Los Angeles City Map
Los Angeles is a city like no other. There are almost 19 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.
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 L.A. and are excited to share our favorite restaurants in this foodie map. Navigate the map easily either by scrolling through the list on the right or by clicking the points on the map. You can filter the map by category or opening hours. Places are listed in geographical order.
Opening Hours 🕒
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. Sonoratown’s resident tortilla experts brings the tortillas to life – they're churning out fresh tortillas by hand all day. You’re going to want to order a "chivichanga" – we love the one with chicken, roasted chile peppers, and blistered tomatoes. You also need to try the "caramelo," which comes stuffed with chorizo, pinto beans, cheese, avocado, and red salsa. If you just want a taco, the costilla (grilled steak) is fantastic, thanks to the wood-fired flavor. Sonoratown is our favorite taco joint in all of Los Angeles, and the world. They've recently added a second location in Mid-City.
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? You can walk in and order the full menu at the bar.
Self-taught chef Jon Yao started his cooking career at age 24 in the corner of a Sawtelle strip mall, but now he's showcasing the Taiwanese flavors of his childhood at the ROW DTLA. The menu is seafood-focused, inspired by Jon’s family recipes and the food he ate growing up in the San Gabriel Valley. The maturity of Yao and his team in the past few years is evident – we think they’re pushing towards the second Michelin star. This is one of the most technically precise, unique, and delicious fine dining restaurants in Los Angeles right now. Want to dip your toes in the water and experience some of the flavors of Kato without going all in? Book a seat at the bar to enjoy an abbreviated tasting menu, or walk in and order some of the signature dishes à la carte.
Everson Royce Bar
One of our favorite cheeseburgers in L.A. is actually at a cocktail bar, Everson Royce Bar. ERB is a really cute space in the Arts District that has a backyard with string lights, picnic tables, and bocce balls. Good vibes, and a great burger. The burger is not too fancy; it’s pretty simple, actually. A thin, juicy patty is topped with a slice of cheese and an incredible peppery sauce, which gives it "steak au poivre" vibes. ERB also has flaky buttermilk biscuits served with honey butter that are to die for.
Burritos La Palma
These burritos are the size of tacos, with a tortilla folded around the good stuff in a slender, compact tube. They look extremely simple on the outside, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. The magic of Burritos La Palma starts with their homemade flour tortillas, made from a secret family recipe. They’re buttery, pliant, and doughy, the perfect vehicle for the juicy, saucy fillings. Their small size allows you to try a few flavors – our favorites are the birria (beef stew) and the bean and cheese. Luckily for us, Burritos La Palma has expanded beyond their original El Monte location with a location in Boyle Heights, and you can also find their burritos in Santa Ana.
Jonathan Gold’s favorite taco truck in L.A. and a long-time resident on his 101 Best Restaurants in L.A. list is the famous Boyle Heights taco truck, Mariscos Jalisco. They’re famous for one thing here – the "tacos dorados de camaron." Crispy, fried shrimp tacos are assembled and then submerged wholly in a vat of bubbling frying oil, dunked and fried as one. It was one of Jonathan’s favorite bites in L.A. – a crunch from the hard shell, a juicy burst from the shrimp nestled within, and a freshness from the tomatoes, onions, and avocado slathered on top. If you can handle some heat, you should also try the aguachile here – a crispy tostada, topped with shrimp, cucumber, and avocado.
La Azteca Tortilleria
If you enjoy following in the footsteps of Jonathan Gold as much as we do, you’ve probably heard of Azteca Tortilleria’s chile relleno burrito. What is it? A whole chile stuffed with cheese, inside a bean, cheese, and tomato burrito, all wrapped in a dreamy flour tortilla. Kaitlin usually doesn’t love chiles, but this changed her mind. It’s a delicious, one-of-a-kind burrito and well worth the drive to East Los Angeles.
