Los Angeles restaurants are among some of the best in the world, with world-famous names and rivaling the legendary gourmet cuisine of great international cities along the lines of Paris, New York, and Tokyo. In addition to fine food, Los Angeles dining is apt to have you rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, especially in celebrity magnets like Hollywood, Malibu, and Beverly Hills. The best restaurants in Los Angeles depend a great deal on what you're looking for, because you will find just about everything at any time of day or night.
If you are looking for gourmet dining in LA that meets the Michelin standard, you will find many options. There are several restaurants that actually have one or more of the coveted stars. Asenabo is a gourmet sushi restaurant in Studio City near Universal Studios Hollywood, one of the city's most popular attractions. (In fact, four of the eighteen Michelin restaurants are Japanese sushi restaurants.) On the other end of the scale is the historic Saddle Peak Lodge, set in the wilderness hills of Malibu Canyon. Built as a Pony Express station in the late 1800s, it is a rustic mountain lodge with imposing mounted heads of bison, moose, elk, and grizzly bears, and specializes in gourmet game meats from buffalo and quail to hare and venison. A bit more conventional, one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles (two Michelin stars) is Wolfgang Puck's famous Spago Restaurant in Beverly Hills. You might also want to seek out one of the finest of the Los Angeles restaurants serving fine French cuisine—Melisse on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica.
However, good Los Angeles dining doesn't mean you have to spend an arm and leg at a Michelin star spot. This sprawling metropolitan area offers much more. Its diverse ethnic make-up means that Los Angeles dining provides superb regional foods from around the world. The Mexican-American heritage of the city is rich, and there are good Mexican restaurants everywhere. Many ethnic restaurants are found in pockets where emigrants tend to congregate. "Little Ethiopia" is found in the Wilshire "Miracle Mile" district between downtown Los Angeles and Culver City. These are very popular for those who are attending first run films or visiting attractions like the Petersen Automotive Museum.
A bit to the east is Koreatown, with a big cluster of Los Angeles restaurants specializing in Korean barbecue. Founded in the 1880s, the second largest Chinatown in the United States (after San Francisco) is located in downtown Los Angeles near Union Station and the Los Angeles Cathedral. Here is both wonderful Chinese architecture as well as dozens of traditional restaurants. One of the most famous Asian restaurants in the city is the Yamashiro of Hollywood, founded in 1911 and sitting high on a hill behind the famous Magic Castle, it was one of the first "hangouts" for the glitterati of Hollywood. Think of just about any other ethnic cuisine, and you will find it in Los Angeles.
And don't forget about seafood. Check out the restaurants in Marina del Rey, Santa Monica, and Malibu for some of the freshest catches of the day. Along PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) between Santa Monica and Malibu is Gladstone's—one of the highest grossing restaurants in the world. It's a famous seafood spot right on the beautiful Southern California beaches that has been around since 1971. In addition to great seafood and a large oceanfront dining area, the interior has a large collection of wonderful photographs chronicling the history of the area.
Some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles can best be described as "joints." They are historic diners, typical Old World Jewish delis, and various "greasy spoon" holes in the wall. And you are as apt to bump into a celebrity at one of these as at any fine gourmet restaurant. For a touch of history, you can try Langer's Delicatessen on Alvarado Street in West Hollywood that has been in operation since 1947. It serves what is known as the best hot pastrami sandwich in the country. It's in the heart of the theater district and a popular spot for early morning chow downs after enjoying the district's nightlife. There is hardly a more American slice of life than the venerable hot dog, and Pink's Hot Dogs in Hollywood is one of the best in the country. This famous all American hot dog stand was established in a wagon (called a perambulator cart) in 1939. The wagon was traded in for a small, rather garish structure in 1946 and hasn't changed much since. You could start a fight discussing the merits of a Pink's chili dog, and the line to get one stretches for blocks at almost any time of day or night. Another all American fast food institution that can start fights about the best burgers is the venerable In-N-Out Burger, founded in 1948. It's been in the same family ever since, and now has locations all over Los Angeles. It's a traditional drive through burger joint, and the lines of cars waiting to get in any of them often stretches for blocks.