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What to Eat in Los Angeles: California-Style Pizza

What to Eat in Los Angeles: California-Style Pizza

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Eat Your World spotlights regional foods and drinks around the globe, from New York to New Delhi. Visit their California section for more of the best local dishes in LA.

What: Some will argue it’s not a "real" type of pizza, but California pizza is simply this: a thin-crust pie with fresh, creative, California-esque toppings. Its defining characteristic is what’s on top, as that’s where chefs have been free to experiment and refine the pizza pie into something healthier and more gourmet — think artichoke hearts, avocado, and goat cheese rather than pepperoni and meatballs. This concept became popular in the early 1980s thanks to a handful of restaurants — Spago, then in Hollywood; Chez Panisse in Berkeley; and, later, California Pizza Kitchen, which brought the trend national — and the chefs behind them: Wolfgang Puck, Ed LaDou (Puck hired LaDou as pizzaiola at Spago; LaDou also helped develop the menu for CPK), and Alice Waters. The fact that this pizza exists and hails from California makes sense given the state’s bounty of fresh produce, affinity for culinary innovation, and, well, general enthusiasm for vegetable matter (see also: organic vegan & vegetarian food).

Where: True, there are plenty of California Pizza Kitchens in LA — and around the world — these days, but despite it having originated in Beverly Hills, we say skip the chain and go to Gjelina in Venice, a super trendy yet moderately priced spot that lives up to its hype — and, though it doesn’t expressly call it so, includes some excellent California-style pizzas on its earthy, seasonal, small-plates-dominated menu. The chef, Travis Lett, sources as much as possible from local farmers and suppliers.
When: Monday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight; Saturday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to midnight (brunch until 3 p.m.). Definitely reserve if you can.

Order: Who needs a salad when you can have an incredibly tasty thin-crust pizza topped with Gruyère, fromage blanc, caramelized onion, and a pile of fresh arugula? Though this pie (pictured, $14) was wonderful — the sweet onions perfectly balancing the assertive Gruyère — it is only one of about 17 options, which change around a bit season to season. We also loved the meaty (yet vegetarian) mixed mushroom pizza ($14), a cheese-less pie with rosemary and garlic oil; but you might try the one with guanciale, green olive, Fresno chile, and buffalo mozzarella ($15); or perhaps the lamb sausage pizza, with confit tomato, rapini, pecorino, and asiago ($15). Also pay special attention to Gjelina’s beautifully, simply prepared vegetable small plates ($8), like the spicy roasted cauliflower dish, charred Brussels sprouts, and sweet corn with crème fraîche.

Alternatively: Though chef LaDou — the man widely credited with "inventing" California-style pizza and bringing it to the masses via his work at Spago and CPK — passed away in 2007, you can visit his artisanal pizzeria, Caioti Pizza Café in Studio City, where the LaDou family still runs things. Among the famous "New World" creations remaining are LaDou’s signature barbecue chicken pizza, with red onion, cilantro, mozzarella, and smoked Gouda; the Rockefeller pie, with oysters, shrimp, spinach, Gruyère, roast peppers, breadcrumbs, and mozzarella; and the lamb sausage pizza, with eggplant, garlic, feta, mozzarella, and kalamata olives. And, of course, you can always go to Puck’s Spago, the Michelin-starred flagship of which — chic, pricey, celeb-friendly — is in Beverly Hills. The pizza menu is small, seasonal, and offered only at lunch nowadays, but you can still get the signature house-smoked salmon pizza, a delicate, crisp pie with dill cream and shaved sweet onions.

Laura Siciliano-Rosen is the co-founder of Eat Your World, a website that spotlights regional foods and drinks around the globe. Follow Eat Your World on Twitter @eat_your_world.

Over time, California’s cultural history shaped its gastronomy. First, there were Native-Americans, with their diet based on fruits, corn, pumpkin, and beans. When the Spanish arrived, they brought garlic, peppers, olives, adding an exotic note to the way people prepared the meals. During the Gold Rush, a great influx of fortune seekers came to California from all over the world, bringing their own culinary traditions. Foods and dishes from China, Italy, France, but also from the East Coast merged with the existing West Coast gastronomy. California style of cooking began to take shape.

Later, in 1971, Alice Waters opened the famous restaurant “Chez Panisse” in Berkley, focusing on fresh and local products, organically and ecologically grown. It was a big difference from the traditional way of cooking, and the restaurant became a great success, first in the Bay Area, and soon after in the whole state. That was the beginning of “California cuisine”, an internationally recognized gastronomy style, which leveled up the way people cook and eat their meals in the Golden State.

Today, eating in California provides you a great diversity of tastes, adapted ethnic food, with roots in immigrants’ home kitchens and fusion dishes with a focus on freshly prepared local ingredients and constant innovation.

5 Unique Places to Eat In Los Angeles, California

From shopping in Beverly Hills to visiting the Hollywood sign, there are many extravagent things to do in LA. Obviously you can visit the Hollywood Sign, or tan on the many beaches but why do that when you can eat?! Many places line the streets in LA, so try not to be basic like Kylie Jenner and go to Earth Cafe and In-And-Out for every meal. Check out these trendy and unique spots for fantastic food and an experience worth remembering.

Los Angeles Food Experiences

A visit to Los Angeles without eating global cuisine would be incomplete. We at these Chinese wontons at LA&rsquos Chengdu Taste.

Any visit to Los Angeles would be incomplete without an exploration of the city&rsquos food scene. In our opinion, the southern California city is one of the country&rsquos best food cities.

From cheap eats to fine dining, La La Land is the opposite of a culinary desert. For food travelers wondering what and where to eat in Los Angeles, the city offers a multitude of choices.

Like many, we tend to get overwhelmed with too many options. Since LA has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to food, we&rsquove narrowed down the options to five essential Los Angeles food experiences you shouldn&rsquot miss during your California food trip.

These are our top recommendations and the culinary things we do in every time we visit Los Angeles:

1 &ndash Dine Like a Celebrity

Try something exotic like escargots when you dine at a top LA restaurant. We ate these tasty critters at Petit Trois.

Los Angeles rivals first-tier American cities like New York and Chicago when it comes to fine dining. What makes LA different from other US cities is the opportunity to spot A-list celebrities at top Los Angeles restaurants.

We like to eat at one high-end restaurant every time we visit Los Angeles. Though we&rsquore not celebrity-obsessed, we relish the opportunity to eat seasonal, local food prepared by some of the country&rsquos best chefs. When we&rsquore lucky, we dine with LA insiders like restauranter Adam Fleischman, the founder of Umami Burger.

