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A Guide to Eating and Drinking in Los Angeles

Picnics on the Beach

With its concentration of film and television studios and an all-too-obvious love of the body beautiful, you’d be forgiven for thinking that food was something of a taboo in Los Angeles. This couldn’t be further from the truth, however, and LA is one of the top places to eat out in America.

Despite the expensive concept restaurants which offer their wealthy customers the very latest dining fads (and where you may still risk social exclusion for eating bread in public), there’s also some great unpretentious dining across the city. After all, in a metropolis of over 10 million inhabitants, there’s got to be plenty of places where the ‘normal people’ eat!

Smart restaurants do, undoubtedly, line the streets and boulevards of West LA and mix with the trendy bars and cafés of West Hollywood. Backpackers, moreover, are unlikely to find anything that will match their budget on the crazily-priced menus of most restaurants in Beverly Hills or Bel Air.

But LA's status as a multicultural melting pot has exerted a hugely positive influence over the city’s eateries. In addition to an array of fantastic Italian and Mexican restaurants, visitors can pick dishes from from an incredibly diverse range of other cuisine, with a particular influence from the Pacific clearly evident.

The city’s Chinatown lies to the north of Downtown LA between Broadway, Hill Street and Spring Street, while Little Tokyo’s array of fantastic Japanese restaurants sit between 2nd St and 3rd St. Best of the lot, however, is the enormous Koreatown.

Stretching out between West Pico, Olympic and Wilshire Boulevards (to the north of the Santa Monica Freeway), Los Angeles’ Koreatown has some truly excellent restaurants. Bigger and, for the most part, cheaper than Chinatown and Little Tokyo, it’s a highlight of eating and drinking in the city. 

Like much of America, really budget options tend to err towards the fast-food end of the scale. However, this isn’t just any old fast-food – this is American diner food, the absolute pinnacle of fast-food culture... Mountainous burgers, vast piles of French fries and fantastic tacos and burritos can be ordered all over town for a few dollars.

Sitting in the sun on South Bay, Long Beach and, especially, Venice Beach, makes for great people-watching, as well as seafront dining. Nearby on and around Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, there’s a brilliantly lively eating and drinking scene with plenty of reasonable options.

If you’re just looking for a cheap picnic on the sands, Trader Joe’s supermarkets (with several branches throughout the city) are a great place to stock up on groceries. All in all, LA isn’t just the playground for the super-rich which many travelers have come to expect; this relaxed city will probably be able to accommodate you, whatever you fancy.