Given the popularity of our “Great Food We’ve Eaten in Los Angeles – Part 1” post, a sequel was a foregone conclusion. What can we say…we’ve learned something from spending so much time in Hollywood? In this post, share more of the great L.A. restaurants at which we’ve recently dined, with food photos, and recommendations in terms of dishes we enjoyed.
Since the last L.A. restaurant post, we’ve dedicated ourselves to trying more food in and around Los Angeles in the name of “research” (the sacrifices we make for you!). The reason for this, aside from the fact that we love to eat, is so we can bring you some recommendations of places to eat when you visit Southern California.
As before, we’re only going for focus on the good food. Honestly, that’s the vast majority of what we eat, since we always do a bit of research before choosing a place to dine (unless it’s In-N-Out, which is always a smart bet!). It also doesn’t hurt that Los Angeles is a culinary mecca; the bad restaurants sort of filter themselves out pretty quickly thanks to the ‘natural order’ of competition.
With that said, here’s the list of good restaurants at which we’ve dined recently in Los Angeles…
We needed somewhere to eat before heading to the O.J. Simpson Museum a few weeks ago, and we decided we’d head to Chinatown’s venerable Far East Plaza, a dated strip mall that is inexplicably home to several of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. Our initial pick was Howlin’ Ray’s, but after seeing a line that was supposedly 3+ hours long (which I completely believe), we decided to opt for Chego, which had no line.
It’s almost criminal that the upstart Howlin’ Ray’s has stolen the spotlight from other restaurants in Far East Plaza, especially with places like Chego being so ridiculously good. This mash-up of various Asian cuisines is built upon the rice bowl, with Korean, Vietnamese, and who-knows-what-else also thrown into the mix. The result is a dish bursting with flavor, a true fusion rice bowl that borrows liberally to create something wholly unique.
The Chubby Pork Belly was bursting with flavor and texture, and the chunks of pork were so juicy, so perfectly seasoned and caramelized that they could’ve stood on their own. Yet, these were but one element of one dish…one glorious dish. Sarah was likewise impressed by her Beefy T bowl. (We were both initially concerned that the fried egg would be used to prop up an otherwise so-so dish, but that was anything but the case–it was like a bow on the top of it all.)
In addition, I made the brilliant decision/mistake of ordering the Ooey Gooey Fries. The word ‘life-changing’ gets thrown around a lot when describing trendy food, but I don’t know what other word to use here. Unfortunately, these were also ‘day-changing’ for me, to the extent that I ate an order all by myself along with my entire Chubby Pork Belly bowl, and was in such an intense food coma that we ended our day early.
You should definitely order these, but share them with at least 1-2 other people. They may not look it from the photo above, but the portion is huge–especially if you’re eating an entire bowl by yourself, too.
If all this isn’t enough to sell you on Chego, they have a photo on the wall of Aziz Ansari eating there. Maybe it’ll make the next season of Master of None. (Please, Aziz, film a few episodes in Los Angeles!)
We’ve heard great things about the table service restaurant Roe for a while, but being in town briefly and casually-dressed, we decided to stop at Roe Xpress, the quick service/take out arm of the Long Beach hotspot, instead. Wow, are we ever glad we did.
I had quite the dilemma in ordering: go for a recommended off-menu pick like the calamari fries burrito, or opt for the more conservative blackened swordfish? Since it was our first visit and I wanted a more traditional introduction to the menu, I opted for the latter, but adding the No Joke Fries and garlic bread as my sides, for something of a ‘best of both worlds’ approach. Sarah likewise went with a traditional dish, the mahi; not quite on the same level as the swordfish, but still very good.
My swordfish was exquisitely-spiced, tender, fresh, and perfectly-prepared. I had pretty high expectations given the restaurant’s reputation, but I was nonetheless surprised by the quality of this swordfish. This was on par with what I would’ve expected from a high-end seafood restaurant at a significantly higher price point.
The fries and garlic bread are probably not quite what you’d get at a ritzy seafood restaurant, but they were likewise good. I have no clue what was in that ‘No Joke’ sauce, but it was the stuff dreams are made of. We’ll definitely be back here to try the ‘zanier’ menu items.
After our exceptional experience with Skaf’s Lebanese Cuisine in Glendale, we decided to go back to the Lebanese scene and see if a spot in Hollywood could similarly wow us. While it didn’t quite measure up to Skaf’s, we found it to be excellent in its own right. Located in the same strip mall as Luv2Eat Thai (another favorite from our last installment), Roro’s Chicken is an excellent place to grab a cheap lunch.