We&rsquove previously eaten at a handful of notable LA restaurants including Wolfgang Puck&rsquos Spago and Ludo Lefebvre&rsquos Petit Trois. In the future, we plan to dine at the likes of Osteria Mozza, Animal and N/Naka.

We&rsquore not going to lie &ndash trendy LA restaurants can cop an attitude. The host or hostess may escort you through a room filled with beautiful people to a table surrounded by other travelers. Go anyway. Your meal will taste just as good with a less star-studded view.

Pro Tip
Make plans as soon as you know your Los Angeles trip dates. The best Los Angeles restaurants require advance reservations.

2 &ndash Chow Down on Asian Food

LA is one of the few American cities where you can eat at a Sichuan specialist like Chengdu Taste and find toothpick lamb with cumin on the menu.

Similar to west coast cities like San Francisco and Seattle, Los Angeles teems with Asian immigrants and their wonderful cuisines. Whether you prefer Chinese, Thai, Korean, Indian or Filipino food, you will find an admirable selection in LA.

As a bonus, Asian meals typically fit in the cheap eats category by California standards. That being said, you can also partake in fine dining and Asian food experiences at the same time if that&rsquos your thing. Yes, some of the top restaurants in Los Angeles serve Asian food.

As for us, we prefer to eat at hole-in-the-wall sushi joints and in Chinese enclaves like Rosemead in the San Gabriel Valley. One of our all-time favorite LA meals had us eating toothpick lamb with cumin at Chengdu Taste, a Sichuan restaurant that catapulted us back to Chengdu without a grueling long-haul flight.

Pro Tip
Venture beyond LA&rsquos downtown Chinatown to eat some of the city&rsquos best Asian food often at a fraction of the cost.

3 &ndash Eat Los Angeles Cheap Eats at Food Trucks

Don&rsquot discount food trucks in Los Angeles. The city&rsquos mobile restaurants serve top-notch food at a favorable price point.

The first American food trucks trace back to Eastern European pushcarts in New York&rsquos lower east side. However, Los Angeles has played a pivotal role in the country&rsquos current craze with food trucks. If you&rsquove seen the Hollywood movie Chef, you know what we mean.

Food trucks have been catering movie sets for decades. Plus, trucks are a more affordable launching pad for new chefs wanting to serve a myriad of cuisines to the masses.

Raul Martinez was a culinary pioneer when he opened the country&rsquos first taco truck in East Los Angeles, but Korean Chef Roy Choi deserves credit for much of LA&rsquos food truck craze after opening Kogi BBQ in 2008. More than a decade later, the city&rsquos food truck scene is hotter than ever.

For food travelers, exploring the food truck scene is one of the best things to do in LA. If you play your cards right, you can travel the culinary world by eating at popular Los Angles food trucks. Start your &lsquotravels&rsquo at Kogi BBQ (Korean), Tacos Leo (Mexican) and India Jones Chow (Indian).

Pro Tip
Track LA food trucks on Twitter to find their locations and serving times. These mobile restaurants get around!

4 &ndash Indulge in Sweet Treats

Why eat one donut at Santa Monica&rsquos Sidecar when you can eat two?

Considering LA&rsquos celebrity scene and its proximity to the Malibu beach, it would only make sense that desserts would be taboo. Lucky for us and other food travelers with sweet teeth, it&rsquos easy to find excellent desserts in Los Angeles.

Some fun places to eat in LA like Sidecar, Donut Friend and Donut Man specialize in donuts. Donut lovers can also fuel their passion at North Carolina&rsquos Krispy Kreme as well as at LA&rsquos outpost of Portland&rsquos Voodoo Doughnut in Hollywood. Blue Star Donuts is also a Portland import.

&rarr Discover discover 25+ great American donuts shops.

Beyond donuts, most Los Angeles restaurants serve banging desserts. We&rsquore partial to the Paris-Brest at Petit Trois (pictured at the top of the article), though we&rsquove heard good things about the chocolate budino tart at Bestia and the creative ice cream at Coolhaus.

Pro Tip
Start your Los Angeles morning with a jog on the beach so you won&rsquot feel guilty about eating dessert. Actually, don&rsquot feel guilty regardless of how you start your morning.

5 &ndash Drink Third Wave Coffee

Finding specialty coffee in Los Angeles is easy to do. We drank this cappuccino on the city&rsquos tony Melrose Avenue.

As our regular readers are already aware, we find specialty coffee shops whenever we arrive in a new city. This priority proves challenging in some cities where third wave coffee is more of an exception than a norm. Los Angeles is not one of these cities.

We first experienced Los Angeles&rsquo specialty coffee obsession while watching the Hollywood movie LA Story when Steve Martin ordered a &ldquodouble decaf half-caf with a twist of lemon&rdquo. Though the movie was satire, its entertaining coffee scene had an element of reality at its core.

Today, Los Angeles cafes range from independent roasters to national chains. We most recently drank cappuccinos in Los Angeles, though we could have easily sipped on flat whites or matcha lattes instead. However, go for it if you prefer a kooky combination like Steve Martin&rsquos character. Anything goes in LA, even when it comes to coffee.

Pro Tip
Since the best specialty coffee shop is often the closest specialty coffee shop, check out the cafe that&rsquos closest to your hotel. Seriously, LA has great coffee options in every neighborhood.

Bonus &ndash Order from In-N-Out Burger&rsquos Secret Menu

Eating at In-N-Out Burger is a must in LA.

Originally opened in the Los Angeles suburb of Baldwin Park in 1948, In-N-Out Burger is a hip destination for lovers of burgers, fries and shakes. Not surprisingly, we eat at In-N-Out Burger every time we visit Los Angeles.

Sometimes we order Double-Double burgers and fries straight off the menu, but the real fun happens when we choose items from the burger chain&rsquos secret menu. Though they&rsquore not on the official menu, informed diners know to order Animal Style burgers with mustard-grilled beef patties, cheese, special sauce, grilled onions and extra pickles.

Other secret menu items include the Flying Dutchman, Neapolitan Shakes and Animal Style Fries. Yes, you can get your fries topped with American cheese, special sauce and grilled onions when you eat at In-N-Out Burger.

Pro Tip
Go to In-N-Out Burger even if you don&rsquot eat carbs or meat. You can order a bread-free Protein Style burger wrapped in lettuce or a meat-free Wish Burger. Both options are available on the restaurant&rsquos not-so-secret menu.

