20 Best Restaurants In Los Angeles, Ranked

Amidst a sea of Instagram influencers and die-hard farmer's market shoppers, Los Angeles has a restaurant scene unlike any other. The fabric of the city's diverse ethnic and cultural background is woven into each and every plate of food, whether intentionally or not. It's a city where chefs open fusion restaurants reflecting their family's cooking, using produce for their kitchens grown in their own front yards. Some of these places succeed, and some fail, only to be instantly replaced by the next new concept. It's a breeding ground for creativity, with a few notable locations rising to the top.

To make the cut on this list, each place had to be an actual restaurant (no food trucks or counter service-only spots) and within the bounds of Los Angeles (sorry, Orange County). There are hundreds of restaurants that have a soft spot in our hearts (and a place on our ever-expanding "to eat" list), but we narrowed it down to the most essential restaurants that you simply must try.

20. Yang's Kitchen

Alhambra is rife with amazing and authentic restaurants serving food you simply can't get elsewhere in this gigantic city. While there are easily a dozen restaurants in that neighborhood alone that could merit a spot on this list, Yang's Kitchen stands out to us for its unique and varied menu that spans all three meals of the day (the restaurant is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. five days a week). Main courses let you choose your own adventure by selecting from a list of mains such as dry-aged steelhead trout with yuzu miso, or braised Meiji tofu. There are rice dishes, noodle dishes, salads, and more, all made with produce so fresh you can practically taste the farm.

The cornmeal mochi pancake is a newer addition to the menu, but an absolutely essential dish to order, if only because you won't find anything like it anywhere else. Once counter-service only, the restaurant has adapted post-pandemic and now offers full-service dining that extends to the newly-unveiled dinner service.

19. Alta Adams

Soul food rarely gets the respect it deserves. Luckily, Alta in West Adams is making Los Angeles diners stand up and pay attention. Chef Keith Corbin offers his brand of "California soul" by combining West African flavors and cooking techniques with local ingredients. We see this in the braised oxtail dish, which is made with miso and soy and served with rice, or the roasted BBQ cauliflower with miso-cauliflower purée.

Like all good restaurants, the food made by Corbin features a piece of his heart, and many of the dishes are inspired by things he made with his grandmother growing up. It's these kinds of dishes that can separate good food from great food, and even without knowing it, you taste the history that runs through the very essence of each bite. Don't miss the fried chicken with Fresno hot sauce, which just may be the very best in the city.

18. Pasjoli

Santa Monica's main street may not seem like the place for boundary-pushing and chart-topping restaurants, but the area does cultivate a certain type of client (with deep pockets) who is interested in a decent bite to eat that doesn't come from a chain establishment. For those types of diners, Pasjoli exists. Chef Dave Beran closed Dialogue and reemerged with his take on upscale French food made with the highest quality local ingredients. Nothing at Pasjoli is necessarily reinventing the wheel, but whoever said it needed to be? With hits like the foie de poulet à la Strasbourgeoise, the jaw-dropping canard à la Rouennaise à la presse, and the classic soufflé au chocolat (a must-order), we're reminded every time we eat here why the classics became classics in the first place.

Despite all this, sometimes we find Pasjoli having a bit of an identity crisis. Is it a chic-but-casual bistro where the waitstaff approaches the table like your old friend from college? Or is it an ultra-fine dining establishment where a single dish can run you back $185 and an average bill for two can easily exceed $700? Either way, make a night of it and go broke indulging in some of the best French food in the city.

17. Mini Kabob

Glendale is full of amazing Armenian and Middle Eastern restaurants, so what makes Mini Kabob stand out from the rest? Well, for one, this old-school spot is family owned and operated, so you will likely be giving your order to one of the owners, or their son (who currently runs the restaurant's active social media presence).

We also love this place for its affordable prices and unbeatable flavor. Sure, it doesn't offer any seating to speak of, and it remains cash-only in an increasingly cashless world, but that's all part of the charm at Mini Kabob. The menu is small, but nothing isn't worth trying. Go for the eponymous mini kabob or the chicken and beef combo, which comes with a scoop of fluffy basmati rice and a thick swirl of freshly-whipped hummus. It all comes with thin sheaths of fresh-baked lavash, perfect for running through a large pool of eggplant caviar.

