The people of Venice make it the most exciting beach in Los Angeles, where innovation and experimentation are core to the neighborhood's identity. Stroll along the Venice Beach Boardwalk to see street performers impress through music, acrobatics, art and feats of bravery. Many Venice restaurants have seating facing the boardwalk, making it a prime spot for people watching.
This sense of dynamism and experimentation has spread to Venice's kitchens. Charcoal Venice takes concept of a backyard barbecue and adds a sense of flair with sauces such as smoked paprika mustard chimichurri, red wine chipotle barbecue sauce and jalapeño yogurt. Steak, seafood, pork and chicken dishes feature heavily on the menu, though plant-based eaters won't feel left out, either. When in doubt, choose any restaurant that looks good on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, just a short walk inland from the beach.
In the shadow of Hollywood is Los Feliz, a quaint neighborhood north of downtown LA near south Glendale that is packed with top-tier restaurants. Los Feliz is sandwiched between Little Armenia, Thai Town and Silver Lake — neighborhoods that also hold their own when it comes to cuisine. This area is saturated with scrumptious restaurants that have talented chefs at the helm, and sub-par eateries don't stick around for long. An array of international, vegan-friendly, fine-dining and budget-friendly restaurants makes Los Feliz a top contender for every type of traveler.
All Time, one of the most whispered about places to eat in Los Angeles, feels part farmers market, part family potluck. Their menu includes a delicious mix of seafood, meat and vegetable options. Savor meals such as Hamachi ceviche made with zesty lime sauce, a 32-ounce ribeye served with seasonal side vegetables or roasted cauliflower served on fresh flatbread with hummus and smoked eggplant.
Los Feliz also has some of the city's most exciting plant-based cuisine. At Honeybee Burger, enjoy vegetarian burgers loaded with toppings such as hashbrowns, eggs and red pepper sauce for breakfast, classic lettuce, tomato, onion jam and pickles for lunch or their version of a fried chicken burger any time of the day. No order there is complete without an Oreo shake.
If you'll be visiting Griffith Park and peering through the telescope at its iconic observatory, a meal in Los Feliz is a convenient and worthwhile add-on. If the weather's good, stop at one of the handful of Mediterranean-inspired restaurants with outdoor seating, such as Loupiotte Kitchen for a charcuterie board of French cheeses, bread and fig jam. Kismet has hearty mezze plates for two and rabbit served with tahini, greens and labneh. Once the sun's down, head to Barbrix for an incredible wine selection and tapas.
Sink your toes in the sand at Santa Monica, a beach neighborhood that is quintessentially Californian. Take a walk along the shoreline and head to the boardwalk for classic carnival snacks, such as cotton candy, funnel cake, popcorn, ice cream and pretzels — perfect treats to take atop the Ferris Wheel for panoramic views of the city.
Landside, Santa Monica is brimming with some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. Craving Japanese? Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa is a favorite among locals, where you'll be well cared for with its set menus based on traditional Tokyo sushi. If you're looking for more complex sushi rolls and takes on Japanese fusion, Noma Sushi offers just that in a cheerful atmosphere. And, if you're after something hearty, Jinya Ramen Bar serves heaping bowls of slow-cooked ramen.
Nearby Santa Monica's trendy Third Street Promenade, where designer shops abound, you'll find a range of American and international restaurants to choose from. For jet-lagged travelers, Interstellar serves all meals all day, so feel free to dig into a fluffy almond flour waffle topped with fresh fruits and drizzled in maple honey syrup for dinner. In searching for exciting American cuisine with a creative style, take a moment to travel around the corner to Santa Monica Blvd for a visit to the Misfit Restaurant; a LA gastropub known for its comfort food and handcrafted cocktails.
Tar & Roses is a cozy American restaurant led by Chef Andrew Kirschner, who has a penchant for roasting and experimenting. Specialties such as wood roasted goat, chicken and branzino feature on the menu. Fried cauliflower with lavender spiced honey is also worth adding to the order, thanks to its perfected blend of savory and sweet. Birdie G's is another innovative American spot with menu items such as creamy, twice-cooked yams, baked egg noodles with brown butter and pecans, and corn polenta topped with popcorn.
Downtown Los Angeles is a busy place, where fine dining venues, bakeries and hole-in-the-wall eateries wedge themselves in between a clash of galleries, corporate buildings and admin offices. Food trucks rumble along the city streets, doling out delicious snacks and meals from their propped-up windows. Mexican food trucks such as Leo's Taco Truck, El Tauro Taco and Julie's Tacos serve out impeccably spiced tortas, tacos, burritos and sopes to enjoy as you wander. The Berlin Truck hands out comfort foods such as bratwursts (vegetarian included) and grilled mac and cheese spiced with chili and served on rye. Don't forget the loaded fries!
