A giant shiny upscale American mall is probably the last place you'd expect to find fantastic food, but in recent years the Americana at Brand has made a vigorous push to change that. You can still eat at the Cheesecake Factory if you want to, but you also can eat some of the best dumplings or ramen in town. It started with Din Tai Fung, the lauded purveyor of xiao long bao (among other types of dumplings), which opened an outpost here in 2013. Then came Bourbon Steak, Michael Mina's upscale steak house. This year, Tsujita, the ramen shop with the longest lines in L.A., opened a sleek ramen spot at the Americana, and so far there have been no lines at this location to speak of. Across the street you can now find Shake Shack and Eggslut. (Eggslut is also famous for its lines at its original Grand Central Market location; here the waits are far less painful.) There's no lack of old-school food court fare at the nearby Galleria, and sometimes that's all you want from the mall. But kudos to the management of the Americana for upping the ante considerably — the food snobs among us with a dreaded appointment at the Genius Bar appreciate it.
Credit: B. Rodell