Moo’s Craft Barbecue
A wave of barbecue joints have opened in Los Angeles recently, and Moo’s Craft Barbecue just might be our favorite of the bunch. Of course, you need to try the slabs of brisket (order them moist!), but you also need to try the smoked brisket burger. Moo’s takes their brisket trimmings and molds them into a patty, which they then season and smoke for extra flavor. They top the burger with cheese, raw onions, and aioli – it’s a little smoky, incredibly juicy, and absolutely delicious. Pro tip: be sure to pre-order the burger online – they sell out!
There are very few foods we would wait in hours-long lines for, but Howlin’ Ray’s is one of them. Husband and wife team Johnny and Amanda fell in love with Nashville-style hot chicken and studied the OGs of the hot chicken world (Prince’s, Hattie B’s, Bolton’s) to perfect their own recipe. Howlin’ uses honest, high quality ingredients including all natural, antibiotic-free chicken. There are many copycats around L.A., but none compare to the original, in terms of flavor – or friendliness. When you walk through the door at Howlin’, the boisterous welcome from the workers makes the wait worth it. The fried chicken sandwich on a brioche bun is our favorite, but we also tried the off-menu “Tim’s Style Sando” which uses grilled cheese sandwiches as buns. We chose the “medium” level of heat, which has a perfect amount of spice without being too overpowering; however, you can pick “country” if you want no heat, or go all the way to “Howlin” if you want it extra, extra hot.
Grand Central Market
The Grand Central Market is the best food market in Los Angeles. This is how a food market should be, with a large number of food stalls selling high-quality fast food and specialty merchants selling spices, bread, cheese, and fruits. Grab a burger at Belcampo, an egg sandwich at Eggslut, a rice bowl at Sari Sari Store, a pita at Kismet Falafel, pie at Fat + Flour, or an ice cream at McConnell's.
Holbox / Chichén Itzá
Chef Gilberto Cetina is the mastermind between two stands in the Mercado La Paloma – Chichen Itza, his Yucatán-style lunch counter, and Holbox, its seafood counterpart. At Holbox, we tried the signature blood clams, octopus tacos, and the best grilled branzino of our lives. At Chichen Itza, we loved the Tikin-xic (wood-grilled fish filet in achiote sauce), the papadzules (hard-boiled egg enchiladas with pumpkin and tomato sauce), and the famous cochinita pibil (pork roasted in banana leaves). After Jonathan Gold ate here, he went home and booked a ticket to the Yucatán.
If you haven’t tried the #19 sandwich from Langer’s Deli, have you even been to L.A.? The #19 is the order at Langer’s – their world-famous pastrami comes served on double-baked rye bread, with Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and coleslaw. The meat here is cut very thick, almost like corned beef, and has an incredibly smoky, roasted barbecue flavor. Langer’s has been a L.A. institution since 1947. Why? Because they serve the best pastrami in the world.
Park’s BBQ is by far the best Korean BBQ in L.A. The quality of meat here is top notch, so it’s more expensive than the $20 all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ spots, but, like with great sushi, you want to be paying more for better meat. They serve prime and wagyu beef of incredible quality; in fact, they don’t even let you cook it yourself because they don’t want you to ruin the steak. We loved the American wagyu ggot sal, the bulgogi stew, and, of course, the banchan.
Holy mole! Did you know that L.A. has the largest Oaxacan population outside of Mexico? This means we have a lot of incredible Oaxacan food in town, including Guelaguetza, which Jonathan Gold described as the best Oaxacan restaurant in the country. (You can’t argue with J Gold!) Try the “Fiesta of Mole" – a sampler of mole from light to dark, the chorizo queso fundido, and the tlayuda, a large tostada covered with black beans, Oaxacan cheese, chorizo, and beef. Our meal at Guelaguetza was so good that we instantly fell in love with Oaxacan food and were inspired to take a trip to Oaxaca to feast on all the mole and tlayudas we could get our hands on.