Golden State Grub: The Best Things to Eat in California

Here are 30 of the Golden State's most-iconic foods — and the best places to try them.

Related To:

Photo By: Natalie B. Compton


©Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

Photo By: Andrew Stuart ©Andrew Stuart 2013

California Cravings

California is home to a wealth of culinary traditions, thanks to the Golden State’s sunny climate, ocean access, diverse population and agricultural prowess. It may be impossible to try every edible wonder the state has to offer, but here’s a list of must-try dishes to get you started.

Illustration by Hello Neighbor Designs

Avocado Toast

Californians are fiercely proud of their incredible avocados they've turned the creamy green fruit into an everlasting fad. Aside from the ubiquitous guacamole throughout the state, avocado shows up in everything from burgers to ice cream, but one of the most-popular ways to enjoy avocados is mashed high on top of toast. There are endless ways to modify avocado toast topped with caviar, feta, radishes and then some, but keeping it simple can be just as delicious. At Dinette in Los Angeles’ trendy Echo Park neighborhood, an order of avocado toast gets you a Texas-toast-size slice of rustic bread topped with a limey, fresh heap of crushed avocado seasoned with chile flakes, parsley and delicate snowflake-like flecks of salt. You’ll need a fork and knife to cut through this toast steak.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton


The waterfront city of San Francisco is a fount of classic seafood dishes, and cioppino is one of its most iconic. The fish stew is usually made with a collection of Pacific-caught fare, including any mix and match of squid, Dungeness crab, mussels, clams and white fish, with a tomato and wine sauce base. It’s only natural to order the Italian-American dish in North Beach, San Francisco’s Little Italy neighborhood, where the stew was supposedly invented. Grab a table at Ferry Plaza Seafood with views of Washington Square Park. The restaurant sources ingredients from vendors who practice environmentally sustainable fishing.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton

In-N-Out Double-Double

While In-N-Out may now exist in other states, it remains a cherished piece of California history dating back to 1948, when Harry Snyder opened the state’s first drive-thru burger stand. The Double-Double didn’t come around until the ‘60s (for a whopping 60 cents a burger), but it has become such an institution that it now rocks its own registered trademark. The hefty burger is made up of two American beef patties (free of additives, fillers and preservatives), two slices of American cheese, a slice of tomato, crisp lettuce and some Thousand Island-esque dressing called its “spread” on a freshly baked bun. Don’t forget an order of fries.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton

Fish Tacos

Californians are all about the fish taco, and sunny San Diego is a great place to find out why. The beach city has easy access to the Pacific’s bounty with the culinary influence of nearby Baja. It’s possible to eat fish tacos for every meal, but those with only time or room for one stop should head to Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill. Customers can choose from fresh, seasonal catches like red snapper, jumbo scallops and soft-shell crab to fill a massive, tasty fish taco.

Photo courtesy of Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill

Garlic Ice Cream

California grows about 90 percent of the country’s garlic, and Gilroy is at the heart of that production. Once you drive through Gilroy, you’ll understand why it’s dubbed the garlic capital of the world. The town is fragrant with the pungent allium. The city even hosts an annual garlic festival every summer to showcase its star crop. Garlic may usually fall into the savory foods category, but not in Gilroy. The ingredient gets its time to shine in dessert form as ice cream. Try the regional delicacy at Garlic City Cafe.

Photo by Bill Strange, courtesy of the Gilroy Welcome Center

Adobada Tacos

Whether you’re staying in Fresno or just driving through, it’s mandatory to break for tacos. Fortunately, you don’t have to venture far to find a good taco in the 559. The city is teeming with incredible mom-and-pop taquerias like Chinatown legend La Elegante Taqueria. Seating here is limited, but the tacos are well worth the wait for a perch. Post up at the counter for the best view of La Elegante’s master cooks flipping tortas and tortillas on the griddle. Order a few different tacos, but don’t miss the adobada, a chile-braised pork. A horchata comes in handy to cool down the fiery spice.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton


West Coast oysters are a little different from their East Coast counterparts. On the Pacific side, oysters tend to be a little sweeter and creamier, and there are countless places to get freshly shucked samples. Head north from San Francisco an hour to Marshall for oysters at one of their best sources, Tomales Bay. Hog Island Oyster Co. got its start in the oyster game back in the ‘80s and has been a Bay Area staple ever since. What began with a 5-acre lease has become a 160-acre oyster farm complete with a picnic area and an oyster bar for visitors.

Photo courtesy of Hog Island Oyster Co.

Apple Pie

It’s probably a good sign that the smell of apple pie wafts through your car in Santa Ysabel before you’ve even rolled down any windows. The tiny town is home to Julian Pie Company, a haven for apple pie enthusiasts and fans of good things in general. The family-owned operation started in 1986 when founder Liz Smothers began staking her claim in the pie business. Three years later, the family bought an apple farm and planted 17,000 trees to call their own. Today, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better apple pie. The most-popular is the crumb-top Dutch Apple, but the signature Original Apple amazes with its simple perfection. Don’t forget to order your slice a la mode.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton

Korean BBQ

California boasts the largest population of Koreans in America, making it one of the best places outside Korea for Korean food. A traditional Korean barbecue feast — featuring colorful side dishes called "banchan" — will help start the meal with the most bang for your buck. At Hanjip in Culver City, Chef Chris Oh serves a menu that will satisfy various Korean cravings. Beyond barbecue, the seafood pancakes and gooey gochujang-glazed pork belly steam buns are excellent.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton

Fried Chicken Sandwich

Residents of Oakland are blessed with fantastic fried chicken options, including Bakesale Betty in Temescal. The tiny shop has amassed a cult following, which means there’s likely a line regardless of time of day. Fortunately that line moves quickly, thanks to the Bakesale Betty team’s efficient assembly line. Once you reach the register and get your hands on a chicken sandwich of your own — and a freshly baked cookie too — enjoy your well-earned lunch outside at a sidewalk table. The sandwich is worth the wait. The perfectly breaded chicken is both plump and juicy, with coleslaw balancing the fried flavor. Crisp cabbage, jalapeno, red onion, and parsley add spice and crunch.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton


California’s claim to barbecue fame comes from locals’ mastery of a lesser-known cut, tri-tip. A small but mighty muscle, tri-tip, also known as the Santa Maria steak, may be best enjoyed grilled to medium-rare and stuffed inside a French roll. This is just how you’ll find it at Firestone Grill in San Luis Obispo. The tri-tip sandwich works as a standalone meal, but it’s even better with a side basket of seasoned fries.

