Every Friday our editors compile a trusty list of recommendations to answer the most pressing of questions: “Where should I eat?“ Here now are four places to check out this weekend in Los Angeles. And if you need some ideas on where to drink, here’s our list of the hottest places to get cocktails in town.
If there was ever a time to support Olvera Street restaurants, now is it. With news that longstanding La Golondrina is facing eviction, take the Metro or drive to this joyful cobblestoned stretch of LA and order from Cielito Lindo. The beef taquitos with avocado sauce have kept the humble restaurant in business since 1934, but the burritos with beef chile Colorado, chile relleno, or chile verde pork are also worth ordering with wonderful beans and cheese. The plant-based crowd can secure burritos made with Soyrizo. For those who want to enjoy everything hot from the privacy of home, take home a dozen frozen taquitos for $24. The Lincoln Heights location is ideal for those needing a quick and easier-to-park stop. 23 Olvera Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 — Mona Holmes, reporter
Chef Tuệ Nguyễn is settling in nicely at her first restaurant in West Hollywood. Usually found nightly at Đi Đi’s busy pass, Nguyễn oversees every plate that goes into the dining room, making sure everything is on point for her legion of fans. Cocktails (the Nguyễn in Rome is particularly fetching) and shrimp toast make for excellent starters before passing around platters of phở-flavored beef carpaccio, luscious lemongrass pork toro, knife-cut noodles, and so much more. Tway-nized Vietnamese food is a careful balance of familiar and exciting, capturing the joy of dining with loved ones, just like in Vietnam. 755 N. La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90069. — Cathy Chaplin, senior report/editor
A surprising recent addition to Redondo Beach, Rex Steakhouse occupies a three-story building with a nicely designed dining room and rooftop cocktail bar. Opened a few years ago under the direction of chef Walter Nunez (Faith & Flower), the unpretentious restaurant offers one of the most compelling upscale dining experiences in Redondo, with polished service, easygoing but well-made cocktails (try the milk punch with coconut, pineapple, and sherry), and terrific wood-grilled steaks. On the side, some crisp baby potatoes and roasted wild mushrooms work as great accompaniments to the dry-aged bone-in Kansas City strip priced at a modest $80 and big enough for two. And for dessert, a butter cake that would compete with Mastro’s and a salted caramel budino that’s as good as Pizzeria Mozza’s. For those living in the South Bay, having a steakhouse of this caliber is a true boon. 221 Avenue I, Suite 100, Redondo Beach, CA 90277. — Matthew Kang, lead editor
For this week’s restaurant recommendation, let us end at the beginning. After nearly nine years, I am leaving Eater out the side door, slinking away to a new gig in LA and leaving the site in the more than capable hands of Matthew Kang, Cathy Chaplin, Mona Holmes, and the rest of the crew. I’ll think endlessly of the team, our time together, and the restaurants that we were able to cover, to love, and to enjoy. This city has given me so much, and I have been able (through this job) to enjoy some of the best restaurants and talk to the best people over those many years. But if I were to leave LA tomorrow — which I’m not doing — there is no other place I’d rather go out enjoying than the El Chato taco truck on La Brea.
This humble parking lot option has been feeding me since my first days in LA more than 15 years ago, and it continues to play the al pastor and asada hits to lines of customers just about every night. The tacos are fantastic, though admittedly there are better trucks and stands around town, but the real stars are the softened side onions and the smoky, thick salsa that lands on top of everything. These are small, inexpensive tacos served the way Angelenos demand, without fuss and with an impressive amount of flavor. El Chato helped me to understand what food means to Los Angeles, and, by extension, it helped me to land the greatest job I’ve ever had here at Eater LA. Tonight, I know where I’ll be eating. 1013 S. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90019. — Farley Elliott, senior editor
Los Angeles is no stranger to the all-day cafe concept. These places, often heavily art-directed with lots of pastel tones and live houseplants, have become the modern neighborhood restaurant, offering something for everyone but little in the way of excellence. There are standouts (Great White among them) to be sure, but it’s rare that these brand-heavy cafes really make a dent in their local neighborhoods, opting instead to catch passing traffic or to expand, like Sweetgreen, into every unused corner of every part of town.
Of the few that get it right, Alfalfa stands at or near the top, with a menu that spans salads and plant-based items as well as breakfast burritos, coffee, and gluten-free doughnuts. It’s an eclectic assemblage of dishes meant to make for easy eating, and indeed it has; the Santa Monica location on Main Street is routinely busy throughout the entire day.
Thankfully the company isn’t interested in unsustainable growth, opting instead to have just a handful of locations on both coasts, including a new outlet in Larchmont that arrived this month. Stop by for the Peruvian chicken salad with chicken thighs, queso fresco, and black beans, or a stone fruit option with the last, best flavors of summer. Either makes for a hearty meal that still leaves room to catch an after-lunch treat just around the corner on Larchmont proper. Welcome to the neighborhood, Alfalfa. 5570 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038. — Farley Elliott, senior editor
Some weekends call for proper pampering and the place to be is Merois at the Pendry hotel in West Hollywood. Whether seated outdoors near the pool or in the sumptuously appointed dining room, there’s no bad seat in the house. Wolfgang Puck’s winding menu has something for everyone and dessert is definitely in order. Start with a few skewers grilled over binchotan, the Spanish octopus and beef skewers are both appealing for a surf and turf experience. Nearly every table orders the sizzling whole fish with a pineapple glaze or the tremendous Shanghai lobster with crispy spinach and rice. To finish, the perfectly purple ube Basque cheesecake is velvety smooth, while the halo-halo refreshes as only it can. 8430 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069. — Cathy Chaplin, senior reporter/editor
Like any economically advanced country, there’s a yearning for food that reflects simpler times in South Korea. And often that food is more fulfilling and nutritious than modern ingredients could ever provide. South Korea’s mild trend toward boribap, or steamed barley mixed with rice that one would expect in the countryside, has finally filtered into Los Angeles. Fans of Hangari Kalguksu will be familiar with the idea of mixing the plump grains with pickled banchan and doenjang for a healthy, flavor-packed appetizer.
