What are the five best Los Angeles food experiences?

Answers from Our Experts (4)

Kim Atkinson
Melisse©Melisse

Wolfgang Puck and his California Cuisine — think smoked salmon topped pizzas and composed beet salads — may have put this western state on the culinary map in the 1980s, but in recent years, the dining scene in Los Angeles has been generating plenty of buzz, with standouts such as the Mad Hatterish modernist conceptions at The Bazaar and Mario Batali’s Italian eatery-turned-foodie-mecca Osteria Mozza.

Wolfgang Puck is perhaps the most recognizable name in and outside of the culinary world, and Spago Beverly Hills is the flagship of his empire. The famous Austrian also has Chinois, CUT, WP24 and his newest, Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air. If you’re star-seeking, Spago is probably your best bet for a famous face (Tom Cruise is a big fan), but you really can’t go wrong with any of Puck’s offerings. Suzanne Goin is a superstar in Los Angeles, with three restaurants — AOC, Tavern and Hungry Cat. Lucques, opened in 1998 to rave reviews, is her first and still draws foodies who come here for Sunday suppers, prix-fixe lunches or the enjoyable bar menu. Reservations are hard to come by, but when you finally score one, you’ll be glad you waited for a taste of co-owner and chef Goin’s simple and absolutely delicious dishes. In 1999, Nobu Malibu opened its doors in the Malibu Country Mart shopping center at Cross Creek Road and the Pacific Coast Highway, and reservations have been hard to come by ever since. But, Nobu Los Angeles has finally taken over the space formerly occupied by L’Orangerie, not to mention Matsuhisa Beverly Hills has opened as well; so sushi lovers can choose from more than one location for a mouthful of chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa’s signature yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño. Westside gourmands love Five-Star Mélisse, a restaurant named after an aromatic, calming Mediterranean herb also known as lemon balm. Opened in 1999 by chef Josiah Citrin, this elegant but unpretentious serves up contemporary American dishes with French influences, like the tasting menu’s 48-hour short rib with celery confit, dijonnais and herbed bordelaise sauce. Finally, chef Thomas Keller's Bouchon has finally arrived in Beverly Hills and Angelenos couldn’t be happier. The sprawling and lively space features a 16-seat bar with full-dinner service, plus Bar Bouchon whose menu focuses on small French plates meant for sharing.

James G. Little

The five best Los Angeles food experiences are The Belvedere, Lucques, Hatfield’s, E Baldi and Providence.

The five best food experiences in Los Angeles are The Bazaar, Patina, Hatfield’s, Osteria Mozza and AOC.

Christina Xenos

One of the highlights of a trip to Los Angeles is indulging in its foodie-friendly landscape. From ultra-luxe tasting menus by celebrity chefs to seaside dining experiences with the freshest seafood, there are plenty of ways—definitely more than five—to appease your appetite in L.A.

When you want to fully understand a chef's scope, why not opt for their tasting menu? You can find some of the top tasting menus in Los Angeles from Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Mélisse where chef Josiah Citrin shops the Santa Monica Farmers Market and serves you the very best from it teamed with top French technique. You can either opt for 10 courses, but why would you do that if you could go carte blanche and savor more than 15 selections. Over at Hotel Bel-Air, celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck spoils you with his tasting menu where among the luxurious ingredients incorporated into his dishes, he uses edible gold in some. Teaming your menu here with expertly selected wine pairings is a must. Four-Star Providence delivers top seafood in a refined atmosphere. On Michael Cimarusti's market-driven tasting menu taste through some of the finest sourced seafood with at meat selection or two paired with carefully considered wines and sakes. SAAM at the Bazaar inside the SLS Hotel takes an avant garde approach to its tasting menu which highlights chef Jose Andres penchant for molecular gastronomy. Dine on 22 courses in a a hidden dining room designed by Philippe Starck.

For more eclectic bites, try Josef Centeno's Baco Mercat where you can grab a "baco," Centino's signature flatbread sandwich. The baco is somewhere between a gyro or a very dense taco, and you can get it stuffed with lighter ingredients like feta and chickpeas in "the fava fritter," but why not go all out and order "the original," which is a mix of pork, beef carnitas and a salbitxada sauce. Other menu must-haves are the Ceasar Brussels sprouts, and pork belly served over rocotta cavatelli. The pates are smaller, which makes them perfect for exploring the menu and sharing. Not too far away from Baco Mercat you'll stumble on chef Ricardo Zarate's restaurant, Mo Chica, which offers bold flavors from Peru in a lively atmosphere. The menu showcases Zarate's signature alpaca stew served with tagliatelle and aji amarillo sauce with fried organic fertile egg on top. Meat-driven cuisine takes the spotlight at chef Jon Shook's and Vinny Dotolo's Animal, in the form of dishes like marrow bone with chimichurri with caramelized onions, and crispy pig head with salsa macho, crema and avocado. At Tar & Roses, chef Andrew Kirschner serves eclectic shareable plates, many of which are cooked in the restaurant's wood-burning oven.

Coastal dining in Los Angeles is a must. Start in Manhattan Beach either on seasonal fare and the new oyster cart at Strand House, farm-to-table options at M.B. Post or fresh seafood selections and more at Fishing With Dynamite. In Malibu, Moonshadows offers delicious modern American favorites with waves crashing under your coveted spot on the elevated alfresco patio; while at Geoffrey's Malibu you can also gaze over stunning views of the coast while you're seated on their breezy patio, sipping a stiff martini.

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