Hollywood's best restaurants
With endless celebrity photos and numerous "Best of" lists on the walls, chef Jazz Singsanong’s Thai Town restaurant is one of the city’s cult favorites—and serves Angelenos in memory of L.A. Thai-food legend chef-owner Tui Sungkamee, who passed in 2017. The Crispy Morning Glory Salad is an obligatory dish: a flavorful mix of crunchy, deep-fried Chinese watercress, plump shrimp, red onions, cilantro, cabbage and bell peppers marinated in the spicy house dressing. If perusing the lengthy menu leaves you feeling dazed and confused, the green mussel curry—succulent New Zealand mussels piled high and bathed in an aromatic Southern curry flavored with lemongrass, sweet pineapples and chiles—is a good place to start on the extensive list of fiery Northern and Southern Thai specialties.
To watch an omelette being made at Petit Trois is a thing of beauty. First there is the butter, a massive pad that swirls around the pan before being flooded with whipped eggs over low heat. The mixture sits, briefly, then is taken off the stove and gently poked and prodded for minutes until it is finally folded into one uniform, buttercup-hued omelette. Oh, and did we mention that Boursin cheese is piped through the middle? Perceived simplicity is what Ludo Lefebvre aims for at Petit Trois, which sits right next to his first brick-and-mortar success, Trois Mec. The menu is a sparse list of classic French dishes—steak frites, mussels marinières, chicken leg—in a casual bistro atmosphere. If the Hollywood strip-mall exterior doesn’t sell you on this idea, the fantastic food certainly will.
Curtis Stone’s modern bistro greets you with a butcher case as soon as you open the door, tempting you with coils of lamb sausage or hefty cuts of steak to take home. But not everyone is a wiz when it comes to cooking their own meat, which is why the stunning restaurant component is always worth a visit. For weekday lunch, find some of the city’s best-kept sandwich secrets, made from the butcher case’s exquisite cuts—and in the evening, a range of meaty, slow-roasted items cooked over an open fire, as well as small plates, handmade pasta, shellfish and of course Gwen’s expert house-made charcuterie. This Hollywood gem also features a tasting menu in Gwen’s glitzy dining room, where chandeliers dangle above and that open fire pit separates diners from the kitchen for an entirely modern-elegant affair.
Nancy Silverton's Italian-food mecca on Melrose still draws crowds roughly a decade in. Whether you're looking for the refined pastas and soulful plates of Osteria Mozza, the perfectly blistered and seasonally adorned pies at Pizzeria Mozza, or the rustic, hearty and wood-fired fare in chi SPACCA, this corner restaurant complex has a little something for everyone and continues, unsurprisingly, to be the city's gold standard. It's that good. Just whatever you do, whichever concept you're in, be sure to save room for dessert—there's creamy butterscotch budino to be had.
Open since 1919, Musso & Frank Grill is Hollywood's oldest restaurant, a steak-and-cocktails joint formerly favored by Charlie Chaplin and Raymond Chandler. With its many classic dishes and individually priced sides (and salad dressings), the menu can be daunting. However, some dishes are failsafes: At breakfast, grab an order of crêpe-thin flannel cakes; later in the day, a giant slab of steak will do the trick. And every table gets a half-loaf of house-made sourdough bread, the perfect accompaniment to Musso & Frank's legendary martini.
BBQ and grilling authority Adam Perry Lang’s first L.A. restaurant brings turn-of-the-century steakhouse charm to life with APL, a temple to both beef and simplicity. The lights are low, you've just settled in at your comfy leather booth and you know full well that the dry-ageing cellar beneath your feet is about to provide some serious steaks. At dinner, opt for chops and "APL selects," plus old-school items like the decadent shrimp cocktail or a classic caesar upgraded by a slab of bacon. At lunch, visit the APL Hole in the Wall walk-up window for gourmet takes on chili dogs right off the corner of Sunset and Vine.
This darling Hollywood bistro, daintily named after the French word for "taste buds," serves up elegant edibles in a relaxed atmosphere. Papilles's seasonal menu, which changes weekly, is sourced from local farmers. The dining experience itself is charming and uncomplicated: Each night, Papilles offers a prix-fixe, three-course dinner and pared-down wine selection, which is not in print, but instead displayed directly on shelves in the dining room—grab whichever bottle you'd like to drink. Quaint and authentic, a meal at Papilles serves as a rare escape from the seemingly inescapable urban excess.
Angelenos rhapsodize about Thai Town’s Ruen Pair with a fervor that borders on obsession. At this round-the-clock, cash-only favorite, the enticing Southeast Asian menu is full of beer-friendly, shareable plates like fish cake pad ka prow, spongy, light rounds sautéed in basil leaves and vibrant chilies, which justifies a visit on its own. Stir-fry with Chinese olive and ground pork is served with crispy bits of flavorful meat and fresh garlic, paired alongside a bowl of steaming rice. Another must order: the sautéed morning glory. Ask for it with crispy pork belly for the ultimate late-night Thai combo.
Ring the doorbell on the heavy metal gate and you’ll be buzzed into a wholly unexpected patio full of twinkly lights—an oasis in the middle of a nondescript stretch of Sunset—and diners clad in yoga pants. Paru’s serves South Indian food, redolent with spices and herbs that permeate the restaurant’s interior in a warm, piquant cloud that hits you as soon as you enter. The full dinners are the best way to try everything: Indian Thali gives you a selection of puri (crispy flatbread), two curries, sambar (a lentil gravy), rasam (a yogurt-based soup), papad (lentil crackers), pickles and dessert; while the Queen Paru is a creamier choice, with coconut chutney, raita (yogurt condiment) and ghee (clarified butter) to accompany your paper-thin dosa (rice flour crepe) and idli (a savory rice and lentil cake).
