A short walk south of Los Angeles’ iconic Dodger Stadium, you’ll find one of the most culturally rich and diverse neighborhoods in all of LA.
LA’s Chinatown is home to some of the most iconic restaurants, shops, and bakeries in the city, and it’s the perfect way to explore the diverse culture of Los Angeles and eat some fantastic food in the process.
Far from a monoculture, Chinatown offers everything from classic Chinese dishes and desserts to tacos, Vietnamese sandwiches, Nashville Hot Chicken, and so much more.
Of course, with such an embarrassment of riches when it comes to restaurants, choosing where to eat while in Chinatown is no small task.
727 N Broadway #128, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Head to the back of the Far East Shopping Center on North Broadway, and you’ll find Chef Johnny Ray Zone’s tribute to a food that’s rooted firmly in the culture of Nashville.
Howlin Ray’s serves up the finest hot chicken you’ll find west of the Music City. Howlin Ray’s is a humble spot with a small menu, especially these days as the pandemic continues to cause havoc in the restaurant world.
Currently, they’re open for pickup or delivery, and the dine-in restaurant will reopen at a later date, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Currently, diners can choose from boneless chicken breast, tenders, or wings with their choice of heat. From the heat-free Country Style to the 5-alarm fire of Howlin’, there’s something to please all fans of Nashville-style chicken.
Howlin’ Rays also offers a classic assortment of sides, like vinegar slaw, collards, mac salad, and more.
1001 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
On the corner of North Alameda and Ord Street, you’ll find a Los Angeles landmark that’s the true home of the French Dip sandwich.
Philippe has been serving up their culinary gems since 1951 from this location, and they’ve been a Los Angeles staple for well over 100 years.
Philippe has a fairly extensive menu. Here, you can choose from your choice of meat and cheese served on a beautiful French roll and ripped in the natural juices of the meat of your choice.
Diners can choose from beef, lamb, pastrami, turkey, ham, and more and pair it with the cheese of their choice.
I recommend the beef French Dip with cheddar or provolone and as many of their delicious sides and accompaniments as you can handle (thank me later.)
1019 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012
On North Broadway across the way from the Los Angeles State Historic Park, stumble into Pho 87 for a cheap, no-frills lunch consisting of some of the finest Vietnamese fares that LA has to offer. Be sure to bring cash, as Pho 87 likes to keep it as simple as possible at their humble restaurant.
Pho 87 offers a wide selection of pho, rice, vermicelli dishes, and other Vietnamese classics. If you’re overwhelmed, start with the classic Pho Tai, which is a traditional pho served with rare beef.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, try the Pho 87 signature, Pho Dac Biet, which offers special signature noodles, and a trio of beef preparations.
819 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Across from the Chinatown Saigon Plaza on North Broadway is a Los Angeles staple that’s been serving up some of the most delicious Szechuan and Mandarin Chinese dishes for well over 40 years.
Yang Chow began as a small restaurant, started by the five brothers of the Yun Family, who named the restaurant as a tribute to their hometown in China.
A quick blurb in the LA Times about their iconic Slippery Shrimp quickly put the dish and the restaurant on the map.
Since then, the Yun family has been dishing up Chinese classics at three different restaurants. I’d argue that their original Chinatown location is still the finest of the three, and it’s a must-try if you’re looking for authentic Chinese food in LA.
301 Ord St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
For over fifty years, the Phoenix Inn has been the destination for authentic Chinese food in LA’s Chinatown. The original Phoenix Inn sits at the corner of Ord and North Broadway, and it’s still the crown jewel of the growing cache of Phoenix restaurants.
Today, there are over a dozen Phoenix restaurants throughout California, but the flagship Phoenix Inn is still the one to visit.
Phoenix Inn offers all of the Chinese classics you know and love, along with some inventive signature dishes that helped put the Phoenix Inn on the map.
Their Peking duck is a perennial favorite, along with Phoenix Boneless Chicken. The menu is expansive, so you’ll have no trouble finding something that fits your fancy.
727 N Broadway No. 117, Los Angeles, CA 90012
In the middle of the iconic Far East Plaza on North Broadway, you’ll find the latest outpost of Chef Alvin Cailan, the legendary chef behind LA’s world-famous Eggslut and the host of YouTube’s The Burger Show.
Chef Cailan recently expanded his business and decided to give the people what they needed: delicious burgers and steaks they could enjoy at the restaurant or at home. Every burger on the menu is fantastic, but I’m partial to the Picante and Royale.
736 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012
On North Broadway next to the Far East Center, you’ll find Katsu Sando, a tiny sandwich shop inspired by Japanese convenience stores. These sandwiches are affordable and unfussy food.
Chef Daniel Son first plied his craft at several of Tokyo’s Michelin-starred restaurants before his latest stint as head chef at the acclaimed Kura Sushi. When Covid shuttered Kura, Son opened Katsu Sando.
Katsu Sando features a short menu of Japanese-style sandwiches on house-made milk bread, from the classic chicken or pork katsu sandos to more inventive fare, like the honey walnut shrimp sando.
You can also opt for a katsu plate if you prefer, and there’s a short menu of side dishes you can pair with your sandwich.
There are also a few grab-and-go options. If you’re looking for a delicious, quick, and cheap meal, there’s no better spot in Chinatown than Katsu Sando.