An unassuming storefront inside a Koreatown strip mall is serving some of our favorite ramen in L.A. Kaitlin loved the A5 waygu ramen, which has an incredibly rich broth, thick wavy noodles, raw onions, and perfectly cooked wagyu meat from Miyazaki. Anders loved the yuzu shio ramen, with a light and refreshing broth, pork, and thin noodles. But perhaps our favorite bites here were some of the appetizers, including a dish of sushi-grade salmon, burrata, and yuzu; crispy rice topped with tuna; a dish of raw scallops, uni, and yuzu; and one of the best takoyakis we’ve had.
Sun Nong Dan
L.A. has the highest population of Koreans outside of Korea, which means we are lucky to have really authentic Korean cuisine here. Our favorite spot in K-town is Sun Nong Dan, a hole-in-the-wall, strip mall restaurant made famous by Jonathan Gold. Sun Nong Dan is open 24/7 – but even at midnight you might find an hour-long line to get in. Of course, it’s worth the wait. They’re famous for their braised beef short rib stew called galbi jjim, a huge, bubbling cauldron that they bring out to your table. You definitely want to add cheese on top, which they torch at your table, resulting in a gooey, cheesy, bubbling, beefy bowl of deliciousness. This is one of the best dishes in all of Los Angeles. (Note: Sun Nong Dan now has four locations.)
All Day Baby
For a classic, all-American brunch, look no further than All Day Baby in Silver Lake. This cute corner restaurant houses pure comfort food – biscuit breakfast sandwiches, corn dogs, fried chicken, slices of thick-cut bacon, hotcakes topped with ricotta, blueberries, and pistachios, and one of the best breakfast burritos in L.A. Still hungry? There’s purple yam coconut pie with chamomile cream for dessert.
If you’re looking for great natural wine, healthy Californian cuisine, and just plain good vibes, look no further than Botanica. Our favorite dish is the Turkish eggs, but we also loved the mezze platter and all of the pastries. There’s a cute back patio with outdoor seating and an all-day market at the front where you can buy natural wine bottles to go!
In the mood for pasta and natural wine? Try Alimento, Zack Pollack’s neighborhood Italian restaurant just below the Silver Lake reservoir. You’re going to want to eat all the pasta here – particularly the ricotta dumplings, tortellini en brodo, and the radiatori with braised pork sugo, kale, and fennel pollen. For brunch, Alimento serves the same radiatori noodle, but subs in breakfast sausage and an egg to give it a morning twist. (The result kind of tastes like cacio e pepe!) If you’re really hungry, try the fried chicken Milanese sandwich, a monstrosity with prosciutto cotto, pepperoncini slaw, a Calabrian chile mayo, and an olive oil-toasted bun. Leave room for the ricotta doughnuts and apple torta!
Kismet is one of the places we keep going back to in L.A. It’s a Turkish restaurant from female chef team Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson with healthy-ish food that is packed with flavor. They serve a lot of different marinated vegetables and greens, but our favorite dish is their “flaky bread,” the Middle Eastern malawach – a laminated dough that’s almost like roti in terms of thickness, layered like a croissant and super buttery. The fried chicken schnitzel sandwich is an absolute beast, with two pieces of thick, buttery brioche wrapping the chicken in a sweet hug. There’s aioli, olive oil, and the perfect amount of acidity from a few pickles and veggies. Oh, and did we mention they have a great natural wine list?
Chef Ori Menashe and his wife Genevieve Gergis sure know the secret to creating red hot restaurants. Their first restaurant, Bestia, opened over a decade ago and is still a hard-to-book table in L.A. Bavel opened in 2018, and became even more beloved; it takes the open fire cooking concept one step further and combines it with Middle Eastern flavors. Their third restaurant, Saffy's, opened last summer in East Hollywood. The venue is smaller than Bestia or Bavel, but with a really cute design, and, of course, an open kitchen. The food has the same flavor profile as Bavel, but with a focus on kebabs and shawarma. There is still hummus, but none of their signature pita here – although, their ultra fluffy challah bread doesn't leave you much time to miss it. Be sure to order the lobster skewer!
