Big-time food critics don’t usually write about fast-casual joints, saving their words instead for Michelin-starred spots with white tablecloths. But they've made a telling exception for Señor Fish, a Mexican-seafood outfit launched by siblings Enrique and Alicia Ramirez in 1988. Soon after the restaurant opened, writers from publications such as the Los Angeles Times began to praise the Ramirez's fish tacos, which were inspired by those sold along the beaches of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Crowds began flocking to Señor Fish's tiny Highland Park kiosk, hungering for the ocean-fresh fish and handmade tortillas they’d read about in the papers.
Three decades later, diners are still flocking to Señor Fish, which has evolved into five popular locations throughout LA. Enrique and Alicia remain deeply involved in the restaurants' daily operations. We talked with Enrique about the highlights of his iconic eatery.
On Finding Fame: “[In 1988], a top reviewer from the Los Angeles Times reviewed us. Once we got that review, tons of people started reviewing us—Molly O'Neill, a food critic in New York City, did a story on us on the front page of the food section in The New York Times. Afterwards, when people were on vacation [from New York] and came to eat, they’d mention it.”
On the Scallop Taco: "Not too many people have ever had a scallop in a taco. It’s kind of a novelty. We use 10-20 scallops, which means there are 10-20 per pound, so it’s kind of jumbo scallop. And all of our seafood is wild—free-range from the ocean—as opposed to farmed."
On Guadalajara-Style Carnitas: "Our carnitas are traditional to Guadalajara, where our family is from. We make it every day and use good-quality, expensive protein."
For a juicy burger in no time flat, swing by local favorite McDonald's.
Life is all about choices, and they are not limited here with plenty of gluten-free and low-fat dishes.
You won't need to get a sitter before heading to McDonald's — kids are more than welcome at this family-friendly establishment.
McDonald's is a suitable restaurant for both large and small groups.
Free wifi is on hand here as well.
The restaurant is about as noisy as it gets — plan for booming speakers and chatty crowds everywhere.
McDonald's offers an informal dining experience for those who are allergic to jackets and ties.
Getting your food to go is also an option.
Bring your car to dinner and easily find a space in the area — street parking is available, as is a nearby lot.
You'll also find plenty of safe spaces to lock up your bike if you prefer to cycle to the restaurant.
Your wallet will be happy with a visit to McDonald's, too, where prices are generally under $15.
The breakfast menu receives the most rave reviews from patrons, but you can also stop in for lunch and dinner later in the day.
Swing by the restaurant at literally any hour — it's open 24 hours a day.
Ingredients from all over Asia come together at California Skewers in Duarte, an Asian-fusion spot serving mouthwatering dishes.
With this restaurant's wide selection of refreshments available, you can tap into the drink menu early in the evening.
Little ones are free to make a mess at this restaurant, where the whole family is invited to dine.
California Skewers offers patio seating in the warmer months.
Gather up your friends, coworkers or family members and head to California Skewers for a group meal.
No delivery needed. In and out for carryout.
The restaurant has catering services as well.
Drivers can take advantage of the parking lot near California Skewers and save time on hunting for a parking spot.
At California Skewers, bikers can lock their bikes safely outside.
At California Skewers, you can quickly and safely pay with any major credit card.
If you can't pinpoint your food craving, try the combination of Asian-style dishes at California Skewers. You're sure to find something you love.
Asian fusion cooking doesn't get much better than this, so head over to California Skewers where you can kick back, relax, and enjoy the food.
Sweet Basil Pizza and Pasta's piping pizza is just as hot as its ratings, and customers call this tasty spot one of the best around.
Families will feel right at home at this pizzeria with its kid-friendly menu and atmosphere.
Everyone will feel comfortable dining at Sweet Basil Pizza and Pasta, where business casual attire is standard.
With food this good, you'll be running into this pizzeria to pick it up yourself.
If you need to feed a big crowd, Sweet Basil Pizza and Pasta also offers catering services for parties and get-togethers.
