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A Guide to L.A.’s Best Regional Cuisine

 
By Aaron Drake
Editor
 
   

If you're looking for a nontraditional alternative to the usual Turkey Day this year, look no further! Frontiers contributor Michelle McCarthy picks out some of the yummiest restaurants from various L.A. neighborhoods. And be careful if you're reading this on an empty stomach...

We really are spoiled in Los Angeles when it comes to food. This town of ours provides a virtual smorgasbord of restaurant options. Within the span of a block, you can experience authentic food from all over the globe that will tantalize your tastebuds. Here is a sampling of some of L.A.’s best restaurants offering regional cuisine.

EAST L.A.

Manuel’s Original El Tepeyac Café
This small Mexican food stand has been cooking up burritos that are bigger than your head since 1955. That is no exaggeration. Go to El Tepeyac, order one burrito and you will have food for the rest of the week (and a half). They’re big. So big that Man vs. Food conducted one of its gut-busting food challenges here. But enough about size. What’s important is that the entire menu is made up of authentic, absolutely delicious, cheese-exploding gifts from God. And because of this fact, you may find yourself standing in line for a while to take your turn. But get this—owner Manuel has been known to walk the line and hand out shots of tequila while you wait! 812 N. Evergreen Ave., manuelseltepeyac.com

La Parrilla
The menu at La Parrilla is short and to the point, but it hits all the important plates—enchiladas, tacos, taquitos, flautas, chimichangas, chiles rellenos and more. This popular East L.A. dining spot has been cooking up truly authentic homemade Mexican food since 1978 (there’s a second location on Wilshire). All fiesta dishes are served with vegetable soup, rice and beans. We highly recommend starting the meal off with the queso fundido and/or an order of fresh-made guacamole. Bring cash to tip the mariachi trio who travels from table to table and serenades guests with traditional tunes. 2126 Cesar E. Chavez Ave., laparrillarestaurants.com

CHINATOWN

Empress Pavilion
Afraid of commitment? Want to taste and sample a little of everything? Then dim sum is for you, my friend. And when it comes to dim sum, you have to hit up Empress Pavilion, the “grande dame” of Chinatown. Think of dim sum as the Chinese version of tapas or finger foods. As you sit at your table, carts carrying small plates of delicious snacks come slowly rolling by you. If the dish looks appealing, you pick it up and go to town. (You have a card that gets stamped each time you do so, to keep track.) Dumplings, meat-filled buns, pot stickers, tarts, rice cakes, spring rolls—the list goes on. If you’re the type of person who always says, “Let’s just go out for appetizers,” you’ll love it here. 988 N. Hill Street #201, empresspavilion.com

Plum Tree Inn
There are so many amazing restaurants in Chinatown, but the Plum Tree Inn really stands out from the crowd. The décor is spot-on and the service is always on-point. Definitely drop by for their great lunch specials, available Monday through Friday. Must-try dishes include the sweet and pungent chicken, pork dumplings, barbecue ribs, Kung Pao chicken, mu shu pork and chow mein—and we’re talking generous portions here. And for $7, you can turn any menu item into a combination with soup, an appetizer and rice. 913 N. Broadway, plumtreeinn.com

Continue reading to find more places in Little Ethiopia, Fairfax District and Koreatown.

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