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Welcome to Los Angeles’s Greatest Hits List.

You’re obviously very familiar with the concept of a “greatest hits” album, but unlike Mambo Mambo: Best of Lou Bega, this is one you actually need in your life. The Greatest Hits is a short and carefully-selected collection of the places in Los Angeles that you should hit first if you’re new to town - restaurants that are essential to LA dining, from world-class sushi on the beach to late-night Korean BBQ.

Just like you wouldn’t introduce your niece to Michael Jackson by throwing on History: Vol 1 and skipping right to “Heal The World,” we wouldn’t send someone unfamiliar with Los Angeles to a new Weho hotspot without telling them to go to these restaurants first. And you shouldn’t either.

If you are looking for what’s new, check out our Hit List, a guide to the brand new, recently-opened restaurants worth your time, or our guide to LA’s Best New Restaurants Of 2018.

Added on 1/16/19: Lawry’s, Zam Zam Market, Sushi Fumi, Mh Zh, Bestia, Gjusta, Howlin’ Ray’s.

The Spots
Republique
$$$$
$$$$ 624 S La Brea Ave

If you’ve ever wanted to eat lunch at a church in France, but don’t have the funds, know that you can do it on La Brea. Republique’s space alone is incredible, but it’s the food that puts this more-casual-than-you-think French spot among our (and everyone else’s) favorite LA places. Republique’s dinner remains one of the best date nights in LA, although their daily order-at-the-counter lunch/brunch extravaganza has become their real bread and butter. We could make a stupid French food joke here, but we’re better than that. And so is Republique.

Jakob Layman
Bestia
$$$$ 2121 E. 7th Pl.

Whether you’ve lived in LA for 20 years or are visiting friends here for the first time, chances are you’ve at least heard of Bestia. Open since 2012, this iconic warehouse restaurant didn’t just set the bar for Italian food in LA, it put the Arts District on the map as a dining destination. For that reason, a meal here today is even more special than when it first opened, even though it’s still just as hard to get in the door. Whether you go for the giant board of charcuterie we’d take a bullet for, the spicy alla’nduja pizza, or a cavatelli that’s easily one of the top five best pasta dishes in town, you’ll see that Bestia has set a new standard for Italian food in Los Angeles.

Jakob Layman
Gjusta
$$$$
AmericanSandwichesDeli  in  Venice
$$$$ 320 Sunset Ave

Gjusta is the ultimate Venice neighborhood spot - an all-day deli that will both infuriate you and make you want to become a regular. Even though there are few irritating aspects, like the unruly ordering system, lack of seats, and your inability to decide what to eat, it’s somehow always worth the trouble. Come early in the morning to eat a breakfast bialy at the coffee bar, at lunch for a spread of salads and smoked fish, and at night for less of a crowd, a handful of special dishes, and the ability to BYO wine. Basically, you can order anything at Gjusta and feel very confident that it’s among the best of its kind in Los Angeles.

Night + Market WeHo
$$$$
$$$$ 9043 Sunset Blvd

Welcome to Los Angeles’s lovechild: a local LA kid opens up his own Thai restaurant attached to his parents’ old place on Sunset and launches an empire. In a city with the best Thai food scene in the country, Night + Market is top of the class. Aside from the food, which is Thai classics with modern twists, the Weho, Silver Lake, and Venice locations are straight-up parties with some of the most fun restaurant settings in town. Beer towers or bust.

Jakob Layman
Chengdu Taste
$$$$
Chinese  in  Alhambra
$$$$ 828 W Valley Blvd

Drive 10 miles east of DTLA and you’ll hit the San Gabriel Valley - a sprawling collection of suburbs where you’ll find some of the best Asian food in the country. If you’re looking for the best, head immediately to Chengdu Taste. This family-run operation in Alhambra serves classic Szechuan dishes involving insane flavor, tons of spice, and a peppercorn that will make your mouth go numb. Go try some cumin lamb, mapo tofu, and the best dan dan noodles in existence.

