L.A. has turned into one of the very best places to eat and in the 10+ years I've lived here, I've amassed quite a selection of favorite restaurants. I've done several guides of my go-to spots in the past, but I decided to break it down even further, including some of my all-time favorites.
Hash Brown Chilaquiles, Trois Familia - The combination of crispy, buttery potato topped with an egg and tangy salsa is one of the most unique and delicious dishes in LA.
Lonestar Migas, Homestate - When you combine corn chips with shredded brisket, scrambled eggs and cheese, you're going to be happy. They also make a vegetarian version, but the brisket is hard to refuse.
French Toast, The Griddle Cafe - Unless you get there early, there's always a long wait at this famed diner, but it's worth it, especially for Mom's French Toast. The portions are big enough for two people, but you might not want to share this incredible dish.
Flagel and Cream Cheese, Brooklyn Water Bagel - I prefer the thinner cousin of a classic bagel and while LA doesn't quite stack up to NY in terms of quality, this restaurant comes pretty close. Tip: don't leave without getting an iced coffee, complete with their coffee cubes.
Pork Xiao Long Bao, Din Tai Fung - I could eat these every day. The hot soup, trapped inside the soft dumpling, with a small bite of savory pork is perfection on a spoon. Like The Griddle, there's often a wait on the weekends, so get there early and bring a large group. so you can try everything.
Regular Breakfast, Republique - The name is a massive understatement. Yes, it's a plate of eggs, potatoes, bacon, and a baguette, but how it's executed is what sets it apart. The baguette is reminiscent of what you'd find in Paris and I dream about the thick-cut bacon.
Chinese Chicken Salad, New Moon Cafe - This is my downtown lunch staple and the thing I miss the most about moving our office from the area. It's a classic recipe, but since their dressing is a little light, I usually add a spoon of plum sauce and hot mustard, to give it kick.
Tucson Salad, Toast - This restaurant isn't a spot most locals go to since it's usually packed with tourists. That being said, I've been a fan of their tucson salad, packed with black beans, corn strips, and a creamy ranch dressing, for over a decade and it makes for the ideal thing to grab for a quick to-go lunch.
Veggie Burrito, Tere's - This is our neighborhood, fast-casual Mexican spot and while their entire menu is great, 99% of the time I order this burrito. Despite its name, there aren't really any vegetables involved - it's rice, bean, cheese, guacamole, and sour cream and any time I order it, everyone I'm with has serious order envy.
Tonkotsu Spicy Ramen, Silverlake Ramen - Whenever the temperature drops below 60°, my body begins to crave this rich and spicy soup. The broth is cooked for 16 hours and the noodles have a great texture. I usually opt to add chicken instead of the traditional pork belly, but you can't go wrong either way.
Cheeseburger + Fries, Hiho Burger - Apologies to In-n-Out, but this is my favorite fast food burger in LA. They use 100% Waygu beef and don't overcomplicate the sandwich with unnecessary additions. The fries are also great and they serve homemade pie for dessert.
Panang Curry, Luv 2 Eat Thai - This spot has been given glowing reviews by every blogger and food writer and it's well deserved. Their menu is expansive, but one classic I get whenever I order Thai food is Panang Curry and their version is my favorite. Just be mindful that getting "medium" spicy packs some serious heat.
Shrimp Toast, Son of a Gun - This small sandwich is big on flavor. Combing Siracha mayo with shrimp paste, then sticking it between two buttery pieces of brioche and quickly grilling it until it's crispy, this is usually served as an appetizer, but it's rich enough to be an entree.
Chicken Parmesan, Vernetti - This neighborhood spot is quickly becoming my default "girl's night" restaurant. Everything they make is great, but you owe it to yourself to get the chicken parm. It's the best I've ever had and huge (aka shareable).
Fried Chicken Sandwich, Honor Bar - This is part of the Hillstone group, so everything they make is great, but this sandwich is a standout on the menu. The chicken is crispy and moist, served alongside dressed kale, swiss cheese, and a fluffy bun and pairs perfectly with one a martini (make sure to get one with stuffed blue cheese olives).
Spicy Fusilli, Jon & Vinny's - We've covered this place a few times and while their pizza is usually the highlight, they also churn out fantastic pasta dishes and this is the best. The creamy pink sauce with a hint of heat is so comforting and delicious, you should order one when you're eating there and one to take home.
Omakase, Sushi Park - You could eat at new (and delicious) sushi bar every night for a month and never visit the same place twice, but if you do want a repeat, this is the place to do it. While the atmosphere isn't anything to write home about (the location is in a strip mall and signs that say 'no california roll' pepper the wall), it's the best omakase in the city.
Amatriciana Pizza and Caesar, Pizzana - While our bagel scene still needs work, LA has become a legitimate city for great pizza. This pie is comparable to what I've eaten in Italy and I love the creative spins on toppings. The chef, Daniele is also the cutest and warmest host you'll meet.
Tortellini in Brodo 'al contrario', Alimento - Clearly I'm a fan of soup-filled food (see Din Tai Fung above), and this Italian variation is stellar. It's a smaller dish with a pop of broth wrapped in al dente pasta. The whole menu is fantastic, but this is a stand-out item.
Cavatelli alla Norcina, Bestia - It can take a month to get a reservation (or you can sidle up the bar when they open), but when you do go, get this dish. Ricotta dumplings, with pork sausage and truffles.
Chocolate Rye Pie, Odys + Penelope - This mixture of dark chocolate filling and crumbly crust is so good that it's tempting to visit the restaurant just for dessert.
Key Lime Pie, Fishing with Dynamite - This is G's favorite flavor of pie and after trying this version, it's now become mine. This restaurant is a bit of drive for us, but it's worth the trek.
Red Velvet Cupcake, Georgetown Cupcakes - This list wouldn't be complete without a cupcake and this classic flavor has been perfected by Georgetown. The ratio of cake to frosting is always right and the tartness of the frosting is expertly balanced by the light cake.
Butterscotch Pot de Creme, Gjelina - This dish is easy to get wrong, but Gjelina typically gets everything right and this dessert is one of my favorites. Topped with large flake sea salt, if you have some space for a treat after your meal, be sure to get this.
Cioccolato, Osteria Mozza - This is basically a chocolate tart and it's so rich, that you should pair it with some wine. That being said, it is the best way to end an indulgent Italian meal.
Flan, Mercado - I wasn't a fan of flan until I had this dish. The rich caramel base and fluffy custard is so tasty and should not be missed.
P.S., See my past guides to L.A. here.