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 was so good we had three of them! Incredibly fresh seafood, fun wines, and good vibes all around.
If you’re looking for spicy, authentic Thai food, look no further than Jitlada. Chef Tui and his sister Jazz’s strip mall restaurant was made famous by Jonathan Gold, and has since become a favorite of many Hollywood stars and celebrities. Jitlada was most recently featured on Netflix’s “The Chef Show.” The menu here is extensive (we’re still working our way through it!), but we recommend the crying tiger beef, the off-menu “Jazz Burger”, the yellow curry, and the flambéed prawns.
Northern Thai Food Club
One of L.A.’s most popular restaurants is a tiny hole-in-the-wall in a Thai town strip mall. The menu showcases food from the Chiang Rai region of Thailand, based on lots of simmering, aromatic broths and curries. Our favorite dishes here are the sai oua (herbal sausage), khao soi gai (egg noodle curry with chicken), and the gaeng hang lae (pork curry). Amphai Northern Thai Food Club only has twelve seats, but if you don’t snag one you can always order your food as take-away.
Chef Chad Colby used to tend the flames at Nancy Silverton’s Chi Spacca before opening his own spot, Antico Nuovo. The vibe models that of an agriturismo, a simple dinner you’d share at a farmhouse in Italy. It’s rustic, it’s relaxed, it’s affordable – which is sometimes tricky to find in Los Angeles. The focaccia is some of the best we’ve had, and that’s lucky because they use it in almost every dish. Their “grilled cheese” is made with focaccia. Focaccia is served in a “scarpetta service” to help you mop up the remaining sauce from your ziti pasta. The juicy chicken is served on top of a grilled focaccia. Sometimes there’s even focaccia-flavored ice cream! We missed that seasonal special, but we did get to try the honeycomb ice cream topped with salted caramel and the sweet potato pie ice cream with speculoos crumble.
Salt & Straw
If you follow us on Instagram, you’re probably familiar with the purple ice cream cone adorned with rainbow sprinkles. It’s Kaitlin’s favorite ice cream in the world: Salt & Straw’s Honey Lavender! This delicious scoop shop hails from Portland, but now has locations all over the West Coast. Salt & Straw serves up extremely inventive flavors made with seasonal, local ingredients, like avocado toast, black olive brittle and goat cheese, and strawberry and coconut water sherbet. For Thanksgiving, they have an entire Thanksgiving menu in ice cream form, with flavors like candied turkey and mashed potato.
Chef Kevin Meehan went door to door in Larchmont Village asking his neighbors if he could use their front yard to plant a restaurant garden. A few doors down, a neighbor said yes, and lets him use the space to grow a lot of the ingredients for his now Michelin-starred restaurant, Kali. You can’t get much more local than that! Chef Kevin’s restaurant celebrates all things Kali-fornian. Our favorite dish is the uni spaghetti with bread crumbs and ricotta whey, but we also love the yellowtail crudo, the parsnip agnolotti, and the dry-aged beef burger. Save room for the meringue gelato with shaved candied egg yolk on top.
Carnivores, gather round – some of the best meat in L.A. is not found in a typical steakhouse, but in Chef Curtis Stone’s Hollywood restaurant, Gwen. It’s basically the motherland of meat. If you’re looking for something unique to cook at home you can pick your cut from the butcher shop by the entrance, or you can opt for the tasting menu in the dining room. We chose the latter. We really enjoyed the house-made charcuterie, terrines, and duck speck, and we loved the boneless short rib. But the star of our dinner was the 30-day dry-aged bone-in rib eye from Creekstone Farms in Kansas – a tender, melt-in-your-mouth piece of meat, perfectly hot pink in color. This is not a restaurant that asks how you want your meat cooked.
