The Unique Reasons That Make Los Angeles a Great City to Explore Food

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Los Angeles is a great food city.

And there's a multitude of reasons.

  • It's big; the second-largest city in the country after New York, the culinary capital of the U.S.
  • It's a multicultural city, with the biggest communities of several nationalities of people outside of their homelands. They bring their cuisines with them.
  • It's got a thriving economy that supports a robust restaurant industry.
  • It's a dynamic culture, mixing with the old and the new; with creative chefs and restaurant owners eager to stay on top of emerging trends. 

All of these factors combine to make L.A. a culinary destination for U.S. and foreign visitors alike.

L.A.'s car culture has yielded experimentation.

Natives and newcomers alike know L.A. is the home of street food. With a legacy dating back to the 19th century, when food was sold from pushcarts, L.A. can take credit for the rise of food trucks as an alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants, with some of the best and most authentic tacos found only on wheels. Think Taco Zone, Tacos Arizas, Guerrilla Tacos and Tacos Cuernavaca.

Not to mention innovative eateries such as Coolhaus and Eggslut, who got their start as trucks before putting down more permanent roots.

You can also find great restaurants in the unlikeliest of places. Even strip malls boast some of the city's best dining experiences, in cases such as Petit Trois or Jitlada

The city is a hub for Asian cuisine.

L.A. is home to large immigrant communities from Thailand, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and Indonesia, among other countries. 

A large percentage of those communities have settled in the San Gabriel Valley, making it a hub for restaurants featuring Chinese, Taiwanese and other Asian fare, which inspired Eater L.A. to call it, "America's Asian Food Mecca". L.A.'s Thai Town and Koreatown districts also boast an impressive array of restaurants, and the latter was described as, "functionally a distant district of Seoul—in capital as well as in culture, in both commerce and cuisine," by food critic Jonathan Gold said of Koreatown.

L.A. mixes and matches traditional cuisines in new ways.

The best example of L.A. fusion is chef Roy Choi's Kogi Truck. It uses Korean-style barbecued meat in Latin America-inspired tacos and burritos. Choi's wildly successful truck helped kick-start the food truck trend.

"In New York, the taco places are almost always feeding an audience that is not Mexican," Choi told The Daily Beast. "But here, they're making no concessions to you, and the food thrives because of that. They're cooking from the heart."

Or consider the cuisine at Thai Night Market, as well as the Asian-American burgers at Plan Check, the French-Mexican brunch at Trois Familia, and the international food at Bäco Mercat, all of which embody the playfulness and experimentation that best exemplifies L.A. food.

L.A. also honors the classics.

You do know that L.A. invented the cheeseburger, right? (Ok, it was actually Pasadena, but close enough). And the French dip sandwich? And the Cobb salad?

People are still making creative yet classic burgers, an outstanding hot dog (found at Dodger Stadium), and the aforementioned French dip sandwich(Don't forget the flannel cakes at Musso and Frank).

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