Sweet Basil Pizza and Pasta's diners can make use of nearby parking lots.
Roni, sausage, and veggie are just a few of the delicious options at Sweet Basil Pizza and Pasta. Taste the shining reviews for yourself when you head to Sweet Basil Pizza and Pasta for a tasty pizza pie.
For a casual meal that is highly-rated, look no further than Sweet Basil Pizza and Pasta's pizza.
So enjoy a casual night out this weekend and treat yourself to a tasty pizza pie from Sweet Basil Pizza and Pasta.
No matter what type of pizza you are craving, Sweet Basil Pizza and Pasta has you covered.
Find all of your favorite traditional American dishes in one place at Denny's.
The gluten-free and low-fat fare at Denny's will leave you happy and full.
Little ones are free to make a mess at this restaurant, where the whole family is invited to dine.
Denny's has a large dining room, making it easy to seat large parties.
Show up in sneakers or a suit at Denny's, where dining in comfort is of utmost importance.
For those in a hurry, the restaurant lets you take your grub to go.
Get in and out of the car quickly with no-hassle parking located all around the restaurant.
Travel by bike to Denny's and store your bike at a nearby rack.
The breakfast menu at the restaurant draws rave reviews, though you can also stop by for lunch or dinner.
No need to sweat your schedule — the restaurant is open 24 hours a day.
Indulge in all of your favorite American classics with a trip to the definitive standard in town at Denny's.
See what great American fare is cooking up next at Denny's.
You deserve an excellent meal, so head on over to Denny's and enjoy some of the highly-rated American fare.
Much like the highway that inspired its name, Route 66 Roadhouse & Tavern is steeped in old-school tradition. The cozy neighborhood bar stays open until 2 a.m. seven nights a week, inviting patrons to set aside the stresses of work and everyday life by enjoying a cold beer in an unpretentious setting. To accompany its brews and cocktails, the tavern features a menu of classic American comfort foods that includes roast beef sandwiches, house-made potato chips, and a signature half-pound Roadhouse burger laden with cheese, bacon, and mushrooms.
Pool tables, dartboards, and glowing televisions keep guests occupied while they enjoy their food and drinks, although Route 66 Roadhouse & Tavern’s live music draws the crowds as well. The bar hosts everything from classic rock groups to punk bands throughout the week, and DJs also energize the atmosphere with their spirited sets. Additionally, open blues jam sessions are held every Thursday and karaoke nights allow patrons to take the mic and perform their favorite chart-topping hit or presidential concession speech.
Ordering a Dodger Dog is a ritual. Customers queue up in one of two lines—one for grilled dogs and the other for classic steamed. They inch ever closer to the counter where stadium workers dole out foot-long franks that stretch far beyond the confines of steamed buns. Finally they head over to the condiment stations to load up on mustard, ketchup, chopped onions, or relish.
Dodger stadium’s divide-and-conquer approach is the product of years of experience. Many estimate that the millions of Dodger Dogs sold each baseball season outrank sales of any other frank in the league. But once foodies have had their fill of the gargantuan Dodger dogs at the stadium, or even purchased at local markets, they’ve only just begun exploring the diverse hot-dog scene in Los Angeles.
Take the Korean-style franks of Seoul Sausage Co.. They’re a bit harder to track down than a ballpark frank. Without a food truck or retail space to call home, these succulent, grilled delicacies crop up at street fairs and catered events all over LA, where their inventive cooks offer up a kalbi-flavored sausage topped with tangy kimchi relish, and a spicy pork sausage crowned with apple-cabbage slaw.
For a taste of the increasingly hard to find LA street dog, enthusiasts can hunt them down at Skooby’s, where decadently bacon-wrapped franks nestle into fresh buns delivered by a local bakery.
