Where To Go For Your Last Meal In LA
Leaving Los Angeles is hard. Choosing your final meal shouldn’t be.
We’ve never written a guide that we genuinely hoped no one would have to read, but yet, here we are. Actually, here you are! After months of mental anguish, you’re leaving Los Angeles. Congrats?
Whether you’re moving away for work, chasing the love of your life (please don’t let it be this one), or just got fed up with the city’s year-round temperate weather, proximity to nature, and incredible food, you deserve to go out with a bang. From party spots you will blackout in to cuisines you won’t find anywhere else, here’s where to go when you want one last meal in LA.
When You Want to Ball Out One Last Time
Getting a table at Bestia isn’t easy - if you’re eyeing this game-changing Italian restaurant for your last meal in LA, you probably should’ve made a reservation the first time you Googled “Should I move to New York?” But even though it’s been nearly a decade since they opened, Bestia is still operating at the very top of their game, including their incredible roasted bone marrow, spicy ’nduja pizza, and a cavatelli with ricotta dumplings so good, you just might find yourself checking return flights in the bathroom.
You finally got your security deposit back (well, most of it), and now it’s time to celebrate in true Hollywood fashion - by spending a dumb amount of money on something that will only last a few hours. So head to Republique. From beignets and tartares to loup de mer and ribeye steak frites, this cathedral of French cuisine is designed to make you feel like a little prince, rather than a person who hasn’t figured out how to change their mailing address yet.
When You Want to Black Out One Last Time
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photo credit: Jakob Layman
If you’ve ever driven down Beverly Blvd. or watched Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, you know El Coyote. This massive Mexican restaurant has been around since the days of the Dust Bowl, yet is still one of the best spots in town for big, rowdy groups trying to push the limits on how many margaritas the human body can handle. And just like watching a YouTube video entitled “The Polar Express Hot Chocolate Scene, But Every ‘Chocolate’ Makes The Video More Satanic,’” no matter what day of the week you come here, things are guaranteed to get weird.
This isn’t the time for mature conversations about your genuine appreciation for your friends, or setting unrealistic expectations for how often you’ll keep in contact after you’ve left. No, this time is for mass-texting every single contact in your phone and drinking so many martinis you forget why you’re leaving in the first place. And although Jones, an LA staple and official Darkest Restaurant in The City, is perfect for everything from a first date to casual after-work drinks, it’s also the best way to start your last night in West Hollywood. Get the cast-iron apple pie.
photo credit: Matt Gendal
You moved to LA after being filled with promises of warm weather and Hollywood glamour, but then you quickly realized that lifestyle is a myth and you are not Emma Stone. So, yeah, maybe this is the right time to get out of here. But not before hitting Dan Tana’s one last time. This quintessential party restaurant has hosted every celeb in town, and while the Italian food is pretty forgettable (outside of the chicken parm), you’re not here for that. You’re here to do shots with the bartender, mingle with one of the most unhinged crowds in the city, and (hopefully) get kicked out for spilling a martini on Florence Pugh.
Everson Royce Bar
This isn’t the type of night where you’ll responsibly pace yourself, or set reminders on your phone to drink a glass of water every hour. You’ve already done all of that, and much like Nicole Kidman in 2001, you’re a free agent. And since you no longer have access to your own backyard, head to Everson Royce Bar. The patio in the back is the kind of large, open space that’s perfect for a big groups, plus they’ve got the Best Burger in Los Angeles.
When You’re Celebrating the Big Move
Night + Market Weho
There are other Night + Market locations in the city, but when we really want to party, and get as close to that one scene in Hustlers where Usher walks into the strip club to his own song, we go to the Weho location. It’s the iconic Thai restaurant’s only outpost with a back patio, which is the perfect space for drinking good wine, eating their crispy rice salad and World Famous Fried Chicken Sandwich, and talking about how much has changed since you moved to LA (you got bangs).
With 150 different types of tequila and mezcal, live music every night, and one of the best queso fundidos in town, Guelaguetza was made for partying one final time with your closest friends. And since you’re celebrating, get the Festival de Moles (a platter of all of their signature Oaxacan sauces) - not only does it pair well with everything on the menu, but it also goes really well with drunken speeches about how much you’ll miss your friends, and that one time Maya jumped into the Echo Park lake on a dare.
Sun Nong Dan
Not to be morbid, but unless you’re literally moving to Seoul, this might be your last opportunity to eat really good Korean food. We’re not trying to bum you out, it’s just a fact - Ktown is more than just a neighborhood, it’s an incredible place to eat. So make these final moments count, and head straight to the best of the best, Sun Nong Dan, and split the huge, bubbling cauldron of galbi jjim (stewed short ribs, rice cakes, and vegetables) with whomever you’ll miss the most.