702 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
On North Figueroa off the corner of Bartlett Street and a hair before the 110 Freeway, Chef Esdras Ochoa’s Mexicali Taco & Co. delivers a taste of the Mexicali region of Mexico to hungry Angelinos.
Los Angeles might be the taco capital of the U.S., but nobody hits the flavors of Baja Mexico quite like Mexicali does.
The menu is pretty short and to the point. You’ll find tacos, quesadillas, and other Mexican classics, like the can’t-miss queso fundido.
Be sure to try the Vampiro and signature Mexicali tacos. Or, if you’ve worked up a major appetite, try the Zuperman.
727 N Broadway #103, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Across the street from the Far East Center is Kim Chuy Restaurant. Here, the Kim family serves up Chinese classics heavily steeped in Cambodian heritage.
Kim Chuy is an unfussy spot that’s perfect for a quick bite. While the environment is casual, the care that goes into the food is anything but.
The menu emphasizes the flavors of the Teochew region, and you’ll find an assortment of dim sum, humble porridge dishes, and plenty of delicious noodles you can customize to your taste.
938 N Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Across the street from Master Chef on North Hill lies a humble pop-up coffee shop aptly named Thank You Coffee.
This diminutive shop serves up the best coffee you’ll find in the neighborhood, along with some tasty treats that are perfect for grabbing when you’re on the run.
Thank You Coffee has a sparse menu, and everything is crafted with care. From their smooth and aromatic pour-overs to matcha lattes, there’s something for everyone. Give the Five Spice Latte a shot, which is one of the most inventive coffee drinks I’ve had.
970 N Broadway Suite 114, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Inside Mandarin Plaza on North Broadway is one of the most delicious and inventive diners you’ll find in LA.
Angry Egret is the latest brainchild of Chef Wes Avila, whose Guerrilla Taco has grown from a humble food truck to one of the hottest Mexican eateries in Los Angeles. At the Angry Egret, he’s serving up tortas, diner classics, and Mexican specialties.
Grab one of their inventive breakfast tortas or the farmer’s market quesadilla if you’re around for breakfast. For lunch or dinner, the Hey Porky might be the best thing you’ll eat while you’re in LA.
1725 Naud St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
As another outpost from the prolific mind of David Chang, Majordomo has quickly become one of the most inventive and culturally relevant spots in LA.
You can find it right by Factory 93 near the Los Angeles River. Chef Jude Parra-Sickels is the mastermind behind the small but inventive menu that emphasizes sharing and enjoying a curated meal with friends and family.
The menu offers a few small plates to whet your appetite, along with some large-format dishes such as Smoked Half Bo Ssam and short rib with rice.
For the drinkers among us, Majordomo also features one of LA’s best and most inventive bars, offering a curated selection of classic cocktails, each with a decidedly Chinese or Japanese twist.
314 Ord St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
On Ord Street next to Perfect Jewelry, stop into My Dung Bahn Mi to enjoy one of the best quick bites you’ll find in Chinatown.
Despite all of the cultural intermingling you’ll find in Los Angeles, it’s never been easy to find an authentic and delicious bahn mi here.
Thankfully, My Dung has just what you need to fill your craving for a delicious Vietnamese sandwich.
The menu here is short, with around eight different bahn mi options. I recommend the most classic preparation, which features a generous spread of pate below cilantro, carrots, and cucumbers.
It’s a truly exemplary bahn mi. The slightly more inventive sandwiches, like the #12 with roasted pork belly, are also a must-try.
969 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Not to be confused with the Phoenix Inn, the Chan Family’s Phoenix Bakery has been an LA Chinatown staple since the late 1930s.
The bakery exploded in popularity in the 70s with the introduction of its fresh strawberry whipped cream cake, and the rest is history.
Whether you’re hoping to indulge your sweet tooth or pick up a cake for a special occasion, Phoenix Bakery has you covered.
Stop in the Phoenix Bakery near the Chinatown Central Plaza to order a cake for your next special occasion. Be sure to leave with a slice of the strawberry whipped cream cake and some almond cookies.
1135 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Between North Almeda and North Spring beneath the railroad tracks, you’ll find a French oasis known as Oriel.
This intimate restaurant is the perfect spot for a date or to catch up with old friends, and they offer a curated menu of French classics and arguably the best wine selection in Chinatown.
Be sure to try the duck in a jar, which is one of my favorite dishes in all of LA, and pair it with something from their exemplary wine list.
1300 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Across from the welcome center at LA Historic Park, you’ll find Nick’s Cafe, which is a must-try if you’re looking to grab breakfast while you’re in Chinatown. Nick’s is your classic dinette, serving up breakfast and lunch classics from 7-2 pm every day.
If you’re here for lunch, grab an LA dog or a bowl of one of their signature soups. On weekends, there’s an entire menu of delicious and inventive eggs benedicts (I’m partial to the MC).
800 Yale St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Stop into Zen Mei at the corner of Yale and Alpine, and you’ll immediately transport yourself into a world of Chinese delights with a heavy emphasis on seafood.
Zen Mei has been a staple of the neighborhood for over three decades, and it’s clear why they’re so popular when you taste the food here.
Some of the standouts include BBQ roast duck, lobster with supreme sauce, and the honey walnut shrimp with mayonnaise sauce. Whatever you’re in the mood for, Zen Mei is the place to be for all your Chinese food cravings.