Hollywood is perhaps the most storied neighborhood in LA. It’s filled with cultural landmarks, movie studios, and knock-off Cookie Monsters who, for $20, will allow you to take their photo. Another thing about Hollywood is that it’s overflowing with some pretty great food.
From high-end Italian restaurants to a Japanese wine bar, to some of the best Thai food in the city, eating well in Hollywood is easy - especially if you use this guide.
It’s not often we get excited about hotel lobby restaurants, but The Barish is an exception. Located inside Hollywood Roosevelt, this Nancy Silverton spot has massive Old Hollywood energy (it helps being inside one of the most historic hotels in LA), plus an Italian menu that’s stacked with standout goat cheese-filled rigatoni and one of our favorite steak tartares in town. It’s the kind of place that begs you to sip a fancy cocktail while you toast to a new client or build a buzz before seeing a show at Pantages. If you’re looking for a fancy dinner spot in Hollywood, snag a table at The Barish.
Everything about Luv2eat looks and feels like any other strip mall restaurant in the city, but it’s the food and the warm service that makes this legendary Thai spot one of our favorites in LA. Its greatness lies in the Chef’s Special section of the menu, a mixed bag of dishes that showcases the two chefs’ family recipes from Phuket. The Phuket-style crab curry, for instance, when combined with the fatty crab meat bathing at the bottom, takes sweet, salty, and sour to euphoric levels. Even the moo-ping, a simple grilled pork skewer appetizer, is marinated and charred so perfectly that it should really be rebranded as candy-on-a-stick.
Kensho is one of those rare places that’s in the heart of all the action, but still feels like a secret. Tucked behind Yamashiro in the Hollywood Hills, this Japanese wine and sake bar has a laid-back patio with unobstructed views of the Hollywood Sign, a rotating menu filled with interesting snacks like mushroom inari and perilla bowls, and when it comes to drinking, expect a bunch of rare sake and natural wine that you’ve probably never tried before. It’s one of our favorite casual date night spots in town, where you can soak up that sweet taste of SoCal living without having to share it with tourists.
This prix fixe seafood restaurant on Melrose is arguably the fanciest restaurant in all of Los Angeles. Don’t be surprised if the final bill here comes out over $300 per person. What you get for that price is an experience you can’t get anywhere else in town - eight courses of ridiculously fresh, inventive seafood dishes, a visit from a magical roaming cheese cart, and a waitstaff that makes you feel like you’re a big deal from the second you walk through the door.
El Compadre always has your back. At the end of a long day, this Mexican cantina is ready to greet you with a cozy red booth, mariachis, and a stiff drink. The Hollywood staple (there’s an Echo Park location, but the atmosphere isn’t nearly as fun) has been serving classic California-Mexican food (i.e. a lot of cheesy enchiladas) and very strong flaming margaritas since the 1970s and they show no signs of stopping. Definitely make a reservation as crowds get bad almost any day of the week, but just know, at El Compadre the party never stops.
BBQ + Rice, a tiny spot on Santa Monica Blvd., is an ideal place for a quick lunch that doesn’t involve a drive-thru or candy from 7-Eleven. They serve delicious Korean rice bowls, including things like spicy pork, galbi jjim, and a slightly sweet beef bulgogi. Every bowl comes with some version of their house-made pickles, but we recommend grabbing an extra container to supplement your rice and meat. They’ve also got a parking lot, so you can spend less time searching for a spot, and more time savouring your lunch break.
Gigi’s is one of the toughest reservations to get in town, but if you’re able to snag a table at this sceney French place on Sycamore, you’ll be treated to a night filled with oysters, burgers, and delicious steak frites. We recommend showing up a little thirsty, too. A night of lounging around on their string lit patio or intimate dining room with plushy green booths, sipping gin martinis, snacking on tartare, and listening to a table of agents next to you scheming how to get ayahuasca to Tulum next week is exactly how we want to be partying right now.
