Los Angeles is a city like no other. There are almost nineteen million residents in the whole of L.A. county – a higher population than most countries in the world. It’s vast, it’s sprawling, it’s a city made of other smaller cities, all with their own personalities and subcultures. It’s a difficult city to navigate and comprehend without a local guide – not just because you need someone who can speak fluent freeway talk (and knows if you should be taking the 405 or the 101 or the 10) but also because of the sheer number of restaurants to choose from. Lucky for you, Los Angeles is Kaitlin’s hometown, so you have a local expert at your service.
If you’re looking for celebrity hangouts in West Hollywood or places you might run into reality TV stars, this is not the guide for you. But if you’re looking for the best of the best restaurants in the most diverse and exciting food city in America, keep reading. From hole-in-the-wall spots discovered by former L.A. Times food critic Jonathan Gold, to world class tasting menus, we’ve eaten extensively around Los Angeles and are excited to share our five favorite L.A. restaurants with you.
Looking for more great spots for food and drinks in L.A.? Check out our city map of Los Angeles!
When people ask us where to eat in L.A., our first answer is always Bavel. Dynamic duo Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis, the husband and wife behind the Italian hotspot Bestia, opened a second restaurant, this time paying homage to their Middle Eastern roots. The flavors here are on fire, literally, thanks to the wood-burning oven. From the lamb neck shawarma to the oyster mushroom kebab to the nduja hummus and pita, this is some of the punchiest food in L.A. You need to have a plate of the life-changing grilled prawns on your table, and the malawach – a buttery, layered bread served with dill crème fraîche, aged egg, and strawberry zhoug. Didn’t make a reservation? Pro tip: you can always walk in and order the full menu at the bar.
Horses is the hottest restaurant in Los Angeles right now. The Horses venue is a historic Hollywood haunt (formerly called Ye Coach & Horses) where the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Jim Morrison, and Quentin Tarantino once ruled the roost. It’s a glamorous Hollywood setting, perfect for a night on the town – but the menu is not designed for those on actor diets. This is tasty, well-cooked food, and you’re going to want to lick your plate clean. The chefs holding the reins are Liz Johnson and Will Aghajanian, formerly of Noma in Copenhagen, Freedman’s in L.A. and The Catbird Seat in Nashville. It’s clearly not their first rodeo, and after our first bites, we knew this would be a meal to remember. The menu is a bit of a tribute to some of their favorite chefs and restaurants – there’s a smoked salmon dish that gives a nod to the iconic Spago pizza, and a Cornish game hen that evokes memories of Zuni Café. Best of all, there’s a burger – one that instantly became our favorite in L.A. It’s simple, only topped with cheddar cheese and onions (both caramelized and raw) – but these supporting acts are just there to shine the spotlight on the star of the show, the meat.
HORSES Address & Contact Information 7617 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, California, United States Website Instagram
A line stretches out the door, festive mariachi music plays over the speakers, a cloud of wood-fired mesquite smoke hovers in the air. Can you smell it? You’ve arrived at the best taco joint in Los Angeles. Sonoratown’s flour tortillas are the stuff of legends. They’re made with melted lard, which gives them a buttery, slightly porky flavor, and they’re so thin that they’re almost translucent in color. This is thanks to the flour they’re made with – it’s extremely soft and pliable, which allows the tortilla to be rolled very thin. Made fresh daily, these are the best tortillas we’ve ever had. You’re going to want to order a chivichanga – we tried one filled with beef, roasted chile peppers, and blistered tomatoes. You’re also going to want to try the caramelo, which comes stuffed with chorizo, pinto beans, cheese, avocado, and red salsa. If you just want a taco, the carne asada is fantastic, thanks to the wood-fired grill flavor. Like the meat, the tortillas are also lightly grilled over the mesquite fire, rounding out your taco with that ultimate smoky bite. Sonoratown is our favorite taco joint in all of Los Angeles, and, dare I say, the world?
SONORATOWN Address & Contact Information 208 E 8th St, Los Angeles, California, United States Website Instagram Facebook
California is a seafood lover’s paradise, and Found Oyster does a great job showcasing the best of the coastal offerings. The blackboard menu of specials changes daily depending on the catch of the day, but you’re guaranteed to find several varieties of oysters (which you can top with caviar if you’re feeling fancy). On our visit, we enjoyed a crab cocktail with Ritz crackers, a grilled kanpachi collar, a cheesy artichoke brandade with tortilla chips, and a lobster roll. But the must-order dish was the scallop tostada with yuzu kosho, apple, and basil. This dish was so good that we had three of them! Incredibly fresh seafood, fun wines, and good vibes all around.
FOUND OYSTER Address & Contact Information 4880 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles, California, United States Website Instagram Facebook
Night + Market
There are places in L.A. where you don’t feel cool enough, places that are stuffy and pretentious, but Night + Market is for everyone. It’s got a great vibe, while still being welcoming and friendly. They’ve got killer Thai food and one of the best natural wine lists in L.A. Chef Kris Yembamroong’s empire has expanded to include Night + Market Song in Silver Lake and Night + Market Sahm in Venice, but you can only make a reservation at the original West Hollywood location. We love the cold noodles, the crispy rice salad (one of the spiciest dishes in L.A.), the crab and cream cheese wontons, and the world famous fried chicken sandwich. If you’re a natural wine nerd, be sure to ask for the “reserve wine list” of Chef Kris’ favorite bottles.