Opened a couple years ago but still the restaurant of the moment, this upscale American bistro is the way eating in LA is going right now: dishes from locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, simply prepared to let the flavors shine, and meant for sharing. Think crispy Brussels sprouts with jalapeno-lime, cilantro and walnut; pizza of guanciale, green olive, Fresno chili and mozzarella; or lamb burger with harissa aioli, tomato and arugula. Dine in the brick-walled, post-industrial front room or on the enclosed back patio.
Insider tip: The restaurant is on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, the hippest shopping street in trendy Venice Beach.
This casual sandwich shop with an urban farm aesthetic makes the most of LA’s location, blessedly close to some of America’s prime agricultural land. Small wonder, then, that it’s developed a loyal following virtually overnight. Patrons swear by the “not so fried” chicken, kurobuta pork belly banh mi and kale Caesar salad. The wide-ranging menu offers something for every taste – and almost all under US$10. Seven locations mean that there’s always one relatively close by.
Insider tip: Mix and match the variety of condiments to find the perfect accompaniment for your food.
Chef Ricardo Zarate Picca may have done more than anyone to popularise Peruvian cooking in LA, and as LA goes, the rest of America is likely to follow. Peruvian is perhaps the original fusion cuisine of the Americas, as evidenced by ceviches, causas (like nigiri sushi but made with mashed potato instead of rice), and skirt steak with fried egg and pan-fried banana. Picca looks nondescript from the outside, but inside the two-level space, it’s a party around the large, open kitchen.
Insider tip: If the main dining room is too much bustle, the upstairs balcony is quieter and has great views of the action below.
A genuine LA success story, Loteria started when a Mexican immigrant set up a stand in the Original Farmers Market to sell the kind of cooking he grew up with. Now his brick-and-mortar restaurants are some of the city’s tops. Go for the Probaditas, a tasting platter of 12 miniature signature tacos. Or try the chicken with pipian (spicy sunflower seeds) or Huachinango – your choice of pan-seared red snapper or shrimp in a tomato, onion, olive and caper sauce.
Insider tip: After visiting the original Farmers Market stand, browse the stalls selling produce from fresh fruit to hot sauce.
A few miles up the twisty mountain roads above Malibu, getting here is an escape – and part of the experience. Once here, you’ll settle in to a brookside brick-floored terrace. Ensconced in wrought-iron chairs, tuck into organic, vegetarian-friendly cooking from potato blinis with American caviar to grilled vegan “duck”.
Insider tip: Browse the gift shop for new age books and trinkets. The shop feels like a throwback to the Summer of Love in the 1960s.