The best restaurants in Los Angeles
From cult tacos to perfect pasta, Los Angeles’ best restaurants are giving the city a rep for diverse, destination dining. A local writer picks her favourites
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, 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.
Location: 1356 Allison Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Price: Mains around 18 USD
Tsubaki offers some of the best izakaya dishes anywhere in Los Angeles. Co-owners and husband-and-wife team Charles Namba and Courtney Kaplan have curated an ever evolving dining experience with bright, interesting flavours and an amazingly in-depth sake collection. As it’s across the street from Dodger Stadium, you might want to keep an eye on the baseball team’s schedule for busy times. If you’re up for something more casual with a simpler bar bites menu but with the same sake collection, head next door to their sister restaurant, Ototo.
Location: 313 1/2 Vine Street, Glendale, CA 91204
Price: Mains from 13 USD
Mini Kabob in Glendale stands as one of the most adored mom-and-pop fronts in all of Los Angeles, and it’s easy to see why. Led by Ovakim and Alvard Martirosyan and their son Armen, the kabob-peddling restaurant consistently churns out perfectly grilled and flavoured meats along with fresh tabbouleh and salads. Don’t sleep on their daytime hours, because they close at 6 p.m.
Palms, Torrance, West Hollywood
Location: 801 North Fairfax Avenue #101, Los Angeles, CA 90046
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.
Cuisine: Korean BBQ
Location: 955 South Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90006
Price: BBQ dishes from 40 USD
For a flagship experience in Los Angeles’s plethora of Korean BBQ choices, look no further than Park’s. They serve prime quality and Kobe beef, bringing higher end choices to the forefront, and ensure the meats are flipped and cooked to exactly the right level. Don’t miss out on their dishes marinated in garlic, soy and brown sugar, nor their lunchtime service, if you want a meal that’s easier on your wallet
Location: 2121 East 7th Place, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Price: Mains from 22 USD
This meat-driven rustic Italian in LA’s Arts District 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.
Location: 1518 North Cahuenga Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028
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.
Cuisine: Italian American
Location: 1429 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291
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.
Cuisine: Soul food
Location: 5359 West Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90016
Price: Mains around 24 USD
Southern Californian takes on soul food and tasty craft cocktails amid a lively patio boasting an inclusive environment in the historic West Adams neighbourhood are the wonderful things that await you at Alta Adams. The neighbourhood favourite features a stellar, modernised menu by LA native Keith Corbin, who recently penned a memoir on his life and culinary journey thus far. Don’t miss out on Adams’ wine shop next door to pick up a couple bottles on your way out.
Location: 222 South Hope Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
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.
Location: 1060 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90015
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
Location: 2027 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90025
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.
Broad Street Oyster Company
Location: 23359 Pacific Coast Highway #3874A, Malibu, CA 90265
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.
Location: 3040 East Olympic Boulevard, , CA 90023
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.
Cuisine: Upscale Mexican
Location: 2132 East 7th Place, Los Angeles, CA 90021
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.
Interest piqued? Delve through the ROADBOOK city guide to Los Angeles, from recommended boutique hotels to rooftop bars.