16. Jitlada

Everyone knows that LA is a city where one of the best restaurants in town might be in a strip mall. That's exactly where you'll find Jitlada, one of the best Thai restaurants in the city. Square in the middle of Thai Town, Jitlada is hardly a well-kept secret (it was on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives", after all).

Like a lot of the best restaurants in Los Angeles, popularity comes at the cost of speed, and at Jitlada, you should be prepared to wait at least an hour to eat, whether you dine in or take out. If you don't mind the wait, you will be pleasantly rewarded with plate after plate of Thai food with layers of rich flavor. While most Thai restaurants stateside don't offer a lot of creativity, at Jitlada, you will find dishes you can't find anywhere else in the city, like the spicy jazz burger or the crispy catfish salad.

15. Moo's Craft Barbecue

Los Angeles (and the West Coast, in general) isn't exactly known as a destination for great American barbecue. So, when one opens that gets people talking, you know it has to be off-the-charts good. Moo's Craft Barbecue has all the hits, plus a few local twists. The creamy corn esquites and tres leches strawberry bread pudding, among others, help set Moo's apart from other soulless barbecue restaurants in the city. It's a true family business, and Andrew and Michelle Muñoz started perfecting their "Calimex" style of barbecue right in their Lincoln Heights backyard.

You can't go wrong with any item on the menu, but if the roasted poblano Oaxaca queso sausage isn't sold out, definitely get an order. Pair it with one of each side, each better than the last. If you only have the time (and appetite) for a quick, solo bite, opt for the smoked burger, which has a bit of a cult following.

14. Felix Trattoria

Before Felix Trattoria opened, we thought no one could bring anything new or exciting to the already-saturated list of great Italian restaurants in the city. Then, chef Evan Funke opened Felix in Venice, and everything changed. It took over a year of trying for us to finally nab a table at this hotspot, and years later, it can still be tricky to get a spot. While the menu is full of seasonal vegetable antipasti and must-order focaccia, the pasta dishes are the main draw and at least two should land on your table.

Most recently, Funke has opened Mother Wolf in Hollywood, another Italian restaurant with a focus on Roman specialties like spaghettone alla gricia and mezzi rigatonia alla carbonara. Save room for the pizzas at Felix Trattoria — you really can't go wrong trying to choose one or the other. Despite the restaurant's 200 seats, it's still packed night after night, and reservations require intense alarm setting and lightning-fast mouse clicking.

13. Saffy's

The husband-and-wife team behind Bestia unveiled their newest restaurant, Saffy's (named after their daughter, Saffron), last year. Located right across the street from another equally unrivaled spot, Found Oyster, Saffy's is currently one of the toughest reservations to get in the city. The team built a shawarma rotisserie and a wood-fired oven to bring that little something extra to their take on Middle Eastern cuisine. While it might feel somewhat similar to its sister restaurant, Bavel, Saffy's is definitely a departure in terms of both food and atmosphere.

Like any new restaurant, this spot still has a ways to go before finding its footing. If you do manage to get in, order one of the hummus dishes or the grilled lobster with green harissa. If you don't, come in the morning and grab a coffee and pastry at the shop next door for a classic Arabic breakfast (weekends only).

12. Found Oyster

Found Oyster opened on a funky little spot in the shadow of the Scientology Center in East Hollywood at the tail end of 2019, only to be shuttered a few months later by the pandemic. Luck for us, the concept was solid enough for the restaurant to shoulder on, and these days, it's open seven days a week. Inspired by casual seafood joints in the Northeast, Found Oyster is primarily a seafood raw bar with an accompanying menu of hot and cold dishes of varying sizes. Pair that with a well-chosen wine list, and you have a hit.

Without a doubt, the raw oysters and clams on the half-shell are a must-order, but why stop there? Chef Ari Kolender designed a brilliant menu full of dishes like a lobster roll where the lobster is coated in lobster bisque (instead of butter or mayo) or chilled mussels in saffron escabeche. Many of the oysters are sourced from general manager Joe Laraja's family oyster farm in Massachusetts, and he's all too happy to chat with you about how mom and dad are doing while pouring you a glass of unfiltered orange wine.

11. Lasita

Sometimes it can be easy to forget that a great restaurant isn't just about the food. The atmosphere and ambiance play a big role, and if you aren't having fun then what is the point of spending all that money? At Lasita in Chinatown, the fun is never far away. The music is blasting and tables of friends are drinking, eating, and making memories. The menu revolves around two large-format rotisserie-style entrees (designed to be shared): chicken inasal and pork belly lechon. In addition are an array of small plates, starters, and snacks, which can make up a meal on their own — if ordered right.

