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3 Los Angeles neighborhoods where you should eat

Chefs Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis serve creative Middle Eastern fare at Bavel in downtown L.A.'s Arts District. Photo by DYLAN + JENI

Navigating myriad dining options can be difficult, especially in the urban jungle that is Los Angeles, where neighborhoods (and neighborhoods within neighborhoods) abound with outstanding eats.

If you’re on the hunt for some of the best places to eat in L.A., we’ve mapped out 3 routes. Each takes you to a trio of top foodie picks in very different neighborhoods. Curated for delight, delectability, and diversity, these food safaris will introduce you to a sampling of can’t-miss culinary stops around the city.

Jump to: Arts District | Hollywood | Venice

Where to eat in the Arts District: L.A.’s hottest restaurant scene

What was once Tongva land became vineyards, then a hub for railroads and manufacturers. In recent decades, the Arts District, located on the eastern edge of downtown, has evolved from straight-up industrial to an industrial-chic hub for great gastronomy. Right now, few swaths of L.A. are as densely packed with such a variety of excellent, acclaimed eateries as the almighty Arts District.

1. Yangban Society

Yangban Society congee pot pie

The comforting congee potpie at Korean-American eatery Yangban Society. Photo courtesy Yangban 

Opened in 2022, this upscale deli and minimarket draws on chef-owners’ Katianna and John Hong’s Korean-American roots and their time working in top-tier California restaurants. Casual yet gourmet, Yangban Society invites eaters to step inside and peruse the display cases before ordering.

Yearning for comfort food? Go for the congee potpie or the spectacular (and underrated) biscuit with gravy, a supersized flaky affair blanketed with rich Korean curry.

For something crisp, try the Caesar salad, amped up with a dose of spicy gochujang chile paste, or the pea shoots and chive salad, a mound of shaved, market-fresh greens bathed in roasted garlic oil, sherry vinaigrette, and vegetable umami seasoning.

Need more veggies? The avocado and pear salad is a work of art that tastes as good as it looks, while the honey-walnut carrots have been caramelized to perfection. Want meat? Don’t skip the chicken wings, fried twice so they stay somewhat crisp under their sticky, salty, and sweet glaze.

If you’ve saved room, grab Yangban’s signature dessert: buffalo milk soft-serve topped with doenjang caramel, cinnamon puffed rice, and dark chocolate shavings mixed with roasted soybean powder and powdered sugar.

You may also like: Yangban Society offers a creative melding of Californian and Korean cuisines

2. Bavel

Someone lifting the lid of Bavel's Wagyu oxtail tagine

Menu highlights at Bavel include Wagyu oxtail tagine and harissa grilled prawns. Photo by Ashley Randall Photography

Like a great band, Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis keep the hits coming. They debuted multiregional Italian restaurant Bestia in 2012, before the Arts District had become the culinary destination it is today. Six years later, the couple launched Middle Eastern restaurant Bavel, where they’ve been producing fantastic spreads, including their beloved smoky baba ghanoush, and some of the thickest, fluffiest pita bread around.

Showstopping sides include oyster mushroom skewers in a tangy avocado puree and the one-of-a-kind grilled celery root with a funky-sweet honey mushroom tzatziki. They pair well with entrées such as oxtail tagine tinged with cherries or the fabled lamb neck shawarma.

Bavel also benefits from its airy, light-filled interior with soaring ceilings and white brick walls that nod to the neighborhood’s industrial history. The colossal skylights, plants cascading from the ceiling (a design trend many other restaurants have replicated), and rose-gold barstools make it a great place to linger as you scope out who shows up.

3. Pizzeria Bianco

Pizzeria Bianco

Pizzeria Bianco's industrial-chic dining room at the Row DTLA. Photo by Ashley Randall Photography

If you find it hard to believe that one of the best pizzaiolos in the United States anchors his mini food empire in Phoenix, a few bites of Chris Bianco’s crust will set you straight. Fortunately for Los Angeles, he opened Pizzeria Bianco (his only current restaurant outside the Phoenix area) in DTLA in late 2022. It’s located in the Row DTLA, a massive shopping-and-dining complex housed within a warren of century-old industrial buildings.

The Row is home to 2 Michelin-starred restaurants (Jon Yao’s Kato and Brandon Hayato Go’s Hayato), a popular Japanese fried chicken spot (Pikunico), and a fabulous weekly food market (Smorgasburg LA). So you’ve got options—unless you want pizza. Then, you’re definitely heading to Pizzeria Bianco, where a line snakes out the door most nights.

Pizzeria Bianco Rosa

The Rosa, topped with red onion, rosemary, and pistachios, is one of the many perfect pizzas on chef Chris Bianco's menu at Pizzeria Bianco. Photo by David Loftus

At lunch, Pizzeria Bianco serves slices, sandwiches, and salads. For the full experience, come for dinner and order a pie with a perfectly chewy and thin crust.