Musso & Frank has been open for a century and is one of the only restaurants in town where fannypacked tourists and old men complaining about Eisenhower’s foreign policy live in complete harmony. This legendary Hollywood steakhouse is one of the most bizarre restaurants in LA, and while you don’t need to rush to eat any of the food, sitting at the bar and drinking their iconic martini is a quintessential LA experience. Stirred and served with a sidecar on chilled ice, it’s a technically perfect martini that’s been served the same way for decades, and one that makes gravity tricky after just a few sips.
With a tiny non-descript storefront on Melrose, Oui is a place you could pass a hundred times without noticing. And once you do spot it, you probably wouldn’t guess that inside are our favorite sandwiches in Hollywood. With everything from a classic tuna sub to double smashburgers to spiced chicken laffa wraps, the menu certainly covers a lot of ground, but we haven’t tried a single sandwich that we wouldn’t order again. Plus, with such a wide variety, it’s an ideal spot for a to-go team lunch when everyone wants something different.
MozzaPlex is not a restaurant, it’s the catch-all term for Nancy Silverton’s mini-empire of Italian restaurants at Melrose and Highland. While three restaurants from the same owner on the same corner might seem like overkill, each spot serves entirely different purposes. The most casual of the three is Pizzeria Mozza, home to thin-crusted pies that put LA pizza on the map in 2007 and a lunch special that gets you an entire pizza, dessert, and a glass of wine for $30. Osteria Mozza is fine dining, with delicious, hand-made pasta and a full mozzarella bar that’s become a favorite hangout spot for Nancy herself. But if you’re in the mood for a medieval-level meat feast, head to Chi Spacca, an intimate, upscale steakhouse where red wine, focaccia, and $285 porterhouse steaks rule the kingdom.
Hollywood, among many things, is central. The likelihood of meeting a friend here who lives far west or east when neither of you wants to drive across town on a Wednesday night is extremely high. In these instances, keep Los Balcones in your back pocket. The colorful Peruvian spot on Vine has excellent ceviches and chifa dishes, plus one of our favorite pisco sours in town. We love the sliced sea bass tiradito, which comes in thick slices bathing in a creamy leche de tigre, as well as the arroz con mariscos - a chifa-style fried rice with meaty prawns, Peruvian scallops, and a pickled onion salsa for some extra acid.
We imagine being royalty feels a lot like dining at Phenakite. You’ll have a nine-course dinner held in a beautiful, mystical garden, stars twinkling overhead as you’re served swordfish blowtorched on the spot. It’s run by chef Minh Phan of Porridge + Puffs, with a mix of both theater and experimentation - there’s ice cream that comes in an edible two-tier bowl, smoked albalone porridge we would probably die for, and black sesame vichyssoise that’s like a cold, creamy soup. There’s also a great drink pairing (for an extra price).
Otus, a Thai spot that’s one of Hollywood’s best-kept secrets, has a really fantastic all-day breakfast menu. You can’t miss the kai-kata - a little pan of sour ground pork, sweet sausage, and eggs, with grilled bread, and OJ or Vietnamese coffee. It’s the perfect midday pick-me-up, especially when your agent won’t stop asking about the last two pages of your pilot. Speaking of getting work done, they’ve got a bright, quiet space, with some communal tables and a tiny patio. It’s an ideal oasis from the chaos that’s constantly outside at Fountain and La Brea.
Though Petit Trois now has a big patio out front, the popular French bistro’s magic will always be found inside. The cramped space is essentially just a counter and a few chairs lining the wall, but the chaotic environment is still one of the most fun and unique dining experiences in Hollywood. You’ll eat well-executed bistro food like steak tartare, croque monsieurs, and the greatest omelette we’ve ever put in our mouths. If it’s your first time or you’re with someone from out of town, the Big Mec is hard to miss. The massive bordelaise-covered burger is probably the most decadent burger in LA. Everyone should try it at least once.