Both an unsung hero and a perennial favorite of L.A.'s Italian-food scene, Osteria La Buca tends to fly under the radar—but real ones know. This casual, family-friendly spot in Larchmont Village isn't as difficult to land a table as some of the city's flashier pasta-centric spots, but is every bit as good, and regulars flock to it. The kitchen uses seasonal, local ingredients to create classic Italian dishes: pizza, pasta, dry-aged rib eye, seafood and more, in an industrial setting downstairs and an intimate indoor balcony, above. On Sundays, diners descend on it for the eggy bucatini carbonara and the Maria Verde, Osteria La Buca's modern take on the classic Bloody Mary.
Karabagh is a market, deli and butcher shop that serves East Hollywood's Armenian community and in-the-know food (and bargain) hunters. Trays of lule, ground beef or chicken kebabs, are crafted in-house and on display. Order a kebab sandwich—juicy lule, parsley, red onion in between lavash—at the counter and take to-go or dine in at the next door bakery with coffee and pastries. With each sandwich at $3 apiece, two sandwiches easily make a bargain lunch.
This funky, fun Thai restaurant serves classics and dishes made from the recipes of a 90-year-old Thai grandmother. Enough said. OK, fine, if that didn't convince you, we'll give you a little more: The setting is no-frills, but we say that's just all the better to set the stage for some serious Thai heat. The Phuket-style crab curry Kanomjean is the move here, with whole claws and legs shooting up from a thick, spice-sludgy mix to be enjoyed with rice noodles and plenty of herbaceous accoutrements.
The homestyle cooking of this Thai Town joint attracts traditionalists citywide. You won't find fusion or overly sweet noodles at Sanamluang Café—only some of the best Asian comfort foods (and slightly intimidating waitresses). Start with the classic tom kha kai, a spicy coconut soup with plump chicken, mushrooms, lemongrass, lime juice and fresh chile for a refreshing starter. Then take a menu detour with the khao pad krapaow gai, a satisfying and fiery chicken-basil-rice stir-fry topped with an optional egg, and khana moo grob—crispy and juicy chunks of pork paired with broth-wilted Chinese broccoli is a must. Be prepared: Wear relaxed clothing and prepare to dig in.
When Lotería opened in the center of the Original Farmers Market in 2002, tacos were the basis of the freestanding stall. Since then, chef and owner Jimmy Shaw's burgeoning empire has grown to Hollywood and the Fig at 7th complex Downtown. At each location, tacos continue to star: Tinga de pollo gets a dose of house-made chorizo, while carnitas showcase a spicy and smoky chile morita sauce. The "DOS, TRES, CUATRO" option is a great way to sample Lotería's variety, letting you mix and match with a side of rice and beans.
Pleasant yet unassuming in appearance, one might not predict upon first glace the delicious and extensive menu of Thai goodies offered at Prael on Melrose. From the juicy tofu pad thai to the flavorful Panang curries, this Wilshire Center joint satisfies in both taste and portion size. With their affordable prices and speedy delivery, Prael serves as a Thai staple in Hollywood.
There's a reason why weekend crowds continually congregate here for breakfast and brunch: A bright, cozy interior sets the tone for delicious a.m. feasts like eggs Benedict, brioche French toast with seasonal warm fruit, baked eggs with chorizo and gruyere, and house-cured salmon with potato pancakes—all accompanied by the Alhambra-based Take Flight Coffee. Meanwhile, a front patio, though rarely empty, offers a laid-back, leisurely vibe.
Steps from the Arclight, Stella Barra is the perfect pre- and post–movie nosh stop. There's plenty of seating in the lofty space with a full bar serving local craft beers, Italian and Californian wines by the glass and bottle, and creative cocktails. To eat, there are farmers' market salads and small plates to share, and top-notch pizzas boasting a chewy, sourdough crust and California-grown toppings. Try the fennel-flavored, house-made sausage topped with organic tomato and mozzarella and, while you can get it, the seasonal sweet-corn pizza with Tuscan truffle cheese, thyme, parsley and chili flakes. We also love the signature burrata, plated with warm house-made bread and tomato jam.
David Lentz’s contemporary culinary outpost in Hollywood is where date night and brunch crowds pile in cushioned banquettes against stainless steel countertops. There’s no shortage of seafood options, with a raw bar of goodies on the half shell and in the shell, plus lobster and clam rolls, several grades of caviar, and plenty of composed plates of land and sea. Depending on the season, kabocha squash soup might join Nantucket bay scallops and sage brown butter, or whole, grilled striped bass is dressed in carrot purée, spigarello, hazelnuts, blood orange and chermoula. Of course, another way to enjoy the fruits of the sea is an oyster with an Old Bay–rimmed, vodka chaser, as in the Maryland Mary, a tasty (and eye-opening) cocktail.
Get here early morning, and you’ll catch the last wave of Thai club kids in their party gear; later, the crowd shifts to their parents stopping in before work, and their grandparents lingering with friends over coffee. No matter who’s eating, at least half the tables will have a little dish of Chinese doughnuts: square pillows of lightly fried dough, to be dipped in creamy condensed milk. Follow yours with a big bowl of jok, a rich, satisfying rice porridge sprinkled with white pepper, fresh slivered ginger and scallions, all of which elevates the earthy catfish buried at the bottom of the bowl. Take note: Cash only.