The city of Los Angeles covers a total area of 502.7 square miles, and it would be impossible for any list to do the city’s food scene justice. While driving around on Monday doing some last-minute research for this article with my friend Jonny, he joked that he had 177 places on his ever-growing list of places to try in L.A. I narrowed it down to about 20 places with the help of Jonny and my friend Joey Isaks. I didn’t include In-N-Out, Philippe’s, Porto’s Bakery, Tito’s Tacos or Zankou Chicken because those places don’t need my help to sell them.
Tacos Villa Corona
Address: 3185 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90039
Distance from SoFi Stadium: 17.3 miles
What you are here for: Breakfast burritos
This is a burrito place in my neighborhood that often appears on lists of the best breakfast burritos in L.A. Anthony Bourdain ate here in 2012, which has kept its (well-deserved) reputation alive in all sorts of hipster foodie circles. For me, it's just the burrito place down the street, and at 8 a.m. I can get a burrito without waiting. It's one of my favorite spots for breakfast during March Madness. I like the papas-and-steak breakfast burrito, but I’ve also heard great things about the chorizo.
El Sauz Tacos No. 1 & No. 2
Address: 4432 San Fernando Rd., Glendale, CA 91204 and 470 W. Colorado St., Glendale, CA 91204
Distance from SoFi: 18.6 miles/19.6 miles
What you are here for: Breakfast burritos and/or carne asada tacos
While many people consider Tacos Villa Corona down the street to be one of the best breakfast burritos in L.A., I think El Sauz is right up there with any taco place in L.A. It’s one of my personal favorites and its open until 11 p.m. and both locations aren’t very far from the Glendale Galleria, aka Downtown Glendale, so its great for anybody staying on the East Side.
Ricky’s Fish Tacos
Address: 3061 Riverside Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90027
Distance from SoFi: 16.9 miles
What you are here for: Fish tacos (duh)
Among the best Baja-style fried fish tacos in L.A., Ricky’s is a taco truck parked under a bridge adjacent to a homeless camp next to the 5 Freeway. its also right down the street from El Sauz and Tacos Villa Corona. The specialty is fish and shrimp hand-breaded with a flour mix from Baja California. The fish they use is Swai, also known as Asian Catfish. It’s one of the few fish I won’t eat, but I’m picky and maybe you are different.
Address: 3544 W. Imperial Hwy., Inglewood, CA 90303
Distance from SoFi: 1.7 miles
What you are here for: Pescado zarandeado (Sinaloa style grilled snook), camarones a la diabla, marlin tacos.
Only 1.7 miles from SoFi, Coni’s serves the best Nayarit-style seafood in Los Angeles, and this might be a good place to check out if you are around the stadium on Saturday or Sunday before the game looking for some micheladas and a whole grilled fish. Coni’s is a consensus recommendation by food critics across the internet — the restaurant equivalent of being a first-team All-Pro. Don’t be afraid if you order shrimp and they come with their eyes still on them. If you’re over 16 years old and order the fried shrimp and you are over 16 years old, they will laugh at you behind your back.
Burritos La Palma
Address: 2811 E. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90023
Distance from SoFi: 13 miles
What you are here for: Birria burrito, great homemade tortillas
Burritos La Palma specializes in Northern Mexican-style burritos (which are actually tacos) from Jerez, Zacatecas. The flour tortillas are handmade and among the best in LA. The burritos are fairly small, so you’ll probably want to order two or three, and make sure to try the beef birria.
Address: 3140 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026
Distance from SoFi: 14.2 miles
What you are here for: Chile Colorado tacos
This is a taco truck in a car wash parking lot on Sunset that happens to have some of the best flour tortillas in L.A. El Ruso also isn’t far from other taco trucks like Tacos y Birria La Unica at 2840 Olympic Blvd. and Mariscos Jalisco a little further down at 3040 Olympic Blvd.
The tacos are big and El Ruso is open until 11 p.m. or whenever they sell out on the weekends. The chile Colorado tacos were the standout on the menu when I went there, but I need to go back and try more. This is one of the more popular tacos trucks in L.A., and it lives up to the hype. It is not like any of the other taco places on this list.
The Corner Grill
Address: 1660 S Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025 (Inside the Mobile station)
Distance from SoFi: 9.9 miles
What you are here for: Pastrami breakfast burrito
I briefly worked in an office building across the street in a past life and I still think about this breakfast burrito. If you are staying in the Santa Monica/Wilshire/Westwood area, this is a great place to hit up during the day Wednesday-Friday (they are closed on weekends). The breakfast burrito is one of the hidden gems in all of Los Angeles — three scrambled eggs, grilled pastrami, bacon, tater tots and you can add avocado, too. It is a beautiful beast that will keep you full all day. And it’s great for soaking up any remaining alcohol from the night before. It’s convenient location on the corner of Sepulveda and Santa Monica also makes it a great location for meeting bookies and doing other types of business that needs to be conducted in parking lots.
I looked this place up on Yelp because I haven’t been there in awhile and I wanted to make sure it was good as I remembered. And while most of the Yelp reviews are outdated, I think Wanda D.’s review from 2014 says it all: “When I'm in bed late at night, I fantasize about shoving their burritos down my throat.”
