My rating: 1-5 on taste, atmosphere, and service
Best of LA
Heart and the Hunter (West Hollywood) I went here for brunch with my roommates. You order in the front and they bring it to you. I got the quinoa bowl with a poached egg on top. Not the best breakfast dish I’ve eaten but the biscuits are AMAZING. Perfectly flaky and buttery. Plus they come with homemade butters and jams. The maple butter melts in your mouth. Atmosphere: rustic shabby chic. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Areal (Venice and Santa Monica) I went here for bottomless mimosas ($15) with a group of girlfriends. I ordered the eggs Benedict but my favorite dish was the crab cakes with poached eggs that my friend ordered. Atmosphere: sophisticated beachy. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 4 service)
Sunny Spot (Venice) A very popular brunch spot in Venice. I ordered the roasted veggie (baby turnip and cauliflower) omelet. One of Roy Choi’s (kogi truck owners) restaurants so you know it’s good. The dishes have lots of tropical spices and fruits. Atmosphere: eclectic, whimsical. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Blu jam (West Hollywood) A typical LA brunch place on Melrose. The French toast and eggs benedict are the best brunch items. They also have French roast coffee. The only reason I gave it a 4 for ambiance is because it’s always very crowded. Go early to beat the morning rush. Atmosphere: LA-feel, cozy, trendy. (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
Brick + Mortar (Santa Monica) I have been here for a couple of my friend’s birthdays. They have bottomless mimosas ($15) and a live DJ. They also have a Bloody Mary bar that looks good. I recommend the French toast with fresh berries and the eggs benedict. Atmosphere: modern, upbeat, trendy. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 4 service)
26 Beach (Venice) I went here for dinner but I heard brunch is excellent. Famous for their Sushi Burger. On the same street as Scopa Italian Roots and Sunny Spot. Atmosphere: upscale beachy. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
The Griddle (West Hollywood) This is an LA staple. Breakfast served all day. The pancakes are outrageously large to the point that it is almost comical. I split with my friend and we still had leftovers. My group ordered pancakes called “Eyes Wide Open” (made with a shot of espresso), the “Red Velvet” panCAKE, the “Black Magic” (made with Oreos), and the “Addicted to Noisella” stuffed French Toast. I wished the “Eyes Wide Open” tasted more like coffee. The Nutella French Toast was the best. Atmosphere: all-American diner, comfort food. (3 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
Huckleberry (Brentwood) I have been here a couple of times and it never disappoints. Same owners as Sweet Rose, Milo & Olive, and Rustic Canyon. They use fresh, local, and organic ingredients. The pastries are homemade and delicious. If it’s not busy the owner will send over pastries on the house! Atmosphere: rustic, cute café. ( 5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Eggslut (Downtown) At grand central in Downtown LA. There is always a line but it is worth the wait. I recommend the Fairfax—scrambled eggs with caramelized onions on a brioche bun. Atmosphere: trendy street-food. 4( taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
Apple Pan (Santa Monica) Traditional American diner with all your favorite comfort foods. Atmosphere: typical diner. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 4 service)
Bru’s Wiffle (Brentwood) I went here with two friends and we split 3 entrées– the banana pecan waffle (could have used more toppings), the eggs Benedict served on three mini waffles, and the cheesy polenta eggs (too much polenta). At the end of our meal the manager brought us the churro waffle topped with cinnamon ice cream FREE of charge to apologize for the wait, even though we got our food quickly. Atmosphere: casual. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
Monsieur Marcel (Santa Monica and West Hollywood) A tiny French cafe located in the center of third street promenade. I was not amazed by the food but the outdoor seating is great on a sunny day and for people watching! I got the Eggs Benedict with spinach and they bring you a baguette with butter. I’ve heard the mussels are good too. Atmosphere: simple, classic French (3 taste, 5 atmosphere, 4 service)
Malibu Farm (Malibu Pier) I went to the cafe at the end of the pier but they also have a restaurant. The dishes are locally sourced and organic. I got the egg vegetable plate (that comes with potatoes and whole wheat toast) and my friend got the egg sandwich. Large servings for the price and quality. Everything was delicious. You order inside at the front then find a table. They offer indoor and outdoor seating. We enjoyed sitting outside and watching the paddle boarders. Very fast service. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service). To read more click here.
