That Hollywood Magic
The first neighborhood that comes to mind when people think of Los Angeles is Hollywood. The heart of America’s motion picture industry. The “dream factory” that shaped so much of America’s mythos and fueled countless dreams of fame and stardom over the years.
Amid the entertainment magic of Tinseltown is a pair of fascinating restaurants dedicated to magic in a much more direct way.
1. Black Rabbit Rose
As part of the haunted and historic Hillview Building, the Black Rabbit Rose’s legend speaks of ghosts of silent film stars wandering its halls. It boasts a connection to the iconic Italian film star Rudolph Valentino: a hidden private speakeasy that, as the story goes, was uncovered during recent renovations.
It’s only natural, then, that Black Rabbit Rose’s style, decor, and atmosphere hark back to Prohibition-era America. The intimate speakeasy-style eatery embodies two American entertainment mainstays: jazz and stage magic.
Featuring live jazz performances, a delectable and authentic Thai-based menu, and a fun and friendly staff, Black Rabbit Rose is the kind of destination that epitomizes LA cool. The cherry on top is a tongue-in-cheek magic show tailor-made to both delight and confound the crowd — and to deliver a healthy helping of humor in the process.
2. The Magic Castle
An even more mystical destination in Hollywood is the Magic Castle. This private clubhouse for the Academy of Magical Arts devotes itself to magicians and dedicated fans of the arcane. Rumored to be haunted by the legendary Houdini, it was founded in 1909 and has a rich history as a stage for members of the celebrity set seeking out enchantment.
It lays claim to the title of the most unusual private club in the world. It's the most mysterious restaurant in Los Angeles, with a strict dress code and one of the busiest full-service dining rooms in the city. The Castle also contains bars and theaters where at least five magical performances grace the stage on any given night.
There are countless elements of tradition, hidden secrets, and quirks of design. The Castle is decorated with a mish-mash of oddities accumulated over more than a century that add to the mystique. And although it’s open only to friends and members of the Academy that runs it, tourists have gotten in through the goodwill of one of the performers.
An enchanting experience like this is well worth the effort.
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The central business district of Los Angeles is home to a diverse population and some of the most singular eateries anywhere. From fresh farm-to-table dishes to classic French cuisine, the dining establishments here cater to a wide range of culinary preferences. These fancy restaurants in Los Angeles are often popular, making it difficult to secure a table. However, their impressive culinary offerings make them worth the effort and time investment.
An open-air Middle Eastern spot dedicated to honoring and elevating the extraordinary culinary traditions of the region, Southern California’s Bavel is a place where the food is the star of the show.
Offering an array of fresh breads, this restaurant wraps up the experience with desserts like Persian mulberry ice cream. On the strength of its incredible menu, Bavel has earned its ranking among the coolest restaurants in Los Angeles.
A culinary sensation in La Brea, LA’s République is located in a historic building where Charlie Chaplin worked in 1929. A part of the French scene in LA, this is the perfect place to find out-of-this-world pastries and a nourishing selection of pasta, fish, and meat dishes. Its pastry chef won a coveted James Beard Foundation Award for her work in 2022.
The approach centers on the simple (but creative) use of quality ingredients in selections like duck leg confit, mussels, and rotisserie chicken, delivering an authentic flavor that keeps their patrons coming back.
5. Petit Trois
A casual bijou-style spot that serves up a menu of French bistro favorites, Petit Trois combines skilled chefs and excellent service with an air of contemporary cool, using French hip-hop as the theme music for noon to late-night operations. The chefs assemble flavorful dishes on display in front of the customers.
They serve up bistro classics like escargots de Bourgogne, steak frites, and omelets with their own creations. Their specialty — a double cheeseburger served with bordelaise and named the “Big Mec” — brings together the blend of tradition, edgy creativity, and all-around visionary confidence that makes Petit Trois unique.
A daytime cafe with a laid-back vibe in Culver City, Destroyer has become a destination for Angelenos with discerning palates. It offers up strange and beautiful culinary creations that could go toe-to-toe with any of the city’s fine-dining taster menus.
Fans — and it has a lot of them of all ages — often describe Destroyer’s food as from the future. This kid-friendly restaurant is one of the many things to do in LA with kids. It offers innovative twists on presentation and flavor that you’ll find nowhere else. Serving delicious dishes like sunchoke waffles and avocado confit, Destroyer is an experience.
