- Los Angeles' diverse restaurant scene can satisfy every palate, budget, and occasion.
- Here are a local's favorite 10 places to eat and drink around town, from casual to fine-dining.
- Visit Insider's hub for travel guides, tips, and recommendations.
As a longtime resident of Los Angeles, I've seen many — and I mean many — restaurants come and go. But locals know the spots that have stood the test of time, transcending fads and phases — including economic and pandemic circumstances — to earn and defend their reign as some of the best places to dine in town.
I've eaten at hundreds of restaurants in town through the course of work meetings, entertaining, date nights, special occasions, socializing with friends —and even as a longtime journalist on the local new-venue beat. I'm a vegetarian, but my husband and kids eat meat, so I have a range of favorite spots that pair well with every occasion and with any type of group.
From casual and carryout to upscale and special-occasion ready, these are my top picks for where to eat in LA, from Santa Monica to Downtown.
Meals by Genet
I'm lucky to live just three blocks from the stretch of Fairfax known as Little Ethiopia. Many Ethiopian restaurants dot the short stretch of avenue, but my top choice, and what might be my favorite restaurant in LA, is Meals by Genet, from Ethiopian chef Genet Agonafer. The tofu tibs dish is ambrosia — and it's a dish not offered at any other neighborhood restaurant — as is the veggie combo. I recommend the tibs and the combo to share with your dining partner — each are generously sized portioned so you both can get a taste of everything.
In the wake of pandemic closures, Meals by Genet moved to a takeout-and-delivery model only, with the dining room available only for buyouts. I recommend taking your meal to a nearby park for a casual picnic — try Pan Pacific Park or La Cienega Park in the adjacent city of Beverly Hills, both within a quick drive or bike ride.
Any guide to Los Angeles dining must necessarily include Mexican food — but the competition is steep. Among the standouts in my eyes is Sonoratown, with casual locations in both Downtown LA and Mid-City.
Sonora-style tacos are the specialty, and come with avocado, salsa, pinto beans, and your choice of protein. Fellow vegetarians be warned: While there are plenty of veggie options here, the flour tortillas are made with lard.
From Tal Ronnen, a big-name vegan chef, Crossroads Kitchen on Melrose is upscale and buzzy. The atmosphere is lively but the space is comfortable, with cozy booths, dark woods, and a sophisticated bar. With inspired menu that anyone can love, this place is hardly just for vegans.
It's my go-to special-occasion spot — I've celebrated many birthdays, anniversaries, and even a New Year's Eve at Crossroads. The must-try dish is the oysters, which are actually crispy oyster mushrooms served on an artichoke leaf "half shell." The presentation is a knockout.
While Otium is a logical place to stop for a meal in combination with a visit to The Broad museum, Chef Timothy Hollingsworth's buzzy spot is a destination to itself, with a menu of sophisticated New American fare delivered in a relaxed environment.
The vibe here draws inspiration from the century-old olive trees planted in The Broad's plaza, by way of rustic cooking with wood fire and sustainable ingredients grown in the on-site garden.
E.P. & L.P.
If the sun is shining in LA when it's freezing back home, make the most of your opportunity to eat alfresco at E.P. & L.P. Located at the intersection of Melrose and La Cienega in West Hollywood, the restaurant offers a celebration of American cuisine with European tinges, all with an emphasis on seasonality and California-grown produce.
Brunch fans take note: After seven years, the venue just started offering brunch this summer. The rooftop doesn't take reservations, so it's first-come, first-serve — if you can get in for brunch, don't skip the delicious avocado toast. And if you have some time before or after eating for window shopping, walk across the street to the brick-and-mortar outpost of the luxury-consignment platform The RealReal.
This iconic Italian restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard has been an city institution for more than 50 years. The pricey menu includes such dishes as "Veal Cutlet, Milanese, a la George Clooney" and "Chopped Salad a la Nicky Hilton" — so you can imagine the typical clientele at this old-school Hollywood hangout with a recognizable green awning.
The menu is huge, and in addition to meat and poultry dishes, there are plenty of fish, veggie, and pasta options — I almost always go for the eggplant parm.
Thanks to the influx of Iranian immigrants to LA after the revolution, you'll find no shortage of excellent Persian restaurants in the Westwood area —also known as Tehrangeles. Among them, Shamshiri Grill is one of my favorites and also a classic, operating since 1981.
As a vegetarian, I'm obsessed with the veggie fesenjoon, a rich walnut puree in pomegranate sauce that's equal parts sweet and tart. You can order a version of the dish with chicken, too. Here, portions are large and served with broiled tomato, rice, and mouth-watering bread.
