Why these 20 Los Angeles restaurants should be on your radar
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Think of Los Angeles and images of your favorite celebrities and supermodels come to mind. But, LA is so much more than that. Visit this sprawling metropolis to enjoy world-class art museums, theaters and concert halls, amusement parks and beaches. And, don’t forget all the shopping and dining! This week TPG is talking everything Los Angeles, from how to get there on points and miles to where to stay to what to do.
The Los Angeles dining scene continues to grow with an influx of new chef-driven restaurants, trendsetting dining concepts and a variety of classic L.A. “foodie” staples beloved by locals and tourists alike. Widely regarded as one of the hottest dining destinations in the world, L.A. is as dynamic as it is sprawling, with an abundance of global cuisine options to cater to every palate.
The truth of the matter is, if you want to dine at some of the most acclaimed Los Angeles eateries, it’s going to take some advance planning to snag a coveted table. We always recommend checking with restaurant booking service Resy or its popular competitor OpenTable, for the tough-to-get dining reservations. If all else fails, you can up your odds by asking your hotel concierge to call the restaurant on your behalf, or if you have The Platinum Card® from American Express ($550 annual fee. See rates & fees), the dedicated Amex Concierge team can help you find that elusive table.
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Whether you are booking fine dining or a no-fuss casual meal, make sure you pay with a card that earns bonus points for restaurant dining to maximize your rewards. Some of our favorites are the Citi Prestige® Card (5x points), American Express® Gold Card (4x points and comes with a $250 annual fee; See rates & fees.) and Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x points).
Narrowing down the best dining options in L.A. can be a challenge but here are some of the best Los Angeles restaurants that embody the city’s diverse culinary tastes.
Best old standbys
Musso & Frank Grill
The average lifespan of a restaurant is five years. Founded in 1919, Musso’s (as it’s affectionately called by locals) is celebrating 100 years in business this year and claims the title of oldest restaurant in Hollywood. The iconic steak-and-martini joint takes you back in time with veteran waiters in stylish red jackets, an old-school unchanging decor and wood-paneled booths. Don’t be surprised if you make a celebrity sighting or two.
Another fabled restaurant beloved by Angelenos, this classic Italian restaurant in West Hollywood has been around since the ’60s. If you’re lucky enough to snag a reservation (you may still have to wait for a table), you will be served by an incredibly friendly wait staff. Order the 20-ounce New York Dabney Coleman Steak, big enough for two. A friend once overheard George Clooney tell his dining mate that the best steak in the world is here. Oh, and the chicken parmesan is to die for.
Let’s get right down to it. You’re either a crust person or you’re not. If the latter, dining at Pizzeria Mozza may convert you to crust lover. Nancy Silverton, owner and James Beard Outstanding Chef award-winner, masters the art of sourdough and artisan bread making, which is reflected in each wood-fired pizza. Sign me up every time for the “Goat Cheese, Leeks, Scallions, Garlic & Bacon.”
Best for families
Piencone Pizzeria Creamery & Pub
This spot opened last year in Eagle Rock, an eclectic community just northeast of downtown L.A., and has quickly established itself as a favorite for families. It is owned and operated by a husband-and-wife team, Michelle and Corey Wilton. As parents of two young boys, they wanted to create a space where young families are welcome and to offer a culinary oasis of made-from-scratch pizzas, homemade ice cream, craft brews and a kid-friendly back patio. Pasteurized in house and with seasonal flavors such as Mexican hot chocolate (vegan), salted caramel and vanilla bean, the ice cream is a prerequisite before paying the check.
Chances are, if you live in Santa Monica, you pass by Huckleberry Café off Wilshire Boulevard regularly. This popular family-friendly café and bakery offers some heavy hitters in comfort food: egg sandwiches, pancakes and killer huevos rancheros. The all-day menu curated for kids includes scrambled eggs with bacon and toast, organic breaded chicken fingers, a classic PB&J on brioche bun, or a ham and cheese sandwich on country bread. You might have to grapple with a line out the door, but good things come to those who wait.
The Echo Park restaurant and booze spot contains 100+ classic arcade games and pinball machines that will almost certainly resurrect memories (Did someone say, Donkey Kong?) from your childhood. An assortment of delectable and affordable menu items like burgers, noodles, fried rice, ginger chicken wings are offered, with an impressive craft beer selection from local breweries. If kids are in tow, go for lunch or an early dinner before the lively hipster evening crowd arrives.
When the James Beard Foundation says your pastrami sandwich has a “cult following,” you have to be doing something right. Introduce the kids to Jewish deli food at this downtown establishment, which has been serving its coveted hot pastrami on rye sandwich since 1947. Beyond the extensive menu of deli specialties, you will find a kid-centric menu where everything costs $8 and includes a drink. For parents of choosy children, there’s no need to fret, you can enjoy your pastrami on rye while the little ones select from hot dogs, PB&J, spaghetti and other kid-friendly items.
Trendy restaurants for celebrity sightings
OK, let’s face it, if your eyebrows perked up while reading the title to this section, you want to dine like an A-lister or at least rub elbows with one. Overflowing with celeb spotting any night of the week, this trendy seafood hotspot attracts the likes of Jamie Foxx, the Jenner sisters, David Guetta, just to name a few. You can expect breathtaking views of downtown L.A., an open-air dining room with a retractable roof, fresh seafood and flashing cameras from paparazzi on your way out.
