A Food Tour Through Los Angeles
Ready to eat like an Angelino? Get a true taste of the city, one iconic dish at a time
Los Angeles is a food lover’s paradise, deliciously set against a backdrop of towering palm trees, old Hollywood relics and year-round sapphire skies. To eat in this West Coast metropolis is to taste the entire world, from Ethiopian feasts and Korean barbecues to roadside tacos, explosive Thai and some of the world’s finest Italian. In fact, there are almost no cuisines that don’t bubble away behind the doors of LA’s restaurants, bakeries, pop-ups and food trucks. This is a glittering monster of a city, too massive to ever cover in one trip. And as its finest food can be found in every nook and cranny of the place, you’re going to need a car to get you around. Or, failing that, a very patient driver.
So while the offerings are boundless (much like your appetite ought to be), you needn’t be intimidated. We here at Plum Guide set off on the bold mission of tracking down a handful of LA’s best dishes right now, so all you need to do is follow our guide below. And while this is just the tip of the iceberg, the chances are your culinary curiosity will draw you back here for a follow-up food tour of Los Angeles soon enough. We’ll see you then?
Chicken Parmigiana at Dan Tana’s
The chances are you’ll find yourself slurping spaghetti and red wine beside an A-lister at this West Hollywood restaurant, which is as much of an LA icon as the stars that dine here. Plummy red leather booths, checked table cloths, dim lighting and a martini-splashed bar transport you back through the decades, while the quintessential Italian food will take you to Parma via Pasadena. Follow the lead of the directors and movie stars that swear by this place, and order yourself a classic ‘chicken parm’ - golden breaded chicken decadently drowning in tomato and mozzarella. If it ain’t broke....
Green Falafel at Mizlala
There’s no shortage of Middle Eastern delights in LA, but for a taste of the Mediterranean with a side of excellent people watching, this is a must-visit. Chef Danny Elmaleh and wife Justine are the brains behind this warm, low-key eatery, where you’ll find buttery hummus, herb-scattered fish dishes, battered cauliflower, Morroccan fried chicken and some of the best falafel balls in the business.
Dan Dan Noodles at Pine and Crane
On any food tour through Los Angeles, two things are guaranteed; phenomenal food and long, tiresome queues. But believe us when we say that a half hour wait for Pine and Crane is very much worth your while. This casual Taiwanese restaurant in the heart of Silver Lake has amassed a cult following over the years, and it’s one of those places where you could point blindly at anything on the menu and be met with some of the best food you’ll ever eat. But a regular would tell you to order the dan dan noodles, a vegan riff on a spicy Sichuan classic, made with sesame, peanut, cucumber and star anise-flecked chilli sauce, all silkily coating their famous noodles (handmade, naturally).
Ricotta Toast at Squirl
No trip to LA is complete without a trip to Squirl, a neighbourhood restaurant serving the best brunch in the city. As well as a sandwich (the jamon pepin will make you want to move in), some kind of delicious salad and a couple of ice coffees, you’ll be needing to order the ricotta toast. This dish has reached dizzying heights of Instagram fame, but for good reason. We won’t spoil the surprise, but just know this - you’re about to tuck in to a piece of brioche the size of a cookbook, weighed down with snowy ricotta and Squirl’s very own seasonal jam. And frankly, we couldn’t be more jealous.
Chicken Larb at Night + Market Song
Another evening in LA, another waiting list to add your name to. However, hanging round for your table in this ragingly popular Thai spot is rather pleasurable, thanks to an exciting list of natural wines, kitschy decor and a great playlist. Chef Kris Yenbamroong is also known as ‘Larb King’, which tells you all you need to know about his famous fiery, lime-spiked salad with juicy ground chicken. Pair it with the famous fried chicken, sticky rice and eye-watering curries, and watch all Thai dinners before pale in comparison as you joyfully gasp for water.
Alla'nduja Pizza at Bestia
Getting a reservation (yes, reservation) at this modern Italian hotspot in the Arts District can be somewhat of a challenge. But with any luck, you’ll find yourself perched beneath the soaring rafters of this former warehouse, ordering veal tartare and housemade ricotta with figs in no time. And don’t even think about missing the alla’nduja; a char-pocked sourdough pizza topped with homemade spicy nduja, fennel pollen and spigarello. (And unless you’re in the mood for a bloodthirsty row, we don’t recommend attempting to share one of these with your dining partner.)
Anything at Gjusta
This airy all-day bakery, deli and restaurant in Venice is perpetually rammed with beautiful people, all vying for a seat at the stoney bar or on the canopy-shaded backyard patio. We’ll be frank with you; everything that comes out of this chaotic open kitchen is delicious. More than that, it’s homemade, creative and hyper-seasonal, from sourdough pizzas and succulent sandwiches to fresh pastas, jewelled salads and monumental cakes. So you’ll most likely find yourself returning a few times. And if you have any sense, you’ll be sure to order a couple of dishes per person.
Trust Me Meal at Sugarfish
This celebrated sushi kitchen has rapidly expanded across LA in the last few years. But luckily, this has done nothing to damage its standards. Walk in to any location (Downtown is our personal preference), and you’ll find pristine nigiri, sashimi and maki, handmade behind the scenes. Choosing can be tricky, which is why the ‘Trust Me’ meal is always a good decision. Let the masters prepare you a selection of the freshest pieces available, with 'Trust Me Lite', 'Trust Me' and 'The Nozawa Trust Me' options on offer - according to how much fish you feel like consuming that particular day.
Chicken Tinga Tacos at Guesados
Tacos are a key staple of any self-respecting Angelino’s diet, and you’ll find iconic, family-run taquerias across the city, from little strip malls to flashing trucks on street corners. You’ll need to take yourself to a few of them to taste the soul of LA, but the juicy, smoky chicken tinga tacos at Guesado’s are a magnificent place to start. The late, great LA Times food critic Johnathan Gold reviewed the first spot in Boyle Heights back in 2011, and there are now eight branches around the city. If you want to learn a thing or two about fresh, handmade tortillas, the friendly folk behind the counter are always ready to divulge their secrets. Expect bright red meat juices to run deliciously down your sleeve, and to rejoin the queue a few times. (Because trust us, one round is never enough.)
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