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Where do you go when you get hungry while down on the docks producing a shot-for-shot remake of season two of The Wire for your YouTube channel? Until now, your choices have been limited to either a few counter service places catering to longshoremen, or some really raw seafood. But now there’s Chickadee, an Italian restaurant with a lively bar where you’ll find some great pasta. Keep it in mind the next time you’re down there scavenging for a shipment of those cancer-curing supreme greens headed for Tom Brady’s house.

Natalie Schaefer

Chickadee is a restaurant in the Innovation and Design Building on Drydock Ave, which is technically in the Seaport, but is really in the middle of nowhere. You’ll probably think you’re in the wrong place when you initially get here. But after you walk past the janitorial staff vacuuming the empty halls of the humungous office building, you’ll see a space that looks more like a film set of a restaurant than an actual restaurant. The lights are bright, the restaurant is cordoned off from the rest of the building with curtain walls, and the interior gleams like an ad for Pottery Barn. But Chickadee is packed almost every night and you’ll have fun, especially if you sit at the bar with everyone else who didn’t plan far enough ahead to get a reservation in the dining room.

Chickadee is open for lunch, when the restaurant is filled with people who work in the building and the menu consists mostly of pita sandwiches. But you really want to be here for dinner, when menu shifts to a couple of snack and appetizer sections, five pastas, and five meaty entrees. While the porchetta is a legitimately great dish (it’s kind of like the thickest, most tender piece of bacon you’ve ever had), it’s the pastas that you want to focus on. They’re all vaguely Mediterranean, and with ingredients like green harissa, barbecued rabbit, and smoked chestnut, you’d never confuse Chickadee for a Hanover Street red sauce place. The squid ink fusilli with toasted breadcrumbs was our favorite.

Chickadee isn’t a place you absolutely need to hit up, mostly because it’s hard to get in, hard to get to, and there isn’t anything else to do when you get there. But it’s a decent bet for some really good pasta, fun at the bar, and interesting cocktails. And if nothing else, it’s good to know that the area now has a food option that beats the microwave goulash served in the galley of a ship that just came in from Odessa.

Food Rundown
Natalie Schaefer
Scotch Olives

If you’ve never had an olive baked inside of a sausage, here’s your chance. It’s not bad, and the whipped feta is the best part.

Natalie Schaefer
Squid Ink Fusilli

The crunchy olive bread crumb is the star of this pasta dish, proving that the only thing better than one carb is two carbs.

Natalie Schaefer
Semolina Gnocchi

Gnocchi is almost always good, and adding a little smoked chestnut doesn’t hurt.

Natalie Schaefer
Radiatore Di Grano Arso

You don’t see too many rabbits on menus (maybe because they’re so damn cute), but it’s really well done here.

Natalie Schaefer
Roasted Porchetta

Crispy, tender, moist, and a little sweet - this is how pork should be done.

Natalie Schaefer
Featherbrook Farm Chicken

This dish consists of roasted chicken pieces served atop a chicken burger-type patty, so Chickadee is a great spot for your next chicken tasting with the guys.

Natalie Schaefer
Grilled Lamb Harira

The chunks of lamb themselves don’t have much to them, but mix them all up with the feta and the lentils and you’ll be getting somewhere.

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The salty truffle fries at Little Big Burger are so good (especially dipped in Camden’s Fry Sauce) that you might as well consider them the entree and the quarter pounders as your side dish. That doesn't mean that the burgers are an afterthought - they’re thick, seasoned well, come with brioche buns, and you can choose your cheese from an exciting list (that includes blue and goat). We are morally obligated to tell you that there’s no American cheese in the house, but the burgers here are so good that we don’t care.

