Where To Eat When You’re Visiting Los Angeles

The best restaurants to get acquainted with LA.
Where To Eat When You’re Visiting Los Angeles image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Are you visiting LA soon? Obviously, we have some opinions. Firstly, check where you parked that rental car—street cleaning takes no prisoners in this town. Secondly, be prepared to experience the blood-curdling rush that comes with merging onto a six-lane freeway. Thirdly, get ready to eat.

What you see before you isn’t meant to be a definitive list of this city’s best restaurants (that’s here)—it’s just what we’d do if we were in your shoes. If you're visiting and planning out where to eat during a trip to LA, let this guide lead the way.



photo credit: Jakob Layman



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People who have lived in LA for a while like to talk about how LA is a city of neighborhoods. And no neighborhood provokes more of a reaction than crystal-, surfer-, and start-up-filled Venice, and if you want to understand why, go eat breakfast or lunch at Gjusta. This deli a few blocks back from the beach is big, busy, and perfect for surveying the Venice crowd. The sandwiches and salads, along with whatever else is in the deli case, are best in class. Try the burrata and tomato sandwich or open-faced bagel with an entire farmers' market’s worth of produce and housemade gravlax stacked on top, and we think you’ll understand why Gjusta has so many devotees.

Republique is this city’s most famous brunch place—known to draw big crowds on weekdays and even bigger crowds on weekends. They also serve dinner, but we much prefer to snag a table inside their palatial dining hall with huge skylights during the day. Republique is widely known as a powerhouse of French pastries, and that's the real reason why you should stand in line for upwards of thirty minutes to eat at this counter service spot. Come early and splurge on a box of crackly kouign amann, creamy black sesame eclairs, and rich guava coconut cakes before they sell out. For the full brunch experience, order some french toast and sit underneath the castle-like archways as mobs of people scurry around your table.

Uh oh. You accidentally put S. Highland into Google Maps instead of N. Highland and ended up at Autozone instead of the Hollywood Wax Museum. Easy mistake. Time to go sit at a diner and rethink why you rented a car in the first place. Clark Street Diner used to be the iconic 101 Coffee Shop—seen in the movie Swingers—before changing hands a few years ago. The new owners (who also run one of LA’s best bakeries) made the food way better, but kept the old diner-y aesthetic—a combination we can get behind. All the breakfast classics here are great, but since breakfast is a construct, start the day with their fantastic patty melt on house-baked rye.

If you have a working internet connection and an Instagram account, chances are, you’ve heard of Courage Bagels. This small Virgil Village bakery pumps out bagels that are (gasp) even better than the ones made in New York City. Needless to say, a trip here should be at the top of your to-do list. The order-at-the-window spot specializes in denser, crispier bagels than what you might find in New York, topped with unique ingredients like salmon roe, heirloom tomatoes, handfuls of dill, or cucumbers that taste like they were picked that morning. Lines tend to get pretty long on weekends (we’re talking hour-plus), so either come right when they open or be prepared to wait.

Like hiking Runyon Canyon or pretending not to see Denise Richards shopping at the farmer’s market, a classic soul food brunch is an obligatory LA pastime. And although you’ve probably heard of Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, you should prioritize The Serving Spoon instead. This classic diner in Inglewood—conveniently close to LAX—serves the epitome of a Southern comfort brunch in a room full of regulars. Expect an hour-long wait on weekends, but once your name is called you’ll be rewarded with crispy, golden-fried drumettes and buttery vanilla waffles eaten in a well-worn vinyl booth.


photo credit: Holly Liss

There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the look on an East Coaster’s face when you tell them LA has the best pastrami. So we’ll go ahead and say it again: LA has the best pastrami. You’ll find proof at places like Wexler’s, Brent’s, and Johnny’s, but if you want to get to the heart of LA’s pastrami culture, go to Langer’s. This Westlake institution has been serving classic deli staples since 1947 and the pièce de résistance is the #19. This massive pastrami sandwich comes stacked with swiss cheese and Russian-style coleslaw, squished between two pieces of soft rye bread. It’s a perfect sandwich that needs to be on every visitor’s to-do list.

You’ve probably heard LA has great sushi—we can confirm the rumors. And because deciding on a place can lead to long-term family fights, make it easy on yourself and go to Sushi Gen. This classic Little Tokyo sushi bar is rightly famous for its lunchtime sashimi special: a platter of premium fish, plus rice, soup, and pickles. It’s so popular, crowds line up before the restaurant opens at 11am just to order it. It’s only available in certain areas of the dining room, though, so if they’re full when you get there, sit at the bar instead. You can’t order the sashimi platter, but you’ll have access to all the daily nigiri and hand rolls, which are every bit as good as the sashimi.

Every inaugural trip to LA should include a drive up PCH to gawk at the beaches, the mountains, and the cryptocurrency mansions. It should also include a stop at Malibu Seafood for lunch. This stretch of coastline has a handful of great roadside seafood shacks like Reel Inn and Neptune’s Net, but this classic spot is the most consistent of the bunch. From fish and chips to fried calamari, everything here is fresh, hearty, and exactly what you want after a day at the beach. There will definitely be a line on the weekends, but who cares? The sun is out, there’s sand in your hair, and you can smell the ocean from your spot in line.

