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Jon and Vinny's Slauson Exterior
Photograph: Courtesy Joshua White

The 33 best restaurants in Los Angeles you need to try

Find curbside Filipino takeout, a newly opened Jon & Vinny’s and more this winter from the best restaurants in Los Angeles.

Patricia Kelly Yeo
Written by
Patricia Kelly Yeo
Contributor
Stephanie Breijo
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Despite almost two years of pandemic-era dining regulations, L.A. is still host to one of the most innovative, exciting and diverse food scenes in the country. Brick-and-mortar restaurants, Instagram pop-ups, street vendors and food trucks: No matter the form, you can find amazing food in a city whose reputation is built as much on off-the-beaten-path tacos and quirky food trucks as it is on farmers’ market produce and mainline access to the freshest Pacific seafood. 

At its core, L.A.’s restaurant scene thrives on diversity, resulting in genre-bending formats and cuisines that have given rise to some of the country’s best omakase restaurants, fine-dining institutions and strip mall hidden gems. 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 our list regularly, and if it’s on the list, we think it’s awesome—and we bet you will, too. 

December 2021: Pearl River Deli, our Best Restaurant of the Year, remains closed as the restaurant prepares to reopen in a larger Chinatown brick-and-mortar in the near future, while upscale red-sauce joint Jon & Vinny’s now has a newly opened location in Inglewood. Currently, all City of L.A. restaurants are subject to a proof of vaccine indoor public spaces mandate—meaning you'll likely need physical or digital Covid-19 vaccination record to dine at many of the restaurants below.

L.A.’s 33 best restaurants, ranked

  • Restaurants
  • French
  • La Brea
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? An all-day café where it is nigh on impossible to leave dissatisfied, 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 French 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 and Mark Peel’s groundbreaking Campanile restaurant–with hospitality and warmth.

Time Out tip: Arrive early on weekends to snag first pick of the pastry case’s croissants, baguettes, tarts, cakes and cookies; once they sell out for the day, they’re gone. For slightly more traditional French bistro fare, make sure to check out the pair’s new Parisian bistro, Bicyclette.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Downtown Arts District
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A refined, multiregional 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 almost a decade after opening in 2012, and for good reason.

Why we love it: Chef and co-owner Ori Menashe’s menu highlights 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 where we’re likely to linger until the staff starts bussing our dessert plates and wine glasses. 

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

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary Asian
  • Downtown Historic Core
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? Chef Josef Centeno’s Michelin-starred, Japanese-meets-Italian restaurant that’s been renowned for its tasting menu but equally beloved for its casual à la carte katsu sandwiches and grain bowls (which we hope will return, if brunch service comes back in the future).

Why we love it: Centeno’s hyper-creative, genre-bending dishes might see scallops and uni in a flower-dotted rice porridge, or some tempura-like fried shiso leaf under abalone. There’s L.A. love, global inflection and a deep understanding of balance in these dishes that make every meal enjoyable. The tasting menu changes daily, so keep your eyes on the restaurant's Instagram for updates.

Time Out tip: While the five-course tasting menu is the showstopper, options for wine pairing add-ons complete the experience.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Downtown Arts District
  • price 4 of 4

What is it? An exquisite, two-Michelin-star kaiseki dinner that feels like more of a transportive experience than a meal. 

Why we love it: The space is intimate, the ceramics are handcrafted and imported from Japan, service is respectful and diligent, 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: Dinner reservations are usually released at the top of each month, and sell out almost immediately for the entire month. Set an alarm to get a table. It’s worth it.

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  • Restaurants
  • Israeli
  • Downtown Arts District
  • price 3 of 4

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 here it’s even more personal. At Bavel, Menashe and Gergis draw 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 grab select items to-go à la carte, too (the farm cheese is a must).

  • Restaurants
  • Trucks
  • Boyle Heights
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? A quartet of trucks (Boyle Heights, Downtown, Pomona, La Cienega) slinging Jalisco-style seafood across the Southland. 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, tostadas 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.