Borit Gogae takes that idea to the nth degree, with a dozen or so banchan of radish, peppers, mushrooms, sprouts, kimchi, snails, and more. The coursed meal serves two people at about $70 (solo diners aren’t encouraged as this is more of a communal eating experience) and also comes with a squash soup and broth to help wash things down. The overall effect, with the K-Drama-style piano tunes playing throughout the evening and wine bottles adorned with cute hanbok, is a thoughtful, peaceful, and wholesome meal for both the body and mind that only traditional Korean food could make work. Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. 464 W. 8th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90005. — Matthew Kang, lead editor
Plan accordingly when venturing out to Hanami Teppanyaki Grill in Norwalk as there’s almost always a line. Hanami is a similar distance from Downtown to Santa Monica with food that’s protein-heavy and full of flavor. Platters include hibachi chicken, lobster, or combinations with filet mignon and scallops accompanied by steamed rice and vegetables. Plus, they provide three sauces per plate including garlic butter, teriyaki, a house-made hot sauce, and more. For those venturing out with little ones, the Hanami folks have you covered. Just order a side of the flavorful rice or yakisoba noodles. 11770 Firestone Boulevard, Norwalk, CA, 90650. — Mona Holmes
The Ventura Boulevard stretch from Encino to Studio City is often called Sushi Row for its many Japanese restaurants and deep history with sushi at all price points and levels. Yume Sushi, a neighborhood hangout in the tony Silver Triangle area, fits in well with the competition, offering local diners a buzzy afternoon experience that definitely punches above its weight. There are staples on the menu that reflect Sushi Row standards — try the spicy tuna on crispy rice — but what really sets Yumi apart from the usual locals-only joints is the quality of the fish and the inventiveness of the menu.
Miso eggplant and blistered green beans move seamlessly into grilled jumbo shrimp, salmon belly bites, lots of toro, and bigger plates like the zippy citrus roll. The place is jumping midweek with a mix of diners looking to relax with a drink or just get in and out. Yume does it all and well, which is no small feat on such a crowded street. 12254 Ventura Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 91604. — Farley Elliott, senior editor
Burbank’s Castaway has been a Valley staple for decades, serving brunch, lunch, and dinner to groups who flock for the view or to celebrate special occasions. The menu is straightforward, featuring options like chicken and waffles or french toast for brunch, wild mushroom pappardelle and salmon for lunch or dinner. And while dishes like the smoked tomato salad and miso-marinated butterfish are worth trying, what makes a visit to this Valley favorite feel like a treat is the ambiance. From the scenic drive up the hill to the restaurant to drinks served in floating glasses, through dessert, everything at Castaway is meant to feel a little more special. 1250 E. Harvard Road, Burbank, CA 91510. — Virali Dave, editor
There are plenty of great sushi omakase options in Los Angeles. For those searching for a solid experience priced somewhere between Morihiro’s $400 extravaganza and Sushi Chitose’s highly affordable $75 affair, come into Sushi Tama. Chef Hideyuki “Yoshi” Yoshimoto’s $180 experience is a welcoming affair that’s polished yet comfortable. The omakase begins with a progression of seasonal dishes. On my visit, the chef served Hokkaido hairy crab with vinegar, a luscious bite of fresh octopus, and grilled sea perch served over rice, among others. The parade of nigiri that followed included crowd-pleasing pieces like red snapper, medium and fatty tuna, sea urchin, and medium-rare tiger shrimp. The 10-piece sushi lineup changes from day to day depending on what’s freshest and in stock but always ends with miso soup and green tea ice cream for dessert. 116 N. Robertson Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048. — Cathy Chaplin, senior reporter/editor
Ask Walter Manzke, co-owner and chef of Manzke restaurant perched above Bicyclette, his neighborhood bistro, why he wanted to open an upscale tasting menu, and he’ll say that he just wanted to make something that so clearly expressed what makes eating in Los Angeles so great. Given his and James Beard Award-winning partner and wife Margarita’s long tenures at the likes of L’Auberge Carmel, Patina, and Bastide, it made sense that they team up to have a halo restaurant for their empire, which includes 17 locations of Wild Flour in Manila, Philippines, as well as République, Sari Sari Store, and Petty Cash Taqueria here in LA. And what a halo Manzke is. While the likes of Per Se or the French Laundry encapsulate a three-Michelin-star approach to seasonal modern French fare, Manzke competently weaves Asian and classic European thinking with a decidedly California approach.
