Gaby’s Guide to Los Angeles, CA

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Gaby’s Guide to Los Angeles got a facelift! Oh man was this tough. It was like picking my favorite children… but I’ve narrowed it down to my favorite restaurants of the moment!

Browse by Neighborhood:

Malibu

COFFEE + BREAKFAST + BRUNCH:

  • Blue Bottle Coffee – FUEL! Their bold iced coffee is everything especially on a hot summer day.

LUNCH:

  • Howdy’s – Incredible burritos, tacos, bowls, and salads.

DINNER:

  • Taverna Tony – Greek food that is beyond and a dreamy outdoor dining situation makes this one of my favorite spots in Malibu. Trust me order the mezze platter of dips they will rock your world!
  • Nobu – A nice dinner spot for a special occasion. Incredible sashimi right on the beach.

Palisades, Brentwood, & West LA

COFFEE + BREAKFAST + BRUNCH:

  • Alfred – Amazing matcha and coffee!

LUNCH:

  • Que Padre – Laid back Mexican food. The tacos are dreamy.
  • Erewhon Hot Bar – I mean you can’t go wrong here, everything is insane. My favorite things to get here are the breakfast quesadilla, buffalo cauliflower, wild salmon, asian chicken salad, falafel, and arugula guac.

DINNER:

  • Don Antonio’s – Perhaps my favorite meal of all times and easily the least expensive. Don Antonio’s is a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant close to our home that we frequent at least once a week. We know everyone by name, the skinny margaritas can’t be beat, they have the best spicy salsa and endless amounts of tortilla chips and the Carne Asada Super Burrito is unrivaled. Do it.
  • Pizzana – Right in the heart of Brentwood, this pizza place is epic. It’s exactly where I want to go for a fun weekend night with a glass of wine and a few pizza pies!
  • Hank’s – Come here if you’re in the mood for elevated burgers and cozy outdoor seating.
  • Cinque Terre West – A family-run Italian restaurant with made from scratch pastas and pizzas.

DESSERT:

  • McConnells – Get a scoop of sea salt cream and cookies and thank me later.

Santa Monica

COFFEE + BREAKFAST + BRUNCH:

  • Tartine – One of my favorite places from SF. Tartine has some of the most incredible bread and pastries and the brunch cocktails are out of this world.
  • Huckleberry – Overall just an amazing bakery and cafe! Grab a pastry and coffee if you’re on the go, or order at the counter and take a seat at a table for brunch.

LUNCH:

  • Bay Cities – A little Italian deli in Santa Monica that I swear we go to at least once a week. Their fresh bread is insane, and they have the best selection of Italian groceries ever – but no matter what else you get… promise me you’ll get the Godmother sandwich. Truly a game changer. And if you’re not feeling the meat situation, get the burrata caprese. Equally as incredible (especially with extra pesto sauce)
  • Milo and Olive – Anytime we order in chances are we’re getting Milo and Olive delivered! They having an incredible garlic knot that will make you droll and their pizzas are wonderful. And their pastry situation… don’t even get me started. It’s legit dangerous to go there.

DINNER:

  • Little Prince – A super cozy spot for dinner. All of the ingredients are from the Santa Monica Farmers Market or another local farm in California. Right in the middle of the restaurant is a wood fired oven which fills the restaurant with the most amazing smell.
  • Cassia – The chickpea flatbread situation going on at Cassia is mind boggling. Best French Asian fusion food in the land!
  • Sugar Fish – No reservations and no need to even look at the menu. Get the “Trust Me” and an extra Lobster Roll and you’re in business. Sushi heaven.
  • Georgio Baldi – An amazing family owned Italian restaurant that’s been around for 30 years.

DRINKS + DESSERT:

  • Go Greek – The most incredible self serve greek frozen yogurt.

Venice

COFFEE + BREAKFAST + BRUNCH:

  • Gjusta – You’re gonna need a coffee and the smoked salmon platter for breakfast or a passion fruit limeade and the veggie sandwich for lunch. Get your phones ready – everything is insta-friendly.
  • Rose Cafe – Thomas and I feel very strongly about our breakfast burritos and Rose Cafe delivers!

LUNCH:

  • Gjelina – I’m a fan of Gjelina for lunch and I’ll order as many pizzas as humanly possible and all the side dishes. The best.

DINNER:

  • Felix – More pasta, this time west side! Make a reservation WAY in advance, this place is crazy popular and worth the wait!
  • Dudley Market – If you’re in the Venice / Santa Monica area and need somewhere to grab a drink and a light bite… this is the place! Great oysters, awesome wine program and the shared plates are amazing.