People head to Beverly Hills for certain attractions: Rodeo Drive, the famous sign, plastic surgeons doing various nips and tucks. But your first stop should be The Cheese Store Of Beverly Hills, a 50-year-old fromagerie that makes some of LA’s best sandwiches. Surrounded by crates of wine, imported jams, and giant wheels of cheese, cheesemongers offer you nibbles of French butter as you order. These ciabatta sandwiches are on the pricier side, but the fillings are as luxe as everything else in the 90210—get the lemony La Zucca with fried zucchini and ricotta, or the Dom with jammy sundried tomatoes and aged prosciutto for a smooch of salt. Next, take your paper-wrapped sandwich across the street for an impromptu park picnic.

Located in the middle of Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, Tower Bar is an unmitigated joyful mess—a spot that makes people-watching at other scene-y LA spots feel like a waste of time. Spend a lunch hour at this ground-floor hotel restaurant and you’ll see stressed-out managers sobbing in the corner, the Olsen twins sucking the youth out of anyone who gets too close, and agents desperately fishing their burner phones out of the pool after losing their cool. This is a true Ladies Who Lunch/Power Lunch extravaganza, so order a few martinis, grab a club sandwich, and put on your biggest pair of sunglasses—you’ve got some eavesdropping to do.


If you’re serious about finding great Thai food in LA—which we have in spades—you need to head to Luv2Eat. Located in a nondescript strip mall (three words that often mean you’re close to a good time here), this spot in Hollywood has a good-sized menu of stir-fries and noodles that are best in class, but you’ll also want to concentrate on the “Chef’s Special” section, an assortment of dishes that showcase the two chefs’ family recipes from Phuket. Highlights include the sweet and spicy Phuket-style crab curry, jade noodles with three different kinds of barbecued meats, and moo ping, a marinated pork skewer that’s so sweet and tender, you might have to take it home and introduce it to your parents. Walk-ins are welcomed. 

photo credit: Jakob Layman



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It wasn’t that long ago that the Arts District was mostly a bunch of storage units near the LA River. Now it’s a full-on restaurant haven—largely thanks to the arrival of Bestia and Bavel. While we still rank the Italian food at Bestia as some of the best in town, Bavel is our pick for a big splashy dinner. The upscale Middle Eastern spot possesses a rare combination of delicious, deeply personal food with reliably great service, all in a stunning, blockbuster space that buzzes with energy every night. The duck n’duja hummus, flaky malawach with herby creme fraiche, and lamb neck shawarma all need to make it to your table. Be sure to snag a table at least one week in advance. 

There’s no better way to dip your toes into LA’s vast Koreatown than a loud, fun KBBQ meal filled with pork belly, kimchi, and cheese corn. For the full Korean barbecue experience—smoky tabletop grills, clanking soju glasses included—our go-to is Ahgassi Gopchang, an always-buzzing spot famously name-checked by BTS a few years ago. Order one of the combo sets (either prime beef and pork cuts, or their signature tripe sampler), then witness the banchan arrive in waves and server handle sizzling meats like surgeons with tongs and scissors. Finishing the night with the “cheese mountain” fried rice cooked tableside is non-negotiable.

It might seem unusual that the city’s best (and coolest) raw bar is nowhere near the coast, but in East Hollywood, across the street from a Scientology building. But that’s LA for you. Smartly dressed couples, indie filmmakers, and so-called “tastemakers” all gather at Found Oyster for the same reason: an impromptu 4pm glass of wine, beautiful oysters, and incredible food, like scallop tostadas dressed with zippy yuzu kosho and chicken schnitzel heaped with an army of white anchovies. It’s a small, narrow space and they don’t take reservations, but seats tend to open up fairly quickly, which means less time between you and eating olive oil-drizzled crudos under a disco ball. 

You can't hide from the fun at Cobi's. It finds you in every corner of this maximalist Southeast Asian spot in Santa Monica—even on the garden patio full of floral sculptures. The service is always on point, empty wine glasses never stay that way for long, and the noise level vibrates in a constant sweet spot. But you're not just coming here to sit in a colorful dining room that always seems to be in a good mood. Cobi's has the most exciting menu in Santa Monica, full of bold spins on Indonesian curries, juicy pork dumplings, and a kanpachi crudo topped with finger lime pearls that explode with citrus in every bite. Plus, it’s also fun during weekend brunch and won’t require a reservation.


If it’s your first time in LA, it’s not a question of if, but when you’ll end up at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And for that, we’re sorry. Once you’ve put in your 20 minutes, head straight to Musso & Frank. The red-boothed steakhouse is one of the oldest operating restaurants in the city, and while having a meal in the dining room is always a good time, you’ll be just as satisfied skipping the food and heading directly to the bar for a legendary martini. Served with a frosty sidecar on ice, it’s a technically flawless cocktail poured the same way since Woodrow Wilson was president. It’s also a great way to dull the pain after paying a knock-off Elmo $20 for a selfie. 

