Chicago has its deep-dish pizza, Philadelphia has its cheesesteak, and New York has its massive deli sandwiches. However, despite its well-deserved reputation as a food mecca and a melting pot where the world’s cuisines are endlessly hybridized and reinvented, few people associate Los Angeles with an iconic dish. By any fair accounting, this is a misrepresentation of the outstanding food offered by LA’s restaurants, food trucks, and hole-in-the-wall joints. Indeed, anyone who bothers to look will find that LA has a wide variety of dishes that Angelenos cook better than anyone else.
One shining example of LA’s food dominance can be seen in its championing of East Asian cuisines. Angelenos certainly didn’t invent Korean barbecue, sushi, pad Thai, or dim sum, but LA chefs and cooks were among the first to introduce them to the West. Whether dining in one of the many Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, the downtown haunts of Little Tokyo, the boulevards of Koreatown, or in one of the excellent Thai restaurants dotting the city, hungry eaters can find an endless variety of delicious Asian dishes. The same can be said of other national cuisines; while Texas may claim to offer the best Mexican food in the U.S., the food trucks of LA routinely deliver the finest tacos in the country.
Beyond LA’s admirable work in introducing foreign foods to the American diet, it also has its fair share of homegrown innovations. For example, LA’s own Roy Choi is one of the chefs who pioneered the concept of gourmet meals made and served from a food truck. In terms of individual dishes, some consider LA’s French dip sandwiches the best in the country. Others have pointed to the bacon-wrapped hot dog as a key icon of LA’s food scene. However, in many ways, the city’s best food item may be the humble hamburger, which, in many Angelenos’ opinions, is unmatched anywhere else in the world.