This list has been updated! See the current 10 Best Late Night Eats in Los Angeles here.
If there is a city where compiling a list of the 10 Best Late-Night Eats is more impossible than L.A., remind us never to apply for a job there. Ever. Yet this city's geographic restaurant breadth, cuisine diversity and price democracy is the very reason why we love getting the midnight munchies in L.A.
While we've made a concerted effort to avoid restaurant age, cuisine or neighborhood discrimination below, that also means some of your favorites won't be on this list (Lucques, Pink's, Robata Jinya?). We feel confident the pie-in-the-face commentary is about to begin. It's a good thing we really *do* love lemon meringue — even more so at midnight. Get our favorite burning-the-midnight-oil picks after the jump.
Sure, the L.A. food truck as culinary game-changer is tepid news. And by now, the gourmet taco truck overload has sent several of those with mobile kimchi quesadilla dreams back to their home kitchens to wait for the next trend (Segway espresso stands? Bicycle cheese carts?). And then there's Kogi. We could say (yet again) something about igniting the chef truck scene, or about the sheer fun of following a food truck via Twitter like you're on a late-night chase for Korean pork rib tacos on the lam. But really, we're all just here for the killer tacos. Location and truck hours vary, see the Kogi website or Twitter feed for the evening schedule.
9. Pacific Dining Car:
If it's medium rare you're after, finding the appropriate dry-aged rib-eye crowd late at night is essential — there's nothing like a table of vodka-and-Red-Bull-fueled undergrads to turn a leisurely late-night meal into a sudden eat-and-run agenda. Turning on the old-school charm at an L.A. classic like Pacific Dining Car is always a solid call, especially as the late-night menu (11 p.m. to 6 a.m.) significantly lowers the average steak Diane and filet mignon price per person. The recent menu updates — don't worry, the classics like brioche French toast and eggs Benedict aren't going anywhere — means we're hoping for a few more midnight veggies in the future. 1310 W. Sixth St., Los Angeles; (213) 483-6000; 2700 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 453-4000. Open 24/7.
8. Canter's Deli:
Were Langer's open even until 6 p.m., we'd be tempted to make a pastrami exception to our definition of late night. But for those midnight moments when satisfaction is about so much more than what's on the plate, we head to Canter's. There's something about lounging over a Reuben in the Kibitz Room bar adjacent to the main dining room, listening to a band we've never heard of (and at that hour, can't be certain we really like), and wondering if they might be the next Black Crowes. The final rock/jazz/pop set bacon bonus here: It's always time for breakfast. 419 N Fairfax Ave.; (323) 651-2030. Open 24/7.
Sure, we all have a French toast opinion on whether the “new” Du-Par's menu or the original is better. Rather than quibble, we prefer to think of it as a fresh coat of culinary paint of historic preservation proportions. Breathing new life into a beloved but weather-beaten coffee shop keeps that pot pie and Welsh rarebit alive. And sure, that corned beef hash recipe is slightly different under the helm of a Wolfgang Puck-trained chef, but we have a feeling the National Trust for Historic (Culinary?) Preservation would approve. 6333 W. Third St., L.A., (323) 933-8446; 12036 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 766-4437. Both locations are open 24/7.
Turn the page for #6, etc…
6. Tasty Garden:
Where to begin in the San Gabriel Valley? Like virtually every L.A. neighborhood, it deserves its own top 10 late-night restaurant list. But our San Gabriel contributor Jim Thurman keeps going back to Tasty Garden, a Hong Kong-style café, for a plate of traditional Gai Daan Jai (egg waffles) and the more elusive peanut butter-coconut “pizza” (báob?ng in Mandarin). The latter is not a really bad California Pizza Kitchen idea but a flat bread that resembles more of a pan-fried Chinese pancake. Or, as Thurman describes it, a “queso-less quesadilla” with peanut butter, sesame seeds and coconut filling. At 2 a.m., if your palate isn't awake, it will be. 288 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra, (626) 300-8262.; 1212 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, (626) 445-9388.; 500 N. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park, (626) 872-0900. Sun.-Thurs. until 1 a.m., Fri. until 3 a.m.
