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Off The Beaten Path - A Foodie's Guide to Los Angeles, California

When most people think of Los Angeles, their minds tend to wander to the Hollywood sign, Rodeo Drive, bumper to bumper traffic, and palm trees. While all of this is very much a part of the LA scene, there is more than what meets the eye.


With a diversity score of 95 out of 100, Los Angeles is more diverse than other US cities. You can travel from a Thai market to a Guatemalan market in as little as 15 minutes.


Thai Town. Koreatown. Chinatown. Little Armenia. These are the communities I fell in love with.


These are the people of LA. People living their daily lives. Simply trying to make a living to support their families. And from that has come some of the best food you can find in the states. The best part is you don’t have to make a reservation at a fancy restaurant. It’s all right there, made for you on the streets.


Homemade, homecooked, local, and full of love.


Bring cash and a hungry belly and you will not be disappointed.


LA is a foodie's heaven. Today I look forward to sharing some of my favorite spots, environments, and some places I was dying to try along the way.


*Please note, the hotspots below are listed in no particular order.

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Located in Historic Koreatown / Bakery & Cafe / Cuban


Let me start by prefacing that I could have spent an entire day in Los Angeles at this quaint & tiny bakery.

The bakery opens at opens at 6:30 AM and closes shop at 8 PM. The spot is perfect for breakfast, a hardy lunch, sweet treats, and everything in between.


Our Order


2 Papas Rellenas

1 Chorizo Pie

1 Cream Cheese Danish

1 Cup of Coffee

1 Cubano Coconut Latte

1 Cuban Pastry - "The What's That?"


Highlights


Papas Rellenas: A ball made of ground beef and mashed potatoes fried to perfection. We got two because they were only $1.89 each. See picture below!

"The What’s That?”: If you have ever traveled or been out to eat with me, you know I am unashamedly curious. I am not afraid to ask a server about their favorite meal or simply find out what an item is that I have never heard of before.


There were plenty of pastries that looked so insanely delicious, but I had no idea what they were. The worker described this particular item as a sweet Cuban pastry filled with creamy milk.


It was like nothing I have tasted before. I never got the name of the pastry, so I took it upon myself to make a placeholder name. Hopefully I can find the actual name of the pastry if I am lucky enough to find myself at Gigi's again.

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Hotspot 2: Smorgasburg LA


Located in Downtown Los Angeles / Food Truck Market / Variety


Smorgasburg operates the largest open air food markets in the country, with locations in New York, Los Angeles, Jersey City, and most recently Miami and Toronto.


The market takes place in Los Angeles every Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM.

This is an event with trendy food trucks for any occasion. Smorgasburg had everything from local beer and micheladas to lobster, snow cones, oysters, and vegan dishes. Not hungry? No worries! Smorgasburg is well worth checking out anyways. The event has numerous craft vendors set up along with a DJ spinning tracks from her VW bus.


James and I grabbed two beers while debating which food truck to stop at for a mid-day snack. Below is a video of one of the several trucks we considered eating at.


Ultimately, we found ourselves in line at Mao Bao. We were inspired to try this food truck when we saw their cooks frying up bao on massive woks right in front of the food truck.


The bao were delicious but I cannot lie, I was a little disappointed when we started to place our order and saw workers unloading frozen bao from the back of their truck. I completely understand that prep is needed when engaging in a large-scale event but I left feeling a little misled.


Nonetheless, Smorgasburg is a stop you want to make if you are looking for trendy local LA street food.

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Hot Spot 3: Chicas Tacos


Miracle Mile / Located Within All Season Brewing Company / Mexican


Our first evening, we arrived at LAX around 11 PM. There is no feeling like getting off a flight and being absolutely starved. We decided our smartest move would to be to hit a fast-food joint since it was so late.


We started power walking after dropping off our luggage at our Airbnb. We ended our walk outside of a Jack in the Box to find out the lobby was closed. Defeat.


I did a quick scan on Google Maps and came across a Mexican food stand inside a brewery. According to Google Maps, "All Season Brewing Company was rooted inside the historic midcentury modern Firestone tire shop on Miracle Mile." Was it too good to be true?

We hustled into the jam-packed brewery on a Saturday night in Los Angeles pleased to find the late-night stand in the back corner of the brewery was indeed open.

