As musician Tom Petty once said, “The waiting is the hardest part.” Well, in the City of Angels, “the waiting” seems to occur on a daily basis, especially when it comes to chowing down on some good food. All across this star studded town, you’ll find hot eateries from classic steakhouses, pastrami delicatessens, walk-up fast-food stands, Googie diners, and so much more to grab terrific nosh at— with plenty of spots featuring lengthy lines of hungry locals and tourists always waiting to get their grub on. So how long would you actually wait in line for a handcrafted burger, some giant blueberry pancakes, or a triple scoop of creamy just-churned Rocky Road? An hour? Two? A whole day?
No matter how long you’re willing to spend, we’ve rounded up some of L.A.’s most buzzed-about hotspots. Throughout the years, all have managed to inspire a dedicated cult of devoted fans. So brave those crowds, be super-duper patient, and get that belly filled at these beloved local hubs. Here are nine Los Angeles restaurants with long lines worth waiting for.
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Best Restaurants in Los Angeles
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
2. The Original Pantry Café
Most L.A. locals know very well that “waiting in line 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.
3. Din Tai Fung
Here’s a fact: you can never ever have too many dumplings. Luckily, L.A. has no shortage of spots boasting these classic Chinese treats-- none of them, however, are more famous than Din Tai Fung, the powerhouse of soup dumplings that offers the best of the best (as well as a two-hour line no matter what day of the week it is!). Fortunately, though, the glorious xiao long bao palace recently opened a location in Glendale, in addition to its Arcadia and Costa Mesa locations, so Angelenos now have more options to choose from.
Unlike most of the mom-and-pop dumpling houses in SoCal, the West Coast version of this Taipei favorite hand crafts superbly thick-skinned dumplings packed with juicy flavor-packed fillings—all before your very eyes! Once you walk in through the door, guests are greeted with a view of the kitchen, where chefs stay hard at work crafting the delectable dumplings you’ll later be chowing down on. There are a large variety of dumplings to savor, including the exquisite truffle and pork xiao long bao, as well as some sweet red bean dessert dumplings to end a meal with. Other Chinese dishes such as fried rice, Shanghai rice cakes, as well as some of the best traditional noodle soups you’ll find in the area, are also available. Plus, you can also savor up some shao mai and spicy wontons, or sautéed mustard greens and cucumbers. The list of superb reasons to check this place out is as long as the lines outside the restaurant—so we could go on and on, but you should definitely just get in the car to get a head start waiting instead. The newest Glendale location even offers customers with a swanky app that texts you when your table is ready!
Din Tai Fung is located at 1088 S. Baldwin Ave. in Arcadia and 177 Caruso Ave. in Glendale at the Americana at Brand.
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
5. Salt & Straw
The Los Angeles outpost of this Portland, Oregon favorite is never short on people willing to stand in line for extended periods of time just to get a taste of some unusually flavored fresh-made ice cream. Locals and tourists alike literally scream for ice cream at this magical and dizzyingly quirky little shop, where an artisanal approach is taken to the art of ice cream making.
Created by cousins Kim and Tyler Malek, who pride themselves on having a “farm-to-cone” philosophy, the always crowded hotspot features handmade small batch flavors of Toasted Walnuts, Apricots and Citra Hops, Stumptown Coffee, Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, Compartes Love Nuts, and Burnside Bourb, just to name a simple few. It’s never been a better time to lick those lips and those toasty waffle cones this summer. Plus, with new Venice and DTLA locations opening up, Angelenos will have themselves more than enough sweet treats to savor when the weather gets hot.
Salt & Straw is located at 240 North Larchmont Blvd. in Los Angeles
Sure, the wait can be intimidating, but this Little Tokyo ramen spot certainly lives up to all the hype that surrounds it. Slurp up some Daikoku ramen with their famous Tonkutsu soup served with Chijeri style egg noodles, Kurobuta pork belly, bamboo shoots, and a marinated boiled egg, or opt for just a half order of ramen so that you can chow down on the shredded pork bowl too (it’s a pork belly dish grilled and served over rice with green onions, pink ginger, and an oh-so-sweet glaze).
Not surprisingly, the buzzy Japanese space has gathered up a whole bunch of very devoted fans—it’s no doubt a local ramen mecca. There’s a wrap-around counter facing the open kitchen that provides customers with a social atmosphere while they dig into steaming hot bowls of flavorful broth and chewy gooey noodles. Don’t forget to order a side of pan-fried pork gyoza or crispy tonkatsu to make that long wait in line extra worthwhile!
Daikokuya is located at 327 E. First St. in Los Angeles.
7. 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.
8. 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.
This article was written by Pamela Chan. Image credit: bestiala.com