Where to Eat When Sightseeing in LA

Los Angeles is massive and sprawling, a place sightseers tackle with a game plan if they want to minimize their time in traffic. Here are a few of our favorite places to eat near city landmarks to maximize your time in town.

LACMA: Ray's and Stark Bar

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, better known as LACMA (and even better known for its photogenic Urban Light installation out front), is the West Coast's largest art museum. The Miracle Mile landmark brings in a million-and-a-half visitors a year with its diverse collection. Located right on the museum premises is Ray's and Stark Bar, an approachable spot with a wood-burning oven that churns out Neapolitan-style pizzas all day long. Every Monday through Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m., guests can score $5 beers and $6 glasses of wine at happy hour alongside seasonal selections of food.

Venice Beach Boardwalk: Felix

An afternoon on the Venice Beach Boardwalk is a quintessential stop on any LA sightseeing agenda. Between the street performers and the Rollerbladers and the arts and crafts, there's a lot to take in on this historic stretch of beach. Decompress and discuss what you just witnessed over a glass of wine and Italian fare at Felix, from Evan Funke and Janet Zuccarini. Can't-miss dishes include the fluffy Sicilian focaccia, Burrata Pugliese, and Pizza Diavola with fior di latte mozzarella and salame piccante.

Runyon Canyon: The Griddle Cafe

You've hiked the trails of Runyon Canyon and now you need to put the calories you burned off back in your tired body. Turn to pancakes, specifically the famously giant ones at The Griddle Cafe. This place is as basic as it gets, but that's the beauty of it, and what keeps it a surprising celebrity haunt, bringing in the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Roker and Paris Hilton. Pancake flavors range from classic buttermilk to truly insane creations like Frosted Flakes and strawberry, to butterscotch chip, coconut and pecan. Drizzle your choice with pure Vermont maple syrup.

Rodeo Drive: Spago

People-watching is at its finest on Los Angeles' most-famous shopping street, Rodeo Drive. Celebrity spotting abounds, and that continues off the drive at Spago, celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck's first restaurant. The concept originally opened in 1982 and moved into its current location in 1997, where it has continued to thrive with its California cuisine. Where Spago really shines is in its pasta and pizza offerings, specifically the pizza with house-smoked salmon, dill, creme fraiche and chives. To try a little bit of everything, indulge in the chefs' multicourse California Tasting Menu.

The Grove: The Original Farmers Market

Believe it or not, The Grove is one of California's biggest tourist attractions. The shopping center brings in 18 million visitors a year, not with roller coasters and musical performances, but with a movie theater and major fashion retailers. There are plenty of places to eat on an expedition to The Grove, the most fun being The Original Farmers Market. Once a dairy farm in the 1800s, the land was transformed into a bustling marketplace on the corner of 3rd and Fairfax when owners began inviting trucks to sell produce there back in the '30s. Today you can pop from stall to stall, picking up tamales, Texas-style BBQ, gourmet groceries and more.

Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory: Sapp Coffee Shop

You can get a good view of the Hollywood Sign all over LA, but if you're making the trek to Hollywood to see it up close and personal at Griffith Park, stop into Sapp Coffee Shop for some of the city's best jade noodles. Parking here can be tough, and this eatery is cash-only, but the food is well worth these minor obstacles. Your order must include a plate of perfectly chewy jade noodles with BBQ pork, duck and crab meat, as well as a bowl of Boat Noodle Soup with beef. While you're waiting for your noodles to arrive, sip a Thai tea and post your photo of the Hollywood Sign on Instagram.

La Brea Tar Pits: République

At this point, République should stand alone as an LA sight to visit. The restaurant from Margarita and Walter Manzke is a crowd-pleasing win whether you stop by for breakfast, lunch or dinner. République's building is ancient, by Los Angeles standards at least, dating all the way back to 1928. It's a great place to pop in before or after visiting the La Brea Tar Pits (located a four-minute drive away), even if it's just to see the photogenic tile floors of the stunning space. Be prepared for a wait; although its line does move quickly, République is perennially busy.

Chinatown: Lasa

Los Angeles' Chinatown is a joy to explore, with its bustling markets and hidden food spots spread out around the neighborhood. In Far East Plaza, two-year-old Lasa, from brothers Chad and Chase Valencia, is still turning heads with its contemporary Filipino fare. Stop in for lunch or dinner to taste the flavors of the Philippines in dishes like Kesong Puti Dumplings, Lumpia Sariwa and Lechon Manok. Lunchtime bowls and burgers are approachably affordable and easy to take with you to go.