Photo courtesy of Firestone Grill

Cobb Salad

The cobb salad is a delicious compromise for people who don’t feel like eating a salad but still want to get in their leafy greens. Traditionally made up of lettuce, bacon, tomato, hard-boiled egg, avocado, cheese and red wine vinaigrette, the cobb may not be the healthiest salad, but it’s one of the heartiest the cobb's Los Angeles roots make it a California must-try. Fundamental LA is a quintessential Los Angeles lunch spot flooded with natural light and offering one of the best cobb salads in town. Dubbed the “Cobb,” Fundamental’s iteration of the classic California salad nixes the chicken but offers applewood-smoked bacon, balsamic vinaigrette, blue cheese and a mass of avocado. The restaurant is equipped with a stacked by-the-glass wine list, should you choose to imbibe over lunch or dinner.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton

Carnitas Burrito

Every Californian has his or her own idea of what city or taqueria makes the state’s best burrito. It would be impossible to dub one spot the best, but La Taqueria in San Francisco’s Mission District may have a pretty good shot at earning the most nods. In 2014, Anna Maria Barry-Jester and statistician Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight released a report on America's Best Burritos that named La Taqueria’s carnitas burrito number one after sampling 84 of the country’s best (based on a pool of 67,391). The Mission-style, foil-wrapped burrito excludes rice but includes plenty of shredded meat inside a chewy flour tortilla.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton

Clam Chowder

When the coastline is blanketed in the thick marine layer and the chilly seaside breeze rolls in, there may be no better respite than a bowl of clam chowder. Throw the chunky, hearty soup into a sourdough bread bowl, and you’ve got another California classic. San Francisco may be the most-obvious choice to dip into a bread bowl, but there are other coastal towns that excel at clam chowder. In Monterey, Old Fisherman’s Grotto sits right on the pier and serves some of the city’s best chowder. The beach and ocean views pair perfectly with the seafood comfort food.

Photo courtesy of Old Fisherman’s Grotto

French Dip

Don’t get thrown off by the name: The French Dip sandwich is an American classic that originated in sunny Los Angeles. The sandwich is simple: Thinly sliced roast beef is piled generously inside a French roll that has been dipped in beef jus from the meat-roasting process. Head to Philippe’s on the outskirts of Los Angeles’ Chinatown for a taste of history from the source. Legend has it that Philippe’s original owner, French immigrant Philippe Mathieu, invented the sandwich in 1918 by accident. What started off as a mistake has become an LA staple. Just like Philippe’s sandwich, the restaurant itself is simple but solid. Guests order from a long counter, and the food is served on no-frills paper plates. Don’t forget to use some of Philippe’s hot mustard — almost as famous as the dip — available on every table to add an extra kick.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton

Hangtown Fry

The Hangtown Fry is probably not going to be the most-delicious item on this list, but it is a California classic. The dish dates back to the Gold Rush, when fortune-seeking forty-niners were prospecting out West. Legend has it, as printed on the Buttercup Pantry menu, that one such prospector came into Placerville and ordered the kitchen to make him the most-expensive meal possible. The result was the Hangtown Fry, an egg scramble complete with oysters, bacon and onions. Buttercup Pantry adds melted cheese on top along with a disclaimer to eat the dish at your own risk, as some people enjoy it and others do not. Whether or not the unique blend of flavors suits your palate, you get a taste of history.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton


New York may dominate the hybrid-pastry craze, but San Francisco holds claim to the now-famous Cruffin, a mash-up of croissant and muffin filled with a creamy center. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse introduced the creation to the masses in 2014 and continues to draw lines out the door for the photogenic baked good. Line up early they sell out daily.

Photo courtesy of Mr. Holmes Bakehouse


California is lucky to have some of the best Chinese food outside of Shanghai, and the San Gabriel Valley is the epicenter of that good fortune. The San Gabriel Valley is nationally renowned for its abundance of high-quality, authentic Chinese food restaurants. SGV is a dim sum mecca, and it’s wise to make a pilgrimage to the Shanghai Dumpling House at least once in your life for excellent xiaolongbao, aka soup dumplings. Shanghai Dumpling House’s juicy dumplings have some of the thinnest skin in the business that require very delicate handling. You’ll enjoy the challenge.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton

Carne Asada Burrito

Yes, another burrito. You can’t eat around California and not get your hands on multiple burritos — it’s sacrilege. Slide into a booth aglow with colorful strings of lights at Casa Vega, a cavernous 60-year-old SoCal institution in Sherman Oaks. Here, feast on the restaurant’s mammoth carne asada burrito complete with chunky pico de gallo, fresh guacamole and refried beans. Getting your carne asada fix at Casa Vega also checks a box for another California tradition: celebrity spotting. It’s not uncommon to spot reality TV stars in the shadows of this low-key hideout.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton

Ice Cream

California’s artisanal ice cream market is very hot right now, but Santa Barbara-based McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams has been churning out a high-quality product since decades before the trend hit. The company got its start in 1949 and has been using local ingredients to make its 22 percent butterfat ice cream from scratch (and preservative-free) ever since. You can stick with old favorites, like Mint Chip and Vanilla Bean, or try something bursting with California flavors, like Eureka Lemon and Marionberries.

Photo courtesy of McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams

Santa Barbara Spot Prawns

Santa Barbara spot prawns have a special allure. Their availability is sporadic, but the prized seafood is worth the wait for the sweet shellfish, which are best fresh from the Pacific. Housed in a space built by Charlie Chaplin in the 1920s, Republique in Los Angeles is one of the most-beautiful places to find spot prawns on the menu. The cathedral-like restaurant changes the dish’s preparation seasonally, with creations like live Santa Barbara spot prawns with tomato, reed avocado, jalapeno and cilantro.

