“9 Must-Try Restaurants in Los Angeles” is no doubt my most popular pin on Pinterest. So here I am, two years later, back from a 4th trip to my favorite City of Angels with even more insider information to share. As promised, I present you part 2: the absolute BEST places to eat in LA in 2018!
1. Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong
Address: 3465 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020, United States
Phone Number: +1 213-384-9678
Website: http://baekjeongnyc.com/ (this is their NYC site that has more complete info)
Reservation: First come first serve, does not take reservation
Dress Code: Casual
Kicking off the best restaurants in Los Angeles list with my absolute favorite one of them all – Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong.
Run by the Korean comedian Kang Ho Dong, this table-grilled barbecue chain has spread its popularity from South Korea to the streets of New York and LA. They are known for their premium beef and pork cuts and serve pretty much every possible banchan (side dishes) you can think of.
It was only me and my lady friend and the two of us ordered the beef combo ($79.99) because our eyes are obviously bigger than our appetite. With the combo, you get two types of meat (I believe we chose the marinated short rib + prime rib eye) plus a stew (we picked kimchi stew) as well as sides like steamed egg, corn cheese, mushroom, sweet potato, and kimchi. Let me tell you, we were sat at a giant round table and the plates were filling up the space all the way to the rim. We were completely stuffed yet we still managed to finish everything we ordered because it was so darn good we simply couldn’t help ourselves.
During my trip to Seoul two years ago, my friend and I were determined to hunt down some authentic Korean barbecue. When we did, however, the server burnt our food. That said, I don’t have a benchmark to compare this to, but I will tell you that this place is bomb. I recommended it to a coworker and him and his buddy went three nights in a row to try to get a table. Despite being unsuccessful until the very third night, he said it was totally worth all the trouble. It’s no wonder there are queues out the door and people are willing to endure the long waits!
If you’re not a fan of standing in line, come for early lunch or early dinner to avoid the prime times. We came here directly from our morning flight arriving at LAX (hands up if the first thing you do after landing is find a place to eat hahaa). Even then half the restaurant was filled already. It’s no joke how well-liked this place is.
2. Tacos Tu Madre
Address: 11824 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027, United States
Phone Number: +1 323-522-3651
Reservation: Not required
Dress Code: Casual
Left to right: Fried Chicken, Korean BBQ, Grilled Chicken.
#2 on the list we got Mexican cuisine because #tacotuesday! (Get it? Tuesday, 2nd day of the week hence #2 on the list? Well okay, strictly speaking Sunday’s the real 1st day of the week and Tuesday would the 3rd, but anyways that’s not important.)
Hilarious review found on Yelp.
Tacos Tu Madre is a small, cozy little taco shop my girlfriend and I discovered whilst staying at an Airbnb in Hollywood. Their style isn’t really typical of Mexican food, but rather more of a fusion cuisine type feel with Asian influences. You have eastern flavors like Ahi Tuna, Vegan Banh Mi, and Korean BBQ and more traditional/Latin American ones like Fried Fish, Fried Chicken, Bean & Cheese, Shrimpe Ceviche, and Asada. Everything listed on their menu can be made as a taco ($2.50-5), burrito ($7-13), or burrito bowl ($8-14).
Get yourself a girl who looks at you the same way I look at food.
The food took awhile to come because again, they’re small and there was only one chef working the kitchen. This was the Vermont location though. They do have two others on Westwood and Larchmont Boulevard with an additional one opening in DTLA soon.
Definitely a hip spot with refreshing flavors. The Fried Chicken one was good so was the grilled. Korean BBQ was not bad as well, very different and not what you’d expect to find at a taco shop. My friend got the Ahi Tuna which came on a crispy shell instead. She got something else too I don’t remember what but we we were both pleasantly surprised. Their taco shells are also gluten free so bonus points for those of y’all with dietary restrictions.
Oh and for those who speak Spanish, please tell me what their name means. I know tu madre is your mother and it’s been killing me not knowing whether or not it’s Your Mother’s Tacos or Tacos Your Mom (like in a provocative “we make better tacos than your mom” sense?).
3. Catch LA
Address: 8715 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069, United States
Phone Number: +1 323-347-6060
Dress Code: Dressy casual
If you recall my previous must-try restaurants in LA post, a lot of places I’d recommended were fine dining. All three trips since my first one back have been road trips where I’ve felt lazy to pack fancy dresses and heels. That said, a lot of restaurants we visited were more casual and overall more budget-friendly. One of the fancier spots we did hit up was Catch LA.
Cash me outside how bout dat.
Black Label Burger (top). Lunch special – Poke Bowl (bottom).
A little difficult to photograph my food considering the angle the sun was hitting our table at.