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You’re not going to Shake Shack because it’s fast and convenient. It’s not. You’re going to wait for a half-hour in a line that snakes down the street. Your reward for sticking it out comes in the form of outrageously delicious cheeseburgers, crinkle fries, frozen custard concretes, and crispy chicken sandwiches. That’s why you’re going to Shake Shack. Just don’t tell your boss that you’ll be right back. You won’t.

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There are some serious beer bars in SF, and Church Key in North Beach is one of our favorites. This place is pretty small - even though it has a second floor, coming here with more than three people would be a lot, but if you’ve got a super small group, it’s a good place to hang out. The beer here is well priced, even though there are some bottles that hover around the $20 range, most things cost about $7-$10 and you can get some cheap cans for $3. Aside from that, the upstairs feels like you’re hanging out in the green room of a punk rock club with short ceilings, one long red velvet bench to sit on, stacks of empty kegs, and music from bands like Sonic Youth and Smashing Pumpkins. It’s not the most lively place to spend a Saturday night, but for a lazy afternoon, it’s ideal.

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If we asked you to name a Peruvian restaurant a short walk from the Lorimer L stop in Williamsburg, you might immediately say Llama Inn. But there’s another Peruvian spot that’s less crowded, less expensive, and still very enjoyable, and that’s Chimu. Most dishes on the menu are under $20 for a generous portion, so two people can easily share an appetizer (like the avocado stuffed with shrimp and vegetables) and an entree (like the fried rice with a ton of mixed seafood) without spending too much money. This place also works well for casual group dinners, when you can split some wine (all bottles are $40) and sides, like the fried yucca with a variety of sauces.

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Arguably the best part of any ski vacation is “apres-ski,” which basically entails sitting in a warm bar, regaining feeling in your fingers, and having some drinks while laughing about that guy who face-planted while trying to get off the chairlift. Cafe Select is an all-day spot in Soho that feels like a bar at the base of a mountain in the Alps, where you can do all the fun stuff associated with apres-ski, without the bruised tailbones and waterlogged ski socks. The bar area up front works for some wine and European food, like lobster bisque or veal schnitzel, but if you really want to feel like you just stepped off a Swiss mountain in an all-white one-piece ski suit, get a table in the fondue room in the back.

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We regularly get asked about the best brand new restaurants in San Francisco, which you can find in our Hit List, as well as about the all-time classics. But what about the places that are slammed for six months, until everyone decides to move onto the next shiny new thing? Many of these places are still absolutely fantastic, and they shouldn’t be forgotten like the original Aunt Vivian from The Fresh Prince.

With that in mind, we present The Cool List, featuring still-excellent restaurants that are no longer “hot,” but are definitely still cool.

the spots
Albert Law
Robin
$$$$
$$$$ 620 Gough St

There was a point in the not too distant past when all we could think about was going back to Robin for the omakase. Even if we don’t blurt out “Robin” as an answer at trivia night anymore, it’s still a great spot to come for a special meal. Eating here doesn’t feel overly serious or rushed, which sometimes happens with omakase, and instead it’s just more of a cool hangout with raw fish. We love the salmon with tomato confit, but could say the same about pretty much anything that is set down in front of us during a meal here.

Barzotto
$$$$
PastaItalian  in  Mission
$$$$ 1270 Valencia St

Barzotto is easily one of our favorite pasta spots in SF. The combination of counter service, good prices, and great food makes it ideal for a last-minute date or a rainy day when you need a good reason to get out of bed. Plus, they have soft serve, so when you’re done eating a huge bowl of pasta and need ice cream, you’re covered.

Krescent Cassaro
Farmhouse Kitchen
$$$$
Thai  in  Mission
$$$$ 710 Florida St

Farmhouse Kitchen isn’t really a party restaurant, but it does always feels like an all-out party whenever we eat here. Even with homemade dance videos playing on screens and servers wearing crazy Hawaiian shirts, the food comes through as the most exciting reason to come here. Everything at this Thai place in the Mission, from the ginger sausage to the khao soi, is done at an expert level - the crazy antics just make a casual weeknight meal here feel that much more fun.

