We think about food a lot. Like, a lot a lot. And while we have plenty of guides to great first date spots and lists of literally every single sports bar in LA, sometimes, what’s really on our minds are specific dishes. Singular foods that, much like a Kylie Minogue love interest, we just can’t get out of our heads.
And thus, Our Three Favorite Spots For Everything was born. Each week, we give a different staff member free rein to write about the very best spots for those very dishes - from gluten-free pastas to big ol’ chicken parms, and everything in between. This is our very specific field guide to eating in LA, and we’ll be updating it regularly, so check back often for more inside looks at what’s going on in our brains (spoiler alert: it’s mostly just cured meat plates and this video of Kim Cattrall scatting).
three spots for: lobster rolls
Chances are that within approximately seven minutes of meeting LA Staff Writer Brett Keating, you’re going to know two things about him: He grew up in Massachusetts, and he has strong feelings about seafood. (Don’t get him started on how to pronounce “scallop.”) So needless to say, he’s very critical when it comes to lobster rolls. Here are his three favorites in town.
I always thought only tasteless yuppies from Connecticut preferred hot-buttered lobster rolls to cold ones with mayo, until I tried the one at Broad Street Oyster Co. in Malibu. The roll is perfectly toasted, the lobster is fresh and not at all spongey, and the clarified butter takes it to another level.
Found Oyster does quite literally everything right - including their lobster bisque/lobster roll mashup, a fantastic, cayenne-heavy version that I’ll happily sacrifice a couple orange-ish stains on my shirt for.
The most substantial roll of the three, the cold roll at Connie and Ted’s is a classic. It’s heavy on knuckle meat (the premier lobster roll meat, if you ask me), and lightly dressed with mayo. I absolutely douse it with lemon, too.
three spots for: eating alone
Editorial Operations Manager Jess Basser Sanders enjoys being alone. It’s why she wrote guides like Where To Get Some Pasta And A Glass Of Wine By Yourself, and shows up to work an hour-and-a-half before anyone else. So as a self-proclaimed master of solitude, here are her three favorite places to eat by herself. Don’t try to join her.
If I had a spirit meal, it would be pasta and a glass of wine (OK, sometimes I swap in a martini). It’s fun to do with a friend, but secretly, I love it when everyone else is busy. If I’m in Highland Park, my preferred solo meal is at Hippo. You can almost always walk in and sit at the bar. Bring a book, try one of the wines on tap, and order whatever pasta they’re serving that night.
Years ago, I worked in Koreatown at a job I hated. So whenever I could escape for lunch, I’d jump in my car and drive to Pho 2000 on Western Ave. I’d get the oxtail pho and spend an hour slurping in silence, scrolling through my phone looking at job postings. Now I just go back for the pho - and the nostalgia.
I used to live in Venice, and while I miss nothing about weaving my way through the tourists every weekend, I do miss Gjusta like it’s an actual real person. One reason is that I can no longer use this place the way the locals do - walking in at 2pm on a weekday, ordering a tuna conserva or tomato confit or smoked fish plate without having to wait, and eating it while leaning on the counter, knowing you’ve got life all figured out.
three spots for: gluten-free pasta
We talk about pasta a lot at Infatuation LA HQ, which makes life in the office pretty hard for our gluten-free LA Marketing Manager Marika Jayne. But rather than getting mad, she got busy - putting together this list of her favorite spots for gluten-free pasta in LA.
The carbonara at Osteria La Buca is one of the best plates of pasta in LA, and just because there may not be any gluten in the noodles doesn’t make it any less great.
All Time doesn’t always have gluten-free pasta, but when they do, you better get after it. Their gnocchi with lemon parm can only be described with three words: Potato pasta pillows.
There’s no reason to be sad about being gluten-free at Jones Hollywood, because almost any pasta can be made gluten-free, and they’re all excellent. It doesn’t hurt to get a Dirty Sue martini, either.
three spots for: Japanese breakfast
On the rare occasion LA Editorial Assistant Kat Hong wakes up at an “acceptable time” for breakfast, there’s only one choice for her - 朝ごはん, a.k.a. asagohan, the glorious, perfect meal known as Japanese breakfast (and no, we’re not talking about Michelle Zauner’s indie rock alias). Here are her three spots for the most important meal of the day.
Azay is my go-to weekend spot. There’s nothing better than grabbing a corner seat on a Sunday morning, digging into their simple, homestyle breakfast set (and realistically, also whatever special they have that day) and going on Twitter while pretending to read.
Orsa & Winston
For my birthday last year, I called out of work and treated myself to Orsa & Winston’s breakfast omakase. I like that it’s not very traditional - expect dishes like pear and apple salad, and miso-based minestrone - plus, they gave me a free pot of tea even though I didn’t even mention the birthday thing?
While I love Orsa & Winston’s non-traditional take, sometimes, I just want a classic Japanese Breakfast. And my favorite place for that is Fukagawa in Gardena. It’s a bit of a journey from my apartment in [REDACTED], but the D Combo, which comes with grilled fish and natto (very important!!), reminds me of the mornings when I lived in Japan.
three spots for: sandwiches so big you’ll need a nap
LA Editor James Montgomery loves big sandwiches and even bigger naps, so whenever he can combine the two, it’s gonna be a good day (though not necessarily a productive one). Here are his favorite spots for sandwiches so filling they make you sleepy.