Culver City

COFFEE + BREAKFAST + BRUNCH:

LUNCH:

  • Loqui – Some incredible tacos and really insane guacamole (and that’s coming from a judgy guacamole consumer.)

DINNER:

  • n/naka – A seasonal Japanese tasting menu.

Long Beach & Manhattan Beach

COFFEE + BREAKFAST + BRUNCH:

  • The Merchant – A neighborhood zero emission coffee roaster and bakery. Their chocolate chip cookie is also fantastic.
  • Saltwater Deck – Right on the beach! Perfect for a quick breakfast before a day by the ocean.
  • MB Post – Omg. The Bacon Cheddar Biscuits are everything. Go for brunch – it’s my favorite meal there!

LUNCH:

  • Northern Cafe – Chinese food in Cerritos, not in Long Beach, but definitely needs a mention.
  • The Hanger at LB Xchange – A food hall resembling an airplane hanger with artisanal food vendors and boutique retailers. You must try Amorcito Tacos while you’re there!

DINNER:

  • Sushi Nikkei – Peru meets Japan for this life altering sushi restaurant. It felt like I was back in Lima and I loved every bite
  • Sophy’s – Authentic Cambodian and Thai food. It’s BEYOND!
  • Bungalow – Right off the PCH this restaurant is a gem.

DRINKS + DESSERT:

  • HiLo – A great curated neighborhood liquor market with market staples and snacks to go with their craft beer, wines, and spirits. 
  • Ample Hills Creamery – The most incredible ice cream flavors and they have ice cream tacos!! What’s not to love?

West Hollywood & Hollywood

COFFEE + BREAKFAST + BRUNCH:

LUNCH:

  • Escuela – Promise me you’ll get the Raja tacos. Oh god, they are incredible. Also they serve a mean guacamole and freshly fried tortilla chips. And the guac. Obsessed.
  • Mizlala West Adams – Some of my fav mediterranean food in all of LA! Also great for dinner.

DINNER:

  • Night + Market – Some of the best Thai food in town! Order the filet mignon satay, larb gai, crispy rice salad, and pad thai.
  • Jon & Vinny’s – Pizza, pasta and a bar, what more could you ask for. It’s arguably the best pizza and their cacio e pepe is out of this world!
  • Mes Ami – French food with a real vibe!! The cocktails are a standout and the burger is beyond decadent and not to be missed.
  • Norah – Holy moly they make the best cornbread in the entire world. Their pasta is out of this world too as are the cocktails. It’s a fun place for a date night on the weekend for sure!
  • Maude – This is one of my favorite places to go for a special occasion. Each month the menu is made around a specific ingredients which means the menu is ALWAYS changing. The decor is amazing and the staff is incredible.
  • Sushi Park – INCREDIBLE sushi! You don’t even need a menu, just let them guide you on what to order. Best to go if someone else is picking up the tab. Just saying.
  • Parks BBQ – I just recently got on the Korean BBQ train and I’m never getting off. Trust me – Parks is worth every penny.
  • Triple Beam Pizza – If Nancy Silverton opens a new restaurant, you go. Duh. And this one does not disappoint. Pizza for everyone!
  • Mother Wolf – Fresh Californian market ingredients meets traditional Roman cooking. It’s amazing!

DESSERT:

  • The Bigg Chill – The fro-yo of your dreams. Love that they don’t skimp on the toppings. Cash only!
  • Go Greek – The most incredible greek frozen yogurt in Beverly Hills.

Larchmont Village

COFFEE + BREAKFAST + BRUNCH + LUNCH:

  • Great White – Another incredible jaunt for breakfast burritos and coffee!
  • Neighborhood – Best coffee shop in all the land!! Coffee, Matcha, Tea… you name it! It’s the best in the city.
  • Republique – Their pastries are out of this world!

DINNER:

  • Antico Nuovo – Incredible Italian food and amazing take out focaccia pizza if you order between 4-5pm straight from the restaurant!
  • Republique – Amazing for brunch but also one of our favorite restaurants for a fancy date night out or special occasion. The bread and butter is insane. And the rest of the menu is equally as perfect.

DESSERT:

  • Jeni’s Ice Cream – Some of my favorite ice cream ever! If it’s hot in LA, prepare for a line!
  • Salt & Straw – Another incredible ice cream shop! Their monthly guest flavors are always so fun.

Studio City & Sherman Oaks

COFFEE + BREAKFAST + BRUNCH:

  • Aroma Cafe – A wonderful local cafe in the Valley with great outdoor seating.
  • Alfred – Amazing coffee and matcha to grab and go.

