22 restaurants that scream “Los Angeles”

Welcome to The Greats, a series on the restaurants that define their cities. Here now, a guide to the Los Angeles Greats.


LA’s greatest restaurants stand out for reviving historic spaces, expressing mixed identities, and offering the possibility that you’ll emerge from them as a wiser, more curious diner.

A celebrated Sichuan joint in West Adams scored a prestigious Bib Gourmand for its tongue-numbingly spicy noodles. A culinary garden fuels the creative, country-style dishes at a promising new American restaurant in Anaheim. Japanese and Italian flavors comfortably collide at an acclaimed place downtown.

The City of Angels’ best restaurants are pros at delivering transformative culinary experiences. Read on for a guide to the 22 places that are essential to Los Angeles.

Osteria Mozza (Hollywood)

Ricotta and egg raviolo with browned butter at Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles
Osteria Mozza re-introduced the pleasures of fresh cheeses and housemade pasta when it opened in 2007. | Credit: Osteria Mozza

Osteria Mozza changed the face of Italian food in Los Angeles when it opened in 2007. Helmed by James Beard Award winner Nancy Silverton, the restaurant reminded Angelenos of the pleasures of fresh cheese and housemade pasta. MICHELIN-starred Mozza also introduced relatively unknown items that are ubiquitous on L.A. restaurant menus today, including bitter Italian amaros and chicory salads. The restaurant has a timeless quality that’s helped it stay relevant today. You might still find Silverton plating up antipasti behind the best seat in the house: the mozzarella bar.

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Gracias Madre (West Hollywood)

This chic Mexican restaurant specializes in small-batch agave spirits and plant-based fare—a testament to Los Angeles’s inventive and delicious vegan food scene, one of the best in the country. The jackfruit carnitas tacos, potato pimento flautas, and mushroom fajitas are so flavorful that carnivores won’t even miss the meat. Executive chef Diana Briscoe sources local ingredients whenever possible and her sustainable approach to food extends to the bar program too, where zero-waste margaritas (made with leftover lime juice, lime, and orange peels) and mezcal slushies reign supreme. The courtyard is a great place to spot celebs too: Natalie Portman, Ellen DeGeneres, Selena Gomez, and Jessica Alba are all Gracias Madre fans.

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MIAN (West Adams)

MIAN is the brainchild of James Beard Award-nominated chef Tony Xu, who is largely credited with popularizing Sichuan-style cuisine in Southern California (his debut restaurant, Chengdu Taste, brought the cuisine to the San Gabriel Valley in 2013). Named after the Mandarin word for “noodle,” MIAN specializes in Sichuan-style noodles and traditional dishes from the southwestern Chinese province. Timid diners, be warned: the flavors here are bold, pungent, and tongue-numbingly spicy, but worth every bite. It’s easy to understand why the late Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold asserted that “there is nothing quite like Mian,” after just one meal here and why the MICHELIN Guide selected the restaurant for a prestigious Bib Gourmand award in 2019.

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Park’s BBQ (Koreatown)

Seoul native chef Jenee Kim made a commitment early on at Park’s BBQ to serve USDA Prime and American wagyu beef, a decision that quickly established it as the city’s finest example of Korean barbecue. Come hungry and order one of the “Taste of Park’s” barbecue platters to try the full range of offerings, such as perfectly marbled ggot sal prime beef and boneless galbi marinated in the restaurant’s beloved garlic, soy, and brown sugar mixture, all served with an assortment of banchan: side dishes of marinated vegetables, tofu, and more. You’ll immediately understand why Park’s BBQ was recognized by the James Beard Foundation in 2018 for Outstanding Service upon walking in.

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Felix Trattoria (Venice)

Five colorful pasta dishes representing various parts of Italy at Felix Trattoria in Los Angeles
Chef Evan Funke makes a kaleidoscope of pasta shapes in a glass-walled, temperature-controlled pasta “lab” at Felix Trattoria. | Credit: Wonho Frank Lee

There is no shortage of fresh pasta in Los Angeles these days, but no restaurant elevates it to an art form quite like Felix. Chef Evan Funke makes a kaleidoscope of shapes in a glass-walled, temperature-controlled pasta “lab.” Funke’s single-minded pursuit of pasta perfection landed him a cookbook deal on the subject, a spot on Eater’s best new restaurants list in 2017, and Felix the reputation as one of the city’s definitive restaurants. Diners can crisscross Italy from the north to the country’s islands via the restaurant’s menu, eating through geographically organized pastas such as linguini with lemon and asparagus covered in a shower of pecorino.

