Being a native of Los Angeles, it never occurred to me to write much about this city. I am just so focused on all of the places outside of L.A.! However, when a good friend of mine admitted that she had no idea where to eat nowadays or what was happening in the food scene, I realized I may as well do a post on this fine, sprawled out city.
Just like most large cities, the food scene in L.A. is always changing and evolving. Sure, there are a few old classics, but the majority of the best restaurants are relatively new.
Ahhhh, brunch. Long waits, bottomless mimosas, eggs Benedict...good times. My sister and I are both on a never-ending brunch quest. Restaurants close, hype fades, traffic worsens, or the wait becomes too long and they're too cool to take reservations...so, on to try the next spot. These are the current favorites:
Eveleigh's avocado toast is just, well, REALLY good. I always try to order it for myself and make a meal out of it, but once it arrives, the rest of the table starts pawing at it! Thieves! Make a reservation and request to sit on the back patio to avoid the noise of Sunset Blvd.
If you can snag a parking spot, Joan's on Third is my favorite place to get a sandwich and, of course, peruse the market for some snacks...I obviously need 14 expensive cheeses and a baguette for later. I try to avoid the scene/lunch crowd and go at random times, like mid-morning on weekdays or later in the afternoon. This place doesn't need anymore press or fans, but I can't deny my love for the Joan.
Suzanne Goin's A.O.C. has a really great patio and the perfect light menu for lunch. If you're near Brentwood, her other restaurant, Tavern, is also fantastic for lunch, either in the restaurant or at The Larder.
My favorite veggie burger, to date, can be found at R+D Kitchen in Santa Monica. It's a mixture of brown rice, almonds, mushrooms, and veggies. It is really, really delicious. Note: I did not say it's "healthy". If you are looking for great overall vegan and vegetarian food, I highly recommend Real Food Daily, with a couple of locations around L.A. Their food is exceptional and their cookbook continues to be a great reference.
For a special dinner, Providence is my #1 choice. It's a seafood-focused fine dining restaurant with some of the best food and service in the city.
If you're looking for a more casual dinner, I can't help but recommend Son of a Gun, which may just be my favorite restaurant in L.A. Their tiny little lobster roll makes me so happy and they treat seafood with an enormous amount of respect. Their food is simple and delicious. If you prefer offal and meaty goodness, head to their other restaurant, Animal. Pizzeria Mozza (their pizza is good, but I actually go for their appetizers and salads, specifically the fried squash blossoms, caprese, and bruschette), Cooks County, and bäco mercat are also fantastic choices for a consistently great meal.
For excellent and simple Thai food, go to Night + Market in West Hollywood, which was just named one of Bon Appetit's "Best New Restaurants". Their food is super spicy, which I like, and the crispy rice salad is one of my favorite things in existence. Order some Thai beer to tame the heat or choose from their surprisingly impressive wine list.
Cocktails & Snacks
There are a ton of places to get a decent cocktail in L.A., but who doesn't want a nice snack to go along with their drink?
ink. has great cocktails and their dinner menu is very playful for a fun evening out. However, I'd rather sit at the bar with a cocktail and their crudité or their (freakin' amazing) salt and charcoal potatoes instead of sitting down to a full meal.
Excellent cocktails and snacks can also be had, from west to east, in Venice at The Tasting Kitchen, in Brentwood at Tavern, in Century City at Hinoki & The Bird, in West Hollywood at Eveleigh or Connie & Ted's, and downtown at Bar Amá or bäco mercat.
Oysters: An Important Food Group
Since I recently lived in New England, I thoroughly appreciate Connie & Ted's in West Hollywood. It is a New England-style seafood joint and really one of the few places in L.A. to get consistently great oysters, clams, and perhaps a lobster roll. Oh, and of course they have an excellent local beer list and great cocktails!
Alright, so Afternoon Tea at the Montage in Beverly Hills is such a thing and I hate to admit that it really is the best and most convenient option for afternoon tea in this general area. I'm a real sucker for a good afternoon tea! Make a reservation and try to go early to avoid the worst of the traffic. Or, better yet, just stay at the Montage!
Fish & Seafood: Santa Monica Seafood
Cheese: Farm Shop at the Brentwood Country Mart, Joan's on Third, The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills (don't forget to ask them to help you choose the proper wine for your cheese. Their wine selection is small, but excellent.)
Old-School Jewish Deli: Greenblatt's has been around since 1926 - and for good reason. They have an awesome deli counter and one of the best pastrami sandwiches in the city. They also have a really great wine shop and are open 'til 2 a.m. every single day of the year, so it's no surprise that it's a popular late-night stop after nearby comedy shows and concerts let out.