We love to eat, and we love Los Angeles. In this post, we combine those two loves, and share some of the great L.A. restaurants at which we’ve recently dined, with food photos, and recommendations in terms of things we enjoyed.
Since I’m guessing most of our readers don’t live in Los Angeles and aren’t visiting just for the food, I think individual restaurant reviews might be a bit much (at least right now). And, because we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of L.A.’s incredible dining scene, attempts at definitive lists are also premature.
Instead, we’re just going to start with some posts that compile some of the food we’ve recently had in and around Los Angeles that we’ve enjoyed. For these posts, we’re only going for focus on the good stuff…which is most of it. I’m not sure whether we’ll do these by season, month, or what. It probably depends on how this first attempt goes, and how many people are interested in posts like this.
If you enjoy this post and would like one for Orange County, let us know in the comments. Even though we live in Orange County, we tend to eat out in Los Angeles more, if only because that’s where to tend to be out and about.
With that said, here’s the list of good restaurants at which we’ve dined recently in Los Angeles…
Skaf’s Lebanese Cuisine
We’ll start with one that’s actually in Glendale, but is only minutes away from Griffith Park. In fact, that’s why we went to Skaf’s Lebanese Cuisine–we had some time to kill after Autry Museum but before a hike in Griffith Park, and traffic was worse in Hollywood than Burbank/Glendale, so we went that route.
HOLY COW. Am I ever glad we chose this spot. If I had to choose an overall favorite from this list (even though that’s not really the point), it’d be Skaf’s. The food was inexpensive, incredibly filling, and every dish was loaded with complex, nuanced flavor. The way everything was seasoned was impressive, and that plus the texture of literally everything on the plate made this a pure culinary delight.
I’m hardly an expert in Lebanese cuisine, but I highly recommend the shawarma and the baklava (don’t share it). The falafel was also good, and the kebabs looked great. (While it might sound exotic, this cuisine is very approachable for most palates.) I’m sure my breath smelled repulsively garlic-y the rest of the day, but I’m not looking to make any new friends, anyway.
One of the challenging things about dining in Los Angeles is finding a place we love (like this) and would love to revisit, but also still having so many new places we also want to try. I suppose that’s about the definition of #FirstWorldProblems.
Even though they are totally different types of food, I’d like to think Skaf’s and Luv2Eat Thai are like “companion” restaurants. Skaf’s had a complex flavor profile thanks to great seasoning, but (at least what we tried) was fairly mild. Luv2Eat Thai, on the other hand, had me sweating by the end of the meal. I commented to Sarah after the meal that it was exhausting, and I meant it. I felt like sleeping the rest of the evening afterwards to recover.
Despite being a truly grueling meal, we loved it. We’ve never had Thai that was this good, combining excellent spices with high quality and absolutely huge portions. The crab curry is their signature dish, and we highly recommend it. I also enjoyed the ribs. Be warned, though–even mild is really spicy. (Tip: order an extra bowl of rice or two.)
Located near Daikokuya in Little Tokyo, this place is almost as popular as that ramen staple (featured in our Best Ramen in Los Angeles: Tsujita v. Daikokuya article). Frequently pointed to as the best udon in Los Angeles, the thick noodles served at Marugame Monzo are perfect. They are dense but not heavy and elastic-y but not too chewy. The noodles also have a nice fresh, flavor and texture (they’re made right in front of you), and the dishes can be as inventive as you’d like.
For most customers (us included), the inventive menu with twists on familiar favorites was the selling point of Marugame Monzo. While traditional hot and cold udon is available, so too are options like fried chicken, duck breast, gratin, and the more creamy/buttery varieties of udon. The standout for me was the Mentai Squid Butter Udon, which I’d order again in a heartbeat.
With so many great Mexican options in Los Angeles, and so many great restaurant options (period) in West Hollywood, this one is not an easy pick. It’s not the best Mexican food in L.A., nor is it a standout in WeHo, but it’s still really good.
