Los Angeles is the place to go if you want to be immersed in celebrity culture. With beautiful weather and plenty to do and see, it’s a favorite vacation destination for many people, young and old.
One thing you need to fully immerse yourself in when traveling to Los Angeles is the diverse and delicious selection of food. Along with well-known hotspots, there are also hidden gems that you can find littered throughout the city serving everything from authentic Mexican cuisine to hearty and mouth-watering brunch, sushi, pizza, and more. Some restaurants are really pricey but offer unique and memorable experiences.
If you’re planning to visit Los Angeles any time soon, here are 10 restaurants you must try, along with their most popular dish or dishes.
10 n/naka (13-Course Kaiseki Meal)
Chef Niki Nakayama was featured in an episode of Netflix series Chef’s Table. The menu here typically includes 13 courses that follow the Japanese ritual of kaiseki which suggests that after you eat something soft, you eat something crispy; after something heavy, you eat something light, and so on.
At this restaurant, you can enjoy fresh vegetables from their organic garden, cooked into beautifully plated dishes that can include meat or be purely vegetarian (no vegan options). It’s pricey, but the experience will be one to remember. And every dish will be totally Instagram-worthy.
9 Petit Trois (Escargots)
With two locations, you can visit here to chow down on a wide selection of delicious appetizers like crab cakes, steak tartare, or the signature escargots in garlic, parsley, and butter. Or sit down for a full meal, choosing from options like pasta, fried chicken, trout, or steak frites.
Wash it all down with a signature cocktail, like Fleur De Mal that includes rose petal-infused vodka, lemon, and fresh grapefruit. If you’re just feeling peckish, drop in for some apps and cocktails during cocktail hour from 3-6 p.m., Monday-Friday.
8 Bestia (Alla’nduja Pizza, Cavatelli)
If you’ve worked up a big appetite, check out this Italian restaurant where you can fill your bellies with rich pasta, pizza, and other Italian dishes. With ambiance that combines decorative contemporary elements with an industrial space, it will make for a memorable experience.
The must-try menu items include the Alla ‘Nduja pizza with housemade spicy ‘nduja sausage, tuskan kale, and fennel pollen, as well as the Cavatelli alla Norcina with ricotta dumplings, housemade pork sausage, and black truffles. Come hungry.
7 BBCM (Color Burst Latte, Eggs Benedict, French Toast)
A perfect spot for breakfast or brunch, this restaurant, which stands for The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker, is as known for its gorgeous decorative latte art as it is for the scrumptious food.
There are plenty of shareable dishes, like Ahi Tuna Poke and Avocado Toast. But you must try the eggs benedict with buttermilk biscuits and pork belly, fried chicken, smoked salmon, or avocado. If you’re feeling indulgent, opt for the Bananas Foster French Toast that comes with pecan nougatine and bourbon-caramel sauce. There are plenty of dinner options as well, and outdoor seating with a great view of Sunset Blvd.
6 Vespertine (Tasting Menu)
If you’re looking for something totally unique, this restaurant is worth the trip to Culver City, about a 40-minute drive from L.A. (traffic-dependent, of course). The idea is to converge food with art, architecture, music, and sculpture to create a multi-sensory experience.
With a reservation, you’ll enjoy a gastronomical experience that consists of a diverse tasting menu that can see you seated for up to four hours. You never know what you’re going to get, but they can accommodate dietary restrictions, including gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan.
5 Here’s Looking At You (Beef Tartare)
With a fun and quirky name, this restaurant serves up “progressive socal food” that includes everything from tapioca fritters to chicken liver and bone marrow. You can dine for dinner or brunch, starting off with some signature Bub & grandma’s bread with shiitake butter and sea salt.
But the dish this place is most known for is the beef tartare, served with red chili, scallions, tamari, yolk, and turnip.
4 Sqirl (Ricotta Toast)
Have you ever heard of ricotta toast? People in Los Angeles wait in line just to try this signature dish which includes homemade brioche toast (a vegan option is also available) served with housemade ricotta and a choice of season jam. Make it “rainbow” for an extra $2 to get a burst of different jam flavors and colors.
Alternatively, opt for the restaurant’s many other breakfast and lunch dish options including rice-based bowls, crispy rice salad, or The Larry David, which includes house smoked whitefish, lacto-fermented pickles, rugbrod, and shu greens.
3 Chin Chin
This Chinese restaurant has been an L.A. staple since the ‘80s, and a family favorite of the Kardashian family, even featured in the Emmy-winning series American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson. In one scene, their father, played by David Schwimmer, takes the kids there, as he often did when they were growing up.
With a diverse menu that’s perfect for family sharing, one of the signature dishes is the orange chicken that includes crispy chicken breast pieces with onions and red and green bell peppers smothered in a tangy orange sauce. Order it up with other favorites like dim sum and the Chinese chicken salad along with a few other dishes – there’s something for everyone on the menu.
2 Animal (Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar)
Dubbed a trendy, minimalist American restaurant, you can choose from a variety of brunch or dinner menu options like boiled peanuts with chili, cinnamon, and soy to start followed by braised rabbit legs, pig ear, or crispy pig head; or a filling barbecue pork belly sandwich.
But the restaurant is perhaps best known for a dessert item: the bacon chocolate crunch bar, which will be the perfect way to end off your meal. Pair it with piping hot cup of coffee from Tartine’s Coffee Manufactory.
By famous chef Wolfgang Puck, this restaurant, located in Beverly Hills, is best known for its classic pizza, which comes with house-cured smoked salmon, red onion, dill crème fraiche, and fish roe.
Grab a pizza or dinner of Bellwether’s Farm’s ricotta gnocchi or Marcho Farm veal chop. There are both a la carte and tasting menus. If you just feel like some nibbles, order from the bar bites menu that includes items like Chinese pot sticker dumplings or chick pea “Macarons.”