Restaurants come and go in Los Angeles faster than a freeway chase. Yet there are certain places that are quintessentially L.A.
While we’ve provided some key local spots in each city section, this section provides those special places that make this city so L.A.
Upscale Dining Restaurants In L.A.
Here’s a rundown of some of the best and traditional restaurants in L.A.
Dan Tana’s (9071 Santa Monica Blvd.) is a highbrow steakhouse, though more with a Hollywood feel. In fact, celebrities often like to hide here in its darkness. The waiters are knowledgeable and the bartenders pour a mean drink. This is where Glenn Frey and Don Henley wrote the Eagles song “Lyin’ Eyes” after observing the comings and goings of the patrons.
While on the subject of steaks, Lawry’s The Prime Rib (100 N. LaCienega Blvd., just up form Wilshire) is famous for not only its namesake, but its spinning salad bowls. This is where teams playing in the New Year’s Day Rose Bowl go to chow down before the big game. Lawry’s, by the way, claims to be the first restaurant to serve salads ahead of the main course.
The Ivy (113 N. Robertson) has long been one of Los Angeles’ premier upper-class restaurants. It has a very French countryside feel to it, and the menu varies from pasta to steaks to seafood. Nancy Reagan was known to favor it during her days in L.A. There’s also a seaside location across from the Santa Monica Pier, which is no less outstanding. Many find the latter’s ivy-covered patio preferable to the Beverly Hills location.
L’ Ermitage, now simply the L’ Restaurant (9121 Burton Way, Beverly Hills) features elevated French cuisine and is another favorite of the expense-account crowd.
For atmosphere, it’s hard to beat the Saddle Peak Lodge (419, Cold Canyon Drive in Calabasas; better call for directions and certainly reservations, 818-222-3888). This is an upscale, cozy game lodge, serving venison, quail, buffalo and sautéed ostrich (high in flavor, low in fat). Some prefer the lush back patio to the dining room.
Traditional L.A. Restaurants
No place says “old L.A.” like The Pantry. Located a Lebron James jump shot from the Staples Center, it’s worth the trip downtown. Meatloaf and gravy, eggs and ham and other basic but delicious items are served in huge portions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Retaining the busy old charm of the traditional U.S. diner, it has operated continuously for more than 50 years until closing for one day a couple of years ago while the heath board made an inspection. It is owned by former Mayor Richard Riordan.
Canter’s Deli (on Fairfax, just north of Beverly) is as traditional L.A. as it gets. Canter’s gives a full plate food made by people who know how to make deli-style sandwiches. Everyone in L.A. has been here at least once, if not hundreds of times. If you want to taste a part of the city, this is the place to do it.
One of the most recognizable landmarks is Carney’s. It’s in an old railroad car overlooking the Sunset Strip. The menu is basic – chili dogs and hamburgers – but it’s a landmark for tourists and locals alike.
The most popular hot dog stand in L.A. is Pink’s (LaBrea at Melrose). Celebrities and locals have been coming here for years, dating back to pre-Marlyn Monroe. It is especially popular after the bars close; at 2 a.m., limos are lined up around the block.
Just up from Union Station east of downtown is Philippe the Original (Philippe’s), the restaurant that created the French Dipped Sandwich. It’s a super-busy, fast-paced place and frankly, I was not all that impressed during my one visit; I was expecting a huge belly-filling sandwich and it fell short of my desires.
The Best of the Rest – LA Casual Dining Restaurants
Paco’s Tacos (Centinela and Washington Place in Culver City) is one of the city’s best Mexican restaurants, and that’s saying something in this town. Be prepared for a wait, but grab a beer and enjoy the atmosphere. Park at the bank across the street. Some of the best Mexican food is a series of small restaurants – some just with sit-down counters, called El Tarasco. Its giant wet burritos are legendary.
The Reel Inn, (Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu) is good, casual dining at its best. With picnic tables in an open, spacious room, it’s not fancy, but for affordable and tasty seafood it’s hard to beat.
The Shack (Vista del Mar at Culver Blvd. in Playa del Rey) . Not to be confused with Shaq the basketball player, the Shack restaurant is the perfect burger-and-beer joint. It specializes in the “Shack Burger” combining meat with spicy sausage. Tuesdays are “Shack Attack” days, with $1 off all burgers.
Still, the World’s Best Burgers can be found at Ercoles, a Manhattan Beach dive bar (1101 Manhattan Ave., 310-379-9917).
Ride the Party Bus to another PubClub.com destination!
PubClub.com covers nightlife, bars, festivals and party events around the world. I lived in Los Angeles for several years and this post provides a local’s perspective of L.A.