When it comes to exploring the most eclectic and dynamic restaurants and cafes in the world, the city of LA almost cannot be rivaled. From California fusion cuisine to a prevalent food truck culture, LA’s culinary influence can be felt across the country.
The only person we know who has come close to achieving the formidable task of conquering this dining scene is nomadic conquistador Cleo von Siebenthal, an old high school friend who has just moved the opposite coast’s foodie haven, New York, to kickstart her career at Tastemade, a video logging food and travel startup.
What brings her to LA? The curiosity to explore a brand new dining scene while beginning her career as Community Manager at Tastemade. The three of us grabbed a delicious Levantine brunch from Sunnin Lebanese Cafe near UCLA, and realized that Cleo has already covered an impressive number of eateries in LA. We challenged her to come up with an LA A-Z list filled with all of her favorite gems in LA and she pretty much hit the spots! Get your forks, chopsticks and hands ready for some serious
We challenged her to come up with an LA A-Z list filled with all of her favorite gems in LA and she pretty much hit the spots. Get your forks, chopsticks and hands ready for some serious munchies.
“Hands down one of the most memorable meals I’ve had in LA. Probably because my two friends and I loosened up our pants and devoured fourteen different dishes. Our waiter was very entertained.”
Must order: Foie gras loco moco, fried rabbit legs, chicken liver toast
“Nothing comes between me and my Bigg Chill loyalty cards. It’s a good week when the rotation features both peach pie and honey Greek at the same time.”
This Westwood joint features vegan cookie dough and frozen yogurt flavors as well. The menu changes every Wednesday. Cash only.
“Churro. Ice Cream. Sandwiches. Enough said.”
“I’m very picky when it comes to hummus and falafels, as I spent two years of high school in Dubai. Dune never fails to impress me with both authenticity and presentation.”
It’s a tiny spot in Atwater Village, so be prepared to wait both in line and for a spot to sit.
“The lines at Eggslut are almost as famous as its incredible egg sandwiches. Pro tip: go extra early before the doors open at 8 am. Grab a coffee at the entrance on the other side of Eggslut (this gate opens first) and dash across to be first in line.”
“This is where you’ll find me when I’m craving a super simple Middle Eastern fix. Falafel King has been around for ages and continues to be a favorite amongst loyal falafel, shawarma, and hummus lovers.”
And…it’s right here in Westwood!
“This isn’t your average taco-slinging food truck. Seasonal ingredients are sourced locally, and if you’re lucky, some tacos will come topped with seared octopus, foie gras, or sea urchin.”
“As the name suggests, this place specializes in all things pork. Round up a group of friends and start sizzling some fatty pork belly on a sputtering grill top.”
And it’s open 24 hours.
“Finding decent Greek food in LA has been a challenge for me — until I dined at this Santa Monica gem.”
The menu features a handful of modern Greek small plates that are meant to be shared, so round up a group of friends and do some damage.
“This all-day pizza and pasta spot is a no brainer when craving crispy crusts and saucy carbs. The mix of old and new hip-hop streaming through the restaurant is an added bonus.”
“The lobster grilled cheese sandwich has found its way into my dreams more than once. Therefore it is worthy of being on this list.”
“This trendy place describes its cuisine as “progressive Californian.” What exactly does that mean? I’m not entirely sure, but it sure is unique and worth a taste.”
“Not going to say too much about this place because I don’t want to ruin the surprise. All I’ll say is this: you will be blown away, and you can thank me later.”
Traditional Thai food is updated at this hip and casual Silverlake spot. Pro tip: Go for lunch and order the fried chicken sandwich.
“Santa Monica’s Montana Avenue is filled with great eateries, but this one might be my favorite. The beef tartare and soft scrambled eggs with sea urchin on toast rank highly on my list of favorite dishes in LA.”
Pine & Crane
“My go-to spot for easy Taiwanese comfort food.”
Be sure to order the minced pork over rice and the dan dan noodles.
This place is so named because all of its meats are served in quarter-pound portions. If you order five or more meat dishes, they’ll throw in vegetable skewers, egg soup, kimchi stew, and cheese fondue for free.
“The sorrel pesto rice bowl and the brioche toast with ricotta and jam make the painful wait at this Silverlake spot so worth it.”
“Great spot for fresh seafood tacos. I’m a huge fan of their scallop tostafa and mixto coctelle.”
They often have daily specials, so be sure to ask before you order.
“I know, I know. Urth may not be the most mind-blowing restaurant in LA, but it sure is an easy spot that I find myself returning to over and over again.”
The mezze platter is the move, and make sure to wash it down with an organic green tea boba.
A great spot to get some work done while nibbling on pastries and sipping on coffee, tea, or juice.
“This place might be one of my favorite lounges in LA. It’s a club without being too clubby. The cocktails are great and the music is even better.”
This might be cheating slightly, but Din Tai Fung is home to some of the best pork soup dumplings in LA and the Xiao Long Bao would be sinful to miss. The Taiwanese restaurant has outlets all around the world and has become an international favorite for spicy peanut dan dan noodles and juicy dumplings.
Simple Japanese comfort food is served in a whimsical environment at this little hole-in-the-wall Japanese cafe that’s very hard to randomly stumble upon.
“I have a soft spot for Zankou’s half chicken served with hummus, veggies, pickles, and pita. It’s fast, simple, and delicious. What more could you want?”
For those of you who ever come close to checking off every spot on this list, follow Cleo’s edible adventures on Instagram (@cleovonsieats) for more tips on the local haunts and must-try dishes around LA (highly recommended).