With a vibrant immigrant population, access to fresh seafood and produce, and a stable of ground-breaking chefs, Los Angeles has much to offer on the food front. Visitors can sample foods at restaurants that date back over a century or dine at the latest and hippest Hollywood hotspot. The choices are endless, and the journey is exciting.

Here’s our favorites:

1. Farmer’s Market

Farmers Market

The Farmers Market opened in way back in 1934 and is considered a historic Los Angeles landmark. It’s open 7 days a week and boasts over 100 restaurants, vendors, and shops. Much of the food is local, the variety is incredibly diverse, and everything is fresh. With everyone from restaurant owners to tourists frequenting the place, the vibe is bustling, and the people-watching opportunities are awesome. Be sure to go hungry, because there’s plenty of food to sample. Places to eat at the Farmer’s Market include Du-Pars Pie Shop, Gill’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream, Normandie Bakery, and the Gumbo Pot. Also, consider taking a Farmers Market tour with Melting Pot Food Tours – read more here (Photo by Eric Gardner)

2. Spago

Spago

When Spago originally opened in 1982 on the Sunset Strip, Wolfgang Puck introduced his California cuisine to the world and became a celebrity chef in the process. Hollywood’s celebrities and power-elite flocked to the restaurant and competed for the power tables. Spago spawned the designer pizza movement is America, and Wolfgang Puck was one of the pioneers of Asian Fusion and New American cuisine. The original Spago was located on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and closed down in 2001. The current location opened in 1997 and soon became the preferred location of celebrities. It went through a major renovation in 2012 – read more here (Photo by Alan Light)

3. Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa

Sugarfish

Sugarfish By Sushi Nozawa is master sushi chef Kazunori Nozawa’s foray into bringing the omakase sushi experience to people at an affordable price point. From 1987 until 2012, Nozawa ran Sushi Nozawa, a Ventura Boulevard sushi bar where he attracted a celebrity clientele and built a reputation as as Los Angeles’ infamous “Sushi Nazi.” In 2007, he gained fame when Charlize Theron complained on The Tonight Show about being kicked out of his restaurant after she advised him on which types of fish to serve. For Sugarfish, Nozawa teamed up with tech entrepreneur Jerry Greenberg to create high-quality, creative omakase menus at set price points of $20, $30 and $40. The venture was a success, and now there are numerous Sugarfish locations in the Los Angeles area. At the Beverly Hills Sugarfish location, there is a reservation-only, 10-seat Nozawa Bar hidden in the back of the restaurant – read more here (Photo by david_mah)

4. Guelaguetza

Guelaguetza

Guelaguetza is run by the Lopez family and is widely regarded as one of the best Oaxacan restaurants in the United States. In 2015, it was the first traditional Mexican restaurant to be named an “American Classic” by the James Beard Foundation. Expect a variety of complex and richly-flavored mole sauces made from family recipes with combinations of chiles, nuts, seeds, spices, and bitter chocolate. The mole sauces are featured in everything from the breakfasts to the tamales to the desserts. Other authentic Oaxacan food includes tlayudas (Mexican pizza), cactus, goat, and grasshoppers. Wash the food down with a Michelada or one of the many Mezcal or Tequila cocktails. Guelaguetza is located in the heart of Koreatown is a small nondescript place. Inside, however, things gets lively, with live music, festive decor, and people everywhere. The staff is friendly and caters to both Spanish and English speakers and the atmosphere is family-friendly – read more here (Photo by Charlie Kaijo)

5. The Bazaar by José Andrés

The Bazaar by Jose Andres

The Bazaar by José Andrés was named one of the “Best New Restaurants for 2009” by Esquire. Chef José Andrés is credited with bringing the small plate dining concept to America, and he made a name for himself in culinary circles for his restaurants in the Washington, DC, area, including minibar, Jaleo, and Oyamel. The Bazaar mixes old world tradition with modern molecular whimsy to create a sensory dining experience. The small plate, tapas-style dishes and specialty cocktails are served in a playful lounge spaces. The modernist space was designed by Philippe Starck and is divided into several distinct spaces within the lobby of the SLS Beverly Hills Hotel. Progressive dining is available at Bar Centro, Rojo, Blanca and The Patisserie. SAAM provides a 20-course tasting menu – read more here (Photo by tannaz)

6. Father’s Office

Father's Office

Father’s Office is a bustling gastropub with awesome burgers – including the famous Office Burger – and a rotating list of 36 craft beers on tap. The original location opened in 1953 in Santa Monica, and, in the 1970’s, it became a pioneer in the craft beer movement when the bar began offering California microbrews from Anchor Steam and Sierra Nevada. Sang Yoon bought the tiny bar in 2000 and used his chef talents to up the ante in the bar’s food offerings, which previously only consisted of cheese plates. Yoon introduced the now-famous Office Burger, which featured only very high quality ingredients and is often cited as the burger that initiated the gourmet burger movement. In addition to the beer selection, Father’s Office also serves small producer wines, and the Los Angeles location serves cocktails made with spirits from micro-distillers.

