L.A.'s Top 10 Essential Bites

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10. Umami Burger. This young establishment slides in as much for what it represents as for how it tastes. It is the new L.A., a representative of the larger push towards high-quality creativity, packed within the most classic of Southern California cuisines: the hamburger. But to focus on its particular selling point, Umami--i.e. the fifth taste--is to miss the point. Food in Los Angeles is cool again, in no small part because of a highly-politicized younger generation of organically-minded foodies. And Umami Burger, you see, has been lucky enough to become the affordable manifestation of that trend.

850 La Brea Ave LA CA 90036
Try: The Port & Stilton Burger

9. Bay Cities Italian Deli and Bakery. You call that a sandwich? This is a sandwich. Bay Cities packs quite the punch between two slices of what even our resident east coasters can call bread. The Godmother, their inspirational masterpiece, is stuffed with a frightening array of meats--from genoa salami to mortadella coppacola--and filled with only the most necessary of toppings--yes, including those essential Italian peppers. We'll excuse you for thinking it's daring you to find a better beast. To be honest, it just might be.

1517 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401
Try: The Godmother Sandwich

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8. Apple Pan. Across from the towering Westside Pavilion sits an unassuming burger joint, tucked into the past and content to let the outside world go about its business - assuming employees inside can continue to flip burgers the same way they've been flipping them for fifty years. Parlor-style and no reservations, Apple Pan boasts a menu reflective of its no-frills approach. In fact, about the only reminder of modern life on view inside this establishment is that of overpopulation. Be ready to fight for a spot at the bar.
10801 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90064
Try: Hickoryburger with a piece of Fresh Apple Pie

7. Tito's Tacos. The phrase 'family-owned business' brings to mind quaint images of a struggling business. But that picture doesn't quite work for the finely-tuned machine that is Tito's Tacos, an institution packed full of employees busily stuffing rice, beans, and meat into the greasiest of tacos. And yet, the authenticity of West L.A.'s most celebrated stand still somehow remains in doubt. It's time to realize that a taco is a taco. And if it's good enough for frequenters like Natalie Portman, well, then it's good enough for us.

11222 Washington Place, Culver City, CA 90230
Try: Beef and Bean Burrito with Cheese

6. Canter's Deli. This old school Jewish deli should be applauded for never turning onto Nostalgia Lane, instead always favoring the higher ground otherwise known as contemporary-cool. We're not sure if it's the gabby grandma seated to our left or the pink Mohawk located on our right (it could just be the pounds of Pastrami piled right in front of us), but Canter's still hits the spot, and has remained a very visible representation of the city's durable Jewish presence. Feeling under the weather? We'd have to recommend some Jewish penicillin, also known as the chicken soup.

419 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90036
Try: Canter's Hot Corned Beer Sandwich

5. El Tepeyac. A wonderful monstrosity. That's the only way to describe El Tepeyac's signature plate, a seven-pound mammoth of a burrito that's been going by the name Manuel's Special for decades now. Filled with all you could imagine, and topped with just a little bit more, this nationally-recognized burrito is worthy of every bit of the press bestowed upon it in recent years. And while El Tepeyac is far from a one-item wonder, well, it's a seven pound burrito. We're going to talk about it.

812 N Evergreen Ave Los Angeles, CA 90033
Try: Manuel's Special Burrito

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4. Pink's Hot Dogs. Lined with hotly-colored paints and fully-devoted patrons, it's difficult to miss the hotdog stand sitting on the corner of Melrose and La Brea. And that's for good reason, because Pink's is more than just another Southern California icon; it's a scene entirely worthy of the constantly descending droves. And believe us, this isn't you're normal line; it's a full-fledged party of regulars that, if anything, should reinforce one thing: It's well-worth the wait.
79 North La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Try: The Huell Howser Dog (two dogs, chili, cheese, mustard, onion)

3. Father's Office. In ten years, Father's Office has come farther than most. Nothing more than a neighborly bar at the turn of the decade, this gastropub has since developed into the standard for upscale beer-and-burger combos. Of course, it's the signature Office Burger on which they have built their reputation, a creation labeled as one of the best burgers in the world--yes, world--by Esquire Magazine. And we, for one, whole-heartedly agree. The combination of arugula, Gruyère cheese, and applewood-smoked bacon, laid upon first-rate beef, simply cannot be topped. Well, except by the sweet potato fries that lay beside them.

3229 Helms Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Try: Office Burger with Sweet Potato Fries

2. Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles. Despite its southern roots, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more quintessentially Los Angeles experience than that available inside the walls of this Hollywood-based soul food restaurant. Stacking their plates high with beautifully fried chicken, cinnamon-infused waffles and a serving (or three) of syrup, Roscoe's lets you in on a little secret: Real food makes you happy. And yes, on a calorie per dollar basis, there's not a better find in the city.

1514 North Gower Street, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Try: A Scoe's Plate with Greens and Corn Bread

1. Philippe's The Original. We'll let you in on a secret. That French-dipped sandwich? It's not French at all. It's a homegrown L.A. creation, and although that's not going to knock anyone out of their chairs, it does go to show that what we've got in Philippe's is ours, and ours alone. Yep, this source of local pride (since 1908) isn't just another stop on your way to Dodger Stadium. It's a rare marker of the city's immigrant history, and a great sandwich shop at that. Our advice? Keep it simple. Ask for your beef sandwich to be single-dipped. And please, be careful with that mustard.

1001 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Try: Single-dipped Beef Sandwich with a little mustard.


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