Craig’s these days is always a scene. Craig Susser, previously the long-time manager of the aforementioned Dan Tana’s, opened his buzzy celeb-adored restaurant in 2011. Chrissy Teigen and husband John Legend, Kim Kardashian, George Clooney and other Hollywood types are all regulars here. If by a miracle you can snatch a reservation way in advance, expect to lock eyes with a recognizable figure while waiting for the Honey-Truffle Chicken (most popular item on the menu).
Fig & Olive
It’s true, the name screams “trendy” and rightfully so. This Melrose Place Mediterranean-inspired restaurant has hosted Grammy after-parties and the likes of former President Bill Clinton, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Aniston. Beyond its stylish décor, this place has an impressive display of top-quality extra virgin olive oils on its shelves which are incorporated into each dish on the indulgent menu. They even offer olive oil tastings. This place is such an A-lister hangout, they offer a private entrance for celebrities to come and go without fanfare.
The Nice Guy
This is the crème de la crème of celebrity-sighting restaurants in Los Angeles. Its decor is inspired by classic mob movies like “Goodfellas,” this place is as exclusive and secretive as it is strict about its no-photos policy. That should tell you all you need to know about the clientele.
Here’s Looking at You
This Koreatown gem has the most creative brunch menu in L.A. Start with an order of chicken liver infused with smoked maple syrup and complement the protein with homemade ricotta. Do not leave without asking your companion to split the coconut waffles with blueberries, ume (Japanese salty plums) and smoked maple syrup. It would be tragic to miss them.
After opening in Venice in 2014, Gjusta has withstood the influx of happening brunch spots in Los Angeles. It remains one of the most reliable and delicious brunches in the city thanks to its daily delivery of fresh produce and sole use of local farmers markets. One could close their eyes and use an index finger to point randomly at the menu and be confident that it will taste incredibly good. Avoid visiting the busy all-day bakery and café at peak brunch times on a weekend and instead go early (they open at 7 a.m.) or late afternoon.
Another brunch eatery in Venice that bears mentioning is Yours Truly. The Abbot Kinney newbie has become a brunch staple in L.A. You can start with the creamy avocado hummus with spiced tortilla chips before moving on to the Nashville-style hot shrimp. If you want a more traditional breakfast, order the “YT Breakfast” with thick-cut bacon, eggs and crispy fingerling potatoes. After your stomach is content, walk off brunch with a leisurely stroll to Venice Beach, just a few minutes away.
Best comfort food
Little Jewel of New Orleans
This tiny Chinatown deli and market serves up some of the best muffulettas, po’ boys, and meats outside of New Orleans. There are even beignets and cold-drip coffee for breakfast. They really do produce authentic southern classic dishes that emulate New Orleans cuisine to a tee. The Seafood Lover Po’boy is not to be missed.
Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken
The ultimate comfort food (at least for me) is fried chicken. And Honey’s does home-style fried chicken better than just about anyone else in Los Angeles. The chicken is fried and comes out piping hot with a perfectly crispy, golden-breaded coating served with Honey’s secret sauce. L.A. has many tasty Korean fried chicken spots and the legendary Roscoe’s is an L.A. fried chicken legend but for the best piece of fried bird, Honey’s is the jam.
This glitzy Beverly Hills Asian fusion seafood eatery has been a fixture in Southern California for more than 20 years. You come to this modern Vietnamese-inspired joint for the famous Dungeness crab and garlic noodles. This family-run eatery has a “secret kitchen,” located within the regular kitchen where certain dishes are prepared and only family members or tenured staff get access. It’s said the purpose of this secret kitchen is to protect treasured family recipes. Works for me.
Owned and operated by one of L.A.’s most iconic chefs, Sang Yoon, Lukshon showcases a sprawling menu of global culinary influences from the Sichuan province of China to Thailand, India, Indonesia and Vietnam. It’s difficult to execute dishes from numerous Asian cuisines under one roof, yet Sang Yoon and his team accomplish this feat flawlessly. Order a few items off each menu section (cold, hot and large) and savor the bold flavors with each bite.
The Trails Café
Nestled within Griffith Park and the quintessential rest stop after hiking from the Griffith Observatory, The Trails serves meat but favors a healthy dose of vegan offerings. Order at the counter and eat at the outdoor picnic tables surrounded by trees. The menu is small but varied and includes options such as vegetarian chili, quiche, avocado sandwich and a famous in-house baked vegan apple pie. On a pleasant SoCal morning or afternoon, this is an excellent spot to enjoy the outdoors with your side of coffee and vegan goodies.
Doomie’s Home Cookin’
This no-frills hole-in-the-wall Hollywood gem has been serving up vegan versions of classic American diner food for years. It has an almost cult-like following of locals seeking plant-based goodness. Order the “Big Mac,” a vegan-alternative to the iconic fast-food sandwich with a double-patty vegan burger topped with shredded lettuce, onions, pickles, house-made “cheese” and secret sauce. This place makes you forget you’re eating vegan food.
No matter which Los Angeles restaurants you visit, make sure to pay for your meal with a credit card that rewards you for dining purchases. Some good card options include the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (7x), American Express® Gold Card (4x), Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card (4x), Chase Sapphire Reserve (2x) and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x).
Featured photo by Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images.
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