The 72-Hour Self-Guided Foodie Tour of Los Angeles

Tsujita LA Annex | Photo by Joshua Lurie


If your food-crazed friend or family member only has 72 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 25 institutions, trendsetters, or multi-cultural stops that will keep your beloved out-of-towner coming back for more.

DAY ONE: 9 a.m. – Ledlow

Chef Josef Centeno is the unofficial culinary director of downtown’s Old Bank District, with four restaurants in a one-block radius: Ledlow, Bar Ama, Baco Mercat, and Orsa & Winston. Ledlow, a naturally lit repository for seasonal comfort food, is your only choice at breakfast. Donuts, croissants and pitch perfect pastries provide a sweet foil to savory options like buttermilk pancakes with fried eggs and bacon, or to breakfast sandwiches.

DAY ONE: 10:30 a.m. – Tierra Mia Coffee



Ulysses Romero attended Stanford Business School and has parlayed a passion for coffee into a caffeine-fueled California empire. He started with South L.A. neighborhoods and is now easily accessible downtown. Romero travels regularly to South America to source coffee, which Tierra Mia roasts in L.A. Latin-inspired, ice-blended coffee drinks include mocha Mexicano and Rice & Beans made with horchata and ground coffee beans. Of course, it’s possible to stick with single-origin pourover brews. Consider Tierra Mia baked goods like the dulce de leche muffin and guava cheese strudel as well.

DAY ONE: 11:30 a.m. – Langer’s Deli



While delis may not be L.A.’s claim to fame, we are most certainly a deli town. Langer’s Deli is proof positive. This MacArthur Park institution with brown booths has served scintillating pastrami on double baked rye bread since 1947. The #19 is a work of art, with pastrami, Swiss cheese, cole slaw, and Russian dressing. #44 is a viable alternative, with sauerkraut and Nippy cheese joining pastrami on grilled rye. A plain pastrami sandwich slathered with deli mustard also works, especially when paired with potato pancakes and sour cream, and of course a can of Dr. Brown’s black cherry soda.

DAY ONE: 2 p.m. – SQIRL



Jessica Koslow is at the forefront of seasonal California cuisine at her Virgil Village café, bakery, and coffee bar. She shops frequently at the Santa Monica farmers market, which fuels a constantly evolving blackboard menu and creative jams like seascape strawberry & rose geranium. Kukuho Rose brown rice is a boon for sorrel pesto rice bowls with poached egg and French sheep’s milk feta; or for sweet porridge with Straus milk, toasted hazelnuts, and your choice of jam. SQIRL is also ground zero for fancy toast in L.A. and contributes atypical beverages like vanilla bean lemonade and turmeric tonic.

DAY ONE: 3:30 p.m. – Dinosaur Coffee



Longtime coffee pro Michelle Hantoot and husband Ben delivered the first viable specialty coffee alternative to Intelligentsia in Silver Lake. The indoor-outdoor space, located next to the wavy mural made famous on Elliot Smith’s “Figure 8” album cover, is a great place to hang out while enjoying Four Barrel Coffee drinks. A covered patio gives way to communal seating that flanks a central bar, which has a hood that resembles the bones of a 3D wood dinosaur model. They even make cortados with coffee bitters if you ask nicely.

DAY ONE: 5 p.m. – Blue Palms Brewhouse



Brian Lenzo has long been a craft beer champion in Los Angeles. He opened this gastropub at the base of Hollywood’s historic Henry Fonda Music Box Theatre in 2008. Walls sport descriptions of beer styles, and 24 taps rotate on a regular basis. Lenzo goes to great lengths to get kegs that nobody else can tap. Blue Palms Brewhouse is also a regular hub for events featuring brewmasters, which might include vaunted Founders Brewing or Bagby Beer Company. Their annual anniversary party is also legendary.