There’s a lot to love at Eastside Market Italian Deli, but if I’m looking to conk out for an afternoon, there’s nothing better than their massive D.A. Special, approximately 15 lbs of sausage, meatballs, roast beef, and pastrami on crunchy bread. Sweet dreams!
Silver Lake’s All Day Baby is pretty new, but their smoked beef and cheese sandwich - tender beef, creamy cheese sauce, and horseradish mayo on a soft brioche roll - is a sleep aid as timeless as counting sheep.
The sandwiches at Wax Paper are named after NPR hosts, which already sounds pretty sleepy, but their Larry Mantle takes it to another level - especially if you like bologna, salami, pickled peppers, and dozing off on your drive home.
three spots for: cold brew
If there’s one thing LA Staff Writer Brett Keating is known for around the office (aside from his obnoxious support for the Patriots), it’s coffee consumption. And until he gets that cold brew tap installed at his desk, he’s going to keep pursuing his mission of finding LA’s best cold brew.
Menotti's Coffee Stop
If you think all cold brew tastes the same, I’m very sorry for all the mediocre versions you’ve been drinking. And also, head straight to Menotti’s in Venice. They pick their favorite cold brew batches, and send them off to a brewery to have them kegged for a perfect nitro brew.
Speaking of breweries, you probably know that Modern Times’ Dankness Dojo is one of the best in LA County. But they also roast their own coffee, and it’s great - and also reasonably priced. Get it without ice.
Cold brew ice cubes are a discovery akin to that moment you learned your AirPods case doubles as a phone stand. Ask for them with your fantastic iced coffee at Spoon By H, where they come in the shape of coffee beans.
three spots for: Excellent table bread
Does everything taste better if it’s free? Perhaps. LA Editorial Lead Brant Cox argues that a basket of great table bread has the power to change the course of an entire meal - if not your life. Hyperbole? Not at these spots.
With solid pizza, incredible dessert, and our favorite martini in town, there are all sorts of reasons to be hanging at Jones Hollywood - and that includes their table bread. It’s basically seasoned flatbread, but when you dip it into some balsamic and olive oil, you’ll forget you came here to eat dinner.
Craig’s in West Hollywood is probably the most celebrity-packed restaurant in LA, but unfortunately, the food is absolutely awful. That makes filling up on their incredible table bread even more of a requirement.
If free carbohydrates come with a warning from the waitstaff to “please exercise restraint,” you know they’re going to be good. And make no mistake, the free garlic knots they hand out at C&O Trattoria are tremendous.
three spots for: french onion soup
When you hear the words “pinnacle of human creation,” what comes to mind? The immortality of the written word? The convenience of indoor plumbing? Dev Patel’s face? Well, if you’re LA Editorial Assistant Kat Hong, you think of French onion soup. Here are her favorite spots in LA to fire up a hot, hot bowl:
You literally can’t talk about French onion soup without mentioning Petit Trois. Their version is mega-traditional, which means it comes full of caramelized onions, toasted baguette bits, and enough gruyère to forget about the time I misquoted the “Myth of Sisyphus” in the company-wide Slack channel.
I am fully obsessed with Oriel, to the point that I once made this photo of their dining room the background on both my phone and my work computer. And while I will happily eat everything on the menu here, their F.O.S. is trèèèèèèès bon.
Trader Joe’s: Frozen section. Two-pack. Thank me later.
three spots for: A big ol’ chicken parm
LA Editor James Montgomery isn’t here to take part in your small-plate scam. All he wants is some good ol’ gut-busting chicken parm, the kind that’s buried beneath a sheet of bubbling cheese, drowned in a sea of marinara, and so big that the accompanying side of pasta feels like a cruel joke. Here are three spots that do it right.
Ordering the chicken parm at Dan Tana’s is practically a prerequisite, right up there with getting hit on by Ron Jeremy. It’s cheesy, saucy, and the more martinis you drink, the better it gets. And you can say the same thing about Ron.
It’s certainly not as well-known as other old-school Italian spots, but Little Toni’s in North Hollywood makes a chicken parm that I’d put up against any in the city. You will have leftovers.
The rebooted Dear John’s in Culver City pays homage to Old Hollywood, so I expected them to do a mean chicken parm - I didn’t expect it to be stuffed with cheese, though.
three spots for: a whole damn fish
LA Staff Writer Brett Keating grew up in New England, so he’s basically always talking about Cape Cod. It also means that he spends a lot of time thinking about seafood, and if he sees a whole fish on the menu, he orders it. So here are the best places in LA when you want to pretend you’re a grizzly bear and eat a fish whole.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by options at Cheko El Rey Del Sarandeado. But the Mexican seafood spot in Long Beach’s whole-grilled snook - flayed open, and grilled over low heat - reigns supreme.
