Are These TikTok-Famous LA Spots Worth The Hype?

Find out whether the spots blowing up your feed are worth visiting IRL.
Are These TikTok-Famous LA Spots Worth The Hype? image

photo credit: Nicolas Zhou

Some LA restaurants that gain traction on TikTok appear to have more style than substance. Their hype tends to be based on aesthetics, exclusivity, and food served tableside for reasons we've yet to understand. But what if, under that oddly soothing, robotic text-to-speech voice, there’s a hyped-up spot worth seeking out in real life? Find our verdicts below.


photo credit: Nicolas Zhou



$$$$Perfect For:Lunch
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Verdict: Good sandwiches, but there are better alternatives. Come during the week because the nightmarish weekend lines are not worth it.

The hype swirling around this sandwich shop imported from Florence is as thick and palpable as the stracciatella they spread on their focaccia sandwiches. But while said sandwiches are undeniably tasty, we wouldn’t send someone here unless they were already on Abbot Kinney. The bread here is the weakest link: it has a nice crunch, but is a bit dense and sticks to the roof of your mouth even after it’s softened by the thick layer of stracciatella. The fillings are the real business, though, like the generous amount of mortadella and pistachio cream in the La Paradiso. Given the general chaos of street parking, long lines, and the overall claustrophobia of Abbot Kinney on the weekends, consider pushing your Italian sandwich plans to Monday—or maybe heading to Lorenzo or Tre Mani instead.

Verdict: You’re paying a premium for amateur boba. Skip it.

Jellyman has been drawing eyeballs on TikTok since the day it opened. That’s mostly because it’s owned by Donald Glover, but the prime location near Silver Lake’s Sunset Junction and funky space-age design doesn't hurt either. The futuristic decor could be appealing if you’re a Disney adult who misses the Star Wars rides, but the bubble tea is much less impressive. From pricey fruit drinks to a lineup of watered-down lattes, the menu is pretty meh. We’d skip the TikTok-friendly peanut butter and jelly milk tea (a surprisingly gross combination in liquid form) and overly sweet strawberry milk latte, and stick to a simple jasmine tea.

Verdict: The drinks and donuts are delicious, even if that means eating so much dairy you bloat like a cream puff.

If everything tasted as good as it looked, every influencer-riddled restaurant would be a hit. But that’s not how the world works, and why we expected Memorylook to be another eye-grabby gimmick. But we were wrong. This sleek, modern coffee shop in Koreatown makes cream-topped einspanner lattes that are, surprisingly, not too sweet. They’re rich and airy like a milk-flavored cloud, so you can still taste the espresso or matcha poured inside. The unnecessarily fancy donuts are also a hit, especially the creme brulee flavor that’s roughly 80% vanilla cream and coated with a glossy, shattering sugar finish. It’s dairy-on-dairy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Verdict: A sad excuse for an izakaya. Even if you’re looking for somewhere “vibey,” this is a third-tier option.

We had high hopes for this Echo Park Japanese spot from the HiroNori people, with its paper lamps and moody red lighting. But after stepping through the PVC flaps dangling in the doorway, things took a turn for the worse. The cramped bar feels like a bad parody of a “cool Japanese drinking den,” with speakers blasting obnoxious techno music while clichéd samurai films play on mute behind the L-shaped bar. And despite its name, there are only two kinds of gyoza on the menu (both underwhelming). The pork ones are slightly better than the bland vegan option, but neither are an improvement over the much less expensive ones you’d find in the frozen aisle at the supermarket.

Verdict: Is a bagel without a hole technically a bagel? Either way, we’re into these fluffy, fresh-baked bread circles.

At Calic Bagel in Koreatown, you’ll order everything from an oversized touchscreen like a Target customer in self-checkout. It’s a nice touch that helps speed up the line of people waiting to get one of their stuffed bagels, which have been reviewed on TikTok more times than we care to count. There’s no denying these puff-ball bagels filled with sweet-ish garlic cream cheese and dunked in garlic butter are delicious, but they’re way too rich to finish in one sitting. We much prefer the non-stuffed bagels, which are baked fresh every 30 minutes. They're extremely fluffy on the inside, with a thin, blistered crust that's designed to be ripped apart and dipped in cream cheese. While the dip flavors might seem gimmicky, we love the off-the-wall options like sweet corn and fig pecan. There’s usually tons of street parking right out front, plus they have a huge patio where you can sit in the sun with your bagel.

