They say you can’t go home again. But you sure can can eat like you’re there! We’ve rounded up an impressive list of hometown eats right here in LA—perfect for homesick transplants from around the country, who want to give their kids a taste of their own childhoods. After all, we totally understand. We Angelenos couldn’t possibly imagine living in a world without our sacred In-N-Out!
East Coast Eats
For years, east coasters who migrated west couldn’t help but miss Dunkin’ Donuts or “Dunkies” (as they lovingly call it). Luckily, Dunkin’ Donuts returned to Southern California and opened their first shop in Santa Monica two years ago. Now there are several locations throughout the LA area, fulfilling the glazed munchkins dreams of expats everywhere. Jimmies, not sprinkles, and a regular coffee. Heaven.
An absolute favorite of President Obama and just about any burger lover in the D.C. area, Five Guys truly serves up some of the freshest and juiciest burgers around. It’s no wonder eastern transplants were excited when the franchise began opening locations around Los Angeles five years ago.
photo: Jennifer O’Brien
Speaking of burgers, when New Yorkers make the jump to LA, they leave behind harsh winters, pint-sized apartments and well, Donald Trump. But they miss pizza, street dogs and their beloved burgers. But no more, now that Shake Shack, NYC’s uber popular roasdside burger stand, opened it’s first West Coast location last spring in the heart of West Hollywood. And we may be biased, but the joint’s famous burgers, fries and shakes taste even better with year-round sunshine.
8520 Santa Monica Blvd.
The Halal Guys
For over 25 years, The Halal Guys have been treating hungry New Yorkers to some of the tastiest shawarma in the country. What started as five food carts and two restaurants in the Big Apple has finally expanded to SoCal with bustling shops in Costa Mesa, Long Beach and their very first LA location in Koreatown which opened in July. Mmmmm.
photo: Tasti D-Lite via Facebook
Sex and the City may have been many people’s first introduction to Tasti D-Lite, but New Yorkers have been devouring the low-calorie, low-carb froyo sensation for over 30 years. With a location now open in Santa Monica, Angelenos can finally see what all the creamy dreamy fuss is about.
526 Wilshire Blvd.
Knuckle & Claw
While lobster joints are popping up all over town, very few get it right. People have a habit of putting stuff in the lobster rolls. New Englanders know lobstah needs no stuff. Just a split top bun, toasted in lots of butter, a hint of mayo, maybe a sprinkle of celery salt. The closest taste to Maine you can get in LA is at Knuckle and Claw, where the rolls come in two sizes, the pickle on the side has a nice snap, and you can get some Cape Cod style chips and chocolate on the side. Teach your children well, it’s never too young to learn the right way to make and eat a lobster roll. You can eat at the original in Silverlake or the new joint in Santa Monica.
photo: Vera H. on Yelp
Steak ‘n Shake
Steak ‘n Shake, one of the most popular burger chains in the midwest, now has two SoCal locations in Santa Monica and Burbank. Known for its yumtastically fresh burgers and to-die-for shakes, many midwestern families rate it the best of the best. Even Chicago movie critic, Roger Ebert, once wrote, “If I were on Death Row, my last meal would be from Steak ‘n Shake.”
Bow Truss Coffee
If you think nothing tops Chicago-roasted coffee, you’re a) crazy, b) from Chi-town and c) in luck. Bow Truss has opened it’s very first coffee shop outside the Windy City right in the heart of 90210. Grab a cup from their espresso-based menu and pretend you’re cruising Lake Shore Drive.
340 N. Camden Dr.
No need to miss the Windy City when you’ve got Taste Chicago filling the void with all of Chicago’s favorite foods. Owned by actor, Joe Mantegna and his wife, stop by for a Sicilian slice, deep-dish pizza, BBQ ribs, Italian beef sandwich, spumoni ice cream or a Chicago dog with real Vienna beef on a poppy-seed bun. Go Bears!
603 N. Hollywood Way
photo: Jennifer O’Brien
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
The pride of Memphis and some of the best fried chicken you’ll ever eat, Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken recently opened to much acclaim in Koreatown. The fried okra, fried pickles, chicken and ooey gooey mac ‘n cheese are so delish, it’ll have you feelin’ your southern roots in no time. Especially when you order up a sweet iced tea and a slab of Chess Pie. Listen as your kids start to exhibit a new southern charm.
1262 Crenshaw Blvd.
HomeState–A Texas Kitchen
Many Texans suffer supreme culture shock when they move to LA and can’t find a decent breakfast taco (we do burritos for breakfast!), bowl of queso or a doggone frito pie. HomeState owner, Briana Valdez, was one of them and earlier this year, she brilliantly decided to open a restaurant that served her fellow Texas transplants the foods from home they missed. Yee-haw!
4624 Hollywood Blvd.
Maple Block Meat Company
We couldn’t dare talk about the south without mentioning good old Texas BBQ. And though no Texas joints have opened LA locations, we thought it prudent to mention that Texas Monthly’s food critic and BBQ guru recently deemed LA’s very own Maple Block Meat Company the best brisket outside the Lone Star State. Definitely worth an expat field trip or two, if you’re feeling homesick, or like the kids need to know what real Texas-worthy Q tastes like.
3973 Sepulveda Blvd.
photo: Sarah C. via Yelp
Salt & Straw
Portland’s artisanal ice cream darling, Salt & Straw, has been serving the sweet stuff to Oregonians since opening their doors in 2011. Lucky for us, they opened their only locations outside Portlandia right here in LA. With shops in Venice, Larchmont Village, Studio City and very soon in the Arts District, it’s easier than ever to sample their unique flavors. LA’s S&S shops have embraced the local food scene so much that now some NW natives actually seek out the LA stores to try the only in LA flavors when they’re in town.
Blue Star Donuts
Just like their ice cream, Portland’s a total pro when it comes to making donuts. Blue Star Donuts opened it’s first LA location last year in Venice. With innovative, modern flavors that are made from scratch using an 18-hour cooking process, it’s no surprise they sell out at lightening speed every day.
1142 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Caffe Vita Roasting Company
Seattle’s cult-favorite coffee roaster, Caffé Vitta, has been warming up Northwesterners since 1995 and opened it’s first LA location three years ago in Silverlake. Even today, hipsters still rejoice over their fancy farm direct brews. Oh, and they knew this place was cool way before you did.
4459 W. Sunset Blvd.
photo: Michael S. via Yelp
Coming Soon: Voo Doo Donuts
If you fly through Portland, you’ll see people in the airport cradling pink boxes. They’re filled with donuts that so beloved by all, sundry and Anthony Bourdain, they’re worth using as your carry-on. And they’re coming soon to Universal Citywalk. