Los Angeles is a food lovers’ paradise with many cuisines to choose from and price ranges to accommodate any paycheck. California cuisine is still popular today with chefs taking on the fusing of different cuisines and using locally grown ingredients. There are variations of this theme from world-class chefs showing off their prowess to local diners often selling a new gimmick on the menu. LA hasn’t quite caught on to the European Michelin Star restaurant rating system that NYC has recently taken in its stride, but give it time.
Although many restaurants specialize by country, expect menus to cater for all tastes to cover all bases.
While you can find almost anything in any cities in Los Angeles County, there are areas that are more authentic for certain foods. If you are seeking real Chinese food, cites such as San Gabriel and Alhambra have it. You can also go downtown for its Chinatown, but it’s a little on the touristy side. For Japanese food, the equivalent of Chinatown is the Little Tokyo downtown. For the real deal, take 110 Freeway or the 405 Freeway South down to Gardena or Torrance. Korea Town has a big spread of authentic restaurants within. There is also Thai town in the east side of Hollywood where you can also find authentic Thai food at very affordable price.
Cuisines from south of the border cater to LA’s large Hispanic population and the rest of us. Try many of the city’s taco trucks, particularly those that have a line of people outside. Last year the city was close to banning these street vendors but luckily stomachs ruled the day and these unique food trucks serving authentic burritos and tacos continue to serve late night bar hopping crowds.
For British expats craving food from home that isn’t Gordon Ramsey’s high-end cuisine, English gastro pubs serving British staples such as fish & chips or Sunday Lunch keep the British and Australian expats happy.
Opening hours vary as much as the cuisines in LA so it is best to check with the restaurants. Call ahead to ask for opening hours. Although there are 24-hour eateries and dawn to dusk breakfast places, the general rule of thumb is that opening hours for cafes, diners, and breakfast eateries is 7.00am – 11.00pm, seven days a week. High-end restaurants tend to close Sunday and Monday and open only for dinner from 5.00pm – 10/11.00pm.
Most low to medium price-range restaurants don’t require reservations, but for high-end restaurants it is a must – especially on the weekends. You may be given a time slot to fill and it isn’t unheard of to be squeezed in for dinner between 10-11.00pm.
In Los Angeles, you can almost always dress casual. It’s rarely required to have a jacket or a tie to eat, but dress well and always wear shoes! Most high-end restaurants have valet parking that saves time and is looked upon as a necessity rather than a luxury. Tip the driver and tip your waitress.
- Yelp ( http://www.yelp.com/la ) If you are trying out new restaurants, cafés and bars, you can refer to other foodies’ opinions before you make the reservation.
- LA Eater ( http://la.eater.com ) keeps foodies up to speed with new restaurant openings.
- The LA Times ( http://www.latimes.com/features/food/ ) food section, available in print and online, gives news on everything to do with food in the city as well as spotlighting on the new restaurant and cuisine trends.
- OpenTable.com ( http://www.opentable.com ) allows you to choose restaurants by neighborhood or cuisine and make online reservations with the restaurant.
- Handy to carry around is the Zagat Guide to Los Angeles restaurants. Most eateries are listed but as restaurants come and go like the wind, it is always best to double check online on websites. ( http://www.zagat.com/losangeles )
- Citysearch ( http://losangeles.citysearch.com ) Los Angeles Citysearch rates Best Of restaurants and individual dishes which handy if you are looking for the best burger in the city. Contacts and websites are listed.