DAY ONE: 6:30 p.m. – Birch

Nottingham native Brendan Collins may not be Robin Hood, but he’s providing a valuable service by bringing beautifully composed, flavorful food to Hollywood. At this airy Pantages Theatre and concert-friendly restaurant, Collins draws on global influences to produce dishes like monkfish tikka masala, rabbit baklava, and pork shank with palm sugar and za’atar flatbread. Collins is also renowned for his sticky toffee pudding, a British classic. Bartender Gabriella Mlynarczyk keeps pace with seasonal cocktails.

DAY ONE: 11 p.m. – Leo’s Taco Truck



People first became enamored with Leo’s tacos al pastor in Mid-City. The truck, which still parks at La Brea & Venice, grew so popular that it spawned this Echo park spinoff. The orange truck parks at a corner car wash and a steady stream of customers keep their trompo turning in heavy rotation. Yes, Leo’s serves other meats, but start with pastor, spit-shaved, spice soaked pork that’s griddled and served on corn tortillas with onions, cilantro, shaved pineapple, and smoky chile de arbol salsa.

DAY TWO: 9 a.m. – Farmshop



Chef/founder Jeffrey Cerciello may be based in Marin County, where the other Farmshop resides, but a strong team that includes Culinary Director Brian Reimer and chef Jacob Wetehrington ensures that quality stays high at this restaurant, market and bakery in Brentwood Country Mart. Breakfast operates on a sliding scale of gluttony that begins with steel-cut oatmeal with dried sour cherries, brown sugar and buttermilk, and rises to French toast with blueberries, whipped ricotta, toasted bacon and maple syrup. Most ingredients are assigned to particular farmers or artisans, as are most items in the market.

DAY TWO: noon - Tsujita Annex



Tsujita is clearly a restaurant brand that’s long on ambition. Takehiro Tsujita’s original Sawtelle outpost still draws regular lines for tonkotsu ramen, but across the street at Tsujita Annex, the bowls are even better. A richer pork broth bobs with pork fat and supports glistening char siu and a heap of peppery bean sprouts. Many people prefer tsukemen, dipping ramen with broth served on the side of Tsujita’s fat, glorious noodles. If you’re looking to boost flavor further, Tsujita Annex provides a bottomless reservoir of minced garlic, pork back fat, and onikasu (red spice).

DAY TWO: 3 p.m. - Lodge Bread Co.



Deluxe avocado (or nut butter) toast or just a plate of bread and house butter would suffice at this acutely focused bakery from Or Amsalem and Alexander Phaneuf in Culver City. That said, there’s no need to limit yourself. The team also stocks a display case with slabs of coffee cake, cookies, and cinnamon rolls that could probably double as rafts in a pinch. Lodge also has a full coffee bar featuring De La Paz Coffee from San Francisco. If you’re looking to grab a culinary souvenir from your trip, you’d be hard pressed to find anything better than a Lodge loaf like seeded country or spelt.

DAY TWO: 6 p.m. – Odys + Penelope



Skilled chefs Quinn Hatfield and Karen Hatfield simultaneously closed Hatfield’s while ramping up nearby Odys + Penelope, a fire-fueled restaurant with three different grills that burn three different woods, along with a smoker. With all that firepower, protein is of course essential. Even though the restaurant has been open for less than a year, O+P already has signature dishes like the bone-in, applewood-smoked short rib, Santa Maria-style tri-tip with charred broccolini and Béarnaise, and oak-grilled McFarland Springs trout. Seasonal vegetables and grains might be sides, but certainly don’t get lost in the shuffle. Karen also produces some of L.A.’s finest desserts, including chocolate rye pie.

DAY TWO: 9:30 p.m. – The Walker Inn



Alex Day, Devon Tarby and David Kaplan operate this 27-seat bar with cocktail tasting menus behind a not-so-secret door in back of The Normandie Club. The consummate cocktail pros frequently shift themes, finding inspirations for cocktail tasting menus in the cooking of Alice Waters, infamous Holiday Scoundrels, or cult classic movie (and Netflix revival), “Wet Hot American Summer.” Regardless, know you’re in good hands.

