20 Best Restaurants In LA's Koreatown

South of the 101, north of the 10, west of downtown, and east of Western Ave (ish) lies Koreatown, one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the City of Los Angeles. Boasting the largest population of Koreans outside of Asia, Koreatown houses some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles, and no, we're not just talking about the best Korean BBQ spots in town. There are a vast array of culinary delights to be had in Koreatown beyond just BBQ (though there are those as well). 

From tofu houses and kimbap joints to rustic Italian and authentic Oaxacan, Koreatown represents an edible crossroads and cultural melting pot in this vast city. It even has a few iconic film and TV locations (like every great neighborhood in LA should). While the sheer amount of choices is dizzying at best, we've helped narrow it down by identifying some of the truly outstanding must-try spots. This is by no means a definitive list of the only good restaurants in Koreatown, but some of our absolute favorites.

1. Cassell's

It's no secret — Los Angeles (and the greater Southern California area) is the home of the burger. Bob's Big Boy, McDonald's, Carl's Jr., In-N-Out, and Fatburger all trace their roots to the Southland. There's no shortage of mom-and-pop local favorites as well, from Apple Pan to Pasadena Pie and Burger. The iconic Cassell's originally opened in 1948 and currently has a location inside the iconic Hotel Normandie, smack dab in the middle of Koreatown.

Things at Cassell's took a dive when Al Cassell stopped manning the griddle, but have since rebounded and are back better than ever. The old ways remain, like grinding fresh beef into burgers daily or making the mayonnaise by hand, but in fresh new digs that sport the original signs on the walls. The menu is updated too, now offering breakfast burritos, tuna melts, and wedge salads in addition to the original broiled burger.

2. Here's Looking at You

Considered by many (ahem, us) to be one of the best restaurants in the city, Here's Looking At You is a restaurant that was almost a casualty of the pandemic. Luckily, hundreds of devoted regulars and fans rallied together and raised the money they needed to reopen. These days, the team is churning out "New American" specialties nightly. What is "New American", exactly? No one seems to be completely sure, but at this restaurant, you can expect dishes with international flavors woven throughout, much like the culture of the neighborhood and city as a whole.

Look for classic favorites, like crispy duck confit with flavors of aji amarillo, tangerine, and cilantro, or frogs' legs with salsa negra, scallions, and lime. Here's Looking At You is just as good for a fancy dinner date as it is for a quick cocktail and snack. The menu lets you choose your own adventure, which is just the way we like it.

3. Park's BBQ

Considered by many to be the premier Korean barbecue destination in all of LA, Park's BBQ is famous for its delicious selection of food served with the best possible service. While other Korean barbecue restaurants can be noisy, casual, and a bit frenetic, Park's brings things to a more calm and composed place. The meat is some of the best quality that you'll find anywhere, and while the sheer volume of the menu can be dizzying, you won't go wrong picking one of the pre-set meals.

A few add-ons never hurt, like kimchi fried rice or a crisp seafood pancake. You'll want to take part in the full Korean barbecue experience by washing it all down with plenty of beer or soju, as well.

4. Chosun Galbee

Another long-standing and classic Korean barbecue restaurant in Ktown is Chosun Galbee, which has a palatial interior as well as a large outdoor patio. Like Park's, Chosun Galbee is pushing toward a more refined and upscale Korean barbecue experience to set itself apart from the other restaurants in the neighborhood. The banchan is as good as it gets, with a wider variety than most spots.

Somehow, Chosun Galbee manages to pull off a decent take-out menu which is a feat for a menu that revolves around cuts of raw meat that are grilled in front of you. This place often has an extensive wait but if you arrive on the earlier side (between 5 and 6 p.m.) you will have a much better shot at getting a table quickly.

5. Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong

While other Korean barbecue restaurants in the area can be elegant and refined enough for a classy date night (with prices to match), Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong is boisterous and rowdy, in the best possible way. While you will have to contend with the wait time if you want to eat here, which can easily stretch to two hours, you will most definitely find it worth it once you try the food.

This chain comes straight from South Korea and is known for a trademark grill design that has a moat around the exterior for hot sides, like the popular cheesy corn. The selection of meats may be smaller than other spots in the area, but that's to ensure top quality.

6. Dan Sung Sa

Looking for some excellent Korean food without the whole barbecue scene? Dan Sung Sa has the vibes on lockdown with excellent food and drinks to match. Based on traditional Korean pubs, the restaurant is the perfect place for an informal interior drink with friends with a cozy interior clad in wood panels scribbled with various kinds of graffiti and cartoons. Choose from over 90 snack-sized food options to soak up the primary reason you are visiting this establishment — soju, sake, bakeseju, beer, and other imbibements.

