By Nile Cappello | January 27, 2017 | Food & Drink
In a city as spread out—and often hard to traverse—as LA, it often feels like dining experiences are limited to destination restaurants that require reservations and (obviously) planning out parking. But as the local culinary landscape continues to grow and diversify, a more flexible epicurean experience has emerged: the modern restaurant row, AKA these six foodie streets.
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This mini Japantown is home to many of the restaurants that helped make things like ramen, dumplings, and pho mainstream in LA, including Tsujita, ROC, and Nong La Cafe. The strip—which stretches between Olympic and Santa Monica Boulevards—covers pretty much all the bases for an epicurean adventure. Though most restaurants don’t take reservations, wait times are easily passed with a foray into some of the local clothing and home goods shops. Just be sure to save some room (and money) for a treat from B Sweet Dessert Bar or Blockheads Shavery.
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As the central hub of Venice’s transformation (and gentrification), Abbot Kinney Boulevard has spent the past few years in flux—but after the high-profile turnovers, hotly anticipated openings, and cultural renaissance, the dust has settled on a street as strong in its culinary offerings as it is in its shopping (and mural spotting). Besides big-hitter Gjelina, Abbot Kinney is also home to Plant Food + Wine, The Tasting Kitchen, Salt Air, and The Butcher’s Daughter. And though most of the OG concepts have shuttered, Abbot’s Habit continues to serve up the best slices of pizza around.
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Sure, the glitz and glam of Melrose Avenue may offer more frequent celebrity sightings—but while tourists are hoping to catch a glimpse of Kendall Jenner on her way out of Catch, we’ll be chowing down over on Beverly Boulevard. The diverse span of restaurants along this drag—which loosely reaches between South La Brea and La Cienega Boulevards—specialize in everything from New American to Moroccan cuisines; highlights include Suzanne Tracht’s time-tested Jar, Southern Italian concept Terroni, longstanding Chinese cafe Manderette, and French bistro and wine bar Marvin.
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Just as Silver Lake draws a diverse, ambitious, and (of course) uber-hip crowd, the section of West Sunset Boulevard, between Santa Monica and Silver Lake Boulevards, has emerged as a landing strip for the east side’s most innovative concepts. The old and new mix seamlessly within the flexibility and distinct flair provided by this newly come-up neighborhood; restaurants that withstood Silver Lake’s rise to popularity—including family-owned Cuban spot El Cochinito, cult favorite Silverlake Ramen, and classic diner Sunset Junction Coffee Shop—stand strong alongside newer openings Kettle Black, FrankieLucy Bakeshop, and Same Same Thai.
Without the fanfare or controversy of neighboring Abbot Kinney, Main Street’s emergence as a culinary destination has been quiet; more recent additions and turnovers have (finally) elevated this restaurant strip’s popularity beyond a long-loyal group of westsiders. Main Street is home to an eclectic mix of elevated neighborhood go-tos (Library Alehouse and Stella Barra), casual lunch spots (Sunny Blue and Urth Caffe), and bold concepts (Komodo and Kippy’s!). But this locale’s culinary offerings go beyond the brick-and-mortar; a large Main Street parking lot hosts some of LA’s best food trucks on Tuesday nights.
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Even amongst DTLA’s ever-competitive (and saturated) restaurant scene, Main Street has the Midas touch for successful concepts—both old and new. From comfort foods at Nickel Diner to authentically global cuisine at Bäco Mercat, and the best-priced prix-fixe sushi menus in the city at Kazunori Hand Roll Bar, you can’t go wrong here—as long as you come hungry. Other highlights include Artisan House’s falafel macaroons and Ledlow’s coffee-rubbed steak frites, along with decadent treats from Big Man Bakes or Peddler’s Creamery.