LUNCH:

  • Joan’s on Third – A marketplace and deli with all the classics. The Chinese chicken salad is a must!
  • Erewhon Hot Bar – I mean you can’t go wrong here, everything is insane. My favorite things to get here are the breakfast quesadilla, buffalo cauliflower, wild salmon, asian chicken salad, falafel, and arugula guac.

DINNER:

  • Petite Trois – A little french cafe moment in the heart of the Valley.
  • Mizlala – The most incredible mediterranean food in the Valley.
  • Anajak – Obsessed!! We order takeout from here probably once a week. Best Thai food in the Valley!
  • Mantee – Amazing Lebanese and Armenian food on Ventura.
  • Sushi KATSU-YA – Quite possibly some of the best sushi in the Valley.
  • Asanebo – Japanese cuisine and sushi.
  • Lal Mirch – Favorite Indian food in the Valley.

DRINKS + DESSERT:

  • McConnell’s – Get a scoop of sea salt cream and cookies and thank me later.
  • Salt & Straw – Another incredible ice cream shop. Their monthly guest flavors are always so fun.

Toluca Lake, North Hollywood, Burbank, & Pasadena

COFFEE + BREAKFAST + BRUNCH:

  • Coffea – If you’re in the area definitely stop at this local coffee shop.
  • Hank’s – Incredible bagels and sandwiches!

LUNCH:

  • Sweetsalt – A Martha’s Vineyard inspired restaurant that serves sandwiches, salads, and soups.

DINNER:

  • Cilantro Mexican Grill – Don’t let the fact that it’s in the middle of a gas station fool you! It’s some of the best Mexican food in the game.
  • Don Cuco – Incredible authentic Mexican cuisine. The burritos are everything.
  • Kabosu – For sushi and Japanese cuisine in Toluca Lake come here.
  • Agnes – I don’t venture to Pasadena often, but I’d happily make the trek weekly if it meant I could get into Agnes. The outdoor patio is stunning. The wine list is amazing. And the food… icing on the cake.

Los Feliz, Silverlake, & Echo Park

COFFEE + BREAKFAST + BRUNCH:

  • Home State – Texas style Breakfast Tacos. The best in the land.
  • Courage Bagels – These Montreal-style bagels are well worth the hype. They have a crunchy exterior unlike other bagels and are a little more dense. They’re sold by the 1/2 so try any many different bagels as your heart desires. Just be sure to get there early to avoid the line.
  • Tartine – Incredible croissants! Be sure to grab a loaf of sourdough bread while you’re there.
  • Sqirl – Quite possibly the best french toast in LA.
  • Maru – Incredible coffee and matcha in the heart of Los Feliz! Be prepared there’s always a line, but it moves fast.

LUNCH:

  • Salazar – Another amazing restaurant with perfect tacos. Their grilled meats are amazing. And their outdoor dining situation is wonderful.
  • All Time – Some incredible farm to table inspired eats. It’s perfection and their chocolate chip cookie is amazing. Great outdoor dining as well!
  • Konbi – A Japanese influenced sandwich shop. The egg salad sandwich and pork katsu sandwich are both exceptional.

DINNER:

  • Kismet – One of my favorite places to LA on the east side!! Also great for brunch! Order the Turkish Breakfast it’s the best.
  • Botanica – Everything about this restaurant is just beyond. Here’s why: 1: All of their plates highlight local farmers market produce. 2: They have an extensive natural wine menu. 3: Their outdoor patio in the back is phenomenal. 4: They have a super cute shop that carries everything from kitchenware to pantry staples.
  • Jitlada – Super traditional Thai food in a very random strip mall. 100% worth the drive no matter where you’re coming from. Also SUPER casual – don’t bother getting dressed up.
  • Found Oyster – All the oysters and sustainable seafood you could possibly dream of!
  • Little Dom’s – Right in the heart of Los Feliz this cozy neighborhood Italian restaurant is everything. The arancini are a must!

Saffy’s – This Middle-Eastern restaurant is the sister restaurant to Bestia and Bavel, two of my all-time favs. The hummus, falafel, and skewers are delicious.

DRINKS + DESSERT:

  • Jeni’s Ice Cream – Some of my favorite ice cream ever! If it’s hot in LA, prepare for a line!
  • Magpies – Softserve ice cream and pies!

Downtown / Arts District / Boyle Heights

COFFEE + BREAKFAST + BRUNCH:

  • Bottega Louie – Probably the best chocolate chip cookie in all of Los Angeles. Also it’s super insta-friendly!

