Bulgarini Gelato
Bulgarini Gelato
Terrance Rorie

Fantastic Gelato and a Great Local Bar: More of Eastern L.A.'s Best Food & Drink

Read about this year's Best of L.A. Food & Drink issue here.

Best Gelato: Bulgarini Gelato

No ode to frozen treats in L.A. is complete without mentioning the luscious and meticulously crafted gelato and sorbet at Bulgarini Gelato. Rome native Leo Bulgarini makes his gelato from scratch without any added flavors or colors and travels the globe to find ingredients that meet his high standards. This is best exemplified in his famous pistachio gelato, made only with true Sicilian pistachios from the Bronte region. The yogurt gelato with olive oil is an unexpected but perfect pairing. Fruit sorbets vary by season. If you're not a sorbet fan, sampling one of the pure, smooth sorbets here could change your mind — it's like biting into one of the best pieces of fruit you've ever had. Bulgarini also does gelato and wine pairings. —Jessica Hamlin

749 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena; (626) 791-6174,bulgarinigelato.com.

Best Shrimp Cocktail: El Mercadito

Stepping into El Mercadito Mariachi Restaurant, you feel as if you have been transported to a beautiful city in Mexico — the authentic atmosphere, lovely decor and lively mariachi music combine to create a magical experience. Owned by Mercedes Lopez's family since the 1980s, the restaurant regularly gets nostalgic visitors who have been eating there for decades. After an afternoon of lovely shopping among the merchants in the building, head up to the third floor with a big appetite! The menu is chock-full of delicious entrees. Tip of the day: As you order a cerveza, make sure to order the impressive coctel de camarones (shrimp cocktail), which has a hefty pound of fresh shrimp in every serving. Mariachi fans: If you're feeling courageous, head up onstage for "mariachi karaoke" and sing your song with a real mariachi band. —Susan Hornik

3425 E. First St., Boyle Heights; (323) 262-4507.

Fantastic Gelato and a Great Local Bar: More of Eastern L.A.'s Best Food & Drink
Courtesy Tortas Chingonas

Best Torta: Tortas Chingonas

Are you really hungry? Do you love tortas?! Then Tortas Chingonas is the place for you. Whether you stop by the food trucks in East L.A. or hang out at the restaurant in Paramount, you're bound to find something on the menu that delights your stomach. Bring a friend, as these are massive tortas! During the weekend, the unique restaurant — which has a Mexican luchadores feel — makes traditional dishes such as menudo rojo, birria de chivo and al pastor en trompo. One of the highlights on the menu is the L.A.D.F., which comes with carnitas, ham, cheese, hot dog, egg, milanesa (breaded fried steak), lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, jalapeños and mayonnaise. Check out the flavorful pickled jalapeños, made in-house daily. —Susan Hornik

7015 Somerset Blvd., Paramount; (562) 408-2840, instagram.com/tortaschingonas.

Best Gyro: L.A. Skewers

Mediterranean family restaurant L.A. Skewers has a wide selection of signature plates, including lamb, chicken, beef, salmon and shrimp kebabs, falafel and kyufta plates as well as generous shwarma. But the massive gyro plate of lamb and beef strips wrapped in pita with tzatziki, red onions and tomatoes is the best. It's served with fries and beet-pickled turnips — you won't have to eat the rest of the day after this satisfying lunch. The smoothies are fun, too, and come in piña colada, pomegranate, tropical fruit, strawberry and banana. —Michele Stueven

2000 Marengo Drive, Boyle Heights; (323) 343-9902, laskewers.com.

Best Neighborhood Bar: Rancho Bar

Most non-fancy cocktail bars don't get listed in a best-bars type of list, but Rancho Bar deserves a little notice. Hipster dive it's not; the crowd at the Rancho veers north of the mid-30s age bracket, which is perfect when all you want is an inexpensive cold beer and a friendly face serving you across the bar. Stay for a neighborly game of pool and occasional live music. —Janelle Bennet

2485 Lake Ave., Altadena; (626) 798-7634, ranchobaraltadena.com.

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