Sure, Los Angeles may have built its gastronomic reputation off of spectacular food trucks featuring off-the-beaten-path tacos, but the City of Angels also plays host to a surprising number of hotspots where chefs of all sorts have flocked to take on some pretty serious culinary risks.
Long story short, L to the A is a true food mecca, and all across this star studded town, you’ll find hot eateries from classic sushi palaces and Googie diners, to luxurious high-end fine dining experiences to satisfy even the rarest of steak-fixes or vegan slash gluten-free slash all-organic desires. From DTLA to LAX, and then all the way back to the San Gabriel Valley or Beverly Hills, taste buds can unite with an incredible crop of top-notch places to nosh at. Here are seven of the best restaurants in Los Angeles.
Don't Miss These Amazing L.A. Restaurants!
1. The Original Pantry Café
Most L.A. locals know very well that waiting in super long lines to get into the Pantry is part of "the experience." Seriously, it’s so much more than just a city icon, but a beloved cash-only 24/7 diner that has never seemed to closed since opening in 1924.
Currently owned by former L.A. mayor Richard Riordan, the classic breakfast spot is well-known for its overly large portions of pancakes, bacon, sourdough bread, and other "good ol' diner food.” The coffee’s pretty great as well, and because the DTLA hotspot has been around for quite a while now, there are plenty of old pics of L.A. icons and celebrities to gawk at on their "wall of fame" while you wait in the "de rigueur" lines. If you’re in Los Angeles and want some seriously good traditional American eats, check this place out for sure.
The Original Pantry Cafe is located at 877 S Figueroa St (at 9th) in Downtown Los Angeles.
Named after Olympic gold medalist Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, this Malibu seaside space brings savory Hawaiian style fare to the shores of Malibu. Plus, its swanky PCH location sits right at the ocean's edge and offers upscale American comfort food with island twists and gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean. What’s not to love?!
There’s even a large terrace called the Barefoot Bar where guests can get into full beach mode while sitting under a bunch of Tiki style umbrellas. Even if you choose to dine inside, you’re bound to feel plenty of hot sunshine and ocean breeze while you chow down. No matter where you sit, Duke's provides a laidback beach dining experience that’s pretty hard to ever forget.
Duke’s Malibu is located at 21150 Pacific Coast Hwy in Malibu, California
It’s one of L to the A’s true perennial hot spots, one of the personal faves for thrilling trend seekers and serious food nerds alike. Opened by restaurateur Bill Chait and chefs Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis, the industrial-chic DTLA space sits in the bottom of a loft-style building just on the outer edge of the Arts District. It’s eclectic menu features everything from gourmet Italian cooking to stellar drinks, and with famed dishes such as grilled beef tongue with marinated lentils and pickled Jerusalem artichokes, or the classic fave of chicken gizzards with roasted beets and Belgian endive (not to mention an over extensive wine list), this one’s a profoundly fun place to eat at, offering a room full of energy that pairs perfectly well with the gleeful combination of diverse dishes being served.
Gobble up a whole roasted fish, or go for something simpler like a pasta or pizza. It’s no surprise that this acclaimed Italian wonder has received praise from J. Gold, LA Weekly, LA Mag, as well as Food & Wine, and is basically one of the toughest reservations to get in town. It’s always packed and securing a table months in advance is often a necessity—but once you get a taste of Chef Menashe’s house-cured salami atop a puffy pizza with mozzarella, or a house made pasta tangled together with lamb ragu and saffron, you’ll know that it was worth the wait. Don’t forget to top it all off with a made to order chocolate budino tart by Gergis, who’s a more than phenomenal pastry chef! Unforgettable indeed.