LUNCH:

  • Grand Central Market– This is a can’t miss stop while you’re in LA! Visit the pupusa stand, grab a falafel sandwich or salad at Madcapra, some pasta at Knead, or a breakfast sandwich at Egg Slut. Although be warned, the Egg Slut line is insanely long at all times and there are so many other incredible options within Grand Central if you don’t want to wait in lines! (because I don’t do lines well)

DINNER:

  • Bestia – It’s basically on every LA list for where to eat but it’s true. It’s too hard to get a reservation most nights so we go for at 5pm when they open and grab a table at one of their many bars. Pizza / pastas / sides / salads… you name it. It’s the best pizza in LA.
  • majordōmo – David Chang’s first space in LA is pretty damn epic. The large format meals (hello bo ssam) will rock your world!
  • Sonoratown – OMG wrap me up in their quesadilla and call it a day. The best Sonoran style Mexican food in all of LA.
  • Girl and the Goat – One of my favorite restaurants from Chicago made it’s way to LA. And I am here for it!
  • Bavel – The owners of Bestia can do no wrong. First the most epic Italian place and now a more Middle Eastern / Israeli vibe. With flatbread and shawarma and everything in-between… this place can’t be missed.
  • Yangban Society – Right within the Arts District this Korean Californian inspired restaurant is incredible.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie in LA

We did the hard hitting research so you don’t have to…

Gusto 9

Gusto is not your average cookie. It’s so much more complex in flavor while still hitting the spot for what you’re looking for in a CC Cookie.

Chewiness: 8/10 – not too chewy but def not crunchy

Gooeyness: 7/10 – less gooey and more wildly deep flavors

Chocolate Ratio: 10/10

Sycamore Kitchen 7.5

First thoughts.. great chocolate distribution! They definitely use chopped dark chocolate since there’s a mix of chunks and flecks throughout. They use a mix of AP flour and rye flour so it has more complex flavor. The cookie is more buttery, not too sweet, and has notes of caramel, honey, and vanilla. No puffiness, crisp edges, and chewy inside.

Chewiness: 8/10

Gooeyness: 3/10

Chocolate Ratio: 7/10 – dark chocolate disks and flecks in every bite

Proof Bakery 9.5

Okay this cookie is INSANE. Super chewy and gooey center. Nice crisp caramelized edges. Great chocolate ratio, you can tell they use a very high quality dark chocolate. Salted to perfection – appreciate the flakey sea salt. Good ripple. Nice crunch on the edges. Feels like it’s one of those 72 hour cookie recipes because the flavor is so developed.

Chewiness: 8/10 – perfect medium between a puffy cookie and a flat one

Gooeyness: 8/10

Chocolate Ratio: 10/10 – lots of thick high quality dark chocolate disks that have different tasting notes of their own

République 6.5

Much softer and cakey than the Tartine cookie. You can tell they use good quality butter. Well salted. Puffy, caramelized edges, a gooey center, and a cakey bite.

Chewiness: 5/10 – more cakey

Gooeyness: 7/10

Chocolate Ratio: 8/10 – thick semi-sweet chocolate disks

All Time 7

To start, this cookie is much thicker and more dense than any of the others, but super chewy. I’m pretty sure they use brown butter since the cookie has the most incredible nutty and caramelized flavor. Again, appreciate the sprinkle of flakey sea salt on top. But feel like it could use a little more chocolate in my opinion.

Chewiness: 7/10

Gooeyness: 4/5 – a thick crumb and pretty dense

Chocolate Ratio: 6/10 – milk or semi sweet chocolate disks but could use more chocolate

Tartine 6

This chocolate chip cookie has walnuts, oats, and Valrhona bittersweet chocolate. It’s not your traditional CC cookie, but it’s still delicious when you’re in the mood for something a little more unique. It’s super crispy, chewy, and a little dense

Chewiness: 6/10

Gooeyness: 3/10 – it’s more crumbly and crispy

Chocolate Ratio: 8/10 – great ratio of chopped up bittersweet chocolate

Huckleberry 7.5

This cookie has a soft gooey and chewy center with nice crisp edges. The chocolate ratio is on point. It’s not too sweet and has a more complex flavor – might have to do with the flour they use. Salted well too.

Chewiness: 8/10

Gooeyness: 7/10 – super soft center

Chocolate Ratio: 8/10 – big chunks of milk and dark chocolate in every bite

Gjusta 6

Thinest cookie of them all, but look at those rippled edges (Sarah Kieffer pan bang trick happening for sure!) These are buttery, chewy and crispy. There’s a sprinkle of oats and a nice nutty flavor.