Venice Canals: The Butcher's Daughter

In 1905, Abbot Kinney built the Venice Canal Historic District, a neighborhood gem of bungalow-lined waterways and bridges. If you head over to Abbot Kinney Boulevard, you can pretend you're a houseguest in one of those canal bungalows by stepping inside The Butcher's Daughter. The interior design comes courtesy of owner Heather Tierney, a bicoastal restaurateur and designer who calls Venice home. The juice bar and cafe is famous for its healthful yet delicious fare, verdant interior and sunny outdoor seating. Don't leave without trying the avocado toast.

Hollywood Walk of Fame: APL Restaurant

As far as Los Angeles cross streets go, you can't get more iconic than Hollywood and Vine. Back in the '20s, the intersection was a hub for the entertainment industry, and it's still a bustling destination today. You'll find Adam Perry Lang's APL Restaurant right at the heart of the intersection. Known for its incredible selection of dry-aged steaks, its iceberg wedge salad and its cocktails, the 143-seat restaurant is an elegant place to unwind after walking around Hollywood. If it's a quick bite you're after, Lang has another option for you at the same address. APL's takeaway window, better known as Hole in the Wall, serves matzo ball soup, double beef chili dogs, pulled pork sandwiches, short rib sandwiches and something called a Serious Sandwich that costs $50 thanks to its filling of pit-cooked, shaved prime New York strip meat.

Staples Center: Broken Spanish

There's always something going on at the Staples Center. Whether you're seeing a Taylor Swift concert or a Lakers game, you'll want to get dinner beforehand nearby, and preferably one that measures up to the amazing entertainment following your meal. Cue Broken Spanish, an "authentically inauthentic" Mexican restaurant from Chef Ray Garcia. Handmade tortillas (served with whipped carnitas fat, by the way), brilliant mezcal cocktails and esquites with bone marrow are just some of the reasons to make a reservation at this Los Angeles institution.

The Museum of Contemporary Art: 71Above

Pop art is on display at downtown LA's Museum of Contemporary Art on Grand Avenue, while the entire city is on display nearby at 71Above, fittingly located on the 71st floor of the US Bank Tower. Dubbed the highest restaurant west of the Mississippi, 71Above features an unbelievable view that only a restaurant 950 feet above ground level could offer. The cocktails here are as big a draw as the contemporary cooking, so head in for a sunset drink before your meal.

Paramount Pictures Studios: Café Gratitude

Tour the Paramount Pictures Studios lot to learn about Hollywood history and fun facts about some of your favorite films. Afterward, grab lunch at the Hollywood-approved Café Gratitude. Celebrities and civilians alike love the vegan, organic restaurant's super-healthful menu with whimsically named dishes. Try the Dazzling / Kale Caesar salad, composed of romaine with wakame, sesame seed gomasio, avocado, brazil nut Parmesan, gluten-free croutons and chipotle cashew Caesar dressing.

The Getty Center: Kato

A 10-minute drive will get you from The Getty Center to Kato on Sawtelle. Your experience at Kato depends on the time of the day you visit. At lunch, you'll get casual fare like beef noodle soup or a $5 chicken sandwich. In the evening, Kato offers a more elegant tasting menu, and you'll be dazzled by Chef Jonathan Yao's artful seafood-focused creations. Do the place justice and go in for both Kato vibes.

The Broad: Otium

The Broad is a sight to see, whether you're going inside to view the collection of some 2,000 works of art, or just standing outside and admiring the $140 million building they're housed in. Otium is located just across a lawn decorated with 100-year-old olive trees from the museum, making it one of the most-convenient dining options. Award-winning chef Timothy Hollingsworth has brought the Los Angeles art-loving public a gorgeous place to drink and dine after their Broad visit. Drop in for highlights like Foie Gras Funnel Cake, Snake River Farms New York Strip steak with spinach and bone marrow vinaigrette, and Chocolate Choux a la Creme for dessert.

Dodger Stadium: Tsubaki

It's definitely in your best interest to eat a Dodger Dog while you're watching a ballgame at the stadium, but food in the park is expensive and not necessarily wholesome enough to fill you up. A better option is a pre- or post-game meal at Tsubaki, located down the hill from Dodger Stadium in Echo Park. The petite izakaya serves grilled (and raw) Japanese staples alongside a thorough sake menu. On Tuesdays through Fridays from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., stop by for happy-hour yakitori skewers and the opportunity to taste and learn about the sake of the month.

Paul Smith Pink Wall: E.P. & L.P.

