Los Angeles Restaurant Guide: A Food Lover’s Favorites
Heading to LA? Here’s my Los Angeles restaurant guide!
I don’t consider myself a foodie. I personally hate that claim. All I know is that I like to eat, I love food that tastes good, and I preferably like to go out to eat things I can’t make since I’m decent in the kitchen. Over the years when visiting as well as while I was living in Los Angeles I ate out a lot. I always tried to go to places that I had read about or was recommended by friends. This is not some be all end all list but a Los Angeles restaurant guide of my go to places and recommendations.
For my LA Coffee Guide, click here. For my LA Vegan Eats guide, click here.
Now for my Los Angeles Restaurant Guide!
Guisados is my go-to spot when I have friends visiting from out of town. It’s not exactly my neighborhood taco joint so I go when I have friends come into town or I happen to be in the area. Their original location is on the east side but now there are locations in DTLA and in West Hollywood too. Get the sampler plate to try out the different tacos and be sure to order an agua fresca or horchata! Their tacos are braised and different than most taquerias.
The sampler plate!
Hugo’s is where I would go frequently when I lived on the east side of Los Angeles. It’s in Atwater Village. It’s cheap and there are lots of options for people who are vegetarians and vegans. Seen above is a fish rice “bowl”.
In Mid City, my go-to spot for tacos is Escuela Taqueria on Beverly. It’s a cute little modern Mexican spot. They have a location in Pasadena too.
Other taquerias that I don’t have photos of but frequent:
- Tere’s – super casual spot in Hollywood
- El Carmen – a sit-down restaurant only open at night on Third Street. Make a reservation and get the cucumber margarita and elote!
- Ricky’s Fish Tacos – supposedly the best fish tacos in LA
My favorite cuisine is Japanese food. I have a handful of favorite places to eat yet I haven’t been to all the ones I want to go to in LA either.
Uniiiiiii! So good!
Sugarfish by Nozawa is my Los Angeles restaurant go-to for sushi! It’s a small menu with a handful of options but the quality of the fish is impeccable. It’s on the pricier side but if you’re looking for quality over quantity, this is a sure bet. Several locations all over the city.
Baked crab hand roll at Jinya Robata Bar
Jinya has several locations. They have many ramen bars and a couple of robata bars. I’m a fan of their Robata Bar on Third Street. I came here for happy hour with my girlfriend and we ordered a bunch of dishes to share. Loved the black cod and the yakitori.
Mmmm black cod!
Ain’t no thang like a chicken wang!
Tatsu Ramen is located right in Hollywood. I used to live close to here so it was my go-to for ramen. It’s not mind-blowing but when you’re craving some ramen and in the middle of LA, it’s a good standby. It’s super cute with its iPad ordering system.
Daikokuya is my favorite LA area ramen bar. They have a location downtown and one in the San Gabriel Valley. Their spicy ramen is tasty!!
Other notable Japanese places:
- Izakaya on Third
- Mizu 212 on Sawtelle for shabu shabu
- for a spendy Japanese dinner go to Matsuhisa or Nobu
When Umami Burger first opened in 2009 I was not a fan. I remember going to the location on La Brea with my cousin and wondering what the hype was about. It has since improved and it’s definitely a go-to burger joint now. Locations in NYC, SF, Chicago, SoCal and more!
The chicken burger was awesome
Plan Check is a Los Angeles restaurant chain for burgers. If memory serves me correctly the chef left Umami and branched off on his own. I’ve been to the DTLA and Fairfax locations and have had an assortment of dishes. I went back again on my own and had an off night. I would still go back if I was in the area.
Aint no thang like a chicken wang!
OMG there goes my diet!
This donut churro thing is fire
In the culinary world, Los Angeles restaurants don’t get the accolades that San Francisco, Chicago, and New York do. But if there’s one thing they do well, it’s food trends. Food trucks. Juice. And now poke. I know that poke is a staple in Hawaii but there’s a poke joint in LA opening every other week it seems.
I like this place because it’s in central Los Angeles. It’s a bit on the pricey side but all the toppings and fish are tasty. I could eat this daily.
Hell to the yes. Mainland Poke on Third Street
This place is great and simple. The only problem for me is it is in Venice, where I barely ever step foot.
There have been food trucks everywhere but in LA food truck became a huge thing before most places. After seeing the success in LA, it sort of caught fire everywhere else.
