The 12 best restaurants in Los Angeles

Geoffrey’s Malibu - the best restaurants in Los Angeles
One of the best restaurants in Los Angeles, Geoffrey’s is high up on a hill in Malibu – go for the fresh scallops

Los Angeles' restaurant scene is buzzing, with top American chefs flocking to the city for its more affordable rents and its emphasis on creativity.  And it’s not all vegan fare and green juices (though there is plenty of that on offer too, if it happens to be your bag) – the city boasts one of the most diverse culinary scenes in the country, with everything from first-rate sushi and upscale Italian food to good-old American staples like hot dogs and burgers.

With top menus spread across the urban sprawl, you need to be prepared to travel – but it will be worth it. Our expert shares the best restaurants in Los Angeles below, while for further inspiration, see our in-depth guides to the city's best hotels, bars, attractions and shopping, plus how to spend a weekend in Los Angeles.


Find a restaurant by area


Hollywood

Osteria Mozza

Named after the white Carrara marble mozzarella bar around which the restaurant revolves, Osteria Mozza serves some of the best Italian food in the city. Presided over by famed chef Nancy Silverton (who can often be found knocking up antipasti behind the bar), this bustling, moodily-lit mid-city spot, with its dark green banquettes and starched white tablecloths, is  an Angeleno favourite. Locals can’t get enough of the homemade pasta or the grilled beef tagliata, and what this woman can do with a ball of mozzarella needs to be eaten to be believed. Ask for a table facing the lively mozzarella bar.

Contact: osteriamozza.com
Prices: £££
Reservations: Essential

Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles
Osteria Mozza serves some of the best Italian cuisine in Los Angeles

Mother Wolf

If there’s one table to bag in Hollywood right now, it’s a pink leather booth at Mother Wolf, one of the latest openings from LA-born pasta maestro Evan Funke. Don’t take my word for it – just ask Michelle Obama and Beyoncé, who have been spotted having a tête-à-tête in the restaurant’s back room. They were there to soak up the buzzy atmosphere and the excellent Roman-inspired cuisine, which has put it on the map not just as a celeb favourite but also as a first-class restaurant that takes its grub seriously. Funke’s cacio e pepe is the stuff of legend and his rigatoni all’amatriciana is also a must-order, but the non-pasta dishes are great too. There’s a raucous party vibe every night of the week in the ballroom-esque dining room – and trust us when we say this is one invite you want to get your hands on.

Contact: motherwolfla.com
Prices: £££
Reservations: Unsurprisingly, getting a table here is like gold dust. Reservations must be made exactly one week in advance, or you can try your luck at the bar which takes walk-ins.

Pink’s Hot Dogs

What started as a pushcart in 1939 has now become one of LA’s cult dining destinations, with the intersection of Melrose and La Brea, where their hotdog stand now sits, recently being renamed ‘Pink’s Square’. There are always queues snaking down the block for their 30-strong hot dog menu, which features concoctions named after celebrities like the Martha Stewart 9” stretch dog, which comes with relish, onions, bacon, chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut and sour cream. This isn’t fine dining – the plastic seats are sticky and the strip lighting is harsh – but it is fun.

Contact: pinkshollywood.com
Prices: £
Reservations: Walk-ins only

Pink’s Hot Dogs, Los Angeles
Pink’s Hot Dogs is one of LA's cult dining destinations

West Hollywood

Cecconi’s

The buzzy LA outpost of this Soho House-owned chain is one of the best places for celebrity spotting. Situated on the corner of bustling Melrose Avenue and Robertson Boulevard, this is where West Hollywood’s movers and shakers come for breakfast and lunch meetings when they want to be seen, asking for a table on the covered terrace. Their handmade pastas and wood-oven pizzas are popular but, this being West Hollywood, it’s their inventive salads that people really come for, like the Tuscan kale salad with almond, apple, parmigiano and seeds. Try to nab a table on their bustling covered terrace.

Contact: cecconiswesthollywood.com
Prices: ££
Reservations: Recommended

Cecconi’s, Los Angeles
Cecconi's in West Hollywood is a popular celebrity joint

Saltie Girl

Saltie Girl is something of a Boston institution, known for its excellent New England-style seafood, and the brand’s recent LA opening has proved just as popular. Located on bustling Sunset Plaza, it’s swiftly cemented itself as one of West Hollywood’s buzziest restaurants, counting Margot Robbie and Beyoncé among its A-list fans. The restaurant is best-known for its oysters and dizzying array of tinned fish, but you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, from the lobster roll to the dry-aged branzino. Make sure you leave room for dessert – the Sweet Boy chocolate chip cookies are a must-order.

Contact: saltiegirl.com
Prices: ££
Reservations: Recommended

Beverly Hills

Matsuhisa

Matsuhisa is the restaurant that launched the Nobu empire, having been opened by Nobu Matsuhisa over 30 years ago. Unlike his other restaurants, it’s not flashy inside, with cramped wooden tables and low-key décor, a grey silhouette of a 38-year-old Nobu painted on the wall the only reference to the man himself. But the extensive menu is impressive, featuring a wide range of tempura, sushi and old favourites like black cod with miso. The best place to sit is at the sushi bar, where you can watch the maestros at work.

