I never recommend that anyone visit LA without a local guide. The tourist attractions are disgusting but the city is just filled with amazing places scattered here and there. Listed are a few of my favorite restaurants. While LA doesn’t really have a “local delicacy” like Nashville hot chicken or Texas BBQ, it has the largest diversity of amazing food. One can easily find world class anything in LA.
This is my favorite restaurant. You can find this sushi spot scattered around in LA and NYC. They don’t take reservations. It’s normally served omakase but you can order a la carte too. I recommend trying the omakase trust me menu at least once. My favorite item is the albacore. I can’t find a place that serves albacore the same way, it’s delicious.
Rock Sugar ($$$)
Whenever someone asks me for food from “my culture” I take them here. It’s a very modern interpretation of SE Asian food. My favorite item is the beef skewers. My favorite thing to do is eat all of the appetizers and skip a main course. The service is excellent, they are attentive and even give you warm towels after you finish finger foods. If you want Pho, don’t get it here. Go to Little Saigon where all the Vietnamese people live.
CoCo IchiBanya ($$)
A Japanese curry chain that’s made its way over to California from Japan. I love the chicken curry cutlet with omelet. They don’t mess around with the spice either.
Great place to hangout in the Art’s district. They have sausages for a snack and an amazing tap room. All of the beers are matched to their own unique glass. Get drunk then go walk to the nearby art galleries!
Bottega Louie ($$$)
The famous macaroon place from Paris. Those little cookies aren’t cheap but they are so good. It really must be difficult to perfect that texture. It’s a nice place to sit down while waiting for Sugarfish to call your reservation or while shopping on rodeo.
Salt n Straw ($)
I’m not too big into ice cream but this is the unanimous favorite among my family. My favorite flavor is Honey Lavender.
La Colombe ($)
More popular on the east coast, these have started springing up in LA. My favorite coffee, the Oatmilk Draft Latte. Feels like you’re drinking a coffee flavored cloud.
So famous they rap about this place. A celebrity hot spot for sushi with stunning views. I haven’t had the chance to visit the one specifically in Malibu but they’re supposed to be consistent no matter which location you visit. You must call for a reservation or you will not get a seat. You can find these in high end neighborhoods around the world.
Original Ave 26 Tacos ($)
Of course you want some tacos while visiting California right? Well if you aren’t visiting El Gordos in San Diego, try this LA fav. It has three locations all not on 26th (update: the Lincoln Heights location has closed down, they don’t update their website). The most convenient location is at 816 W 8th, this location closes early though so go for lunch.
Ajisen Ramen ($$)
My favorite ramen place. I get the ABC ramen. It’s a chain so you should be able to find these around. Honorary mention to runner up, Shin Sen Gumi which allows for noodle refills and is a great value!
Udon served cafeteria style.
Castle BBQ ($)
If for some reason they don’t have all you can eat KBBQ where you’re from, try it. I can eat pounds of brisket with brisket sauce, salt, and oil. Maybe a radish to cleanse the palate here and there.
My favorite boba place! The drinks are so creamy and yummy.
Unhealthy LA Traditions
Original Tommy’s ($)
Best chain of chili burger and chili fries.
LA famous hot dog place. Yes, the hot dog snaps when you bite into it.
Howlin Rays ($$)
Nashville hot chicken that would give Nashville a run for their money.