Many of the most beloved and unique rooftop restaurants in Los Angeles are tiny establishments with big reputations, and that’s particularly true of the all-day Silver Lake cafe Sqirl. It claims a loyal community of regulars who line up for signature dishes like brioche toast slathered with seasonal house-made jam and fresh ricotta.
This rooftop dining experience somehow manages to be healthy, delicious, and decadent at the same time. There’s a sorrel rice bowl topped with fried egg, a rich nutty porridge, house-made sausage, and even a sandwich named for meat-loving food critic Jonathan Gold that features prosciutto and fennel on a toasted baguette.
They offer as many satisfying options for vegetarians and vegans as they do for meat lovers. Combined with the temptation of that extraordinary house-made jam — which you can also get by the jar — it’s not surprising that Sqirl tends to be crowded beyond belief. Go early in the morning or later in the afternoon to escape the rush and see panoramic views, and you won’t be disappointed.
8. The Griddle Cafe
Popular with locals and located on a quiet stretch of Sunset Boulevard, the Griddle Cafe is famous for its generous portions, mouth-watering all-day breakfasts, and all-around great American diner food.
The cafe’s creative and whimsical takes on classics like French toast, waffles, and pancakes are like children’s dream food mashups prepared by and for adults, served along with Vermont maple syrup, whipped cream, and French-pressed coffee.
Some of the striking options include French toast with fillings like Chips Ahoy or Nutella or pancakes infused with Kahlua and Bailey’s. Regular versions of these dishes are available too. Lunch features an array of tacos, salads, burgers, and sandwiches on a menu that should please the most ravenous appetite.
9. The Misfit Bar
Located near Santa Monica’s famous 3rd Street Promenade, the Misfit Bar is famous for its joyous atmosphere, delicious cocktails, fine food offerings, and generous definition of “Happy Hour.” The Misfit takes full advantage of its location in one of the city’s historic buildings to bask in a vintage Parisian-style aesthetic with columns, tiled floors, and ambient lighting.
It attracts a vibrant, young, and beautiful Westside crowd and the bar’s signature cocktails are available at half-price from noon until 7 p.m. The Misfit Cocktail leads a roster of potent but delicious concoctions with its smooth and aromatic blend of gin, vermouth, and orange bitters.
Wonders in West LA
When it comes to the concentration of massive amounts of culinary brilliance in a very small area, West Los Angeles is a prime example. Sophisticated fine dining and individual creativity, tradition, innovation, and casual vibes thrive. Diverse sources of inspiration and experiments in atmosphere and flavor attract hungry diners.
This two Michelin-starred restaurant, n/naka, embodies and extends the Japanese cuisine Kaiseki tradition. This modern kaiseki experience focuses on multi-course memorable meals that provide subtle showcases of flavor, texture, and color. It draws on historic haute cuisines from tea ceremonies to the tables of the imperial court, Buddhist monks, and samurai.
n/naka’s Chef Nakayama elaborates on it with modern Californian touches. That means a combination of sashimi bites and delicate aromatic broths alongside a signature pasta dish that combines spaghetti with abalone, black truffle, and pickled cod roe. The chef’s creativity in crafting banquets and dishes means there’s always something fresh to come back for.
11. The Apple Pan
Sometimes, doing simple things well is the key to greatness, and one of the great examples of this in LA is the Apple Pan. A burger-focused eatery that has preserved the bulk of its original menu since it was founded in 1947, the Apple Pan has been almost a living time capsule of the Forties diner experience for most of its more than seven-decade run.
Through consistency and excellence of execution, this menu, featuring a pair of classic burgers and a range of delicious pies, has become an iconic slice of nostalgic America. Recently, the Apple Pan has modernized a few things. It put up a website and added a couple of new cream pie flavors, a vegan burger, and the ability to pay by credit card.
However, this extraordinary diner remains committed to the core of what has made it famous.
12. Electric Karma
One of the best-known restaurants on West 3rd Street, Electric Karma provides an authentic and unconventional take on Punjabi cuisine. It’s a date night favorite with its intimate layout, warm and friendly candle-lit atmosphere, and soundtrack of house and world music backed by silent projections of Bollywood film classics.
It all forms a perfect backdrop for the delicious food of Chef Paramjit Singh. His signature dishes include the coconut curry Nirvana Chicken and the Tandoori Platter. Electric Karma provides a compelling showcase for delicious vegetarian and vegan from Punjabi traditions like masala dosa and paneer tikka.
