Restaurants in Los Angeles
Dining in LA is as exciting and varied as the rest of the city's offerings. LA's restaurants cater to every cuisine and budget imaginable, from 12-course feasts with celebrities on the side, to delicious Mexican burritos from a sidewalk café. Apart from the wonderful variety of ethnic food, there is a strong emphasis on organic and health foods and many eateries now cater to this market. Another distinctive LA trend is eclectic and experimental food, making this city the proud progenitor of the Thai Chicken Pizza as well as its own distinctive style of fusion sushi.
Many top restaurants and their celebrity chefs are clustered on the Westside, while the vintage restaurants are located downtown and in Hollywood. With its year-round mild climate outdoor dining is popular, helping to make power lunches the stuff of ritual among locals.
Tips of 15 to 20% are expected; console yourself with the thought that your generosity may be funding a future Oscar-winning script. Smoking is banned in all restaurants and transgressors may be fined.
Spago Beverly Hills
Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck wows the rich and famous at his flagship restaurant that boasts a reputation as one of the finest in LA. Centred in an outdoor courtyard, the olive tree shaded tables are the most desirable and the place for celebrity sightings. Chefs recreate Puck's classic dishes, including his famous designer pizzas, and Spago classics such as Wolfgang's Original Veal Weinerschnitzel. Creative desserts add a special finish to any meal. Advanced reservations essential. Open for lunch from Monday to Saturday, and dinner every day.
Address: 176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills
Telephone: (310) 385 0880
Valentino Santa Monica
A Santa Monica institution, this is one of the top Italian restaurants in the country, boasting an impressive wine cellar, complementing the exquisite modern Italian cuisine. Piero Selvaggio has raked in numerous awards for his flagship restaurant, attracting an elegant clientele. The menu tempts guests with delicious options such as grilled veal chops with garlic and wild mushroom sauce, or seafood ravioli. Closed on Sundays, open for dinner the rest of the week and lunch on Fridays, reservations essential.
Address: 3115 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica
Telephone: (310) 829 4313
Patina is the flagship restaurant of chef Joaquim Splichal, whose nouvelle cuisine has long been a favourite with Hollywood's elite. The style is understated elegance, with beautifully presented food and superior service. There are exquisite seasonal tasting menus including wild game and seafood, as well as garden dishes for vegetarians. Patina is justifiably famous for its service and outstanding wine list. Reservations essential, closed on Mondays.
Address: 141 S. Grand Avenue, Downtown LA
Telephone: (866) 972 8462
Japanese chef/owner Nobuyuki Matsuhisa creates fantastic dishes by blending South American spices and salsas with Japanese cuisine, presenting diners with one of the most creative menus in the city. Tuna filled with black truffles and capped with caviar, or sautéed squid in a garlic and soy sauce are examples of the delicacies available in addition to delicate sushi rolls with garlic, fresh chilli and special sauces. Matsuhisa is popular with celebrities and gourmets, reservations are essential. Open all week for dinner and for lunch Monday to Friday.
Address: 129 North La Cienega Boulevard, Beverly Hills
Telephone: (310) 659 9639
Considered by many to be the best seafood house in LA, Water Grill is always packed with downtown business folk who are joined in the evening by concert and theatre patrons. It is known particularly for its fish and shellfish, and boasts a great oyster bar, as well as a superb wine cellar. Irresistible desserts include maple cheesecake and caramel bread pudding. Reservations recommended. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Address: 544 South Grand Avenue, Downtown
Telephone: (213) 891 0900
Chinois on Main
This is one of LA's most crowded restaurants and also one of the noisiest, packed with locals, celebrities and visitors who come in awe of Wolfgang Puck's reputation and leave enchanted by the food. The style of cuisine is a mixture of different ethnicities, particularly a fusion of Chinese and French ingredients and technique. The menu includes signature dishes such as the Whole Sizzling Catfish, dramatically presented, as well as seasonal creations that include Shanghai lobster with a spicy ginger-curry sauce or roasted Cantonese duck. Reservations essential. Dinner daily and lunch Wednesday to Friday.
Address: 2709 Main Street, Santa Monica
Telephone: (310) 392 9025
Border Grill is a trendy, pleasantly raucous and brightly painted eatery whose atmosphere perfectly complements the vibrant flavours and bold, colourful foods of Mexico as presented by celebrity chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. The menu features authentic dishes learnt in the homes and markets of Mexico with an added touch of gourmet ingenuity, and ranges from tamales, empanadas and tacos to daily ceviche specials and stuffed tortillas, accompanied by excellent margaritas and fine tequilas. Lunch and dinner daily, and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
Address: 445 South Figueroa St, Downtown LA.
Telephone: (213) 486 5171
Overlooking the Maguire Gardens, Café Pinot is ideally located for a business lunch or pre-theatre dinner (offering a free shuttle to the Music Centre), with an outdoor terrace shaded by old olive trees. One of the city's most popular restaurants, it is modelled after Patina: the top-ranked flagship restaurant, but is designed to be less formal with lighter bistro-style meals. The tender mustard-crusted rotisserie chicken is superb, and there is also fresh fish, pastas and lamb shank to enjoy. Reservations essential. Lunch Monday to Friday, and dinner Monday to Saturday.
Address: 700 West Fifth Street, Downtown LA
Telephone: (213) 239 6500
This luxurious restaurant is set in an Italian Romanesque-styled building, constructed in 1928, which still retains its Art Deco elegance and charm. Its tempting menu offers delicious Italian fare such as basil gnocchi or porcini mushroom stuffed ravioli. The linguini with lobster and the braised short ribs are also good. Reservations are essential, open for dinner Wednesday to Saturday.
Address: 617 S. Olive Street, Los Angeles
Telephone: (213) 488 9488
The Ivy is a world-famous Los Angeles restaurant, having had a reputation for being the best place to spot Hollywood celebrities and insiders, the restaurant has fed everyone from Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise to Paris Hilton and Beyonce. Although no longer the go-to spot for A-listers, the New York-style food and cocktails are good, with cheeful decor and a lively atmosphere. Reservations are essential, prices tend to be excessive.
Address: 113 N Roberston Blvd
Telephone: (310) 274-8303
Imagine eating a gourmet meal in total darkness, experiencing the food and your dining partners in a whole new way. That's the magic of Dining in the Dark at Opaque, guaranteed to be one of the most interesting and enjoyable restaurant experiences of your life. The wait staff are all legally blind, but their service is impeccable, and highly skilled. They guide the dining guests to their tables, bring the food, orientate one to the table layout and cuisine, and generally serve as host and chaperone.
The dishes, which guests select in the lighted lobby before being lead into the darkness, includes Ahi tuna tartar, beef tenderloin, and chocolate dessert cake. Expect to abandon your silverware around the main course when most diners report using their hands and loving every minute of it. At around $90 per person, it's not cheap but the overall experience is truly priceless.
Address: 2020 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica
Telephone: (310) 546 7619
With great views of the sea and pier in summer, and cosy, warm booths in winter, the Beachcomber Café is a local favourite on the rapidly regenerating Malibu Pier. The service is friendly and attentive, and the eclectic fusion menu is strong on seafood (try the Ahi Tuna burger). A good value wine list as well as fantastic cocktail choices are available.
Address: 15 Crystal Cove, Newport Coast, CA
Telephone: (310) 456-9800