The 24-Hour Self-Guided Foodie Tour of Los Angeles

Guerrilla Tacos | Photo by Joshua Lurie

If your food-obsessed friend or relative only has 24 hours to spend in Los Angeles and is eager to experience the best food and drink L.A. County has to offer, you have to be strategic to cover more ground in less time. Learn about 10 key stops that are of the moment and will keep your friend coming back for more (if that’s what you want).

The Oyster Gourmet at Grand Central Market | Photo by Joshua Lurie

9 a.m. - Grand Central Market

After landing at LAX, head to one of America’s great food halls, Grand Central Market, which debuted in 1917 and has seen a major renaissance in the past few years. When you arrive, the line may still be forming at Eggslut. Make a beeline for the Broadway side of the market to score Alvin Cailan’s indulgent breakfast sandwiches, which come on either buttery brioche buns or flaky biscuits. G&B Coffee is one of the nation’s most progressive coffee peddlers, with a multi-roaster coffee line-up, creative signature beverages, and impressive attention to detail. After taking a short breather, proceed to Madcapra, where Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson are bringing a breath of Brooklyn air to GCM with square falafel, house-made flatbread, and color-coded accompaniments. At The Oyster Gourmet, Christophe Happillon shucks some of North America’s most pristine shellfish with a commitment to merroir (oceanic terroir). To finish with something sweet, head downstairs for a waffle cone stacked with scoops of McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams in flavors like sweet cream and salted caramel chip.

Guerrilla Tacos | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Noon - Guerrilla Tacos

Several days a week (including weekends), Chef Wes Avila parks his Guerrilla Tacos truck in front of Blacktop Coffee. This farmers market fiend always gathers the best seasonal ingredients and serves them in tacos, tortas, tostadas, burritos and quesadillas. The only constant is his sweet potato taco with almond chile, crumbled feta, fried corn, and scallions. Beyond that, the menu shifts as inspiration strikes or as Avila travels. A recent trip to Puerto Vallarta resulted in delectable rolled crab tacos with chile guajillo, chipotle crema, and raw tomatillo chile. He’s also riffed on poke after visiting Hawaii and mines the shelves of Armenian markets in his home neighborhood of Glendale.

Chocolate chip rye cookies and more at The Sycamore Kitchen
Chocolate chip rye cookies and more at The Sycamore Kitchen  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

3:30 p.m. – The Sycamore Kitchen

Karen Hatfield and husband Quinn have carved out a nice niche along La Brea Avenue, starting with The Sycamore Kitchen. Their industrial chic café is open for breakfast and lunch, which both yield some delicious dishes. Still, it’s easy to visit The Sycamore Kitchen and just raid the pastry counter, which is overflowing with tantalizing treats. Top picks include fluffy glazed donuts, rich salted caramel pecan babka rolls, and buttercups, which are Karen Hatfield’s take on the kouign amann. The Sycamore Kitchen also features Stumptown Coffee and crafts a terrific Tuscan latte with rosemary and caramel.

Grilled cheese sandwich at Esters Wine Shop & Bar | Photo by Joshua Lurie

7 p.m. Esters Wine Shop & Bar

Longtime sommelier Kathryn Weil Coker and husband Tug are the more casual component of a compelling duo at the base of an Art Deco building on a Santa Monica side street. They teamed with another couple, Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan, and received culinary contributions from Coker’s Rustic Canyon cohort, Jeremy Fox. This is a great place to start your evening with wine, cheese and charcuterie, either at the U-shaped bar or in low-slung seats on the patio. Esters typically pours more than 20 eclectic wines by the glass, which pair beautifully with share plates like smoked sablefish, summer panzanella salad, or their next level grilled cheese sandwich with buttery Huckleberry bread graced with Reading, Provolone, Reggiano, and Bechamel.

8 p.m. - Cassia

You won’t find Southeast Asian food more creative than at this brasserie from Bryant Ng, Kim Luu-Ng, Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan. Better yet, Cassia is right next door to Esters. The seafood bar alone is a boon to the neighborhood, with delectable crab claws and “sunbathing” Vietnam prawns bathed in chile sauce. A wood burning grill works wonders on atypical ingredients like pig’s tails and beef tripe. Crispy tandoori-fired bread is available with pate, chickpea curry or chopped escargots. Big ticket items like Vietnamese pot au feu and white pepper crab are also well worth extra investment. Maintain boozy momentum with Asian-inflected cocktails, or perhaps a Craftsman beer.

Break Room 86 Bar
Break Room 86 | Photo: DYLAN + JENI, courtesy of Break Room 86

10 p.m. – Koreatown

You could easily eat, drink, dance and sing all night in K-Town, which is one of L.A.’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Start at The Prince, an old school restaurant and bar with a Mad Men vibe that includes red booths and a horseshoe-shaped bar. The Prince dispenses strong drinks and damn good Korean fried chicken that comes either crispy and mild or slathered in chile sauce. From there, stumble over to Break Room 86, the Houston brothers’ ’80s themed bar behind The Line Hotel. Enter from a back alley to take in occasional breakdancing performances while drinking fun cocktails like the Cruel Summer and Purple Rain. Finish with a booze-fueled karaoke session in one of the private rooms, which also give you the option to play Atari or Simon Says.

Porchetta melt at Gjusta | Photo by Joshua Lurie

7 a.m. – Gjusta

Before departing for the airport, head to the latest Venice hit from chef Travis Lett and business partner Fran Camaj. This multi-faceted bakery and café has more enticing things to eat in the display cases than you could possibly order in a month, and that’s not including the menu of sandwiches, soups, cured or roasted proteins. Terrific options include chile-rubbed rotisserie chicken and a porchetta melt with Gruyere and rapini on crusty house-baked baguette. Grab a quick bite on the back patio before loading up on snacks for the plane. Grab a baklava croissant or a bialy sandwich. Yes, they have a coffee bar that features Sightglass Coffee. After all that drinking last night, you’ll need it.