The best way to get to know a city is through its cuisine, which is why we wasted no time sitting down to eat when we arrived in Los Angeles for 72 hours last month. We covered a lot of ground in three days, starting off in West Hollywood with excursions to Malibu, Koreatown, Venice and more. If you find yourself in L.A. with only a few days to spare like us, do yourself a favor and hit as many of these places as possible. Though each is completely different in its own way, they all carry the spirit of this great SoCal city.
Chef Vic Casanova and partner Seth Glassman pay homage to the iconic Italian establishments of 1950s NYC with Pistola, and it truly has some of the best homemade pastas we’ve had in this country. The rigatoni a la vodka is perfectly executed, and we had an orecchiette special with sausage and greens that reminded us of eating at our aunt’s house in Italy. Make sure to start with the meatballs and chopped salad, and don’t leave without having one of their excellent steaks like the 18 oz dry-aged Delmonico.
Situated inside Koreatown’s Line Hotel, POT is not to be missed when visiting L.A. The space is energetic and laid-back, and Chef Roy Choi’s menu is full of his inventive Korean cuisine – we truly can’t get enough. Go with a group and order a pitcher of cocktails to get the party started and definitely try the crispy Korean rice cakes, fried rice and BBQ galbi to start. Get a hot pot for the table if you’re all fans of spice – they make it strong but not overwhelmingly so.
You may recognize this Malibu roadside seafood spot from movies like The Fast and the Furious and Point Break, but it’s also the perfect place to stop for lunch if you’re taking a ride up the Pacific Coast Highway (we recommend making that ride on a motorcycle, for the record). They serve tons of fresh seafood like steamed lobster and clams, fish tacos and crab cakes. Go for a good bite and even better view.
The Tasting Kitchen
The bar manager at Workshop Kitchen + Bar in Palm Springs recommended we come here during our stay in Venice, and it did not disappoint. Go early if you want a full pick from the menu as they were running out of dishes near the end of brunch, but anything you order will be excellent. The chicken and waffles was the perfect mix of sweet and savory, as was the grilled cheese and cured pear sandwich. Wash it all down with a cocktail like the French Tutor (Pernod, lemon, Chardonnay) or get a double buzz sipping the Night Shift (cold espresso, bourbon, milk).
You’ll find this sunny chain all through California, and we can only hope it spreads to other states soon. The cafeteria-style marketplace serves seasonal comfort food with something for everyone from deliciously prepared veggies and grains, unique sandwiches and slow-simmered braises like short ribs. It’s quick and convenient too, so we suggest picking up a few things before the airport to make your plane ride a lot more pleasant.
Serving up New York-inspired thin crust pizza with an abundance of fresh California produce, Pizzanista’s pies are the perfect mix of old world and new. Founded in 2011 by Price Latimer and Salman Agah, the family-run business just opened another location in Long Beach where they serve up everything from a classic margarita to their famous macaroni and cheese pizza, available on Sundays only. And they cater to everyone with tons of vegan and gluten-free options.
It’s only right to pay homage to the Prohibition era of Lucky Luciano and Al Capone when opening a speakeasy, and the team over at Guest Room does it damn well. Situated above Estate Restaurant + Bar in Santa Monica, mixologist Greg Bryson’s menu takes timeless classics and gives them imaginative twists. Go for his take on the traditional and have a Whiskey Sour or Tom Collins, or try something new like the Devils Candy, made with rye, sherry and sour cherry bitters. Grab a couple small plates so you can drink as many cocktails as possible.
Main image by Max Schwartz