An Eater’s Guide to Los Angeles
Unofficial, highly opinionated information about the City of Angels
Hollywood, the beaches, the hills, the valleys, and the wide boulevards chock-full of cars — it’s all part of LA’s sun-baked concrete jungle. This urban expanse of hazy light, long sunsets, vivid street art, towering skyscrapers, swaying palm trees, and celebrity mansions also boasts what some consider to be the country’s most vibrant restaurants. This guide will make it easy to navigate it all.
Los Angeles is anything and everything for first-time visitors. It’s the center of celebrity and influencer culture. It’s an international hub of arts, design, creativity, and entertainment. It’s also one of the greatest places to eat in the country, not only for its endless varieties of cuisines but also for its incredible produce and talented chefs.
In addition to maps that provide a broad overview of the Southland’s panoply of offerings, Eater also brings together plenty of recommendations focused on specific occasions (splurge-worthy, breathtaking views, happy hour), beloved dishes (pasta, dim sum, tacos), popular cuisines (Caribbean, Chinese, French), and local neighborhoods (Pasadena, Santa Monica, West Hollywood). Dive deep into what moves you this moment with Eater as a dependable guide. —Cathy Chaplin
Where to find the best food in town, from tacos to pasta to dumplings
Kampachi crudo at Anajak Thai in Sherman Oaks. Matthew Kang
For a quintessential Los Angeles day of eating, start with breakfast at Pann’s in Inglewood, a classic Googie diner, or pick up a breakfast burrito from the Rooster in Pico-Robertson. The bossam lunch special at Kobawoo is one of the best deals in town, while the Hong Kong-style delights at Tam’s Noodle House always please a crowd. For dinner, dive into the folded tlayudas and mezcal cocktails at Madre or take in the pasta and grilled meats at Antico Nuovo, perhaps the most polished California Italian restaurant in town. Later at night, check out the Thai Town street food scene for pad thai and other wok-fired favorites at Rad Nah Silom.
Answering the age-old question of “where should I eat tonight?”
The Eater LA Heatmap has been listing the most popular new restaurant openings for well over 16 years, updated monthly with input from Eater editors who go check out the splashy openings, talked-about neighborhood finds, and anticipated restaurants from established chefs.
From mole to parrilladas to tlayudas, Los Angeles has some of the best Oaxacan cuisine outside of Mexico.
Wonho Frank Lee
Among Mexico’s 32 wildly diverse culinary regions, none garners more attention than the southern state of Oaxaca, the most Indigenous state south of the border. From Oaxaca, there’s mezcal, a culture of landrace corn, and recipes preserved by cultural groups that transport this rich culture to Los Angeles. Here in Oaxacalifornia, the moniker for Southern California’s Oaxacan community, Zapotecos from the Valles Centrales region have been opening restaurants since the early 1990s, primarily in the neighborhoods of Koreatown, Hollywood, Arlington Heights, and West LA.
An amazing collection of ingredients, from tlayudas, quesillo, chapulines, and chiles to mole pastes and other essential items from Oaxaca to Tijuana. Those ingredients become standout dishes like the mole negro made from scratch and grilled tlayudas as good as you’ll find in Oaxaca. There are backyard comedores (casual family-style restaurants) serving segueza (mole thickened with maize), multi-generational barbacoa cooks preparing pit-roasted lamb, and an even annual tejate festival. There’s a strong case for Los Angeles as Oaxaca’s unofficial ninth region.
From high-end omakase extravaganzas to fantastic reasonably-priced chirashi bowls.
LA’s immense restaurant culture has had a deep love and appreciation for Japanese sushi. For years numerous LA-based chefs claimed to have created the California roll, launching a particular style of cut makizushi covered in sauces and non-traditional ingredients like avocado and mayonnaise. Recently, with the growing popularity of Edomae sushi and omakase, chefs are sourcing pristine seafood from across the country, and all the way from Japan, often aging fish to maximize flavor and placing slices over well-seasoned rice. Today, LA’s sushi scene combines its fun-loving roll scene (especially in the San Fernando Valley but across the city) with more developed, traditional sushi served at counters by talented chefs. There’s great sushi almost anywhere in America, but from top to bottom, it’s hard to argue with the incredible quality — and tradition — of Los Angeles’s sushi.
From some of the best delis to epic fried chicken sandwiches, LA knows its way around bread and meat.
In a city known worldwide for its tacos, its Korean barbecue, and its Armenian grilled meats, the endlessly modifiable sandwich is LA’s great everyday dining secret. Every neighborhood has at least one sandwich of note, and there are plenty of sandwiches that are outright famous, from the Italian grab-and-go option at Roma Market in Pasadena to Santa Monica’s stacked Godmother. The #19 at Langer’s is pastrami purity at its best, while Tel Aviv Grill’s falafel reigns supreme. The simple truth is this: In LA there’s a sandwich for any occasion and every corner of town — and at just about every price point imaginable.
Getting Around in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is big — really big. Part city, part county, part region, the landscape alone covers 469 square miles and fits over 10 million people, eclipsing cities like San Francisco, Chicago, and New York in size and breadth. That’s great news for diners who want to experience huge concentrations of cuisines from large ex-pat communities, be it Armenian, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, or beyond. It’s not so good for people who expect to easily jaunt from one side of the city to the other in a matter of minutes.
Traveling around Los Angeles is best understood as an exercise in patience. The city’s storied traffic is real, and coming for one-off events like an NFL game usually translates into an all-day affair. Instead, try dining locally in some of LA’s best neighborhoods like Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Downtown before boldly attempting to make an early reservation at some far-away restaurant during rush hour. No matter what, you can rest assured that there is always a delicious payoff at the end.
You’re probably going to go to Disneyland at some point. Good news is that the food, drinks, and desserts at the Happiest Place on Earth are better than ever.
With historic buildings, modern sports venues, and major art destinations DTLA has everything from affordable fare to upscale dinner spots.
The span of Downtown LA is so vast, with neighborhoods like Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Flower District, South Park, Olvera Street, and the very busy Arts District representing a few within six square miles. Though historic buildings tower over DTLA streets, there’s constant development revealing new apartments, condos, and hotels. Inside those buildings, both old and new, contain often some of the best restaurants for both Downtown dwellers and those venturing into this bustling part of LA.
Downtown’s classic and historic restaurants are still cranking away like Cole’s French Dip and Philipe The Original. Grand Central Market resides only blocks away from the rooftop stunner 71 Above. Visiting Disney Hall got significantly easier when chef Ray Garcia opened Asterid in early 2022. And a visit to citywide favorite Sushi Gen in Little Tokyo can yield great results, as would a food crawl that starts with cocktails and light bites at chef Enrique Olvera’s Damian, shared slices at Pizzeria Bianco, then dinner at innovative French fusion bistro Camphor.
Via LA Eater