Contact: matsuhisabeverlyhills.com
Prices: £££
Reservations: Recommended

Matsuhisa, Los Angeles
Matsuhisa is the restaurant that launched the Nobu empire

Downtown

Redbird

Coming here is an occasion: the restaurant is housed in the rectory of the former Cathedral of Saint Vibiana. Well-dressed locals visit in their droves to sample Neal Fraser’s inventive dishes, like shisito peppers with bottarga and crispy quinoa or lamb belly with charred aubergine, pickled walnut and mint, while sitting under the stars in the retractable-roofed dining room. As well as the warehouse-like space of the main room, the restaurant has a number of smaller private dining spaces, including an olive tree-lined garden complete with a pizza oven, the teal-painted cardinal’s quarters upstairs and the cathedral next door, now LA’s most popular wedding venue. 

Contact: redbird.la
Prices: £££
Reservations: Essential

Redbird, Los Angeles
At Redbird, ask for a table on the pink banquettes in the middle of the dining room for views of the night sky

Bavel

This charming plant-filled restaurant in the Arts District is one of the few places you can get really great Middle Eastern food in LA – which goes some way to explaining why it’s always so difficult to get a table here. Housed in a light-filled former warehouse, the menu encompasses a broad range of dishes, from Israeli and Tunisian delicacies to staples from Yemen. Make sure you order the signature dish - the malawach - which is a fried flatbread served with grated tomato, dill crème fraiche, strawberry zhoug and a soft-boiled egg. The bowls of creamy duck nduja hummus, slow roasted lamb neck shawarma and grilled oyster mushroom skewers are not to be missed either. 

Contact: baveldtla.com
Prices: £££
Reservations: Highly recommended – as long as you can get one. If you can’t, there are a few spots reserved at the bar for walk-ins.

Venice

The Butcher's Daughter

This plant-based New York City transplant has become one of Venice’s most popular spots since opening, particularly for brunch. Situated on hip Abbot Kinney Boulevard, the vibe here is pure LA, with hanging pot plants, an impressive range of cold-pressed juices and plenty of vegan specialities on offer (the restaurant refers to itself as a ‘vegetable slaughterhouse’). But confirmed meat-eaters will find lots to love here too – their substitute chorizo, made from ground Impossible burger, tomato, onion, celery, red pepper and carrot, tastes just like the real thing.

Contact: thebutchersdaughter.com
Prices: ££
Reservations: Walk-ins only

The Butcher's Daughter, Venice, Los Angeles
The Butcher's Daughter is a plant-based eatery on hip Abbot Kinney Boulevard - © Rebecca Duke/Rebecca Duke

Santa Monica

Michael’s

One of the pioneers of upscale Californian cuisine when it first opened in 1979, Michael’s is an LA institution. Impressively, they’ve managed to stay relevant, bringing in a roster of young chefs to reinvigorate the menu. Their shareable, family-style dishes focus on local, seasonal produce: in the summer you might find a zingy heirloom tomato salad with green peanuts and a dusting of black olive powder; in the autumn, earthy sunchoke gnocchi. Expect a visit from larger-than-life Michael McCarty, who still likes to make the rounds of the tables in the leafy garden. Ask for a table in the jungle-like garden.

Contact: michaelssantamonica.com
Prices: £££
Reservations: Recommended

Michael’s, Santa Monica
Michael’s was an early pioneer of upscale Californian cuisine - Jakob N. Layman/Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Malibu

Geoffrey’s

Geoffrey’s is a magical place, perched up high above Malibu beach with sweeping views over the Pacific. It drew Hollywood luminaries like Frank Sinatra and Lana Turner in its previous guise as the Holiday House hotel and still lures some of Malibu’s most famous residents, who come for the laidback atmosphere and fresh seafood. Every table on the open-air terrace (which they use almost 365 days of the year) has a view of the ocean – come at sunset, order a plate of day boat scallops and watch as dusk falls and the moon rises out of the Pacific.

Contact: geoffreysmalibu.com
Prices: £££
Reservations: Recommended

Geoffrey’s, Malibu, Los Angeles
Geoffrey’s has sweeping views over the Pacific

LAX

In-N-Out Burger

There are many LA branches of this fast-food burger chain, but the most famous is the one at LAX airport, which was always the late Anthony Bourdain’s first stop on arriving in the city (he even once dubbed it his favourite restaurant in LA). Celebrities including Tom Hanks have professed their love for the burgers and the Vanity Fair Oscars afterparty famously serves In-N-Out to their A-list guests. With its palm tree-tiled walls and red and white booths, it resembles a vintage diner more than a regular fast-food joint; order a Double-Double burger (two beef patties, American cheese and their secret sauce) and see what all the fuss is about.

Contact: in-n-out.com
Prices: £
Reservations: Walk-ins only


How we choose

Every restaurant in this curated list has been tried and tested by our destination expert, who has visited to provide you with their insider perspective. We cover a range of budgets, from neighbourhood favourites to Michelin-starred restaurants – to best suit every type of traveller’s taste – and consider the food, service, best tables, atmosphere and price in our recommendations. We update this list regularly to keep up with the latest opening and provide up to date recommendations.

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