Want to go:
- Salt’s Cure (Santa Monica) They buy their produce and animal products from local farms.
- Tart (Beverly Hills) I’ve never actually been here but if you jump in the pool with your clothes on they will give only you 50% off your meal (excluding drinks). If you jump in the pool with a working phone they will comp your entire party’s meal (including drinks!).
- The Tavern (Brentwood) A bit pricey
- Cadet (Santa Monica on Wilshire) French country-side inspired
- Salt Air (Venice) Good Seafood
- Sqirl (Silver lake) Known for their the toast and homemade jam
- Du-Par’s (Beverly Hills, Pasadena, and other) Known for Danishes and pies
- Bouchon (Beverly Hills) Bakery
- Daily Dose (Downtown) Good daily specials. Vegetarian and organic options available.
- Marmalade Café (Malibu) Healthy brunch place across from the ocean.
Village Idiot (West Hollywood on Melrose) High quality meat, good happy hour and beer selection. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Del Rey Deli (Playa Del Rey) My aunt and her husband’s place. They serve sandwiches and soups made with high-quality meat and cheese, among other tasty sides. Check out their instagram for photos! (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Tripel (Playa Del Rey) A small locally-sourced restaurant with a gastro-esque feel. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Fundamental (Westwood) Upscale modern American food. I came here for happy hour. The BLT is delicious but very tiny. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
Cha Cha Chicken (Venice) BYOB Caribbean food. The food is so-so but it is a fun place to come with friends. You can bring your own drinks. I ordered the Cha Cha Chicken with their famous Jamaican Jerk Sauce. It also came with corn, fried plantains, and dirty rice. It’s a lot of food for what you pay. Atmosphere: laidback, casual, chill, island feel. You order at the front and sit outside under a canopy. Tip: It’s a 3-minute walk from the beach. Service is a bit slow. Took about 20-25 minutes to get our food. (3 taste, 4 atmosphere, 3 service)
AOC (West Hollywood) California-French small plates and wine (3 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Animal (N Fairfax) Part of Jon and Vinny’s restaurants (Son of a Gun, Trois Mec, and Petit Trois, Helen’s).Very creative and adventurous tapas food. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service). Click here for photos.
East Borough (Costa Mesa and Culver City) Authentic Vietnamese food with a trendy street-food vibe. New age Vietnamese café that uses fresh ingredients. Recommend: the pho baguette, the borough spring roll, and pickled mango kale salad. The iced coffee is good too. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service). See Upscale Fast-Food.
Wurstküche (Venice and Downtown) Specialize in exotic German sausages and beer. (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
Public School 310 (Culver City) Great beer on tap. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
Bay Cities Deli (Santa Monica) Italian sandwiches. (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
La Paella (on San Vicente near Beverly Hills) Spanish food with good Sangria. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Sunny Blue (Santa Monica and Culver City) Japanese rice balls. (2 taste, 4 atmosphere, 4 service)
Fig & Olive (West Hollywood and Newport) Upscale Mediterranean food. Yummy appetizers. The atmosphere is clean, simple, and chic. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Simmzy’s (Venice, Manhattan Beach, and Long Beach) Beachy pub with over 25 craft beers on tap. Food: the blue cheese haystack fries and the burger; Beer: Oskar Blues Old Chub. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 4 service)
Comoncy Café (Beverly Hills and Studio City) Fresh simple sandwiches, salads, and coffee. Casual. (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
TLT (Westwood) Mexican/Asian fusion. TLT grew out of the Lime Food Truck. The food is unique and full of flavor. They have tacos, sliders, and veggie sides with an added flair. Lots of spices and marinades. They also serve craft beer. Recommend: PBAT (braised pork belly sandwich), Brussels Sprouts (with prosciutto and chipotle-honey aioli), and Seared-Ahi Tuna Taco. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service). See Upscale Fast-Food.
Want to go:
- Gjelina (Venice) On Abbot Kinney. Must get the butterscotch dessert!
- The Stinking Rose (Beverly Hills) Everything has garlic in it.
- Petit Trois (Hollywood) Simple French bistro. Casual version of Trois Mec.
- The Fat Dog (West Hollywood on Fairfax) Gastropub with craft beer, happy hour, and brunch
- Faith & Flower (Downtown) New rustic-style American restaurant.
