Wondering where to eat in Los Angeles? Read on for my favorite all-day cafes, an epic food hall, authentic Thai food, and more.
Flip through any food magazine or click on any “Best of” list from the recent past, and it’s easy to see that Los Angeles is one of the most exciting food cities in the country right now. As a diehard New Yorker, I say that with a tiiiny bit of defeat (and, okay, envy), but even I can see the advantages LA has over NYC.
The first is the climate, which allows LA restaurants to benefit from a wider variety of local produce year round. Local produce = delicious food. Another advantage is more physical space. More space means [slightly] lower rents, which means a broader range of cooks can afford to open innovative restaurants without going completely bankrupt.
Lastly – and this is purely speculative – LA has all the sunshine. Sunshine makes people happy, and happy people make delicious food. Solid logic, if you ask me.
I’ve traveled to LA a few times in the past couple of years and have fallen madly in love with the food scene. The city is packed with incredible restaurants and I’ve only scratched the surface with my “research”, but below are my favorite recommendations for where to eat in Los Angeles. Some of them have vegan options, some are healthy-ish, while others are just worth the indulgence.
Sqirl is almost single-handedly responsible for putting the “all-day cafe” trend on the map and a big inspiration for me. Located in Silver Lake, it’s the go-to breakfast and lunch hangout of LA’s cool kids. While counter service keeps the atmosphere casual, the dishes are anything but.
Order This: Sorrel Pesto Rice, Flat Tot, Shaqpeas, Brioche Toast
Tip: Go during off-peak hours. Otherwise, you may get stuck in the queue that wraps around the building.
A new player to the daytime restaurant game, Konbi stands in a category of its own. The minimal menu may seem unusual at first, but it’s got all the makings of that indulgent breakfast you’d only allow yourself on vacation.
Konbi specializes in the Japanese sandwich – “sando” – made with crustless, pillowy milk bread. (You’ve probably already spotted the pork katsu and egg versions floating around your Instagram feed). Their other specialty: a small selection of French pastries, which are made in-house every morning, using what I can only imagine to be an offensive amount of butter.
Order This: Pork Katsu Sandwich, Egg Salad Sandwich, Chocolate Croissant
Tip: Come alone or with 1-2 friends at most. Konbi is tiny and has sushi counter-like seating so you may not be able to sit as a group.
This upscale Venice deli (sister to pizza restaurant Gjelina) is what lunchtime dreams are made of. With artisanal pizza, breads, smoked fish, rustic pastries, and so much more – all made fresh in-house – there’s something here to satisfy every craving.
Order This: Baguettes, Smoked Trout, Porchetta and Brisket Sandwiches, Chocolate Bread Pudding
Tip: The restaurant is on a sketchy block so you might feel safer parking in their lot rather than on the street.
This bright and airy all-day restaurant in Silver Lake is owned by two women who left their journalism jobs to open a restaurant with vegetables, wellness, and nourishment at the core of its ethos. Perhaps this is why Botanica has a calm, uplifting, and – dare I say it – feminine energy to it. This place also specializes in natural wines and has a small shop upfront where you can peruse local provisions and grab a pastry to go.
Order This: Garlicky Toast, Fattoush-y Salad, Turkish Eggs, Cassoulet Vert
Tip: Be sure to make a reservation.
Sapp Coffee Shop
Spoiler alert: it’s not a coffee shop. This cash-only spot located in a strip mall is rumored to be one of the most authentic Thai restaurants in LA. With that said, please don’t order Pad Thai. The MVP here is the Beef Boat Noodle Soup – a warming bowl of opaque beefy broth whose intense savoriness is balanced by equal parts sweetness, acidity, and spice. Also in the bowl are slippery rice noodles and what Anthony Bourdain once described as “mystery bits.”
Order This: Beef Boat Noodle Soup, Jade Noodles, Trio of Meat Over Rice (pork two ways plus roast duck)
Tip: Bring cash.
Come for the innovative seasonal menu, stay for the highly stylized atmosphere. Another spot of the “bright and airy” variety (you can tell there’s a pattern emerging here…), Kismet combines Middle Eastern flavors with classic California cuisine flawlessly. They’ve got plenty of vegetarian options and have that “healthy-ish” vibe down pat.
Order This: Flakey Bread with Egg, Labneh and Tomato, Turkish-Ish Breakfast, Jeweled Crispy Rice
Grand Central Market
This giant food hall in the center of downtown houses dozens of food vendors that showcase Los Angeles’ vast cultural diversity. They’ve got something from all corners of the world: tacos, papusas, bento boxes, ramen, falafel, Filipino rice bowls, and so much more. I’ve only eaten from a couple of the stalls but have not once been disappointed. Check out their website for a complete list of vendors.
Tip: Come with a group so you can sample more food!
What to Do Between Meals
Unfortunately, there are only three meals in a day and you’re gonna need stuff to do when you’re not eating. Here are some of my favorite places to visit:
- Venice Canals – Constructed in 1905 to resemble the ones in Italy, these man-made canals make for a picturesque walk. You’ll love gawking at the unique modern bungalows that line the canals. This place is especially gorgeous during golden hour.
- Griffith Park – Griffith Observatory is where tourists flock to gaze at the famous Hollywood sign. After you’re done taking a selfie, check out some of the 53 miles of hiking trails that overlook the city.
- Getty Center – This giant museum sits on top of a hill that offers sprawling views of LA. There’s an impressive art collection, lots of outdoor spaces, and a large ornate garden. The museum is free but you’ll have to pay for parking.
- Greystone Mansion – This 1900’s stone mansion and the lush surrounding grounds are owned by the City of Beverly Hills. The mansion is only open during special events but the gardens are open to visitors at all times. It’s a great way to decompress from restaurant-hopping.