Verdict: A bizarre but fun ice cream shop. Come for a late-night hang if you're already in the area.

Think you’ve seen all that LA’s ice cream scene has to offer? Try Fluffy McCloud’s. This Echo Park dessert shop looks like a retro soda fountain designed by Pee-Wee Herman (may he rest in peace). There’s an old-school gumball machine dispensing Lactaid pills, a jukebox sporting deer horns, and a Saturn-shaped lamp towering over the ice cream case. Naturally, TikTok is obsessed with it. And, if you enjoy a good banana split sundae, you will be too. Fluffy stays open until midnight, so it's a good place to linger with friends after drinking wine at El Prado or crowd-surfing at Echoplex.

Verdict: A clickbait cafe with good, expensive cake.

Harucake was born to go viral. They serve corn lattes topped with baby cobs. And nearly everything inside this Koreatown cafe—from the walls to the icing on their mini sponge cakes—follows a strict buttercream color scheme. Chances are you’ve already seen a video of someone reviewing Harucake’s bouncy little poufs of milk cream. Here's our take: the place knows how to bake silky chocolate earl grey and earthy mugwort injeolmi cakes. But these slices will cost you (each one is about $14-$15, though they're pretty big). Come on a weekday or risk a two-hour wait for a mostly sold-out menu.

Verdict: Great coffee. Possibly the most beautiful cafe in Los Angeles. Saturday lines are nightmare fuel.

A nightclub is one of the scariest places to find yourself in LA during the daytime. Not in Cafe Nido's case. This is an indoor-outdoor operation at Tenants of the Trees in Silver Lake (though the two businesses are not connected) where you order your latte at the bar and drink it on a stunning, green-tiled patio. It's objectively delightful. Big trees offer shade as you eat prosciutto sandwiches and there's a parked trailer full of used books that you can read. Our only complaint is that weekend lines can get long. (We've even heard reports of it taking an hour just to get coffee.) Avoid all that and come on the weekdays when Cafe Nido is tranquil and devoid of influencers looking for coffee vibes, whatever those are.

Verdict: Undeniably good coffee. The weekend crowd is mostly here for photos.

As far as we can tell, teenagers, "content creators," and those committed to curating a personal brand online come to this coffee shop to run into Kardashian-adjacent celebrities. All that aside, the coffee at Community Good is genuinely well made, including a vanilla bean latte that's not too sweet in the best way. The only issue is that you might wait over ten minutes for said latte on weekends, and the outdoor patio will be too packed to find a seat. Show up on weekdays instead, order the banana bread with tart passion fruit butter, and test-run your new Diesel jeans because people still pull looks on a Tuesday here. 

photo credit: Kevin Vu Kim

Verdict: The Stanley Tucci of red sauce joints: charming, stylish, and universally adored.

We had high expectations for this Italian restaurant simply because it's run by the team behind Bar Flores and Lowboy. But then the TikTok girlies declared it LA’s best new date night spot, and we had to investigate for ourselves. From the second we walked inside to the last bite of our pinwheel-shaped lasagna bolognese, these expectations were not only met but exceeded. Yes, Donna's is a dimly lit pasta place wrapped in hand-painted wallpaper that's perfect for a sexy little night out. But it's also a martini-fueled hangout spot run by a small team of extroverts hell-bent on making sure your glass is never empty. Think of this Echo Park Italian place as an overachieving neighborhood restaurant, and make it a goal to come here so often that you can start calling it “your spot.”

Verdict: Come the next time someone else is paying for drinks.

Splashy dining rooms and designer bucatini are popping up all over Beverly Hills this year, but Dante is the one making sugar babies go ballistic. That’s because this rooftop spot sits on the ninth floor of the Maybourne Hotel, where you can get views of the Hollywood Hills from the comfort of a blue velvet booth. Just like the original NYC location, Dante Beverly Hills has a cocktail menu with the breadth and depth of your typical wine list. You'll see sections dedicated to martinis, negronis, spritzes, agave spirits, and zero-proof cocktails. Most drinks cost over $20 and are very good if not a little precious (prepare for your bartenders to spray olive brine mist on the rim of your dirty martini or scorch green chilis for your spicy margarita). Still, the view is Dante's real draw. And you can skip right past the Italian dishes.