That means perfect ingredients melded seamlessly with the highest quality luxury items in heavy doses. Consider the corn soup with chanterelles and Thai curry, served in a humble ceramic cup but maxing out on sweet, salty, and aromatic spices. Or Dungness crab served with hokkaido uni chawanmushi, and Kaluga queen caviar. Those who enjoyed a similar East-West mentality at Saison might find a lot to like here but with Manzke’s less fiery approach and more classical restraint. Mid-course the meal weaves in spot prawn kissed by the flame and a seared kinmedai with a smoked beurre blanc, before cascading to Liberty Farms duck and Miyazaki wagyu striploin with perigourdine sauce served with a delightful minimalism. One would be remiss to miss cocktails or wine pairings, thoughtful and well-curated at every step, from vintage Negroni to grand cru Chalbis. And the lone dessert by Margarita captures strawberries at its delicate elemental perfection. In all, Manzke wouldn’t be a casual weekend dinner. Given the cost, it’s certainly a rare celebration or special evening to cherish, but one that does illustrate that LA’s fine dining can compete with the best in the country and the world. 9575 W. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90035. — Matthew Kang, lead editor
While some avoid eating hot foods during the summer months, others embrace soups, stews, and porridge year-round. For those who fall in the latter camp, head to Myung Ga Haejangguk in Arcadia for a bevy of well-executed Korean soups and stews. The portions are hefty and served with a trio of simple but excellent banchan (kimchi, radishes, and chives). The combination of offals and spice in the soondaeguk is irresistible, while the simpler galbitang makes for a comforting choice. Large-format proteins including pig feet (jokbal) and pork belly (bossam) served with lettuce wraps are on hand for those who prefer to save soups for fall and winter. 1220 S. Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia, CA 91007. — Cathy Chaplin, senior reporter/editor
There’s a new vendor at the Original Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax, though the food itself looks anything but brand new. Angeleno Jay Wolfe’s Thicc Burgers is now on the scene after years of cross-country pop-ups and sellout events, turning a former produce stand into a fully realized kitchen for burgers, fries, shakes, and more. Wolfe won the market’s New Originals pop-up contest, earning the space and several months of free rent in the process, thanks to their menu of LA classic “hood burgers,” as Wolfe calls them. Bigger, meatier, and messier than the current smash trend, these burgers are meant to feed a crowd and can be found at corner spots across LA and classic destinations like Hawkins House of Burgers. It’s great to see a new take on a familiar format, and even better to see Wolfe running the show at their very own restaurant. Stop by for a classic beef cheeseburger or, better still, the leaner, saltier, and very delicious turkey burger with lots of warm onions and, crucially, the toppings on the bottom. 6333 W. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90036. — Farley Elliott, senior editor
Sherman Oak’s Mizlala is the neighborhood spot for those in the area looking for something reliable, fresh, and filling before a movie at the Galleria or for an evening date. While the restaurant has changed a lot in recent years — including a bigger focus on takeout orders rather than sit-down service, plus a simplified menu and some interior changes — the Mediterranean spot still has incredible bang for its buck. With entrees served as salads, plates, or pitas, portions are always generous. The sides are where the menu really shines, including some standout dishes like the Brussels sprouts with almonds, smoked paprika, and cilantro, or the crispy broccoli with vegan aioli, capers, za’atar, lemon, and herbs. 4515 Sepulveda Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403. — Virali Dave
In the realm of Beverly Hills’ Golden Triangle, it’s hard to think of a cuisine more oversaturated than Italian. But what places like La Dolce Vita, Il Pastaio, Via Alloro, E Baldi, and Nerano don’t have are New York City import Dante’s views of the Hollywood Hills, which gleam at night as the sun goes down. Ask any New Yorkers about the expansion, and most will say the place is more known for its cocktails, which are indeed excellent, like the passionfruit-infused Aperol spritz.
The food is impressive and crowd-pleasing, like crisp mare misto or the in-season heirloom tomato and peach salad with herbs and freekah. Pastas are well-portioned and satisfying, including pesto gemelli corti and linguine vongole. Wood-fired pizzas are about as good as Roberta’s, on this side of Neapolitan with its limper crust. Nab one of Dante’s plush royal blue banquettes and waste away the last weekends of summer with a world-class view, sipping foam-topped cocktails and nibbling at a bowl of roasted peach melba. 225 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA, 90210. — Matthew Kang, lead editor
There are a few days each summer when the heat can feel never-ending, and the best way to catch a break is at the beach. Prima Cantina, a short drive from Will Rogers State Beach, is a spot worth trying when pre-packed snacks and drinks run out and it’s time to leave the sand. The food hits the spot after a long day in the sun, the margaritas are cold and strong, and the staff is warm and attentive. 15246 Sunset Boulevard, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272. — Virali Dave, editor
Open Market is the kind of place that every corner of Los Angeles deserves. The Koreatown space, small as it may seem, is equal parts packaged goods market (Boon sauce, anyone? How about some tinned fish?), wine shop, coffee bar, and restaurant. The place does breakfast all day — try the O.M. sandwich with a housemade sausage patty — and makes some of the best sandwiches in the city, to say nothing of the baked goods and sides like smashed potatoes or a salad. It’s hard to imagine anyone going wrong at this breakfast-through-evening Wilshire Boulevard destination, especially considering the vegetarian Mariposa sandwich with grilled oyster mushrooms and pickled pineapple may be the best bite of the bunch. Stop by to stock up on pantry staples, or to score a matcha latte while walking around Koreatown for the afternoon. Seriously, you’ll find something you like there, guaranteed. 3339 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90010. — Farley Elliott, senior editor
