WHERE TO EAT
Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles
5006 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019
Don’t let all the advertisements for Pit Bull Energy Drink fool you. This place serves good food! You might be able to get chicken and waffles in potato chip form at your local liquor store now, but no gastronomic snack food horror show can replace the real thing. The lines out the door for the Hollywood location might deter you, but be patient. It’s worth it. And if you’re feeling sleepy after your meal, why not try a Pit Bull Energy Drink?
3544 W Imperial Hwy, Inglewood, CA 90303
There may be no better place in the city for whole grilled fish and other Mexican seafood specialties than Coni’Seafood. Not only is it just a few miles away from LAX (ideal for when your friend or family member asks you to pick them up for the airport and they offer you a free meal in exchange), it’s also the go-to spot for Jonathan Gold, a.k.a. the belly of Los Angeles.
Every Taco Truck
Slam our pizza. I dare you. If you’re worried about where you can get a slice of pepperoni in Los Angeles, you’re completely missing the point of being here. The simple LA street taco is our shining star. Unencumbered by superfluous toppings, the street taco’s meat is allowed to claim its rightful role as culinary King Shit around these parts. El pastor, carnitas, pollo, and more adventurous choices like lengua and cabeza really only need an assist from some salsa, a bit of cilantro, and a sprinkling of onion. Any more than that would be a fucking crime.
Hawkin’s House of Burgers
11603 Slater St, Watts, CA 90059
There are cheeseburgers, then there are the meaty, beastly, things that you can barely wrap your mouth around at Hawkins House of Burgers. To say these Watts-style burgers are not for the faint of heart would be understatement, see for yourself with their “Whipper Burger.” It consists of a double cheeseburger topped with ribbons of fleshy pastrami, a hot link, and your dignity.
Doomies Home Cookin’
1253 Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90038
Doomie’s is a vegan restaurant in a strip mall in Hollywood that sells fucking incredible fake-meat versions of buffalo wings and Big Macs and all the other junk food that vegans never get to eat. Still, they could definitely stand to get their shit together on some fronts. For instance, it’s 2016 and they don’t have a website, and, as far as I can tell, there’s some menu items that don’t actually exist (the French onion soup has been “sold out for the day” as long as I’ve been going there) but it’s worth it because their ham and cheese croissants are so addictive they may as well be a Breaking Bad box set wrapped in heroin.
11401 Moorpark Street, Studio City, CA 91602
Humble and unassuming, Cactus is one of those places that a friend takes you for a quick lunch and the life-changing meal throws you into an existential crisis about all the other hiding-in-plain-sight gems you’re likely missing out on. Maybe that bar next to your apartment is actually the coolest place ever. Maybe the consignment store next to work is stocked with Rick Owens gear. Maybe James from accounting is actually kinda handsome. Cactus will fuck your shit up like that. The burritos are great. The tacos, even better. Oh, and if you’ve never tried lengua, here’s your golden opportunity to be an adult and experience new things.
5107 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90065
The aesthetic of the site and shop can come off a bit too adorkable, and the punk band pun names for their signature donuts only compound the eye-roll factor, but god damn do they make a good donut. If you’re looking for a bear claw or maple bar, there are a million other spots in town for you. Donut Friend is a bit more highfalutin with items like a vegan cream cheese, strawberry jam, and basil stuffed donut topped with a vanilla and balsamic glaze. You can also “make your own” if you’re the sort who likes to tell people who are experts in their fields how to do their jobs. But you do you.
9071 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
One of the most amazing things about LA is there’s a ton of places that feel teleported straight from a David Lynch movie. Dan Tana’s is the one that jumps to mind for me—this Italian restaurant is bathed in red light, under which decrepit men in tuxedos gamely serve you only the finest selection of pastas and adult beverages. The last time I was there it was 1 AM and I was eating chicken parm at a table next to Ron Jeremy, who was inexplicably hanging out with a seven-year-old girl and a man in silver cowboy boots. Yeah it’s expensive, but can you really put a price on history? And if you can, who’s to say that price isn’t $28 for a plate of lasagna?
Before Oinkster, the only place to go in Eagle Rock was the food court of that weird post-apocalyptic mall on Colorado Blvd. Then the heavens parted and God threw us a bone of delicious hamburgers. It’s a modern spin on the classic Southern California burger stand and they make their own ketchup that’s almost worth drinking by itself. The waitstaff is so nice, they might even let you get away with that.
704 S. Alvarado Street, MacArthur Park, CA 90057
Come here if you like sassy, crusty waiters who probably worked there back when you couldn’t walk in MacArthur Park after 10 PM without fearing for your life. It doesn’t stay open late and isn’t even open on Sundays, but it has the best pastrami sandwich in town (the #19). That’s gotta count for something, right?
BCD Tofu House
3575 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010
Six-year-olds and other picky eaters, fear not. Despite what the name might suggest, you aren’t actually relegated to a menu full of tofu. You can even get meat. I promise. Foodies will tell you it’s not the best Korean food in K-town, and they’re totally right. The world needs places like BCD, contently living that four Yelp star existence. They’re open 24 hours, there’s an honest-to-goodness parking lot, and you can fill your belly for like ten bucks. What’s not to love?
327 E. 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
If you haven’t caught on yet, Asian cuisine is just as much a staple of the LA diet as tacos, brunch, and edibles. It’s impossible to select a ramen joint from such a formidable selection, so just take the recommendation of Daikokuya with the underlying presumption that they’re giving the humble, bewildered “honor to even be nominated alongside you all” acceptance speech of a young Oscar winner. Located in Little Tokyo, the hearty bowls are packed with fresh ingredients and delicious broth. Well worth the potential hour-long wait and post-meal sweats.
Stuff I Eat
114 N Market St, Inglewood, CA 90301
One of the problems with being a vegan is that people always think you like vegetables. LA’s best antidote to that stupid misapprehension is Stuff I Eat in Inglewood, where you can gorge yourself on plant-based versions of soul food staples like greens and tofu BBQ that doesn’t really taste like BBQ, but thankfully, it also doesn’t taste especially healthy. Now to be fair, Babette, the owner, started the place with the intention of bringing healthy food to her community, and they do have lots of items with kale in them. If you’re into that sort of thing get the nacho salad—at least that has “nacho” in the name.
Grand Central Market
317 S. Broadway, Downtown, CA 90013
Grand Central Market, an enclosed public food hall, has been a Los Angeles institution since the late 1800s. You can get fresh produce, deli meats, seafood, and prepared dishes. This is one of those places assholes like to refer to as “foodie heaven,” but it really is. For many years it served a mostly Spanish-speaking clientele, but just like everything in Downtown, the rest of the city recently discovered it in the last five years. Now, it’s got trendy chefs renting stalls to serve gourmet food at places with names like Eggslut. But don’t let that dissuade you from popping in.
San Pedro Fish Market
1190 Nagoya Way, San Pedro, CA 90731
The best way to witness the CO2-belching realities of giant-scale globalized trade is to head down to San Pedro’s Fish Market for a huge pile of spicy seafood and bread while you stare at enormous container ships moving their payloads in and out of the Port of Los Angeles. The fish markets are all awkwardly crammed into one little space, but they all serve the same menu in the same giant portions, and all the bars serve equally massive micheladas, a.k.a. cerveza mixed with tomato juice and spices—the perfect thing to guzzle while you watch NAFTA in action.