Los Angeles, with its glitzy show business and allure of stardom, has always been a beacon for those dreaming of seeing their name lit up in lights. During high school, I dreamed of running away to Hollywood, and making it big on the Big Screen. Needless to say, it didn't happen, but this town, built on the shoulders of make-believe, will always captivate my childhood dreams. I've journeyed through LA on several occasions, but never quite had enough time yet to explore all the hottest eateries. So, I've enlisted the help of my good friend, and fellow inquisitive Foodie, Chamani Wong, to help scoop out the best pig out spot in town and the neighbouring regions. So tie on a bib, and let the good times roll.
The Boiling Crab
This is the Holy Grail of Cajun seafood restaurants. Affectionately known as the“best tail in town” and the “biggest ass pinching, head sucking venue this side of the Mississippi”, Boiling Crab started the trend of “seafood in a bag” that has now become a global trend. The chain was founded in 2004 by a family of Texas fishermen, with a menu inspired by their weekly family get togethers to enjoy the catch of the week. Market fresh seafood ranging from blue crab to king crab legs, to lobster, crawfish, shrimp and clams are tossed in a plastic bag alongside mouth-watering sauce and seasonings. There's a variety of incredibly flavour rich sauces to choose from, including the Rajun Cajun, Garlic Butter, and Lemon Pepper, but our favourite has to be the Whole Shabang, which is a lovefest of all the above mentioned sauces! Shake that all up with some corn, and you are ready for some messy good eating!
3377 Wilshire Blvd #115, LA, CA 90010
Wolfgang Puck has been a household name on the glitzy Los Angeles' dining scene for decades, captivating the palates of Hollywood's elites with his signature blend of French fine dining and farm-to-table Californian cuisine. Spago, Wolfgang's flagship restaurant, opened its doors in 1982, and have been welcoming the glitterati ever since. It's also one of the only three restaurants in Los Angeles to win two coveted Michelin stars. The stunning venue is the perfect place for celebrity spotting, but is also intimate enough for a tete-a-tete romantic evening. The cocktails are exceptional, with the curiously named “Help! Save the bees” blend of vodka, limoncello, thyme and lavender honey being one of our favourites. We also loved sipping the Duke of Earl cocktail, a mix of Earl Grey tea infused gin and lemon juice. The menu, a collaboration between Wolfgang and executive chef Lee Hefter, is composed of dishes founded on the bones of classic French cuisine but with plenty of exotic Asian influences. The lobster bisque was phenomenal, along with the jet-fresh chirashi sushi box, and we loved the French black truffles pizza.
176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
+1 310 385 0880
City Tavern wins our top pick for best brunch cafe. The environment is a relaxing blend of laid back communal seating, distressed brick walls, and reclaimed wood. There's a greenhouse with plenty of natural lighting and cosy leather chairs to unwind in. The menu is packed with refined comfort foods, and there's even three booths that have computerised draft beer systems so customers can pour their own Californian boutique craft beers at the table. We wanted to give a standing ovation to the grilled cheese for its crispy and gooey deliciousness, and the breakfast options are simply mind boggling and drool worthy. The breakfast poutine, a load of crispy garlic fries smothered in slow braised short ribs, pimento cheese, gravy, and topped with a runny baked egg, will make any Canadian proud. And for a sweet finish, you won't regret the bourbon bread pudding, topped with candied pecans, butterscotch and crème anglaise. Well...perhaps your waistline might disagree, but it'll be well worth it!
9739 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232
+1 310 838 9739
Sugarfish By Sushi Nozawa
It's a refreshing sight not to see sushi rolls on the menu of a US based Japanese restaurant, as the elaborate, often garishly overpacked rolls that Americans seem to adore are as authentic to Japanese traditional cuisine as the fortune cookie is to Chinese food. After 25 years of serving simple, pure sushi at Sushi Nozawa, celebrated sushi chef Kazunori Nozawa broke sushi lovers' hearts by closing the doors in 2012. The phoenix that emerged from the ashes of Sushi Nozawa was the Sugarfish concept. With various locations around LA, Sugarfish is an extension of Chef Nozawa's original concept, and focuses on authentic sushi using basic ingredients. They even make their own fresh soy and ponzu sauce! The menu is either a la carte and packed full of sushi the likes of what you'll find in Tokyo's Ginza, or divided into three “Trust Me” sections, similar to an omakase experience. Each slice of delicate, fresh fish is pressed onto warm loose rice, a signature of Sugarfish and a key component to authentic, great tasting sushi. This allows the sushi to literally “melt in your mouth”.
Multiple locations: www.sugarfishsushi.com
Huckleberry started as a seedling in 2009 and grew from a love story between two passionate chefs, Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan, who fell in love while working at a nearby restaurant together. They decided to open an artisanal bakery and cafe, using only the finest locally sourced ingredients, in an environment that their friends and family can visit and enjoy sharing meals together on a daily basis. Every item on the menu is made on site, guaranteed organic and GMO free, with ingredients sourced from trusted purveyors from the local farmers' market. The grilled cheese with Tipperary Irish cheddar, served with crispy bacon from nearby Niman Ranch, is the best in town. Mop up the fig dressing from the stone fruit burrata salad with a piece of fluffy maple bacon biscuit, and you're in heaven. The cinnamon sugar brioche is also not to be missed.
1014 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
+1 310 451 2311
What started off as a late night, off-the-menu snack for staff and friends has become the star at Baco Mercat. The “baco”, created by chef and owner Josef Centeno, is a flatbread sandwich stuffed with crispy pork belly, beef carnitas with caraway pepper. Located in the historic Old Bank district of downtown LA, Baco Mercat today does a roaring trade not only selling the original baco, but also diversifying its menu to include variations of the classic sandwich such as beef tongue schnitzel baco with harissa, smoked aioli and pickles, or pork meatball baco dressed with raisins, pine nuts and tomatoes. There's also the “coca”, a Spanish version of the pizza, where the famous baco bread dough is rolled out to form a thin crust and baked crispy with toppings. The carne picada coca with spiced beef, yam, pine nuts, and pomegranate is especially drool worthy! There's also the buttermilk fried quail with pear, tarragon and other herbs which will keep guests coming back for more.
408 S. Main St., LA, CA 90013
+1 213 687 8808
No Vacancy - “Secret” bars are all the rage, and No Vacancy transform guests into the mystic of the 1900s. Located in a fully restored Victorian house, patrons must bypass the seduction of a burlesque matron before picking the right door to descend into the eccentric bar with innovative cocktails and live performances.
1727 N. Hudson Ave,
Good Times at Davey Wayne's – Another venture by No Vacancy owners Jonnie and Mark Houston, this one is all about the Seventies, and fondly named after their father. The door to the retro venue is set in a fully operational Seventies garage sale, behind an old refrigerator. Pry your way through, and you're transported back to an era of sideburns, bellbottoms and shag carpets. There's even snow cones and tiki drinks on offer – ahh, the Seventies!
1611 N. El Centro Ave,
Alley – Yet another secret bar, this one is hidden in a dark alley in Culver City. Pass the imposing doorman and you'll find yourself in a little blue walled speakeasy, resonating with blues, soul and Seventies rock. Be sure to order the Cagneys, a rye cocktail over brandied cherries and cabernet.
12223 W. Washington Blvd
Read more of Celia's food adventures here: