Get Your Passport Ready
WRITTEN BY: Michelle Slieff, Alexa Erickson, Deirdre Michalski, TC Franklin, Joe Cannon, Jessica Gomes, Erica Leitz & Nicole Fera
PHOTOGRAPHED BY: Nancy Villere, Cory Critser, Amanda Proudfit & Josie Gonzales
Take a tour around the world. One day we want Cuban food and the next it might be Mediterranean or a taste of India. Lucky for us, we have all of these available right here in our backyard! Check out this list of LA Cuisine full of worldly flavors!
NIGHT + MARKET SONG
Must Have Item: Nam Khao Tod Best: Place to sweat it out—so spicy!
After just opening their second location, Night + Market Song keeps a Thai ambiance that is traditional both in the decor as well as the cuisine. Intense flavors have kept the establishment a favorite among people with a deep, innate love for spicy food. The Nam Khao Tod combines crispy rice salad with sour pork, raw ginger, onion, peanuts, cilantro and chile into the local heat fanatic.
Must Have Item: Bold Ramen Best: Place to make a pasta face
Ramen noodles now have heart. Tatsu is taking their noodles to new heights and new locations, with the company’s second storefront, now open in West L.A. The most mouth-watering item? The Bold Ramen. Don’t be shy, as this dish spices things up with 11 bold ingredients in just the broth. Green onion, a soft full-size boiled egg, and distinguished spices galore make your chopsticks wrap around perfectly cooked noodles. Special soy sauce is flown in weekly from Japan, adding an extra zing to each customizable dish.
FIG & OLIVE
Must Have Item: Manchego, Fig & Marcona Almond Crostini Best: Place to stay skinny while still indulging
Featuring French Riviera inspired cuisine, you won’t feel bad about digging in at Fig & Olive. All dishes are sans butter or cream; the key ingredient is olive oil. Order the Crostini appetizer, mixing and matching from a wide and varied list of gourmet ingredients.
Must Have Item: Rigatoni Pom’Amore Best: Hole-in-the-wall Italian joint
The Rigatoni Pom’Amore is amazing. The creaminess of the tomato sauce emerges from the combination of mascarpone and parmesan cheeses. Brilliant! The rustic Italian pasta dishes are all made in-house with organic flour. The sauces are dripping with authenticity and flavor. One of the most popular dishes is the Bianchi and Neri (black and white thin vermicelli pasta, with shrimp, mushroom, and roasted pancetta in a creamy bisque sauce). Oh my!
THE VERANDA RESTAURANT
Must Have Item: French Toast Souffle Best: Mediterranean fusion tapas
Located on the front veranda of The Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica, The Veranda Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, featuring a worldly cuisine from coastal Californian to Mediterranean infusion. Try one of their Art Deco martinis while lounging in this beachfront restaurant and select tapas to share with friends.
DAPHNE’S GREEK CAFE
Must Have Item: Cali-Greek Bowl Best: California Greek fusion
Amazing gyros, falafels, and crispy shrimp! Choose any one of these and put in your Cali-Greek Bowl. Experience a bowl with a unique flavor profile. This is the perfect meal for someone who might not always eat stuffed grape leaves. I love fusion cuisine, and the Cali-Greek Bowl offers just that. The combination of traditional Mediterranean mixed with coastal California inspiration makes this cuisine inviting for anyone. Daphne’s also has a cool radio station app that you can download and listen to as you ride your bike over for a perfectly balanced lunch. For the stuffed grape leaf lover, don’t worry, they have you covered as well.
RAY’S AND STARK BAR
Must Have Item: Bucatini Best: Alternative city scene
Take in the view. No, not of the beach or the cityscape, but rather of the sensational architecture of the Resnick Exhibition Pavilion while you dine. It should come as no surprise that LA County Museum of Art’s in-house restaurant lends its hand to the food scene with dishes that are beautiful, both sensually and esthetically. Ray’s and Stark Bar blends Mediterranean and Mexo-Pacific flavors with its Bucatini: a bed of squid ink pasta, cherry tomatoes, mint, opal basil, Calabrian chili, calamari, colatura, and bottarga. The pasta makes for a luxurious texture and sets the perfect base for the briny component of the dish.