Address: 9815 National Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90034
Distance from SoFi: 9 miles
What you are here for: Cookies
I was as surprised as you are to find out that the best cookies in L.A. are inside a United Oil gas station in Cheviot Hills. They don’t use shortening, hydrogenated oil, lard or preservatives, and when I went there this week they had at least 25 types of cookies freshly baked. All the classics (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin) are represented, but while most cookie shops are in danger of growning stale, Zooies takes cookies to strange new places. Apple tart, s’mores, truffle brownie and a concoction with pretzels were just a few of the cookies I saw. They even have vegan chocolate chip, gluten-free and paleo options for the less fun members of your group who somehow snagged a Super Bowl ticket.
Address: 2040 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025
Distance from SoFi: 16 miles
What you are here for: Uni
A cash-only quality West Side sushi spot. Never really been disappointed here. The fish is fresh and high quality and reasonably located for anyone staying in Santa Monica/Venice or anywhere on the West Side.
Address: Morihiro, 3133 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90039
Distance from SoFi: 17.4 miles
What you are here for: Omakase, and you don’t mind spending a lot of money
Morihiro was probably my favorite meal of 2021. The L.A. Times called Morihiro “L.A.’s next great sushi bar.” It’s a small sushi bar in Atwater Village run by master sushi chef Morihiro Onodera. I had to book a reservation two weeks in advance, but when Joey tried, he got in the next day, so your luck may vary, especially Super Bowl week.
Omakase is what you order here, and when I went it was at least 15 courses with abalone and homemade tofu, gizzard shard, some of the nicest looking shrimp I’ve ever seen. Pictures don’t really do the meal justice. If you can get a reservation, be advised it was about $700 for two people last time I went, so it takes a lot of first-touchdown prop winners to eat there.
Address: 1650 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90041
Distance from SoFi: 20.4 miles
What you are here for: Breaded eggplant, ricotta, meatball pizza or just make your own
This is my favorite pizza, and it’s conveniently located for anybody staying downtown or on the East Side. It’s cash only, and they’ve been making pizzas since 1955, the fried eggplant since the 1970s. I prefer an eggplant ricotta combo, maybe throw some meatball on there.
Address: 14742 Oxnard St., Van Nuys, CA 91411
Distance from SoFi: 20.4 miles
What you are here for: Burgers
Bill is 94 years old and still opens almost every day and makes burgers on the same griddle in the same tiny kitchen in his tiny burger shack on the edge of the Valley. Bill is an artist, even if Jonny thinks In-N-Out is better. I don’t like comparing Bill’s to In-N-Out, but it’s an obvious comparison and fair one. If you want to try one place that probably won’t be here the next time L.A. hosts a Super Bowl, I’d go to Bill’s.
Pie ’N Burger
Address: Pie'n Burger, 913 E. California Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91106
Distance from SoFi: 21.3 miles
What you are here for: Pie and burgers
Hard to say what’s better, the pie or the burgers. It’s standard diner fare, but it’s well done. I prefer the boysenberry pie. If you are staying in Pasadena or Glendale for the Super Bowl, this is one of the best burger places on the East Side. It’s usually crowded, but it moves fast and I’ve never been disappointed.
Din Tai Fung
Address: 177 Caruso Ave., Glendale, CA 91210 (other locations in LA)
Distance from SoFi: 20.6 miles
What you are here for: Dim sum
This is one of my go-to restaurants, especially when people come from out of town. There are multiple locations in Los Angeles, all in or around tourist areas. The dumplings and wontons are great. Same for the sweet-and-sour short ribs and the pork chop over fried rice. It’s a very pork-heavy menu. Even simple dishes like egg fried rice stand out. They also supposedly have very good green vegetables on the menu, but I can’t say I’ve ever gotten around to ordering those.
Address: 8555 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069
Distance from SoFi: 11.8 miles
What you are here for: Papa sandwich, pastrami
This is a small deli on Sunset recently opened by Trisha Langer, the granddaughter of the Langer’s Deli founder. The Papa sandwich (pastrami/swiss/cole slaw/Russian dressing on rye) was a standout, but the regular pastrami with mustard is great as well. The chicken schnitzel sandwich is another standout. I’ve yet to have anything bad here, but with the pastrami being so good, I haven’t tried many other things either.
Jeff's Gourmet Sausage Factory
Address: 8930 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035
Distance from SoFi: 9.4 miles
What you are here for: Pastrami
Jeff’s doesn’t make the list just because it’s the best kosher restaurant in L.A. It’s one of the best-meat focused restaurants in L.A., period. Jeff’s is home to some of the best old-fashioned thick-cut pastrami in the city. The burgers and hot dogs and rotating weekly specials aren’t bad either, but the star here is the pastrami.
I also asked my friend Joey Isaks (@joeyisaks on Twitter) for his recommendations. He’s also a gambler in L.A. who tends to know what’s good around town.
Coffee: Primo Passo in Santa Monica
Lunch at the beach: Shutters or sushi at Soki (new sushi restaurant at the Fairmont)
Foodie/scene/celeb sighting: Elephante or American Beauty in Venice
Coffee: Go Get Em Tiger
Lunch: Grand Central Market or Holy Basil
Balling out: 71Above (Best view in Los Angeles)
Dinner: Bavel or Bottega Louie
Coffee: Go Get EM Tiger on Larchmont
Dinner: Jitlada (best Thai in L.A.)
Balling out: Chateau Marmont dinner (celeb sighting guaranteed) or Craig’s if you can snag a table.
Where to break the bank on a great dining experience
Sushi: Sushi Bar (in Encino)
Chinese: Mr. Chow (Beverly Hills)
Mexican fusion: Gorilla Tacos
Italian: Angelini Osteria
Korean: Parks BBQ