We opted for the combo dishes here, which are a bit on the pricey side. We found them to be pretty filling; everything was fresh and the flavor was excellent (particularly the carne asada). For the money, I think there are better options, but I’d still give Pinches pretty high marks. (Sarah flat-out loved it.)
The name of this place is now Meatzilla, but you’ll still find references to Meathead! online. Either way, A+ on the name, fellas. This small burger shack is located in Downtown Los Angeles, right next door to the (I’m just going to go ahead and say it) haunted Stay on Main Hotel.
I’ve posted photos of their glorious pizza burger on the blog before, and after reading about that on EaterLA, that’s why we originally visited. Despite that upgrade looking really cool and the obvious bragging rights in surviving such a harrowing, heart attack-inducing burger, I wouldn’t recommend it. The upgrade is a gimmick, and an overpriced one at that. Instead, pay less to get a double (BEEF! BEEF! Burger) and enjoy the brilliantly-prepared beef without the fluff.
Kula Revolving Sushi Bar
Little Tokyo has so many good restaurants that it’s easy to miss one even after numerous visits. It took us until this year to finally try Kula, and we were immediately sold on it. So much so, in fact, that we revisited it the following week. While you’ll routinely find a line outside this inexpensive, conveyor belt restaurant, it’s worth the wait. (And you’ll find waits at most of the best spots in Little Tokyo, anyway.)
Kula Revolving Sushi Bar is a great option because it’s flat-out fun, and the sushi is shockingly high quality for conveyor belt fare. We’ve paid more at standalone sushi spots in Southern California that were lower quality–this was good even by Japan conveyor belt sushi bar standards. If you’re not a sushi fan, other made-to-order menu items are available and also delivered via conveyor belt. (Pro tip: defeat two monsters by ‘throwing’ 15 sushi plates at them and win a prize!)
As far as eateries in Downtown Los Angeles’ Grand Central Market go, Eggslut is inarguably the most popular and well-known (its name cachet stretches to New York, where a pop-up store opened this spring). I’m not sure I even want to know what that name means, but as far as erotic breakfast sandwich shops go, this is the best anywhere.
Really, calling it a breakfast sandwich undersells what Eggslut is serving, which can be enjoyed for lunch or dinner (and is by many–you’ll frequently encounter 45 minute waits here). The menu consists of familiar but inventive burger-like sandwiches that are insanely good. I had heard so much hype about Eggslut (that name draws a lot of attention) before dining here that I was expecting to be letdown. Not the case at all–this is one of those rare, trendy Los Angeles hot spots that actually lives up to the hype.
McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams
What would all of this food be without some dessert? Currently, our favorite ice cream in all of Los Angeles (and we’re fiends for ice cream, so we’ve tried many) is McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, which has a few locations–most notably in DTLA’s Grand Central Market.
There are a few classic, standby flavors here, but the highlight of McConnell’s is their inventive and seasonal ice cream flavors. On our last visit, we ordered four different flavors (plus samples before even narrowing it to only four, naturally). Our favorite is their Banana & Salted Caramel, which might just be my favorite flavor of ice cream all-time. I also really liked the Eureka Lemon and Marionberries, which I found unique, and very California-y.
That’s it…for now. Like Olive Garden’s unlimited breadsticks (except actually good), we have a bottomless list of places to eat in Los Angeles. Seriously–every time I cross a place off the list, it seems like 2-3 others are added to it. It’s one of the world’s greatest food cities, and I doubt we’ll ever conquer all of its great restaurants. But we’re prepared to die trying! 😉
If you’re planning an L.A. vacation, check out our Ultimate Guide to Los Angeles. For even more things to do, The Best Things to Do in Los Angeles: 1001 Ideas is an exceptional resource, which is written by locals (and we use it even as locals!). If you enjoyed this post, help spread the word by sharing it via social media. Thanks for reading!
Have you dined at any of these L.A. restaurants? If so, what did you think of your meal? Does this type of post interest you as an ongoing series on the blog? Any restaurants you’d recommend we check out in or around Los Angeles? Any tips to add that we didn’t cover? Do any of these restaurants interest you? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!