Benny Blanco Weighs In On 6 LA Food Essentials - Exclusive

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Benny Blanco is a major player in the music industry. From songwriting to producing, Blanco has managed to assist with curating iconic hits like "Diamonds," "Die Young," "Moves Like Jagger." However, Blanco has recently switched gears and become quite the foodie. In addition to his relationship with A-list star Selena Gomez, Blanco has used social media to spread his love and passion for all things culinary. In addition to reviewing various food products and restaurants, Blanco also showed his expertise in the kitchen by whipping up unique and trendy recipes while bringing his larger-than-life personality to the table.

All of this has led to the highly anticipated release of his cookbook, "Open Wide: A Cookbook for Friends." This debut cookbook is full of innovative recipes that are intended to be shared amongst groups, but Blanco also takes the time to share some of his favorite restaurants in L.A. That said, I chatted with Blanco to get a deeper dive into his taste and preferences when it comes to the Los Angeles culinary scene. From burgers to sushi, keep reading for Blanco's L.A. food essentials and where to enjoy them.


When it comes to finding the best burgers in L.A., the competition is pretty stiff. Considering the fact that California is considered to be the birthplace of fast food, with the first McDonald's popping up in San Bernardino in 1940, it makes sense that the city is home to so many renowned burger joints and stands. According to Blanco, Burger She Wrote is a local highlight that stands out thanks to the use of quality meat. "This isn't just random supermarket meat," Blanco shared. "It's marbled Wagyu." Blanco also mentioned that the use of a King's Hawaiian Roll adds sweetness that you don't normally find in a standard potato bun.

Though he's game for all burgers, Blanco also expressed his appreciation for the recent smashburger renaissance that has taken hold of the city. "I love a smashburger but then I also love a burger (like the one in my book) that's as thick as a hockey puck," he said. "There's a time and place for everything." However, on the topic of fast food, Blanco prefers a mom-and-pop shop, even over SoCal's beloved In-N-Out.


While it might be a hard pill for many New Yorkers to swallow, L.A. has managed to become one of the best pizza cities in America. Places like Pizzeria Sei, Pizzana, and Pizzeria Bianco by Chef Chris Bianco have showcased the beauty of Neapolitan-style pizza, which is quite different from what you'll find on the East Coast. However, places like Joe's have managed to get the stamp of approval from people like Blanco. "Joe's and Prince Street are really nice at 2 a.m. after a night out," Blanco shared. "I also have a really soft spot for the Salad Days pizza at Jon & Vinny's."

In order to perfect a NY-style slice of pizza, there are a couple of ground rules necessary to impress Blanco's taste buds. "It's gotta be so HOT! So hot that you wake up in the morning and the roof of your mouth is Swiss cheese," he explained. "It's gotta be crispy on the bottom. Some people who aren't used to a New York Slice might think the top looks burned, but I'm not going anywhere near a slice of cheese that doesn't have some burnt bits on the crust of the corners of the pie."


Despite the fact the Los Angeles food scene is about as diverse as it gets, many would argue that Mexican food reigns supreme. Between the taco stands that line the streets in every city to world-famous spots that serve some of the best birria tacos north of the border, street tacos are a Los Angeles staple. In his cookbook, Blanco highlights two of L.A.'s most beloved taco spots — Mariscos Jalisco and La Unica. When asked which he would pick if he had to choose between Mariscos Jalisco's shrimp tacos or La Unica's birria queso taco, he replied, "That's like choosing which one of your children is your favorite. It's impossible."

Blanco also doesn't believe in skimping on the toppings, and he's on board for everything from onions to cilantro to salsa. When it comes to late-night taco runs, which are customary in L.A., Blanco's go-to spot is Tire Shop Taqueria. "If they haven't already run out of it, I'm getting an asada quesadilla, a couple vampiros, and some tacos."


From high-end omakase experiences to hole-in-the-wall joints that serve the freshest nigiri at fair prices, the Los Angeles sushi scene has it all. Though sushi is typically associated with a higher price point, places like Little Tokyo and Sawtelle are home Japanese eateries and mom-and-pop sushi spots where you can get a decent bang for your buck. However, if you're looking to pull out all of the stops for an unforgettable sushi experience, Blanco recommends Sushi Park and Sushi Yamamoto. "Sushi Park has this abalone dish that I'm pretty sure I could eat an entire cereal bowl of," Blanco shared. "Yamamoto has tuna from a man named Tuna Boss that actually starts melting in your mouth the second it touches your tongue."

When asked what would be included in his ideal roll, Blanco mentioned toro, uni, caviar, and scallions, proving that he certainly likes the finer things in life. That said, while he is partial to some of the most exclusive and high-end cuts of sushi in the world, he also isn't afraid to indulge in a little supermarket sushi.

Thai food

In addition to the more popular Chinatown and Little Tokyo, L.A. is also home to a Thai Town neighborhood. Whether you're a fan of pad see ew or pad Thai, Los Angeles serves up some of the best noodles, curries, and Tom Kha Kai on the west coast. Jitlada Restaurant is a legendary Thai spot that has won the hearts of locals and visitors, including Blanco. "There's something about the Morning Glory Salad at Jitlada that blows my mind. They deep-fry Morning Glory and then put it in a sauce that's so sweet, spicy, and fishy, that the thought of it is tattooed in my brain." Blanco even includes Jitlada's mango sticky rice recipe in his cookbook, which he acquired from chef and owner Jazz Singsasong.

"I've known Jazz for about 15 years," Blanco explained. "She's so bubbly, energetic, and filled with good energy that it's impossible not to smile when you are in her presence." All in all, Thai food is one of the most comforting cuisines, and, as Blanco puts it, when it's good, it should feel as though your entire soul has left your body. Thankfully, places like Jitlada and Spicy BBQ can accommodate.

Breakfast burritos

Another example of Latin influence on Los Angeles cuisine comes in the form of the beloved breakfast burrito. This morning sensation is typically filled with eggs, cheese, potatoes, beans, and meats like bacon or chorizo, offering a hearty start to your day. Of course, no breakfast burrito is complete with a spicy salsa or hot sauce. In his cookbook, Benny highlights his signature "I hope we don't make a baby" breakfast burrito, but in L.A., Wake and Late is his go-to. "They use really fresh ingredients and you don't feel disgusting after you eat one," he said.

He also mentioned that a fried potato of some sort is a necessity in every breakfast burrito. Though the public has become divided on the importance of breakfast in the last few years, it's potentially Blanco's favorite meal of the day. "I guess I love the combination of sweet and savory and the fact that it just reminds me of home," he shared.