Cover At Downtown LA's Grand Central Market, diners queue for legit Mexican food at Tacos Tumbras a Tomas (Photo: Amparo Rios)

It can be said with confidence that Los Angeles is one of the most (if not the most) exciting cities in America to eat, with it being the epicentre for freethinking, experimenting and diversity. Year-round sunshine and a prime location in a vast agricultural region yields healthy produce, and “farm-to-table” is a term commonly used to describe every notable restaurant opening. The highest quality of ingredients combined with a growing pool of a new generation of young chefs from a mosaic of cultural backgrounds creates an environment for unconventional dining. The city’s creative culture is evident in the curiosity of its inhabitants; Angelinos are receptive to all things new and different. Michelin doesn’t give out stars in LA, but maybe that’s a good thing, because LA will never be a Michelin kind of city so long as it continues to walk to the beat of its own drum. That’s not to say that fine dining doesn’t exist - it’s just redefined. It’s not unusual to see a table of jeans and sweatshirt-wearing diners spending over $100 on a prix-fixe menu presented in the middle of the table to share. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, LA is home to the best cheap and most celebrated tacos in the country. Spanning almost 1,300 km², LA is the ultimate culinary playground. Cleo von Siebenthal is a girl with no single home—she’s lived in 10 places around the world, subsequently developing a wildly curious palate. When she’s not eating, she’s building an eCommerce business at Tastemade in sunny Santa Monica. Find her on Instagram @cleovonsieats

1. République

It’s hard to encounter a soul in Los Angeles who doesn’t rave about brunch at République, which has won many accolades since it opened its doors in 2014. With its high cathedral ceilings, colorful tiled floors, and mix of wood, exposed brick and metal textures, the 1920s structure embodies a harmonious mix of both Provençal and old Hollywood charm. Just like the space, the menu options are expansive, with options such as brioche French toast, pork belly sausage breakfast sandwich, brisket and kimchi fried rice, and fried chicken and waffles, making your decision close to impossible. Whatever you end up choosing, just know that the indulgence will be worth it. Before you head out, make sure to stop by the baked goods counter to pick up a pastry by the chef’s wife, Margarita, who is one of the city’s finest pastry chefs.

624 South La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036; +1 (310) 362-6115

2. Botanica

This is the token corner restaurant that would make you want to move into a neighbourhood. With a stellar breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, this all-day spot in LA’s hip Silverlake neighborhood has become a favourite for produce-forward fare in a highly curated casual setting filled with natural light. A small marketplace with local, seasonal produce, artisanal pantry items and natural wines welcomes you as you step into the restaurant, allowing you to kill time as you wait for a table to open up. Try to grab a seat out on the cool and shaded patio, where you’ll sit amongst some of the city’s best dressed and hippest. The cuisine skews vegetarian with healthfulness in mind, with a menu abundant of beautiful “herbaceous” salads, bright mezze plates and light proteins like lamb kofta. The community-oriented ethos of the restaurant is evident; the service is incredibly warm and everyone seems to know everyone.

1620 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026; +1 (323) 522-6106

3. Everson Royce Bar

Located in a nondescript building on the southern edge of Downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District, Everson Royce Bar, also known as ERB, is a spot that could either be a bar with really good food, or a restaurant with incredible drinks. Regardless of which, it’s a great place to spend the night. The space is broken into two parts; a dark and usually crowded bar opens up to a airy outdoor space strung with patio lights, communal tables and a bocce court. Well-made cocktails, a solid selection of natural wines and rare liquors, and bar food by one of LA’s best chefs make this bar a favourite amongst Angelinos both for midweek after work drinks to weekend throwdowns. Flaky biscuits, smoky potato taquitos, and one of the best burgers in East Los Angeles will give you life as you drink the night away. The bar’s laid back vibes cater to a cool and sophisticated crowd looking to chill out on a few drinks over good food and great conversation. Take our advice and arrive before 8:00pm, especially on weekends, if you wish to secure a seat without having to awkwardly stand and rub shoulders with strangers. 