Kogi Food Truck
Roy Choi holla!! In my personal opinion, Roy brought back food trucks to the masses. You could always find Mexican food trucks in certain neighborhoods but he took it to the next level with social media. I love his Kogi tacos with Korean Mexican flavors!
Who doesn’t love fried chicken? Well, vegans….but you know what I mean! Free Range has a truck parked outside Commissary Cafe on Fairfax and then sets up a stall at the Melrose Farmers Market on Sunday. Check their Instagram for more info of where they will be.
Oh hey there yummy!
Sometimes you just want a really good sandwich!
The Oinkster’s pastrami sandwich, plantains, and an ube shake
They have a location in Eagle Rock and now in Hollywood. Come here for sandwiches and burgers. It’s not fast food and it’s not cliche LA. I love their ube (purple yam) shake.
Bay Cities Deli
After all these years of living in southern California, I am really surprised I had never gone to Bay Cities Before. People had told me all about it but I ignored them. Silly me! It is probably because Bay Cities is in Santa Monica. Order the Godmother which as Genoa salami, prosciutto, mortadella, coppacola, ham, and provolone on Italian bread. Ask for the works which includes mayo, mustard, Italian dressing, onions, pickles (not for me!), tomatoes, lettuce, and a chopped pepper blend. OMG, I need one now!
Another spot I really enjoyed is Laurel Hardware. It’s a really cool space and the food was great as were the drinks.
Sycamore Kitchen is a breakfast and lunch spot on La Brea. My cousin lives around the corner and I used to live close to here so SK was a regular place to grab daytime eats and coffee. Their quiches are always so good as is their pastries.
An easy, fast, casual place to go with a group and kids!
I came to Church Key for my friend’s birthday brunch. I loved their Bloody Mary cart and oysters. A good go-to for a group brunch in West Hollywood.
Gjusta is a great place to grab casual eats and coffee in Venice. If you want more of a sit-down restaurant, go to Gjelina (see below) which is one of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles!
Other breakfast/brunch places to try:
- Petit Trois
- Mustard Seed Cafe in Los Feliz
As mentioned above, I’m a fan of Roy Choi. He opened up a few places within the Line Hotel in Korea Town. POT is his Korean restaurant. I love it especially the uni rice plate seen above.
I love Korean banchan – the small plates of side dishes!
How could not love a place called Honey Pig? I came here with my two guy friends and we feasted. It wasn’t an all you can eat place but it was good.
Seong Buk Dong
I have come here several times when I want quick homestyle Korean food. I pretty much order the same dish every time too, the kimchi jjigae or kimchi stew.
BCD Tofu House
BCD Tofu house is pretty standard when it comes to Korean food. My favorite part is that it’s cheap and 24 hours. Why on earth would you resort to shitty fast food when you can get a hot steaming bowl of Korean food!
Okay, I hate that I’m sharing this but I will because I love you. I went to Jun Won with my Korean friend Ricky who is the Korean Bruce Wayne. I could not for the life of me find this place. There is no sign on the front. You enter through the back where there is a free parking and then boom you find yourself in a packed restaurant with only Korean people.
I came here because it was on Jonathan Gold’s 100 Restaurants you need to eat at list plus the Thai Tourism gal told me it’s the bomb. They were right.
Those mussels though!
I like this place a lot. It’s more on the trendy side of things but super good. Order the party wings for sure.
Glendale Pho Co
I used to live over on the east side of the city and I found this place when I was on a run. Super good and budget-friendly! It’s family owned too.
Din Tai Fung
Come on!!! It’s Din Tai Fung baby! I go whenever I get the chance because soup dumplings!! So good!
Other Asian Places I Recommend:
- Elite in San Gabriel Valley for dim sum
- Hoy Ka for Thai
Fresh Corn Grill
I come here when I want healthy eats and it’s usually when I’m with one of my workout crazy gay friends. Salmon on kale salad all day.
Kale salad with salmon
This place serves macrobiotic food and all kinds of healthy friendly food. So when you have finished a hike at Runyon and you don’t want to spoil that healthy streak, go to M Cafe.
Bimbimbap tofu rice bowl
While the salad above is no longer available, I am a fan of Sweetgreen. I tried them out when I was in DC a few years back. Since I’ve had their salads in NYC and now on Third Street in LA. If you’re reading this Sweetgreen please bring back the “Misoba” salad.
You could easily be bad here but try to focus! Lots of yummy salads and protein! Stay away from the mac and cheese and face-sized macarons.