Must Have Item: 40 Day Dry Aged New York Steak Best: Place to have an indoor campfire
Ever try robata? Enjoy a traditional style of comfort food featuring cuisine that comes from cooking over an open flame using special Japanese charcoal from the seaside village of Wakayama.
Must Have Item: Squid Ink Garganelli Best: Hidden gem
With many of Chef Bruce Kalman’s dishes served on slabs of wood, it’s impossible not to end up sharing bites among the table. In Old Town Pasadena, you’ll be relieved to find this Italian gastropub among the refurbished old buildings, so much so that you’ll want to stay for the Olive Oil Cake after indulging in the Squid Ink Garganelli.
Must Have Item: Strascinati (hen ragu, heirloom spinach, pecorino toscano) Best: Place for a pasta purist to get their fix
With a menu that changes daily, you can forget finding your staple spaghetti dish here. Owner and Executive Chef Evan Funke takes Italian cuisine back to the basics at this Culver City eatery, which is currently the only restaurant in Los Angeles to make their pasta 100 percent by hand. Make sure to check out Funke’s fabulous 20-foot butcher knife outline of California while you’re there—the various knives represent the local farmers and growers that provide Bucato with their produce and proteins.
Must Have Item: Domenico’s Special Best: Place to let your family tree come to life
Having been open since 1954, this staple Italian restaurant takes the title for the oldest restaurant in Long Beach. If you grew up in this neighborhood, then chances are all of your relatives have been here. Your great grandmother most likely met her sweetheart here in high school after a game. The pizza is unique and unlike anything you’ve tried. The pizza is thin crust, the cheese is flipped with the sauce and the toppings are endless. Order the ground pepperoni if you know what’s good for you.
Must Have Item: Cook’s Ranch Pig’s Head Best: Place to pretend you’re in Europe
With this lively and open atmosphere of the bright, naturally lit European style courtyard dining area, you will quickly be whisked out of LA into a romantic land far, far away. A small-plate joint taken to an entirely new level; Republique is the place to take a date you want to impress.
Must Have Item: Escargot Best: French comfort food
What would seem like any typical, typecasted fancy French restaurant is an alternative to your conventional bourgeois, uppity establishment. Petit Trois brings French comfort food to Highland Avenue with a menu that is heartily admired by customers. The Escargot is a favorite among all newcomers, with what can only be described as luxurious.
THE LITTLE DOOR
Must Have Item: Couscous “Royale” Best: Place to get out of the dog house
Need to sweeten up your significant other? This French fare gem is an adorably romantic restaurant. Offering a dimly lit dining area, The Little Door serves exquisitely prepared dishes like the Couscous “Royale, ” made with lamb stew, lamb chops, chicken, and merguez sausage.
Must Have Item: Raw Yellowtail Best: Rustic Italian menu
Nestled inside the aristocratically elegant Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills is Scarpetta. Executive Chef Freddy Vargas has conceptualized a magical tasting Raw Yellowtail dish, which is simply delectable. Your must have item is Chef Freddy’s Raw Yellowtail featuring olio di zenzero and pickled red onion. The beautifully decadent dish arrives hand-carved to your table on masterful dishware. This fresh, wild caught tuna is a buttery texture and melts like warm caramel in your mouth.
Must Have Item: Sonora Style Enchilada Best: Place to learn about LA history
Each food item marks the year in which it was brought onto the menu. Added in 1923, the Sonora Style Enchilada was the first enchilada ever served. Your mom will love the rich history and the date specific menu might inspire a few stories from her. I can hear her now, “Back in my day…” El Cholo brings a sweet reminder that the tradition is deeply rooted within good food.