Photo courtesy of Republique

Grilled Corn

If you thought corn was a just a Midwest staple, think again. One of California’s most-cherished street food classics is Mexican grilled corn, or elote. Boiled or grilled corn on the cob gets slathered with butter, cheese, mayo, lemon or lime, and salt for the perfect combination of textures and flavors. Downtown LA’s B.S. Taqueria offers an elevated grilled corn using fresh, local ingredients and touches like guajillo chile butter. The taqueria uses another California must-try, Brentwood corn, when it’s in season.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton

Dungeness Crab

San Franciscans rejoice at the start of Dungeness crab season in April in a way similar to how the French welcome Beaujolais Nouveau in November. The West Coast-dwelling crab offers sweet meat people crave year-round. San Francisco seafood institution Farallon offers Dungeness crab seekers a unique under-the-sea-inspired dining experience unlike anything else. Giant jellyfish hang from the ceiling a spiral staircase is encrusted with shimmering caviar. With a focus on local produce and sustainably sourced seafood, Farallon is a choice spot to enjoy fresh Dungeness crab whether you get it in a platter or on toast.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton

Lemonade Ice Pop

California is a citrus capital, and the vitamin C-packed produce gets put to good use throughout the state. Up at about 1,200 feet of elevation, Angora Lakes Resort in South Lake Tahoe has been serving fresh-squeezed lemonade and lemonade ice pops, made from California lemons, since it opened in the 1920s. These lemonade pops are not easily obtained treats, as cars are not allowed to drive up the final stretch of winding mountain dirt road to reach the resort. Instead, you have to hike your way to try the famous icy treats. The pops — and experiencing the beauty of Angora Lake — are well worth the steep climb.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton

Maple Bar Doughnut

The maple bar, a rectangular Long John doughnut slathered with maple icing, is the West Coast’s claim to deep-fried breakfast fame. While the sweet delicacy can be found up and down the Pacific coast, Los Angeles is a serious doughnut hub, and the city is credited with changing the spelling from "doughnut" to "donut" in the 1920s. Step back in time by venturing to Downtown LA, where the architecture of the '20s still reigns. Located in downtown’s Historic Core, Downtown Donuts is where you want to go for your maple bar needs. There is nothing fancy about the small establishment, but there’s nothing fancy about a maple bar either. Take your slab of pillowy dough to go and explore the neighborhood.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton

Crispy Tacos

Crispy tacos are not what you’d call authentic Mexican fare. Nicknamed “Gabacho tacos,” they’re an Americanized taco variety whose popularity may have been proliferated by fast-food joints. Now a Mexican-American staple, the crispy taco can be found all over the country with its beef, shredded lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. Southern California is home to endless essential crispy taco spots, like Taco Fiesta in Los Angeles. About $4 will get you two hard-shelled beauties at this Highland Park haunt.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton

Fried Pizza

There aren’t many spots outside of Italy to find fried pizza, making A16 Rockridge’s Montanara pizza a must-try California food. Fried dough, with smoked tomato sauce, fior di latte mozzarella and basil, is served whole and piping hot right out of a wood-burning Stefano Ferrara oven from Italy. Diners at this Oakland restaurant are given a pair of pizza shears (basically pizza-specific scissors) to cut slices as ready, which keeps the pie hot as long as possible. The Montanara goes well with some housemade Calabrian chile oil don't forget a selection from owner and wine director Shelley Lindgren’s 23-page wine list.

Photo courtesy of Natalie B. Compton

Uni, or sea urchin, offers a true taste of the Pacific. On the outside, uni looks like an oceanic porcupine. Glowing orange inside, the sea urchin meat is a sea-salty delicacy worshiped around the world. At the Hungry Cat in Santa Barbara, chef and owner David Lentz serves sea urchin in a number of ways, including freshly opened with a garnish of a lemon, topping grilled bread and in ever-changing pasta specials.

Photo courtesy of Hungry Cat

Chicken and Waffles

The South gets a lot of love for its fried chicken, but few places in the world rival Los Angeles for chicken and waffles, specifically at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. Founded by a New Yorker in South Los Angeles in 1975, it has become one of California’s most-beloved fried chicken destinations. The sweet and savory meal has attracted the attention of everyone from Hollywood stars who live nearby to dignitaries from around the world. After President Obama visited Roscoe’s for the three-wing Country Boy chicken-and-waffle combo, the restaurant renamed the plate Obama Special.

4. Chocolate Cake

Finding a marvelous cut of chocolate cake in Los Angeles is somewhat troublesome. Thessa’s Chocolate Cake at Jon and Vinny’s is the best in the city. Cake chef Thessa Diadem turns the great Dutch pastry—served Friday, Saturday, and even on Sunday—into a chocolate-on-chocolate blackout. Three sodden layers made with two sorts of cocoa powder are isolated by dark, smooth fudge and chocolate buttercream icing before being sprinkled with vanilla crème anglaise.

Address: 412 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax District

But what the heck is this "res..

Whenever someone comes to me and says “You know, I visited Los Angeles but I hated it”, I reply by saying that the city of angels is not for tourists, it has to be lived.

While living in Westwood, Los Angeles, I had a great time exploring what the city has to offer including the best of LA by night. My first impression, though, was that of a dirty, chaotic, snob city…at the end of the year I didn’t want to leave anymore.

The city is a pandemonium of different cultures and traditions, and I bet you can have food from every corner of the world here. Night or day, you’ll find some of the best cuisine in Los Angeles, add that was truly fascinating to me, since I come from a middle-size city where past a certain time the only thing you can find open is…well, McDonald’s!

So, where to eat in Los Angeles with such a vast choice? I obviously haven’t tried every restaurant in town, but here it’s a personal list of my favorite places (not in a particular order).

01 | Umami Burger

Did anyone say fancy hamburgers?
Like, did you even know that the two things can go together?

They can at Umami, where your hamburger gets served on nice porcelain plates. The hamburgers are smaller than most places, but who cares when they’re so savory! The options are plenty, and for sides, choose between truffle fries and sweet potato fries, equally yummy. Expect to spend more than at a fast-food, but hey, these are gourmet burgers!

I went to the 1520 Cahuenga Blvd. (Los Angeles) location, but there are others in Los Angeles you can try as well. For all informations, check out Umami Burger website.

02 | Baby Blues BBQ

Meat lovers, this is the place for you. People on Tripadvisor say Baby Blues BBQ (444 Lincoln Blvd, Venice) makes the best ribs in town, and in a city such as LA that’s not saying nothing!

Don’t expect fanciness, but succulence? Heck yeah!
We got ribs with corn and cornbread, and took it to Venice beach for a picnic.
BBQ+the beach= a great combo.

03 | Mr. Chow

Mr. Chow is a stylish, Asian-fusion restaurant where Chinese cuisine and innovation are blended: think like a mix of european and asian but with a gourmet, luxury touch.
I was in the Beverly Hills restaurant ( 344 N Camden Dr, Beverly Hills) for a special night out, although there are six locations around the world.