Bestia is located at 2121 E. Seventh Place in Downtown Los Angeles
4. Griddle Café
Looking for heaping plates of decadent "colossal" flapjacks in the heart of Hollywood? Look no further than this L.A. fave, where "lines normally circle the joint,” especially on Saturday mornings where the wait time often starts at just under an hour. Fortunately, there’s a friendly staff cranking at lightning speeds to feed the hungry masses of locals and tourists, and once you get a whiff of those tire-truck sized pancakes or steaming hot eggs, you’ll have fallen in love for sure.
What’s more is that, the Griddle, as it is more popularly known as, often serves the occasional bed-headed celebrity, such as Jessica Alba, Anne Hathaway, Alexander Skarsgard, Megan Fox, and even “Glee” stars Lea Michele and the late Cory Monteith. Make sure to order the Banana Nana pancakes and a huge slice of ham.
The Griddle Cafe is located at 7916 Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles.
5. VaKa Burger
A house-turned-experimental-kitchen in a residential neighborhood in Glassell Park, this newer fave takes the concept of burgers and goes way out of the box. Opened by Chef Aaron J. Perez, a Boyle Heights native, it offers gourmet, grass-fed burgers accessorized with house-made everything, and has managed, since debuting in 2013, to attract super long lines.
It boasts an extremely focused menu featuring only three burgers: “The OG,” with Russian dressing, thick slices of red onion, beef steak tomato, and Tilamook cheddar; “The VaKA,” a fancy take on the Western Bacon Cheeseburger, topped with a beer-battered Maui onion rings, bacon jam, smoky BBQ sauce, and muenster cheese; and “The Truffle,” made with a hefty dose of truffle oil, arugula, Fontina cheese, caramelized onions, and roasted garlic aoli. Each of them blend signature cuts of beef to create big, juicy patties that are topped with made-from-scratch dressings and sauces. Carnivores can unite at this burger heaven, especially by adding on goodies like the sweet and spicy VB Wangs or some Maui Rings, which are served with sriracha ketchup. There are even the Russian-dressing-and-caramelized-onion-covered “Dirty Fries.” Yum.
VaKa Burger is located at 2765 East Olympic Blvd. in Los Angeles.
It may just be a stall in DTLA’s Grand Central Market, but the Alvin Cailan-owned hotspot is a more than popular favorite for breakfast lovers of all sorts. They offer egg sandos, runny yolk cheeseburgers made with American Wagyu, caramelized onions, pickles, and cheddar cheese, served with an over-medium egg on a brioche bun, or more classic morning delights, such as bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches that come loaded with soft eggs, thick and crispy bacon, and just the right amount of spicy ketchup to add a unique kick.
Make sure to head out there super early though, because even the lunch lines often attract loads and loads of hungry foodies waiting to enter taste bud paradise. The long lines and annoying wait times are totally worth the trouble though. Plus, you’ll find yourself standing amidst a diverse of Grand Central hipsters, just like you would in an episode of HBO’s Girls!
Eggslut is located at 317 South Broadway St. in Downtown Los Angeles.
It’s the Beverly Hills hotspot that launched Wolfgang Puck's empire and remains one of L.A.’s most iconic dining experiences. The flagship store offers a compelling tasting menu that would stand up to the best of the best, as well as a sleek white-and-black dining space and a shiny glassed-in patio. It’s also always filled to the tee with stars, celebrities, and world-class service-- the one restaurant that will appeal to high end diners and people watchers alike—a.k.a. luxury dining at its finest.
What’s more is that Chef Lee Hefter and chef de cuisine Tetsy Yahagi continue to present dishes that straddle the lines between tradition and invention. Try the prime côte de boeuf for two with Armagnac peppercorn sauce, or some bincho-grilled black cod with hijiki rice salad, avocado, kimchi endive, and gochujyang aioli. There’s also the chance to take full advantage of one of the country’s greatest wine cellars, with over thirty thousand bottles on site, as well as an astonishing selection of Austrian wines. For endless champagne, celebrations, and good cheer, head on over to this 90210 fave.
Spago is located at 176 N. Canon Drive in Beverly Hills.
This article was written by Pamela Chan.