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Rossoblu (Fashion District)

Head downtown to Rossoblu for perfect renditions of regional Italian cooking. Chef Steve Samson draws upon childhood memories spent at his grandparents’ house in Bologna, recreating dishes at such a high caliber that Rossoblu has made the Los Angeles Times’s list of 101 Best Restaurants for several years running. Diners can try dishes rarely seen outside of Emilia-Romagna, such as the now-infamous minestra nel sacco, a bowl of parmesan dumplings in brodo.

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Bicyclette (West Los Angeles)

This homey 80-seat bistro, all mosaic tiles, oversize armoires, and vintage European posters, was masterminded by Walter and Margarita Manzke, the chefs behind Los Angeles’s widely acclaimed French-inspired bakery and cafe République. Kick off your meal here with toasty baguettes and Rodolphe Le Meunier butter from Normandy, a fitting preview for the decadent fare that will follow. Gallic staples, such as tuna “steak” tartare, duck leg confit, and beef short rib a la Bourguignonne, are prepared with locally sourced meats and produce. To that, add the charming maison-inspired interiors—the polished wooden tables were built by the multi-talented Walter Manzke—and you’ve got a slice of Paris in West LA.

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Bavel (Arts District)

Grilled prawns with harissa marinade, cured zucchini, cucumber tzatziki, fresh herbs, and lime at Bavel in Los Angeles
Bavel is a Middle Eastern restaurant known for using wholly non-traditional ingredients. | Credit: Dylan + Jeni

Bavel, from the renowned team behind Bestia, is a Middle Eastern restaurant that follows the traditional format (spreads, salads, small plates, large plates) but uses wholly non-traditional ingredients. The cloud-like hummus alone sets it apart as one of the city’s great restaurants, arriving in a bowl slicked with olive oil, either simply dressed with a slug of green zhoug or, more creatively, with duck ‘nduja. These unexpected additions—always perfectly executed—will make diners want to try every dish on the menu, and are the reason Eater named Bavel LA’s restaurant of the year when it opened in 2018.

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A.O.C. (Beverly Grove)

If you’ve had a bacon-wrapped date in the past 15 years, you can thank A.O.C. and chef Suzanne Goin. This venerable wine bar was one of the first to embrace the shareable small plates style of dining, kicking off a trend that would define LA restaurants for years to come. Co-owner Caroline Styne curates the award-winning wine list, while Goin continues to balance menu innovations with greatest hits, such as the spiced lamb ribs, served with scallion labneh and pomegranate salsa. The duo opened a second A.O.C. location in Brentwood in 2021 in their former Tavern space, with a new wood-burning oven and seating for 180 guests, including a spacious patio.

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71Above (Downtown)

Set on the—you guessed it—71st floor of the 1,018-foot U.S. Bank Tower, this natty modern American restaurant, the highest west of the Mississippi, most definitely scrapes the sky. Drink in 360-degree city views along with signature cocktails, named for Los Angeles neighborhoods such as the Hollywood, a powerful mix of jalapeño vodka, fortified wine, and grapefruit cordial, or the Downtown, a bourbon, cognac, and apricot liqueur concoction. Fortunately, the plates are just as awe-inspiring as the sky-top vistas. Begin your evening with caviar service before sampling a variety of seasonal dishes, such as heritage pork topped with garlic-cherry purée and delicate handkerchief pasta with mushrooms. Sit at one of the two chef’s tables for a closer view of the kitchen action.

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Here’s Looking at You (Koreatown)

This critically acclaimed Koreatown restaurant, a celebration of Los Angeles’s signature multiculturalism, was resurrected in January 2022 thanks to a crowd-funding campaign. And though it returns with an edited menu, owner Lien Ta and executive chef Jonathan Whitener confirm they are game-changers when it comes to global plates. While certain crowd-pleasers, such as beef tartare and the renowned frog legs remain, a selection of daily changing newer offerings, like a crispy duck confit and veal-stuffed imperial rolls, prove Whitener’s inventive instincts are firmly intact. Feast on it all in a cool and confident space, complete with penny tiles, taxidermy, and cookbook stacks.