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  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • East Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Chef-owner Jazz Singsanong’s Thai Town restaurant with a sprawling menu and plenty of heat is one of the city’s cult favorites—and serves Angelenos in memory of her brother, L.A. Thai food legend Tui Sungkamee.

Why we love it: Whether it’s a regional specialty or a more Americanized dish, Jitlada nails it all. The crispy morning glory salad is a must—a flavorful mix of crunchy, deep-fried Chinese watercress and plump shrimp—while Northern and Southern Thai curry specialties such as green mussel curry or the jungle curry might light your mouth ablaze in the best way. Even the American-familiar options such as the turmeric chicken wings are a must. You could visit Jitlada every week for a year and still find gems and surprises on that menu. We’re especially partial to the off-menu Jazz Burger–ask your server if it’s available on your visit.

Time Out tip: Be careful how spicy you tell Jazz to go. You’ve been warned.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Palms
  • price 4 of 4

What is it? A two-Michelin–starred kaiseki spot in Palms from chef-owner Niki Nakayama, a protégé of the legendary Morihiro Onodera and one of the stars of the Netflix documentary Chef’s Table.

Why we love it: Nakayama focuses her talent on kaiseki: a classical style of Japanese cooking that dictates a specific progression of textures, temperatures, tastes and seasonal ingredients. À la carte is not an option, and when every dish is this good, that’s okay by us. n/naka typically offers a 13-course tasting menu (with a vegetarian option, too), plus wine and sake pairings.

Time Out tip: Years in, these are still some of the hardest reservations to land in all of Los Angeles. Best to follow along on Instagram for announcements and watch n/naka's Tock page like a hawk. Its new sibling concept, n/soto, offers takeout bento while it readies its full-service izakaya setup, which sells through its own Tock page. (Careful, the bento reservations disappear quickly, too—look out for them every Friday at noon.)

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Hollywood
  • price 4 of 4

What is it? One of the city’s bastions of fine dining and the freshest seafood available, currently enjoyed as an artful eight-course dinner tasting menu (lunch service to resume in the not-too-distant future). 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: You’ll absolutely need a reservation—and plan ahead, as reservations tend to book weeks in advance.

  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Hollywood
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? Ludo Lefebvre pays homage to simplicity with his L.A. take on a Parisian bistro, whether at his original stripped-down strip-mall space in Hollywood or the larger, fancier sibling location in Sherman Oaks.

Why we love it: The menu is a list of iconic French dishes—steak frites, mussels marinières, chicken leg—but the playlist is ’90s hip-hop and classic rock, which furthers Lefebvre’s ethos of this being a casual and extremely cool French spot, a place to indulge in at times highly technical food but enjoyed without pretense. 

Time Out tip: Order the Big Mec. It's an absolute tank of a burger that may knock you out for the rest of the day—but come on, are you really going to skip the best bordelaise sauce in town? Anyone who's dropping by the Hollywood location should also check out Ludobab, the chef’s new takeout kebab shop operating out of the same kitchen.

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  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Downtown Historic Core
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? A love letter to homestyle Korean food inside Grand Central Market—from Kwang Uh and Mina Park, the same chefs who started the nationally acclaimed, fermentation-obsessed Baroo (now closed). 

Why we love it: Shiku’s dosirak (Korean lunch boxes) are perfectly portioned, beautifully plated lunches with three types of house-made banchan and choice of L.A.-style galbi, kimchi-braised pork belly or doenjang-marinated chicken—they also make fried shiitake mushrooms, which happen to be vegan. With Uh and Park’s fermentation skills, the stall’s take-home, larger portioned banchan are equally mouthwatering and include their signature kimchi yellow corn from Baroo.

Time Out tip: Order at least two or three banchan types to eat at and cook with at home. Each Shiku banchan packs maximal flavor, whether used as a topping for fried eggs at breakfast or eaten as a middle of the workday snack. 

