Los Angeles is the sprawling metropolis that people love, hate, and love to hate. Ever changing borders, a pioneering food scene on an inarguable uptick, and year-round perfect weather make it a city with more than enough to offer even the most skeptical visitor. Mountains, beaches, parks, and the Hollywood sign mean you’ve got a solid view no matter which direction you look in, but if you look toward these mouth-watering suggestions from our friends at Not for Tourists, it can be a fully sensorial experience.
Breakfast: 101 Coffee Shop is dark even during the day and is located near the freeway. It shouldn’t be a trendy place to loll away the hours, but it is. It’s been in multiple films, which probably helped increase its popularity with the turtleneck-wearing ultra-hip Hollywood types who frequent the place, but it’s also attached to a hotel, so the crowd stays fresh and casual. Even hipsters have to eat, though, so breakfast here should consist of the silver dollar buttermilk pancakes, the “no huevos” rancheros, and a cup of classic diner coffee.
Lunch: There are a lot of old-school diners across this great land. From sea to shining sea, grease joints have been filling American bellies for decades. But few of them come close to the glory of The Apple Pan. From the brilliant neon sign to the communal u-shaped counter, this place hasn’t changed since 1947. Old guys in paper hats? Check. Simple, greasy laminated menus? Check. Drinks served in paper cones? Check. But most important is the taste and quality of the food — it’s delicious. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Noeluap)
The hickory burger is truly memorable, as it’s drenched in smoky barbecue sauce. The steak burger is no slouch either, topped with Tillamook cheese. And if you’re hankering for dessert, you can order a piece of apple pie (à la mode, of course) and a cup of coffee. Doesn’t get more classic than that!
Dinner: From the moment the reservation lines were connected, Angelenos have been scrambling their way to Osteria Mozza as frequently as possible. They fill the mozzarella bar (and it’s all about the mozzarella), they tie up the phone lines making constant reservations, and you should, too. Because who turns down burrata with braised artichokes, tagliatelle with lamb ragú, and grilled quail wrapped in pancetta when you get to rub elbows with other hungry Angelenos in the process. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/rosebennet)
Happy Hour: Ocean Ave Seafood is quite possibly the best seafood restaurant in all of Los Angeles, serving up Pacific’s (and Atlantic’s) best on its daily changing menu. Without the touristy hype of its neighbor, The Lobster, Ocean Ave has one of the city’s best wine lists, widest array of menu options, and a daily oyster happy hour to boot.
Dark wood and brass trimming within, the restaurant offers airy ocean and sunset views. Its cioppino steeps a succulent mix of shellfish and calamari into a flavorful tomato broth, while the raw oysters on the half shell are not to be missed. And even though non-seafood eaters will change their minds after a trip to Ocean Ave, the chefs know their meats well too.
Drinks: In a dicey neighborhood, with an inconspicuous entrance, Verdugo Bar is easy to overlook. But that’s okay. Somewhere between a corner bar and a secret party spot, it’s hit an equilibrium that makes it one of the best bars in the city. It’s anything but a dive — the décor is well thought-out, there’s lots of room, and big couches in the back. They’ve got a DJ on most nights that actually play a solid variety of genres. It could be roots punk night, hip hop and soul, and off to the side there could be an impromptu design contest. The beer selection is shockingly strong, so come on a full stomach.