Hop in the car and drive the 200 miles south from the Central Coast to hit the great city of Los Angeles — the largest city in California, and undeniably the “entertainment capital of the world.” Thanks to its positioning between the coast and the mountains, the average daily high temperature is a cool, breezy 75 degrees F. Pair that with the city’s 300 days of sunshine a year, and it’s no wonder L.A. is one of the country’s most popular destinations.
It’s known for its beach towns (towns that are considered by the general population as part of “Los Angeles,” but technically are not, at least according to city lines, like Santa Monica, Venice and Malibu; perhaps you’ve heard of them), the entertainment industry and the ethnic diversity — and all of this feeds into its food scene. Los Angeles is a sprawling metropolis of casual street food, upscale restaurants and everything in between, a representation of the flavorful diversity and cultures that make up the city.
Because the city covers over 400 square miles, we’ve turned to L.A.-based Top Chef winner Chef Mei Lin for suggestions on some of her go-to food spots and hangout destinations.
Recognize her? Mei is the winner of the 12th season of Bravo’s Emmy-award winning show Top Chef
Can I try her cooking? Yes you can! Her flagship restaurant Nightshade was named Food & Wine’s Best New Restaurant, and among GQ magazine and Eater National’s Best New Restaurants in America.
923 E. 3rd Street, Suite 109, Los Angeles
Her small batch sauces can be found in limited releases.
And her new casual restaurant Daybird just opened.
240 N. Virgil Avenue, Suite 5, Los Angeles
Anything else? So much more, including that Mei received James Beard Foundation Best Chef California and Best New Restaurant nominations in 2020, earned a spot on Zagat’s 30 Under 30 list in 2015, and was selected as an Eater Young Gun in 2014
“I’ve lived in LA for a little over 10 years now. I moved here from Las Vegas to work for Michael Voltaggio at Ink. [I’ve found] that my favorite neighborhood is Mid-City because it gives a sense of suburbia while still being in the center of the city. There are so many great restaurants and great parks to visit. It’s also where I live.”
“My favorite restaurants in the county are Needle, Kato and Hayato. I love each and every one of these because they give me some sort of comfort.”
“I grew up eating Cantonese food, so Needle really makes food that heals my soul.” 3827 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles
“Kato utilizes flavors there that I’m deeply familiar with, but present them in such a beautiful, unexpected way.” 11925 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles
“And Hayato. I love this restaurant. It is the epitome of an unassuming restaurant you would find in Japan. It’s tucked away in downtown Los Angeles and this hidden gem serves the most delicious, traditional Japanese food.” 1320 E. 7th Steet, Suite 126, Los Angeles
“I decompress by going to the Venice canals [in Venice, CA] for a nice stroll, or the Huntington Library [1151 Oxford Road, San Marino] for the beautiful scenery.”