For a romantic night out, the sparkling lights of Downtown Los Angeles set the scene. Oitum is a sleek establishment with a varied menu of grilled lobster served with sweet corn and tomato chowder, spinach bucatini with sage, pancetta and black truffle oil, and tangy prawns with a dash of ginger and chili. Each dish is thoughtfully plated, and nobody will bat an eye if you sneak in a quick picture before digging in. At Orsa & Winston, Chef Josef Centeno crafts Italian- and Japanese-inspired five-course meals in an intimate dining room. If you're lingering around downtown for sunset, make a reservation at 71Above, the highest restaurant in California. You'll get panoramic views of Los Angeles while you enjoy a three-course menu. Grilled ribeye served with brocollini, shallots and date puree is their standout menu item.
Downtown is also one of the best places to eat in Los Angeles for more casual affairs. The city's diverse residents have set up a range of international, American and fusion stops. Come hungry to Woodspoon for Brazilian home cooking, where meals like fish stewed in coconut milk and chicken pot pies with hearts of palm will transport you to Minas Gerais, Brazil. Go to Holy Basil for pad thai and the area's best tom yum soup, Shiku for Korean and Sushi Gen for Japanese. Grand Central Market offers the ultimate experience for foodies, where tens of food vendors compete for your attention by putting their best dishes on offer — you'll want to arrive hungry and go wherever your appetite leads.
Culver City might fly under the radar when it comes to the best places to eat in Los Angeles, but within the past five years, its restaurants have stepped up and are ready to take their turn in the spotlight. Culver City has played a major role in the film and television industries, and there are plenty of museums, galleries and studios to explore in between meals.
This area is packed with brunch spots like Akasha, where shakshuka, chilaquiles, short rib hash and tiramisu French toast kick-start the day with a gusto. S&W Country Diner offers a dose of 1950s nostalgia and serves hot plates of American comfort foods such as eggs and Louisiana hot links, biscuits and gravy, waffles, hashbrowns and cottage potatoes. Metro City, one of the most popular morning stops among residents, serves seven different styles of omelets, scrambles, pancakes and waffles made from locally sourced ingredients.
For lunch and dinner, you'll want to head near Culver City's main drag on Culver Boulevard. The area hosts the Auld Fella, an Irish restaurant famous for herbed mashed potatoes, pies and warm hospitality. The trendy and futuristic Destroyer is where you'll find dishes such as beef tartare, chicken confit and sourdough waffles with cheese and eggs all served in an intriguing — yet inviting — manner.
After dark, Culver City highlights one of the best bar scenes in Los Angeles. The Cinema Bar pays tribute to the area's star-studded past with live music and classic cocktails. Rush Street, inspired by Chicago's strip, has multiple lounge rooms and serves a range of cocktails, beer and wine in its industrial atmosphere. For a speakeasy-style experience, Blind Barber is a barber shop with a bar serving handcrafted cocktails behind its chairs.
Lively melodies of violins, trumpets and guitars ring out from Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights, where bands available for hire set the tune of one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Some restaurants have been serving plates of Mexican fare for over half a century, including El Tepeyac, which is famous for its special chile verde burritos large enough to feed four people. Al & Bea's has also served scrumptious chile rellenos for over five decades. Guisados, founded in 2010, serves homestyle braised steak, chicken, pork and vegetables served on a piping hot corn tortilla.
Throughout the neighborhood, street art tells the stories of inspiring residents and community issues. And while Boyle Heights is best known for its Mexican fare, there are plenty of other places to tempt the taste buds. Family-run Otomisan, a Japanese restaurant that has been in the neighborhood since 1956, serves crispy tempura, goyoza, fresh sashimi and sushi rolls. Vegans and vegetarians should head to Un Solo Sol for hearty salads, tofu stir-fried in lemon juice, Lebanese tabbouleh and piles of warm pita bread topped with fatteh, olives and pine nuts.
Stray just a little from the star-studded Hollywood Walk of Fame to escape the crowds and discover some of the best places to eat in Los Angeles. You can't go wrong with Los Balcones for bowls of Peruvian ceviche, Stout for burgers and beers and Hoy-Ka for Thai curries. One trifecta of eateries — Chi Spacca, Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza — are all under the same management and serve some of the best Italian fare in Los Angeles.
When looking for the most upscale brunch spots, head to Osteria Mozza, with a cheese bar serving mozzarella, burrata and burricotta along with pairings of sweet and savory ingredients. Pizzeria Mozza is more casual, serving delectable pizzas, such as one topped with eggplant parmigiano. Chi Spacca is an intimate restaurant known for its dried meats, though there are dishes to tempt vegetarians as well. One other good place to eat in LA may not surprise locals though if you are traveling from out of state you may want to find a neighborhood In-N-Out Burger for that quintessential first stop, food bucket list, experience. With the iconic tradition being to get their “animal style” fries or burger from the secret menu. If you are near Hollywood Blvd there is a location only a few blocks south of Grauman's Chinese Theatre.