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Orsa & Winston (Downtown)

Orsa & Winston had already established itself as one of the city’s most creative restaurants before the pandemic struck, earning a MICHELIN star and rave reviews for chef Josef Centeno’s inimitable mash-up of Japanese and Italian flavors. But it earned the title of 2020 restaurant of the year from the Los Angeles Times due to the grace and creativity with which it weathered the pandemic: Centeno cooked for hospital workers, opened a pick-up window that served an excellent cheeseburger on Japanese milk bread, and even made masks via his clothing line. These days, Orsa & Winston is back to serving its famed tasting menu, featuring dishes such as hamachi crudo with heirloom tomatoes, sweet potato ricotta raviolo, and seared duck with black truffle and tonnato.

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Birdie G’s (Santa Monica)

Matzo ball soup at Birdie G’s in Los Angeles
Global comfort food dominates the menu at Birdie G’s. | Credit: Jim Sullivan

After earning a MICHELIN star and (literally) writing the book On Vegetables, chef Jeremy Fox moved on to global comfort food at this sprawling Santa Monica spot. Inspiration comes from all over the world on this menu: the lamb a la saless is marinated in beet molasses and fenugreek, while the Southern noodle kugel is a tribute to the Eastern European food Fox’s grandmother used to make—though it’s safe to guess his grandma probably didn’t weave in ricotta, chow-chow, pecans, and sage brown butter. There’s an excellent kids menu too, including potato-crusted chicken fingers even adults will love. The mix of nostalgia and fine dining turned Birdie G’s an instant hit just two years after opening.

Gwen (Hollywood)

Celebrity chef Curtis Stone and his brother Luke Stone introduced Los Angeles to a seriously swanky tasting menu when they opened this Art Deco steakhouse in 2016 and earned a MICHELIN star in 2022. These days, in addition to being loved for its upscale meat menu, Gwen offers one of the city’s most impressive takeout operations. Angelenos can pick up cuts from the world-class in-house butcher shop, which specializes in ethically raised, hormone-free meats.

 

Fishing With Dynamite (Manhattan Beach)

An array of globally inspired seafood dishes such as steamed Manila clams with great northern beans and crispy haddock with fries at Fishing With Dynamite in Los Angeles
Globally inspired fish dishes within a stone’s throw of the Pacific Ocean await at Fishing With Dynamite. | Credit: Fishing With Dynamite

Head to Manhattan Beach for some of the city’s most expertly shucked bivalves alongside globally inspired fish dishes within a stone’s throw of the Pacific Ocean. Chef and owner David LeFevre offers several raw bar platters that give diners a taste of the restaurant’s intentionally sourced shellfish. Case in point: the “Mothershucker,” bicoastal oysters on a tray with a whole lobster, Alaskan king crab, and a pound of Prince Edward Island mussels. The rest of the menu at this tiny spot is basically an encyclopedia of seafood preparations from around the world. The bacon-packed “chowda” bowl draws inspiration from New England while the hamachi with shiso and apple ponzu sauce tips a hat to Japan.

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Providence (Hollywood)

Chef Michael Cimarusti’s deft touch with seafood and partner Donato Poto’s legendary front-of-house presence have made Providence one of Los Angeles’s preeminent fine dining restaurants for more than 18 years, racking up almost every award along the way—including two MICHELIN stars. Looking over the $250 tasting menu, it’s easy to see why: Dishes such as the troll-caught Alaskan king salmon served with romanesco and steelhead roe are sustainably sourced and gracefully couriered through the sea-toned dining room by expert staff, giving the whole experience an overtone of luxury befitting of the price tag.

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Poppy & Seed (Anaheim)

Branzino filet with okra at Poppy & Seed in Los Angeles
Dishes at Poppy & Seed often feature seasonal greens from the chef’s onsite culinary garden. | Credit: Poppy & Seed

Executive chef Michael Reed and his wife Kwini Reed charmed downtown Los Angeles with Poppy + Rose, a chic country kitchen known for some of the city’s best chicken and waffles. Their newer O.C. restaurant focuses on seasonal ingredients grown in their culinary garden onsite. Grilled octopus is garnished with homegrown black garlic and herbs, and Wagyu hanger steak is served with fresh sorrel. To all that, add botanical cocktails and an airy greenhouse setting and you’ve got one of the most picturesque dining destinations in Anaheim.