  • Restaurants
  • Trucks
  • Mid City
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? A fleet of seven cash-only taco trucks across L.A. that serve some of the best al pastor tacos in the city. Though they also offer burritos, mulitas, huaraches and other Mexican street food specialties, your eyes will likely be drawn to the trompo–a rotating spit of tender, marinated al pastor topped with a shaved, juicy hunk of pineapple. 

Why we love it: Tacos on late nights! Tacos in the afternoon! Although Leo’s draws its largest crowds on weekend nights from the going out set, this isn’t just your average drunchie. Operating like a well-oiled machine, the staff at each Leo’s location deftly serves each customer’s tacos, calling out numbers in both Spanish and English. Upon receiving your order, you can ask them for pre-packaged little plastic baggies of onions, cilantro and salsa—a pandemic-era safety and hygiene upgrade. Whether eaten in open air or taken home, the thin slices of al pastor, topped with a bit of pineapple, are a beautiful sight to behold—and consume. 

Time Out tip: Though it may be tempting to only order their tacos al pastor, Leo’s is no slouch in the offal department either. To diversify your taco order, order their buche (pork), cabeza (beef) and tripas (beef).

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Fairfax District
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? This modern all-day red sauce restaurant from chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo delivers upscale, high-quality takes on classic pizza, pasta and Italian American desserts, now with locations in Fairfax, Brentwood and South L.A. (open as of mid-November).

Why we love it: The spicy vodka fusilli. The bolognese sauce. The best-in-class New York style cheesecake. There’s a reason primetime dinner reservations at Jon & Vinny’s book out weeks in advance, and it happens to be the entire menu. Paired with highly curated, funky wines from their wine shop, Helen’s, a dinner at Jon & Vinny’s will please the pickiest pizza and pasta lover in your group of friends. Their pre-11:30am menu also offers fluffy ricotta pancakes—some of the best in the city we’ve tried—and a breakfast pizza sporting fried eggs and yukon gold potatoes. Because why not? 

Time Out tip: If you’re out of luck for a dinner reservation, try stopping in at their Fairfax location’s counter in the middle of the afternoon. With a prime view of the kitchen and ample space, it’s the perfect way for a solo diner or a pair to experience some of the city’s best Italian American classics without a lot of hassle.

  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Sherman Oaks
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A generational Thai restaurant that serves some of L.A.’s best curries, stir-fries and fried chicken, with an edge: Dry-aged fish, a weekly tasting menu and an extremely popular Thai Taco Tuesday event keep us on our toes and coming back for more.

Why we love it: The Pichetrungsis founded Anajak as a neighborhood favorite, and now their son, Justin Pichetrungsi, is revitalizing the Sherman Oaks mainstay with a fresh natural wine program, collabs with local chefs, and weekly specials and events that draw Angelenos from all corners of the county. The menu is always changing, the alley table atmosphere is lively and the staff is knowledgeable and congenial. The specials and modern reintepretations are always worth an order, but don’t neglect classics such as Anajak’s pad see ew: garlicky and loaded with white pepper, and one of the best versions in town.

Time Out tip: Attend at least one Thai Taco Tuesday if you know what’s good for you; this is where the party is, and where most of the collabs happen. Dry-aged fish from the Joint Eatery finds its way into tacos and tostadas, while a rotation of guest chefs including sushi whiz Ai Kennedy and SLAB pitmaster Burt Bakman pop up every so often.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Venice
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? Evan Funke’s temple to handmade pastas, involuntary groan-inducing pillowy focaccia and perfectly blistered pizzas, serving hyper-regional Italian cuisine with a reverence that could impress even the most traditional of nonnas.

Why we love it: Funke’s ethos is, simply put, “F*ck your pasta machine” (his words, not ours), which is precisely what makes Felix shine. From your seat in the dining room you can watch Funke and the team carefully rolling, pressing and shaping pasta dough behind glass in a pasta lab, and all that extra effort and care is palpable in every bite. The Bologna-trained Funke is keeping Old World technique alive and more delicious than ever.

Time Out tip: A few years in and it’s still hard to land a table—reservations are practically required, so plan ahead.