The best pancakes we’ve ever had are Salt’s Cure’s signature oatmeal griddle cakes. They’re a completely unique style of pancake, with a batter made of oatmeal, cooked thin and crispy around the edges. There’s no syrup served here, but you won’t miss it, thanks to the generous amount of cinnamon molasses butter plopped on top. The pancakes are so good that they’re on the menu all day long. You should also order the signature pork chop. For earlier opening hours and variations on the famous pancakes, check out their breakfast-only spot, Breakfast by Salt’s Cure.
Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s French bistro is the closest thing we have to Paris in Los Angeles. You’ll find classic French dishes here with rich, buttery sauces served at the bar in a tiny space. The escargot, French onion soup, and French omelette, are the best versions of each dish we’ve ever had. Ludo’s signature “Big Mec” burger is also one of the best burgers in L.A. – two thin patties topped with caramelized onions, garlic aioli, American cheese, and red wine bordelaise sauce.
For simple and delicious Italian food, you must visit Nancy Silverton’s Italian empire (which Jonathan Gold dubbed the “Mozzaplex”). Her trio of restaurants (Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza, and Chi Spacca) are all located on the same corner in Hollywood. Osteria is pasta-focused while Chi Spacca is meat-centric, but our favorite of the three venues is Pizzeria Mozza, an all-day, walk-in pizza counter with a wood-fired oven at the centerpiece. Our favorite menu items are the Caprese salad with buttery, grilled sourdough bread and the squash blossom pizza with burrata and tomato. Nancy’s pizza dough is more reminiscent of bread than your traditional Neapolitan style, showing off her La Brea Bakery background. It would be a crime to leave Pizzeria Mozza without eating a butterscotch budino, one of the best desserts in L.A.
If you wait in the line stretching down La Brea on a weekend morning, you’ll be greatly rewarded by our favorite brunch in Los Angeles. The interior looks more like a cathedral than a restaurant, which is fitting, since Republique is basically a shrine to breakfast. There’s an entire pastry case of sweets to choose from, and a full brunch menu with items like shakshouka, kimchi fried rice, and chicken and waffles. But what you’re really here for is the best French toast in the world – a super thick brioche, cooked pain perdu-style: perfectly soft and fluffy, with crispy edges, and a gooey center. Dinner at Republique is a more formal experience, with caviar-adorned small bites and fresh uni. Don't miss the potato and leek beignets or the handmade agnolotti pasta.
The pizza at Ronan is the stuff of dreams. We’re not exaggerating when we say this is one of the best pizzas we’ve ever had. The dough is excellent – pure, fermented, Neapolitan-style goodness. It’s spongey, bouncy, fluffy, and a teeny bit sour, with little chargrilled bubbles on the edges. (No crusts left behind here!) The toppings are seasonally-inspired – we love the Sweet Cheeks with guanciale, cacio e pepe ricotta, and honey, and the Zucca with zucchini and stracciatella. The wood-fired focaccia with cultured butter is also to die for, and the selection of housemade ice cream is not to be missed. To drink, there are craft cocktails and loads of natural wine.
Horses is the hottest restaurant in Los Angeles right now. 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, and this is clearly not their first rodeo. 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.
Connie & Ted’s
Chef Michael Cimarusti is most well-known for his Michelin-starred restaurant Providence, but it’s his casual seafood shack Connie & Ted’s that we keep coming back to. The creamy New England-style clam chowder and the fish and chips are really good, but the lobster roll is the main event. You’re given the choice to have it served hot and buttered, or cold with mayonnaise – we’ve tried both and highly recommend choosing butter, which melts delightfully into the house-made brioche bun. This is the best lobster roll we’ve ever had! Save room for the amazing blondie brownie, which is topped with house-made vanilla ice cream and sea salt caramel – it’s one of our favorite desserts in L.A.
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.
