Taste the West: Los Angeles
One city, 1,000 flavors. Our guide to L.A.’s brightest foodie stars
Find the best of SoCal’s organic bounty—from ramps to clingstone peaches—pickled and preserved at Sqirl, a funky Silver Lake cafe and market. Owner and jammaker Jessica Koslow, a former pastry chef, opened the cafe in fall 2012 but her jam-making classes already have a cult following.
Umami Burger, the burger powerhouse known for its creative toppings and U-branded buns, started out as a modest SoCal chain before sweeping across the country. Local chef Ricardao Zarate crowns its Hatch burger as king: “It’s really spicy but not overpowering, with house cheese and four kinds of green chiles.”
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L.A.’s Koreatown is a seductive assortment of chiles, grilled meats, and lots and lots of mekgeolli, a fermented rice wine that goes down easy. Our picks, gleaned from local chef Debbie Lee, from the best pub for spicy chicken wings (Dansungsa, pictured) to an elusive cart worth stalking for its sweet rice pancakes (Koo’s).
Dylan Lauren first saw Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory on her 5th birthday, and when you set foot inside Dylan’s Candy Bar at the Original Farmers Market, it’s obvious that the land of Oompa-Loompas had quite an impact (think candy wallpaper, lollipop lights, and oodles of sweet treats).
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Proof Bakery feels like the heart of the Atwater Village neighborhood. Locals swear by its black sesame financiers, flourless chocolate torte topped with cocoa nibs and, our favorite, a buttery croque monsieur tartine on fresh-baked brioche.
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It’s not exactly a restaurant, but strolling the colorful Santa Monica Pier with an enormous funnel cake or hot dog in hand can rival the finest L.A. dining. Stretching 1,650 feet over sand and into the Pacific, the pier is like a taste of childhood, complete with the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel.
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Euphoria Loves Rawvolution is vegan, gluten-free, raw—and yet, somehow, surprisingly delicious. Flop on a funky couch and check out the rotating art show on the walls as you drink an Uber Protein Shake, or munch on a Tiger Roll with sweet chile cashew cream sauce.
For the latest in pre-Prohibition era cocktails, try The Parish, an English gastropub whipping up snow cone-like drinks known as cobblers. The icy cocktails date back to the 1830s, but Parish bartender Ricky Yarnall combines soft pellet ice, dry sherry, lemon juice, berries, and a dash of absinth for a summery, contemporary version. Snag a half-dozen of the briny Blue-point oysters and a seat on the second-story patio.
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Tierra Mia mixes the best of L.A. food style with Latin American roots. Everything, from the homemade pastries to coffee beans (also roasted in-house), has a south-of-the-border flair: try the stick-to-your-fingers tres leches muffins and a cinnamon-y horchata latte.
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The latest hot spot to open in the once-gritty Arts District, Bestia specializes in rustic pastas, like perfectly al dente hand rolled pistachio fusilli with goat meat ragu, and housemade charctuerie, served with dollops of housemade green mustard.