The Write Food’s LA Food Faves: Restaurants, Cafes and Ice Cream Spots
I originally created this list of favorite Los Angeles restaurants, cafes and ice cream spots for my friend Scott, who was new to LA and had taken up residence in the San Fernando Valley. But it seemed like a waste not to share the food recommendation love. So I’m sharing it, just in time for the holiday season.
The list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, because I’ve had a lot of great food experiences here in LA, and there are some great restaurants that I haven’t yet tried. Nor, on the other hand, is it infallible; places change, of course, and one can always have an off-night.
Restaurants for the Valley Dweller (aka Studio City/NoHo)
Daichan, Japanese “soul food” hole in the wall, and wholly awesome.
Sattdown Jamaican Grill, for your Caribbean food fix.
Feu Pho Kitchen, modern Vietnamese.
Hayat’s Kitchen, Lebanese and one of my faves before seeing plays in North Hollywood (aka Noho).
The Bellwether, a solid gastropub with excellent small plates.
JINYA, a solid ramen contender, though it’s become a good-sized chain.
Black Market Liquor, another excellent gastropub, and in my experience, maybe a notch more subtle than The Bellwether.
(Both in Little Ethiopia on Fairfax just south of Olympic)
Meals by Genet, the gold standard for Ethiopian restaurants, but only open for dinner Thu-Sun.
Lalibela, also excellent and open daily for lunch and dinner.
Tsujita, over on Sawtelle and the top dog.
Tsujita Annex, across the street from Tsujita, also excellent.
Daikokuya (especially the Little Tokyo branch).
Men Oh Tokushima, excellent ramen, but a little more hidden so it’s not as crazy as Daikokuya.
Santouka Ramen, part of a Japanese food court in the Mitsuwa market at Venice and Centinela.
Badmaash, my favorite Indian, downtown next to The Mighty. Billed as LA’s first Indian gastropub. They’re opening an outpost on Fairfax in early 2018.
Shabu Shabu House, great and relatively reasonable shabu shabu in Little Tokyo. They also serve a delicious and cheap beef bento at lunch.
Grand Central Market, definitely a touristy spot, but with good food stands too—highlights to me are Wexler’s Deli, Sari Sari Store (Filipino), Eggslut, Madcapra, McConnell’s, Tacos Tumbras a Tomas. Sticky Rice (Thai) was solid too.
Corporation Food Hall, just opened—so far I’ve checked out Soom Soom Mediterranean (Israeli) and Buddha Belly (Thai-Vietnamese), both of which I quite liked.
Drago Centro, fine dining Italian, but not quite as pricey as some of the fine dining restaurants coming up later on the list.
Industriel, small plates spot—not quite as strong perhaps as A.O.C., but very good when we went there.
Sushi Gen, best sushi spot in Little Tokyo.
Sushi by H, my go-to spot, near the Beverly Center.
Sushi Tsujita, if you’re feeling spendy (but the fish is beautiful), over on Sawtelle.
Katsu-ya, the original in Studio City, not the super trendy ones in Hollywood/Brentwood/etc.
Tlayuda LA, over by Santa Monica and Western, hole in the wall serving delicious Oaxacan food (chorizo here is super killer).
Chichen Itza, down by USC, Yucatan-style cooking.
Holbox, same complex and owner as Chichen Itza, super delicious seafood.
Otus, my go-to spot with great food and coffee/work environment in Hollywood.
Luv2eat, not far from me either and beloved by foodies—but go MILD unless you want your mouth to explode.
Night + Market Song, great food over in Silverlake, but be prepared for a long line of hipsters.
The Original Hoy-ka, noodles and lots of other Thai stuff in Hollywood on Sunset—not quite in Thai Town but not far from it either.
Misc Asian Restaurants
Cassia, high end Southeast Asian in Santa Monica.
Daw Yee Myanmar Corner, one of our few Burmese restaurants, reasonable and very tasty, on Sunset in Silverlake.
Golden Deli, cheap but iconic Vietnamese if you happen to be in San Gabriel in the SGV.
Lukshon, Culver City, technically more pan-Asian (since they don’t limit to SE Asian), but small plates and damn good.
Newport Seafood, awesome Chinese. The San Gabriel original is the spot to go to.
Necco, Westwood, not sushi, but more of a Japanese small plates spot doing gorgeous food with a vegetarian/vegan lean to it.
Barkada, excellent Filipino that just opened in Hollywood. At present, hours seem to be very limited.