  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Koreatown
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? The city’s premier Korean BBQ gem and one that takes meat more seriously than most, serving prime and American Wagyu beef in a sleek modern space that’s stood the test of time. 

Why we love it: Angelenos may be divided on their favorite Korean BBQ, but Park’s seems to be the one unifying constant, at least for special occasions. That’s because it all comes down to quality: The meat here is premium, so in addition to the requisite kimchi pancakes, tofu stews and banchan galore you can find exquisite cuts of beef and pork, which get grilled at your table—there’s even an entire section of the menu devoted to Wwagyu, if you really want to go big. For best results, order some of everything: There’s boneless Wagyu short rib, seasoned pork belly, succulent house galbi, beef tripe and nearly anything else you can imagine throwing onto the grill, plus an array of banchan—and a full menu of entrées such as spicy black cod, stone-pot octopus, soup with rice cakes, and requisites like expert kimchi pancakes.

Time Out tip: Not a fan of mustardy French beef tartare? Order Park’s milder Korean beef tartare. Seasoned with pine nuts and slices of Asian pear, this dish is a gamechanger for omnivores skeptical about eating raw beef.

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  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Santa Monica
  • price 4 of 4

What is it? Josiah Citrin’s reimagined Santa Monica stalwart—a long-time high watermark in L.A. tasting menus—which feels just as special as the original but with entirely new flavor.

Why we love it: The renovated interior is much more intimate, which ensures the focus is on the food and service, not a larger and livelier scene—though of course the experience now is alfresco or take home, with menus showcasing Citrin’s influences and favorite restaurants—whatever the menu that evening, you can’t go wrong. The 14-seat stunner delivers course after course of exquisite detail-oriented dishes such as caviar in chawanmushi with Hokkaido uni; spiny lobster whose sauce has been pressed via antique contraption; a rich chestnut soup with even richer truffle foam.

Time Out tip: As the space is so intimate, you're going to want to book a reservation the second Mélisse enters your head. If you don't manage to snag a seat on your desired night, never fear—Citrin, the sibling spot, offers both prix-fixe dinners as well as à la carte options.

  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • Downtown Financial District
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A casual, mostly takeout Filipino storefront in Downtown’s Jewelry District serving Filipino classics and dishes inspired by chef Ria Dolly Barbosa’s SoCal upbringing. 

Why we love it: Petite Peso’s blend of traditional dishes and rotating seasonal menu items—including a delectable crunchy sisig taco and a juicy chicken adobo French dip—hit the sweet spot in terms of price point and food quality, reflecting Barbosa’s culinary school education and years of experience in fine dining. The former Sqirl chef’s take on Filipino food filters the cuisine through the lens of a first-generation Angeleno, from the crispy sisig salad dressed in yuzu vinaigrette and topped with a soy poached egg to a vegan-friendly pinaket made with plant-based bagoong. Gourmet traditional pastries like pan del sal, ensaymada and mamon are a cut above other versions available throughout L.A. County—making them well worth the few extra dollars per piece.

Time Out tip: Order ahead for curbside pickup, and save room for Petite Peso’s tightly rolled lumpia, which also can be made meat-free. Crispy, the deep-friend spring rolls shatter with every bite—the perfect side dish to snack on while you’re driving home.

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  • Restaurants
  • Californian
  • Beverly Hills
  • price 4 of 4

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.

  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • Hancock Park
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Unapologetically Californian pizzas from local celebrity chef Nancy Silverton within her larger three-restaurant Mozzaplex in Hancock Park. 

Why we love it: Despite the numerous pizza places that have opened in recent years, Pizzeria Mozza’s pies have remained in a class of their own. Doughy, chewy and lightly charred, Silverton’s pizzas feature cheffy, farmers’ market toppings like squash blossoms and fennel sausage. Show-stopping meatballs and seasonal desserts, including the rotating flavors of house-made gelato, guarantee that each visit to Pizzeria Mozza can make you temporarily forget about the nasty, mudslinging NY versus L.A. pizza discourse among the Extremely Online. 

