A Traveler's Guide to the Best Restaurants in Los Angeles
by Daniel | Last Updated September 4th, 2019
Food is an integral part of travel no matter where in the world you wander and Los Angeles is no exception. In fact, this city is considered one of the top destinations for food-lovers in the USA.
So, if you're headed to Los Angeles, skip the franchised fast-food joints and try something different. The culinary offerings up for grabs here will astound you.
Here are some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles where you can try them out.
The Best Restaurants in Los Angeles for Local Food
You'd be remiss if you didn't indulge your tastebuds in some enigmatic Los Angeles food while you're in town. Some of the eats to put on your list include:
French Dip at Phillipe's
It's a simple dish that this West Hollywood diner has perfected over 100 years. Think thinly sliced roast beef in crusty French rolls dipped in the jus from the meat.
Food Trucks Everywhere
While street food doesn't confine itself to any particular cuisine, it's the experience that counts. Los Angeles practically invented the gourmet food truck revolution.
From grilled meat to fish tacos, Los Angeles locals claim that their food trucks do it best. There's only one way to find out - track down a food truck and tuck in!
Almost every city in the US claims to have the best burgers, but Los Angeles was the first to put a new spin on this popular food.
Bite into a southern California style burger which features a skinny patty, a dab of Thousand Island dressing and a slab or two of American cheese. It's a game-changer and best enjoyed at the humble Apple Pan on W. Pico Boulevard.
Petit Trois offers up a swanky foie gras-spiked version with Bordelaise sauce and melted cheddar.
Elephante Beach House Santa Monica
A meal at Elephante Beach House bedazzles the senses. Rooftop dining areas whisk you away to the southern Mediterranean. Copper, wood, and stone decor hint at North African origins. At the same time, glorious views over Santa Monica Beach remind you where you really are.
Likewise, the Italian-inspired menu takes you on a journey of exploration. Expect tropical delights, seafood treats and a range of healthy, unique salads. The Brussels sprouts salad is a firm favorite among diners – and that’s saying something.
Before, during and after your meal you can indulge in a range of fine wines featuring the best of Italy, France, and California’s offerings. The cocktail menu explodes with colorful creations as well as all of your regular favorites.
The seaside atmosphere is lively, fun and laid back and it’s a common occurrence for patrons to arrive for lunch and leave in the wee hours of the morning.
You’ll find Elephante on 2nd Street in Santa Monica.
Auburn Los Angeles
He's served at some of the world’s most esteemed Michelin-starred restaurants for over a decade. Now, Chef Eric Bost has brought his own version of the tasting menu to Los Angeles. And don’t let the high-end reputation of this type of dining experience put you off.
Auburn is awash with greenery and natural sunlight, so the atmosphere is far from stuffy. Guests are free to mix-and-match their four, six or nine-course culinary experiences from the 12 dishes on offer. For a few dollars more, you can add a wine-pairing experience to the fray.
If you’d rather not indulge in formal dining, head to the bar for a la carte options to please even the most discerning palate. Here, Bost elevates down-home delicacies like rib-eye, beef rib, and aubergine to an entirely new level.
Wash it all down with fine wines by the glass or a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails.
You’ll find Auburn in the heart of LA’s food district on Melrose Street, close to other iconic eateries like Trois Mec and Petit Trois.
When your travels take you to Hollywood, head west to The Henry at 120 N. Robertson Boulevard any time of day.
Breakfast time tempts with wholesome oats - filling rancheros breakfast bowls and simple scrambles. The coffee is rich and fragrant with 19 different brews on offer. Or, get a smoothie with almond or coconut milk, fruit, berries, and chia.
If you’re around at lunchtime, you’re in for a treat. Expect a choice of burgers, steaks, tacos and salmon. Dinnertime brings a vast selection of dishes from steak to seafood.
Each mealtime offers vegan and vegetarian options, while a kiddie’s menu serves the younger set.
Variety is the spice that seasons every dining experience at The Henry. It’s a something-for-everyone kind of place that charms its guests with a buzzing family-friendly vibe.
There is no shortage of options for international dining in Los Angeles.
Parks BBQ is one of the top restaurants in Los Angeles to explore Korean cuisine. This Korea Town restaurant stands out among the tough competition in this 'hood, thanks to generous portions and top quality meat.
The menu is large and can be confusing for first-timers. There are pages and pages of a la carte options, so flip to the back to narrow down your choices. Here you'll find a slimmer choice of platter options suitable for sharing with the rest of your table.
Bulgogi, short rib, and rib-eye are all there, along with an array of small side dishes. Add some kimchi fried rice, glass noodle tapas, and tofu stew to complete your Korean eating extravaganza.
No list of Los Angeles restaurants is complete without mentioning this local favorite. Husband and wife team, Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis are at the helm, driven by a passion for food and excellent service.
Their dishes are simple and ever-changing, featuring whatever local ingredients are in season at the moment.
A host of Italian eats are up for grabs at Bestia. There are wood-fired pizza's and 15 different varieties of antipasti, but it's the charcuterie, lobster crostini, and chocolate budino tarts that draw the biggest crowds.
The restaurant blends seamlessly into its Arts District location using a combination of industrial design and unique decor. Most nights it's abuzz with the happy ambiance of people enjoying themselves.