Many of the "best" restaurants in the city offer fine service with white linen tablecloths, and Lasita is definitely not that, in the best possible way. There is no expectation of time or money at Lasita, so come for a quick bite or linger for hours over delicious food and expertly paired wine.

10. Holbox

Holbox used to be a counter service-only spot located inside Mercado la Paloma in South Central. Now that chef Gilberto Cetina offers a six-course tasting menu at the small 10-seat counter, the restaurant has really hit its stride, and people all over are starting to take notice. Gorgeous dishes full of expertly sourced seafood are what's on tap, and each is a feast for the eyes as much as the taste buds. One of the stars of the menu (lunch or dinner) is the ceviche made with tangy citrus juice and dotted with creamy avocado sauce.

The tasting menu is a true bargain at just $95, but if you can't swing it, you should still stop by for lunch, where you will find kanpachi tostadas and fresh, raw shellfish on the half-shell spiked with things like Morita chili sauce. If you have time, stop by the sister spot across the hall, Chichen Itza, which features Yucatan cuisine.

9. Bestia

Bestia has had a hold on the hearts of LA's diners for a decade, and rightfully so. The Mediterranean-meets-Californian cuisine feels just right in the gigantic industrial space in the Arts District. This restaurant is always in lockstep with ever-changing food trends, so even if you ate here five years ago, it's worth a new visit. Bestia's menu has a way of combining comfortable familiar dishes with exciting surprises, so you don't have to be afraid that a picky friend or hard-to-please in-laws won't find something to order.

If you get anything here, make sure it's pasta. Chef Ori Menashe truly shines with these dishes, which can range from saffron gnocchi with house-made buttermilk ricotta to sourdough quadretti with lamb ragu. Don't miss dessert, either, as pastry chef Genevieve Gergis delights with plates like the walnut caramel tart with a buckwheat crust.

8. Camphor

A quick scan of the menu at Camphor might have you thinking it's a straight French restaurant. After all, items like trout almondine, lobster bisque, and "le burger" with pommes frite are the first things to jump out. But a closer look belies a subtle infusion of South and Southeast Asian flavors, and this is often where the most memorable bites are found. The beef tartare is served with tempura-fried shiso and parsley leaves, and the burger is a mixture of ground beef and slow-cooked duck leg meat.

It's a solid option for a fancy date night or a birthday dinner with friends. It's not cheap, but you do get to choose what and how much food you get, unlike some of the other tasting menu-only options on this list. Don't miss the kiwi and mint dessert, as it's as beautiful to look at as it is tasty to eat.

7. Kato

Taiwanese food is finally getting the credit stateside that it deserves, and at Kato, it not only takes the center stage but is propelled to star status. Now that Kato occupies its current space at The Row DTLA, it has been able to add a full wine list, as well as a bar program. The tasting menu costs $275 per person, but at the bar, you can get an abridged version for just $170. Showy items delicately battered and fried spicy lobster with variations of local citrus and a decadent riff on the dim standard Liu Shu Bao made with brined and dried golden fertile eggs dazzle and delight.

While we respect a chef's right to offer the menu they decide is best, this restaurant does not offer anything for gluten-free, allium-free, soy-free, vegan, or vegetarian diners, so know that before you book a reservation. If you're not ready to go for the full menu, try walking in and sitting at the bar where you can choose from a small menu of a la carte snacks.

6. Here's Looking At You

In many cases, restaurants offering fusion cuisine are a sign to run for the hills. But when it comes to Koreatown restaurant, Here's Looking At You, the globally-inspired menu reflects the city it's in. Frogs' legs with salsa negra, blue crab tostadas with avocado and furikake, and hamachi crudo with nam jim, key lime amba, and peanuts are just a few of the items that showcase chef Jonathan Whitener's skillful creativity.

After closing (seemingly forever) mid-pandemic, Here's Looking At You reopened due to fan fervor and a successful GoFundMe campaign. The restaurant is back better than ever with new menu items alongside old favorites. The sister restaurant in Silverlake, All Day Baby, is a sort of soul food diner by day, and now houses a Vietnamese pop-up (Tet-a-Tet) at night. Make sure you hit all three to really grasp the full capabilities of this culinary team.