Chef Daniele Uditi grew up making pizza in Naples, but his restaurant Pizzana combines Italian tradition with American creativity. Daniele's signature is the Neo Margherita pizza, which comes with a basil powder sprinkled all over the pizza, putting basil in every bite. The Cacio e Pepe pizza with fior di latte and parmigiano crema is a must order, but don’t stop there. Chef Daniele’s vegetable and side dishes are just as incredible, with everything from polenta fries to pine nut “risotto” on the menu. Candace Nelson, the awesome pastry chef and founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes, is in charge of the desserts here - so save room!
Angler, owned by the Saison Hospitality Group, went under a renovation and rebranding and reopened in early 2023. Now, each Angler has its own identity, so the new menu is meant to reflect L.A.’s vibe and cultural diversity. Seafood is still the focus, but the dish inspirations are international. Although we sorely miss the banana pancakes, we loved some of the new additions. Don’t miss the Nashville-style hot fried fish collar, the seaweed rice with a cured egg yolk and trout roe, the bluefin tuna with Calabrian chiles on buttermilk bread, and the vermillion with smoked bone vinegar and puffed rice.
Pitmaster Burt Bakman started out smoking brisket in his backyard with Tootsie, his Texas-style smoker. He called his increasingly popular pop-ups “Trudy’s Underground Barbecue” which eventually evolved into the opening of his own brick and mortar, Slab. Burt’s mission was to make Los Angeles barbecue great, in the style of Franklin Barbecue. Well, he succeeded in his goal – this is some seriously good barbecue. Slab’s signature meat is a juicy, fatty brisket, perfectly moist and melting in your mouth, dissolving on your tongue like butter. Be sure to try a slice of it on its own, but (pro tip!) if you go during “sandwich happy hour,” you can get the normally priced $14 brisket brioche sandwich for only $5. Get the elote as a side, but skip the potato salad.
Jon and Vinny’s
Leave all your expectations of Nonna’s rustic, traditional cooking at home: this is modern Italian food with a twist. The signature dish at Jon and Vinny’s is the spicy fusilli (an addicting, vodka sauce-based pasta with a kick), but we also love their L.A. Woman pizza topped with tomato, burrata, and basil. There’s always a fun vibe and a great natural wine list at this Fairfax Avenue hotspot. Added bonus? Helen’s Wines, the tiny wine shop in the back of Jon and Vinny’s, has one of the best natural wine selections in town.
Meals By Genet
Our first foray into Ethiopian food was at Chef Genet’s humble restaurant on Fairfax. The base of your meal is injera, the thin, crepe-like bread draped like a sheet over your plate, and you pick what you want served on top as the centerpiece. We opted for the signature chicken doro wot, a complex, rich dark brown stew (that tastes similar to a mole) made of onions and a ton of different spices. Genet spends three days creating this incredible sauce – a labor of love we may never be able to repay her for. They serve extra injera on the side, along with eating instructions: tear off a bite-sized piece of the crepe, throw it spongey side down on the saucy center, pick up chicken, pick up a veggie from the side, and eat! We loved mixing up different combinations of meat and vegetables in this hands-on dining experience. Be sure to make a reservation!
Anajak Thai Cuisine
Anajak Thai Cuisine has been open since the 80s, but it wasn’t until chef Justin Pichetrungsi took over his parents’ restaurant in 2019 that it started to get media attention. During the pandemic, they started their famous “Thai Taco Tuesday” (TTT) featuring a special menu of tacos and tostadas, served outside in the alley next to their restaurant. This street food party has garnered a bit of a cult following, drawing long lines of hungry Angelenos willing to wait it out in order to get a seat at this Sherman Oaks hotspot. Other days of the week, the menu showcases Thai classics like curries, noodles, and the signature Southern Thai crispy fried chicken.
If you want to experience Chef Jordan Kahn’s food, but you don’t want to spend $300 on a tasting menu, then go to Destroyer, his casual café located across the street from Vespertine. It showcases his creative style of cooking in a more informal setting, and is a great breakfast or lunch spot. Most dishes are under $10 and all are as tasty as they look. We tried the avocado toast and the tomatoes with lavender for breakfast, and the chicken confit with grits for lunch.