A celebrities hotspot (you might be able to see some!), Mr. Chow is definitely not on the cheap side , but if you want to feel like a Hollywood star for a special night, this is the place to go to.

04 | In-N-Out Burger

Image: Jeremy Keith, Flickr

How not to love In-N-Out?
It’s just the best for those stressful I-need-carbs-and-fast-food times. If you add that this place is really cheap, you’ve got the recipe for an always packed hotspot. I used to go to the Westwood location (922 Gayley, Los Angeles), but there are many others: check out their website.
The quality of the ingredients is not comparable to the other fast food chain restaurants we all know, and the kitchen is open so you can actually watch while they make your burger.
TIP! There’s a secret menu that doesn’t appear anywhere: ask for the fries animal style for fries with melted cheese, the special sauce and bacon, and for the animal style hamburger.

05 | Din Tai Fung Dumpling House

The name says it: you want to have dumplings? Just head straight to Din Tai Fung ( 1088 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia) , this is dumplings’ heaven.

Image: Leon Brocard, Flickr

You can have crab, pork, fish, vegetarian, shrimp, chicken…just say one ingredient and they’ll probably have some dumpling with it. Reasonably priced, I’ve been told that dumplings so good exist only in Taipei.
Can’t get better than this. Oh, arrive early because the place is always packed!

06 | Paul Martin’s American Grill Restaurant

In this list of ethnic food from all over the world I needed an all american place: Paul Martin’s American Grill ( 2361 Rosecrans Ave, El Segundo) is the perfect one to include.

Image: Paul Martin’s American Grill website

I came here for a birthday and I really liked it. It’s not dirty cheap, but I tried the fish tacos, the tomato soup and the grilled salmon and all the dishes were tasty, the ingredients local and sustainable (you know I love that word!).
I love the ambience and the elegant design of the restaurant….and the bar?
A great selection of cocktails and wine: next time, I’ll come for happy hour (wink wink) or for Sunday brunch.

07 | Hae Jang Chon Korean Bbq Restaurant

Whenever I read somewhere All you can eat I get excited. And I don’t have breakfast so I can have as much food as I can for real.

Hae Jang Chon ( 3821 W. 6th Street, Los Angeles) is the best Korean Bbq I’ve tried, and for $18.99 you can have 20 items from the menu (beef, pork, squid, tongue, octopus…) to grill yourself…do you think it’s gonna be enough for you? Pay attention not to order too much though, or you’ll have to pay for leftovers.

08 | El Taurino

Image: The Living Document, Flickr

El Taurino ( 1104 S Hoover St, Los Angeles) is an obvious choice if you feel like REAL mexican food and you are around downtown.
Especially if you come from a sweaty clubbing night…this place is open at night time.
Their pastor tacos and tortas are gooood, and their carne asada is bomb just get ready for a long wait (it took over 20 minutes to get my food).

09 | 800 Degrees

Pizza pizza pizza.
While I was studying at UCLA, pizza was something that I really missed from home, so I went to quite a bit places to find a good, savoury pizza.
800 degrees in Westwood ( 10889 Lindbrook Drive Los Angeles there’s also another location in Santa Monica) is the best place I found for pizza in town. It’s a make your own pizza but with staff that does it for you.

Image: Drew Hubbard, Ben Waters, Flickr

It’s not usual for an American pizzeria to have a wood-burning oven, and the quality of the ingredient is very good: when I learnt that the mozzarella here is real buffalo milk mozzarella, this place just conquered me.

10 | Ramen Yamadaya

This was my first time ever trying Tonkotsu Ramen and I found it interesting. I mean, I’m more of a sushi kind of girl, but I liked it. At Ramen Yamadaya ( 1248 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles) you can decide how spicy you want your ramen,and you can try and win the spicy challenge. Me? NO THANKS!

This is a casual dining place, and honestly the service could be improved, but the food is good and that’s what’s most important to me. Get the green tea Japanese ice cream at the end.

TIP! UCLA students get free extra noodles, so if you are a student don’t forget to show your Bruincard!

Want to read more of LA? Don’t forget to check out my Public Transportation Guide to LA !

Chicken and Waffles

The combo of crispy fried chicken and sweet buttered waffles might sound strange, but it always hits the spot whether you seek comfort food, a late-night meal, a hangover cure, or brunch. The place to try it is Roscoe’s House of Chicken N Waffles. The original Hollywood location has been frying and flipping since Harlem native Herb Hudson opened it in 1975, and the now six-outpost-strong chain constantly pings in pop culture. Even if none of its celebrity fans—President Obama even has a plate named after him—are in the house, the people-watching is mesmerizing.

L.A. Chapter

A recent transplant to Downtown, the Ace Hotel on Broadway helped to immediately liven up an area of the urban core that was, in many ways, still lacking. Flanked by long-shuttered movie houses and live music venues that had once held such decadence, the new Ace is a bit of revitalization right where the city needs it most. The attached United Artists Theater has been returned to its shimmering glory, and the looming hotel offers stunning views of the Eastern Columbia building. Inside, with a little slip of patio seating that clings against the building, is L.A. Chapter.

Part breakfast takeaway, part casual lounge and part sit-down meal spot, L.A. Chapter's brassy bistro details and chic look make it one of the area's true anytime destinations. There's a touch of Australian flare the eatery is a sort of offshoot to Five Leaves in Brooklyn, which took on Aussie Heath Ledger as an early investor.

The most popular time of day might be brunch. That's when fried eggs are elevated to their true glory, avocado can be used to its fullest capabilities, and the Stumptown Coffee is in endless supply. An array of toasts, much more than the usual $4 Pullman loaf slice, come stacked with rich, creamy, often slightly spicy combinations, like the Moroccan Scramble, which marries merguez with fresh chilies, chickpeas, and a healthy tuft of cilantro.

930 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90015

Where to Eat When Sightseeing in LA

Los Angeles is massive and sprawling, a place sightseers tackle with a game plan if they want to minimize their time in traffic. Here are a few of our favorite places to eat near city landmarks to maximize your time in town.