Bar Agricole
$$$$
AmericanBar FoodRaw Bar  in  Soma
$$$$ 355 11th St.

Still one of our favorite spots around, Bar Agricole is perfect for almost any occasion. The outdoor area is stellar and the food is just the right amount of fancy without trying too hard. Also, the oysters are some of the best you’ll find in SF. Maybe most importantly, it’s calmed down enough that you can usually walk in reservation-free and just eat. Without waiting. At all. Don’t be confused, you don’t always have to stand in a line or kill time drinking heavily to eat good food.

Burma Love
$$$$
Burmese  in  Mission
$$$$ 211 Valencia St.

There are times when we like Burma Love more than their mothership, Burma Superstar. The space is bigger, it’s in a more central location, and they serve the same great food - in particular the tea leaf salad and the fried chili catfish amongst other things. It’s not difficult to get a table, but if you want to act like it is, you can grab a few drinks at Zeitgeist beforehand.

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The Irish goodbye, the French exit, ghosting. Whatever term you prefer to use, the art of leaving a social gathering without saying goodbye is an important life hack - particularly when dinner isn’t going according to plan. Maybe the food is terrible, the service is glacial, or your boss’s second wife keeps showing you her back moles. Either way, it’s time to bounce and there’s no room for adieus. But you can’t just vanish from a restaurant without a game plan, especially when you’re violently hungry. You need a no-nonsense place that’s quick and dependable, with food you’ve been secretly craving all day. Here are 10 spots that always get the job done.

Holly Liss
Leo's Taco Truck
$$$$ W Sunset Blvd

Your friend Alicia’s complaining about her non-existent sciatica again and you just ate a $16 taco with Thousand Island dressing on it. There’s no time for goodbyes. Say you’re going to the bathroom, and haul ass to Leo’s because sometimes the only thing that matters in life is eating tacos by yourself in the parking lot of a discount shoe store. All of Leo’s Mexican options are great, but you’re here for the al pastor.

In-N-Out Burger
$$$$ 7009 W Sunset Blvd

The waiter just asked if everything “is to your palette’s liking” for the fourth consecutive time and you’re done. Time to take off one of your shoes, put it in your bag, and then tell the rest of table you think you forgot one of your shoes in the car. It works every time and also allows you a clean getaway to In-N-Out. The classic fast food chain is consistently good every single time and even better when you’re alone and barefoot in the drive-through.

Jakob Layman
Kochi
$$$$ 408 N La Cienega Blvd

About 10 minutes into your hour-long wait at Tatsu Ramen, you realize you don’t have this level of patience for a bowl of noodles. Turn around and scream-run until you’re out of sight from your friends. This is Melrose, so literally no one will be alarmed. Plus, now you can go to Kochi by yourself. The tiny udon shop on La Cienega never has a wait, service is quick, and the mentai cream udon with red caviar is one of our favorite bowls of noodles in West Hollywood.

Fish Eight By Jinpachi
$$$$
$$$$ 7368 Melrose Ave

You’ve always hated Tracy, but she always pays for dinner, so you still show up when you get the invite. But tonight she chose one of those sushi restaurants that has sparklers and bottle service girls, and suddenly a free meal isn’t even worth an entire bottle of vodka hitting the table. Slip out right as the tempura California rolls hit the table and take a Lyft to Fish Eight. The small sushi bar on Melrose has simple and fantastic fish where two pieces of nigiri cost about $5, and the quiet space ideal for deleting dead weight from your contact list.

Cha Cha Chicken
$$$$
$$$$ 1906 Ocean Ave.

You agreed to meet your second cousin and her deadbeat boyfriend in Santa Monica for dinner, and suddenly you’re inside a Del Frisco’s Grille and the boyfriend just asked you to follow him on Soundcloud. Is your throat suddenly itchy? Yes, it’s very itchy. Tell them you have to run to the bathroom and then make a sharp right out the back kitchen door. You’re going to Cha Cha Chicken. The Caribbean jerk spot is nothing more than an order-at-the-window situation a block from the beach, but there’s a great side patio that has what is possibly the most lenient BYOB policy in the city. Be sure to pick up a six-pack on the way.

