Discovering the culinary delights of a new destination is one of the joys of travel, but it’s not always easy. How do you avoid the more touristy establishments and pinpoint the best places when you have limited time? This can be particularly difficult in larger cities where the vast number of choices can make it hard to choose and more often than not you end up disappointed.
A Taste of Los Angeles
You never have to hit the same restaurant twice in a city the size of Los Angeles, and I got to wondering… Just how many dining choices are there? So I asked Google, and it turns out the answer isn’t completely clear. Though what is clear, are that many of them sell doughnuts! “Seriously though” the most common answer was around 20,000 ish, so for the purposes of this post we’ll go with that.
Based on that very “accurate” number I estimate that if you dine out three meals a day 7 days a week it would take 18 years to eat at every dining establishment in LA! Precisely why this list won’t try to tell you the Best Of, but rather some of my favorites, a taste if you will, and a small one at that. After all I’m only two years in!
I should also say, that while I do love to eat, I don’t love to take photos of my food, but have done my best to try and convey the deliciousness.
Life is short so dessert first!
Location: 631 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica
Sidecar Doughnuts is our favorite Westside doughnut shop, and we’ve tried a few! We aren’t the only ones who love them, so be prepared for a long line. I promise you it’s worth the wait they’re baked fresh all day long.
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Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken
Location: 516 W 6th Street Los Angeles
Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken is our new favorite Downtown LA doughnut shop. I’m glad this place isn’t closer to home because the food was so good I know I’d be there every chance I got!
Location: 621 S. Western Ave (upstairs)
We love Somi Somi in Koreatown for Taiyaki, a fish shaped pastry with a texture somewhere between a waffle cone and a pancake and do our best to enjoy it whenever possible. Traditionally filled with red bean paste, custard and Nutella are other popular options.
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Location(s): 912 S. Barrington Avenue, Los Angeles
10250 Santa Monica Blvd #1625 at the Westfield Century City Mall
Not a meal exactly, but Compartes chocolate bars are so filled with goodness they very well could be! They’re literally bursting with deliciousness. An LA institution since the 1950s these fabulous chocolate bars are a mixture of art, style, and design. Often partnering with other iconic LA brands these are some of the most luxurious and fashionable chocolate bars you’ll ever have the occasion to eat.
Location(s): 7290 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles & 1639 Silver Lake Blvd., Los Angeles
Milk Shop is an old fashioned ice cream parlor and bake shop with a modern day twist! Not only were the treats Insta worthy, but they were delicious. I couldn’t resist the cookie dough to go, yes please!
Sunday Chocolate Tea
Location: Langham Hotel 1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue, Pasadena
The Sunday Chocolate tea at the Langham is a real treat! You’ll know you’re in the right place when you smell the chocolate, you’ll turn left at the chocolate fountain, the centerpiece of the all you can eat chocolate buffet. In addition to chocolate you’ll be treated to traditional tea sandwiches, scones and cream, and bottomless champagne. Oh, and yes multiple tea selections are available as well.
Work off all that chocolate playing lawn games in the Horseshoe Garden including, croquet, frisbee golf, and badminton.
Tea service is held everyday of the week, however the Chocolate Tea is only held on Sundays. Reservations are required.
Smitten Ice Cream
Location: 10250 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles
Churned to order and paired with delicious toppings we are smitten with Smitten.
Mini Monster Milk Tea
Location: Universal City Walk, Universal City
If you love bubble tea (I do!) and cute things, then you’ll want to stop in at Mini Monster! Their delicious boba is served in your choice of unique and reusable jars in various fun shapes!
Location: 2448 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica
The cookies here are so delicious we bought a dozen different flavors and took a bite of every single one!
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Location: 714 Traction Ave Downtown Los Angeles
Whether you like it savory or sweet you’ll be guaranteed a unique and tasty treat at the Pie Hole. With 5+ locations throughout the greater LA area you have no excuses!