It’s hard to think of a better way to start the weekend than lunching in the breezy courtyard of Za Za Zá in Frogtown. The easy, Valle de Guadelupe-esque vibes found behind big sister restaurant Loreto are as good as it gets — tables large and small fill the secluded dirt lot with plenty of leafy overhang for shade. On the menu of the daytime-only spot are seafood-driven small plates, like shrimp aguachiles, yellowtail tostadas, and cheesy swordfish tacos. Heftier offerings include a squid torta with chorizo, black beans, and cheese, and fully loaded fries with shrimp, lobster mayo, and more. A tight list of wine, beers, and cocktails is on hand for day drinking — and spicy margaritas are just the thing to transport tastebuds south of the border. 1995 Blake Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90039. — Cathy Chaplin, senior reporter/editor
It wasn’t as clear then, but chef Joe Miller was way ahead of his time. The late Venice-based chef opened Pinxtos in Santa Monica back in 2007, well before LA’s awareness of Basque and Spanish food. Still, it operated for almost a decade before closing. In recent years, Spanish cuisine has exploded in LA, with most of it fine-to-forgettable, but Xuntos from Gasolina Cafe owner Sandra Cordero arrives like a breath of fresh Iberian air. Recalling summers spent in Galicia, Catalonia, and Basque country, the Spanish/Dutch chef has clearly seen the trend crest in LA with the intention of besting them all. Given the intimate dining space she’s occupied in downtown Santa Monica, Cordero has already succeeded on multiple levels. There’s a cute standing area for sipping sherry, vermouth, or cocktails while diners sit strewn across various mezzanines and rooms. The food whips out like it would in Spain, delectable bechamel-filled croquettes, grilled lamb skewers topped with romesco, and thin bikini sandwiches with single layers of jamón and mozzarella. The wedge of empanada gallega might’ve been my favorite pintxo (smaller bite), stuffed with canned tuna, peppers, and onions. The tapas menu features a slew of harder-to-find Spanish specialties, like the ultra-crisp anchoas fritas (whole fried anchovies), and plump, garlicky gambas al ajillo, which are amazing. From start to finish, Xuntos is the most complete and best-executed new Spanish restaurant in LA, and the one I’m aching to return to. 516 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90401 —Matthew Kang, lead editor
Los Angeles has seen plenty of openings (and closings) this summer, and while there’s always something new worth trying in this ever-changing city, one of the biggest joys of calling a place home is getting to revisit your favorites. Highland Park’s Joy on York is one of those places where the menu doesn’t undergo big menu refreshes, making it easy for diners to find their favorite dishes and order them over and over again. The thousand-layer pancake with egg, cheese, chile oil, and basil is always worth ordering, as are the dan dan noodles, served with or without chicken breast. Both are hearty and warm enough to be peak comfort food, and complex and flavorful enough to always make for exciting bites. In a dining scene that has seen so many changes in recent years, it’s nice to have those few, favored dishes that always hit. 5100 York Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90042. — Virali Dave, editor
When Arth Bar and Kitchen opened a few years ago in Culver City, the collective food media looked over just how great it was. I was prompted to visit after seeing Time Out LA editor Patricia Kelly Yeo rave about it on social media. The lunch menu is especially great, with a wide selection of classic Indian dishes like avocado bhel and pav bhaji served before a slew of entrees that come with a choice of cumin-cilantro rice or aromatic garlic black truffle naan. In between, there are some very nice tandoori proteins like spicy shrimp or lamb seeekh kebab with truffle oil (thankfully, used with restraint). The butter chicken is exemplary, balanced and just rich enough with tender slices of chicken breast. The coconut milk-tinted fish moilee was also impressive, with hints of chile oil to cut through the sauce. The best part is the fairly approachable price point, well under $20 per person before tax, drinks, and tip, but generously portioned that one might expect to take home leftovers. Unfortunately, we skipped dessert, but the mango lassi at the start of the meal proved that you can always have sweets before savory. 9531 Culver Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232. —Matthew Kang
Holy Basil, the Downtown takeout window from chef Wedchayan “Deau” Arpapornnopparat and partner Tongkamal “Joy” Yuon, serves a special Thai-style seafood menu on Friday and Saturday evenings starting at 5:30 p.m. called “Yum Los Angeles.” (Holy Basil’s standard menu with curries, noodles, and rice dishes is served concurrently.) Though the seafood specials change from week to week, the menu always features sustainable seafood prepared in familiar yet dynamic ways. A recent visit included a raw oyster salad brimming with fried shallots and aromatics, along with a wild shrimp aguachile that was supple and refreshing. The hefty and deftly prepared Maine lobster curry left us all clamoring to return soon. 718 S. Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles, CA 90014. — Cathy Chaplin
There is a corner of Ocean Park Boulevard in Santa Monica that is so busy on weekends, one might confuse the address with some kind of daytime club or fan signing event. As it turns out, it’s just Layla Bagels and several other busy restaurants operating next door to each other, helping to create one of the most fun weekend dining environments in all of Los Angeles at the moment. With a focus on airy, slightly crispy bagels topped with a variety of ultra-fresh and seasonal ingredients, Layla has become one of the city’s go-to destinations for bagels, with diners lining up to score staples like the Laika with smoked salmon and lots of tomato and cucumber. There are scrambled egg and cheese sandwiches for those craving something warm, though anyone seeking the best of the season would do well to head for the Scarlett with tomato, lemon zest, and chile flakes on top of cream cheese. Hours run daily and start at 7 a.m. sharp, so beating the crowds might require setting an alarm clock. 1614 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90405. — Farley Elliott, senior editor