When You Want to Talk Without Shouting
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Just because you’ve put your days of binge-drinking at free comedy shows behind you, doesn’t mean that your joie de vivre suddenly has to come in the form of 4pm dinners and bingo (not that there’s anything wrong with bingo). Head to Bavel - this impressive Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurant is undoubtedly Fine Dining with a capital “F” and “D,” but somehow never feels stuffy. Maybe it’s the ceiling full of plants, or the slow-roasted lamb neck shawarma that’s basically a drug unto itself (or the fact that we saw Miguel here), but this is the perfect place to celebrate, last meal or not.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this Los Feliz restaurant is fantastic all of the time, but the real celebration starts at night, when the daytime cafe turns into a candlelit patio, it becomes a more socially acceptable time to order a bottle (or two) from their fantastic wine menu, and the person you think is Natalie Portman eating avocado toast transforms into the same brunette woman, but now digging into lamb ragu.
So much has changed since you first touched down in the City of Angels - you’re wiser, more mature, and (most importantly) you haven’t accidentally flashed someone while changing in your car in, like, a long time. Celebrate all of that of that personal development at Animal. The space is intimate, reservations are easy to make, and, as the carnivorous name implies, the menu is filled with interesting meat dishes like spicy beef tendon chips, pig ears, and sirloin carpaccio with kochukaru (Korean red pepper).
Yes, it’s in Pasadena. And yes, your friends will definitely roast you (one last time) for making them drive all the way out there. But none of that actually matters, because this is your last meal, and everything at Union, from the wild mushroom polenta to a saffron linguini topped with uni, is cooked to perfection. Plus, we can’t think of any better physical last ride than a beautiful drive up the 2 Freeway.
WHEN YOU WANT REALLY GOOD Tacos ONE LAST TIME
The Rita Moreno of taco trucks, Mariscos Jalisco is, hands down, the best taco experience in Los Angeles. From incredible tacos de camaron (shrimp tacos served in deep-fried shell) to a tostada topped with a ton of fresh seafood, much like the EGOT winner’s IMDb page, their menu doesn’t have a single weak spot.
After a particularly moving viewing of Master of None′s second season, allora, you decided to move to Italy. And while you now have a lifetime of handmade pasta and big bud/little bud hijinks to look forward to, the thought of not knowing when you’ll eat another fantastic taco is a bit depressing. Luckily, there’s no need to think about that right now - you can still head to Tacos Quetzalcoatl and get one of the best vegetarian tacos in the entire known universe.
Tacos Y Birria La Unica
The good news: You got accepted into the master’s program at Brigham Young University. The bad news: Now you have to move to Utah (no shade) where the official state snack is legitimately Jell-O (shade). So make this last meal count, and head to Boyle Heights to eat as much excellent goat birria as you can - while you still can.
Sonoratown is our go-to for everything, from casual weekday lunches to seeking refuge when we’re confronted with the particularly cruel pigeons of DTLA (should this be a Bravo show?). Grab a few friends, order some excellent costilla or carmelo tacos, and use their fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth tortillas to soak up the tears quickly forming in your eyes.
Los Originales Tacos Arabes de Puebla
Much like James Holzhauer’s run on Jeopardy and Harrison Ford’s handsome face, unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. So before you leave LA, head to Los Originales Tacos Arabes de Puebla, a one-of-a-kind taco truck in East LA. Grab a few of their unique half-Mexican, half-Middle Eastern tacos, and try not to think about how much you’re going to miss this place.
When You Want Really Good Sushi One Last Time
There are plenty of reasons why you’ll miss Los Angeles - the incredible produce, the weather, that one massage spot in Thai Town where you once got your butt kneaded for like $40, and places like Sushi Fumi. With some of the freshest fish in the city (their yellowtail belly deserves some type of award) and an omakase that won’t force you to consider selling off even more of your possessions, this is the kind of casual, excellent sushi restaurant that really can’t be found anywhere else in the states.
So, you’re moving to Pennsylvania. And while you’re heading to a better job and lower rent, sadly, the raw fish situation in the Keystone State just won’t be as good. Go to Shin Sushi before you leave. One of the best restaurants in The Valley, the fish is incredibly high quality, and prepared in interesting ways (we once had baby barracuda and firefly shrimp here). You’ll probably drop around $100 (plus sake), but who cares? You’re about to start paying $500 for a two-bedroom.
