Insider Guide: the best restaurants in LA

From cult tacos to perfect pasta, Los Angeles’ best restaurants are giving the City of Angels a rep for destination dining. A local writer picks her favourites

Words by Anna Hart
Last updated: July 20, 2022
The best restaurants in LA | a view inside Grandmaster Recorders, where a large indoor tree reaches over a banquet sofa and five square tables, laid out with glasses and cutlery

These days, Los Angeles best restaurants are garnering enough acclaim to wrench attention away from New York. It’s hard to say what has driven this steady evolution into one of the US’s most thrilling culinary scenes. Is it the city’s myriad communities, offering elevated or classic incarnations of Mexican, Filipino, Ethiopian, Korean, Italian, Australian, Cantonese and Lebanese food? Or has this commitment to new culinary heights been propelled by the diners themselves – an army of sunkissed, sybaritic and somewhat spoiled Californian bon vivantes?

Does it owe partly to the casual nature of southern Californian life in general, meaning diners are as dedicated to a cult taco truck as a Wolfgang Puck rooftop landmark?

Whatever the reasons, Los Angeles is a joy to eat your way around, and wherever you go, you’ll be met with staff and food-obsessed locals happy to steer you towards your next delicious mouthful. Here are some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles right now.

Best restaurants LA | The bar area at Madre, with a gold-topped bar, blue tiling and wooden floors
The counter dining area at Madre

Madre!

Cuisine: Mexican
Location: 801 North Fairfax Avenue #101, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Occasion: Casual dinner
Price: Mains from 18 USD

For years, hungry Angelenos would make pilgrimages across town to the original Torrance location for Ivan Vasquez’s note-perfect Oaxacan fare, but the newer industrial-chic West Hollywood restaurant makes it easier for travellers to taste the memelitas, mole estofado and tacos that have made this restaurant such a hit. Visit on the weekend for the excellent Oaxacan tasting menu, and try to grab a seat on the patio.
madrerestaurants.com

LA's best restaurants | The dining room at Grand Master Recorders, with a red steel framed ceiling, large indoor trees, and rows of square tables with arm chairs

Grandmaster Recorders

Cuisine: Australian-Italian
Location: 1518 North Cahuenga Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Occasion: Dinner
Price: Mains from 24 USD

Australian culinary power couple Monty and Jaci Koludrovic transformed an old recording studio in Hollywood into a cavernous 15,000 sq ft bar, restaurant and rooftop – and it’s simply one of the best venues in LA’s Hollywood neighbourhood. Food is classic modern Italian with a playful Australian twist; think butterflied chicken piccata, Maine lobster stew, and gnocchi carbonara. For dessert, don’t miss pastry chef Jaci’s passion fruit sorbet – a dessert you’ll be dreaming about for months.
grandmasterrecorders.com

Gjelina

Cuisine: Italian American
Location: 1429 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291
Occasion: Special occasion
Price: Mains from 22 USD

No Venice restaurant has been more hyped than Gjelina on Abbot Kinney, famous for queues out the door and exemplary vegetable-forward, farm-to-table fare that inevitably makes it all worth it (the charred radicchio and escarole salad with smoked almonds is excellent). Next door is a takeaway counter if you’d rather skip the queue and eat on upturned vegetable crates in an alley, made romantic with strings of fairy lights.
gjelina.com

LA's best restaurants | A scene inside Otium, with people sat drinking at the bar, where tall shelves with bottles of spirits rise to the high ceiling
A busy evening at Otium. Photo by Sierra Prescott

Otium

Cuisine: American
Location: 222 South Hope Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Occasion: Special occasion lunch
Price: Mains from 26 USD

For an upscale dining experience beside The Broad Museum, this elegant yet relaxed restaurant is a perennial winner, with creative Italian-inspired dishes like rigatoni with basil and pistachio, honeynut squash with ricotta, and rotisserie-style chicken with aji sauce. This is high concept, high-dollar stuff, so if you don’t want to splurge on an entire meal, grab a seat at the bar and opt for a couple of small plates with bread and cultured Vermont butter.
otiumla.com

Best LA restaurants | a crispy fried fish topped with onions at Cabra at The Hoxton in LA
Cabra's flavour-packed food at The Hoxton