The only downside is you'll have to book well in advance to secure a seat at this popular East 7th Place eatery.
Grand Central Market
Technically this conglomeration of food stalls isn't a restaurant but it's a go-to if you're short of time during your trip to Los Angeles.
Here you can sample some of the best local eats around, as well as a smattering of imported delights. The Cheesemonger tempts with giant rounds of wax-wrapped cheese and fresh Normandy butter. Artisan ice creams in crisp cones are an irresistible treat.
You'll find it all here - from pastrami sandwiches to Filipino rice and sisig bowls. Put this S. Broadway venue on your list if you want to sample Los Angeles eating at it's best.
Be sure to set aside a morning or more to explore this emporium of eats to the fullest.
This is one of Los Angeles's best success stories. This food truck turned sit-down restaurant is the brainchild of Wes Avila, who was forced to upgrade by the trails of people that followed his tacos around town.
Today, Guerrilla Tacos occupies an esteemed spot on 7th Street in LA's Arts District. It's always filled with a loyal following that swears these creations are the best in town.
Grilled steak and potato tacos are the main events here as well as delicious desserts in the form of butterscotch donuts and sweet corn cake. There are even cocktails now. Try the Golden Glove Michelada or La Favela to add a fruity punch to your meal.
Indulging in David Chang's creative cuisine used to be one of the top things to do in New York City. Now, this master chef has spread his wings to Los Angeles.
Majordomo holds pride of place on Naud St. LA. It's a swanky establishment adorned with wood and glass decor and just a touch of bling.
The menu is a combination of Asian cooking and European fine dining. If spicy lamb, oysters, and crispy pork belly appeal to your tastes, you can't go wrong at Majordomo.
Specialties include boneless short rib with Asian pear and daikon with a side of rice cakes, as well as a bone-in version with beef rice, rice paper, and shiso.
If you like something on the side, rice wine, classic cocktails, and non-alcoholic drinks are all up for grabs.
NoMad is an exceptionally grand hotel with matching restaurants found at Giannini Place. This 1920s building is delightful inside and out. Gilt-edged decor, tall ceilings, marble columns, and embroidered upholstery complement its traditional facade.
There's a coffee bar boasting a range of croissants, including one filled with cappuccino cream. On the main floor, casual burgers and salads are on the menu.
Another NYC import, NoMad employs acclaimed chef Chris Flint, who has fine-tuned the menu in the main restaurant, Mezzanine, more to Los Angeles tastes.
Some favorites like roast chicken have made the trip from the other side, while the citrus-marinated hamachi is pure Los Angeles. Other top hits include the honey-glazed half-duck and anything with truffles.
The Exchange embodies the cultural mishmash that makes up part of LA’s charm. Touted as a proto-Israeli restaurant, the menu features a combination of Japanese, Mexican, Middle Eastern, and of course, Israeli influences.
Try the grilled sweet potato with almonds, cilantro, and chile Morita which marries together flavors from each of these cuisines. Red cabbage salad crosses over from Eastern Europe to the Middle East with the simple addition of dukkah and cumin.
Located within the Freehand Hotel, this small eatery is a hit with hotel guests and passers-by alike. The Exchange is the place to be if you like bold, imaginative dishes that are a little irreverent.
If it's international cuisine you want, that's what you'll get at this French restaurant on N. Highland Avenue. From decor to dining, everything here is a tribute to Europe's most popular destinations.
You won't get a table here. Literally. All the seating is counter-style and the wait can be excessive. Unusually, this restaurant doesn't take reservations, but you'll find it's worth doing your time in the queue once you get to taste the food.
You'll soon find out what's got the whole city's tongues wagging when you finally manage to get your foot in the door.
Steak tartare prepared properly, escargots, and mussels mariniere are some of the traditional dishes on offer. You can even get steak and chips or a continental-style double cheeseburger if you wish.
In essence, Petit Trois is the light version of Trois Mec next door. It's run by the same team. It's a team that's headed by the esteemed chef, Ludo Lefebvre, who aims to keep his eateries as French as French can be.
If you don't get it in France, you won't find it on one of his menus. As much as variety is what drives Los Angeles dining, it's a strategy that's paid off for his chain of French bistros.
Josef Centeno is one of LA’s stand-out downtown chefs with 4 restaurants taking up the corners of Main and 4th Street. Namely Bäco Mercat, P.Y.T, Orsa & Winston, and Bar Amá.
These establishments pay homage to his Texas upbringing as well as his time in the kitchens of well-known Los Gatos, New York City, and San Francisco eateries.
Manresa, Daniel, and Charles Nob Hill have all been part of his journey. You’ll pick this up in the farm-to-table, Mediterranean and Tex-Mex influences that run through Ceteno's meals.
Some of the legendary dishes here include oxtail hash-stuffed bäcos, fat tacos with queso, and smooth Satsuki rice porridge.
Pick one, or try them all. Each of these fine restaurants brings something unique to the table.
Discover More Options
If this snapshot of the best restaurants in Los Angeles got your tastebuds a-tingle, why not look up some of New York's best cafes too?
Keep browsing through my blog for more inspiration and 'best-of' lists to make your travels even better.
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My name is Daniel and I am a full-time world traveler and constantly on the move.