I might be the first to declare the 818 to be the food capital of Los Angeles. We have some of the best ethnic food in the city. Chefs trek to the valley just to eat at Sri Siam for their crispy rice salad. Jessica Koslow of Sqirl eats at Sri Siam and this dish probably inspired the rice bowls at Sqrl. Chef Shawn Pham recently ate at at Sri Siam. The Valley is the sushi capital of Los Angeles. There are more sushi restaurants on Ventura Boulevard than any other area of Los Angeles. With more competition is probably some the best sushi in Los Angeles. The California Roll was invented at Teru Sushi in Studio City which introduced and popularized sushi to the American palate. Visit Go's Mart for some exotic sushi selections. There are still so many hidden gems still waiting to be discovered and inspire our Los Angeles chefs. I've spent most of my life in the Valley and I still haven't uncovered all the best spots to eat.
Ariana - Try their mantu (dumplings). My co-worker used to make them and it's difficult to find.
Angeleno Cuisine (chef driven "fusion" cuisine of Los Angeles inspired by our multicultural landscape)
The Bellwether (chef Ted Hopson) - Get the French fries (best ever), patty melt (best I've had), inventive R&D dishes, and a craft cocktail. Owners chef Ted and Ann-Marie Verdi used to work at Father's Office. Monday is hot chicken night.
Scratch Bar (chef Phillip Frankland Lee) - You have to go for the tasting menu. Tell the chefs your preferences and dislikes. They probably can do vegan dishes from Gadarene Swine if you ask.
Mercado Buenos Aires (Van Nuys, Granada Hills, Northridge) - I haven't had a bad meal here. You can't go wrong with ordering beef or an Argentina-style empanada. Get the steak and eggs for breakfast.
Breadologie - Surprisingly, excellent pastries -- with some influenced by the flavors of the Philippines. Someone called this the Tartine of Los Angeles.
Helena Wirth Cakes - Seriously good ube and pandan cake. The best I have tasted. I'm not just saying that because it's my dad's bakery. Our Filipino customers tell us all the time and our non-Filipino customers love it once they sample it.
Sweet Lady Jane - Mixed berry cake for ready made cakes on the go. The rest of their cakes are dry. :(
Boneyard Bistro - Excellent barbecue and excellent craft beer on tap and bottle list. Skip Barrel & Ashes and eat here.
Swinging Door - Persian owned, Texas inspired. Good barbecue and you can see exactly where they source their meat on the board.
Bebe's/Cici's - Thai-owned breakfast spots (Burbank and Tarzana, respectively) with a dizzying array of pancakes.
Blu Jam Cafe - Cornflake french toast and goulash.
Dupar's - Best pancakes in Los Angeles open 24/7. When you easier parking than the location at the Grove/Original Farmers Market.
More than Waffles - Some of the best waffles in the city and a wide variety of omelets.
Sweetsalt - Good brunch and pastries
Robin Hood - Get the fish and chips. You will love it.
A&W Seafood - Dim sum served daily when you don't want to drive to SGV. Great service. Tip: Call ahead and get a number so you don't wait.
Mandarin Deli - Chinese pancakes, sort of juicy dumplings, beef soup
Sam Woo - Chain catering to Chinese. Chinese assorted barbecue plate, spicy calamari, hot pot.
Szechuan Place - Szechuan cuisine... the real deal catering to homesick Chinese students at CSUN. Get the spicy fried chicken.
Sazón Colombia - I had an excellent Colombian breakfast there. Speaking Spanish would probably be helpful.
Horseless Carriage at Galpin Ford - Fancy schmancy diner food. The personal chef of the Boeckmann family (owners of Galpin Ford) put the menu together. $17 prime rib dinner including winning pie, clam chowder Fridays, lobster omelette for brunch.
The Hungry Fox - Thai-owned diner serving the best chicken and waffles (might be better than More than Waffles) in Los Angeles
Earl's Donuts - Fresh donuts 24/7
Mama's Donuts - Better than your average donut
Bamboo Bistro - Filipino buffet for breakfast and lunch. My favorite is their optional evening kamayan dinners. Bring a large group and eat with your hands.
Barrio Fiesta - Probably the best crispy pata and kare-kare in the city.
D'New Aristocrat - Turon specialist. Addicting Filipino-style banana fritters.
Hopia Like It - hopia better than what you'll find in the Philippines (according to my relatives)
Isla Grill - Turo-turo style. Probably the best Filipino fast food in the Valley.
Jollibee - Taste of this fast food chain bigger than McDonald's in the Philippines. Get the fried chicken... better than Popeye's! It comes with rice and gravy. If you're feeling adventurous try the sweet Filipino-style spaghetti and halo-halo for dessert. My dad concocted their peach-mango pie.