In 2008, Yoon opened a second location in Los Angeles in the historic Helms Bakery building – read more here (Photo by vmiramontes)

7. Providence

Providence

Providence received two stars from the Michelin Guide in 2009, which was the last year the guide was published for the Los Angeles area, and the seafood restaurant has been declared one of the “One of America’s Top 50 Restaurants” by Gourmet magazine. Chef Michael Cimarusti  opened his restaurant in 2005, and he uses seafood sourced from longtime suppliers from around the world to create dishes with modern European and Asian influences that feature inventive combinations and beautiful presentations. Expect offerings such as chorizo and squid lollipops and live scallops with lemon and butter. Providence is elegant, softly lit, earth-toned – read more here (Photo by vmiramontes)

8. Melisse

Melisse

Melisse celebrates classic fine dining and French-American haute cuisine with Chef Josiah Citrin’s season-driven prix fixe menus. The restaurant is elegant, yet unpretentious, and is perfect for diners wanting an upscale dining experience with all of the accouterments. Expect exquisite service, remarkable presentations, and gastronomical delights. Josiah Citrin takes advantage of the fresh ingredients California has to offer in creating his contemporary American dishes with French influences. Menus choices range from 4-course to 10-course to the 15-course Carte Blance extravaganza. Melisse is the only Forbes Five Star eatery in the city of Los Angeles, and in 2013, Forbes Travel Guide named Melisse “One of the Finest Five Star Properties in the World” – read more here (Photo by Krista)

9. Wurstküche

Wurstkuche

Wurstküche is an exotic sausage emporium and biergarten that opened in the Downtown LA Arts District in 2008, and they later opened a location in Venice Beach in 2010. The menu is simple and straightforward – it is essentially sausages, Belgian fries, and beer. The beauty is in the quality and details – everything is top-quality and prepared with care. Sausage choices include Bratwurst, Vegetarian Smoked Apple Sage, Mango Jalapeño, Rattlesnake and Rabbit with Jalapeño. The huge selection of German and Belgian beers includes such obscurities as Floris Apple Ale and Houblon Chouffe. The space is an old brick warehouse filled with communal tables and outdoor seating. The clientele veers much more toward hipsters than men in lederhosen – read more here (Photo by Ed Kwon)

10. Botegga Louie

Bottega Louie

Bottega Louie is located on the ground floor of the historic classical and Romanesque Revival Brockman Building in downtown Los Angeles. It’s a combination restaurant, cafe, gourmet market, and grown-up candy store that’s a suitable destination for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. The space features high ceilings, white walls with brass and marble accents, and a huge open kitchen. Come for one of their famous colorful macaroons, or for cocktails from the bar. The vibe is upscale and hipster – read more here (Photo by Jenny Huey)

11. Animal

Animal

Animal is a meat-centric restaurant where the focus is often on the pig. In that regard, Chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo bring the whole hog to the table: pig ears, pig tails, crispy pig’s head. Besides the pig, there’s also veal brains and a grilled chicken hearts and other dished featuring various animal parts. For dessert, there’s the bacon chocolate crunch bar. The restaurant opened in 2008 to wide acclaim. Chefs and owners Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo offer adventurous dishes with bold flavors and a flawless presentation – read more here (Photo by Ann Marie Michaels)

12. Ink

ink

Ink is Chef Michael Voltaggio’s highly anticipated restaurant that serves cutting-edge, modernist, New American food using unusual ingredients and presented beautifully on the plate. Image with substance seems to be the modus operandi for chef Michael Voltaggio, who worked as chef de cuisine at Jose Andres’ Bazaar before gaining widespread fame when he won Top Chef. The cuisine boasts both the hubris and the ethnic fabric that defines Los Angeles. Expect the use of unusual and daring ingredient combinations, such as monkfish with chicken skin, but also expect the dish look so good the it warrants a picture before messing it up by taking a bite. The wine and and the cocktails do justice and stand up to the menu, as does the edgy decor and vibe of the small place that GQ magazine named ink the best new restaurant in America in 2012 – read more here (Photo by dinnerpants)

13. Pizzeria Mozza

Pizzeria Mozza

Pizzeria Mozza is a casual, yet trendy, restaurant specializing in artisan California-style pizzas. Former James Beard “Pastry Chef of the Year” and celebrity chef Nancy Silverton runs the restaurant with help from fellow celebrity chefs Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich. Before opening Pizzeria Mozza and her other restaurant, Osteria Mozza, Nancy Silverton worked as the pastry chef at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago restaurant. From there, she used her vast knowledge of artisan breads to bring European-style bread to Los Angeles with the opening of La Brea Bakery in 1989. When she got the itch to begin a new venture, she turned her knowledge of baking toward making pizza crust, and the results have been very popular with Los Angeles diners. The pizzas at Pizzeria Mozza are praised for their thin, flaky, perfect crusts and fresh, inventive toppings – read more here (Photo by Arnold Gatilao)