Reasons I’ve gone to Dudley Market: The wine list, the clam and pork toast, to prove to my boss that it’s really true they own a fishing boat (it is). And in addition to all those, anytime it’s on the menu, I get the Vietnamese-inspired fried rockfish with nuoc cham.
three spots for: pad thai
LA Marketing Manager Marika Jayne has a lot of opinions about a lot of foods - but she’s most passionate about pad thai, a food that can be eaten for any reason, at any time of day. Here are the best places to eat the ubiquitous Thai dish, in her words.
No matter what time of day, if you’re alone or in a group, or if you go to the restaurant or get delivery, Luv2Eat Thai is never going to let you down. They have the best pad thai in LA, with the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Get it with the duck.
You’ll be tempted to try everything at Jitlada, and you should, but don’t skip the pad thai just because you see it on so many menus. They do it very, very well, and it’s also a great palate-neutralizer after their extremely spicy Jungle Curry.
Not only is The Original Hoy-Ka a great lunch option in Hollywood, the portions of the pad thai (and almost everything) are big enough to become your dinner that night, too.
three spots for: tsukemen
LA Editor James Montgomery grew up in Florida, so whenever he mentions dipping, we assume he means tobacco. But sometimes, he’s actually talking about dipping noodles - a.k.a. tsukemen, noodles dunked in a bowl of rich broth. And while that sounds simple, good tsukemen is actually tough to pull off. Both the noodles and the broth must be perfect, because there’s nowhere to hide the shortcomings of either. Here are three places that get pretty close to perfection.
You will always wait at Tsujita, but at least you’re waiting for LA’s best tsukemen - their rich and flavorful cha siu, with BBQ pork over cold noodles.
Palms Ramen Yumeya
Palms Ramen Yumeya is an unassuming spot, but their tonkotsu tsukemen definitely deserves accolades. Plus, if you ask for extra garlic (which you should), they’ll deliver fresh cloves - and a garlic press - right to your table. Go wild.
Menya Musashi is located on the same stretch of Sawtelle as Tsujita, which is a pretty bold move. Good thing their tsukemen is up to par, especially if you order it with pork belly, thin pork katsu, and a soft-boiled egg.
three spots for: pastries
Editorial Operations Manager Jess Basser Sanders has a unique role. She works in our LA office, but has to be on our New York office’s time. So she starts work every morning around the same time everyone else is waking up. But as such, she’s learned a lot about LA mornings. Specifically, where to find the best baked goods in the city.
My favorite time of day at Konbi is 8:56am. It’s the perfect time to sit at the counter, order a breakfast set, and put dibs on a couple of LA’s best pastries right as they come out of the oven. Don’t try and choose between the plain and chocolate croissants - just get both.
I am not the kind of person who would a) order a glass of milk or b) dip anything in it, but I make an exception for Huge Tree Pastry in Monterey Park, where the Taiwanese donuts are not complete without a mug of house-made soy milk to dip them in.
I don’t have any kids, but every time I order the cinnamon bun from Lodge Bread Co. I get a little insight into what the parent life might be like. It’s almost as heavy as a newborn (my arm gets sore carrying it home), and wherever it goes, people want to take photos of it.
three spots for: khao soi
In the waking moments of your day, what’s the first thing that crosses your mind? Is it the overbearing work project you’ve been putting off all week? Why Rose didn’t pull Jack onto the door with her? Lizzo? If you’re LA Editorial Lead Brant Cox, the answer is khao soi. And more specifically, how soon he can get the curry noodle soup into his body. Here are his three favorite spots when he needs to scratch the itch.
For me, it’s the creamy coconut broth that usually makes a khao soi. At Northern Thai Food Club, it’s the giant leg of chicken that’s so perfectly-cooked the meat falls off with one brush of the fork.
You could pass Pailin 100 times and not notice it. But you can eat Pailin’s khao soi once and be changed forever.
I once ate Spicy BBQ’s khao soi three times in one day. And yes, that’s a brag.
three spots for: prosciutto
How do you measure luxury? In bubble baths and champagne? In sports cars named after arachnids? Well, if you’re Infatuation LA Editorial Assistant Kat Hong, it’s all about cured meat. If you’re looking to get in touch with your inner George Alexander Louis, she’s got three places that serve prosciutto so good, you’ll feel like a little prince.
I’m not particularly religious, but if there was any indication that God exists, it would be the prosciutto + fried dough + burrata behemoth from Factory Kitchen.
For the days you wake up with a fever and the only prescription is more prosciutto, head to Larchmont Village Wine and Cheese and get the #5 sandwich.
I once left Cookbook with five packages of their prosciutto. Maybe that was overkill, or perhaps pure hubris. Either way, it was worth it.
three spots for: drinking a martini tonight
Is there ever a bad time to get a martini? Not really. But the best time is definitely tonight. Here’s where LA Staff Writer Brett Keating is headed as soon as he’s done here.
Sure, Freedman’s has great food. But their Classic Martini is the real reason I go to this Silver Lake spot twice a week.
Jones has the best martini in West Hollywood, and no matter what restaurant I’m driving back from, they’re never too far out of the way.