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Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

The 29 best restaurants in Los Angeles you need to try

Modern steakhouses, seafood stands, stellar tasting menus and the city’s top pasta—we present the best restaurants in Los Angeles

By Stephanie Breijo and Time Out contributors

Despite the ups and downs of our city’s dining regulations, L.A. is still home to one of the most exciting restaurant scenes in the country: a collection of restaurants and pop-ups and vendors with a reputation built on incredible food trucks and off-the-beaten-path tacos just as much as tasting menus and farmers’ market produce.

At its core, L.A. thrives on its diverse blend of genre-bending formats and cuisines, which creates some of the world’s best omakase restaurants, fine-dining institutions and French-bistro gems tucked into strip malls.

Our experts scour the city for great eats and great insider info. We value fun, flavor, freshness—and value at every price point. We update the EAT List regularly, and if it’s on the list, we think it’s awesome—and we bet you will, too. 

January 2021: This month’s update sees some of 2020’s Best New Restaurants joining the city’s all-around best. December’s update brought Pearl River Deli on-board, but in January, we’re welcoming even more: Tamales Elena y Antojitos in Bell Gardens is a beacon not only for Afro-Mexican cuisine in Southern California but some of the finest meals we’ve enjoyed in the last year, period—the bright and bold pozoles are what rainy-day dreams are made of, while the tacos and tamales are some of the finest in town. Similarly, Massimo Bottura’s new Gucci Osteria in Beverly Hills is crafting some of the most delicate, intricate and destination-worthy Italian food in Los Angeles (of course with a side of high fashion). And just a reminder: Restaurants are still takeout-only for the foreseeable future, but all restaurants listed here are open for some form of delivery or pickup—meaning you can enjoy these incredible restaurants immediately.

Eaten somewhere on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutEatList. Plus, find out more about how we decide what makes the list.

L.A.’s 29 best restaurants, ranked

Photograph: Ryan Tanaka

1. République

Restaurants French La Brea

What is it? An all-day café where it is, quite seriously, impossible to leave unhappy, where old meets new in L.A. dining history, and where the buzz of thrilled diners is electric from morning to night.

Why we love it: Margarita Manzke’s fresh pastries in the case are some of the finest in L.A., while Walter Manzke’s worldly bistro-meets-Californian-cuisine dishes leave us lapping up roast chicken, lobster mafaldine, and beef short rib kimchi fried rice. The love and care this husband-and-wife team puts into République is palpable, filling the gothic-style building—one that was once home to Charlie Chaplin’s film studio, as well as Nancy Silverton’s and Mark Peel’s groundbreaking Campanile.

Time Out tip: Arrive as early as you can so you’ll have first pick of the pastry case’s croissants, baguettes, tarts, cakes and cookies; once they sell out for the day, they’re gone.

Agnolotii at Bestia
Photograph: Becky Reams

2. Bestia

Restaurants Italian Downtown Arts District

What is it? A refined, multi-regional tour through Italy via the mind of one of L.A.’s best chefs. Always in style—and always full of stylish and chic clientele—Bestia still requires reservations, and for good reason.

Why we love it: Nearly a decade in and chef and co-owner Ori Menashe’s menu highlights (now modern icons of L.A.’s dining scene) still manage to wow, no matter how many times we’ve ordered them. The Spaghetti Rustichella, for instance—a small pyramid of noodles under dungeness crab, citrus, Calabrian chili, Thai basil and onion seed—is alarmingly simplistic but still shockingly good. Paired with the industrial-modern digs and the sleek ambiance, it’s a place we always want to linger.

Time Out tip: Order your own dessert. Pastry chef and co-owner Genevieve Gergis’s sweets are all equally iconic, and god help anyone who tries to get in between us and a forkful of chocolate budino tart.

Orsa and Winston seafood porridge
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

3. Orsa & Winston

Restaurants Contemporary Asian Downtown Historic Core

What is it? Chef Josef Centeno’s Michelin-starred, Japanese-meets-Italian restaurant that’s renowned for its tasting menu but just as beloved for its casual à la carte katsu sandwiches and grain bowls.

Why we love it: Centeno’s hyper-creative, genre-bending dishes might see scallops and uni in a flower-dotted rice porridge, or some wagyu floating in donabe pots brimming with locally farmed sprouting cauliflower. There’s L.A. love, global inflection and a deep understanding of balance in these dishes that make every meal enjoyable, brunch or evening.

Time Out tip: Currently you can find select items and a weekly “Cibo e Vino” tasting menu to-go, along with more casual à la carte items such as the classic grain bowl, the seafood-packed satsuki porridge, and a few of Centeno's katsu sandos.

The Poseidon at Mariscos Jalisco
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

4. Mariscos Jalisco

Restaurants Trucks Boyle Heights

What is it? A fleet of trucks slinging Jalisco-style seafood. It’s one of L.A.’s most old-school taco players, and known for its deep-fried shrimp tacos, but Mariscos Jalisco also serves fresh-to-death ceviches, toastadas and oysters on the half shell. 

Why we love it: In essence, everything is good. Their signature tacos dorado de camaron live up to the hype, with flavorful and fresh shrimp folded into a corn tortilla that’s then fried to a golden brown and topped with thick slices of avocado and a vibrant and complex salsa roja. You’ll also want to save room for their legendary tostadas such as the Poseidon, which comes topped with shrimp ceviche, octopus and a fiery red aguachile of shrimp.

Time Out tip: This spot is cash-only, so come prepared. Speaking of prepared, if you’re eating then and there you can request the tacos be fully loaded on the truck for you; if they need to travel, assemble the components yourself so the taco shells stay perfectly crunchy until they’re ready to be eaten.