I ordered the salad, my cousin the mac and cheese and bbq short ribs :/
Nice Occasions/Spendy Eats
This is probably my overall favorite Los Angeles restaurant. I came here with two Michelin trained chefs who were on an off day from a special event where plates cost $10,000 per person. So I presumed it was going to be good and it was! It’s tough to get a reso but go in the day time!
Courtesy of Flickr
An old standby in LA by Chef Suzanne Goin. On Sundays, they have a prix fixe dinner that you can get a reso for on Thursdays. I went for Los Angeles Restaurant Week and I had a nice Meryl Streep sighting.
Odys and Penelope
Odys and Penelope is owned by the Hatfields, the same couple that owns Sycamore Kitchen mentioned above. I came here when it was fairly new. It’s very meat heavy which I love of course and cocktails are great. I actually came here to share some small plates and cocktails on my birthday.
Fig & Olive
Fig and Olive is a great standby restaurant to come to when you need a nice place to go with girlfriends, with your mom, for cocktails, and every random occasion when you want to have a good meal, good drinks, and not deal with too much craziness to get a table. I came here and sampled some of their cocktails and sharing plates. It’s a beautiful room and they have locations in Chicago, NYC, DC, and Orange County.
One day I’ll get to French Laundry and in the meanwhile I will go to Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Beverly Hills. It’s a nice place to have French Bistro fare. I came for lunch which is much more affordable than dinner.
The Commissary is another Roy Choi spot but this time, it’s not Korean. It’s farm to table type fare and the menu is a bit all over the place. I love it because the room is gorgeous in the daytime. The schnitzel and the carrots are so good! Note: drinks come in plastic cups but are still good!
Well, it’s a Los Angeles guide! What did you expect!?
I like Pressed Juicery. They have locations in SoCal, NorCal, NYC, Vegas, Seattle and more coming soon. Occasionally they will have specials like 5 juices for $30. I’ll pick up some green juice duirng my mid day slump rather than some coffee.
When I came back on a trip from Asia and I had serious traveler stomach issues, I went to Clover and picked up a load of juices. I got some green juice and some coconut waters. I couldn’t keep food in but I wanted to stay hydrated and have some nourishment. I swear the juices saved me!
Juice Served Here
I tried out a juice flight at Verve Roaster in DTLA. You can also find them all over LA and in the OC. Some of their flavors are awesome like cream party or unique like charcoal lemonade to cleanse.
When you’re on the west side, go to Venice’s Moon Juice. I was super sick a while back and my friend and I loadded up on some vitamins the juice way!
Not tasty but good for you
For Sweet Treats
I love myself some sweet treats and if you’re hankering for some go to Milk. They have ice cream and baked goods and they are all pretty darned tasty. If you order the macaron ice cream sandwich give it a few minutes to defrost. Trust me. Their original location is on Beverly near La Brea but now have a location in Silverlake.
Coolhaus has two locations in Culver City and Pasadena but you can also find their roving ice cream trucks all over the city (and in NYC and Dallas too). Actually, a friend of mine had one of their ice cream trucks at his event and we all got to pick and eat whatever we wanted. Hell yes! You may be able to find their ice cream sandwiches at some Whole Foods grocery store locations.
To be less of a fatty I ordered 1 cookie rather than a sandwich
Republic of Pie
I never spend much time in North Hollywood but a friend of mine was living out there so I went to visit him and we came here. The pie is tasty!!! If you’re looking for pies, look no further.
This place is super popular but I don’t think the food is all that. The pastries on the other hand are awesome!! Get the eclairs, the macarons and everything else!
This ice cream parlor has been around forever. I lived closed to here for nearly a year and never came till I was moving. Thank goodness though because I would have gotten even chubbier. Middle Eastern flavors like saffron and rosewater. So good!
This place was the craziness for a while after Oprah put it on her favorites list. Now you can get one from an ATM or at different locations. They still make a killer cupcake.
When I was living on the east side of Los Angeles my vegan friend took me to the location in Highland Park. I think we came every other day. So good and if you have a vegan friend, they make vegan friendly flavors!
Other desert places to try:
- Diddy Riese
- Salt & Straw (from Portland – Larchmont and Venice locations)
And there you have it my Los Angeles restaurant guide. This is no way any kind of complete list but a handful of my favorites places that I wanted to share with you, my readers! I will be updating this regularly!