14. Son of a Gun

Son of a Gun

Son of a Gun is Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s seafood-centric counterpart to their more famous, meat-focused restaurant, Animal. The food is tasty and reasonably-priced, but it’s not your basic fried shrimp and fish and chips. The rotating menu is printed up daily and divided into raw seafood, shellfish, fish, meat, seasonal, snacks, and dessert. The small dish items include such staples as raw oysters, lobster roll, and shrimp toast, plus fresh fish creatively prepared. Ironically, the fried chicken sandwich from the meat section is one of the most popular items on the menu. There’s a good selection of house cocktails and wines to accompany the food. Son of a Gun a small, with seating at the six-stool bar or a at the long communal table. Seats are split between reservations and walk-ins. Kitschy nautical paraphernalia such as nets and bouys adorns the wood-paneled walls walls – read more here (Photo by Emily C)

15. Gjelina

Gjelina

Gjelina is a hip neighborhood restaurant in Venice known for super-thin pizzas and fresh, seasonal American fare. A rustic front door leads to a softly-lit dining room with both small, individual tables and long communal tables. A patio bar is perfect for a drink. Their super-thin pizzas with inspired toppings were voted one of the “Best Pizzas in America” by The Daily Meal – read more here (Photo by T.Tseng)

16. Philippe The Original Restaurant

Philippe The Original Restaurant

Philippe The Original Restaurant is famous for their “French Dipped Sandwich” – either Roast Beef, Roast Pork, Leg of Lamb, Turkey or Ham. The sandwich comes with a choice of Cheese and is served on a lightly textured, freshly baked French Roll which has been dipped in the natural gravy of the roasts. The restaurant was opened in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, a Frenchman who emigrated to Los Angeles by way of Buffalo, and he lays claim to being the inventor of the French Dip sandwich – read more here (Photo by Bobak Ha’Eri)

17. Langer’s Deli

Langer's Deli

Langer’s Deli has been a landmark in the Westlake neighborhood since opening in 1947, and the pastrami sandwich they make is considered to be one of the best in the world. In 2001, Langer’s Deli was a recipient of the James Beard “America’s Classics” award, and the #19-Pastrami Sandwich has been featured on the Food Network‘s The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Al Langer founded the restaurant, and his son, Norm, now runs it. In their almost 70 years of being in business, they have served over 4,000,000 lbs. of pastrami – read more here (Photo by Ben Brown)

18. Griddle Cafe

Griddle Cafe

Griddle Cafe is a favorite breakfast spot of everyone form cool guys like Tommy Lee to pretentious industry types to just plain regular folks. All are welcome at this unlikely Sunset Boulevard hotspot. The food is top notch, the pancake creations are inventive, and the portions are huge. The food and the scene is very Hollywood – a combination of being very decadent with a bit grunge thrown in for good measure – read more here (Photo by Marc Kjerland)

19. Porto’s Bakery

Porto's Bakery

Porto’s Bakery was founded in the 1960’s by Cuban immigrants, Rosa Porto and her husband, Rau. They had no money when they arrived in America, but Rosa had a passion for baking, so she started a small cake business out of their home selling Cuban cakes. When the business outgrew their tiny home, they opened a small bakery. As the business grew they offered more products, and their children joined in to help after graduating from college. In addition to the original Cuban cakes, Porto’s is also famous for their potato balls and cheese rolls. The menu is huge and also features Cuban sandwiches, breads, and pastries – read more here (Photo by Cliff Hutson)

20. Diddy Riese Cookies

Diddy Riese Cookies

Diddy Riese Cookies opened in 1983 and is famous for their ice cream sandwiches. The build-your-own-ice-cream-sandwiches come with your choice of 2 fresh-baked cookies and a scoop of Dreyers ice cream. Cookie choices include Chocolate Chip with Walnuts, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, and Peanut Butter. There are a dozen flavors of ice cream from which to choose. The low-cost ice cream sandwiches are popular with students from nearby UCLA, and there is usually a line. In addition to the ice cream sandwiches, Diddy Riese has brownies, sundaes, and Hawaiian shaved ice – read more here (Photo by Tobin)

21. Daikokuya

Daikokuya

Daikokuya is a small restaurant in Little Tokyo with yellow awning and a line of people out front. Inside, the comforting ramen soup is made from kurobuta pork bones that have been boiled for nearly a full day. With an impressive list of awards won, they are rightly known for being one of the longest-standing and greatest ramen places in Los Angeles. They have a few other stores scattered about Los Angeles, but the original location is the best. The waits are long, but diners can leave their name with a server and then explore Little Tokyo while waiting – read more here (Photo by LWYang)

Featured photo by Justin Vidamo. All photos CC-BY-2.0.

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