Related To:

Photo By: Natalie B. Compton

Photo By: Natalie B. Compton

Photo By: Natalie B. Compton

Photo By: Natalie B. Compton

Photo By: Natalie B. Compton

Photo By: Natalie B. Compton

Photo By: Natalie B. Compton

Photo By: Natalie B. Compton

Photo By: Natalie B. Compton

Photo By: Natalie B. Compton

Photo By: Natalie B. Compton

Photo By: Natalie B. Compton

LACMA: Ray's and Stark Bar

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, better known as LACMA (and even better known for its photogenic Urban Light installation out front), is the West Coast's largest art museum. The Miracle Mile landmark brings in a million-and-a-half visitors a year with its diverse collection. Located right on the museum premises is Ray's and Stark Bar, an approachable spot with a wood-burning oven that churns out Neapolitan-style pizzas all day long. Every Monday through Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m., guests can score $5 beers and $6 glasses of wine at happy hour alongside seasonal selections of food.

Venice Beach Boardwalk: Felix

An afternoon on the Venice Beach Boardwalk is a quintessential stop on any LA sightseeing agenda. Between the street performers and the Rollerbladers and the arts and crafts, there's a lot to take in on this historic stretch of beach. Decompress and discuss what you just witnessed over a glass of wine and Italian fare at Felix, from Evan Funke and Janet Zuccarini. Can't-miss dishes include the fluffy Sicilian focaccia, Burrata Pugliese, and Pizza Diavola with fior di latte mozzarella and salame piccante.

Runyon Canyon: The Griddle Cafe

You've hiked the trails of Runyon Canyon and now you need to put the calories you burned off back in your tired body. Turn to pancakes, specifically the famously giant ones at The Griddle Cafe. This place is as basic as it gets, but that's the beauty of it, and what keeps it a surprising celebrity haunt, bringing in the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Roker and Paris Hilton. Pancake flavors range from classic buttermilk to truly insane creations like Frosted Flakes and strawberry, to butterscotch chip, coconut and pecan. Drizzle your choice with pure Vermont maple syrup.

Rodeo Drive: Spago

People-watching is at its finest on Los Angeles' most-famous shopping street, Rodeo Drive. Celebrity spotting abounds, and that continues off the drive at Spago, celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck's first restaurant. The concept originally opened in 1982 and moved into its current location in 1997, where it has continued to thrive with its California cuisine. Where Spago really shines is in its pasta and pizza offerings, specifically the pizza with house-smoked salmon, dill, creme fraiche and chives. To try a little bit of everything, indulge in the chefs' multicourse California Tasting Menu.

The Grove: The Original Farmers Market

Believe it or not, The Grove is one of California's biggest tourist attractions. The shopping center brings in 18 million visitors a year, not with roller coasters and musical performances, but with a movie theater and major fashion retailers. There are plenty of places to eat on an expedition to The Grove, the most fun being The Original Farmers Market. Once a dairy farm in the 1800s, the land was transformed into a bustling marketplace on the corner of 3rd and Fairfax when owners began inviting trucks to sell produce there back in the '30s. Today you can pop from stall to stall, picking up tamales, Texas-style BBQ, gourmet groceries and more.

Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory: Sapp Coffee Shop

You can get a good view of the Hollywood Sign all over LA, but if you're making the trek to Hollywood to see it up close and personal at Griffith Park, stop into Sapp Coffee Shop for some of the city's best jade noodles. Parking here can be tough, and this eatery is cash-only, but the food is well worth these minor obstacles. Your order must include a plate of perfectly chewy jade noodles with BBQ pork, duck and crab meat, as well as a bowl of Boat Noodle Soup with beef. While you're waiting for your noodles to arrive, sip a Thai tea and post your photo of the Hollywood Sign on Instagram.

La Brea Tar Pits: République

At this point, République should stand alone as an LA sight to visit. The restaurant from Margarita and Walter Manzke is a crowd-pleasing win whether you stop by for breakfast, lunch or dinner. République's building is ancient, by Los Angeles standards at least, dating all the way back to 1928. It's a great place to pop in before or after visiting the La Brea Tar Pits (located a four-minute drive away), even if it's just to see the photogenic tile floors of the stunning space. Be prepared for a wait although its line does move quickly, République is perennially busy.

Chinatown: Lasa

Los Angeles' Chinatown is a joy to explore, with its bustling markets and hidden food spots spread out around the neighborhood. In Far East Plaza, two-year-old Lasa, from brothers Chad and Chase Valencia, is still turning heads with its contemporary Filipino fare. Stop in for lunch or dinner to taste the flavors of the Philippines in dishes like Kesong Puti Dumplings, Lumpia Sariwa and Lechon Manok. Lunchtime bowls and burgers are approachably affordable and easy to take with you to go.

Venice Canals: The Butcher's Daughter

In 1905, Abbot Kinney built the Venice Canal Historic District, a neighborhood gem of bungalow-lined waterways and bridges. If you head over to Abbot Kinney Boulevard, you can pretend you're a houseguest in one of those canal bungalows by stepping inside The Butcher's Daughter. The interior design comes courtesy of owner Heather Tierney, a bicoastal restaurateur and designer who calls Venice home. The juice bar and cafe is famous for its healthful yet delicious fare, verdant interior and sunny outdoor seating. Don't leave without trying the avocado toast.

Hollywood Walk of Fame: APL Restaurant

Staples Center: Broken Spanish

There's always something going on at the Staples Center. Whether you're seeing a Taylor Swift concert or a Lakers game, you'll want to get dinner beforehand nearby, and preferably one that measures up to the amazing entertainment following your meal. Cue Broken Spanish, an "authentically inauthentic" Mexican restaurant from Chef Ray Garcia. Handmade tortillas (served with whipped carnitas fat, by the way), brilliant mezcal cocktails and esquites with bone marrow are just some of the reasons to make a reservation at this Los Angeles institution.

The Museum of Contemporary Art: 71Above

Pop art is on display at downtown LA's Museum of Contemporary Art on Grand Avenue, while the entire city is on display nearby at 71Above, fittingly located on the 71st floor of the US Bank Tower. Dubbed the highest restaurant west of the Mississippi, 71Above features an unbelievable view that only a restaurant 950 feet above ground level could offer. The cocktails here are as big a draw as the contemporary cooking, so head in for a sunset drink before your meal.

Paramount Pictures Studios: Café Gratitude

Tour the Paramount Pictures Studios lot to learn about Hollywood history and fun facts about some of your favorite films. Afterward, grab lunch at the Hollywood-approved Café Gratitude. Celebrities and civilians alike love the vegan, organic restaurant's super-healthful menu with whimsically named dishes. Try the Dazzling / Kale Caesar salad, composed of romaine with wakame, sesame seed gomasio, avocado, brazil nut Parmesan, gluten-free croutons and chipotle cashew Caesar dressing.

