These Are Some Of Geoffrey Zakarian's Must-Visit Restaurants In LA - Exclusive

Ask Geoffrey Zakarian where to eat in New York City and you're sure to get a veritable heater list of spots, both storied and trending to satisfy your craving for a variety of cuisines and experiences. That's natural since Zakarian — cookbook author, television personality, and not-least of all, Michelin-starred chef — made his career in NYC dining. Ask him about eating on the West Coast, however, and Zakarian is forthcoming about his need to lean on contacts for advice on some of the newer happenings. 

"You know who I call? I call Simon Majumdar. He's a judge on "Iron Chef" with me, and he's on Food Network as well," Zakarian told us in an exclusive interview. "[Majumdar] lives in L.A. He's originally a food writer. He has his pulse firmly on what's good and what's not good in California. He's eaten at every place there is."

As they say, it's good to have friends in high places. But as the headlining chef for the L.A. Wine & Food Festival, Zakarian isn't a rook when it comes to dining in the Golden State. In fact, the chef has some must-visit restaurants.

"I'll go see Chef Funke because he's amazing," he said. "République, if I can. Musso & Frank Grill, the old style. I like old-style stuff. Maybe Craig's, because I used to always go to Craig's and say hi to him and always end up staying and having a bite to eat."

Classic American cuisines

There are a lot of directions you can take your dining but according to Geoffrey Zakarian, a traditional old L.A.-style meal like those served at Musso & Frank Grill is not to be missed. This establishment has been feeding Hollywood since 1919, offering refined service befit for the many stars who have graced its tables throughout its existence. 

There is a daily specials menu at Musso & Frank Grill but the core offerings are so trusted that they haven't been changed in nearly 100 years. Berkshire Farm pork chops, calf liver steak, and pan-seared scallops are only some of what you'll find gracing your white tablecloth. 

For a restaurant that's equally positioned within the pantheon of American cooking, Zakarian recommends Craig's. The eatery was opened by chef Craig Susser in 2011 and has become a staple since. Its enduring popularity is thanks to a slew of factors — an unpretentious menu of mash-up influences, exceptionally unique interior design, and a consistent flow of celebrities who name-check the joint when given the chance. 

At Craig's, you can enjoy pork baby back ribs or teriyaki salmon. Vegan crab cakes or pigs in a blanket with Dijon mustard. Buffalo wing pizza or a Southern-fried honey truffle chicken. Like Zakarian, eat at Craig's and surely you'll have a lot to talk about too.   

Modern European flavors

While the classic or the kitschy can easily be found in L.A., Geoffrey Zakarian's other recommendations err on the side of artfulness and intention. As a pasta virtuoso, Funke has been leaving his mark on the southern California food scene for 25 years through eateries like Felix Trattoria, Mother Wolf, and now the eponymous Funke in Beverly Hills. 

Funke's restaurants are odes to a creed of Italian cooking that prioritizes purity in the process and storytelling in service. Few people in America are cooking homages to Italian cuisines like Funke. A visit to his restaurants should be a must, whether you're Zakarian or not. 

Similarly, République, the modern French restaurant owned and operated by Walter and Margarita Manzke, is worthy of planning an entire trip around. Margarita won the 2023 James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef and her touch can be seen in everything from potato and leek beignets to a Fuji apple tart paired with a supple comté cheese. 

Pulling global ingredients into French profiles, Walter adorns the menu with succulent duck confit over Taiwanese cabbage and grilled Santa Barbara prawns with butter from Normandy. It's all set in a beautiful historical Miracle Mile building that originally hails from 1928.

As Zakarian reminds us of eating in LA, "It's just so much stuff. If you're in New York and L.A., you need three lives."

The L.A. Wine & Food Festival is March 1-3, 2024. You can purchase tickets here.