Jakob Layman
Mason’s Dumpling Shop
$$$$ 5803 N Figueroa St

The ironic dinner your friends planned at Island’s Burgers in Pasadena was never going to be a good idea. Now, you’re staring at a dried out beef patty that looks like it was thrown point-blank into a windmill, and you’re pissed. Pick up your phone, act like you got a text, shriek, “Oh god, not Denise!” and get the f*ck out of there. You’re heading to Mason’s in Highland Park. This order-at-the-counter spot has our favorite Asian dumplings outside the SGV. Make sure the pan-fried pork dumplings, angus beef bun, and seaweed salad need to be in your bag.

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If you tried to keep track of every brand new restaurant in Philly, you might go a little bit crazy. So just read this list instead. These are the new restaurant openings that seem like they have the most potential - although keep in mind, for the ones we haven’t tried, we make no promises. Go forth and be a pioneer.

We’ll be regularly updating this post. Once we’ve checked out a spot, we’ll add a note if it makes it onto our Hit List.

January 2019
Rachel Lerro
Unit Su Vege
$$$$ 2000 Hamilton Street

This is a completely vegetarian and kosher BYOB Chinese spot near the Art Museum, and it’s from the people behind the similarly vegetarian Su Xing House in Center City.

Rachel Lerro
Aurora Grace
$$$$ 517 South 5th St.

Aurora Grace is primarily a chocolate shop and cafe in Queen Village that makes painted chocolates, macarons, and other sweets. They also serve Rival Bros. coffee and a house hot chocolate.

December 2018
Rachel Lerro
Poes Sandwich Joint
$$$$ 1429 Marlborough St

Poe’s is a to-go window right on Frankford Ave. that was opened by self-appointed marijuana enthusiast/comedian, N.A. Poe. This place serves overloaded sandwiches, cheesesteaks, and fries until 3am on the weekend, which is exactly when eating all of these things sounds like a good idea.

November 2018
Rachel Lerro
Chatayee Thai
$$$$ 1228 Walnut St

Chatayee Thai is a huge, two-story Thai restaurant in Midtown Village that focuses on Bangkok-style street food. You’ll see more traditional dishes here, from beef and chicken skewers to bigger things like braised short ribs.

Rachel Lerro
Mamoun's Falafel - Philly
$$$$ 300 Market Street

New York City’s Mamoun’s Falafel now has its first location in Philadelphia, occupying about 1,400 square feet on the corner of 3rd & Market in Old City. They serve things like hummus, pita sandwiches, baba ganoush, and tabbouleh.

Rachel Lerro

This is a huge, two-story Italian place from the same people as Sampan, Double Knot, and El Vez. The first floor is an all-day cafe serving sandwiches and pastries from Termini Bros., while the basement is a dark, upscale bar and restaurant that does classics like meatballs & gravy and chicken parmigiana.

The Bourse
$$$$ 111 S Independence Mall E

The Bourse building in Old City right across from the Liberty Bell has officially reopened, with more than 30 vendors. Most notably, there’s a Rebel Taco, a Freebyrd Chicken, and a location of DC Korean BBQ Takorean.

Chubby Cattle
$$$$ 146 N. 10th St.

Chubby Cattle’s first Philly location opened in Chinatown, and here you order via iPad and build your own Mongolian hot pot off of a conveyor belt that runs by the tables.

Taqueria Del Norte
$$$$ 2859 Holme Ave

A casual taco spot from the chef behind Blue Duck is now open in North Philly. It’s BYOT (bring your own tequila) for now, but they’ll supply the rest of the ingredients for your margaritas.

Rachel Lerro
..
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