The Wiseguy combines smoky mozzarella with sweet onions and fennel sausage, while the Biancoverde is a white pizza with ricotta and arugula. All are terrific, but the Rosa, with rosemary, red onions, and pistachios, is divine.

You may also like: Where to eat outstanding pizza in Southern California

Where to eat in Hollywood: old-school eats

As far as dining goes, Hollywood has mostly been a home base for tourist-driven bars pushing low-cost liquor, cheap but satisfying pizza-by-the-slice joints, blink-or-you'll-miss-’em high-concept spots, and the occasional celebrity restaurant. But the classics in this iconic neighborhood never go out of style, and you can’t go wrong at these 3 legendary eateries.

1. Musso & Frank

Musso & Frank's employees toasting their drinks

Many of Musso & Frank's staff members, including some of the red-coated servers and bartenders, have worked at the Hollywood haunt for decades. Photo by Tina Whatcott Echeverria

Musso & Frank, opened in 1919, is a classic haunt steeped in Old Hollywood glamour. Its retro continental menu (the continent being Europe) showcases a dizzying number of throwback dishes. Think French onion soup, escargot, Welsh rarebit, sauerbraten with potato pancakes, sand dabs sautéed in butter, lobster thermidor, an armada of steaks, bouillabaisse, and chicken potpie. The food is good and the martinis, each of which comes with a sidecar of an extra pour, are excellent.

From the start, Musso’s was popular with celebs including Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth Taylor, to name a few. The restaurant’s fettuccine Alfredo was supposedly added to the menu at the request of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, who brought the recipe back from Italy.

These days, the walls are lined with drawings of famous people (look for renowned foodies Jonathan Gold and Anthony Bourdain) and pictures of Hollywood back in the day. Many of the red-coated servers and bartenders have worked there for decades, adding to the venue’s vintage appeal.

You may also like: 8 Southern California movie locations you can—and should—visit

2. Pink’s Hot Dogs

Pink's Hot Dogs exterior

The iconic Pink's, which started as a pushcart in 1939, has become one of L.A.'s most famous hot dog stands. Photo by Gerry Matthews/Alamy Stock Photo

A hot dog is a hot dog, except when it comes from Pink’s. Then, it’s got that special snap and a whole lot of history.

Paul and Betty Pink launched the business as a pushcart in 1939. They started with 4 employees. By the time they retired in 1985 (and passed the business on to their 2 children), they employed approximately 30 workers. Along the way, the now 84-year-old hot dog stand with the pink banner became an L.A. institution.

Pink’s has all the boilerplate American hot dogs including plain, chili, cheese, New York (simple with “sweet and saucy” onions), and a sorta’ Chicago dog (mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, and lettuce, but devoid of sport peppers and celery salt).

It also offers stretch dogs (9 inch or 12 inch) heaped with pastrami, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut (the Reuben Dog) or topped with coleslaw (Hollywood Walk of Fame Dog). The El Cucuy is a spicy 12-inch jalapeño dog piled with even more jalapeños as well as bacon, grilled onions, mayo, mustard, and ketchup.

If those aren’t loaded enough for you, try one of the specials like the Bacon Burrito Dog, a behemoth that wraps 2 franks in an enormous flour tortilla along with bacon, cheddar cheese, chili, and onions. Sure, you can get a burger, but at Pink’s, why would you?

You may also like: Restaurant review: Kuya Lord, East Hollywood

3. Canter’s Deli

Canter's exterior

The longstanding Canter's in Hollywood serves deli and diner fare 24 hours a day. Photo by Jordana Sheara Photography

In 1931, Ben Canter and his 2 brothers came out west from New Jersey and opened Canter Brother’s Delicatessen in East L.A.’s Boyle Heights, then a heavily Jewish neighborhood. Demographics changed, and they moved the business to Fairfax in 1953.

Canter’s became known for its vast menu of kosher-style deli fare, its translucent autumn leaves ceiling, and the fact that it stayed open 24 hours a day. Now run by the fourth generation of the Canter family, its most famous items are its pastrami and corned beef Reubens. For both, grilled rye bread is piled high with meat, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing.

The menu is filled with other Jewish deli classics including blintzes; borscht; chicken broth with a matzo ball the size of a softball; potato pancakes; and fish platters of lox, baked salmon, and whitefish served with bagels. You’ll also find burgers, salads, veggie melts, and all the standard breakfast fare of any diner.

What you can’t find at many other places are the waitresses who have been working here forever. After your meal, pop into attached cocktail lounge Kibitz Room and have a gin and tonic to help you digest.