III Mas is well known in Armenian food circles. The longtime pop-up and occasional backyard restaurant has for years now been turning out grilled meats, lahmajun, and other flavorful dishes in the greater Glendale area. Young chef Arthur Grigoryan has an impressive kitchen resume (including stints at fine dining spots in France, as well as Osteria Mozza here in LA), but he often seems happiest smoking basturma briskets or setting up skewers of meat on the fire for III Mas. This weekend Grigoryan will be pairing his menu of meats and pita with natural wine from Buvons, the Long Beach bar and shop from former Eater Award winner Alicia Kemper. It’s an ideal summer pairing, set against the breezy backdrop of the coastal city. The food starts at 4 p.m., so don’t miss out. 1147 Loma Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90804. — Farley Elliott, senior editor
At Delhi Belly, a self-anointed “modern Indian bistro” in Alhambra, chef Sagar Ghosh serves a winding menu of traditional Indian fare along with personal interpretations of dishes. The casual dining room and highly-shareable menu make it an ideal spot for meeting up with a large group. Most tables begin with an order of “sexy” fries — its squiggle of chutneys and sauces makes it “sexy,” according to a server. From there, heaping bowls of butter chicken, saag paneer, and jackfruit masala, paired with saffron rice and several baskets of naan, are made for passing around the table until bellies are properly stuffed. 8 W. Main Street, Alhambra, CA 91801. — Cathy Chaplin, senior reporter/editor
The hickory burger has always been with us. The Apple Pan’s most enduring, familiar menu item tastes like nothing else and is immediately recognizable to any Angeleno who enjoys a good cheeseburger. New fans keep finding their way to Pico Boulevard for the griddled masterpiece with the semi-sweet sauce, but there is little new about the place itself, except for the owners, the payment processing systems, and the attention. A meal at the Apple Pan isn’t quite like stepping back in time — it’s more like stepping into the very heart of Los Angeles food culture. Timeless, tasty, and as triumphant as ever — that’s the Apple Pan to a T. 10801 W. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90604. — Farley Elliott, senior editor
Venice’s new Owa, which took the space once occupied by Wabi until a 2018 fire forced its closure and eventual move to Rose Avenue, has a lot of the spirit of its predecessor. A long, funky bar with a wavy gold rim weaves around the front room. The rear of the restaurant has been expanded into two sections: an inside-outside “patio” with an ethereal atrium effect from its open ceiling and hanging plants, and more seating surrounding the sushi bar. There’s no breaking the wheel at Owa, just nigiri, sashimi, maki, and Japanese snacks made right. That weekend evenings see it turn into a loungey dance party and its large front windows spill out to Abbot Kinney, a block seeing a lot of new life (Enrique Olvera’s Atla opened at the other end of the strip in July), is a plus. 1635 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291. — Nicole Adlman, cities manager
While there are plenty of stellar bagel options throughout LA, East Coast Bagels has been serving New York-style bagels in Westlake Village since 1995. The bagel shop prides itself in hiring local high schoolers and decorating its walls with memorabilia from former staff members’ colleges when they graduate. And while some popular bagel spots in LA serve sandwiches that can run up to $15, prices are lower at East Coast and always feature fresh ingredients made on premises. 1014 S. Westlake Boulevard, Suite 2. Westlake Village, CA 91361. — Virali Dave, editor
Atla, Enrique Olvera’s new all-day cafe in the former Hal’s space on Venice’s Abbot Kinney Boulevard, closely follows the model and polish of its New York predecessor. There are classic margaritas served in tall salt-capped glasses. There is $19 guacamole wearing what can reasonably be described as a flower crown. There is gringa-style al pastor artfully arranged on its flour tortilla canvas and splattered with pineapple butter. Here, flaxseeds pock the chilaquiles and the beef barbacoa offers no hint that it is something that possibly rendered its fat for hours. Olvera fans might not find the precision of Damian or the back alley treasures of Ditroit, but there are some standouts for beach-going weekend revelers: the shrimp taco, its protein served head-on and doused with a peppery salsa before bedded in a Chihuahua cheese-crusted corn tortilla. The gluten-free tres leches cake, so soaked with its namesake milks and piled with fresh fruit that its middle quivers under the weight when it lands on the table. If that’s not convincing, the place is also unimpeachable for people-watching. 1025 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291. — Nicole Adlman, cities manager
For those who missed the LA County Fair this past May, the OC Fair is here to satisfy any and all carnival concession cravings. Make the hour or so drive south to catch the Fair’s final weekend of the season and share a jumbo corndog, deep-fried Oreos, pork chop on a stick, or Texas-sized doughnut with loved ones. While there are plenty of sugary options scattered throughout the grounds, the cinnamon rolls hidden inside the indoor shopping area are worth seeking out. The amount of butter, sugar, and cinnamon in each roll is over-the-top and the results are absurdly delicious. Pro tip: For the choicest picks, don’t place an order until a fresh batch emerges from the oven. It’s worth the wait. 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. — Cathy Chaplin, senior reporter/editor
Downtown’s new Delphi Hotel has big shoes to fill in a few different ways. Housed inside the former Standard Hotel on Flower Street, the hospitality newcomer must simultaneously meet the demands of travelers and reminiscent locals alike. What’s more, the main all-day restaurant inside, Denae’s, is going for a retro-modern diner aesthetic — no small feat in Los Angeles, one of America’s great diner capitals. Luckily the place holds up well in all regards, balancing breakfast pancakes and egg sandwiches with musts like meatloaf and a fried chicken sandwich. It’s a sprawling menu by design, meant to offer something to everyone who passes through. Conversely, the space leans more current, with odes to decades gone by (including a fun, lit marquee signboard above a long counter) that don’t get in the way of current style and comfort. It’s a blended match that matters to Downtown, as the area continues to rebound from the pandemic and changing hospitality and travel trends. With any luck, Denae’s will be around for a good while longer. 550 S. Flower Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071. — Farley Elliott, senior editor