Baroo, not your mother’s Korean. Imagine if each dish came out looking like a piece of art (but you’ll need to order a few to get full), not far from Santa Monica and Western intersection in Hollywood, both this one and Cassia have gotten national attention. If you want to keep the budget down, order a couple dishes from Baroo and then walk a few blocks to Tlayuda and fill up on their delicious tacos or burritos.
Jun Won, awesome Korean in K-Town (but not a K-BBQ spot), known for their steamed cod.
Kang Ho-Dong Baekjeong, for killer Korean BBQ in K-Town. Expect to wait for your table.
The Kimbap, tasty Kimbap (basically the Korean version of Japanese rolls, but not with sushi) and rice bowls, cute little family-owned spot, very reasonable and near Jun Won.
BBQ + Rice Korean BBQ Bowl, a cute little mom and pop restaurant that opened fairly recently on Sunset just west of the Rock ‘n Roll Ralph’s, featuring flavorful and colorful BBQ in rice bowls. (Their short rib rice bowl is the blog’s featured image.)
All-Day Restaurant/Cafes with a Strong Pastry Game
The Mighty, all-day spot (still quite new, so dinner and lunch right now) with great sandwiches, rotisserie chicken, pastas and great desserts.
Friends and Family, in Thai Town but not Thai, great baked goods (including loaves of bread!), breakfast/brunch stuff (no dinner).
The Sycamore Kitchen, on La Brea (same owners as The Mighty), great daytime spot for breakfast, brunch and lunch and baked goods (no dinner unless you eat really early).
There is nothing wimpy about this chocolate banana cream pie from The Mighty.
More Middle Eastern Restaurants
Mh Zh (pronounces Mah-zeh), Israeli, hip and delicious, in Silverlake.
Adana Restaurant, Glendale, Armenian (though with Persian and other Middle Eastern influences as well), killer kabobs and a pleasant environment.
Ta-eem Grill, crowded, popular kosher Israeli spot on Melrose. Closed on the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays.
Fine Dining Restaurants
Providence, you’re going to drop some bucks here, but it’s damn good—definitely a special occasion spot.
Spago, perhaps the most special of special occasion spots in terms of ambiance, and the food is quite excellent.
Lucques, James Beard winner in WeHo not far from the Beverly Center, can be a special occasion restaurant, or they also have a relatively reasonable three-course Sunday supper.
Osteria Mozza, Hollywood, love the pastas and the mozzarella bar, though the entrees, at least in my experience, were very good but not mind-blowing.
Higher End Restaurants But Not Quite as Formal
A.O.C., same owner as Lucques, small plates restaurants with a wine-bar vibe and great food, not far from Cedars Sinai.
Union, Pasadena, great housemade pastas and small plates.
Odys & Penelope, Hollywoodish, grill-centric restaurant from the Hatfields.
Lost at Sea, excellent seafood-centric spot in Pasadena.
Miscellaneously Awesome Restaurants
Petit Trois, French bistro at the hot food corner of Highland and Melrose from Ludo Lefebvre and company, with a killer omelette, among other things.
Javista, Hollywood, small but great service and organic drinks.
Chimney, a quasi-industrial part of Chinatown, has its own parking. They have a rather enticing food menu too, though admittedly I have not yet tried it.
Twinkle Brown Sugar, Little Tokyo, my go-to for boba (aka bubble tea).
Coffee Source, Studio City, great little spot on Ventura.
TeaPop, North Hollywood, tea/boba spot (they may have coffee too) with an artsy, gallery vibe.
I Scream…for Ice Cream
Mashti Malone’s, the fantastic ice cream spot near me in Hollywood with Persian flavors and all-American stuff too.
Salt & Straw, originally from Portland, has outposts in Studio City, Larchmont, the Arts District, Venice, WeHo.
McConnell’s, originally from Santa Barbara, with spots in Studio City, downtown at Grand Central Market and I think somewhere on the west side too.
Jeni’s, another great spot—I think they’re originally out of Ohio—with outposts currently in Larchmont and Los Feliz.
Icy Rush, in Echo Park not far from the Sunset-Alvarado intersection. A tiny spot, but totally legit and delicious.
Fatamorgana Gelato, Studio City—legit gelato. Their original spot is in Italy.
Ihwamun, Korean-style ice cream flavors at 333 Alameda in Little Tokyo. Different, but no less delicious.
While I will try to do an update periodically of the restaurants and other spots on this list for The Write Food, you can keep up with it on Google Docs as it changes here. Happy LA eating!