Look past LA’s Michelin stars and famous clientele restaurant scene and you’ll find a smorgasbord of hidden eateries to gorge on in our guide to the City of Angels’ hidden eats…
1400 N Virgil Avenue, East Hollywood, Los Angeles
A Sliverlake gem raved about for its fresh, light batter encased around flaky fish and succulent shrimp Ensenada-style tacos, this food truck has a loyal, ecstatic following. And rightly so. Get there early for lunch, grab a seat at one of the tables and gorge on the huge portions (most people can eat two or three tacos but we’ve seen some put five away!). We recommend liberal doses of the crema and spicy salsa (there are mild ones too) washed down with a horchata or cucumber mint agua fresca.
What to order? Follow Ricky on Twitter and you can keep track of the days when he has lobster in stock, which is even better than the fish tacos! He sells out fast though so get there when he opens at 11, grab a Puerto Nuevo Lobster plate and you’ll be a Ricky convert for life.
2903 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tucked away in an unassuming strip mall between a shoe repair shop and a liquor store, you shouldn’t judge Aroma on first appearances. Step inside and you’ll get the warmest greeting in LA – and that’s a sign of things to come. Happily, the food lives up to the service. A brilliant little Italian restaurant with a Guatemalan owner and chef who really knows his food, choose from any of the excellent pasta and pizza staples and you won’t be disappointed. Aroma is a BYO too, so take your own wine and just pay corkage to keep prices down. Bonus.
What to order? While the staple menu is great, you should dive into the always changing, always amazing specials. The chef has about ten a day on offer and they sample cuisines from all around the world. We’ve tried everything from the burger to the Osso Buco and loved it all.
1106 N La Cienega Blvd, Suite 201, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA 90069
Another benchmark LA hole in the wall that’s lost in the concrete of a parking lot and shopping mall under the neon glare of the nearby 7-Eleven. We’ve eaten fresh sushi from all over (including Japan) and the dishes served up by chef Tomo rival them all. While not the cheapest (you could easily spend $60 plus a head), the Japanese fusion features only the best, freshest ingredients exquisitely presented. Fine dining in scruffy surroundings - quintessential LA!
What to order? Now that foie gras is back on the menu after the statewide ban was overturned in January, the seared foie gras is a must for anyone who doesn’t morally object. Otherwise, order the tuna carpaccio with truffle oil and make sure you save some of the oil to drizzle over a portion of crispy rice. A revelation.
8265 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Worth visiting just to sit in the gorgeous garden, but as the food is amazing as well, Terrine has it all going on. Open for brunch on Fridays and weekends, and till late for dinner seven days a week, we love the menus for both but try to keep the cocktail action for dinner. A classic Californian bistro inspired by the best French classics, Terrine is simple, delicious, unpretentious, and did we mention the garden?
What to order? If it’s brunch, the croque madame is incredible but the house smoked brisket hash (sunny egg, horseradish and burnt lilies sauce) is sublime to the point of ridiculous.
2906 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405
The sign above Holy Guacamole is so faded we’ve taken to calling it ‘Open Tacos’ as it’s the pink neon sign saying exactly that which we use to direct friends there. Which we do, often. Step inside and the Sistine Chapel style ceiling leaves you in no doubt where you are though. A tiny restaurant on Main Street, the menu is classic, simple, mouthwatering Mexican - tacos, burritos, tamale and traditional sides, all done to perfection.
What to order? The tacos. Topped with tomato, onion and cilantro, they do nothing revolutionary, but they do everything perfectly. The Al Pastor has to be tried to be believed and don’t forget the sauce - as the menu says, “Tacos from heaven, hot sauce from hell”!
639 N Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004
512 Rose Ave, Venice, CA 90291
300 S Santa Fe Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90013
As good for your soul as your stomach, Gratitude serves 100% organic, regenerative plant-based fine food in an atmosphere as congenial and welcoming as any you’ll find. As you can probably guess, all the ingredients are seasonal, locally sourced, and fresher than fresh. From salads and sandwiches to tacos and of course kale, there’s choice enough to tempt even the meatiest carnivore to the raw side.
What to order? The “humble” Indian curry bowl is warming, bursting with authentic flavors and topped with the best spicy coconut mint chutney this side of Mumbai. Mix it with the sweet tamarind sauce and you’ll wonder why you ever needed meat in the first place.
Multiple locations - varies
Okay, so maybe Kogi is too famous now to properly qualify as a hidden eat, but this Korean food truck institution (or rather institutions now as there are many trucks) is where LA’s foodie revolution begun in 2008. And amazingly, despite the fame and fortune, Kogi is still churning out amazing, delicious food at crazy prices. $2.29 for a taco! And if you’re all taco’d out, dive into the Kogi dog or blue moon molita, which looks like a UFO landed on your paper plate.
What to order? If you’re an old Kogi hand, you’ll likely love it all. If you’re new to the scene, there’s only one option – the short rib taco. An established classic and largely responsible for Kogi’s success, two crispy homemade tortillas smothered in Korean barbecue, salsa roja, cilantro-onion-lime relish and a Napa Romaine slaw tossed in a chili-soy vinaigrette. Drool.