Los Angeles is a seafood town at every level, with countless ceviche shops, fish sandwich pop-ups, and high-end restaurants like the vaunted Providence. There’s room for everyone to slurp oysters, down tostadas, and enjoy towering platters of seafood on ice — which makes Dear Jane’s all the more special because the Marina del Rey restaurant nails the other stuff, too. The ambiance is charming and unstuffy, while the views out to the water are a kind reminder of LA’s coastline dominance. Dear Jane’s is not the boxy, retro Dear John’s steakhouse (and it’s not trying to be), it’s something else: An adult restaurant that loves to have fun, spinning plates of seafood to attentive diners in an often underwhelming culinary landscape by the water. What could be better than that? 13950 Panay Way, Los Angeles, CA 90292. — Farley Elliott, senior editor
Going to the movie theater in the middle of a boiling afternoon is a cure-all. And for those going to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at the Bloc Downtown, it’s an adventure too. Start by driving up that seemingly endless, windy DTLA parking structure and into Bloc’s maze of retail shops and restaurants. The assigned seating helps bring civility in any darkened theater, but Alamo’s does better with cocktails and food that’s brought right to your seat. One can’t go wrong with bottomless popcorn, or the churro popcorn with fried churro pieces tossed in cinnamon, sugar, maple, and vanilla. Opt for fish and chips, pizza, burgers, and loaded fries with Hatch green chile queso, cotija, bacon, cilantro, scallions, and Sriracha sour cream. Of course, there are Sour Patch Kids and anything one could possibly want in the candy genre, along with milkshakes, cold brew, beer, wines, and an Alamo Old Fashioned. Any and all of the aforementioned comes right to your seat — just the way the movie gods intended. 700 West 7th Street, Suite U240, Downtown, CA 90017. — Mona Holmes, reporter
Ai Wei Ju, which opened this past May in the former Five Stars Hue space in Alhambra, is here to serve folks itching for a taste of Beijing street food. Step inside the restaurant to find the proprietress standing over a circular griddle preparing the restaurant’s signature jian bing. While the egg-battered pancake parcels taste good with just green onions and a slathering of fermented black bean sauce, the addition of beef, tripe, or even pigs ears makes for a more substantial dish. The slippery cold noodles slicked with vinegar and chile oil, along with the chilled seaweed and pan-seared dumplings, rounds out any meal well. 31 E. Valley Boulevard, Alhambra, CA 91801. — Cathy Chaplin, senior reporter/editor
Melrose bar APB, or A Plant Bar, serves a range of cocktails along with vegan fare, including plant-based sushi from Niku Nashi, Japanese fried chicken, vegetable spring rolls, and more. While dishes like the spicy tuna with crispy rice and matcha cheesecake are worth trying, the true star of the show is the crispy shoestring fries. Served with a range of dipping sauces upon request, the fries have the perfect crunch and amount of salt. They also go down easy when accompanied by a solid cocktail, like the lychee martini. 7302 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036. — Virali Dave, editor
Walk into Funke in Beverly Hills and the gleaming pasta laboratory is front and center just beyond the host stand. It’s supposed to be a marvel but feels more like a zoo exhibit, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for those who need to be reminded of the exemplary handmade pasta at Evan Funke’s glorious new Italian restaurant. The whole space feels like a ’90s art gallery in the best way. A sweeping open dining room on the first floor is so well sound attenuated that people can have normal conversations in the bustling booths lining the wall. A front bar works as an aperitivo stand while folks wait to be seated. Upstairs on the mezzanine, things are boisterous, if not crushingly loud compared to downstairs. A second bar upstairs has two televisions showing live camera feeds of the pasta-making from a sky-high perspective. I think the point has been made: order the pasta. The $48 tagliatelle Bolognese is delightful and generously plated — tiny ragu morsels nestled amid paper-thin noodles that melt away with tenderness on the palate. Rolled busiate pasta comes like spiraled straws coated lightly in a stew of pesto and cherry tomatoes, a reminder that summer’s freshness is winding down. I especially loved the fennel salad with blistered artichokes and shaved pecorino Romano, dressed to perfection and difficult to not wolf down. As expected, Shannon Swindle’s desserts are swoon-worthy, so order as many as your stomach can handle. 9388 S. Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. —Matthew Kang, lead editor
Culver City’s Industry Cafe and Jazz has been in the neighborhood for 18 years, serving as a hub for local musicians who perform at open jam nights every Wednesday and playing host to jazz performances Thursday through Sunday. The vibes are communal and convivial, and as lovely as the music-filled evenings at Industry Cafe and Jazz are, the food is far from an afterthought. The soup is expertly seasoned, and the hummus is made extra special with bits of tomato, basil, and feta. The veggie platter is also abundant, filled with generous portions of veggies and lentils, and enough injera for two to share. 6039 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232. — Virali Dave, editor
It’s hard to think of a better place for food-obsessed parents dining out with their kids than Poltergeist at Button Mash in Echo Park. The adults will enjoy chef Diego Argoti’s wildly creative cooking. Start with the Thai Caesar salad with crispy rice crackers, followed by the yellow curry bucatino topped with popcorn and corn ribs. For the children on deck, the kitchen serves a special menu chock-full of classic kid fare including buttered noodles with Parmesan, perfectly crisp steak fries, and chocolate cake. Post-dinner arcade games, skeeball, and whack-a-mole make for a great night out where everyone leaves sated and happy. 1391 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026. —Cathy Chaplin, senior editor/reporter