Cabra

Cuisine: Peruvian
Location: 1060 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Occasion: A special dinner
Price: Mains from 24 USD

With a peachy location on The Hoxton rooftop in Downtown LA, Cabra is a new addition to the city’s Peruvian dining scene, and an immediate standout, even in LA’s slew of brilliant restaurants. Run by Chicago-born chef Stephanie Izard (of Girl & The Goat fame), her menu for Cabra focuses on light, shareable small plates like quinoa and tuna salad and avocado dip with taro and sweet potato chips. The goat empanadas are a certified hit.
Crispy fish with herbs and onions photo by Stan Lee. thehoxton.com

Best restaurants in LA | a white bowl of creamy pasta with shaved truffle on top, on a black counter
Photographed by Ren Fuller

Bestia

Cuisine: Italian
Location: 2121 East 7th Place, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Occasion: Special occasion
Price: Mains from 22 USD

This meat-driven rustic Italian is still home to the hottest tables in DTLA. Everything from the creative pasta dishes like the bone marrow gnochetti, to the housemade salumi, is served with serious flair at this Arts District joint, run by husband and wife team Ori Menash and Genevieve Gergis. The excellent pizzas are a perfect pre-theatre option if you can’t get a primetime booking.
bestiala.com

LA's best restaurants | An overhead shot of lunch food pots packed with vibrant ingredients at Big Boi in LA
Big Boi's colourful lunch pots

Big Boi

Cuisine: Filipino
Location: 2027 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Occasion: Casual lunchtime
Price: Plates from 9 USD

Local chef Barb Batiste secured the hearts of pleasure-seeking Los Angelenos with her hit dessert joint B Sweet, and now her small restaurant Big Boi is a Japantown staple. Combine big-on-flavour plates of chicken adobo, pork giniling, lumpia Shanghai and pickles marinated in papaya radish, and wash it all down with Calmansi juice. There are only a couple of tables, so be prepared to wait, or make it a takeout.
gobigboi.com

Broad Street Oyster Company

Cuisine: Seafood 
Location: 23359 Pacific Coast Highway #3874A, Malibu, CA 90265
Occasion: Casual / Street Food
Price: Lobster rolls, 22 USD

Proof that some good things did come out of the pandemic, this pop-up drive-thru seafood joint is now a bona fide LA institution. On weekends, Malibu residents queue around the corner for the tastiest lobster rolls in town, best eaten with a cold beer at the sharing picnic tables. Travelling car-free and unable to make it up the Pacific Highway to Malibu? They’re opening another branch in DTLA’s Grand Central Market in the summer of 2022.
broadstreetoyster.com

Mariscos Jalisco

Cuisine: Mexican
Location: 3040 East Olympic Boulevard, , CA 90023
Occasion: Street food / Casual
Price: Under 10 USD for three tacos

LA residents display the same tribal loyalty to their chosen taco truck as they do to the Dodgers baseball team. For many, the longstanding Eastside taco truck Mariscos Jalisco is the original and still considered one of LA’s best places to eat. Seafood is the house speciality – the taco de camaron, aka crispy shrimp in a corn tortilla, is a true cult dish. The tacos are best scoffed perched on a nearby wall in the carpark, although there are tables inside the adjacent building for bigger groups.
instagram.com/mariscosjalisco

LA's best restaurants | the outdoor seating area at Damian, with grey metal tables and grey-upholstered seating, in a space lined with corrugated irons walls
The outdoor seating area at Damian

Damian

Cuisine: Upscale Mexican
Location: 2132 East 7th Place, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Occasion: Special occasion
Price: Mains 35 USD

Enrique Olvera, one of Mexico City’s best-loved chefs, brings his signature elevated modern Mexican cuisine to LA’s Arts District with this sleek, spacious, polished concrete cavern across the road from fellow culinary heavyweight Bestia. The Pescado A La Brasa arrives with side bowls of green chayote, mole and salsa cruda, and fluffy tortillas – our menu highlight.
damiandtla.com

Interest piqued? Delve through the ROADBOOK city guide to Los Angeles, from recommended boutique hotels to rooftop bars.