut at The Donut Man

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Glendora’s famed Donut Man stand is universally accepted by Angelenos as a thing worth driving for. No small feat considering its location well east of Downtown, but one bite into the doughnut shop’s seasonal strawberry offerings, and it’s easy to understand why.

Galbi Jjim at Sun Nong Dan

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Koreatown's got more restaurants per square mile than any part of Los Angeles, and the one that's percolated to immense fame is the braised short ribs, called galbi jjim, and Sun Nong Dan, which draws long waits throughout the day. The massive caldron is packed with tender short ribs, served with a sweet soy sauce, or a spicy variant. Bring a crew and finish one of LA's most epic dishes.

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Baseball Steak at Pacific Dining Car

Forget Training Day; the baseball steak at Pacific Dining Car transcends any one movie or Denzel Washington catchphrase. The meaty softball-sized main is the centerpiece of a large, classic menu at the Sixth Street location, which has been providing steakhouse elegance 24 hours a day since 1921.

Langer's #19

There is no more iconic single sandwich in Los Angeles (and no better pastrami sandwich in America) than the #19 at Langer’s. It’s the absolute pinnacle of a Jewish deli staple, complete with mile-high stacks of pastrami, Swiss cheese, and coleslaw on rye.

Omelette at Petit Trois

A modern, casual French bistro can be surprisingly hard to find in Los Angeles, which is in part what makes Petit Trois so sought after. Having chef Ludo Lefebvre behind the bar, whipping up a decadent true French omelette, cooked slow using salty French butter and lots of movement, certainly helps.

Hickory Burger at The Apple Pan

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

Christian M./Yelp

McCarthy Salad at The Polo Lounge

The Beverly Hills Hotel’s Polo Lounge has become synonymous for people watching and its McCarthy Salad. A favorite since 1948, the prettily arranged dish that plays on the classic Cobb winds up on nearly every table.

Sushi at SUGARFISH

Is there a better price to quality ratio in all of Los Angeles than chef Nozawa’s “Trust Me?” Probably not, which explains the rapidly expanding empire growing across the city.

Jade Noodles at Sapp Coffee Shop

One of LA’s most beloved Thai institutions, Sapp has become know for those gorgeous jade noodles. Loaded with barbecue pork, duck, and crab meat, it’s an outrageously delicious treat that doesn’t put much of a dent in the wallet.

Ricotta Toast at Sqirl

Yes, you’re going to have to wait in line, but is there a more LA experience than digging into SQIRL’s ricotta toast with housemade seasonal jam (and Instagramming it after)?

Jam Y./Yelp

Butterscotch Budino at Pizzeria Mozza

Nancy Silverton's been known as one of LA's seminal pastry chefs, but this dessert, made in conjuction with fellow James Beard winner Dahlia Narvaez, is the must-order dessert at Pizzeria Mozza. With a dense custard pudding as its base, the whipped cream and sprinkle of salt rounds out the rich flavors that'll have you swoon after having your fill of pizza. And the rosemary cookies on the side are the perfect accompaniment.

Oxtail Poutine at Animal

Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo made their mark in the late aughts with this over the top dish, packing stewed oxtail and cheddar cheese atop french fries in a minimalist space along Fairfax. At the time, the elevated stoner fare was a revelation, and the iconic dish remains on the menu today.

AJ R./Yelp

Prime Rib at Tam O'Shanter

Lawry's The Prime Rib is still the best overall place for prime rib in Los Angeles, but this Scottish cottage in Atwater Village, owned by the same company, offers pristine prime rib in an unbeatable space. Plus, the prices are slightly lower here, making it a bit easier for locals. Don't skip the vast Scotch and whiskey collection after you're done with dinner.

Xiao Long Bao at Din Tai Fung

This gorgeous soup-stuffed dumplings are the signature item at Din Tai Fung, a global chain of Chinese restaurants with three locations in the greater LA area. Glendale's sparkling space inside the Americana at Brand is the easiest to get to for most Angelenos, and the waits more than worth it. Choose between pork, shrimp, and crab varieties, though the truffle dumplings are worth a splurge every once in a while.

John L./Yelp

Burger at Father's Office

There are so many great burgers in L.A., but Sang Yoon's "burger" (some liken it to a sandwich) was probably the seminal gourmet burger in America. Using house dry-aged beef, arugula, caramelized onions, and maytag blue cheese on an elongated sandwich bun, it's big enough to share.

Jonathan Z./Yelp

French Dip at Philippe's

There is perhaps no more iconic dish in Los Angeles than the French dip, that juicy, fall-apart tender sandwich made famous by Philippe’s all those decades ago. And better still: they’re still cheap as heck, and totally delicious.

Godmother at Bay Cities

Perhaps the most iconic Italian deli item in Los Angeles is great mostly for the fresh baked bread, though the amalgam of meats, cheese, and tangy pickles makes for one great lunch sandwich.

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Chicken and Waffles at Roscoe's

Chicken and waffles are something of a civic dish for Los Angeles. It’s one of those plates that people who have never been here ask about, and retains a kind of homespun pride — particularly at the enduring Roscoe’s chain, where the mash-up was popularized.

Chili Burger at Tommy's

You haven't lived in LA unless you've had a double-double from In-N-Out, but something equally awesome is the chili cheeseburger at Tommy's. With plush white buns and a dense bean-less chili, it's a taste of LA history.

Matthew Kang

Rolled Tacos at Cielito Lindo

One of LA’s oldest restaurants also remains among its most beloved. Cielito Lindo has operated on Olvera Street since 1934, rolling tacos for decades and helping to keep the touristy walk-through thriving. This is a place with a ton of history that you can taste in each bite.

Strawberry Donut at The Donut Man

Glendora’s famed Donut Man stand is universally accepted by Angelenos as a thing worth driving for. No small feat considering its location well east of Downtown, but one bite into the doughnut shop’s seasonal strawberry offerings, and it’s easy to understand why.

Galbi Jjim at Sun Nong Dan

Koreatown's got more restaurants per square mile than any part of Los Angeles, and the one that's percolated to immense fame is the braised short ribs, called galbi jjim, and Sun Nong Dan, which draws long waits throughout the day. The massive caldron is packed with tender short ribs, served with a sweet soy sauce, or a spicy variant. Bring a crew and finish one of LA's most epic dishes.