The Best Restaurants in the Mid-City of Los Angeles


In recent years, Angelenos have followed acclaimed chefs to their latest restaurant openings in Downtown L.A. and other hot foodie neighborhoods around town. But the Mid-City area, the heart of L.A., is still full of vitality. Mid-City encompasses part of Koreatown, one of the principal Oaxacan neighborhoods, and the multicultural Byzantine-Latino Quarter, among other international enclaves. Today, in addition to its edgy chef-driven restaurant scene, Los Angeles is recognized all over the world for its multicultural dining experiences. Here are 10 reasons why Mid-City is one of the most important dining neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

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Enfrijolada tasajo at Gish Bac | Photo by Bill Esparza

Gish Bac



L.A. is blessed with many restaurants that are outposts of successful franchises based in other countries, like this goat barbecue specialist from Tlacolula, Oaxaca. Maria Ramos is a third-generation goat barbecue artisan, who along with owner David Padilla is continuing a recipe that’s still served at a restaurant in Tlacolula, Oaxaca. There’s life here beyond barbacoa too, with dishes like tangy entomatadas (tortillas drenched in a seasoned tomato sauce) and enfrijoladas, tortillas covered in a black bean puree and scented with avocado leaves. It’s a great stop for the whole family that’s as warm, sunny, and inviting as Oaxaca itself.

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Ham Ji Park | Photo courtesy of patsun, Flickr

Ham Ji Park



The advantage of having so many international enclaves in Los Angeles is the variety of regional styles and specialization available to diners, like this Korean comfort food restaurant that is the master of all things pork. The grilled pork ribs and the rich stew fortified by slow cooked pork neck and potatoes both stand out from a menu that’s filled with savory pork dishes. And after you’ve tackled these heavy hitters, there are more dishes like barbecued pork belly to pair with continuous pours of Hite beer. As in all Korean restaurants, there’s plenty of surf to go with the turf, like pan-broiled squid with noodles, to bring balance to your night out in K-town.

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Ceviche de concha negra (bloody clams ceviche) at La Cevicheria | Photo by Bill Esparza

La Cevicheria



La Cevicheria is essential to Los Angeles dining. Julio and Carolina Arellano’s ceviche house has the dual distinction of being one of the best raw seafood bars in L.A. and the only Guatemalan-style ceviche restaurant in town. Most of the menu at this Byzantine-Latino Quarter destination consists of delicious Mexican-style seafood cocktails inspired by Veracruz, shrimp tostadas, and vuelve a la vida, a special cocktail loaded with hemoglobin-rich, bloody clams from Ensenada. After the bloody clams, there’s Arellano’s Chapin, a true taste of Guatemala’s Antigua market in a goblet - a mixed seafood ceviche swims in Worcestershire sauce, lots of chopped mint and vegetables.

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Relleno negro taco at La Flor de Yucatan | Photo by Bill Esparza

La Flor de Yucatan



Located on the eastern edge of Mid-City, La Flor de Yucatan is one of L.A.’s most unique Mexican bakeries, cooking up authentic cuisine from the Yucatan peninsula since the late 60’s. Each day, the Burgos family prepares a special plate of traditional delights such as chirmole (pork in beans and a chile and spice paste), and on the weekends there are regional tamales called vaporcitos and colados, and of course tacos with cochinita pibil (roasted, marinated pork) and relleno negro (turkey in a black recado). The bakery has limited seating, but it’s worth it to grab a table and enjoy some of L.A.'s best Mexican cuisine while it’s hot.

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Mole negro at Las 7 Regiones de Oaxaca | Photo by Bill Esparza

Las 7 Regiones



In Los Angeles, it's easty to come across a plate of mole, the famous Mexican dish that blends a spectrum of chiles from fresh to dry, herbs, spices, seeds, tortillas and bread, and sometimes bitter chocolate. One of the best places for moles is at this family-owned, Byzantine-Latino Quarter Oaxacan restaurant, which serves dark, delicious mole negro (black mole) and a spicy estofado, which is also a mole. Other traditional Oaxacan favorites are likewise cooked with care, such as tlayudas (large tortillas covered with beans, vegetables, cheese and meats), and tamales wrapped in banana leaf. Stop in for a meal and save the airfare to Oaxaca.

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Grilled tsipoura (whole grilled fish) | Photo courtesy of Papa Cristo’s, Facebook

Papa Cristo's Greek Grill



Open since 1948, Papa Cristo’s is a Los Angeles institution that nearly single-handedly makes up for L.A.’s dearth of Greek restaurants. Located in the heart of the Byzantine-Latino Quarter, Sam Chrys’ restaurant satiates our Greek cravings with Greek olives, feta cheese and cured meats at the market, as well as the grilled octopus, lamb and spiced meat patties with tzatziki served in the adjacent tavern. On Thursday nights, there’s a Greek family feast accompanied by live music and belly dancers, featuring the excellent house-made baklava to end a night of celebration in Mid-City.

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Ohgyupsal at Park’s BBQ | Photo courtesy of bionicgrrrl, Flickr

Park's BBQ



The most important Korean cuisine in the U.S. is located in Mid-City, where fine dining is epitomized by Park's BBQ, Koreatown’s best Korean BBQ restaurant. There’s always a line out the door at Park's BBQ, which serves impressive spreads of well-marbled waygu, prime ribeye, bulgogi (marinated beef) and short ribs. The KBBQ here is expensive, but it’s still a great value when you consider the colorful and plentiful banchan - the unlimited side dishes set out before the meat arrives. Anyone who bemoans the lack of traditional steakhouses in L.A. is missing the point - this is how we do a steakhouse in the City of Angels.

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Braised black cod at Soban | Photo by Ron Dollete, Flickr

Soban



Like many Korean restaurants, this seafood-centered restaurant draws a crowd for its exceptional banchan, or side dishes, that are offered to start your dining experience. But it’s the unique seafood offerings that make Soban one of the most interesting spots in K-town. You can order raw marinated crab with either a spicy, thick red paste or in a garlic-soy sauce. The spicy braised black cod is delicious, as is the squid sautéed with vegetables. If you’re in the mood to depart from the oceanic theme, the spicy beef short ribs are the way to go.

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Tacos al pastor at Tacos Leo | Photo courtesy of T. Tseng, Flickr

Tacos Leo



The last five years have seen a steady rise in quality tacos al pastor, or marinated pork cooked on a vertical spit from street vendors, food trucks and taquerias serving one of the most popular street food items in Mexico. On the corner of Venice and La Brea, you’ll find a crowd gathering nightly for a brilliant show of knife work on the well-manicured mound of pork, as the cook flips small chunks of pineapple and catches them on a tortilla. Customers then dash to the condiment bar to add vegetables and salsas to complete their taco al pastor while enjoying the camaraderie and ambiance of genuine parking lot dining.