13. Son of a Gun
A delightful bohemian outpost in a fashionable stretch of West LA, Son of a Gun is known for its innovative Californian seafood menu that includes a wide range of delectable small bites and sandwiches.
A group of uniquely-crafted raw dishes showcases the flavors of amberjack, hamachi, and tuna paired with a wide variety of unexpected ingredients, while rich delights like the buttery lobster roll and the layered tuna melt win a loyal clientele. Some of Son of a Gun’s classic dishes actually go beyond seafood.
The fried chicken, Nashville hot fried chicken sandwiches, and smoked baby back ribs are all famous in their own right. A high-quality wine list ties the whole experience together.
Crosstown Cultural Delights
All across LA, amazing eateries represent their cultures and offer fresh takes on authentic dishes. Some of the best examples can be found sprinkled across the city and the greater Los Angeles area. No matter where you are in the city, there’s a good chance that you’re not far from some very special dining experiences.
14. Chi Spacca
A perfect spot in the Mozza complex at Melrose and Highland, Chi Spacca features an intimate ten-table dining room. It displays an unabashed devotion to the joys of meat. This upscale and extravagant take is definitely a destination for parties looking to indulge who aren’t worried about price.
Starting a delicious meal here with a cheesy Focaccia de Recco and a bottle of wine can take you on a journey through several more bottles accompanied by six-meat charcuterie board, grilled octopus, beef and bone marrow pie, or a massive tomahawk steak that’s only the third-largest piece of meat on the menu.
Chi Spacca serves it all up with deliciousness and consistency, making it an unbeatable choice for fine diners with a meat craving.
Located on the outer edges of Koreatown, Guelaguetza is one of the absolute standouts in a thriving Los Angeles Mexican food scene. The focus is on one of the less familiar parts of the Mexican culinary world: Oaxaca, some of the best examples of this region's tradition.
Oaxacan cuisine is built around empanadas, molotes (stuffed fry-bread), a variety of meat and seafood plates, and the famous mole sauces that blend savory Mexican spices and chilies with Oaxaca’s famous chocolate. Guelaguetza delivers it all with amazing quality alongside its signature mezcal margaritas.
It also generates a lively atmosphere with a big, buzzing dining room and a live mariachi band.
16. Sushi Gen
This bustling sushi place in a strip mall between the Arts District and Little Tokyo is far from the only great choice for sushi in Los Angeles. What makes Sushi Gen special, though, is that its excellent food is affordable in a way that’s hard to find elsewhere without losing quality.
It's especially famous for the sashimi special, a robust and diverse platter of sashimi that runs just over twenty dollars. Sushi Gen also offers an omakase experience that ranks with any of the top sushi places in LA. It’s easy to understand why it attracts long lineups of enthusiastic diners.
17. Yang’s Kitchen
A popular spot, Yang's Kitchen generated buzz in 2019 when it opened as a daytime counter-only eatery with a Taiwanese flavor. It has grown in scale and ambition since.
It's become a full-service restaurant with a curated list of natural wines that pays attention to its ingredients. It also pays special care for its employees' wages. Above all, it offers a menu full of deliciously original dishes.
Yang's is a great choice for breakfast or lunch. It has a selection of simple and larger dishes and customizable breakfast plates. However, it’s at dinner time when it becomes one of the city’s most compelling culinary destinations.
The menu features decadent appetizers, such as smoked fish dip with sesame bread, while its entrees set this restaurant high in the LA food scene. Barbecued prawns on a bed of millet and shrimp jus, Hainan fish rice featuring dry-aged barramundi, and a rich, savory, and peanutty dan dan campanelle are a few of the dishes drawing praise from the food critics.
On its current path, as Yang’s continues to experiment and try new things, it looks like the buzz is only going to grow.
Discover, Dine & Delight: Los Angeles Awaits!
The culture of high-flying culinary creators in LA has given rise to many more remarkable restaurants than we can cover in a single post. The next time you travel through Los Angeles, you definitely owe it to yourself to explore its ever-thriving culinary scene.
Naturally, the many dreamers, darers, and doers of the City of Angels are the kind of people we like to visit as often as we can. Immerse yourself in a breathtaking world of imagination when you discover one of our shows in Los Angeles.