It’s that time again. Flights are booked, bags are packed, and your friends are heading West. With our near-constant summer weather, this routine is frankly old hat for most Angelenos. Reminder: Our friends live in places that morph into an uninhabitable depression-prison for five months (read: winter) and they need out. Welcome to paradise.
But what in the hell are you supposed to do with them once they’re here? LA is massive and introducing them to what our best restaurants have to offer is no easy task. Plus, if they’re from the East Coast, they hate it here based solely on principle anyways. But fear not. The time is now to impress the sh*t out of your out-of-town-friends and prove LA is much, much more than sunny skies. Here’s the guide to do it.
We’re definitely of the people who believe Mexican food is best served cheap out of the back of a truck. But let it be known, Broken Spanish has changed us. This high-end Mexican restaurant in downtown is one of the best meals we’ve had in awhile, and worth every penny we shelled out for those lamb neck tamales. Definitely still take your friend Trevor from high school to all the cheap taco stands, just make sure you don't miss out on the other side too.
In the too-exclusive-for-you world of Chef Ludo, Trois Familia stands as a place you can actually get into without months of pre-planning. The Silver Lake brunch spot isn’t large by any means, but the clipboard sign-up system outside somehow always gets you in and seated in about 20 minutes. And the French/Mexican fusion menu will be an eye-opening experience for your boring finance cousin from Charlotte.
Speaking candidly from one human to another, you simply don't turn down a day in the mountains drinking riesling and picnicking with friends. And at Malibu Wines, you get all of that and more. They definitely provide some snacks for your afternoon buzz, but you’re allowed to bring all your own food to the venue, and you should. So round up all the gal pals and prove to your friends from Dallas that life is better without 180% humidity.
Wait, but you thought all people eat in LA is green juice and muscle elixirs. Get real. We’re not going to pretend LA isn’t into the healthy lifestyle, but when we throw down we throw down. And while there’s plenty of excellent burgers around LA these days, we keep coming back to the OG gourmet burger - Father’s Office. Some people will say this place is overrated, and those people aren't to be trusted. Your freshman year roommate from Allentown didn't even know you could put Gruyere on a burger, and that’s about to change.
The taco truck game is still waiting for its spark in Milwaukee, so in the meantime, you’re taking your childhood neighbor to one of our city’s best. Mariscos Jaliscos sits on an industrial stretch of Olympic Blvd, but with plenty of copycats in the area it’s not always the easiest to find. But once you do, you’ll be treated to some of the best shrimp tacos you’re ever going to find. Get out of the Santa Monica bubble and go experience an LA icon.
Your friend who lives in Murray Hill CANNOT WAIT for Bungalow in Santa Monica tonight and the time is now to crush her dreams. Ktown is actually the best nightlife neighborhood in the city and POT at The Line Hotel is the ultimate jumping off point. This new-age Korean restaurant is the place to experience an iconic LA chef (Roy Choi) and an environment catered to fortifying your buzz.
Yep, all we have here are salads. Drought and salads. Nailed it. OH COME ON. This city is full of meat-centric restaurants and Animal might just be one of the best in the entire country. Snag a reservation well in advance because the dime-sized, minimalistic space fills up fast. But trust us, Animal is a carnivorous pilgrimage worth the wait.
If you have friends coming into town and DON’T plan a Mexican dinner, just give them a godd*mn refund. Insanely good Mexican food can basically be found anywhere in this city, but our choice is El Compadre in Hollywood. This decades-old standby is still one of the most reliable old-school Mexican meals in town with a great environment your high school BFF just can’t get back in Grand Rapids. Two words: Flaming Margaritas.
Yes, there’s a castle in the middle of Hollywood. Yes, it’s entirely composed of magic shows. And yes, it’s absolutely incredible. The membership-only club/dinner theater is notorious for only being accessible if you happen to know a magician (on our to-do list), but there’s a simple hack. Swallow your pride and post an ad on Craigslist asking for access and chances are a magician will come to your aide. Magic indeed.
Sushi is another must-have for anyone visiting LA and Sugarfish is the obvious move. No place gives you the premiere sushi and affordable prices quite like Sugarfish and your chronically still-figuring-it-out friend on a budget will appreciate that. While there are locations citywide now, we recommend going back to where it all began: Studio City.
Look, if you’re in the market to blow it out and prove to your friend that LA is better than whatever hell tundra they flew in from, Bestia is how you make it happen. This isn’t where you bring the squad and get rowdy. This is where you iron your jeans beforehand like a functioning adult and go experience one of the best all-around meals in the city.
There’s always that terrifying moment in day three when you realize you have no f*cking clue what to do with your friend. Take them to Grand Central Market. No matter how picky your newly gluten-intolerant gal pal is, GCM has you covered and spending three hours wandering around the endless corridors of eye-popping food stalls is a perfect way to spend a day.
As fantastic as Downtown is, all the best places tend to be found one place: underground. Change it up and take them upwards to Perch, the rooftop restaurant/bar with a view of LA they definitely never knew existed. The vibe is chill with live music and solid food on an open-air patio that most days of the week is surprisingly easy to get into.
Most people outside LA are surprised to find out that Chinese food here actually sucks. And most people inside LA don’t realize that the San Gabriel Valley is where you need to take them. Luckily, one of the cornerstones of the SGV dim sum scene, Din Tai Fung, has opened their soup dumpling emporium in Glendale and you no longer have to burn an entire day figuring out if Temple City is even a real place.
Your roommate’s friend Sami just flew in from Scarsdale and she’s already making comments about how she'll never live in LA. Give her a f*cking sticker and then get her ass to Canter’s for what will certainly be a taste of home. It’s not our favorite pastrami in town (that would be Langer’s) but it’s still fantastic and the perfect place to soak up the booze after a long night out in Weho.
HOSTING TIP: Don't suck at it. Your friends want experiences and at The Getty Villa, you are giving them one they never knew they could have. Not to be confused with its bigger, inland brother, The Getty Villa is a more intimate (and still completely free) museum and gardens overlooking the Malibu mountains and Pacific Ocean. And smack in the middle is the Cafe, with surprisingly great food and one of the most memorable settings in SoCal.
No weekend of hosting out-of-town friends is complete without the obligatory jaunt up the PCH to Malibu. And while plenty of seafood shacks dot this stretch coastal highway, our move is to keep driving till you hit Neptune’s Net. The kitschy restaurant is certainly touristy, but the people-watching remains prime and that outdoor patio is retro-Cali nirvana.
Chances are when your sorority sister from Bethesda comes to town and says she loves Thai food, she actually means she loves pad thai. No shame there. But Thai food is much more than that and they’re in the city to experience it. Night + Market’s spice levels might not be for the faint of heart, but it remains very accessible and an unassuming place to get a little wild as well.
It’s Sunday morning. You’ve drunk three nights in a row and you want to die and/or kill your friend. The only remedy is Bay Cities and our favorite sandwich in the city: The Godmother. You could point to the five different delicious meats stacked inside it but for us it all boils down to that bread. That perfectly crunchy Italian bread. Just call it in and avoid the long lines.
In our taco-obsessed city, Guisados is arguably cranking out some of the best. This order-at-the-counter spot is very accessible but also a chance for your cousin from Indy to experience what authentic Mexican tacos actually mean. (Hint: no shredded Cheddar). The menu doesn’t have a weak spot so order the six-taco mini sampler to cover as much ground as possible.
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