First off, how cuteeeeeeeeeee is this place!!! It’s like the total perfect spot for Sunday’s brunch with the gals. The food was amazing and the service was top-notch (until towards the end since lunch time crowds were pouring in and our waiter got busy with too many tables to handle). No wonder it’s a favorite even amongst celebrities.
What attracted me to Catch initially was The Anytime Waffle Tower ($15) on their brunch menu. It’s basically a giant tower of waffles with ice cream in between each layer and I mean who could say no to that! Except we did end up getting to brunch a little later than planned, closer to lunch time. By then I was craving more of an actual meal rather than dessert so I went with the Poke Bowl (~$25?) instead, which was divine by the way. The tuna was marinated in this delicious tangy sauce with mangos and avocados and laid atop a bed of brown rice. Who said healthy food couldn’t taste good!
Growing up in an Asian household, I was always used to the idea of sharing food at restaurants. I know in Western cultures, everyone orders their own and it’s sometimes almost rude to ask someone to take a bite of their food. Even though this isn’t really a family-style restaurant where the dishes are meant to be shared, I highly encourage you to come here with friends and share the love and enjoy the food together. Every item on the menu literally looks to die for. I was honestly almost sad that my friend and I both have tiny bird appetites and couldn’t order more food to share. Even just browsing their Instagram as I draft this post is making me drool all over my keyboard!
In terms of $$$, it’s not as expensive as the previous restaurants I’d suggested. Prices for brunch in particular are fairly reasonable. Everyone has their own definition of what’s pricey and what isn’t depending on their level of income and such, but I do think this place is well worth a visit 😉
4. Commissary at The LINE LA
Address: 3515 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010, United States
Phone Number: +1 213-368-3030
Dress Code: Nada
Ever dream of dining in a greenhouse garden?
Make that wish come true at the Commissary – yet another great spot for brunch, especially perfect for those days you wake up and feel extra hungry. On weekends, they host a buffet from 9AM to 3PM with unlimited made to order entrées and you can even get bottomless mimosas for $18.
My date and I both got the Choriquiles (chorizo, eggs, cotija, crema, and enchilada sauce) and boy was that spicy! I’m a sucker for hot foods but at the same time, I’m terrible at handling heat. I didn’t expect the chorizos to have that much of a kick but I mean it was good. The atmosphere was quite nice too and I wouldn’t mind coming back for dinner. Was looking over their menu just now and Cauliflower Steak with curry, parmesan, and quinoa? Ughh yum! What about Faackitas grilled steak with poblano mash and cotija? K-Town Fried Chicken? Cauliflower Tempura? Man it’s 1AM here and I seriously don’t know why I torture myself like this looking at delicious food in the middle of the night.
With The Line hotel being situated in Koreatown, it’s only natural that Commissary is run by Korean chef Roy Choi and caters to the taste of the neighborhood. (Seems like this post has a Mexican/Korean food theme.) Very trendy restaurant overall. Great food, great vibes.
4. Bottega Louie
Address: 700 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90017, United States
Phone Number: +1 213-802-1470
Reservation: Does not accept reservations
Dress Code: Smart casual
Alright, while we’re on the topic of brunch, let’s talk about another “it” spot in LA: Bottega Louie.
Known for their decadent desserts and pastries, Bottega Louie is a dream paradise for anyone with a sweet tooth. I personally never understood the hype with macarons until I visited Paris and got a taste of the real deal. Since then I’ve been hooked and the macarons here can for sure compete with the OGs from Ladurée or Pierre Hermé.
Top to bottom: Birthday Cake, Coconut, Violet Cassis, Earl Grey, Rose.
Apart from being a pâtisserie, they are a restaurant as well that also provides catering services. I highly recommend paying a visit for weekend brunch because their menu is absolutely droolicious.
Belgian Waffles. Served with fresh berries, Chantilly cream, and Vermont maple syrup.
Lobster Hash. Lobster, Yukon Gold potatoes, two poached eggs, shallots, brussels sprouts, smoked paprika, and hollandaise sauce.
I actually came here with my dad on our most recent trip in February. Now my dad’s the kinda person who only likes Chinese food and Chinese food only. He will still dine at Western restaurants every now and then but I never hear him compliment the food. Ever. Or that was true until our visit here. You can imagine how phenomenal the dishes must be for someone as old-fashioned as him to give praise. By the way, he hates sweets too, but he loved the Belgian waffles. So there you go, Bottega Louie as approved by Papa Chen.
Address: 1425 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291, United States
Phone Number: None for this location
Reservation: Not needed
Dress Code: Beach attire!
Price: $ish (acai bowls are pricey in general, but I’d say Amazebowls charges the average price)
If you’re looking for something a little faster, a little more grab and go for breakfast, look no further than Amazebowls.
They do have 4 locations with the Arts District one being a sit-down restaurant and the rest more so food trucks and mini shops. Definitely do visit the Venice one. It’s right on the Boardwalk (technically on a side street and a little hard to find, but look out for Big Daddy’s Pizza) and you can bring your acai bowl straight to the beach. No better way to start the day than that!
