Like to stick close to your neighborhood? You’re missing out. For a culinary adventure, explore six of the city’s hottest dining locales.
The confluence of Silicon Beach denizens and breezy beach types has turned the neighborhood into an arbiter of cool. Driving the food scene is the hip Gjelina, its izakaya sibling, MTN, and Evan Funke’s Felix, a hub for handmade pastas. Along the main drag, there’s the Tasting Kitchen, Salt Air, and myriad stops for doughnuts, cocktails, and cold-pressed juices. It seems everyone here has time to sit and linger over beautiful pastries or cocktails at the Rose, or smoked-fish ba- gels at another all-day star, Gjusta. Major thoroughfares like Lincoln and Washington are dotted with fabulous spots, including the sunny Superba Food + Bread, which switches from daytime to nighttime eats with ease; Scopa Italian Roots, which is just as popular for cocktails as it is for meatballs; and Josiah Citrin’s Charcoal. Or while you’re taking in the show along the boardwalk, queue up for a deliciously sloppy Eggslut breakfast sandwich.
Culver City may be known for being steeped in movie history, but the down- town area has a trove of good restaurants, too. Akasha takes a wholesome approach with its California-centric menu, and Josef Centeno’s BäcoShop offers quick-serve flatbread sandwiches. In the Helms Bakery complex up the street, Sang Yoon’s Lukshon is still a best-kept secret for pan-Asian specialties like Sichuan chicken pops, while his blue-cheese-topped burger at the adjacent Father’s Office is anything but. Hayden Tract, a hub for design studios, is home to Jordan Kahn’s stylized Destroyer and otherworldly Vespertine, and the Platform complex nearby has oysters and wine at Hayden and excellent tacos at Loqui. A few miles west on Washington Boulevard there are naturally fermented loaves at Lodge Bread Company; wood-fired fare and whiskey at Hatchet Hall; and cocktails at the Corner Door.
From Boystown to the Sunset Strip, this city within a city has a storied past as a hub for style, nightlife, food, and music. Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne’s Lucques is still the quintessential California restaurant, which is probably why they keep winning awards. Across the street, Ricardo Zarate brings a personal approach to Peruvian fare in the gorgeous confines of Rosaliné. This being WeHo, the party set clamors for rooftop seats at places like E.P. + L.P. and Catch. For a more serious meal, there’s Aburiya Raku, the perfect izakaya hang, and Sushi Ginza Onodera, known for high-priced omakase experiences. Hidden at the end of Melrose, Cecconi’s, Craig’s, and Gracias Madre generate a trifecta of celeb buzz. New spots continue to open, but history prevails at stalwarts like Dan Tana’s steak house.
The renaissance of downtown has no end in sight. Where to start? Everson Royce Bar makes one of the city’s best burgers, while the Factory Kitchen, Officine Brera, and Bestia take journeys through the Italian countryside via Arts District warehouses. In another Arts District pocket, sausage joint Wurstküche and Southern-inflected Manuela pull in steady crowds. Opposites attract in the Fashion District, where haunts include Rossoblu in City Market South and the funky little taqueria Sonoratown. Or head to Little Tokyo for a ramen at Daikokuya. Chef Josef Centeno’s mini empire—Bäco Mercat, Bar Amá, Orsa & Winston, and P.Y.T.—occupies a corner in the Historic Core. Elevated hotel dining is on the menu at the new NoMad near Bottega Louie, and the heights are more literal at 71 Above, which brings together contemporary Mediterranean-inflected cuisine and skyline views. A visit to the Broad museum wouldn’t be complete without a stop next door at Otium, and if you’re going to L.A. Live, hit Ray Garcia’s Broken Spanish for modern Mexican.
Like Los Angeles itself, Silver Lake is an amalgam of several distinct areas. Sunset Junction serves as the heart of the area, the corridor filled with strongholds like the French bistro Cafe Stella and brunch hot spot Cliff’s Edge, with its stunning hidden patio. The seasonal ethos is strong at Forage, while the dumplings and sautéed green pea shoots are worth the line at Pine & Crane. Siblings Kettle Black and Sawyer pull in trendy crowds for cocktails and contemporary Italian and California fare. Move east on Sunset to where Mh Zh hits all the right notes with its Israeli cooking. Trois Familia—backed by Ludo Lefebvre—kills it with everything from omelets to messy burgers; and Kris Yenbamroong creates spicy, true-to-its-roots Thai fare in a pink building with a poster of Cindy Crawford hanging on the wall at Night + Market Song. In another corner of Silver Lake, Jessica Koslow’s Sqirl garners long brunch lines, and you’ll find favorites like Zach Pollack’s Italian Alimento, L&E Oyster Bar, and the all-day café Botanica clustered near the reservoir.
Jake probably wouldn’t recognize Chinatown at this point, what with its mix of booming, music-filled parties on summer Thursdays, art galleries, and restaurants that go well beyond mainstays like Hop Li and Foo Chow. Far East Plaza has become one of the neighborhood’s buzziest corners, with Roy Choi’s spicy, bowl-centric Chego and Eddie Huang’s bun-centric BaoHaus. Heat-seeking devotees line up for hours at a time to sample Howlin’ Ray’s Nashville-style hot fried chicken, and next door LASA offers a powerful multicourse version of Filipino cooking. Down the street, you can find po’boys and jambalaya at the Little Jewel of New Orleans. Toward the neighborhood’s edge there are excellent pâté, steak, and biodynamic French wines at the sexy Oriel bistro and bar and local craft beers at Highland Park Brewing. Farther out still, David Chang just opened his first L.A. concept, Majordomo, serving postmodern Korean- influenced dishes near a tucked-away outpost of New York’s famed Apothéke cocktail bar.
This article was featured in our 2018 Dining L.A. Guide