Chewiness: 9/10

Gooeyness: 2/10 – too thin to get a gooey center

Chocolate Ratio: 7/10

And that’s a wrap on my favorite things to do in LA! If you’re looking for more city guides check these out:

Did I miss anything? Shout it out in the comments below so I can go give it a try!! There are too many restaurants and not enough days in the week to try them all. But I’m willing to give it a try!

53 Comments

  1. Yessss so many great ones!! I’m getting hungry just reading through! Jon and Vinny’s, Son of a Gun and Larchmont Wine & Cheese sandos deserve top spots in my book too 🙂

  2. Oh Boy, Can’t wait to visit my old neighborhood and try some old fav’s that are on your list and some new ones. You always lead us to great places. You have got to hit Eaglerock and Colorado Blvd….whoa…great places. Cindy’s, Little Beast and CaCao just for starters. Cheers

  3. Thanks for sharing your favorite LA restaurants. I am also a fan of Gjulina, but the service has not been great when I visited. For coffee, I love Blue Bottle. Moon Juice is my favorite juice bar. Huckleberry’s gluten-free lemon pistachio muffin is fabulous. Erewhon has a great food bar. I also love their Bullet Proof Smoothie. I plan on trying many of your recommendations. .

  4. I have been traveling to LA more and more…and never know where to go!!! I love all of the food you post, so trusting your taste in restaurants seems only logical!! I am the most excited to try some of the Mexican places on the list!! Super awesome Mexican food in Seattle is hard to come by.

  5. Church and State in Downtown is always a hit. I agree, it’s impossible to get a table at Bestia! Also Faith and Flower is fantastic and they have the best wine decanters! Agree with Bottega Louie. They have the best stuffed squash blossoms when they’re in season!

  6. How is a French Dip Sandwich @ Philippe’s not on your list? It is always a must stop for one of L.A.’s iconic dishes that never disappoints.

  7. Anyone have suggestions for places to eat in Pasadena?? Heading there on Sunday August 5th and would’ve love some ideas!

    1. totally depends on what you want to do while you’re here! I love the Montana Ave area of Santa Monica! Silverlake is really fun too!

  8. I’m from Chicago but I’ve told my husband that we must take a trip to LA just to try Nancy Silverton’s restaurant Osteria Mozza.

    I saw her on a Netflix special and grew an appreciation for her as a chef, and since she’s so dedicated to making perfect bread her restaurant must have the same expectations! I’d be interested to hear if anyone’s eaten there!

  9. Thanks for this guide! I’m so excited to try some of these places.
    The hotel you suggested is a bit out of my range… can you suggest any other places or parts of town to stay in? I’m not really wanting to rent a car while visiting. Do you think that’s essential?

  10. Gaby you must go to Bowery Bungalow because it has to be added to the list! Get one (or two) of everything.

  11. Need Persian food /sour Cherry rice LA rec!

    Also tried Jitlada and it was

    So it Mizlala and many others on here

  12. Adding to the list: how did you not include The Apple Pan?! the BEST hamburgers and pie. It’s been in West LA since 1947 and they still use their original cash registers! Bring $, no credit cards accepted! For Jewish delis, Nate N Al’s in Beverly Hills, Factors Famous Deli in the Beverlywood area, and of course Canters in West Hollywood. Matsuhisa for sushi. John O’Groats in Cheviot Hills for yummy breakfasts and the best biscuits!

  13. I saw Culver City listed, but didn’t see any places featured. Like Etta, Bianca, Cafe Laurent, Roberta’s, Margot, Carasau, The Conservatory Tea and Coffee, Salt & Straw, and many more

  14. Colossus bakery in Long Beach/San Pedro…. Incredible pastries and bread with a solid breakfast menu!

  15. Thank you for adding a section on Long Beach! We live in San Pedro so this is closer to us than most LA places and they have so many hidden gems.

  16. Next time you’re on the East side, check out The Wife and Somm in Glassell Park, Little Beast in Eagle Rock and The Oinkster, also in Eagle Rock!

  17. Wow Gaby, thanks for this list of places and restaurants in LA!
    I live in the SF Bay Area, but definitely will keep this for when traveling to Los Angeles.
    Many thanks,
    Lucy

  18. Great list but you might want to explore Culver City. There are so many wonderful independent and mom and pop bakeries, restaurants, coffee houses, etc., that it would a shame to not include it in your guide.

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