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Lark Bake Shop
Location: 3337 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
We stopped in Lark Cake Shop at the request of the kids, and thankfully we were in the mood to say yes! The Ice Box Cake was so delightful we considered going back for a second round.
Suberba Food & Bread
Location: 1900 S Lincoln Blvd.Venice
I’ve yet to try something at Superba that I didn’t love! The vibe is all Venice complete with an urban garden out back. Try to resist the bakery counter, I dare you.
The Wee Chippy
Location: 1301 Ocean Front Walk, Venice
Located on Westminster just off Ocean Front Walk at Venice Beach, the Wee Chippy is a walk up fish and chips joint, owned by a Scottish fellow. The fish is great, but the chips are easily the best I’ve ever had. Anywhere!
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Location: 3 Westminster Ave.,Venice
Okay, this isn’t actually a photo of Groundwork, or coffee, but it is just across from the front door! We love to stop at their beach front location during our morning bike rides. My favorite blend is Lucky Jack.
Location: 56 Windward Ave, Venice
Get the Spanish Latte! I promise you won’t be disappointed when you taste this delicious coffee concoction! Seriously, what are you waiting for? Go there! Then take your coffee for a walk along the beach!
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Gelina’s Take Away GTA
Location: 1429 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Gelina’s meatballs are almost a right of passage, but securing a table at one of LA’s most popular eating establishments can be challenging. No need to miss out though they’re available next door at the Gelina Take Away counter!
Location:1635 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles
We love everything about Wabi from decor so beautiful we want to move in, to the fabulous food and top notch service. Dinner can be pricey and requires a reservation, but lunch time walk-ins are welcome and much easier on the pocketbook.
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Location: 12517 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles
We love the quirky decor, bustling atmosphere and fabulous service at Hatchett Hall, but it was these rolls that really won me over! I just can’t stop thinking about them!
Esters Wine Shop & Bar
Location: 1314 Seventh Street, Santa Monica
Esters is my absolute favorite place and I love everything about it. The service is excellent and unpretentious, the food is creative and delicious, and the atmosphere is welcoming and cozy. Get the curried cashews, you’ll be hard pressed not to pour them directly into your mouth.
Location: 1345 2nd Street, Santa Monica
The menu and presentation at Sugarfish couldn’t be simpler, and the food couldn’t be more delicious. Go early for the best chance at a table and the chance to sample sushi perfection.
Location: 120 Broadway #104, Santa Monica
Kazu Nori is small and it’s popular, so get there early, or be prepared to wait. The menu consists of one thing: hand rolls. They’re made to order and to delicious perfection.
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Forma Restaurant & Cheese Bar
Location: 1610 Montana Avenue
If you love cheese, Forma Restaurant & Cheese Bar is the place for you, their cheese menu is extensive, but its the main dishes prepared inside a giant wheel of cheese, yes I said a giant wheel of cheese that keep me coming back! Excuse the poor photo, but trust me it was delicious!
Back on the Beach Cafe
Location: 445 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica
Views for days, toes in the sand dining and delicious food are all waiting for you at Back on the Beach Cafe. Kids will love the playground just next door!
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Malibu Farm Cafe
Location: 23000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
Stay cozy inside on a stormy day or eat out when the sun is shinning, either way the Malibu Farm Cafe Restaurant is the perfect little breakfast spot! Locals only! Just kidding, but do check this place out if you’re looking for something a little less touristy.
Location: 42505 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
Fish & chips, motorcycles, and gorgeous ocean views! Need I say more? You’ll find Neptune’s Net just a short drive up the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway.
Location: 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles
A meal at Eataly is a dining experience like no other. Deciding which of the fabulous restaurants you want to dine at won’t be easy, they’re all amazing. Consider an early lunch for the best chance at a table without a wait.
Din Tai Fung
Location: 10250 Santa Monica Blvd, Level 2 Los Angeles
It’s a dumpling experience! More than a decade after eating at Din Tai Fung for the first time I can still say I’ve never had any that were better! Go there!
