As an LA native, I’m just going to be real honest with you: there are a lot of places in Los Angeles that are overhyped. Whether it’s a restaurant, a clothing store, or a straight-up coffee shop, usually, and most likely, people will flock to whatever the celebrities are into.
I mean, I get it. I’ll admit: I was also starry-eyed when I got my first car at 16, and whatever I saw on The Hills, I wanted to go to. Yes, I have driven at length just to go to the Pinkberry LC went to.
Can you blame me, though? It’s Los Angeles, and there are so many reasons to give in to what seems “cool” or “hip.” But I’m here to tell you that sometimes the best food doesn’t come from fancy or well-known places, and usually you can find a really great hot dog even at a cart stand in LA, trust.
So before you decide to go to a place because you think everyone else goes there, take some of my research into consideration, and save yourself a trip to these places that are supposed to be "hot spots.”
After visiting these six places that everyone seems to rage about, I’m here to tell you that you might as well just browse Instagram pics from the geotag because that's as good as it gets.
Urth Caffé is one of those restaurants you think you HAVE to go because you’re visiting or new to LA. And since they offer “organic” ingredients, it probably makes your inner hipster scream, “Yes, that’s totally my restaurant.” This place has a bunch of desserts and a variety of teas to make your sweet tooth go crazy.
But, in all honesty, the food is nothing special, and the pastries are pretty much standard. I mean, it’s your typical LA café, with a celebrity or two sitting at one of the back patio tables, but there are many other restaurants where you can find a great quality salad for a price that makes sense.
The moment I walked into the café, I probably passed by at least five bearded men and Instagram models wearing Ray-Bans. The service was good, but when I got my food, the salad just tasted like any other salad I’ve had.
In other words, it’s nice to visit this place, yes, but it’s really nothing you should go out of your way to go to.
Yes, I know, you may know this restaurant from The Hills. It’s very popular, and yes, very overhyped. Similar to Urth Caffé’s vibe, Toast brings you American-style brunch instead of leafy greens and sweets. But what I mean by “vibe” is that it’s super flashy and your typical LA scene.
I sat down and immediately noticed the people next to me were Instagramming their food and talking PR mumbo jumbo. You know, like, "LOL, I totally got like 5,000 likes on my selfie yesterday." And yes, they actually said the letters L-O-L.
Based on the way they talked, I guessed that the people to my left were probably from the Valley. They were talking about who looked super trashy during the previous night out.
In any case, I ordered my omelet, ate my potatoes, and carried on.
It was blasé, if you will. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't anything special either. You could basically get the same meal anywhere on 3rd or Beverly, probably at a cheaper price too.
All right, if you’re new to LA, I understand why Pink’s can be a landmark to visit.
As an LA resident practically all my life, I had never been until now, and I’m going to flat-out say that their hot dogs are anything but extraordinary. Like, I will literally vouch for a hot dog at your nearest Downtown LA street cart over these. If you want to taste what it’s like to have a true hot dog in LA, go to Downtown, find yourself a cart, and get your hot dog fix there. Pink's was filled with people from different states, and it’s obviously the most tourist-y hot dog place in LA. The wait was so long that I really had to push myself to stay in line for about thirty minutes.
In the end, while the names of the hot dogs are interesting, the food is anything but that.
Don’t wait in line for over half an hour, but if it’s not too long of a line, might as well try it.
As I sat down in BOA, I realized that this place was seriously bougie to the core. I mean, the outside is already pretty fancy, but I did not realize how extremely posh it was inside.
The ambiance was the opposite of low-key. It was packed with Hollywood industry execs. As a 24-year-old who pretty much wears black pants and a leather jacket 24/7, I guess I sort of fit in, but then I took a look at the menu, and I was definitely not prepared to pay for a meal that expensive in this restaurant.
So I nervously picked the easiest appetizer I could afford and a drink, because, well, I just wanted people to assume that I was enjoying the ambiance. The restaurant gave me anxiety, making me think that I had to pretend like I actually had a lot of money in my bank account, and that I "belonged" there. The wait staff's judging eyes made me pretty nervous. I don't think I've felt so socially awkward since high school.
As I got the Charred Tuna Tartare for a cool $14, I was surprised at both the size and taste of the food. I mean, it was good, but it wasn’t $14 good. And the amount of tartare was seriously about enough for a toddler. I probably could have scarfed it down in two bites. I don't know how this kind of appetizer would be shared, because I was barely satisfied from eating the whole thing by myself.
Ah, the nice little Italian restaurant in Downtown. OK, I’ve got to say that I have a tormented relationship with Bottega Louie after eating here.
Stand outside the building and you can marvel at the outer designs and glass windows. Step inside and it’s incredibly beautiful, with a section dedicated to desserts and treats.
On your left, you’ll see a bunch of Downtowners and working professionals enjoying their Italian dishes.
The only thing about this place is that it will literally burn everything that’s in your wallet.
It’s good food, and it’s great ambiance, but there are far better Italian restaurants around the city.
The wait will probably (re: most likely) be extremely long. My wait took about 45 minutes, and after engaging in conversation with other Downtowners, I was pretty much ready to just get takeout and go home, but I stuck it out for investigative journalism purposes. Although your stomach will enjoy the food, you might not be able to fully enjoy it after waiting around for so long. The dishes are well thought out, but waiting for food for almost an hour is the worst. Don't get me wrong, I loved the flavors and textures in my meal, but I was so over how long I had to wait for it. Plus, it's not the most ideal place to have a conversation. Depending on where you're seated, the noise level in the building can get really high. The restaurant couldn't seem to figure out the acoustics, so if you find the sound of silverware clanking against metal unpleasant, you won't like Bottega Louie.
It’s good to go probably once or twice if you’re willing to wait for brunch, but there are many other great brunch places in the Arts District that are significantly better.
OK, out of all the places I went to, this place was by far the most overhyped. I know, I know, The Ivy pretty much sounds like the Mecca of all glorious LA restaurants, but in reality, it’s just like any other American/brunch-style restaurant with overpriced salads and really expensive appetizers.
When I first entered the restaurant, I was greeted by very polished hosts and was seated at a super comfy couch next to a chimney. Yes, a COUCH. Yes, a CHIMNEY.
So I was basically paying for the service and aura, rather than the food. Because let’s be real, my $31 dollar Cobb salad was not worth $31. Why did I buy a $31 salad? I don’t know. But I was getting real tired of buying only appetizers and drinks from fancy places. I’ve learned my lesson, because my wallet is basically suffering right now.
Other than the mediocre food, the patrons were all a little older and seemed to have a more successful career than a young writer like me.
For those of you who want to spend $10 or less on a salad, don’t expect to be able to do that here.
All in all, I’m not trying to bag on these restaurants; I’m just trying to explain that sometimes the places that are the most “popular” aren’t always the best. There is an array of hidden gems all over LA that are more worth your time and your money. All it takes is a little research and digging a little deeper than Yelp.