How To Eat Your Way Through LA

How To Eat Your Way Through LA

By Alyssa Di Rienzo

There were a lot of things I was looking forward to doing during my semester in Los Angeles.   Prior to my departure, I was eagerly anticipating starting my internship, exploring the city, meeting new friends, and of course, eating at cool restaurants.   During these last 3 months in LA, I have discovered some great food in the city and feel the need to share some of my favorites with you.

I was surprised at just how many specialty burger places there are in the city.  They’re everywhere!   At first, it may seem overwhelming but I will provide you with a suggestion to make selecting a burger place easier.  I firmly believe that the restaurant called The Counter is the best place around to get a burger.  The Counter redefines the way to order a burger by allowing everything to be entirely customizable.    Patrons can select from a wide range of ingredients, to build their perfect burger.  The Counter offers more than 312,120 different burger combinations, allowing you the opportunity to try something new every time you visit, or if you’re like me, order the same thing again and again because it is just that good.  While the counter specializes in burgers, they offer some really good sides as well including great fries and milkshakes.  The Counter really impressed me with one of their innovate sides: a basket of French Fries that was split, 50% regular fries and 50% sweet potato fries.  I applaud the Counter for understanding the struggle to decide whether to order regular or sweet potato fries.  This option allows for customers to enjoy the both classics simultaneously.   A visit to the counter is a must-do for any visitor to LA.  With great food, reasonable prices and a fun atmosphere, The Counter wins as best specialty burger place in LA.

Despite the overwhelming amount of evidence I present to support the assertion that The Counter is the superior establishment, many people argue saying that Umami Burger, another burger place highly renowned in LA, is better.  I would like to address this claim now.  Umami Burger offers a unique dining experience as well.  They craft their burgers with high quality ingredients, but do now allow for customization or substitution. Overall, I felt as though the burgers at Umami were not at the same level as The Counter.  I will admit though, Umami does have one very noteworthy side dish worth trying: Smashed Potatoes.  Chefs at Umami infuse small potatoes with a ton of flavors, making this side dish a delicious surprise in an otherwise average burger place.

Okay, enough about burger places.  Los Angeles offers a variety of treats worth trying after any meal.  A visit to LA is incomplete without a milkshake from West Hollywood’s Millions of Milkshakes. Any milkshake place that allows you to load you milkshake with Nutella would easily get all of my affection.  It is open til 3 am, so there really is no excuse to not make time in your day to have a milkshake.  Millions of Milkshakes features a variety of sweet shakes named after pop culture icons.  I personally always order the Miley Cyrus or the Kim Kardashian shakes, but feel free to explore the other fun options named after your favorite celebrities.

An equally delicious, but healthier option for desert can be found at a place called Fonuts.  This place recreates the donut, always steaming or baking their treats instead of frying them.  Fonuts offers vegan and gluten free options as well.  These donuts are also made with almond flour, making them a paleo-friendly option as well.  Visit Fonuts on 3rdstreet to try all the delicious flavors!

Being from the East Coast, I was immediately disappointed by the options for pizza in the city.   My disappointment immediately evaporated after my first visit to 800 degrees in Westwood.   800 degrees is named after the 800 degrees ovens the restaurant uses to quickly cook customer’s orders in seconds.  This pizza place also allows for customization. You start by selecting a crust and sauce, and then can add a wide range of toppings such as meats, cheeses and veggies.   As you proceed through the line you can add more and more to your pizza, and at the end they put it in their ovens and it is quickly ready for you to enjoy!  If you are not feeling so creative, 800 degrees also has an outstanding menu of premade pizzas to choose from as well.  The whole experience at 800 degrees is really fun and worth the trip out to Westwood!

Finding good Chinese food also proved to be difficult early on in my trip.  Recently, I discovered a cute Chinese restaurant with great food and large serving sizes.  Kung Pao Bistro is a small, friendly restaurant on Sunset Boulevard.  The menu is huge and the prices are very reasonable. They have a great vegetarian menu as well.  The restaurant was very clean and even on a Friday night, the wait was short.  If you are looking for some quality Chinese food near Hollywood, Kung Pao Bistro is definitely the way to go!

Finally, for anyone with a little extra time to kill around the SULA campus, I highly suggest a visit to the Buttercelli organic bakeshop just around the corner from the Syracuse building. Buttercelli’s serves a wide range of treats made from all organic ingredients.  They have amazing brownies and cupcakes, which makes for a perfect snack in between classes.  With a large gluten free and paleo section, the Buttercelli bakeshop really has something for anyone.