It’s rare to find a restaurant that can handle a Paramount executive power lunch, a very last-minute first date, and dinner with your boyfriend’s mom, but Osteria La Buca is that restaurant. And it also happens to serve some of the best Italian food in Hollywood. This place is cool, but still low-key enough that you can walk in on a weeknight without much of a wait. They make all their pasta in-house, the crispy brussels sprouts will make you wonder if it’s time for every restaurant to start serving brussels sprouts again, and the perfectly-spicy guanciale pizza is sneakily the best thing on the menu.
On those days when dim sum is calling your name, but the idea of driving to the SGV during rush hour isn’t palatable, Ixlb is a fantastic option to know about. Everything here, from har gow to shumai, is made fresh daily and satisfies a dim sum craving (though they sadly don’t serve chicken feet). The translucent har gow have bouncy skin and are filled with plump shrimp, while the egg tarts have a nice and flaky crust. This is mostly a takeout and delivery operation, but there’s a tiny dining area with counter seating if you walked over from one of the studios during lunch or you simply can’t wait to get home to eat.
If you need a nice dinner spot, but don’t feel like reaching into the fancy portion of your closet, Kali is a great option. The space on Melrose definitely has the whole minimalist/art-is-no-art design thing going on, but once you sit down and realize everyone’s in jeans, it all starts to make sense. This California-American spot has a seasonal tasting menu for $140 per person, but we usually go for the a la carte menu, which features a great bone-in pork chop, charred avocado, and black garlic barley risotto.
Tartine’s Hollywood location is the all-day cafe space that the surrounding neighborhood desperately needed. The menu is filled with excellent brunch dishes like the smoked salmon tartine and a fried chicken sandwich with lacto-fermented papaya salad on top, not to mention excellent pastries - the savory and herbaceous bacon and chive scone is our favorite. Though the space can get crowded during peak lunch hours, there always seems to be a spare table available for you and your laptop.
Rooftop bars and restaurants are opening at warp speed in Hollywood right now, but this colorful spot on top of a boutique hotel remains one of our favorites in the neighborhood. The food menu is filled with lots of snacks that taste great while you’re talking and drinking with friends, the cinematic-themed cocktails get the job done, and the 360-degree views never cease to impress visitors. Sure, the place can be a scene, filled up with people celebrating 10,000 followers, and early-20-somethings wearing floppy hats and matching Levi’s, but that’s also part of the fun. They still don’t accept reservations, so we recommend sticking to weeknights when crowds are always much smaller.
We love Hoy-Ka not only for their excellent Thai food, but for having a fun space that’s great for everything from a team lunch to a midweek hang with friends. The wood-covered interior feels kind of like a tavern, and with plenty of TVs playing sports, you won’t have any trouble finding a reason to drink. When it comes to food, the crispy pork ka prao, with its chili and basil-topped tower of white rice, definitely needs to hit the table.
L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele is only a few blocks from the manic energy of Hollywood and Highland, but their sprawling back patio - with exposed brick walls and a legitimate mini-forest - feels like a completely different universe. The name of the game here is Neapolitan pizza - perfectly charred, bubbly crust and fresh, simple toppings like basil, pecorino, and prosciutto. It’s the same pizza they’ve been making for over 150 years in Naples, Italy, and it’ll take exactly one bite for you to realize why they’re going strong at the LA outpost. Don’t stray too far from the pizzas, but if you want to throw a few appetizers on the table, we recommend the properly deep-fried calamari or the squash blossoms, when available.
There’s a decent chance you haven’t heard of Tere’s, and that’s because most of the people eating there don’t want you to know about it. Why? Because this strip mall spot serves tremendous Michoacán-inspired dishes like tinga tortas, mole, and machaca burritos in a space on Melrose that never gets crowded. Just don’t tell anyone we sent you.
Say what you want about this burger chain, but their Cahuenga location is still one of our favorite places in the neighborhood to take a break from the chaos, drink a beer, and relax. These are not the best burgers in LA, but they’re extremely solid (our favorite is the arugula and chutney mayo-topped “Bollywood,”) and taste great after completely botching the commercial audition. There’s also a big wrap-around patio that’s perfect for meeting up with a friend at lunch or getting some food in your stomach before hitting the town at night.