- République (off of Wilshire near the La Brea Tar Pits) Mixture of French and Korean food. Try the kimchi fried rice.
- Lukshon (Culver City) Asian fusion
- Alibi Room (Venice) Rok Choi’s restaurant, down the street from A-Frame
- Sticky Rice (Downtown, Grand Central Market) Organic Thai street/comfort food
- Ink (Melrose) Minimalist new-age American
- Son of a Gun (Hollywood) Part of Jon and Vinny’s restaurants (Animal, Trois Mec, and Petit Trois, Helen’s)
Stout (Santa Monica, Studio City, and Hollywood) An upscale Gastropub that serves unique burgers and craft beers. Great burger. Great beer. Definitely recommend. Atmosphere: It has an industrial but trendy LA-feel. Tip: They will sample any of the beers on the menu so be sure to ask if you are unsure on what to order! (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Father’s Office (Santa Monica and Culver City) Small Gastropub with 35+ craft beers on tap. Atmosphere: Lively, dark, and small. Tip: Go early to get a table. The Santa Monica location is tiny but the other location is bigger. You must be 21+ to go inside. They also sample their beers. (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
Plan Check (Sawtelle, Fairfax, and Downtown) High-end burger place known for their ketchup leather. Delicious burger but not as good as Stout or Father’s Office. Atmosphere: casual, cozy, trendy. Tip: They sing on your birthday and bring a free dessert. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Din Tai Fung (Glendale, Costa Mesa, and other) World renowned Chinese dumpling house known for their soup dumplings. You must get the taro and red bean bun. Warning they do add MSG to their food. I do not mind it but my mom (who has sensitive taste buds) said it ruined the meal for her. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
East Borough (Costa Mesa and Culver City) Authentic Vietnamese food with a trendy street-food vibe. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Genwa (Beverely Hills) Upscale Korean BBQ place in Beverly Hills. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Tujita (Sawtelle St.) Ramen house on Sawtelle.There is always a line out the door but it is worth the wait. The noodles and broth come separately. You dip the noodles into the thick flavorful broth. Very rich and delicious. (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 4 service)
Tatsu (Sawtelle and Melrose) Hipper and less authentic than Tujita. You order on Ipads. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
Komodo (Santa Monica) Asian- Mexican fusion. Food truck turned café, although they still have their food truck. You can get their fresh meat and toppings in a taco, burrito, or bowl. (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
A-frame (Culver City) Roy Choi’s Hawaiian restaurant. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
Mama Hong’s (Westwood) My favorite Pho place down the street from UCLA on Wilshire. Nourishing and delicious. (5 taste, 3 atmosphere, 5 service)
Rock Sugar (Multiple in LA) Pan-Asian cuisine. (5 taste, 3 atmosphere, 5 service)
TLT (Multiple) Food truck turned café, Asian- Mexican fusion. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Kobawoo House (Korea Town) Korean BBQ. (5 taste, 3 atmosphere, 5 service)
Scopa Italian Roots (Venice) Next to Sunny Spot on Washington Blvd. I recommend the squash blossoms. They also have a good brunch and drink menu. (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
Milo & Olive (Santa Monica) Same owners as Sweet Rose, Rustic Canyon, and Huckleberry. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Mendocino Farms (Multiple) Upscale sandwiches. (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
Au Lac (Fountain Valley and Downtown LA) They specialize in Vietnamese/Chinese raw food but also have vegan and vegetarian options. The atmosphere does not match the price of the food; however, the eloquently prepared raw entrées belie the cheesy Chinese décor. The servers are very attentive. Our waitress gave us extra peanut sauce for our leftovers. They serve free filtered alkaline water (at Pressed Juicery it’s $2.50 a bottle). Recommend: steamed jicama rolls with peanut sauce, “cream cheese” and flaxseed crackers, curried rice, kelp noodles chow mein, and the tiRAWmisu.(5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service). Click here for photos.
True Foods (Multiple) My all time favorite restaurant. They offer vegan, vegetarian, and gluten- free dishes as well as sustainable organic meat. Their menu changes seasonally to serve the freshest ingredients. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service). Click here for photos.
Kreation (Beverly Hills, Abbot Kinney ) 100% organic Middle Eastern cuisine. They offer an array of brunch dishes, tapas, desserts, and juices. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service). To read more click here.