Verdict: A treat for people who love lines, tough parking, and crowded spaces. Come on weekdays only.

New York has an abundance of rats, bad pizza that's somehow still good, and Levain locations. Good for them. And now LA can claim its own iteration of the bakery known for hockey-puck-sized cookies. When it comes to visiting the Larchmont Village Levain, you must ask yourself if a cookie is worth spewing colorful language at someone over a parking spot. For us, the answer is no. That's why we suggest stopping by Levain on weekdays when the lines are shorter and full of parents praying a chocolate chip cookie will put their kid on Do Not Disturb mode. These colossal things taste like molten rocks from a fudge volcano. They're crumbly on the outside yet hot and gooey on the inside.

Verdict: A legitimately cute cafe with good coffee.

Mandarin Coffee is the rare cafe that'll please anyone who believes frequenting cute coffee shops is a surrogate for a personality and people who simply want good caffeine. Only four adults can comfortably fit in this Pasadena cafe, but the cramped space is part of the charm. That, and the fact Mandarin Coffee Stand is inside a British-themed shopping arcade, complete with a red phone booth for photo-ops. The real reason there's so much hype around this place is their coffee drinks. Their pour-overs are all made with beans sourced from China. Other combinations are balanced and smart here, like espresso tonics that get brightened up with tart pineapple jam and the Vienna latte that's silky from sweat cream without overpowering the espresso. Come during the week to avoid a wait. 

Verdict: Quick, delicious, and reliable. The sidewalk patio has the best seats in the house.

Woon has been around since 2019, but food TikTok can't shut up about how convenient, delicious, and fun this place is. We can confirm that all of the above is true. In roughly ten minutes flat, this casual Chinese spot in Historic Filipinotown serves chewy beef noodles, clouds of scallion pancakes, and pork belly bao so tender it basically disappears like Houdini. Woon only accepts walk-ins, and it's usually not too difficult to snag a spot. Order at the counter and then sit on the sidewalk patio where friends in matching corduroy drink Taiwanese beer on plastic stools. It's really that easy. Add Woon to your last-minute dinner rotation if you haven't already.

Verdict: The Courage Bagels of the Westside (with way shorter lines).

This Santa Monica bakery specializes in tangy sourdough bagels that crunch and smush like the best of 'em. Toppings range from classics (cream cheese, tomatoes, herbs, smoked fish, pickled onions, you name it) to less typical stuff (lemon zest, chili flakes, PB&J, avocado, hummus). Order a bagel sandwich—like the one topped with gloriously smooth cream cheese, juicy blood orange, and honey.

Verdict: A shell of its former self. 

There was a time (2017, to be exact) when we would’ve emphatically told you Dave’s was making some of the best hot chicken in LA. But that was a long time ago—our night serum regiment is much stricter now and Dave’s Hot Chicken is no longer a destination. That’s partly because this chain with East Hollywood roots can now be found in over 21 states, but also because the quality of food here has nose-dived faster than a Cessna in the Bermuda Triangle. If you’re completely hammered walking down Fairfax at 1am, their slider combo will probably hit the spot. Otherwise, this dry, poorly built sandwich can be skipped.

Verdict: Skip the pricey smoothies and go directly to the hot bar.

Chances are, you’re not Bella Hadid. And a $22 smoothie won’t get you any closer to appearing on the cover of Vogue. While we won’t deny that some of Erewhon’s hyped smoothies are objectively tasty (love you, Coconut Cloud), they're still mind-bogglingly overpriced. That said, you’ll get more bang for your buck by ordering a full-on meal from the store's hot bar. Get the juicy salmon filet with a side of Japanese sweet potatoes and some buffalo cauliflower. But it’s no secret that some locations will spike your post-pilates endorphins more than others. That's why we ranked every Erewhon in LA.

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