You can't go wrong ordering here, but some standout dishes are the kimchi pancake, cheesy corn, and any one of the tteokbokki dishes. Don't forget to order a few different skewers, all of which are priced under $2.99.

7. Issan Station

While Isaan Station may be in Koreatown, don't come expecting Korean food. This humble spot serves Thai cuisine from the Northeastern Isaan region, heavy on spice and big on flavor. While Thai Town draws crowds hungry for Thai Food, Isaan Station holds its own in Koreatown enough to be known as one of the better Thai restaurants in the city.

The menu features general Thai favorites like the ubiquitous pad Thai, as well as regional delicacies like the fiery larb moo. If you like your food extra spicy, this is the place to go as Isaan Station does not shy away from dialing it up on spice. Isaan Station is just as good for a quick lunch as it is for a fun dinner with friends, just make sure to bring cash as this spot does not take credit cards.

8. Quarters

Quarters has a lot of good things going for it. For one, the restaurant allows you to order meat by the quarter-pound so you can try a wider range of items, even if you are only dining with one other person. Two, a cheesy dipping sauce arrives at the table with the banchan. Three, the specialty cocktail is a beer-rita that comes with an upside-down bottle of beer sticking out of the top. While all these things aren't necessarily traditional of Korean barbecue, they come together to make an undoubtedly fun experience.

If you can't decide what to get, try one of the affordable combination sets. Don't skip on some of the fun "Korean tapas" like the nachos that come loaded with kimchi and spicy pork.

9. Guelaguetza

Maybe you wouldn't think to come to Koreatown for some of the best Mexican food in Los Angeles, but you would be wrong. Guelaguetza has some of the best Oaxacan food in the city and if you're looking for burritos and nachos, keep looking. The house specialty is mole, and the restaurant serves six different kinds. Another typical and typical Oaxacan dish is the tlayuda, which you should absolutely order at Guelaguetza.

As far as drinks go, a mezcal cocktail is absolutely essential. If you prefer this smoky liquor straight up, the restaurant serves over 60 varieties. The live mariachi band playing in the dining room is a fun addition that you won't find at every Mexican spot in town and one that definitely brings the vibe.

10. Surawon Tofu House

There's a lot more to Korean food than just barbecue. Surawon Tofu House serves some of the best sundubu-jjigae in the city and is a worthy destination any time you're in the mood for piping hot stew. This isn't the only place to get tofu in Koreatown, but it's certainly one of the best.

This Korean restaurant is housed inside a former Mexican restaurant, not to be confused with Guelaguetza, the Mexican restaurant in a former Korean restaurant. Slurp up bubbling crocks of hot and spicy soup full of soft tofu that's made in-house (one of the only places in town that does so). Look elsewhere if you want a raucous, late-night celebration. This spot is better suited for a casual dinner on a rainy night.

11. Kinn

Too often certain cuisines, while popular, get relegated to a category of restaurants thought of as casual. Great, but not fine dining. Luckily, diners and chefs alike are working to change this. For Korean food in Los Angeles, we have Kinn, the tasting menu spot by chef Ki Kim. This restaurant is every bit as elegant as any of the fancy French or Scandinavian Michelin-starred restaurants in the city but with the spotlight on Korean flavors and ingredients.

The menu consists of seven courses for $95, a great price as far as tasting menus go. The dishes change seasonally, so we can't tell you what exactly you can expect. We can tell you that you will be blown away by the delicate and refined bites that are infused with a touch of whimsy, like a dish of charred Wagyu beef nestled beside a pool of ginger sauce dotted with a smiley face.

12. Antico Nuovo

For a city notorious for hating carbs and loving green juices, there sure is no shortage of Italian restaurants. While you can easily find excellent spots from Puck, Silverton, and the rest, Antico Nuovo is bringing some serious heat wrapped up in an unassuming box. During the pandemic, this spot whittled the menu down to just pizza and ice cream, then reemerged as an elegant and romantic date spot.

The focaccia is the thing to get here and there are five optional add-ons to it, such as whipped ricotta drizzled with a savory pistachio pesto that's begging to be slathered on the aforementioned bread. The pastas are fabulous and made by hand but make sure you don't walk out the door without ordering some of the heavenly ice cream.

13. Soowon Galbi

When compiling lists of the best restaurants in the city, it's likely that only one Koreatown barbecue spot will make the cut (if any at all). If one does, it's probably Soowon Galbi. The consistency and reliability of service and quality are what make Soowon the standout spot, even while other places may have more dazzling draws. You can also count on shorter wait times and more affordable dishes than some of the other famed Korean barbecue restaurants in the area, but you'll leave just as happy and satisfied (and not just because the soju keeps on flowing).