If you really want a view over the city, you can't beat Spire 73. Perched at the top of the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown on the 73rd floor, it's the highest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere.
The main attraction in this rooftop space is the views, but you'll also find fire pits, signature cocktails, a wide whiskey selection, and a seasonally rotating menu. I love a vodka cocktail, so I usually go with the appropriately named City View, which has vodka, lemon, cassis, raspberry, and sparkling wine.
It's not the easiest to score a table at Bestia, but it's worth it. This Arts District Italian spot is a sophisticated space with industrial, hard-edge design features. Grab a coveted booth for your group with seats that appear to be levitating off the ground, or order your meal at the raw-copper bar.
I don't eat meat, but I have it on good authority that the bone marrow topped with rosemary in a bowl of greens is the dish to beat for carnivores.
Grand Central Market
This downtown food hall dates back more than a century to 1917. You might call it a microcosm of LA itself: Under this roof, you'll find food from every culture by way of restaurants, grocers, and other vendors. And just like the rest of LA, critics complain about its gentrification.
Get in line for a breakfast sandwich at Eggslut, slurp ramen from the all-vegan Ramen Hood, or score comfort Korean food at Shiku.
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Why is Los Angeles the best place to live? ›
Most famous for its beaches, hillside living, warm weather, and entertainment industry, the southern California city of Los Angeles remains one of the most well-known cities in the world. Named one of the best places to live in California, Los Angeles truly is the city for dreamers and goal-getters.Is Los Angeles actually a good place to live? ›
With a current population of almost 4 million people, Los Angeles is one of the best places to live in California. Prized for its cultural diversity, people from all over the country and the world are moving to Los Angeles with the hopes to make their dreams come true.Where is the safest place to live in LA? ›
Here are the eight safest areas to live in the city.
- West Hollywood. ...
- Glendale. ...
- Marina Del Rey. ...
- Playa Vista. ...
- Mar Vista. ...
- Westwood. ...
- Beverly Hills.
Playa Vista is known to be one of the safest areas in Los Angeles. Aside from the low crime rate, it's home to some of the best schools in the area.Is it better to live in NYC or LA? ›
Overall, LA is about 24% less expensive than NYC. The cost of living in LA is lower than in NYC thanks to far lower housing prices. On average, housing in LA is 34% cheaper than in New York City. Additionally, prices for groceries, as well as restaurant prices, are lower in Los Angeles than in NYC.What is the cheapest place to live in Los Angeles? ›
- North Valley.
- Northridge East.
- Park La Brea.
- Victor Heights.
- Greater Valley Glen.
Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world, offering myriad attractions and activities: movie studios, the Sunset Strip, Venice Beach, landmark museums, world-famous theme parks, wineries, breweries, outdoor activities, exciting nightlife, and much more.Is living in LA expensive? ›
In Los Angeles, rent averages $1,756 for a 1 bedroom apartment. Transportation costs in Los Angeles amount to $4,900 a year. Food costs $5,007 a year on average for a single resident of Los Angeles.Why do people want to live in LA? ›
Armed with greater flexibility and a deeper appreciation of home, more people are considering a move to Los Angeles. The city is known for its welcoming climate, inclusive culture, and rich history. It's no wonder that over 12 million people call the Greater Los Angeles area home.Can you live in LA without a car? ›
Many people even recommended living in certain areas of the city without a car. We have several buildings in the Koreatown, DTLA and Hollywood areas of town. All three of these locations have excellent access to the Metro. Koreatown, in particular, is a very walkable area.
Are people in LA nice? ›
People in LA are generally friendly. They may not be extremely friendly like in the south, but they are cordial. People in LA are from various cultures and backgrounds so some Angelenos maybe more friendly then others.How much do you need to make to live in LA? ›
What salary do you need to live in Los Angeles? According to one estimate by Gobankingrates.com, an annual income of $74,371 was about right for the average person to live comfortably in Los Angeles. Of course, this varies depending on where you want to live in LA and how you want to live.Where is the cheapest and safest place to live in LA? ›
Located in the heart of the San Fernando Valley is Encino, one of the best places to buy a home in Los Angeles thanks to its safety and affordability!Where is the safest cheapest place to live? ›
- Czech Republic.
- Costa Rica.