Time Out tip: To add texture and a sort-of vegetable to your meal, order Nancy’s chopped salad. Made with cherry tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and radicchio, this bowl of mostly cured meat and cheese may not be the most nutritious salad, but it is certainly quite delicious.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • Glendale
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A tiny, mostly takeout restaurant selling phenomenal, succulent Armenian-style grilled meats, creamy hummus, hearty combo plates and well-spiced falafel. It’s also one of L.A.’s best family-run small-scale operations.

Why we love it: Chef-owner Ovakim Martirosyan; his wife, Alvard; and his son, Armen, run this tiny kabob house together, turning out flawless, soulful food fueled by decades of skill and a lot of love for each other and their ancestral cuisine. There are generational recipes at play here, resulting in perfectly spiced lamb chops, chicken thighs, beef lule skewers and beef shish, all perfectly cooked over the stovetop grill in the pint-sized Glendale kitchen. Combo plates are exceptional and often large enough for two meals, but Mini Kabob also offers catering trays, if you really want to go big—and with one taste, we’re sure you’ll want to from here on out.

Time Out tip: Don’t let the scant seating scare you away. When the tables were filled, make no mistake that some of our favorite Mini Kabob moments were picnics in the park, and even a quick dinner seated on the curb outside the restaurant.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Woodland Hills
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? An upscale Woodland Hills sushi gem that has a second Santa Monica location in the works. Sourcing his fish from around the world, chef-owner Mark Okuda offers luxury delights like dry-aged salmon and top-notch toro nigiri in a pared-down, intimate restaurant in the western edge of the San Fernando Valley.

Why we love it: With three omakase menus priced at $100, $125 and $180, the Brothers Sushi offers slightly more approachable price points in the realm of upscale sushi dining. However, you also can’t go wrong while ordering a la carte, and their sushi platters and DIY hand roll kits, popular during quarantine, continue to attract takeout customers. Their King Salmon Sushi Sampler, which includes fresh and dry-aged varieties as well as salmon belly topped with caviar, is a must-order for anyone in the mood to splurge.

Time Out tip: If you’d like to dine on a slightly smaller budget, try their weekday lunch menu, available Tuesday through Friday from noon to 2pm, when you can get a $25 five-piece sushi or sashimi set or a $75 omakase menu that includes 10 pieces of their signature nigiri.

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  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Downtown Historic Core
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A modern Indian restaurant (with Downtown and Fairfax locations) marrying Toronto-style swagger and South Asian spice in a combo fit for the streets of L.A. Started by Arjun, Nakul and Pawarn Mahendro, a brother-and-father trio with roots in both Canada and India, Badmaash offers traditional Indian cuisine alongside more playful dishes like chicken tikka poutine and chili cheese naan. 

Why we love it: Whether dining Downtown or on Fairfax, this stylish, destination-worthy eatery consistently churns out some of the best food in the city, whether ordering from their traditional Indian or Badmaash signature menu. Their double-fried chicken, dusted with paprika masala, is craggy, crunchy and out of this world good when dipped into the serrano-cream sauce that comes on the side. No meal would be complete, however, without one of their poutines, which can be topped with chicken tikka or vegetarian-friendly channa masala. 

Time Out tip: Order the oat milk chai, available by the bottle for takeout purchase as well. Sweet, creamy and full of spices, Badmaash’s plant-based version is a lactose-intolerant, sustainability-minded chai lover’s delight.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Downtown Arts District
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? A plant-filled, mostly outdoor rooftop Arts District restaurant hailing from Mexico City with stunning interior design, impeccable cocktails and, of course, great food. 

Why we love it: A tequila-forward cocktail list and dinner menu emphasizing fresh seafood seals the deal on a date-night worthy restaurant whose staff members take a thoughtful approach to service. The addicting house-made tortilla chips, thicker than most you find in this city, make an order of guacamole an essential for any table. Though its bluefin and charred octopus tostadas are the crowd-pleasers, Cha Cha Cha also wows with its grilled mushroom tacos—which we’d order over the meat ones any day of the week.