Bar Flores might be the most LA bar in the entire city. Situated directly above Lowboy and directly next door to the new Italian spot Donna, Bar Flores requires a one-flight walk up and into a stunning space. It’s a personal spot for Karla Flores-Mercado, whose touches are everywhere, including a portrait of her grandmother on the bar. The arched windows make it easy to watch this busy stretch of Echo Park while drinking cocktails. Walk downstairs to order the gator fries, fish and chips, or burger while a companion nabs a pitcher of bright pink margaritas for all. Get there early to secure a seat on the rear patio, which feels like a friend’s backyard deck — or at one of the comfy banquettes and high-top tables. Required drinking is the garden spritz, a summery cocktail shaken with pisco, sweet vermouth, Cocchi Rosa aperitif, jasmine, rose, jamaica, raspberries, rhubarb, lemon, bougainvillea, and a packet of wildflowers to take home. 1542 Sunset Boulevard, Echo Park, CA, 90026. — Mona Holmes, reporter
We are indeed lucky as Southern Californians. Our options for day trips can easily put us in some of the country’s most beautiful destinations, whether natural wonders or cultural spaces. One can even get both at the Madonna Inn. Always start early for the three-hour drive from LA and enjoy the expansive hills that are one of the Central Coast’s wonders. When arriving at the Madonna Inn, take in this kitschy, perfect stop. Time it to dine at Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steak House, but if it’s too full, meals are available at the Madonna Inn Copper Cafe. It’s such a joyful spot, and though last-minute room reservations are often sold out, secure a table beforehand to make sure one can try a rib eye, broiled lobster tail at the steakhouse with ample cocktails, or a visit to the cafe for a short stack, massive shrimp Louis salad, or the stunning bright pink champagne cake. 100 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405. — Mona Holmes, reporter
It was always going to be a hard sell for the food enthusiast to buy into Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Kitchen. With so many branded food delivery/takeout spots like Mr. Beast that seem to only have a thin veil of influence from the creator or celebrity, one would think the recipe was going to be the same with Paltrow’s lifestyle brand. In conversations with Goop Kitchen’s chef Kim Floresca, Paltrow actively participates in the creation and tweaking of dishes. The notable thing at Goop Kitchen is a balanced approach to things like salt and fat while eschewing preservatives or factory farm meats whenever possible. The surprising thing about Goop Kitchen and Goop Superfina (the sister brand that serves Italian American dishes) is the focus on balanced flavor: nothing is overseasoned, everything is fresh, and the sauces are paired well with salads or bowls. My favorites were the teriyaki chicken bowl, the spicy tofu lettuce wraps, and the pesto pizza topped with salad. Before you try and revoke my food editor card, just know that on the next visit, I’ll separate the gluten-free grandma-style pizza from the salad completely and just eat them side-by-side. The pizza’s crust has a half-inch thickness and plays well with the loaded cheese and herbaceous pesto. It’s a pizza that might fool some folks who are hesitant to try anything gluten-free. Goop Kitchen/Superfina’s food might not surpass places that can go full-on with flavor, but it works really well for a healthy meal that won’t weigh you down after lunch, and for that reason, I endorse it. Various locations via delivery or takeout. — Matthew Kang, lead editor
LA’s Grain Cafe has five locations spread across Van Nuys, Mid-City, Culver City, Redondo Beach, and Long Beach, making for easy access for those heading to the beach from different parts of the Southland. There are plenty of Mexican dishes, including huevos rancheros, tacos, and enchiladas, along with bagels, sandwiches, wraps, and smoothies. And everything is vegan and organic, with plenty of options for those looking for balanced meals. Before making the most of this weekend’s scorching temperatures by wading in the waves, I’ll be stopping by Grain Cafe to stock up on some beach eats that won’t be too filling but will hit just right during swim breaks. Various locations — Virali Dave, editor
Arriving early and sitting at a bar to watch the restaurant come to life is a joyful practice, especially at a barely two-week-old restaurant. The South Carolina-inspired Queen St. debuted on July 6 as a seafood grill and raw bar that resides in a transformed auto repair station from the 1940s. This is the latest from the Found Oyster, Barra Santos, and Nossa Caipirinha Bar crew, who have vast experience with crustaceans, fish, and other pickings from the water. The interior is bright and friendly, with a menu that’s geared toward any kind of diner, whether single or a group. Order the seafood tower, chargrilled oysters, Carolina gold crab rice, fried flounder, or the barbecue gulf shrimp while sipping on the very European-leaning wine list, though there are California selections too. Reservations are filling up, but there’s always the aforementioned strategy of starting early at the bar. 4701 York Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90042. — Mona Holmes, reporter
Compared to the more utilitarian digs of Sichuan Impression or Chengdu Taste, Mountain House’s interior is frankly, stunning. With dramatic lighting, palatial layouts, and enough visual interest at every angle, the decor from this Flushing transplant is so overwhelming that it almost detracts from the food. But Mountain House lays down its approach from the first sample bowl of pickled cabbage laced with chile oil: the arresting spice dominates everything, and that little bowl of spicy pickles will have you reaching for ice water very quickly. Who knew Rowland Heights would land such a restaurant? The “swing” pork belly and cucumber appetizer come with a mellower chile oil and garlic paste, and it’s both terrific and Instagram-worthy. Every table seems to have a metal tray of fried pork intestines with dried chiles, and the crisp offal rounds will impress anyone.
