Part of the reason I moved to Los Angeles from the East Coast was because of the incredible selection of diverse restaurants in the city. When it comes to dining out, I generally look for places with good ambiance (modern decor, trendy vibe), yummy drink selection, and healthy food (vegetarian meals preferably, and the more options the better.)
Having said that, here are my top picks for best restaurants in Los Angeles. I’ve broken them down by categories for those looking for vegan/gluten-free options, BYOB, tapas and ambiance.
Gracias Madre – A-MAZE. The best vegan restaurant in all of Hollywood. They have tacos made with sweet potatoes, lentils, squash, you name it. And they have boozy snow cones! http://graciasmadreweho.com/
Desert Rose – BY FAR my favorite restaurant in all of L.A. It’s located outside of Hollywood in the Los Feliz area, but well worth the drive. It has a large outdoor area with red christmas lights, heat lamps, couches and a firepit, and you can rent hookahs too. And they have an entire separate menu that’s all vegan.
I always order the same thing: the brie cheese and fruit plate (with melted brie, toast crackers and slices apples & strawberries) and their raspberry champagne/chamboard drink: www.desertroserestaurant.com
Literati Cafe – I LOVE the Literati Cafe. Located in West LA, the cafe decor is so cute and comfy, the outdoor patio is adorable, they have a “make your own” fresh squeezed juice where you can pick your own ingredients, and so many healthy options to choose from: http://www.literaticafe.com/
True Food Kitchen – Location in the Santa Monica promenade, True Food is a casual, health-focused restaurant that offers vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian options: http://www.truefoodkitchen.com/
Cafe Gratitude – Cafe Gratitude is a 100% organic plant-based restaurant located in Venice. And all of their dishes have gratitude inspired titles (open-hearted pancakes, transformed tacos, etc.): http://cafegratitude.com/
Red O – Located on Melrose in Hollywood, Red O’s Mexican tapas menu was designed by the well-known chef, Rick Bayless. The decor is incredible, and the food is to die for. My favorites are the plantain sopes and the corn and goat cheese tamales. Also, their drinks are made with fresh fruit – I love the market margarita with cucumber and honeydew melon. http://www.redorestaurant.com/
Manchego – This one also needs to go in the BYOB section below, because it’s both Spanish tapas and BYOB Mon-Thurs. My favorite is the brie cheese and fig plate, and the goat cheese prosciutto. Yum. http://www.manchegosm.com/
Gaby’s Mediterranean – Not to be confused with their takeout locations, this Gaby’s restaurant is located on Venice Blvd in West LA. Although the food is killer (hummus, falafel, cheese pitas), the great thing about Gaby’s is really the cool vibe – outdoor wooden patio with heat lamps, hookahs, and you can bring your own beer/wine with no corkage fee! http://www.gabysexpress.com/
Cha Cha Chicken – Cha Cha Chicken is probably the most hidden gem in all of LA. From the outside, it just looks like your normal beach shack in between Venice and Santa Monica. But once you enter, you’ll see they have an adorable outdoor area with Tikis, fires and lots of fun reggae decor!
Their food is absolutely amazing. They have fresh fruit waters (mango guava and watermelon aquas are my favorites) and their vegetable enchiladas are to die for. And it’s BYOB too! http://www.chachachicken.com/
Perch – Perch is a French restaurant/bar in downtown L.A. that has a very historical, European vibe to it. It occupies two floors, the roofdeck which overlooks all of downtown Los Angeles, and just one floor down is an indoor bar with arched doorways, couches and a fireplace. The roofdeck has an outdoor bar and fire pits, and some nights they have live acoustic music and jewelry/art sales. If you’re an art lover, or a French food lover, then Perch is the place for you. www.perchla.com
Sonoma Wine Garden – I live in Santa Monica. And I’m a sucker for Christmas lights. And fireplaces. Thus, Sonoma Wine Garden is usually my go-to for dining out.
Sonoma is located on the roofdeck of the shopping mall in Santa Monica. It has couches, a beautiful view and a cozy atmosphere. You can even buy little 1 oz. wine tastes for around $2. And they have brunch and bottomless mimosas on weekends for only $25!
Personally, I love their Ferrari Carano Cabernet wine and their margherita pizza: www.sonomawinegardensantamonica.com
Cafe Verona – This little hidden gem is tucked away on La Brea Ave in Hollywood – an adorable Italian restaurant with a quaint, European feel to it – lots of fountains, plants and white christmas lights. They serve brunch until 5pm (a definite plus for egg-lovers) and they’re champagne drinks are amazing (peach bellinis, blackberry royales and mimosas!)
I love their butternut squash ravioli entree (in a butter cream sauce with walnuts – yum!), but in all honesty, their menu is very long and everything sounds overwhelmingly good, it’s almost impossible to decide: http://www.cafeveronala.com/