DAY THREE: 8 a.m. – Copa Vida



This upstart specialty coffee company from Steve Chang, Sam Hong, and Frank La now roasts their own coffee and has a second branch in San Diego, but they started in Old Pasadena. People visit to the multi-faceted space to geek out on coffee, to hang out with friends, or to write in a high-energy social environment. Copa Vida also hosts classes on cupping coffee, latte art, home coffee brewing, and tea education, if you’re game.

DAY THREE: 9 a.m. – Euro Pane Bakery



Pastry chef Sumi Chang long ago graduated from the Campanile baking school led by Nancy Silverton and has found plenty of her own success in Pasadena. She now runs two Euro Pane branches in the Rose City. Best in class pastries include pull-apart cinnamon rolls, flaky croissants, and surprisingly hearty macarons. Euro Pane’s open-faced egg salad sandwich sets L.A.’s gold standard by combining silky poached egg, sun-dried tomato paste, mixed greens, chives, and a choice of bread. [Go with brioche].

DAY THREE: 11:30 a.m. – Elena’s Greek-Armenian Cuisine



Glendale has one of the highest concentrations of Armenian-Americans in the U.S., which means you can find some seriously good food within the city limits. Other restaurants have grander, more elaborate settings, but if you’re looking for Glendale’s best food at the highest value, Elena Petikyan’s family-run restaurant is your best bet. Any meat that graces their grill is a surefire hit, whether it’s ground beef lulu kebab, lamb, quail, or pork chops. Each plate comes with a choice of starter, and lentil soup is the clear play. Bolster your experience with soft falafel dressed with hummus, or perhaps hot herb-flecked grape leaves drizzled with tangy yogurt sauce.

DAY THREE: 1 p.m. – Din Tai Fung Dumpling House



Sure, you just loaded up on Elena’s comfort food, but Din Tai Fung has a branch at The Americana at Brand, a mall that’s only a mile away. Clearly, this calls for dumplings. The Yang family carries on their Taipei-born traditions at this outpost, which specializes in xiao long bao, delicate soup dumplings filled with pork, pork and crab, shrimp and silk squash, or truly special pork and truffle. Other wonderful options include shrimp and pork potstickers, steamed fish dumplings, and shrimp and pork shao mai. A glass-fronted kitchen lets customers witness the dexterity necessary to make these dumplings.

DAY THREE: 3 p.m. – Quenelle



Chef John Park, a seasoned pastry chef who also supplies The Bellwether with desserts, runs this creative, Asian-inflected ice cream shop on a quiet stretch of Burbank. On a regular basis, you’ll find silky house-made flavors like kecap manis, blueberry pie, and blood orange. Other temptations include cookies, apple pie ice cream bars, and mango lemongrass push pops. On Wednesday nights, Park also makes funnel cake sandwiches fillable with ice cream flavors like strawberries and cream or hazelnut foie gras.

DAY THREE: 4 p.m. – Tony’s Darts Away



Down Magnolia Boulevard, Tony Yanow has revitalized this neighborhood bar, which has wall-to-wall wood, a craft beer book library, and of course dartboards. The craft beer program and commitment to California make this casual setting a draw. 38 taps regularly rotate beers that come exclusively from the Golden State, which are categorized by IPA or Not IPA. Tony’s Darts Away also hosts themed beer events and tap takeovers.

DAY THREE: 8 p.m. - The Bellwether



Chef Ted Hopson and front of house partner Ann-Marie Verdi learned valuable lessons while working together at Father’s Office and have delivered an of-the-moment dining experience to a previously quiet corner of Sherman Oaks. Hopson is a farmers market junkie who elevates seasonal ingredients on a menu that encourages diners to either Share A Little or Share A Lot. For example, roasted carrots are a dynamic study of the vegetable that includes chamomile carrot jus and carrot top salad. Other dishes like meatballs, the patty melt, and roasted half chicken, lean more heavily on comfort.