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Musso & Frank Grill (Hollywood)

Musso & Frank traces its origins to 1919 and is the oldest operating restaurant in Hollywood with a tried-and-tested menu of prime cuts and daily specials. If its walls could talk, the steakhouse would speak of meals with Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin, dry martinis and scotch at the bar with T.S. Elliot and Kurt Vonnegut, and industry secrets exchanged between movie directors who used the iconic restaurant as a set. But the revered space is more than just a Hollywood fixture—it has provided generations of locals comfort, service (servers still wear red jackets and bow ties), and massive places of steak, even after all these decades.

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Redbird – Los Angeles (Downtown)

Leather stools line the white marble bar at Redbird - Los Angeles in Los Angeles
Redbird is a New American restaurant inside the former Cathedral of St. Vibiana in Downtown LA. | Credit: Laure Joliet

Redbird made the avant-garde decision to open inside the former Cathedral of St. Vibiana in Downtown Los Angeles (the city’s first Archdiocese Catholic Cathedral) in 2014. Chefs Neal and Amy Knoll Fraser set out to preserve treasured historic details and turned the rectory building into a main dining area with five unique dining spaces on the upper level. The looming white walls and all-glass cathedral ceiling remain intact. In other words, Redbird is breathtaking. Almost a decade later, the Frasers have racked accolades from the Vogue, Architectural Digest, and many other publications for their top-notch New American dishes and luscious wine program. Enjoy Redbird’s deep selection of reds and whites and pair your drinks with standout dishes including gemelli with braised goat, black truffle cavatelli, or a decadent porterhouse steak for two.

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Matsuhisa (Beverly Hills)

Before there was Nobu—a Robert De Niro-backed chain of glamorous sushi restaurants known for yellowtail sashimi—there was Matsuhisa. Chef Nobu opened his eponymous Beverly Hills fixture in 1987 to wow L.A.’s ritziest diners with exquisite Japanese-Peruvian fare. Matsuhisa is still adored for its yellowtail jalapeño, nigiri selection, and affordable sushi plates. Chef Nobu updated his day-one menu with contemporary offerings such as a new style of sashimi, a plate of raw fish lightly seared with heated oil and sauce. Visit Matsuhisa for an enriching glimpse into how chef Nobu’s vast culinary empire began.

Yangban Society (Downtown)

A Korean banchan spread at Yangban Society in Los Angeles
Yangban Society serves a wide selection of banchan, or Korean small plates. Photo credit: Dylan+Jeni

Katianna and John Hong opened Yangban Society after cooking stints at two MICHELIN-starred Mélisse and The Charter Oak. The couple dreamed up an inviting and culturally rich restaurant, Yangban Society, after leaving the fine-dining realm. Yangban Society is all about a deli format, serving hot and cold Korean American items plus innovative takes on traditional Korean banchan, or side dishes. Must-orders include the avocado and Asian pear salad and dotori acorn noodles, best paired with kimchi fried rice and twice-fried chicken wings. The quirky space is also stocked with glowing glass cases and a mini-mart stocked with hand-picked Asian and Asian-American snacks and sundries, urging diners to linger.

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Pizzeria Bianco – LA (Downtown)

Famed Phoenix pizzaiolo and James Beard Outstanding Chef award recipient Chris Bianco ignited a fervor for artisanal pizzerias when he first opened Pizzeria Bianco inside a grocery store in 1988. His LA outpost put the City of Angels at the center of a pizza renaissance when it opened in September 2022. Bianco dazzles with a lean menu inside a sparsely decorated industrial space, save for a wall of framed oil paintings and a giant neon “Pizza” sign. It’s a fitting setting for a spot that serves a knockout selection of six blistered pies and three bright and tangy salads. Pizza can be a work of art and chef Bianco’s Downtown restaurant will make you an aficionado.

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Tried them all? Check out other options here.

Lisa Kwon is a reporter and writer focused on arts and food culture in Los Angeles, CA. Find Lisa on Instagram and Twitter.

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