Time Out tip: Bring a jacket while dining out, since most of the space is outdoors. If you'd rather just get drinks and bar bites, head to the newly opened La Barra inside Cha Cha Cha, which stays open until 2am.

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  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Alhambra
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? An all-day dim sum destination serving some of the plumpest dumplings, the most comforting Cantonese classics and the most luxurious high-end Chinese dishes.

Why we love it: No, you won’t always find the classic pushcarts, but Lunasia offers a fresh refined take on dim sum served late into the evening—refreshing news for dim sum fans who can often only find it during weekend mornings and afternoons. Many of these dumplings—such as the massive shrimp har gow and the shumai—are larger and heftier than your average dim sum spots, and the options to splurge with regional specialties, dried specialty seafood, and dishes such as braised abalone and truffle-topped dumplings makes for a unique and heightened dim sum experience.

Time Out tip: There are other locations, in Pasadena and Cerritos, but if you want the fuller spread of items head to the original Alhambra outpost, which offers the larger menu.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Southeast Cities
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? A casual Afro-Mexican restaurant that specializes in vibrant recipes from Mexico’s Guerrero region. With their food truck turned brick-and-mortar the mother-and-daughters team of the Lorenzo family have room to explore, and never miss the mark—no matter the dish.

Why we love it: Cauldrons of hours-long–simmered pozoles; piles of tender and steaming tamales; and phenomenal, thin, crisped tacos are all worth an order. Flavors here are bold, inspiring and constantly craveable, and with the metamorphosis of this food truck into a walk-up restaurant the Lorenzos have been able to add and add and add, thankfully giving us a now-lengthy menu of saucy picadas, a number of pozoles piled with chicharrones and avocado, and just-barely-fried tacos so thin you feel like you could (and definitely want to) eat 20 of them.

Time Out tip: Be sure to order enough tamales to take home with you—they freeze beautifully, and your future self will thank you.

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  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Alhambra
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? The casual Alhambra restaurant that put Sichuan food on the map for both everyday Angelenos and the food blogger-slash-critic set alike in 2013. With several dishes that capture the unique spicy, numbing mala quality Sichuan cuisine is famous for, Chengdu Taste is a destination restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley that continues to draw new, heat-chasing fans even as it rounds out a decade of business. 

Why we love it: Although owners Tony Xu and Sean Xie have expanded their Mian noodle concept into a mini-chain, it’s their original restaurant, Chengdu Taste, that still sets our hearts—and taste buds—on fire. The cumin toothpick lamb, the cold mung bean noodles in chili paste, the boiled fish with green pepper sauce: just three of the dishes that have made its way into the everyday culinary lexicon in L.A. Though Chengdu Taste also offers more exotic meats like rabbit and frog legs, as well as a show-stopping lion-carved fish, the restaurant’s more everyday level fare, like the toothpick lamb, are what have kept this restaurant on our shortlist whenever we find ourselves craving a touch of Sichuan mala on the tongue. 

Time Out tip: You might be able to order ahead for pick-up, but a sit-down dining experience, complete with white tablecloth, is what truly captures the essence of Chengdu Taste. Lines at this no-reservation spot can get long, but food comes out quickly once you’re seated—so be prepared to wait a bit if you’re arriving at peak hours for dinner and on weekends.

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Culver City
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? The cuisine Hatchet Hall serves isn’t just Southern; it’s American, or more specifically, early American, and the fish, steaks, spoonbreads and skillets of cornbread all come out of a wood-burning hearth. The eatery was most recently featured in Netflix’s High on the Hog—although chefs Brian Dunsmoor and Martin Draluck have left the restaurant since filming. Draluck has since decamped to Baldwin Hills’ Post & Beam, taking the Hemings & Hercules dinner series with him. Nevertheless, rustic charm and excitement still reverberate through every dish. 