Our Order


1 Fish Taco - Beer battered fish, Morita salsa, Caesar salad, garlic breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese on corn tortilla


1 Chicken Taco - Pico de Gallo, Morita aioli, queso fresco, cilantro on corn tortilla


1 Slow Braised Steak Quesadilla - 12-inch Michelin award-winning flour tortilla, three cheese blend, queso, queso fresco, Morita salsa, scallion, radish, and cilantro


2 Cloud Racers - Hazy IPA


We indulged. Was it really that good or were we just that hungry? Either way, it is safe to say we were impressed with the food and beer. So much so that we found ourselves back at All Season Brewing Company on the last day our trip.

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Hot Spot 4: Radna Silom


Located in Thai Town / Street Food / Thai


Radna Silom sets up shop right outside of Silom’s Supermarket. This family run operation operates menu from 5 PM to midnight daily. They have a limited menu of around 10 noodle dishes at $10 each.


I highly recommend the Pad See Ew but you cannot go wrong with any item on the menu!


The steam coming off the woks, long line, and spicy smells will let you know that you are at right place.

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Hotspot 5: Egg Tuck


Located in Hollywood / Brick & Mortar / Korean Breakfast


I came across Egg Tuck on Google Maps while James and I got ready for our last day in Los Angeles. I saw they had three locations, and one was fairly close to our Airbnb. Our hungry bellies didn't allow too much thought to go into our choice. We decided to check it out.


We quickly realized it was the place to be for ordering breakfast to go. Several locals came in and grabbed their pre-ordered meal while sending a quick wave to the cooks in the open kitchen.



I love walking into a restaurant and finding out that there is an open kitchen. It warms my heart to see a kitchen operating in an organized way at full capacity, with smiles on the staff's faces. We watched the cooks do their thing as we patiently waited for our food.



Our Order


1 [Spicy] Gochuracha Royal Burrito - Ghochujang Sriracha Glazed Spicy Tteok-Galbi (Galbi/Beef Short Rib Patty), Over-Medium Egg, Cheddar Cheese, Pickles, Grilled Onions



1 Bacon & Cheese Sandwich - Signature Cage Free Scrambled Eggs, Smoked Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, House-made Ultra-Premium Brioche Bun, Chives, Signature Egg Sauce, and House Sriracha Aioli

This meal made me have a whole new appreciation for eggs. With each bite, I kept asking, "How do they make them this fluffy?!"


There is nothing better than finding a restaurant that takes a simple meal, like an egg sandwich or a breakfast burrito, and turns it into something exquisitely out of this world.

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Hotspot 6: Thai Night Market


Located in Thai Town / Street Food / Thai


James and I used Lyft and Uber when navigating the city. I started to get nervous when I asked several of our drivers if they had been to any night markets in the city. Crickets.


I was ecstatic to find out that the Los Angeles night markets did indeed exist, despite many locals not knowing about them. At 5 PM in Thai Town, vendors started to set up shop in front of a 99 Cents Only store.

Families opened the trunks of their minivans to prep for the evening. The Thai Night Market operates daily from 5 PM to 12 AM.



This market was everything but trendy. The atmosphere was more like that of a neighborhood block party or a family reunion. The market was centered around locals, authentic food, and hospitality. Vendors lit up their small, charcoal stoves to cook skewers over the open fire.


Locals started to slowly arrive. Some families ordered their dinner and ate on the streets. Some stocked up on items before heading home by bicycle.


Each vendor was kind and patient as we fumbled around asking what each item was and how much it cost. We ate grilled meat skewers, curry bread, and spicy Thai sausage with a citrus glaze. We stopped to talk and munch with as many vendors as possible before we simply couldn't eat anymore.


The Thai Night Market was by far the highlight of our trip.


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Conclusion


With nearly 75,000 restaurants in Los Angeles (72,387 according to the National Restaurant Association), you could make its your life's mission to try every restaurant in the city and not even come close. We had several other restaurants and markets on our list that we didn't have time to try.


With so many restaurants at hand, my advice is to do yourself a favor and break out of your comfort zone. Indulge in as many local eats as possible while talking to the people who are creating the dishes. Head to a night market in Los Angeles or a restaurant you wouldn't normally find yourself in. Explore a new culture and appreciate diversity through new food. Take a moment to slow down in a bustling city to whole heartedly enjoy your meal. You might find a whole new appreciation for your meal that you didn't even realize was possible.

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