Urth Caffé (Multiple in LA) With multiple locations all over LA, Urth has become a staple restaurant for LA foodies. They specialize in organic coffees and breakfast items. I prefer their tea lattes though. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 4 service). To read more click here.
Gracias Madre (West Hollywood) Plant-based 100% organic Mexican food. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Café Gratitude (Larchmont, Downtown, and Venice) 100% organic plant-based cuisine with dishes ranging from indian curry to pesto kelp noodles . ordered the “Fabulous,” raw lasagna with squash blossoms and Brazil nut Parmesan. The vibrant colors in the dishes make them look more like art than food. They offer everything a vegan could wish for—cashew nacho cheese, pumpkin seed pesto, and tiramisu with coconut cashew cream (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service). To read more click here.
Sage (Culver City, Echo Park, and Pasadena ) Organic “field to table” bistro. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Goldie’s (Beverly Hills) Farm-to-plate dishes. Great bread and brunch. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Eveleigh (West Hollywood on Sunset) Same owners as Goldie’s (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Want to go:
- Manhattan Beach Post– farm-to-plate food
- Kye’s (Santa Monica on Montana) – Healthy Asian- inspired café
Sugar Fish (Brentwood) Upscale sushi. I came here for the four-course Dine LA meal: First course – seasoned edamame; second course – one piece of salmon sashimi; third course – 4 pieces of sashimi (albacore, salmon, yellowtail, and scallop). My favorite was the scallop piece. The fourth course was a toro hand roll. Cost $20. Recommend: “Trust Me” meal. Atmosphere: clean, simple, trendy. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service). See Celebration Dinners.
Katsuya (Brentwood and Beverly Hills) Another upscale sushi place known for their crispy rice and spicy tuna. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Flores and The Ladies Gunboat Society (on Sawtelle) Flores uses fresh ingredients but takes it to the next level with rich flavors and decadent sauces. Everything is served family style. The décor of Flores is a fairy’s cavern meets a grandma’s living room with vintage-style mismatched silverware and plates. We ordered the house made biscuits with maple butter and sea salt, toasted farro risotto, seared diver scallops, and salmon. The desserts are out of this world. We ordered the vanilla bean cake with mascarpone mousse and the berry crumble with buttermilk ice cream. The cake was extremely moist and rich. Recommend: the biscuits, scallops, and vanilla bean cake. Atmosphere: trendy, vintage/rustic, modern eclectic. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service). See Celebration Dinners.
The Ivy (Beverly Hills and Santa Monica) I came here for my 21st birthday. You are greeted with complimentary champagne and ushered into an elegant living room with a live pianist and fireplace. The whole restaurant is covered in huge floral printed couches and pillows. We ordered the fried calamari, oysters, halibut, black cod with ginger coconut curry, and wild swordfish. While the food was delicious, this is a place you go to enjoy the atmosphere. The servers make your experience very magical and special. Dessert is brought out with a firecracker candle. There is a good chance you will see a celebrity—we saw Larry Flynt. Recommend: The black cod with fresh ginger and coconut curry. Atmosphere: lavish and elegant (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service). Click here for photos.
Lucques (West Hollywood) I came here on for my college graduation night with my family. The servers are very attentive. The owner actually checked in on us and asked how our meal was. We ordered the scallops, the halibut, the market fish, and the lamb. For dessert we ordered the chocolate tart with espresso hazelnut and cardamom ice cream and the shortcake with rose ice cream. The food is decent but not the best I’ve tasted in that price range. Recommend: the scallops and the halibut. Atmosphere: elegant, sophisticated. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service). Click here for photos.
The Tasting Kitchen (Venice) Great seafood and pasta. Large wine selection. Recommend: Clams appetizer and the tagliarini with shrimp. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Want to go:
- Alma – At the very top of my list (when I have $100+ laying around). They offer a 9-course tasting menu for $110. They get all their produce from a community garden. I saw the co-owners speak at the Healthy Campus Initiative Symposium at UCLA. Unfortunately, they did not give out free food.
- Nobu – Fancy and established sushi restaurant in Malibu and Beverly Hills. The Kardashians eat here.
- Trois Mec – Upscale French restaurant. You must order a dining ticket two weeks in advance to reserve a table. Tickets run about $85-100 per person.
- N/Naka– Extremely expensive (150+) modern Japanese food. Reservations only.