Why we love it: Their food is fantastic, and so is the vibe: a vast and candle-lit patio, plus a humming, low-lit dining room make for intimate, romantic settings where regulars feel comfortable enough to mingle over smoked country ham, peel-and-eat shrimp and fennel-dusted pork chop.

Time Out tip: New executive chef Wes Whitsell, formerly of Gjelina and Osteria La Buca, is whipping up new dishes and specials left and right, such as grilled elk loin; barramundi amandine; and Baja kampachi crudo with passion fruit. Stop by to check out his new flavors (but don't forget to order Hatchet classics like the cornbread with honey and butter).

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  • Restaurants
  • Delis
  • Westlake
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Operating out of the same storefront since 1947, this James Beard Award-winning Jewish deli always hits the spot thanks to hot, hand-cut pastrami from recipes that’ve been passed down for generations. There are plenty of other deli classics here, too, but at Langer’s it’s all about the pastrami.

Why we love it: New York may have Katz’s, but we’ve got our own legend-status pastrami shop and it could very well be the best in the country. The #19 is in and of itself a local icon, and is easily one of the most quintessential sandwiches in the city: hot pastrami with swiss, slaw and Russian-style dressing on rye, stacked and thick and juicy. The deli is a bit of a time warp, only adding to the charm of recipes that haven’t changed in decades.

Time Out tip: Parking is a nightmare around the deli, but Langer’s actually operates its own lot—it’s just small, across the street and a block away. Park here and be sure to get your ticket validated because the first 90 minutes are free.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Koreatown
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? This Oaxacan-cuisine Koreatown institution, also a recipient of a James Beard Award, is a national destination for its best-in-class moles, vibrant setting and warm hospitality from its founding owners and operators, the Lopez family.

Why we love it: Family recipes and imported Oaxacan ingredients make this one of the strongest regional Mexican restaurants in not only Los Angeles but the country, and the fact that it’s family-run will extend to you, too: Service is so congenial here, you’ll never feel like a stranger. Live music usually accompanies your meal (and breakfast, lunch and dinner are all available), and it’s not unusual to see diners get up and dance. 

Time Out tip: Want to try and replicate your dish at home? An attached store sells Guelaguetza’s mole—red, black and coloradito—along with ingredients to make their fantastic micheladas. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Persian
  • Glendale
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? An upscale-casual, family-owned Persian restaurant that’s drawn nostalgic Persian Americans and anyone with a hankering for beef koobideh and sabzi polo since 1993. Known for long waits (the restaurant doesn’t take reservations) and excellent food in giant servings, Raffi’s Place is a Valley destination worth putting your name down for. 

Why we love it: This marble-lined, quintessentially L.A. Persian restaurant with striped awnings and a private banquet hall is our favorite place for Persian food across the entire city. From the tahdig, a crispy rice appetizer that can also be topped with stew, to the various kabobs, everything at Raffi’s is excellent, fresh and best of all, shareable. We’re also partial to the sabzi and zereshk polos—rice dishes flavored with fresh herbs and barberries, respectively. 

Time Out tip: Though Raffi’s also has a wine and cocktail list, we recommend ordering a cup of hot Persian tea. Paired with sugarcubes, it’s a nice, refreshing way to end your meal.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Malibu
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary Asian
  • Chinatown
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? David Chang’s first Los Angeles restaurant is a dynamic and playful love letter to L.A. that weaves Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican and other local flavors into an ever-evolving menu at the edge of Chinatown.

Why we love it: Impossible to pin down, the dishes might turn Chinese tradition on its head (see: the bing, a savory wheat pancake, but here served with roe, lamb, caviar and anything else the kitchen might be into lately) or gussy up shaved-ice desserts into towering behemoths equally delicious and Instagrammable. It’s an ode to L.A.’s vast cultural and culinary diversity, and Chang’s first flag planted here is a welcome one that only seems to get better with age.

Time Out tip: Even though Majordōmo’s patio, dining room and chef’s counter are back open, the takeout and delivery options are sticking around—so you can order ahead online.

More top L.A. restaurants

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