1936 E 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021; +1 (213) 335-6166

4. Gjusta

Grabbing a midday or afternoon meal at Gjusta can be a bit of a marathon; it’s not unusual to have to wait an hour between taking a numbered ticket and having it called out to place your order. And after that, you have to hover until a table opens up so that you can finally eat your meal. Is the wait worth it? Absolutely. But there’s a more efficient way to enjoy a meal at this Venice hotspot: go for dinner. For some odd reason, the crowd is more than tolerable after six in the evening, even though the house smoked fish and meats, local greens, and famed baked goods are available throughout the day. Gjusta sits somewhere between bakery, deli and food hall and is arguably one of west Los Angeles’ best gems. Located in a white-washed building with no signage, the restaurant somehow managed to get away with wobbly stools and empty crates as tables in a parking lot for the first few years it was open—that’s how good the food is. Today, the cobblestone floored and string light lit outdoor patio (with proper tables!) offers the ideal setting to enjoy what one may call a “So L.A.” meal. Pro tip: the restaurant is BYOB as long as your bottle is hidden in a bag. 

320 Sunset Ave, Venice, CA 90291; +1 (310) 314-0320

5. Felix

Locking down a reservation at Felix is a feat, so if and when you manage to do it, treat the meal as a celebration. The restaurant took the LA dining scene by a storm when it opened up on Venice’s hip Abbot Kinney street, and has quickly become one of the best Italian restaurants in the city. Once you make your way through the door and past ambitious walk-ins sipping on cocktails at the bar, you’ll find yourself in one of two dining rooms. The most attractive feature of the front dining room is a glassed, climate-controlled pasta making room, where chef Evan Funke and his team roll dough for all to see. Start the meal off with the famed focaccia sfincione, a simple wood-fired cloud of hot, soft yet crisp bread thinly covered in oil and topped with a sprinkle of salt and rosemary. While you could easily make a meal out of just the antipasti section, the main draw at Felix is its pastas, which are laid out on the menu in sections based on their respective Italian geographic regions (north, central, south, and the islands). The best way to dine at Felix is to go with a group and tackle as many pasta dishes as you can. Be sure to order Funke’s thin and springy tagliatelle in a Bolognese-style ragu, the trofie pasta with pesto Genovese, and the orecchiette with sausage and broccoli di cicco. Do not leave without at least a spoonful of the butterscotch budino for dessert.  

1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291; +1 (424) 387-8622

6. Coni’Seafood

Some may argue that Mexican food is the official cuisine of LA, as every corner is marked with a taqueria or agua fresca stand. Coni’Seafood stands out as LA’s nirvana for Mexican seafood, and has brought life to the Inglewood neighborhood, an otherwise dead zone, reminding one to never judge a restaurant by its location. The physical restaurant itself is nothing to write home about, with a simple dining room and a large roofed back patio great for casual group dining. Shrimp, whole fish and other select seafoods are imported directly from Sinaloa and Narayit to ensure that all dishes are prepared just as they are in Acaponeta, Nayarit. The house speciality is a whole grilled snook, which requires 30 minutes to slow cook over coals, so prep your stomach with an order of ceviche or two, mojo de ajo shrimp in butter and garlic, the famed smoked marlin tacos, and the raw shrimp aguachile marinated in lime and chilli. 

3544 W Imperial Hwy, Inglewood, CA 90303; +1 (310) 672-2339

7. Grand Central Market

There are two rules you have to abide by when visiting Downtown Los Angeles’ Grand Central Market: come hungry and pace yourself. This landmark market has been around since the early 20th century and has powered through depressions and recessions. Today, it stands as LA’s oldest and largest market, and the revitalised space is filled with around 40 vendors, new and old, that accurately reflect the city’s diverse culinary landscape. One of the most noteworthy legacy vendors is Tacos Tumbras a Tomas, which has been around since 1972 and continues to offer up tacos loaded with carnitas and avocado for cheap prices. At Eggslut, the wait is rarely under 30 minutes, as people patiently stick around to get a taste of the most velvety eggs sandwiched between fluffy brioche buns. Grab a stool at Sticky Rice (there's also a Sticky Rice II) for a plate of made-to-order Thai papaya salad and fragrant chicken rice before making your way over to Sari Sari Store, which has recently become the coolest kid on the block with its Filipino rice bowls. In between all the feasting, to stop by Golden Road Brewing, an LA-based craft brewery, to taste some of its 20 brews offered on tap. 

317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013; +1 (213) 624-2378

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.