Lechon de Manila - cebuchon and housemade longanisa
Ninong's Pastries - Try the ube and pandan pancakes.
Oi Asian Fusion - Get the adobo or pork belly rice bowl. Service is iffy. There's a location now in Hollywood.
Empanada (Caribbean inspired)
Johnny Pacific - Probably best empanadas you will ever taste. I asked my cousin from food nerd cousin from NYC if she has tasted anything better... she said "no." Get the spinach and cheese or kahlua pork. Chef was a fine dining chef in the Caribbean and was inspired by the empanada vendors on the street.
Firehouse - I only eat the chicken gyro. The best gyro I've tasted. I could eat this sandwich every day.
Amalia's Restaurante - I still need to work my way through the menu! The Guatamalan horchata is so good. Get the garnachas and churrasca plate. Speaking not a word of Spanish might be challenging. My server didn't speak English. :-/
Puchica - Very good, but pricier than Amalia's.
Bill's Hamburger (1965) - Old school, classic burger even better than In-N-Out
The Munch Box (1956) - housemade rootbeer, chili burgers
Wendill's Chicken House (1929) - Frying chicken using the same recipe since 1929.
Dog Haus - Tasty hot dogs in a Hawaiian roll bun
Fab's Hot Dogs - Featured in Diner's, Drive-In's and Dives.
The Slaw Dogs - Inventive hot dogs
Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream
Magpies Soft Serve - Silver Lake in Tarzana. Don't forget the housemade toppings. I love the honeycomb.
McConnell's - High-quality ice cream (farm-to-table) from Santa Barbara.
Rita's - Frozen custard!
Salt & Straw - Valley location from this experimental chain from Portland, Oregon
Wanderlust Creamery - exotic flavors inspired by travel
Chennai Tiffins - Dosa specialist from Artesia (Little India). They have so many dosas to choose from!
India's Sweets and Spices - my Indian friend says that this is the best in the Valley. I love their dosas and their imported chocolate bars... they have Lion!
Israeli - Israeli food for the Valley Israeli community
Manna - Try the vegetarian sabich (pronouced sabeek) sandwich. All you can drink apple juice. Super friendly service.
Tel Aviv Grill - I love their chicken schwarma, especially their fried eggplant and falafel. Try "opening the table" with a large group.
786 Degrees - Award-winning neopolitan pizza from a chef trained in Naples.
Danielle’s Wood Fired Pizza - Good pizza by the slice spot.
Dino's- Pizza from a couple of food nerds "who know good food."
Lido's - Handmade pasta. I like their spaghetti and meatballs.
Monte Carlo Deli & Pinocchio’s Restaurant - Lasagna, gelato, and the best Italian market I have visited so far.
Mulberry Street Pizzeria - They get the water for their dough from New York City tap.
Asanebo - Michelin-rated sushi
Go's Mart - Unusual and exotic sushi. It's total hole-in-the-wall and expensive. Get the "holy cow" and more unusual fish selection.
Katsuya Studio City (also Little Izakaya, Encino, Northridge location) - Where I go for good fusion sushi. Still good after all these years. A great introduction to people who have never had sushi before.
Ramen Jinya - Tonkotsu ramen "flavor bomb" in the Valley.
Ramen Nippon - A wide variety of Tokyo-style ramen. Sorry, not tonkotsu ramen here.
Sushi Ike - Decadent sushi including caviar and foie gras garnished with orchids. Chef Eddie will entertain you and tell you how many feet in the ocean his fish was caught. The least expensive omakase is $100, but I heard the $250 omakase is best to get the full experience.
Sushi Spot - Simple, no frills sushi for those in the know. Get the chef's choice menu or the $75 omakase. Chef Craig Thornton (Sharksteeth/Wolvesmouth) drove to the Valley from Downtown LA (when he lived there) for sushi here.
AYCE Gogi - Flavorful meats to grill on the table and all you can eat banchan/sides. Get the kimchee fried rice. They have craft beer! Service can be hit or miss... place gets busy. I like it more than Fresh Korean Barbecue... I do enjoy the purple rice at Fresh.
BCD Tofu House - Tofu chain from Korea with friendly service. The lovely ladies at BCD treat me well every time I visit and refill my banchan until I tell them to stop. Efficient service with a smile.
Duri Snack - I really like this Korean fast food spot located inside the Greenland Market. I visit this place often.
Alcazar - The best shish tawook I've tasted so far.
Zankou - Roasted chicken plate with hummus and muttabal (roasted eggplant).
Birreira Apatzingan - Some of the best birreira and regional Mexican cuisine from Apatzingan.
Carnitas Loya - I prefer the carnitas here over Carnitas El Momo.