In the age of social media, a mostly unremarkable wall on Melrose Avenue has become a hotspot for Instagram-driven sightseers. Thanks to its bright pink facade, the Paul Smith store is now a destination for stopping for selfies outside as well as for shopping inside. The flattering backdrop is regularly visited by out-of-towners and locals alike. Get your new profile photo and then head west to E.P. & L.P., the Southeast Asian gem by Chef Louis Tikaram. The Fijian-Australian expat is one of the city's brightest culinary stars and is responsible for magic like Szechuan-style fried fish wok-tossed with mouth-numbing fresh Szechuan peppercorns.

Pershing Square: Mrs. Fish

Pershing Square hosts a fount of events throughout the year, and the palm tree-lined block is surrounded by interesting dining spots, like the recently renovated Mrs. Fish. Guests leaving Pershing Square must descend into the basement of 448 South Hill Street to discover the surreal space named after its 5,500-gallon saltwater ceiling fish tank. Conversation-starting art adorns the walls, but you'll keep talking about the food hitting your table instead. Fish are delivered directly from Japan, there's a decadent uni-and-lobster pasta you shouldn't miss, and highly addictive snacks like spicy edamame and cabbage with miso butter are also on offer. If it's in your budget, explore the serious Japanese whiskey menu, complete with rare finds like Komagatake and a 30-year-old Ichiro's Malt The Single Cask #708. More budget-friendly is the Toki Highball, which comes straight from a Suntory Toki Whisky Highball machine that produces water five times more carbonated than the average soda water.

Santa Monica Pier: 1 Pico

At the edge of Colorado Avenue, the Santa Monica Pier is a postcard-worthy LA stop. You have the surf, the sand and the towering ferris wheel that bathes the beach in a neon glow by night. Next door to the pier is Shutters on the Beach, one of Los Angeles' best-known hotels. You don't have to be a hotel guest to dine at 1 Pico, its beachfront restaurant from Chef David Almany. The best time to go is for brunch, lunch or sunset, to get the most of the priceless Pacific Ocean view. The lobster tail Benedict with grilled asparagus goes perfectly with the coastal ambience.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall: Patina

There may be no more jaw-dropping a building in Los Angeles than downtown's Walt Disney Concert Hall. Designed by the one and only Frank Gehry, the Los Angeles Music Center performance hall looks straight out of a futuristic science-fiction movie. At its French fine-dining haunt Patina, Executive Chef Andreas Roller orchestrates exquisite meals that exceed expectations. For example, the German chef is known to do night dives off the coast of Malibu to personally catch California spiny lobster and sea urchin for his guests.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery: Petit Trois

If you had told the people buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery that one day in the not-so-distant future people of all ages would be picnicking while watching a movie in a graveyard, they'd never have believed you. It would also be difficult to explain to them the concept of Petit Trois, an impossibly small French restaurant located nearby the cemetery. The tiny strip-mall treasure from Chef Ludo Lefebvre maintains all of the je ne sais quoi charm of a restaurant in Paris, even though it's smashed into a sliver of space next to a doughnut shop. Get the steak frites, or the omelette, or the outrageous Big Mec, a burger made exponentially more decadent by the addition of foie gras.

Watts Towers: Hawkins House of Burgers

It took 33 years for Sabato "Simon" Rodia to build one of LA's most-unique sights, Watts Towers. The National Historic Landmark is on the National Register of Historic Places in Los Angeles, and has been featured in books, movies (La La Land) and even video games. Complement your visit to the architectural wonder with a monster of a burger at Hawkins House of Burgers. Cynthia Hawkins is in charge of this Watts institution, known for its massive Angus beef and turkey patties. One of the house specialties is the Whipper Burger, a double burger with pastrami and a hot link.

Grand Central Market: Sticky Rice

Grand Central Market is a neon playground made for social media, although it was really made for getting your groceries back in 1917. Wander through the maze of vendors (picking up some dried Mexican chiles at Chiles Secos and a fresh baguette from Clark Street Bread), then sit down for lunch at Sticky Rice. The Thai spot has all of the fan favorites like pad thai, khao soi, and panang curry, in addition to rotating specials like crying tiger steak. Hydrate with some electrolytes and order a fresh coconut to go along with your meal.

Universal Studios: Mercado

En route to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? If you're not planning to fill up on Butterbeer and turkey legs at Universal Studios, check out the great Mexican food nearby at Mercado. Start with cauliflower al pastor and guacamole, then move on to something more substantial, like chile relleno and enchiladas de pollo with Oaxaqueño mole. The bar menu is as enticing as the food offerings, and Mercado stocks more than 70 tequilas for your margarita- or paloma-sipping pleasure.