Location: 2068 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles
You’ll find Furaibo in LA’s Japantown, not to be confused with Little Tokyo. They are famous for their Japanese style chicken wings, which are AMAZING!
Bonus: There is parking in the back.
Hurry Curry of Tokyo
Location: 2131 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles
If you’re looking for a unique Japanese cuisine experience Hurry Curry of Tokyo located in Japantown is the place! I’m obsessed with the white sauce.
Pink’s Hot Dogs
Location: 709 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles
No trip to Los Angeles would be complete without a trip to Pink’s a true LA institution! Famous for it’s chili cheese dog, Pink’s has been in the same spot on La Brea Avenue for 77 years and if the perpetually long line is any indication, it’s not going anywhere.
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Location: 7984 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood
Don’t be fooled by the exterior when you pull up outside Laurel Hardware, one of West Hollywoods most trendy eateries. It may look like an old hardware store from the outside, but the inside is gorgeous and the food is delicious, as are the cocktails.
Location: 419 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles
Canter’s, an LA institution, has been serving up their award winning pastrami sandwiches and other deli fare since 1931. Beyond pastrami, other favorites on my list are the Mish Mash Soup, and the High Hat, which is basically a cupcake married to a ding dong! Delicious!
Jon and Vinny’s
Location: 412 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles
Excellent food, service and celebrity sightings are what you can expect at Jon and Vinny’s. No wonder it’s consistently listed as one of LA’s top restaurants. Getting a table can be tough, so book ahead, or consider a late lunch when you might even be able to walk right in.
Location: 8905 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood
Let me say upfront that I am not a vegan or a vegetarian, but I LOVED my dining experience at Gracias Madre a plant based Mexican restaurant. The “fish” tacos were some of the best I’ve had as was the guacamole. The service is perfect as is the atmosphere, which is so lovely I’d consider living there. Oh, and the drinks… almost too pretty, but we managed it.
Gracias Madre is a vegan restaurant.
Brothers Korean BBQ
Location: 3680 W 6th St, Los Angeles
Brothers Korean BBQ is our family’s go to for special occasions. My favorite part is the banchan (sides) that come with your meal.
Location: 800 E. 3rd Street @Traction Avenue, Los Angeles
Wurstkuche’s exotic sausages and delicious fries are a savory and popular treat. There is a constant line out the door, but don’t be fooled you’ll find a large amount of communal seating in the back.
Location: 907 E 3rd Street, Los Angeles
Located in the heart of DTLA’s Arts District, Manuela, is one of my new favorite places. The perfect place to stop in for a mouth watering bite in-between hunting for street art and poking in and out of the area’s fun one of a kind shops and galleries.
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Cole’s Originators of the French Dip Sandwich
Location: 118 East 6th Street, Downtown Los Angeles, Los Angeles
If you’re a French Dip fan you won’t want to miss a visit to Cole’s the very place the sandwich was invented in 1908!
Cole’s is a bar, but children are welcome.
Location: 222 South Hope Street, Los Angeles
I almost never order chicken when dining out, but I make an exception at Otium LA also, the crispy potatoes are beyond description. I love any place that has my favorite Spanish wine on the menu!
Otium is just next to the Broad Museum.
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Location: 777 Alameda Street, Los Angeles
Looking for something a bit more eclectic? Consider Smorgasburg LA a weekly Sunday food market with a wide variety of local vendors offering everything from bánh mì hotdogs and spiral fries to boba and french macarons.
2 hours free parking at The Row.
Location: 3337 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles (Multiple Locations)
If you ask me Alfred Coffee has their priorities straight, because, while it may be cliche, as far as I’m concerned nothing happens before coffee! With locations all over town, including a tea room, you’ll be able to get your priorities straight as well! Oh, and Avocado toast!
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Pine & Crane
Location: 1521 Griffith Park Blvd, Los Angeles
More than 1500 words over my self imposed limit I’m going to end this list knowing that there are many fun and delicious places I have yet to share… I hope you enjoy these food finds as much as I do! Please do let me know if you’ve tried any of these places or have any you’d like to share.
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