These Tried-and-True Restaurants Are Some of LA’s Most Iconic Eateries
Like many major cities, the LA culinary scene is known for having a pretty high turnover rate. From economic downturns to the Covid-19 pandemic, owning a restaurant in LA is not for the faint of heart. There are several establishments, however, that have stood the test of time and remain true culinary icons. From Old Hollywood hot spots to casual sandwich shops that never go out of style, the City of Angels is lucky to have so many iconic eateries that are still standing. As we say goodbye to 2022, let’s take some time to recognize some of the most legendary LA restaurants. Whether you’re a local or visiting the city for a few days, don’t forget to add these to your must-try list.
Musso & Frank
Musso & Frank was perhaps the biggest Hollywood hotspot of the Golden Age. Since 1919, this timeless restaurant has been providing LA residents and visitors with premium service and cuisine. From the mirrored bar to the classic red booths, Musso & Frank transports guests back in time to the glamorous days of Old Hollywood. One of the coolest things about dining here is meeting several members of the waitstaff who have been working at Musso & Frank since the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Immerse yourself in the ambiance with a dirty martini and a 12-ounce filet mignon with a side of Bearnaise sauce.
If you’re craving some classic Chinese takeout, Genghis Cohen should be at the top of your list. This West Hollywood gem first opened in 1983. The bright red hanging Chinese lanterns contrast nicely against the dim lighting, creating a cool and cozy vibe for a fun dinner or celebratory date night. Best of all, Genghis Cohen recently launched a killer happy hour, serving up savory bites and cocktails—all for under $8. The spicy bloody mary has a fiery kick thanks to the inclusion of chile vodka, and the butterfly shrimp are perfectly crispy every time.
Location: West Hollywood
Since 1964, Dan Tana’s has been a favorite for the who’s who of Hollywood. This classic Italian joint is located right on Santa Monica Blvd in the heart of West Hollywood. The menu at Dan Tana’s is huge, featuring everything from homemade lasagna to various versions of veal scaloppine. From chicken piccata to shrimp scampi, Dan Tana’s serves up old-school favorites in a vintage setting, whether it’s the indoor dining area with an intimate bar or the charming patio out back. Just be sure to pair your meal with a glass of red or white wine, depending on your dish, for the ultimate experience.
Location: West Hollywood2/14
Canter’s Deli is one of the oldest and most beloved delis in the entire Golden State. Best known for its pastrami Reuben, Canter’s Deli has been wowing tasting buds in LA since 1931. This culinary landmark is known for keeping things traditional and authentic, ensuring that the bread is always freshly baked and the pickles are always made in-house. The 1950s decor is both nostalgic and welcoming, and you’re sure to see a handful of regulars every time you visit. In addition to the pastrami sandwich, Canter’s Deli also makes a mean tuna melt that pairs perfectly with their potato salad.
It doesn’t get more classic than the Polo Lounge. This Beverly Hills staple is an iconic spot to grab a cocktail and some apps before hitting the town. The green walls are complemented by elegant booths that look out onto the string light-covered patio. Since 1941, the Polo Lounge has welcomed the likes of Hollywood icons like Charlie Chaplin. In addition to being a popular spot for caviar and a Pretty in Pink cocktail, the Polo Lounge is a great place for breakfast. From the eggs Benedict to the Belgian waffle, it’s never a bad idea to start your day at this refined and glamorous Beverly Hills restaurant.
Location: Beverly Hills
Cole’s French Dip
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In 1908, Cole’s French Dip created the beloved French dip sandwich. The iconic neon sign catches the eye and even has an arrow pointed straight to the door, making it pretty much impossible to miss. The vintage vibe is enhanced by plush leather booths, taxidermy along the wall and black and white photos that tell the history of Cole’s. Whether you’re looking to grab a martini and a French dip or simply want to play some pool while sipping on a beer, Cole’s French Dip caters to a variety of cravings.
Bay Cities has been making some of the best sandwiches in LA since 1925. This Italian deli and market is known to have a line out the door daily with people itching to get their hands on one of their iconic overstuffed sandwiches. The Godmother is a popular choice—made with prosciutto, ham, capicola, mortadella, Genoa salami and provolone cheese. However, no Bay Cities sandwich is complete without “the works,” which include mild or hot peppers, onions, lettuce and tomatoes. Of course, if you’ve caught a craving for a simple yet satisfying turkey sandwich, Bay Cities also has you covered.
Local Insight: Order ahead for pickup to avoid the intense lines.
Location: Santa Monica
El Coyote Cafe
When it comes to margaritas, El Coyote Cafe is legendary. Having opened in 1931, El Coyote is Hollywood’s oldest Mexican Restaurant. There is perhaps no sight that is as comforting for LA locals as the neon red El Coyote sign. The decked-out interior features wall murals, paintings, hanging sombreros and twinkle lights, making the atmosphere just as enticing as the menu. The food is pretty simple and standard, showcasing tasty and casual bites like nachos and addicting chips and salsa. Like stated before, however, the margaritas are an absolute must. Beware—you won’t be able to have just one.
Location: Beverly Blvd
Allie Lebos graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2017 with a BA in Communication. While in school she was a staff writer at The Daily Nexus for nearly two years. Since graduating she has written for The Palisades Magazine, as well as Hidden Hills Magazine. Currently living in Santa Monica, Allie loves to indulge in good food, hot yoga, and daily walks along the beach; writing articles on travel, special events, as well as features on local businesses and individuals.