Our experience at Roro’s came close to mirroring Skaf’s. The food was inexpensive and portions impressed, with an abundance of complex, nuanced flavor. The menu also offered a lot of variety, and we sampled a variety of options. For me, the clear winners were the Meat Shawerma and Arayes Plate (2 grilled pieces of bread stuffed with marinated beef and lamb).
Located in Little Osaka, Tentenyu Ramen doesn’t have nearly the name recognition as the two “big” ramen joints down the block (featured in our Best Ramen in Los Angeles: Tsujita v. Daikokuya article), at least not in the United States. This decades-old ramen shop was first established in Kyoto, Japan in 1971, and just opened two locations in Los Angeles last year.
Their selling point is a lighter take on ramen, offering chicken-based broth made from pressure cooking poultry in a traditional ramen dish. This purportedly is less likely to induce a ramen coma, and we didn’t feel totally defeated the rest of the day after eating here, so that’s probably true. All things considered, this is good ramen, but compared to some of the heavy hitters in Southern California, I’m not sure that’s enough.
I could see Tentenyu Ramen having appeal for those who have to head back to work after lunch, but I’m perfectly content being useless for the rest of the day after enjoying a marathon ramen session, so I’ll likely stick with Tsujita LA or Daikokuya. To each their own, though!
Cielito Lindo is an to-go dining option located at the end of Olvera Street is itself so famous that we directly recommend it in our 1-Day Downtown Los Angeles Itinerary. Cielito Lindo has a legion of fans, including celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain (if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for us!).
The dish that everyone recommends is the taquitos drenched in avocado sauce. We echo that recommendation, as there’s good reason Cielito Lindo’s taquitos were named one of the most iconic dishes in Los Angeles by EaterLA. The taquitos are not particularly filling, so in addition to a couple of these (or 4-5), we’d recommend a burrito, as well. Or, make this an appetizer on a foodie tour of DTLA. You’re already near Chinatown here, which means easy access to Chego above, and a number of other excellent restaurants.
Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market & Patio Cafe
We’ve dined at Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market & Patio Cafe several times. It’s located only a couple of miles from the most beautiful beach in Southern California, El Matador State Beach, and we’re always looking for somewhere casual after I’m done photographing sunset at the beach.
Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market & Patio Cafe fits the bill there. It’s part fresh seafood market, part outdoor restaurant. If you’re looking for something inexpensive, the fish & chips are a great and popular option. There’s something about the batter, and the quality of the fish used to make them is exceptional. Plus, the portions are ridiculous. The ‘Fresh Grilled Seafood Dinners’ are also good options for a healthier meal (Sarah’s a fan), none offer the kind of bang for your buck as the fish & chips.
Curry House is an unassuming Japanese eatery in Gardena, California that could easily be confused for a mom and pop restaurant being in the same family for generations. In actuality, it’s a chain with 9 locations operating in California since 1983, part of a massive conglomerate in Japan known as House Foods. (My apologies, I cannot find my photo from Curry House, but this looks just like any other Japanese curry.)
Perhaps I have a soft spot for them since House Foods sponsors Country Bear Jamboree in Tokyo Disneyland, which is an international treasure. The curry here is essentially Japan’s take on comfort food, with hearty flavors and fairly mild spicing. Quality is good and portions are generous, which makes Curry House a winner. These are far from complex, “foodie” caliber dishes, but if you’re looking for a delicious meal on a cool evening, Curry House is an excellent option. Go for the Pork Katsu Curry.
Once again, we’ll finish this list with dessert. Beard Papa is a Japanese chain that’s expanded to California, and has a cult-like following that, apparently, includes someone at Disney, as the bakery’s mascot made a cameo in Wreck-It-Ralph as the Kart Bakery security guard (also named Beard Papa).
With locations scattered around Los Angeles (and Southern California), it’s not too hard to track down a Beard Papa’s, and it’s completely worth it. Despite being a chain, the cream puffs they make are phenomenal. These airy pastries are delicious, with a slight crunch to them and decadent custard available in a variety of inventive flavors like green tea. Other pastries are also available, but stick with the tried and true cream puff your first time here.
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 Los Angeles-area restaurants? If so, what did you think of your meal? 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!