Mapo tofu and Yibin-style noodles help round out each order, and both are as good but not necessarily better than the versions at Sichuan Impression or Chengdu Taste. The only miss might’ve been the pickled pepper whole fish, whose tangy, spicy, and sweet sauce was delicious but didn’t do enough to mask the swampiness of the whole tilapia. One wishes they offered sea bass or red snapper or another more luxurious fish, and maybe that will be a future offering. But for now, New York City’s finest Sichuan spot is a worthy addition to LA’s Chinese restaurant scene. 18888 Labin Court C101, Rowland Heights, CA 91748. — Matthew Kang, lead editor
For those looking to get away for the weekend, a trip to Idyllwild is relaxing and grounding, with many good food options. The village center has plenty of restaurants, along with some coffee shops, tea houses, and wine bars; some of our favorites are here. Spots like the Wine Finch offer a large selection of natural wines, and popular dinner destinations Ferro and Cafe Aroma offer a selection of bottles and glasses to go along with a meal. The Cafe especially is a wonderful spot to spend an evening; grab a seat outside, order a salad and pasta, and enjoy a meal in this charming forest cabin. And remember that the town is about 6,000 feet above sea level and that one glass goes a long way. The town has much to offer in between meals too, including hikes, art tours, and shopping, plus the occasional sighting of its charming, handsome, and goodest boy mayor. 54750 N. Circle Drive, Idyllwild-Pine Cove, CA 92549. — Virali Dave, editor
Summer weekends were made for gathering around a table with friends, family, and loads of Vietnamese-style seafood, and Biển Hẹn Seafood & Lẩu in Little Saigon does it right. Snails steamed in coconut milk with fresh basil, grilled squid, and soft shell crabs sauteed in tamarind make for tremendous starters before sharing a whole roasted catfish with all the fixings. The catfish comes in sizes small to XXL which works for groups large and small. The accompanying sauce made of fermented shrimp paste and pineapple is wonderfully pungent. Vietnamese-style seafood never fails to deliver an easy balance between bold flavors and fresh ingredients, and a lot of bang for not too many bucks. 14092 Magnolia Street, Westminster, CA 92683. — Cathy Chaplin, senior reporter/editor
While a proper table at Funke takes some advance planning these days, snagging a seat at Bar Funke is infinitely easier, especially for an impromptu nightcap. The best seats are along the impossibly smooth pink quartz bar, but it’s hard to go wrong with any of the moonlit tables on the rooftop offering panoramic views of Beverly Hills. It’s possible to order caviar, pizza, and focaccia, but the move this time of night is getting all the desserts and a cocktail too. It’s impossible to go wrong with any of the sweets on pastry chef Shannon Swindle’s lineup, but the meringata with mandarin granita is especially refreshing, while the chocolate tart is as rich as it is satisfying. And truth be told, one can’t go wrong with the cannoli. 9388 S. Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. — Cathy Chaplin, senior reporter/editor
Easily the most impressive French bakery in the South Bay, Sweet Wheat serves a wide array of pastries, viennoiserie, salads, sandwiches, and other baked goods to a hungry Redondo Beach crowd from morning to mid-afternoon. The move is to get one of the three combination deals: There’s a breakfast special that includes coffee, orange juice, and a pastry for $12; a brunch special that includes a pastry, drink, and savory sandwich or quiche for $15; and a lunch special that includes a larger savory dish (like a mini pizza), drink, and a choice of composed dessert for $20. Dining here with a group is especially fun, as patrons can fully mix and match their selections across dozens of items. As for execution, well, the pastries aren’t quite Tartine or Proof Bakery level, but they are fantastic — buttery, tender, and flaky where it needs to be, and definitely not too sweet (which this Asian palate appreciates). I can’t think of a more delightful daytime destination, and the fact that it’s just a short walk from the beach makes it even more appealing for those venturing to the coast during the dog days of summer. (Pro tip: tell them it’s your first time, and they might hook up a free baguette to take home.) 1430 S Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach, CA 90277. — Matthew Kang, editor
At first glance, Quality Seafood seems like the ultimate tourist haunt. It’s surrounded by shops to buy cheap sunglasses and tchotchkes on a dated pier that could seriously use an update. But Quality Seafood is one of LA’s most beloved spots for good reason. It’s a seafood restaurant and market that’s fantastic, loud, and thoroughly enjoyable. If in need of fish and chips, Quality Seafood has you covered. Staff will crack open a giant uni for quick consumption, grill a spiny lobster tail, pour clam chowder into a bread bowl, shuck oysters, serve paella, or spoon a healthy serving of ceviche and some outstanding poke into a to-go container. This is group dining, so assign duties accordingly: one person should stand in line for beer on tap; another takes care of the food order; while the third keeps a lookout for an open table. Get there early, as this 70-year-old family-owned spot gets incredibly busy. 130 S. International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach CA, 90277. — Mona Holmes, reporter
Located on the rooftop at Culver City’s Platform, Margot is a great place to catch the sunset with a Negroni in hand. The restaurant’s menu boasts four types of the popular cocktail: the traditional, a white version, the sbagliatto (with a bit of prosecco in it), and one that swaps gin for mezcal. There are also various small bites at this coastal Mediterranean spot, including patatas bravas, crudos, salads, and the comforting and surprisingly complex grilled asparagus served with potato crema and charred leeks. 8820 Washington Boulevard, Suite 301, Culver City, CA 90232. — Virali Dave, editor2023-07-07T18:36:14Z dg43tfdfdgfd