Perhaps the crowning glory of LA’s hot-dog inner circle is the chilidog, which local favorite The Hat has been slinging since 1951. Pink’s, on La Brea and Melrose since 1939, is now practically a regular set piece on TV shows and movies set in LA for its addictive dogs and cheerful, familiar sign. Their ode to the chilidog is a love letter to its loyal patrons written with all-beef franks slathered in chili, mustard, and onions.
Elsewhere in the city, more progressive—even avant-garde—culinary sensibilities shape the future of the humble hot dog. At Let’s Be Frank, nitrate- and hormone-free dogs are made fresh from grass-fed beef and layered with toppings and veggies sourced from local farms. At The Stand, diners can customize their low-fat turkey dogs or chicken-apple sausage with quintessentially Californian toppings including avocado and corn salsa. At Vicious Dogs, the whimsical 8-bit-inspired art of cook Stacey Hughes colors the walls. The eatery’s Thanksgiving turkey dogs arrive smothered in all the trimmings—stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce. Adventurous patrons can even go off the menu and try their hand at topping Stacey by building their own creations, including Latin-inspired, deep-fried doggie flautas.
If the film industry resides in Hollywood, the greater city of Los Angeles is its backyard. Filmmakers have taken to exploring this backyard in their movies, and local residents have come to accept that a routine trip to the deli can quickly turn into a cameo in the latest blockbuster. Though tourists have taken to camping outside celebrities’ homes for a glimpse of fame, there’s a less invasive—and far tastier—method of stargazing. Here, we follow the cameras to seven restaurants made famous by their appearances in film.
If you’re flying in to LAX, your first stop should be Randy’s Donuts on West Manchester Avenue. No, Randy’s was not named after Randy Newman. It was, however, briefly featured in the music video for the singer’s 1983 paean to his native city, “I Love L.A.”. When the giant donut that sits atop the shop isn’t appearing in action films such as 2012 and Iron Man 2, it acts as a beacon, enticing pilots to visit during long layovers at the nearby airport.
Next, take a drive over to Canter’s Deli in the Fairfax District. Though countless celebrities have feasted on Canter’s pastrami sandwiches since 1931, Walter Matthau bears the rare distinction of doing so on camera in Neil Simon’s I Ought to Be in Pictures (1982). Current owner Marc Canter recently penned a book about Guns N’ Roses, whose frequent visits to his deli evince the band’s appetites for things other than destruction.
If pastrami and hair metal don’t satisfy your taste for decadence, head to the lavishly appointed Cicada Restaurant downtown. In a memorable scene from Pretty Woman (1990), Julia Roberts flings a snail across the restaurant’s art deco-inspired dining room. Her costar, Richard Gere, would return to the restaurant just a few years later in Final Analysis (1992). Perhaps he was drawn back by the mallechort elevator doors or gold-leafed ceiling—traces left over from the restaurant’s former life as a 1920s haberdashery.
Cicada’s transformation seems minor compared to that of J & J Sandwich Shop. The 6th Street delicatessen was stripped of its walk-up sandwich counter and injected with a dose of 1950s noir for L.A. Confidential (1997). Recast as the Nite Owl Coffee Shop, J & J became the scene of a multiple homicide and ground zero for the movie’s pulpy action.
Hop on the 101 freeway and exit at Franklin for a post-lunch coffee or milkshake at the appropriately named 101 Coffee Shop. Restaurateur Warner Ebbink carefully designed the shop’s interior—complete with swiveling counter chairs and plush leather booths—to mimic the funky diners of the 1960s. According to the New York Times, Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn frequented the diner back when it was called the Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop. They repaid the hospitality by immortalizing the shop in their hit comedy Swingers (1996).
Get back on the 101 and take it out to the San Fernando Valley for the last stop of our tour, which brings us to a nondescript strip mall in Granada Hills. This is the site of Vincenzo’s Pizza, which the filmmakers behind the neo-noir Drive converted into Ron Perlman’s latest criminal lair. Though one of the film’s most violent scenes takes place inside the renamed Nino’s Pizzeria, it’s worth risking your life for a slice of Vincenzo’s New York–style pepperoni.