West LA Restaurants
2208 Sawtelle Blvd., West LA
There's something so comforting about a hot bowl of ramen on a cold day, and anytime there's even a hint of rain in Los Angeles, the lines at Little Tokyo's Daikokuya are out the door. What makes the ramen here stand out is the broth, which is cooked with pork bones for hours to achieve its thick, flavorful consistency. The portions are huge, so be prepared to take home leftovers. This location, on Sawtelle, has the same ramen with shorter lines.
2057 Sawtelle Blvd., West LA
This L.A. outpost of a popular Japanese restaurant is somewhat of a mecca for noodle snobs: Made all the more elusive because Tsujita only serves their artisanal ramens at lunch (come dinner, it’s traditional Japanese fare). Fortunately, they just opened an Annex on the opposite side of Sawtelle, where you can get bowls of Tsukemen-style ramen all day long.
The Apple Pan
10801 W. Pico Blvd., West LA
This Los Angeles classic is still staffed by many of the same people who worked the U-shaped counter when we were kids: It's a stand-by for great reason. The menu is edited, the paper-wrapped burgers are no-frills and excellent, and the pie always comes à la mode. Cash only.
11043 Santa Monica Blvd., West LA
Where East meets West. And by that we mean that its central location—right off the 405—makes it an excellent meeting point for friends from opposite sides of town. It’s also where sushi purists and California Roll enthusiasts can dine at the same table. There’s an extensive menu of cooked dishes, along with the whimsically-named rolls like Green Dragon, Asylum, and Sixteen Plus.
Flores + Sons
2024 Sawtelle Blvd., West LA
The space here is soaring and clean-lined, from the garden-like outdoor patio in the front to the oversized booths in the back to the arched counter that overlooks the kitchen (our favorite spot). The varied interior provides a nice backdrop to the quilt-like array of small plates, sourced from every far-flung corner of the globe. You could be trying Middle Eastern style roasted baby carrots with mint and yogurt alongside Southern collard greens with ham, and then finish in Italy with an eggplant parm. The parm, by the way, is great here, as is the tender, perfectly dressed kale Caesar.
11678 W. Olympic Blvd., West LA
Once you've made the cut (apply online), you'll receive directions to an unmarked location where the door is not only closed, it's locked. Knock and they'll verify your identity and finally lead you into Chef Yama's 15 seat domain. He's behind the bar using his mad knife skills to immerse you in an omakase/Japanese small dish excursion of Olympic proportions. In around four hours, there are 24 courses to sample—all delicious: Some recognizable, some not, but it's worth being adventurous (Chef Yama famously went down a few years back for serving whale). It's BYOB so bring sake to share between your crew and Chef Yama.
1929 Westwood Blvd., West LA
Health-conscious Necco serves super fresh small Japanese dishes, with an emphasis on tasty root vegetables like ginger, daiko, lotus root, and carrot. The dishes are prepared in satisfyingly innovative ways, and the restaurant's clean, minimalist décor suits perfectly.
10610 W. Pico Blvd., West LA
LA's secret Japanese beef restaurant, Totoraku, isn't so much a secret anymore. But it's still incredibly difficult to get into. You either have to know chef-owner Kaz Oyama or know someone who has dined at Totoraku before and knows him. (The ultimate seal of approval as a guest of Totoraku is getting a business card at the end of your meal with the private number used for reservations.) Nothing about the look of Totoraku is impressive. It's marked from the outside by a sign for "The Teriyaki House Pico," a failed restaurant of Oyama's. Inside the tiny space, there is little to no decor to speak of. And there's no wine menu—interestingly, Totoraku is BYOB. But there's probably no better place for beef—of all kinds, served raw, cooked, and grilled right at your table.
2055 Sawtelle Blvd., West LA
Considering Nong La’s immense popularity, it’s easy to forget that it’s actually a small, family-run operation. It started with brother-and-sister duo, Elaine and Victor Phuong, and their mom Khanh Phan, who sourced family recipes and adapted them into a perfect menu of Vietnamese banh mi, egg-topped fried rice, and a light, flavorful pho that you can customize to your liking. The new La Brea location is just a smidge fancier than the Sawtelle original but the menu is for the most part identical. Tip: Treat yourself to a glass of the homemade passion fruit iced tea—it’s delicious and just sweet enough to constitute as dessert. A new location just opened on La Brea.
1800 Sawtelle Blvd., West LA
Plan Check is primarily known for the Plan Check Burger (PCB), which pairs a juicy patty with their signature ketchup leather (it’s like ketchup-flavored fruit leather). With the burger hogging the spotlight, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the restaurant also serves what’s arguably one of the best fried chicken sandwiches in the city. The secret is that they cold smoke and brine the chicken before it’s fried—the perfectly crispy, flavorful result is served with pimento cheese, duck breast ham, and crunchy pickles. There are two other locations, on Fairfax and Downtown.
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