Japanese bento box at Hayato in ROW DTLA
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

5. Hayato

Restaurants Japanese Downtown Arts District

What is it? An exquisite kaiseki dinner that feels like more of a transportive experience than a meal, with a lunch-only bento whose aesthetics are only rivaled by its attention method.

Why we love it: The space is intimate, the ceramics are handcrafted and imported from Japan, service is respectful and dilligent, and chef-owner Brandon Go’s precision and technique come by way of training in Japan for years. There is something almost criminally understated here; Hayato’s delicate flavors could lead Angelenos to overlook some of the most beautiful cooking happening in the city. We hope they don’t. They’d be missing out on steamed abalone with an unctuous liver sauce; an owan course of delicate crab meatball soup; and fresh fruit coated in a salted sake jelly. Go has truly built something beautiful with Hayato.

Time Out tip: Lunch bento orders are released at the top of each month through Resy and sell out almost immediately for the entire month. Set an alarm to remind yourself to order. It’s worth it.

Photograph: Noé Montes

6. Providence

Restaurants Seafood Hollywood

What is it? One of the city’s bastions of fine dining and the freshest seafood available, whether enjoyed as an artful 10-course tasting menu or an à la carte takeout meal of fresh Santa Barbara-uni pasta on your couch. This is Michelin-starred luxury done the Michael Cimarusti way.

Why we love it: For serving a city next to the Pacific, Providence somehow still manages to surprise and reinterpret seafood. Cimarusti’s mostly-aquatic menus deftly showcase the bounty of the West Coast, as well as the globe: Big Island abalone, Santa Barbara spot prawns and steelhead trout from the Quinault River in Washington can appear among the varied choices, depending on seasonality. His knack for finding the best product will make you focus on the perfect bite hanging from your fork, and nothing else. 

Time Out tip: Watch Providence’s Tock page like a hawk for weekly menu updates, which might offer a truffle-laden prix fixe or new pantry and home-cooking items such as, oh, raw A5 Japanese wagyu sold by the pound.

Broad Street Oyster Co lobster roll in Malibu Los Angeles
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

7. Broad Street Oyster Company

Restaurants Seafood Malibu

What is it? A little bit coastal and a whole lot of a party, this pop-up turned permanent is exactly the kind of refreshing, modern take on a seafood shack that L.A. needed.

Why we love it: Where to even begin? Broad Street is serving the city’s best lobster rolls, which can come served New England-style or warm and buttered, plus loaded with caviar and uni add-ons. They’ve got steamed mussels and fried clam strips and all the other requisites, but the natural wine, cheap beer, daily specials and copious caviar make the meal fun—and manage to turn a corner of a high-end strip mall into a surfy destination.

Time Out tip: Order ahead for pickup to beat the lines, especially on weekends. If you want to splurge, go for the “horizontal seafood tower,” which offers up oysters, in-shell uni, ceviche, caviar, peeled shrimp and crab claws for casual decadence—or just order multiple lobster rolls for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

Photograph: Jesse Hsu

8. Bavel

Restaurants Israeli Downtown Arts District

What is it? A flavorful culinary jaunt through Israel, Egypt, Morocco and Turkey from Bestia’s Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis, complete with fire-roasted meats, handmade couscous, perhaps the best pita in all of L.A., and, like its Italian counterpart, fantastic desserts.

Why we love it: They redefined modern Italian food with Bestia, but at Bavel it’s even more personal. They’re drawing on their familial and cultural heritage, as well as their modern-kitchen savvy, to bring us some of the best hummus we’ve ever tasted, wholly unique treats such as spiced Persian ice cream, and must-order plates for the table, like the crunchy, spicy harissa prawns. 

Time Out tips: Wish you could always have Bavel on hand? You can currently order select items to-go à la carte, including five-packs of their phenomenal pita in frozen form so you'll always have some stashed away.

Chirashi sushi at Spago
Photograph: VIctor Leung

9. Spago of Beverly Hills

Restaurants Californian Beverly Hills

What is it? Wolfgang Puck’s flagship is known for its power lunches and celeb sightings, but the fine dining institution’s still serving haute bites that can outshine the star power that frequents it.

Why we love it: After nearly 40 years, Spago is both the old standby and the new kid on the block thanks to an ever-changing menu that makes the restaurant seem altogether fresh. Don’t worry, you can still order the smoked salmon pizza, and Spago purists will be pleased to hear the kitchen is refreshingly old-school when it comes to presentation, but modern flourishes are what keep this icon feeling fresh without ditching its hits.

Time Out tip: If it’s your first visit you must order Spago’s iconic tasting menu for the classics, but if you’re a repeat guest, the most fun you can have is offroading with the fleeting and hyper-seasonal specials, especially when it comes to dessert.

Sonoratown Restaurant Los Angeles DTLA
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

10. Sonoratown

Restaurants Mexican Downtown Fashion District

What is it? Sonoratown is a casual taqueria that specializes in—you guessed it—Sonora-style fare, which means tacos, quesadillas and chivis (think: soft chimichangas oozing cheese) all packed with fresh-from-the grill ingredients that will have you planning a Northern Mexico vacation with every bite.

Why we love it: This spot is so much of a welcoming cornerstone of our dining scene, it feels like home the second you walk through the door. Well, that, or a party. The staff are lively, open and fun-loving, and their mood is infectious. Patrons from all walks smile, laugh and even dance, all to the scent of chargrilled meats that get slid into handmade award-winning flour tortillas. Dishes get brightened by cabbage and a rainbow of house salsas, and topped by entire strands of grilled green onions. Everything is fresh and fun—the people and the cuisine especially.

Time Out tip: Ask the staff if they have any tortillas for sale—you’re going to want to stock up on those gorgeous and pliant flour tortillas, and they often sell them when they’ve got extra at the ready.

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