The Getty Center: Kato

A 10-minute drive will get you from The Getty Center to Kato on Sawtelle. Your experience at Kato depends on the time of the day you visit. At lunch, you'll get casual fare like beef noodle soup or a $5 chicken sandwich. In the evening, Kato offers a more elegant tasting menu, and you'll be dazzled by Chef Jonathan Yao's artful seafood-focused creations. Do the place justice and go in for both Kato vibes.

The Broad: Otium

The Broad is a sight to see, whether you're going inside to view the collection of some 2,000 works of art, or just standing outside and admiring the $140 million building they're housed in. Otium is located just across a lawn decorated with 100-year-old olive trees from the museum, making it one of the most-convenient dining options. Award-winning chef Timothy Hollingsworth has brought the Los Angeles art-loving public a gorgeous place to drink and dine after their Broad visit. Drop in for highlights like Foie Gras Funnel Cake, Snake River Farms New York Strip steak with spinach and bone marrow vinaigrette, and Chocolate Choux a la Creme for dessert.

Dodger Stadium: Tsubaki

It's definitely in your best interest to eat a Dodger Dog while you're watching a ballgame at the stadium, but food in the park is expensive and not necessarily wholesome enough to fill you up. A better option is a pre- or post-game meal at Tsubaki, located down the hill from Dodger Stadium in Echo Park. The petite izakaya serves grilled (and raw) Japanese staples alongside a thorough sake menu. On Tuesdays through Fridays from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., stop by for happy-hour yakitori skewers and the opportunity to taste and learn about the sake of the month.

Paul Smith Pink Wall: E.P. & L.P.

In the age of social media, a mostly unremarkable wall on Melrose Avenue has become a hotspot for Instagram-driven sightseers. Thanks to its bright pink facade, the Paul Smith store is now a destination for stopping for selfies outside as well as for shopping inside. The flattering backdrop is regularly visited by out-of-towners and locals alike. Get your new profile photo and then head west to E.P. & L.P., the Southeast Asian gem by Chef Louis Tikaram. The Fijian-Australian expat is one of the city's brightest culinary stars and is responsible for magic like Szechuan-style fried fish wok-tossed with mouth-numbing fresh Szechuan peppercorns.

Pershing Square: Mrs. Fish

Pershing Square hosts a fount of events throughout the year, and the palm tree-lined block is surrounded by interesting dining spots, like the recently renovated Mrs. Fish. Guests leaving Pershing Square must descend into the basement of 448 South Hill Street to discover the surreal space named after its 5,500-gallon saltwater ceiling fish tank. Conversation-starting art adorns the walls, but you'll keep talking about the food hitting your table instead. Fish are delivered directly from Japan, there's a decadent uni-and-lobster pasta you shouldn't miss, and highly addictive snacks like spicy edamame and cabbage with miso butter are also on offer. If it's in your budget, explore the serious Japanese whiskey menu, complete with rare finds like Komagatake and a 30-year-old Ichiro's Malt The Single Cask #708. More budget-friendly is the Toki Highball, which comes straight from a Suntory Toki Whisky Highball machine that produces water five times more carbonated than the average soda water.

Santa Monica Pier: 1 Pico

At the edge of Colorado Avenue, the Santa Monica Pier is a postcard-worthy LA stop. You have the surf, the sand and the towering ferris wheel that bathes the beach in a neon glow by night. Next door to the pier is Shutters on the Beach, one of Los Angeles' best-known hotels. You don't have to be a hotel guest to dine at 1 Pico, its beachfront restaurant from Chef David Almany. The best time to go is for brunch, lunch or sunset, to get the most of the priceless Pacific Ocean view. The lobster tail Benedict with grilled asparagus goes perfectly with the coastal ambience.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall: Patina

There may be no more jaw-dropping a building in Los Angeles than downtown's Walt Disney Concert Hall. Designed by the one and only Frank Gehry, the Los Angeles Music Center performance hall looks straight out of a futuristic science-fiction movie. At its French fine-dining haunt Patina, Executive Chef Andreas Roller orchestrates exquisite meals that exceed expectations. For example, the German chef is known to do night dives off the coast of Malibu to personally catch California spiny lobster and sea urchin for his guests.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery: Petit Trois

If you had told the people buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery that one day in the not-so-distant future people of all ages would be picnicking while watching a movie in a graveyard, they'd never have believed you. It would also be difficult to explain to them the concept of Petit Trois, an impossibly small French restaurant located nearby the cemetery. The tiny strip-mall treasure from Chef Ludo Lefebvre maintains all of the je ne sais quoi charm of a restaurant in Paris, even though it's smashed into a sliver of space next to a doughnut shop. Get the steak frites, or the omelette, or the outrageous Big Mec, a burger made exponentially more decadent by the addition of foie gras.

Watts Towers: Hawkins House of Burgers

It took 33 years for Sabato "Simon" Rodia to build one of LA's most-unique sights, Watts Towers. The National Historic Landmark is on the National Register of Historic Places in Los Angeles, and has been featured in books, movies (La La Land) and even video games. Complement your visit to the architectural wonder with a monster of a burger at Hawkins House of Burgers. Cynthia Hawkins is in charge of this Watts institution, known for its massive Angus beef and turkey patties. One of the house specialties is the Whipper Burger, a double burger with pastrami and a hot link.

Grand Central Market: Sticky Rice

Grand Central Market is a neon playground made for social media, although it was really made for getting your groceries back in 1917. Wander through the maze of vendors (picking up some dried Mexican chiles at Chiles Secos and a fresh baguette from Clark Street Bread), then sit down for lunch at Sticky Rice. The Thai spot has all of the fan favorites like pad thai, khao soi, and panang curry, in addition to rotating specials like crying tiger steak. Hydrate with some electrolytes and order a fresh coconut to go along with your meal.

Universal Studios: Mercado

En route to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? If you're not planning to fill up on Butterbeer and turkey legs at Universal Studios, check out the great Mexican food nearby at Mercado. Start with cauliflower al pastor and guacamole, then move on to something more substantial, like chile relleno and enchiladas de pollo with Oaxaqueño mole. The bar menu is as enticing as the food offerings, and Mercado stocks more than 70 tequilas for your margarita- or paloma-sipping pleasure.


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