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Food

The 10 Essential L.A. Food Experiences You Have To Have Before You Leave The City of Angels

February 25, 2015 by Christina Champlin

Time is limited, and when a person visits Los Angeles for a brief stay it’s simply impossible to hit up all of the amazing food options available to them. Our mission? To help narrow down the prospective targets to a manageable list given the above scenario. In other words, you wouldn’t necessarily say this list is the 10 best restaurants in Los Angeles, but we feel these experiences are inextricably tied to what it means to experience food in the city of angels.

But to name only 10… man this was tough. I found myself making a list of dozens of places and fighting my own mind and taste buds over the choices. In the end  I selected these 10 to represent what Los Angeles dining is about; inventive techniques, quality ingredients and deliciously complex flavors.

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From a taco truck that started a nationwide food craze to a California fast food staple recognized worldwide, we angelenos know good food. Our list is a mash up of places celebrated through food critics, yelpers and national awards. Of course we won’t be able to satisfy everyone with the top 10 so look to our honorable mentions (read: just missed the cut) for more inspirations.

Bon Appétit!

In N Out

If you are visiting California for the first time or simply a hungry Angeleno looking for a fast meal, In N Out is a no brainer. The burgers are one of the best and according to Zagat it is THE BEST burger in town. Even Anthony Bourdain claims its his favorite place to eat in Los Angeles! The menu is straight forward but if you really want to live on the edge try something from their secret menu. No visitor leaves California without trying In n Out!

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Maude

Named after Curtis Stone’s grandmother Maude focuses on a single ingredient each month. The Beverly Hills eatery is small and intemate to create a chefs table experience for all patrons. Stone’s market driven tasting menu is supported by a staff who’s resume includes Alinea, French Laundry, Joel Robuchon and the revered elBulli. If you are familiar with the restaurants I just mentioned then this place is the perfect choice to have that very special Los Angeles dinner everyone needs to have at least once.

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Kogi Taco Truck

The history making Korean-Mexican taco truck rolled onto the scene around Thanksgiving of 2008. Food trucks in L.A. have never been the same.

Kogi sells Korean barbecue tacos from four trucks: Roja, Naranja and Verde. The three service different cities so check their Twitter feed to locate them. The signature taco is made with two crisply griddled tortillas, double caramelized Korean barbecue short rib, Kogi secret salsa roja, cilantro onion lime relish and a special Napa romaine and green onion slaw tossed in a chili soy vinaigrette.

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Kogi Taco Truck

Up close and personal with a Kogi taco. Credit: Eric Shin

Din Tai Fung

Pretty much the most famous dumpling house in all of Los Angeles. Din Tai Fung has single handily brought dumplings into the mainstream. LA Weekly, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times have all claimed Din Tai Fung as one of the best places to eat. Steamed, juicy dumplings come out piping hot melting in your mouth and having you asking for more. Aside from their dumplings make sure to order Shanghai rice cakes and some dessert buns to finish the meal.

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Alma

One of if not the most talked about restaurant in the last year or so is Alma. Located in downtown Los Angeles, Alma aims to reboot and reenergize California Cuisine by combining it with French techniques for a almost avant-garde experience. Open only for dinner the menu is a 10 course tasting inspired by their private garden harvest and from farms such as Coleman, Flore Bella and and McGrath.

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Sushi Gen

This establishment has been serving fantastic rolls and nigiri for over 30 years now. If you can stomach the wait in line you will be rewarded with unaltered fish, impressive sashimi platters and even monk fish liver. While dinner can get expensive (the omakese is the way to go if you are willing to shell out the money) lunch on the other hand is shockingly cheap!

If you like Sushi Gen, we also recommend you check out more of the best sushi in Los Angeles.

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Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles

Roscoes is an L.A. institution, serving up epic chicken and waffle combinations since originally opening way back in 1975. You won’t find more indulgent breakfast soul food anywhere in the city (or possibly the world).

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If you like Roscoes, we recommend you check out more of the best waffles in Los Angeles.

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Roscoes Chicken and Waffles

Roscoes Chicken and Waffles. Credit: Monserrath Flores

Father’s Office

Chef Sang Yoon’s “Office Burger” made some headlines from the beginning and it is still one of the best places to get a juicy burger, sweet potato fries and craft beer. Heck, even their desserts are good! This place gets crowed fast so come early or watch the room like a hawk to snag a table after you order up at the bar.

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Animal

If you are an adventurous eater this place will easily be your favorite on the list. Serving up some of the most adventurously delicious dishes in town like veal brains, pig ears and rabbit legs, Animal is the kind of place where you guessed it the animal takes center stage.They even have a Canadian dish! Their poutine has shredded ox tail and cheddar cheese slathered on a plate of large fries. Chicken liver toast, bone marrow and pork belly are all favorites at Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s innovative and critically acclaimed restaurant located on Fairfax avenue.

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Grand Central Market

Between Hill and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles is one of the oldest and largest public markets in the states. Cheese, burgers, eggs, tacos, seafood, ribs, coffee and more are all under one roof along with produce vendors and butchers. Eggslut one of the most popular vendors in the market but beware of the constant line. Grab a coffee at G&B Coffee bar, try a famous El Salvadorian dish the pupusa at Sarita’s Pupuseria, or just walk the open air market and fall a little bit in love with this downtown treasure.

Oh, and if you were wondering where we were going to fit real-deal Mexican fare into this list…. Tacos Tombras a Tomas is beyond legit (pro-tip: if you order a burrito, have them give you mixed meat (like chicken and asada) and you’ll end up with a super-sized burrito at no extra cost).

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Honorable Mentions:

AOC
Chengdu Taste
Golden Deli
Jitlada
Ink
Osteria Mozza
Petit Trois
Philippe The Original
Providence
Rustic Canyon
Spago

If you had to take someone to only a few restaurants during a brief stay in Los Angeles, where would you go? Let us know in the comments below!

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