Tiki Ti is a miniature A-frame bar between Silver Lake and Los Feliz that’s not only a portal to another era, but another dimension altogether. The throwback rum cocktails at this historic haunt are blessedly strong, and each come with their own tradition, like the whole bar chanting when someone orders the Ooga Booga, or the robotic toy bull that marches up and down the bar as an unofficial mascot. If you like kitschy weirdness, wise-cracking regulars in aloha shirts, or just tasty drinks that knock you on your butt, Tiki Ti should be on your bucket list, even if you have to wait in line for 20 minutes on the weekends. Just be sure to call before you go—the owner likes to close up shop for vacation a few times a year.

Not to take anything away from the endless bars in WeHo or Downtown’s warehouse parties, but LA’s best nightlife is in Koreatown. It’s one of the few areas left where you can go without a plan and head wherever the night takes you. Just make sure you eventually end up at Dan Sung Sa. Walking into this dimly lit tavern on a Saturday night is an essential LA experience. The sounds of sizzling skewers and thwacking knives emanate from the central grill, smoke hangs like mist over the graffitied, wooden booths, and everywhere you look, groups of friends pound Hite like it’s the last batch in the world. 

Sceney rooftops are as quintessentially LA as farmers’ markets overflowing with gorgeous produce. But this one, located on top of the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills, offers some of the most impressive skyline views in the city. You’ll take a very shiny elevator up 12 floors to get here, and come face-to-face with a crowd that looks extremely ready for its close-up. The food here is fairly unremarkable (and expensive, obviously), so we recommend treating Rooftop by JG like a very luxurious bar, especially if you’re in the mood for sparkling wine or a martini at sunset. You will need a reservation for a table on weekends, but during weekday Happy Hour, the place is usually wide open for walk-ins.

Big Dean’s has been in operation since the 1970s and is a bonafide Santa Monica institution. Situated just off the boardwalk below the pier, it’d be easy to write off this divey sports bar as a beachy tourist trap, but it’s just the opposite. At any time of day you’ll find an ideal mix of longtime locals, curious out-of-towners, and various laid-back people who just want cold beer by the ocean. Try to snag a table on the front patio (so you can see the water), and don’t leave without one of their excellent, no-frills cheeseburgers.


Ask 10 people in LA what the best taco in town is and you’ll get 15 different responses. Ask us on the right day, and we’ll tell you Mariscos Jalisco’s taco de camaron. This classic seafood-focused food truck parked on an industrial stretch of Boyle Heights—they also have three other locations around the city—only has one taco on the menu (among various tostadas, ceviches, etc), but it’s downright glorious when eaten fresh from the fryer. Stuffed with sweet shrimp and deep-fried, then smothered in salsa and fresh avocado, no trip to LA is complete without trying one. Or maybe two or three, actually.

Don’t worry if you missed your exit on the I-10 (twice), you’re probably still less than 20 minutes away from an Angel’s Tacos. With 12 locations between Long Beach and Sylmar, Angel’s remains one of LA’s most consistently great taco stand operations, with pressed-to-order tortillas, huge trompos of juicy al pastor, and bright salsas that make your lips tingle. Both the braised cabeza and ultra-crispy asada are excellent, and be sure to get at least one of them inside a crispy, gooey quesotaco that quickly kisses the griddle. Yes, there’s no seating, but when in LA, do as the Angelenos do (eat on your car).

Angelenos get really worked up about tacos. But we’ve never met anyone who doesn’t have a soft spot for Sonoratown, a Northern Mexican-style taqueria with two locations in LA. What sets this counter-service operation apart is their housemade flour tortillas—they’re chewy, tender, and quite literally melt in your mouth. We usually order the carmelo taco, loaded with smoky mesquite-grilled asada, pinto beans, and chiltepin salsa. But we also love their perfectly sized chivichangas—mini burritos filled with braised meat, roasted chile peppers, and lots of molten cheese—rolled up in those stunning flour tortillas and browned on a grill until glorious char marks show.

Eating tacos on a traffic barrier, cars zooming past, horns blaring in the background is quintessentially LA. And few places make that experience feel as special as Simón. This Mexican mariscos truck in Silver Lake serves seafood dishes that wouldn't be out of place at a fine dining restaurant, like soft shell crab tacos tossed in chipotle mayo, fish al pastor with charred pineapple, and fresh ceviche that pops with lime and sweet mango. Whatever you order, take full advantage of their refrigerated salsa cabinet, a flex of a condiment bar stocked with a tangy carrot-habanero salsa that packs a sneaky punch, and a jet-black salsa macha made with charred chiles.

Your plan to rent rollerblades and cruise Venice Beach á la the Barbie movie didn’t play out as expected. Ice down any scraped knees on the shaded patio at Teddy’s Red Tacos, one of the few casual places to eat along the boardwalk that’s not only worth your time, but an actual taco destination. The original Teddy’s in East LA is home to some of the city’s best birria, and we’re happy to report their Venice location keeps the rich (and spicy) tradition alive. Braised beef birria is the only option on the menu—if you’re especially hungry, go with the Deluxe Platter, a fully loaded tray that includes a quesadilla, mulita, tostada, and taco, plus consomme for dipping.

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