From beefy street tacos served outside a laundromat to shockingly good Chicago-style hot dogs, the dining options in L.A. have never been better—or this much fun.
The Los Angeles dining scene is so consistently surprising that it’s easy to get spoiled here, whether you’re in the mood for street tacos outside a laundromat or Parisian bistro fare or a Chris Bianco restaurant that definitely isn’t serving pizza. And this is, as ever, a city where things don’t have to be formal or fussy, so we totally get it if you want a Chicago-style hot dog or a glorified peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. Everything we just mentioned is about good food, but it’s also about vibe and a worldview and a desire to have fun. Here’s a closer look at some great new ways to enjoy a meal in L.A.
There’s something so French and so welcoming about Loupiotte Kitchen, with its street-facing indoor/outdoor layout on Los Feliz's strollable Vermont Avenue, that you’ll probably want to linger. This is a sidewalk café/bistro where you can leisurely eat pastries and sip tea while you watch the world go by. In fact, we saw four solo diners having quiet moments here on one late morning and early afternoon this week.
This is a pescaterian French restaurant that’s also pure L.A: Owner Sarah Bessade, who previously opened Gabylou in Paris, goes to the Santa Monica and Hollywood farmers' markets for local and organic ingredients each week. Chef Romain Guenand, who cooked at Gabylou, changes the menu every two weeks. So there might be baked-apple pain perdu one day and strawberry pain perdu on your next visit. Exemplary quiche is filled with fresh produce like leeks and spinach. Ceviches feature California seafood like Santa Barbara sea bass. A fregola sarda “risotto” with roasted tomatoes, basil-and-broccoli pesto, pine nuts, and parmesan was a standout at lunch this week.
Loupiotte opened for breakfast and lunch in late March and plans to add dinner with small plates, beer, and wine in the summer. It’s pretty easy to eat a vegetarian meal here, but Bessade happily admits that a vegan meal is a little trickier at Loupiotte because French people love cream and butter. That said, there are a few vegan options, including a plate of market vegetables like kale and beets.
For more of an indulgence that definitely involves flavorful dairy products, we recommend the fabulous chocolate eclair, which is made in-house with orbs of pastry cream dramatically sandwiched between two pieces of pâte à choux. The whole thing is topped with almonds and chantilly cream. You’ll likely want to eat this with utensils. We won’t judge you if you lick up any stray cream that gets on the plate.
The staff here wears T-shirts that tell you that Loupiotte means “little light.” The restaurant is a new bright spot for the neighborhood, but it’s also a small business that aspires to help people beyond that. A portion of madeleine sales is going to a Notre Dame recovery fund, and Loupiotte is also contributing to local charities like The RightWay Foundation, which helps empower foster youth. Bessade and business partner Antoine Blandin have invited 45 foster children in for a May dinner and discussion about topics like how to start your own business.
1726 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, 323-302-1637
Legendary pizzaiolo Chris Bianco isn’t the kind of chef who just shuts up and plays the hits. So maybe the first thing to understand about The Manufactory, the 40,000-square-foot downtown L.A. complex Bianco recently opened with Tartine’s Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt, is that there’s technically no pizza here. Instead, Bianco is offering pizza-like flatbreads at The Market and Tartine Bianco inside The Manufactory.
But our favorite Bianco-composed carbs in L.A. are at The Manufactory’s Alameda Supper Club, where handmade pastas feature freshly milled grains from Cairnspring Mills in Skagit Valley, Washington. Bianco and Alameda Supper Club chef de cuisine Lee Foden-Clarke are serving crowd-pleasers like a luxurious spaghetti with Dungeness crab, green garlic, and chile de árbol as well as a spring-forward ravioli with English peas and ricotta. We especially love the strozzapreti with sheep’s-milk cheese, preserved Meyer lemon, and black pepper. This is clearly a riff on cacio e pepe, but Bianco doesn’t want to call it cacio e pepe. He’s a man who thinks a lot about semantics.
Robertson, meanwhile, previously told us that he’d like for pasta to become the new grain bowl.
“Let’s pick the right grains that have the most flavor and the most nutrition and then make them taste the way we want but also be super nourishing,” he said.