Sushi Note takes two iconic bastions from the food world and combines them to create a whole new experience. Half sushi restaurant, half wine bar, this Sherman Oaks spot somehow manages to do both things well. And while getting an omakase set and a bottle of wine isn’t the sort of thing you’d do every day, this isn’t a normal day - it’s one of your last (but we’re not thinking about that right now).
LA Institutions to Hit One Last Time
photo credit: Jakob Layman
The Tam O'Shanter
From selling your mattress to breaking the news to your favorite barista, you’ve finally tied up all of your loose ends. And now, the only things left to do are finding a rooftop to yell things like “This will be my year” on and having a final meal at the Tam O’Shanter. One of the oldest restaurants in the city, eating at this giant cottage in Atwater Village feels like you’re in the movie Brave, or where we imagine Saoirse Ronan returns to when she’s not on the awards circuit. The food here is the kind of hearty pub fare that you didn’t know existed in LA, from a funky, creamy cheddar rarebit to two-pound hunks of prime rib, plus an excellent English-style tea service with teacups filled to the brim with gin.
To say that Jitlada is the best Thai restaurant in LA is kind of like saying Odysseus really liked sailing - technically correct, but still an understatement. Yes, Jitlada is LA’s best Thai spot, but they’re also one of the best restaurants in the entire city. Their massive, 400-item menu has dishes you know - like the ubiquitous pad thai - and ones you don’t, but will, like jungle curry with pork and crispy catfish salad. Plus, the food here is spicy spicy, which is perfect for masking your real tears when your friend asks you when you’ll be coming back.
photo credit: Holly Liss
Philippe The Original
What could possibly be a more fitting (and poetic) end to your time in LA than a meal at the birthplace of the French Dip? And although there’s some pretty legendary (roast) beef surrounding their claim of being the originators of the iconic sandwich (seriously, their century-old fight with Cole’s could be the focus of the next season of Feud), it’s all pretty immaterial to us. Philippe’s version is still our favorite in the city.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Sizzling cuts of brisket, bottomless shots of soju, the thrill of being scolded by the waitstaff for flipping the meat too early - It’s pretty obvious why this iconic Korean BBQ spot is such an essential LA experience. Yes, the prices here are pretty high compared to your average AYCE joint, but you have to remember, you’re paying for the best of the best. From bulgogi to Kobe-style beef, their meats are incredible, and simply put, there is no better banchan in town. Plus, they’ve got a framed picture of Nicolas Cage on the wall - and that means something in this town.
When You Want to Wonder Why You’re Leaving
Broad Street Oyster Co.
If you’re headed to one of the 16 landlocked states, this one’s for you. Broad Street Oyster Co. is a seafood shack in every sense of the word - the walls are covered with Budweiser flags and nautical paraphernalia, the crowd is always at least 30% pirate, and the raw bar is filled with so many oysters, mussels, shrimp, and uni you’ll wonder if their “local source” is actually the Aquarium of the Pacific. So grab a beer from the fridge, admire the paintings of sea captains on the wall, and really start to grapple with one of life’s greatest questions: Is there any way you can fake your death and stay here forever?
As you stare out at the vast, gray ocean across the highway from Neptune’s Net, you’ll be hypnotized by how even the biggest, most destructive waves always return to the sea. And then it’ll hit you - maybe you’re that wave, in the Pacific ocean of your life. But then a tow truck will blast by, and save you from thinking even more embarrassing, hack philosophy sh*t that you probably got from a shirt at Target. But that’s kind of why Neptune’s Net is the perfect place for a last meal in LA - although the seafood is not the best in the world, or even in this section of the guide, there’s just something about the seas of biker gangs, the direct view of the ocean, and the clam chowder served in gigantic, hollowed-out bread bowls that makes you want to take a second to reflect on life before heading back to reality.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
You’re headed to the Midwest - and although America’s heartland is filled with Big Ten sports teams, good (even great) lakes, and Juggalos, you won’t find anything even close to Malibu Seafood there. Part market, part restaurant, there’s no better place on the PCH to enjoy steamed mussels and calamari while taking one final mental snapshot (in addition to some digital ones, duh) of the Pacific Ocean.
When You’re in Denial
Denial is a powerful tool. And although some call it an “unhealthy coping mechanism,” sometimes, denial works just fine. This is one of those times, so order a Double-Double, Mustard Grilled, a side of Animal Style Fries, and, for a second, pretend like your entire world isn’t about to be flipped upside down. Because ultimately, you’ll be fine. Good luck in whatever city you’re headed to next (it’s New York, isn’t it?)