The Best Meals During One Whirlwind Trip To L.A.

The best things TT editor Elyse Inamine ate in L.A.

Discover why L.A.'s dining scene is blazing hot. Come out west with us for L.A. Week at Tasting Table.

Born and raised in California, I have a tradition every time I return home: My first meal is In-N-Out—always one cheeseburger and Animal-style fries, maybe a milkshake—no matter what time of day and anywhere along the 5 (that's SoCal speak for the freeway). That didn't change when I was back in the 213 in early July to report on a slew of stories for Tasting Table's epic L.A. Week. But this is just the beginning of a rather indulgent few days of eating that still has me in juice mode. Here's how it went.

Monday: I flew into LAX, hot and trying to flag down any Hyundai that looked like my parents'. They knew the drill once they came curbside, and we were at In-N-Out within minutes. Three-fourths of the way into my burger, I realized the kind people at the counter hounded by short-shorts-sporting customers forgot my chocolate milkshake, but I didn't go back to ask for it. Spending time with my parents was sweet enough (favorite child).

Tuesday: After waking up too early, working, napping and working a bit more, my best friend, Tracy, picked me up to go to a local diner to get some chili-topped hash browns and mug after mug of coffee in Valencia. Not too long after, I hopped in my old Yaris to Baroo for all kinds of pickled things, like a strange but lovely pasta with puffs of tendon. There, I ran into my colleague Devra Ferst, and we ran over to Mashti Malone's for ice cream. Dinner was at Night + Market Song, and I texted my coworkers that this famous actor was there, and let my friends, Dylan Ho and Jeni Afuso (of DYLAN + JENI fame), handle the ordering. We went HAM on khao soi and fried chicken sandwiches before our shoot later that night at Everson Royce Bar in the Arts District, where I nibbled on the newly iconic burger in between interviewing chefs who came by to say hi.

Wednesday: I hated myself that morning, after finishing the shoot at midnight PST (WHICH MEANS 3 A.M. EST) and fighting traffic on the way to the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Jessica Largey, the chef behind future restaurant Simone, showed me her favorite vendors while my friend, Courtney, took pictures. After the shoot, I doubled back to get more Mountain Magic tomatoes, so sweet and juicy and somewhat saline that they made me ask myself that question my mom always pesters me with: So, when are you moving back to California? I picked up my Dad in Downtown L.A., and we headed over to the Grand Central Market, sampling falafel from Madcapra, khao mun gai at Sticky Rice and the deservedly popular iced almond-macadamia milk latte from G&B. After a chat with G&B's namesake owners, Charles Babinski and Kyle Glanville, Dad and I headed to Cafe Dulce to talk more coffee with a barista friend of his. The day wound down at Otium from Timothy Hollingsworth—who I saw at the farmers' market, with a baby strapped to him—inside the new Broad museum, where the savory-sweet funnel cake divided the family but a tostada-like special earned the Inamine seal of approval.  

Thursday: I couldn't figure out how to make coffee with all my dad's toys, so I settled for my terrible version and drove over to Lupe's #2 in East L.A. to meet Border Grill chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, who told me Jonathan Gold approved of our lunch choice, and I got flushed with joy but played it cool and nonchalant. After the guac-slathered California, chorizo special and meaty chicharron burritos, we made our way to Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson's LocoL in Watts and ordered two trays full of delights, like the machaca foldie, messy greens, spare cheeseburger and agua frescas. I bought my Dad some of LocoL's coffee beans then headed to his office. My mom joined us, because my family FOMOs real hard.

We checked out House Roots Coffee, an up-and-coming coffee shop in the San Fernando Valley, for pour-overs and refreshing sodas from Good Luck Soda, then popped over to Andante Coffee Roasters in Echo Park to catch up with one of my dad's favorite baristas, Ryan, and drink more coffee. Our visit was cut short by imminent traffic; we should have left 30 minutes earlier to get to Santa Monica in time, because that night, we were doing dinner at huge, beautiful Cassia. We wrapped ourselves in blankets and didn't let them hold us back from getting our hands dirty from peeling prawns and digging into turmeric- and grill-kissed sea bass, Vietnamese pot-au-feu and The Spice Table OG fried cauliflower with fish sauce from chef Bryant Ng. We departed a happy family, with significantly less traffic, and me languishing in the joy of living on the best coasts.

Total miles driven: ~375

Total money spent on gas: $22.28 to refill to full tank.

Total time in traffic: I don't even want to know.