Carrillo's Tortilleria - Go for the Mexican breakfast and their handmade corn and flour tortillas. I love their posole and tamales de mole.
Guisados - Some of the best tacos in LA has a location in the Burbank.
La Michoacana (San Fernando) - Get their paletas (you'll probably want to bring a cooler to take home) and taste their Mexican-style ice cream. The best I've had so far!
Leo's Taco Truck - Al pastor tacos from this chain serving some of the best tacos in the city. Get the champurrado.
Mariscocos Culichi - Get the mariscocos and tostilocos.
Metro Balderas - Pork specialist from Mexico City. I like their carnitas tacos on the weekends on a handmade tortilla. They also have huitlacoche (corn smut)!
Mi Ranchito Veracruz - Veracruzan regional Mexican cuisine. Some of the best Mexican food in Los Angeles. Get the Veracruzan-style tamales (wrapped in banana leaf), chilaquiles, cochinita pibil, chicken mole tacos, churros. Everything is very good.
Rosarito Fish Market - I go whenever I'm in the neighborhood for seafood tostadas. Always crowded.
Rosie’s Tamales - The best tamales I've tasted in the Valley and probably the best champurrado in the city. They often sell out so get there early.
Mizlala - Most of items I've tried are very good. My favorite are the brussels sprouts. Best I've ever had.
Sadaf Restaurant - I was told that this was the best in the Valley.
Chios - Chef went to culinary school and you can taste this in their food. The best lomo saltado I've tasted so far. Good luck finding a seat.
El Incomparable Peruvian Cuisine - The chefs take their Peruvian food seriously... take a look a their chef hats and uniforms. Get the tiradito.
Pollo el Listo - My favorite rotisserie chicken in LA second to Pollo a la Brasa in Gardena. I'm a regular and their chicken is much better than the more often mentioned Bonano's Chicken (praised by LA Times Jonathan Gold and Eater LA blog).
Natas Patries - Natas (Portuguese egg tarts) and Portuguese cuisine.
Sandwiches - the best sandwiches in LA are in the Valley
Cavaretta's - I usually get the same thing every time. Cold corned beef sandwich with extra dressing, cannoli or a lasagna to-go.
Cricca's - Owner used to work at Cavaretta's. The difference is that crunch bread.
Domingo's - More artisan feel to this Italian deli. Better bread compared to Cavaretta's and Cricca's.
Hy Mart Sandwiches - Not an Italian deli, but their sandwiches are really good.
San Carlo Italian Deli - Good sandwiches and pasta. They are some of the few places that have panzerotti.
Springbok - A taste of South Africa. Dive bar feel and good place to watch some futbol.
Gasolina Cafe - a quaint breakfast and lunch spot featuring Spanish cuisine.
Apey Kade - Trying the string hoppers and chai is a must. They have a lunch buffet.
Esso Mediterranean - I love the donut-shaped falafels. They also make mantee dumplings.
Kobee Factory - Get the kobee. That's what they are known for.
Weinie Bakery - I love the fresh pineapple cakes.
Bua Siam - Order the crispy catfish with papaya salad, dynamite wings. They know my face here. :-/
Chiangmai - Formerly called Inthanon Thai with a popular location in Hollywood which they closed down serving Northern style Thai cuisine. Get the khao soi. That's the only thing I eat here. The crispy rice salad is not so good and neither is the mango and sticky rice.
Khaosan Thai Street Food - Get the khao soi. Get the wings. I have not had a bad dish here.
Kim Thai Food - Laotian papaya salad
Kinnara Thai - Pumpkin curry. So good.
Krua Thai - Jonathan Gold says this is the best pad Thai in Los Angeles. I love their General's Noodles, pad see ew, and fresh fruit smoothies. They are open until 3:30 am. My go-to when I'm craving Thai after a night of drinking.
Pai, mango and sticky rice specialist - summertime only, inside Pa Order Zapp-Ver (she'll be back in 2018)
Sri Siam - Famous crispy rice salad, sour spicy pork ribs. Chefs trek to the Valley to eat Thai food here.
Wat Thai - weekends only Thai street food fest
Sako's - Try the iskender kebab
EuroAsia - I've tried their traditional Uzbek soup. Need to back.
VeStation - Thai vegan
Vinh Loi Tofu - Ask owner Kevin to make you anything you are in the mood for or something off menu. Trust him.
Coffee for Breakfast - My favorite arepas in the city.
Song Phat - spring rolls similar to Brodard, unique regional dishes you find in Garden Grove (Little Saigon)
I love exploring Los Angeles like a tourist. I have as much fun in my hometown as I do traveling to another country. I hope my adventures inspire you to eat well and travel often.