5. Providence

Los Angeles' food scene isn't full of the kind of tweezer-happy overly contrived ultra-fine dining restaurants that fill other big cities like Chicago or New York. The ones that do exist (and thrive) here have to offer a truly special dining experience. Chef Michael Cimarusti's luxurious cathedral of seafood, Providence, is not a place to merely fill your stomach but an hours-long dining event that will leave you reminiscing for months, or years, to come.

The tasting menu costs $295 per person, but don't stop there. You're already splurging, so go for one of the seasonal add-ons like salt-roasted spot prawns or uni egg in champagne beurre blanc. Cimarusti's other restaurant, Connie and Ted's, is a much more casual homage to his New England roots (and has one of the best fried fish sandwiches in LA). If you can't swing the bill at Providence, the same loving care for the creatures of the sea has been given to the dishes at Connie and Ted's.

4. N/naka

Chef Niki Nakayama won her impressive two Michelin stars in 2019 when the heralded restaurant review organization finally returned to this fair city. In our opinion, n/naka deserved this level of recognition long before. She is often credited with bringing kaiseki dining to California (and possibly America), forging a path through a dining culture unfamiliar with anything beyond sushi tasting menus. A Jonathan Gold review, Netflix episode, and pandemic later, n/naka is cemented as one of Los Angeles' best restaurants of all time, easily.

The food is made with a pure heart and is a love letter to Nakayama's California upbringing and Japanese roots. Dishes like a crispy-skinned branzino with shiitake mushroom, sunchoke, and sudachi citrus blend traditional cooking techniques with local ingredients (the sudachi was grown in Nakayama's own front yard). Last year, a sister restaurant called n/soto was born out of pandemic-era necessity and might be your best plan B if you can't score a reservation at n/naka.

3. République

République remains one of the best and most essential places to eat in the city. Housed in the cavernous and airy space previously occupied by Campanile, a commitment to excellent food is practically baked into the floor tiles (which were originally installed by the building's first owner, Charlie Chaplin). No matter what time of day you arrive at Republique, you are in for a feast for the senses.

The daytime menu is effortless and fun, all while encompassing the wide range of culinary heritage that makes up the fabric of Los Angeles. Favorites include the kimchi fried rice with golden soft-boiled eggs, ricotta toast with dates and pistachios, or the short rib breakfast burrito with Morita chili sauce. At night, the restaurant switches from counter service to full sit-down and the menu adjust accordingly. While it changes all the time based on the season, don't miss any of the pasta (all made in-house) or the baguette served with roast chicken pan drippings.

2. Hayato

In a world where apps have made everyone a restaurant critic, you know it says something about a spot when there are virtually zero bad reviews (other than one from a person who was unhappy that they couldn't get a reservation). Hayato is one of the hottest spots in town, which is no easy feat for an omakase Japanese restaurant in a town with no shortage of this type of eatery. What sets Hayato apart from the others is the chef, Brandon Hayato Go. He simultaneously cultivates a world-shifting parade of dishes and a charming demeanor that helps his nightly dining guests drop the pretense, forget they are strangers, and befriend each other over bottles of shared wine.

Will you ever be able to snag a reservation at this restaurant (one of the notoriously toughest reservations to get in city)? Statistically, probably not, considering only seven lucky diners get the chance each night. If you do, we can't predict what you will be served, but it will be seafood-forward, like the black cod saikoyaki rice pot.

1. Anajak Thai

The best and most enduring restaurants change and morph over time to suit the ever-evolving culinary scene. Anajak Thai first opened in 1981 in an area of Los Angeles full of people to whom Thai cuisine was still considered very unfamiliar. Almost 40 years later, Justin Pichetrungsi took over his father's restaurant and immediately got to work on bringing his own artistic spirit to the space and menu. Pichetrungsi will be the first to say that he never wants to completely step away from the recipes his father spent decades perfecting, though he doesn't shy away from updating his sourcing. Classic favorites like the grilled fish are now served with fresh-caught sea bream or branzini, but the nam jim sauce it comes with has never changed.

The pandemic brought other changes: A six-seat omakase tasting menu has now grown to encompass the whole alley on weekend nights, and the "Thai Taco Tuesday" that was created to bring business in on a slow weeknight now draws a line stretching down the block. Add to that a fun and funky wine list and weekly collaborations with other great restaurants and chefs, and you have a recipe for the best restaurant in the city, hands down.