9 Food Gems You Just Have to Try in L.A.

“Good food is the foundation of genuine happiness” –

Phew. That is the first word that comes to mind about the food scene in L.A. Every day it was different flavors, different experiences and we were only there for four days. So I can’t even imagine how it must to be to live there full time. We ate a lot of food while we were in California and honestly none of the food was bad, in fact, all the places we ended up going were really good. In general, I do a lot of research any time we travel to make sure we are finding some good food finds, and sometimes we stumble upon them while walking around.

One thing you have to understand is that California is very spread apart, it’s a huge state and the cities seem to be larger than life. Very different than the northeast and Boston in general. While it was really fun exploring the city it was very spread apart. BUT we explore no matter how far apart and where we are which makes our food experiences that much more exciting when we travel. That being said we were able to try a lot of different food in different neighborhoods of L.A. ( there’s many, believe me).

We were stying in Boyle Heights, which is 94% Hispanic, so the food scene is blooming there. Unfortunately, we only managed to check out one spot while we were there, but that one spot alone blew my mind. Let me tell you, tacos in SoCal??? Unreal.

So let’s talk about all the food, the gems we found or heard about before we went to California and just had to try. I have it separated it by neighborhood because its a lot.  🙂

Little Tokyo

Make sure to bring your walking shoes because there is so much to explore here. We managed to try three places ( because that’s how we roll) in our short time in Little Tokyo. Ramen, Japanese fried chicken, and a vegan donut shop

Daikokuya

  • Its been roughly 18 years since they first opened and you can usually tell what storefront it is by the line of people outside. It is an unassuming hole in the wall that goes by a list system. You put your name on the list and wait impatiently to be seated. We waited for 1.5 hours and every minute was worth it for the rich broth, vibe, and NOODLES. This ramen went to the number two spot on our list as one of the best ramens we ever had. I just can’t say enough good things from its homey interior to the steam fogging up the glass in front of you at the bar area. It felt like we had been transported into a small section of Japan.

The original Daikokuya ramen

I got extra butter in mine, miso spicy broth

Shiso-age : Tuna in shiso leaf and then tempura fried

Kabuto Fried Chicken

  • While waiting for the ramen shop to call us in we were ravenous, so we checked out this newish karaage fried chicken joint literally next door and got some chicken to go and ate it in line. It was incredible, juicy, flavorful and so crispy. The sauce won the show though, it was complex yet simple if that makes any sense. I also got a Yuzu lemonade I almost collapsed over. It was the perfect appetizer before jumping into those delicious bowls of ramen.

First time trying Yuzu lemonade

Some of the best fried chicken I have eaten

Donatsu

  • You know I find donut shops everywhere I go, and this one came recommended by a friend who lives in San Diego. I picked up a cream-filled churro donut and Roose got the basic vanilla and we chowed down on them when we got back to our Airbnb. Absolutely delicious and couldn’t tell whatsoever that they were vegan.

These churro donuts were amazing.

Downtown Los Angeles

Grand Central Market

We decided to check out Grand Central Market because we heard great things about it. Grand Central is a public market that has everything you could possibly want. From cocktails to food and some things in between you can spend a good amount of time just roaming and trying all the food. We tried a couple of places before heading out on our adventures for the day.

    • EggSlut
      • I had heard a million and one things about eggslut and always wanted to try it. I get the hype. I get it. They are absolutely delicious breakfast sandwiches that have the freshest ingredients. We each got a different sandwich in that iconic wrapping and sat down to indulge. Absolutely, freaking delicious.
    • La Fruteria
      • This place had these killer agua frescas that were unlike anything I had on the east coast. We got the pineapple strawberry one and it was like heaven in a cup. Along with the egg sandwiches from eggslut this was the best breakfast.

The perfect combination together.

Koreatown

Ong Ga Nae Koren BBQ

  • Korean barbecue is one of my favorites but honestly its hard to find really good ones on the east coast. So I was ready to try a good one when we went out west. We met up with one of my blogger friends and she took us to this really great place. Their specialty is seng bulgogi which is cooked in a sweet broth with mushroom and spinach. We ended up getting this for the table and it fed all three of us. We also got some kalbi because one of my friends here said I just had to try it. OMG it was delicious, succulent meat and was worth every penny.

This heaping pile of meat was everyTHING.

Kalbi was so juicy and delicious

Los Feliz

Mustard Seed Cafe

  • So we stumbled on this cafe just walking around in Los Feliz. We had already had breakfast at our Airbnb but we decided to have a second breakfast brunch at this place. I had the best chilaquiles I ever had here in this adorable cafe on what seemed like the main street in Los Feliz. We just relaxed, ate and people watched here. Saw a celebrity walking by which was fun and had some great conversation.

These chilaquiles gave me life

Roose had this really interesting fusion breakfast pasta

Boyle Heights

Birrieria Villalobos

  • Known for their Tijuana style tacos, this food truck is posted on a corner in Boyle Heights that gets incredibly busy. I had been following them from before we went out to L.A. and knew we just had try their tacos and consomme. We got the tacos with everything and small order of the consomme which is a broth with so much flavor and filled with meat. I was living in taco heaven, I loved this style of tacos which is so different from tacos on this side of the world.

Tacos are a girls best friend

Tacos and consomme

You can find this truck right in Boyle Heights

Midcity

Pasta Sisters

We heard about Pasta Sisters through Buzz Feed Food. We always look for Italian food everywhere we go because of Roose’ Italian roots and this place stood out to us. We went to the original location on Pico Boulevard and quickly fell in love with this little shop. They have fresh pasts, prepared food to take home, desserts and coffee. I would fly all the way back to Los Angeles for this place alone. The flavors reminded me of a homey Italian grandmother’s kitchen. We had the pleasure of meeting Dina who spoke with Roose in Italian and really made us feel at home. She spoke to us a bit of their history and how Pasta Sisters became known, really known after that video on BuzzFeed. It was an experience and when you eat at Pasta Sisters you will feel included and welcomed. Thank you for welcoming us with open arms Dina and Pasta Sisters.

Fresh tagliatelle pasta w/Bolognese

Special of the week: Fresh pappardelle a la Amatriciana

Gardena

Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop

  • We heard about this place on David Chang’s new show on Netflix called “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner”. The episode he did with Lena Waithe was really cool and a great way for us to explore some food in L.A. We checked out this coffee shop which has Hawaiian and Chinese food and it was really tasty. Its located in a bowling alley and had a diner feel. I had loco moco for the first time and Roose tried Egg foo young for the first time. This was the perfect start to our drive down to San Diego and I would definitely go back.

Egg Foo Young

Loco Moco

Fried Pork Wontons

All in all, we were completely blown away by the food scene in L.A. It was eye-opening and for someone who is used to trying all sorts of different cuisines it was just so diverse and I loved that so much. I hope you all enjoyed this first post about the food in L.A. I have more coming about places to visit in L.A., food in San Diego and places to visit in San Diego.

As always, explore often and always remember to enjoy every moment.

Life as a Maven out.

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