Visiting Los Angeles for the first time? Of course, we have tons of ideas to share with you but first things first, if you are planning to stay in LA for a day or two, you need not have to stay in Hollywood. Second, be ready and prepared to be familiar with Uber and Lyft. Lastly, perhaps do not do anything else but eat?
Los Angeles is the most astonishing place to eat in the United States, thanks to an unimaginable variety of international cuisines and some of the most gifted chefs in the world. Los Angeles’ excellent seasonal produce and access to ingredients makes it an excellent seat for eateries to thrive — but how do you know which ones to go to? In this piece, we will cover a collection of restaurants that will surely be able to answer the question, “Can you recommend a place?”
1. Philippe the Original (1908)
Opened in 1908, Philippe the Original reportedly is the restaurant that invented the French Dip Sandwich that won out over Coles as being the most iconic LA dish in a KCET poll– although many rivals suggest otherwise. Either way, Philippe the Original’s sandwich is incredibly delicious and the main reason this restaurant has become a hot spot for lunch. The restaurant is also famous for its homemade spicy mustard, but if you want to try it, you have to eat in the restaurant because it is not available in stores.
Located across from Union Station and on the east side of Chinatown since 1951, this is a restaurant owned by the Martin/Binder/Downey family since 1927. Philippe the Original knows what they do and does it well. With that, it’s an easy pick for the most famous places to eat in LA.
The place has been around for over 100 years — so it’s a true LA institution. And contrary to common perception, Philippe The Original is not a restaurant — it is a deli. In fact, it is a gigantic, well-run deli. Once you enter the place, you will stand in one of the fast-moving lines that lead to the counter and dazzle at the genuine old-school allure. And while you’re obviously ordering the Beef Double Dip — with the tableside spicy mustard on top of course– do not hold yourself back if something else catches your eye at the counter. Philippe’s is stocked full of delicious deli staples, including its less famous but delicious: the freshly-made cake doughnuts!
2. Park’s Barbeque
This is the Korean barbecue to end all arguments, with the highest quality meat and banchan one can find. In fact, it can be considered as one of the best BBQ in Los Angeles, which is one of the world’s epicenters for Korean cuisine.
If you are around or near this side of Los Angeles, try to check this place out and order some wagyu beef and prime American short ribs and eat with the restaurant’s pristine kimchi and fresh lettuce wraps!
3. Cole’s Restaurant (1908)
Established in 1908, Cole’s is the oldest restaurant in LA in its original location, but not under the same owners. The place went from an old-timer rendezvous to a hipster hangout after a takeover and makeover by its new owner 213 Nightlife group that operates a dozen Downtown LA establishments.
Cole’s Restaurant’s dinner menu is still true to its roots, but its two bars, including the backroom Varnish, attracts more customer from the younger crowd. Cole’s claims to be the originator of the original French Dip sandwich, but as mentioned above, so does LA’s next historic restaurant.
4. Original Pantry Café (1924)
Established since 1924, and probably serving USC’s hungry students for almost just as long, the Original Pantry Cafe opened is another Downtown LA location, but just like Philippe the Original, was forced to relocate to make room for a freeway. The Pantry Café has been at its current location on Figueroa since 1950. It has also changed owners, with former LA mayor Richard Riordan as current proprietor. The current owner did not change the “greasy spoon” menu, which is written on the café’s wall.
The place’s bragging rights is that part of the breakfast menu is offered to customers 24 hours a day. The prices are average for a non-chain diner in Los Angeles, which is more than you will have pay at IHOP or Denny’s for the same breakfast, but it is a local legend. The food is on the heavy side, which is awesome for most customers or disgusting, depending on your food preference – better for sopping up a night of drinking than pre-shopping. There is often a line out the door on weekend mornings or at 2 am on club nights. The place only takes cash as a mode of payment, but there’s an ATM inside. It’s a few blocks from all of the activity at L.A. Live and Staples Center, so draws post-event crowds. Eat here any other time of the week, and marvel some of the best people-watching in the city. Everybody’s eating giant plates of eggs and bacon and grumbling about the better days. We would not want it any other way.
5. Pig N Whistle (1927)
Featuring as a soaring carved wood ceiling and several semi-private booths, the Pig ‘n Whistle was a Hollywood icon from the 1920s — when it hosted Judy Garland’s 17th birthday party and the first Oscar party. Pig N Whistle opened its doors next to the Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard in 1927 to serve hungry theater patrons before the days of in-theater concession stands. Its fancifully carved wooden ceiling was covered over for years but was restored to its original glory in 1999. A regular stop on Hollywood pub-crawls, the English-style pub hosts live bands and DJs and serves up a quite decent shepherd’s pie. After some detailed restoration by the new owners, Alan Hajjar and Chris Breed, the restaurant reopened in 2001 to much acclaim. The Pig ‘n Whistle offers common American fare such as burgers, tacos, and sandwiches, all with a gourmet flair. Or diners can go traditional and order fish-and-chips or a shepherd’s pie.