While the Los Angeles’s restaurant scene may not be the first thing on your mind during your first visit to this side of the map -- it certainly won’t be the last thing on your mind when you leave. Sure, L.A.’s restaurants are more famous for starring in films than for the actual food coming out of the kitchen, but believe it or not, Los Angeles’s fare is as complex as its freeways and as creative as its eccentric city dwellers. While New York, Chicago, and London’s restaurants consistently make it onto the “World’s Best Restaurants” lists, L.A. is happy to at least share the same state with three northern California establishments that made the cut – French Laundry in Yountville, CA (#3), Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA (#13), and Manresa in Los Gatos, CA (#38).
Now that we’ve established that Los Angeles is not exactly trying to compete with places like London, Chicago or New York for the best food title, we can move on to the Los Angeles dining scene, which is (actually) fast becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Because Los Angeles is a fascinating mix of cultures from around the world, it should come as no surprise that the chefs here typically combine two or three and sometimes four different types of cuisine to create a fusion that you just won’t find anywhere else. Not only this, but Los Angeles is arguably America’s best place for Sushi with skills strong enough to compete with all other sushi haunts around the world – with the exception of Japan, of course. Just try Mori Sushi in West L.A. for truly artful presentations and sushi that tastes so fresh you’ll swear it’s still moving.
So, what can you expect when dining out in L.A. besides out of this world sushi? Asian-inspired menus abound here and as well as French, Italian, and Mediterranean inspired fare that will leave you wondering why this place didn’t make the list.
There are so many restaurants in L.A. that it would be tough to list them all here. What we can do is list some of the best Los Angeles restaurants as voted by restaurant critics, locals, prestigious food & wine publications, and numerous websites dedicated to no-fluff food reviews. But first, here are some tips about dining in L.A.
By now you probably already know that 80% of the time you won’t be parking your own car – especially if you dine in at a halfway decent restaurant. In fact, your parking space could very well be right at the front door of the restaurant, but you will still “have to use” valet. The good news is, valet parking in L.A. isn’t as expensive as you may think. The typical valet parking fee is $5, plus tip.
Finding a super late-night dining option in Los Angeles is like trying to find a bar that’s open until 4 or 5 a.m. here – it just doesn’t exist. And burger stands and pizza joints don’t count. Most choice dinner spots take reservations until around 9 or 10 p.m. Peak dining times are from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m., and most places are closed Sunday and Monday. Keep in mind that the majority of L.A.’s dining establishments are fairly casual unless noted otherwise. But by casual, we don’t mean sweats and a t-shirt or even jeans and a tee. Puh-lease! Remember – this is L.A. so if nothing else, do your very best to look stylish and polished no matter where you go. Sometimes dressing down when you dine may be considered in poor taste.
And finally, it’s always a good idea to make reservations, especially if the restaurant falls into the somewhat popular, semi-popular, or very popular categories. Weekends, like most other cities, are madness, so just be sure to stay ahead of the game – simply plan ahead!
Top Los Angeles Restaurants
Spago Beverly Hills, California Cuisine
Table 8, California Cuisine
Urasawa, Japanese, 218 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, 310.247.8939
Nobu Matsuhisa, Japanese Fusion
Crustacean Beverly Hills, Vietnamese
La Cachette, French
Restaurant- Hotel Bel-Air, Contemporary
Chinoise on Main, Contemporary
Cicada, Northern Italian
Water Grill, Seafood
Los Angeles Steak Houses
The Lodge Steakhouse, Beverly Hills
The Palm, Downtown Los Angeles
Dakota Restaurant, Hollywood
BOA Steakhouse, West Hollywood, Santa Monica
Other Notable Los Angeles Restaurants
Fogo de Chao, Brazilian
Sofi, Greek, 8030 3/4 W 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90048-4307, 323.651.0346
Tantra, Modern Indian
Cobras & Matadors, Spanish, 7615 W Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036, 323.932.6178
If you want more information about what’s to see and do in L.A. pick up a copy of the LA Weekly -- L.A.’s largest and most popular free weekly featuring information about art, attractions, recreation, entertainment, film, music, dining, and events in and around Los Angeles or pick up a copy of The Weekly Time Out.
Another great place to find out about everything L.A. is the entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times – L.A.’s only major metropolitan newspaper. Check out the Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal Blog for other ideas on attractions and things to do in and around L.A.
Los Angeles Restaurants Web Guide
Excellent place to find out about events and tours around L.A. as well as information on dining, shopping, hotels, recreation, attractions, and nightlife.
Yelp - LA
This site is a great resource for user reviews of restaurants and other establishments.
Fodors.com or Frommers.com
Fodors.com and Frommers.com features summaries of places to shop, see, dine, dance, and sleep in and around L.A. If you want a quick list of the top spots in L.A., you’ll find it here!
Lonely Planet features background information and fast facts about L.A., as well as places to see, an image gallery, and travel tips.
Read reviews from people just like you that have been to the places you want to go. Expect to find raw reviews (and opinions) on just about everything from restaurants and nightlife to hotels, shopping, and attractions.
This is an excellent resource for international travel information. You can find the best deals on L.A. hotels, airfare, car rentals, and more. You can also find information about L.A. weather, currency, passport information, etc.