5. BCD Tofu House:
Will it be “hangover soup” at Al Bae Ne, kal gook soo (a broth-y noodle and ground beef soup), pork mandu (dumplings) at Myung Dong Kyoja, or that kimchi fried rice at Hodori and Nak Won House? As Tien Nguyen will tell you, all are Koreatown hangouts open 24/7 where we'd be happy to find ourselves on any given late night. But for midnight rounds of fried mackerel and soon tofu (a boiling pot of diced tofu with seafood, vegetables and red chilis with a raw egg alongside), we're going with Nguyen's late-night pick: BCD Tofu House. 3575 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 382-6677; 869 S. Western Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 380-3807. Open 24/7.
4. The Hungry Cat:
Let's not forget The Hungry Cat, that not exactly seaside seafood restaurant from one of L.A.'s best chefs, David Lentz. Because a pastrami sandwich or pile of pancakes always does the filling-up trick, but sometimes you simply want a platter of impeccably fresh oysters and boiled shrimp. Maybe to pretend you're really on vacation in New Orleans or Charleston, not in the middle of a hellish work week, or maybe because, like Champagne, Lentz's seafood sounds impossibly light yet indulgent the later the hour gets: Scallops with ricotta gnocchi and pureed carrots, crab cakes with pork belly and harissa, fantastic lobster rolls. And there's always the “pug” burger, which isn't a clever menu alternative for the feline-averse, but a simply really great burger. 1535 N. Vine St., Hollywood, (323) 462-2155; 100 W. Channel Road, Santa Monica, 310-459-3337. Hollywood hours: Sun.- Wed. until 11 p.m., Thurs.-Sat. until midnight; Santa Monica hours: Sun.-Thurs. until 10:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. until 11:30 p.m.
Turn the page for #3, etc…
3. Lazy Ox Canteen:
Some of us still have that childhood inner clock guilt that tells us we really should already be in bed, or at least have long since stopped nibbling on those crispy pig ears. These are the very same we-snagged-the-cool-babysitter hours when tapas like those at Lazy Ox Canteen always seem to taste best. The window of time when that charred octopus with lima beans doesn't taste like lunch or dinner. It tastes like what you want right now, before the kitchen closes at midnight and the line cooks pour plenty of their housemade sriracha on steaming bowls of roasted mussels for their own late-night snacks. 241 S. San Pedro St., Downtown, 213-626-5299. Sun.-Thurs. until 11 p.m., Fri.-Sat. until midnight.
2. The Spice Table:
What awaits at The Spice Table? Sambal potatoes (fried potatoes with chile paste), lamb belly satay and other inspired versions of Singapore food from Bryant Ng. Soft-serve ice cream with palm sugar or kumquat, should you, or our indefatigable contributor Barbara Hansen, prefer. To finish, you really do want the iced Vietnamese coffee, brewed tableside and served with condensed milk. Because after a memorable meal like this, you're going to want to stay up all night remembering it. And 2014 isn't all that far away for a restaurant on the endangered list. 114 S. Central Ave., downtown. (213) 620-1840, Mon.-Wed. until 11 p.m.; Thurs.-Sat. until midnight.
Turn the page for our #1 pick…
What else is there to say about Animal that hasn't been said? Yes, it is often impossible to get a table. And yes, there are glorious thunderstorms of bacon, even for dessert. All the more reason to show up as close to the 11 p.m., closing hour on weeknights (1.a.m. on Friday and Saturday), when tables are easier to snag and the calories in that foie gras biscuit (get it while you can) so late in the evening are quickly forgotten. 435 N. Fairfax Ave., West Hollywood, (323) 782-9225. Sun.-Thurs. until 11 p.m., Fri.-Sat. until 1 a.m.
LA Weekly's Barbara Hansen, Jim Thurman and Tien Nguyen contributed to this report.
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