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The 5 Best Guilty Pleasures to Eat in Los Angeles

Syda Productions / Shutterstock
Syda Productions / Shutterstock
Dave Odegard
Written by Dave Odegard
Los Angeles is the city known for beautiful people, amazing weather, and being the west coast center of all things cool. It’s also the home of Hollywood, Howard Hughes, the Kardashians, gangsta rap, Philip Marlowe, and Disney.

Classic Americana, fame, and scandal are all layered into this urban sandwich, served up with a healthy side dish of ocean.

The city is a mecca for foodies. With eateries of every size from landmark restaurants, to food trucks (a trend that started in L.A.—deal with it, Austin), there’s an epic glut of culinary delights to try and taste. But there are only a handful of foods distinct to the area, served in abundance throughout the city.

Here are five signature guilty pleasure foods that you NEED to nosh on when you visit.

You Gotta Try the Tacos

Timolina / Shutterstock

Timolina / Shutterstock

Mexican food is the lifeblood of Los Angeles. The city has been known for its take on the cuisine stylings of its international neighbor since—well, since it existed.

L.A. was founded by Spanish explorers in the 16th century and the region was even originally PART of Mexico.
So it should come as no surprise that according to renowned taco scholar (and Los Angeleno), Bill Esparza, the city has better Mexican food than anywhere else in the United States. It’s no more evident than in the many different styles and takes on tacos that you can find in L.A.

Notable highlights include: Mariscos Jalisco, Ricky’s Fish Tacos, and Tacos Leo.

 

Say Cheeseburgers

Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock

Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock

Urban legend dictates that the cheeseburger was invented in Los Angeles county (Pasadena to be specific) by an enterprising young fry cook who randomly decided to put a slice of American cheese on a burger patty in 1926. We don’t know if that’s really the first time anyone ever put cheese on a burger, but a lot of people in the L.A. area think so.

The cheeseburger is serious business. You can get delicious takes on this American staple all over, from hole-in-the-wall operations to regional chains. There’s even an additional spin via the southern California cheeseburger, which is made with thin patties, American cheese, lots of lettuce, and Thousand Island dressing!

Notable highlights include: Apple Pan, In & Out, and Original Tommy’s Hamburgers.

We’re Noodles About Ramen

ken6345 / Shutterstock

ken6345 / Shutterstock

Asian food abounds in Los Angeles, from high-end sushi places (where guests can do some serious celeb spotting) to the city’s famous Koreatown. But if we had to pick one dish from the far east that L.A. does like nowhere else, we’d have to go with Ramen.

The Japanese noodle dish is served more in L.A. than probably anywhere else outside Japan.
Ramen’s multiple variations and options make it palatable for just about everyone, and the warm broth is perfect to enjoy on a rainy day (if you’re in L.A. on such a rare occurrence).

Notable highlights include Daikokuya, Tsujita Annex, and Jidaiya.

French Dip – Ooh La La

farbled / Shutterstock

farbled / Shutterstock

Like Philadelphia has the cheese-steak, Los Angeles has the french dip sandwich. The recipe is pretty simple—thin roast beef slices served on a lightly crusty french roll, dipped in the jus (the sauce leftover from cooking the beef), but it’s WHERE you prefer to eat your french dip, and how you request the jus (on the side or on the sandwich), that are major points of debate and convention amongst Los Angelenos.

Notable highlights include: Cole’s and Philippe the Original.

Mmm…Doughnuts

merc67 / Shutterstock

merc67 / Shutterstock

There are two types of doughnut fans—those that’ll just pick up whatever mass produced sugary offering is available at any outpost of a national chain they come across (you know who you are!), and those that value their taste buds, preferring quality doughnuts. It would seem that the people of Los Angeles are the latter. Although the city can’t claim to have a uniquely high number of doughnut places, it does seem to have a lot that are dedicated to excellence in the art of doughnut making.

Notable highlights include: Donut Man, Yum Yum Donut, and fōnuts.

Are you a culinary connoisseur with a taste for all things L.A. and want to add to our list? Leave it in the comments section below.

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About the author

Dave Odegard

Dave Odegard

Dave Odegard is an ex-army brat turned internet word person, whose work has been published on Maxim Online, USAToday, Buzzfeed, and more. He is currently the Senior Content Writer at Fareportal (CheapOair's parent company) and spends his free time exploring the wilds of Brooklyn, New Jersey, and Sweden.

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