You may also like: Day trip to Los Angeles’ Miracle Mile

Where to eat in Venice: eclectic to the core

Whether you prefer basement speakeasies and divey joints or chic cafés and seasonally driven restaurants, Venice has a little bit of a lot of things. Here, you’ll find highbrow, lowbrow, and everything in between. You just have to know where to look.

1. Casablanca

Casa Blanca interior

Casablanca in Venice, known for seafood-centric Mexican fare, is filled with memorabilia from its namesake film. Photo by Jordana Sheara Photography

Of all the gin joints in all the neighborhoods in Los Angeles, you walked into this one. Did you come for a hefty carne asada burrito coated in red sauce and cheese? Perfect. Perhaps you’d prefer a bubbling pot of shrimp, salmon, and scallops with garlic and tequila sauce? Excellent choice. Enjoy whatever you order in a festive, dimly lit setting crammed with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman memorabilia.

Casablanca, named after the 1942 film, says it serves “traditional Mexican and seafood cuisine.” But the broad menu can’t be narrowed down to a single region or tradition. You’ll find everything from ceviche and chimichangas to birria and vegetarian fajitas to the house specialty: Casablanca’s “world famous” calamari steaks, which you can get prepared one of 7 ways, including topped with an oddly delicious combination of bay scallops and cognac sauce.

Casablanca margarita cart

Guests can order hand-crafted margaritas from a roving cart at Casablanca Restaurant in Venice. Photo by Jordana Sheara Photography

When you sit down, you’ll receive a basket of fresh tortillas and a bowl of peppery salsa verde with chunks of jack cheese bobbing in it. Order a margarita from the roaming tequila cart and enjoy fresh flour tortillas handmade by a pair of women at the stove in the middle of the room. It’s the kind of place you just have to experience for yourself to get it … and you will.

2. Felix Trattoria

Felix squash blossoms

At Felix in Venice, chef Evan Funke stuffs squash blossoms with ricotta cheese before frying them to make this popular dish. Photo by Wonho Frank Lee

Every Los Angeles neighborhood gets the Evan Funke restaurant it deserves. Hollywood has Mother Wolf. Beverly Hills has the recently opened Funke. And Venice has Felix, Funke’s funkiest and most casual outpost. Not that the chefs here take the food less seriously than they do at his 2 other L.A. restaurants.

Funke’s passion for vecchia scuola (old school) pasta-making is literally on display in his glass-enclosed pasta lab. He churns out offerings divided by region: northern, central, southern (Mezzogiorno), and le paste delle isole (pasta of the Italian islands).

The classic tagliatelle with a Bolognese ragù is impeccable, and the spaghettini alla gricia, with guanciale, black pepper, and pecorino romano, is light yet filling. His popular squash blossoms (fiori di zucca) are delicately fried and oozing with creamy ricotta, and the pizzas are delectable.

You’ll also find seasonal specials like grilled fava beans topped with Parmesan and lemon or crisp, lightly fried artichokes. If you’re with a table of friends, order the whole roasted branzino, which looks stunning and tastes great.

You may also like: Culver City’s Etta: Modern Italian cuisine made with old-school skill

3. The Rose Venice

Spread of food at The Rose Venice

Visitors to The Rose Venice will find an eclectic menu of burgers, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, pastas, and cocktails. Photo by Jordana Sheara Photography

Need proof that Abbott Kinney vibes are spreading beyond the posh shopping destination? Check out The Rose Venice around the corner, a large restaurant with an enticing shaded patio on the site of what was once the much-less-upscale Rose Café. The crowd of surfers and hippies the spot catered to in the old days has since been replaced by tech workers and hipsters. Oh, how times change.

Opened in 2015 by Jason Neroni, who is now the executive chef, The Rose devotes itself to high-end Cali-comfort fare (with prices to match), featuring a menu of salads, toasts, bowls, and sammies.

Breakfast, whether you prefer an egg white scramble, a fruit bowl, a burrito, or eggs cacio e pepe alongside garlic toast, is served until 4 p.m. Enjoy a lobster roll (cold with mayo or warm with drawn butter) or the Baja octopus ceviche with one of the house-made “Lie-bations,” the cleverly named nonalcoholic drinks. The juniper-tinged Phony Neroni is a booze-free version of a Negroni.

If you just want a nosh, opt for the kale salad with pine nuts and Parmesan. For something more filling, order a fried green tomato sandwich or the delicious, umami-heavy Tokyo burger and a side of lightly seasoned curry fries. The menu also features a couple of pastas and pizzas, although you’re only allowed to order 1 pie per table because the pizza oven is too small to accommodate more than that.

As the menu notes, a 5% charge is added to all checks to “help cover the cost of health care benefits for our full-time employees.”

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