That philosophy of aligning nutritiousness with deliciousness also applies to dessert at Alameda Supper Club, where pastry chef Leah Chin-Katz’s buckwheat cannoli with ricotta, sour cherries, and pistachios is a contender for L.A.’s best dessert of 2019.
757 S. Alameda St., suite 160, Los Angeles, 213-375-3315
3. L.A. Birria
The beef consomme at Josue Eduardo Anaya and Kevin Oajaca’s new daytime taco stand outside a laundromat in West Adams comes in a cup, and you’re immediately presented with a decision. Do you primarily want to use this consomme for dipping your birria de res tacos? Or should you grab the cup and just start gulping? Good thing is, there’s no wrong answer. And every customer gets the consomme for free.
However you consume it, this soul-warming consomme tastes like a cure-all: It’s beefy and full of flavor, but also simple and pure and transporting. During the moment when the cup goes from full to empty, it’s almost like time stops and problems disappear. All that matters is savoring every drop.
L.A. Birria’s tacos are delightfully chewy, crunchy, oozy, and habit-forming with their stewed beef and Monterey jack cheese inside crispy, freshly griddled corn tortillas. The beef and consomme are a one-pot masterpiece that involves slowly cooking meat, fat, bones, five different chiles, garlic, onion, cinnamon, oregano, bay leaves, and other ingredients. Anaya says every pot take four to five hours to make. Anaya is a Le Cordon Bleu graduate whose experience includes stints at upscale restaurants like Brentwood’s Toscana, but the birria he’s serving is inspired by his grandmother’s recipe.
Crenshaw Boulevard and West Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles
We’re not saying that the Chicago-style Vienna Beef hot dogs at Eleven City Los Angeles should come with a warning, but maybe be careful when you bite into the pickled peppers. These things might squirt, and somebody sitting across from you at your booth might get hit with liquid. But, if you’re like us, you won’t care so much, and you’ll just keep devouring your excellent hot dog.
Owner Bradley Rubin’s Eleven City in L.A.’s Miracle Mile area is a buzzing outpost of a diner/deli from Chicago’s South Loop. There’s comforting matzo-ball soup and big plates of housemade corned beef and brisket. Freshly baked challah French toast with strawberries, bananas, and toasted coconut is an over-the-top-breakfast that we also would be happy to eat as a dessert. Breakfast, it should be noted, is available all day here.
Rubin pays close attention to so many little details in a restaurant that’s deftly balancing classic and modern. This place makes its own root beer and has a proprietary Intelligentsia coffee blend. It also features a refurbished 1964 soda fountain for old-school beverages like Brooklyn-style egg creams. You can get Junior’s cheesecake from New York but also enjoy local fare like pies from Winston Pies, bagels from The Bagel Broker, and ice cream from McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams.
5400 Wilshire Blvd,, Los Angeles, 323-761-1211
Dinner and a show at ’80s-themed bar Break Room 86 in Koreatown is nostalgic bliss If you spent your adolescence watching John Hughes movies before you graduated to more grown-up fare like St. Elmo’s Fire. Performances of For The Record: The Brat Pack, an exuberant musical that features songs and dialogue from films like The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful, Weird Science and many others, can be paired with a lunchbox that’s designed to look like a boombox (which you can hold up during one pivotal moment during the show). Inside that lunchbox, along with snacks that might include Hostess sweets, Welch’s fruit gummies, or Goldfish crackers, is something that looks like an Uncrustable but is actually an upgraded version of a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich from Grand Central Market stand PBJ.LA: This is the delicious Ol’ Fashioned with salted pecan butter, apple jam, angostura bitters, and orange zest.
The goal is to take you back to that moment in St. Elmo’s Fire when Wendy Beamish talks about the intoxicating feeling of adult freedom she had after she woke up in the middle of the night in her own apartment and made herself a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich in her own kitchen with her own refrigerator. Plus, the PBJ.LA sandwich goes nicely with Break Room 86’s boozy Capri-Fun, which is indeed served inside a Capri-Sun juice box and might remind you of spiked punch from high-school parties. The fun continues with cocktails like the vodka-based Pretty in Pink Grapefruit and the rye-based Bueller, Bueller among other movie-themed concoctions. It’s all pretty rad.
630 S. Ardmore Ave., Los Angeles, 213-368-3056