The unique and inventive banchan leaves a lingering memory in the mind of everyone who eats here. It manages to complement the main meat courses without overshadowing them.

14. The Kimbap

Sometimes, there's just one specific food you are craving. As we all know, trying to ignore that craving is a fruitless and unfulfilling venture in most cases. If you have a craving for kimbap (also sometimes called gimbap), it can be tough to immediately call to mind the exact place to satisfy this need. Familiar with this feeling? Head down to The Kimbap, one of the best places in Koreatown to get this tasty snack.

Those familiar with sushi (and unfamiliar with Korean food) might mistake these rolled seaweed wraps for a type of maki. However, it's totally incorrect to compare futomaki to kimbap. Still confused? Just go to The Kimbap and try it for yourself. They have a wide selection of rolls featuring various fillings like tuna, kimchi, or fishcake.

15. BCD Tofu House

If you're in Koreatown and looking for some good, cheap, late-night eats, opt for BCD Tofu House is your spot. Bibimbap, bulgogi, spicy tofu stew, they have all the goods here. Did we mention it's open until 3 a.m.? Night owls, early birds, and those just stumbling out of Wi Spa can hit this place for a taste of classic Korean comfort food for just the right price.

They've been open since 1996 and have since expanded to multiple locations across the U.S., including two in LA's Koreatown alone. The true value can be found in the combo meals but don't let that stop you from ordering whatever your heart desires. As the name suggests, definitely get something with tofu in it, the house specialty.

16. Ham Ji Park

Extremely large portions of whatever you order are the defining characteristic of Ham Ji Park, yet another excellent Korean barbecue restaurant in this neighborhood. The vibe is always a little rowdy and often fairly crowded but the food is well worth it. The pork ribs and pork neck stew are the must-order dishes here and those two dishes alone can easily feed three people along with the included sides. Not in the mood for pork? All the other dishes on the menu are tasty as well, from the soups to the noodles

The tabletop grilled items are good, but there are better barbecue spots in the area. Stick with the dishes that come out of the kitchen ready to eat. Everything comes served with cold iced tea so don't worry about working up a thirst.

17. Soban

For some of the truly best Korean flavors in all of Los Angeles (and possibly the country), Soban is your place. Forget about enticing gimmicks or cheap prices, this place needs no such draws to welcome a crowd each and every night. The atmosphere is elegant and refined, a far cry from the hazy beer-fueled halls in other parts of this 'hood. Braised short ribs, bibimbap, marinated raw crab — Soban has all the hits. The crab was described as the best dish in all of Ktown by the late Jonathan Gold, and who are we to argue? It's dressed in a housemade soy sauce to achieve that perfect salty flavor.

Expect at least 18 different banchan to precede your meal. If you find yourself still hungry, go for the braised black cod. Don't worry, you can thank us later.

18. Yangmani

Can't get in at Park's BBQ? You could do worse than heading around the corner to Yangmani, another Korean barbecue restaurant with delectable food and a pleasant atmosphere. If you have an appetite for some less common grilled options, Yangmani has you covered with intestines, tripe, and other offal. The banchan is flavorful and memorable, lending a nice complement to every bite. 

Like many Korean barbecue spots, the combos are the best bet to try a few different things without embarrassing yourself with all your uneaten food. If you like kimchi fried rice, the one here is especially good and full of crispy gopchang.

19. The Prince

Did you end up here because you're a fan of witty sitcoms with a delightful ensemble cast? Don't worry, The Prince's only claim to fame isn't just that it was featured in Fox's New Girl (and a hundred other things as well). There's a reason the producers of New Girl chose this spot to be the quintessential LA bar, with its combination of good vibes, fun atmosphere, and diverse clientele.

This Korean pub has an undeniably sexy interior and a solid list of cocktails, from whisky drinks to colorful tiki concoctions. Of course, like any good Korean bar, The Price has a decent menu of fun items to soak up the booze. Expect crispy kimchi fried rice and a whole fried chicken served with a cabbage salad.

20. Mapo Galbi

Mapo Galbi is one of the most essential restaurants in the city, and while the menu does have a range of options, you're only here to get one thing: the chicken. Known as dak galbi, this dish consists of a large skillet full of chicken, cabbage, rice cakes, perilla leaves, and vegetables that will arrive and immediately starts being cooked in a large, in-table cast iron skillet. The dish cooks down in front of you and you'll have the chance to start eating the very moment it's done. When you get about halfway through the dish, a second course begins from the first. A pile of rice is stir-fried into the remnants of the chicken dish so you can soak up every last bite of flavor.

Don't worry about finishing it — the servers are happy to box up the remains. Is there anything else on the menu? We're not sure, because this is all we ever order.