Excuse me, have you seen my eyes? I seem to have lost them in the sun #smalleyeproblems.
I got the signature bowl Amazebowl with an acai base and granola, fresh fruits, coconut shavings, and agave as toppings. It’s $8 without the coconut bowl and $10 with it, if I remember correctly. The service was pretty awful and really slow. Everyone looked as if they hated their job and this girl was slicing fruits like that was the last thing she wanted to do in her life. Don’t get me wrong, the Amazebowl was amazing indeed, but just be mentally prepared to have to wait in line and deal with these miserable souls lol. One good thing about them is you can pre-order online. That way you can pick-up your bowl whenever it’s ready and skip the wait!
Address: 1639 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026, United States (another location on Beverly Boulevard)
Phone Number: +1 323-913-9911
Reservation: Not needed
Dress Code: Casual
Price: $$ (somewhat pricey if you compare it to store bought treats, but it’s worth it)
You know what they say. There’s always room for dessert.
No, this doesn’t really belong on a “best restaurants in LA” list, but whoever invented macaron ice cream sandwiches is a friggin’ genius and this most certainly deserves a spot on your “best places to eat in Los Angeles” checklist.
Fruity Pebbles (most popular) & Thai Milk Tea.
I got the Fruity Pebbles flavor ($5?) and just eating the macaron alone was a little too sweet, but the ice cream balanced it out perfectly. Besides ice cream sandwiches, they also do sundaes, milkshakes, and other icey treats as well as cakes! I first found out about them via Instagram and I knew immediately that I had to visit. One bite will seriously get you hooked and you’re gonna wanna wish you lived in LA.
MILKIE Way Malt, Banana Peanut Malt, Mint Chocolate Crunch Shake or all three? 😈 #foodie #foodies #milkshake #themilkshop #milk #milkshop #malt #shake #icecream #losangeles #eats #eat #losangeleseats #banana #vanilla #mint #dessert #desserts #desserttable #desserttime #monday #mondaymood #mondays #mondaymotivation
Address: 621 S Western Ave Ste 208-A, Los Angeles, CA 90005, United States
Phone Number: +1 213-568-3284
Reservation: Not needed
Dress Code: Casual
Milk & matcha swirl with red bean filling.
If Milk doesn’t satisfy your sweet tooth craving, SomiSomi definitely will with their taiyaki soft serve.
Taiyaki originated from Japan and is a fish-shaped (tai) waffle/cake traditionally filled with red bean paste. Over the years it’s evolved to include other fillings like custard and comes in savory flavors as well. Funny enough, SomiSomi is actually Korean owned and taiyaki in Korea is called “ah-boong”.
I originally wanted to try their ube and black sesame but they were sold out that day. The milk and matcha combo was a classic regardless especially paired with the red bean filling. The ice cream does melt instantaneously though. I only had time to take one photo and it was already dripping all over my hand. Very messy to eat so be prepared with a few napkins.
9. The Cliff
Address: 577 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, United States
Phone Number: +1 949-494-1956
Reservation: 1-hr waitlist call ahead available; reservations not accepted
Dress Code: None
Last and final item on today’s places to eat in LA list. Technically not in LA however, but it’s a must.
With stellar views, The Cliff is a Laguna favorite amongst locals. It’s almost like a small whatchamacallit market? You enter through an art gallery which leads to an open area with little jewelry and handcraft shops. Then you got your oceanfront restaurant at the back. We came here for breakfast and the weather was horrid, but 10/10 would come back again for both the view and the food.
If you haven’t noticed by now, this entire post is almost centered completely round Mexican cuisine. LA’s extremely close to the border so there’s no surprise that the food is heavily influenced by flavors from the south. Going back again to Papa Chen’s picky taste, no way in a million years did I ever imagine he was going to like chilaquiles. Prior to our trip as I was planning where to go for dinner, I brought up a few Mexican restaurant suggestions and was shut down immediately. Needless to say the food here is phenomenal with the exception that our French toast was a tad burnt on the edges.
The Cliff serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner all seven days of the week with happy hour running from 3-6PM on weekdays. For sure a great spot to grab a few bites and drinks with friends on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Spectacular choice for family outing as well. Laguna Beach is about an hour or so drive away from LA and it’s worth the trip without a doubt. If you do decide to come check out the food yourself, be sure to read up on my “5 Best Hidden Beaches in Laguna Beach” post. That way you can plan yourself a mini day trip.
And that’s it for this week!
Hope you’ve enjoyed my top 9 best places to eat in LA recommendations. There’s obviously much more to California than just its food scene. In fact, here are 100 + things to do in LA you mustn’t miss out on.
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Tune in next time as I share my favorite photo spots in LA. Until then!