Oh, Los Angeles. The land of ocean-filled sunsets, rampant STD billboards, and actors. Lots and lots of actors. Even people who aren’t actually actors are still actors because most likely their friends are actors and need them to help out in their self-produced stuff.
But even the most successful actors in this city will tell you—auditions are horrible. There’s nothing natural about standing in a white-walled room staring into a camera or a bored assistant's eyes and reading lines from a piece of paper you just printed out at FedEx Office. Being good at auditioning and being good at acting are two completely separate skill sets and if you’re good at both, you’re probably Florence Pugh.
And when a bad audition happens, you need comfort quickly. A phone call home, a therapist—or food. While we highly recommend the first two, we're here to help with the latter.
You were absolutely nailing your live Zoom audition when suddenly your elderly cat unloads his entire lunch for all to hear. Better luck next week, and in the meantime, head to Singapore’s Banana Leaf at The Original Farmer’s Market for a pick-me-up. The tiny, order-at-the-counter stall serves Singaporean and Indonesian staples like sweet laksa soup, beef rendang, and our favorite roti in LA. It’s also located in the quieter back half of the market, which means if you end up crying a little bit at your table, no one’s going to notice. Reminder: Pick up some fabric cleaner at World Market on your way to the car.
The era of self-tape auditions was supposed to be a relief: You can re-tape as much as you want all from the comfort of your home. Only one problem: your downstairs neighbor recently took up the bagpipes and you just submitted for a Tampax commercial with “Amazing Grace” playing in the background. Go blow off some steam at My Two Cents. This casual Southern cafe on Pico takes hospitality really seriously. The people behind the counter shout a welcome to you when you walk in the door, and before you even order, they’ll tell you about the massive case of cakes, pies, and cobblers, or describe the specials written on a chalkboard by the register. They also happen to make one of the best shrimp and grits in the city.
Uh oh. You accidentally put S. Highland into your GPS instead of N. Highland and ended up at a Hasidic Community Center instead of a casting office. Easy mistake. You still made it to the audition—and only about 25 minutes late—but unfortunately the session was over. Time for some diner food. Clark Street recently took over the iconic Cafe 101 on Franklin Ave. in Hollywood and did exactly what everyone in LA hoped they would: they kept the space exactly the same, but now the food’s better. We recommend concentrating mostly on the daily pastry case, and then going all-in on the excellent patty melt.
Your agent said you didn’t need to shave your head for that regional Mr. Clean spot, but you went for it anyway. Three bad reads and a “Well that was certainly different” from the casting director later, and you’re crying in your car while shopping for beanies on Amazon. Go heal your wounds at Hotville. The hot chicken specialist in Crenshaw (and an off-shoot of the Prince’s empire in Nashville) is serving one of our favorite versions in the city, plus tremendous sides like mac and cheese, kale slaw, and a banana cream pudding in a container that could easily double as a statement hat until your hair grows back.
One casting director said you’re too tall and the other said, “And yet, you’re emotionally small.” You don’t even know what that means, but you’ve had enough of this town for today and you’re heading north. You don’t know your exact destination yet, but you’re absolutely stopping at Cilantro on the way. The Mexican cafe inside a North Hollywood Chevron station is great across the board, but you’re getting the carne asada burrito today. It’s one of our favorite versions in LA and ideal for gnawing at while going over The Grapevine.
Not only did you get put into the same audition group at your toxic ex, but he got asked to stay and read again and you didn’t. Do your best to not smash his car windows on the way out and drive to Magnolia Bakery instead. The famous NYC import has been operating on 3rd St. for a while now, but there’s no denying that the banana cream pudding is still one of the best desserts in town. It’s pure, sugared-coated comfort, and that’s exactly what you need right now to avoid another restraining order.
After knocking the camera clean off its tripod, it’s clear that doing a hitch-kick at the end of your Golden Corral cold read wasn’t a great idea. Get out of there as fast as you can and get to Leo’s Tacos. The popular taco truck has a few locations around town, but since you’re in the neighborhood, head to their Sunset and Western outpost. While any taco you order here is going to be good, the sweet and savory al pastor with pineapple is easily our favorite. Plus, it’ll help dull your panic when your agent calls saying you owe the casting office $650 for camera repairs.
Your British accent slipped into an Australian accent, and then on the way out, the casting director asked if you were intentionally doing an impression of John Travolta in Hairspray. Time for some pierogis at Polka Polish. One of god’s most trusted superfoods, these stuffed dumplings are everything you need when you realize $800 worth of acting classes didn’t pay off. Not only does Polka Polish make our favorite pierogis in town, the quiet dining room is the ideal place to wallow and contemplate if you should just become a John Travolta impersonator.
You woke up under the weather, but powered through because you weren’t about to skip a Euphoria audition that you waited two years to get. One sob scene and some uncontrolled breathing later, you’re passed out unconscious in a room full of people who think its an acting choice. Once you come to, have your roommate pick you up and direct them to Porto’s. The classic Cuban deli has just about everything your body wants after blacking out in front of Sam Levinson, but if you don’t get a guava pastry and some potato balls, you might as well have stayed unconscious.
The Apple Pan
Some girl with bad bangs in the waiting room started mouthing off about Future Nostalgia being overrated, and you had to step in. Two verbal assaults later, and you were released without even making it into the room. Be sure to stop at Apple Pan on the way home to contemplate why you’re so drawn to unnecessary conflict. Find one of the few empty stools at the counter, bury your face into a hickory burger, and whine to a cook until you realize they've never heard of Dua Lipa. Get the banana cream pie for the car ride home.
So you rushed your lines again. Bad habits are hard to break sometimes, but at least your audition was in Hollywood and there’s a street dog cart right outside. The bacon-wrapped hotdog on the far right might be a touch under, but you don't care. These sizzling LA icons are exactly what you need while kicking yourself for making the same mistakes over and over again.
You’re in the middle of a tear-jerking death bed scene when you notice the casting director compose and post an entire Tik Tok on her phone. You hate your life. If you’re in the mood for a sandwich, but would also like mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, and jalapeno poppers in that sandwich, Fat Sal’s is your stop. Honestly, you can’t really come to this place without the expectation of wheezing yourself to sleep that night, but as long as you’re fine with that outcome, you’ll get what you came for.
Code red: You ad-libbed something offensive at the end of your Crypto.com commercial spot and now you’re blacklisted. Things are bad. Luckily there’s a 7-Eleven on the corner serving up the best three-day-old taquitos you should never have. You’re going to be tempted by the neon-red hot dogs spinning in your periphery, but stay the course. These taquitos are rock-hard salt blocks and will clean you out like a Groupon house rent-a-maid. And you deserve it.
Game over. Your inability to take constructive criticism ended with you sucker-punching a 19-year-old intern in the throat and now it’s time to leave. The city. Don’t even bother stopping at the apartment, just head right to the airport. And the good news is LAX has turned into an absolutely lovely food destination, with offerings from Wolfgang Puck, Barney's Beanery, and even Panda Express! Plus if it’s midweek, one-way flights generally aren’t too pricey. Send us a postcard from home.