For glitz and glamour and some cutting-edge culture in the SoCal sunshine, it's got to be LA. But for a smaller-town feel with big-name sights, you're best off in San Francisco. Better still, rent a car, drive the spectacular coastal highway that connects the two, and take in both cities on one trip.Is crime High in Los Angeles? ›
Compared to the 2,633 violent crimes reported at this point in 2020, Los Angeles has so far, in 2022, reported 2,752 violent crimes; an increase of just over 4%. The number of REPORTED violent crimes in Los Angeles in 2021 was 30,078; the city's crime rate was 804.28 per 100,000 people.
Chinatown Is Considered Dangerous
According to Areavibes.com, Chinatown is considered the "most dangerous" area in L.A. There are 23,676 people and the amount of crimes per population is really high: 2,964 crimes per 100,000 people.
Celebrities can be found in every corner of the city, but when it comes to Beverly Hills, there are a few streets in particular where they can be found. All the big Hollywood tours know that some of the best celebrity homes are on Mulholland Drive, Alpine Drive, Bedford Drive, and Benedict Canyon.What is the cheapest place to live in Los Angeles? ›
- North Valley.
- Northridge East.
- Park La Brea.
- Victor Heights.
- Greater Valley Glen.
There are several reasons why movie stars and socialites seem to flock toward the endlessly trendy WeHo, as locals call it. Not only is the area low-key, it's also near a number of local amenities such as Runyon Canyon, The Ivy on Robertson, and many top-notch entertainment studios.
Can you live in LA without a car? ›
Many people even recommended living in certain areas of the city without a car. We have several buildings in the Koreatown, DTLA and Hollywood areas of town. All three of these locations have excellent access to the Metro. Koreatown, in particular, is a very walkable area.Who has the biggest celebrity house? ›
Bill Gates' $125million house
After seven years in the making, Bill Gates' mega-mansion 'Xanadu 2.0', takes the top spot at a whopping $125 million!
But by far, the most famous street in Beverly Hills, perhaps in all of LA, is Mulholland Drive. Besides being immortalized in film and music, Mulholland Drive has also been home to Hollywood royalty like Marlon Brando, Warren Beatty, Mary Tyler Moore, and Jack Nicholson.Do any celebrities live in Hollywood Hills? ›
The short answer here is yes, absolutely, they do. There are a ton of celebrities who live in Hollywood Hills. Actors, producers, musicians, artists, and other assorted millionaires live all over the hills for various reasons.Where is the cheapest but nicest place to live in California? ›
Ventura in Los Angeles is an affordable California beach town to live in if you want to be somewhere with beautiful views and charming weather. Some other inexpensive coastal cities to live in California are Long Beach, San Pedro, and Eureka.Where is the cheapest and safest place to live in LA? ›
Located in the heart of the San Fernando Valley is Encino, one of the best places to buy a home in Los Angeles thanks to its safety and affordability!Where is the cheapest place to buy a house in California? ›
- Bakersfield. With a median home price of just $254,430, Bakersfield is a surprisingly cheap place to live in California. ...
- Stockton. The notorious boom and bust town of Stockton, CA continues to offer cheaper house deals. ...
- Fresno. ...
- Clovis. ...
- Sacramento. ...
- Fontana. ...
- Chico. ...
With the best-known ZIP code in the world, Beverly Hills is a famous tourist destination, and a top spot to reside for some of the most important people in show biz. Channing Tatum, Beyonce and Jay Z, and Slash all own property here.Where do celebrities shop in LA? ›
Located adjacent to Beverly Hills, the Robertson Boulevard shopping district in West Hollywood is well-known for celebrity sightings and the paparazzi that stake out The Ivy during daytime hours. Stores like Alicia + Olivia, All Saints, Les Habitudes, Chanel, Intermix, and Vince are all ones to watch.How much money do you need to live in Los Angeles? ›
What salary do you need to live in Los Angeles? According to one estimate by Gobankingrates.com, an annual income of $74,371 was about right for the average person to live comfortably in Los Angeles. Of course, this varies depending on where you want to live in LA and how you want to live.
How much money do you need to move to LA? ›
How much should I save to move to LA? Generally speaking, you should save about $20,000 to move to LA. There's a lot of variance in this number, so we'll break this down into cost subcategories so you can more accurately calculate how much you want to save: Moving costs.What to Know Before moving to LA? ›
- Should You Move to Los Angeles?
- You May Have to Move More Than Once to Find the Right Neighborhood.
- The Weather Is Almost Always Perfect, or Close to It.
- The Environment Matters in LA.
- You'll Need a Car.
- You Should Plan for Traffic.
- It Isn't Always Easy for Single People to Meet Someone.