Mayura in Culver City made us fall in love with Indian food. We tried a dosa for the first time here (a delicious Indian crepe made with lentil as the dough) – ours was filled with vegetables and rolled into a cylindrical shape. But the main reason you’re here is for their signature butter chicken. We were literally fighting each other off, using our spoons as weapons to try to devour the chicken before the other person could snag a bite, dipping the house-made garlic naan into the rich, buttery sauce.
One of the hardest reservations in L.A. is a table at n/naka, the modern kaiseki tasting menu from Chef Niki Nakayama. This is a humble, soulful meal – Chef Niki and her partner Carole Iida put heart and creativity into each dish. The meal follows the flow of a traditional kaiseki menu, a celebration of seasonal ingredients starting with raw fish, continuing with a grilled dish, a steamed dish, peaking with a meat dish, before finishing with a salad, a rice dish, and dessert. The dishes not only vary by season, but also by every visit – each time you come to n/naka you will have a brand new tasting menu. However, one dish that is always on the menu is the spaghettini with abalone, pickled cod roe, and truffles. This signature dish is one of the best things we’ve ever eaten – it’s somehow cheesy without having any cheese, and it does not taste fishy at all. The abalone’s texture and flavor blends so well with the pasta. N/naka received two Michelin stars in 2019.
Chef Jeremy Fox and Andy Doubrava’s hyper-seasonal, farmer’s market-driven restaurant epitomizes Californian cuisine, and it’s our go-to recommendation for dining in Santa Monica. The menu changes all the time depending on the season and the market ingredients. On our visit we enjoyed a chicken liver mousse with pepper jam, a persimmon salad, organic chicken in a bean stew, and a light and savory pavlova with quince, fennel cream, and pecan. Rustic Canyon was awarded one Michelin star in 2019.
Chef Josiah Citrin first opened Mélisse in 1999. Twenty years later, he renovated the restaurant and turned the big dining room into Citrin (a more casual, bistro-style eatery), and Mélisse became the tiny speakeasy restaurant hidden inside. Step through the graffitied back door into a true foodie paradise. Chef de cuisine Ian Scaramuzza plays with classic French techniques, but modernizes them and makes them more fun. The kitchen is tiny but mighty, and turning out some of the absolute tastiest food in L.A. These dishes made us gasp, lick the plate, beg for more, and praise God for our taste buds. The vibe is intimate and fun, with amazing music playing on vinyl records in the kitchen. In our opinion, Mélisse will be the next three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Southern California.
Our favorite doughnut shop in Los Angeles (and probably the world!) is Sidecar Doughnuts, which was founded in Orange County, but now has a few locations around L.A. Every flavor is so delicious, but our personal favorites are the Huckleberry doughnut, the Butter and Salt doughnut, and the Country Ham & Egg: a poached egg, ham, and basil hollandaise all stuffed inside a doughnut!
Our favorite place for pastries on the Westside is Venice Beach’s Gjusta Bakery, an ultra trendy bakery, coffee bar, deli and pizzeria from the Gjelina team. It’s another L.A. place that’s healthy-ish. The baklava croissant is a signature, but they also have sandwiches, salads and really good lunch dishes, too. Unlike the more difficult-to-book restaurant Gjelina, here you can simply walk in, grab a ticket, and wait in turn to order. Enjoy the food in the sunny backyard.
Blue Star Donuts
Blue Star Donuts is originally from Portland, but we’re lucky to have a few shops in Southern California now, too. They use a classic brioche recipe from France and each new batch is made by hand in a process that takes almost a full day of work. Blue Star has lots of creative flavors, like their Horchata Glazed Donut, PB & J, and Blueberry Bourbon Basil, but our absolute favorite is the Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk doughnut – an old-fashioned doughnut covered with a sweet and savory glaze. Arrive early to make sure they have all the flavors.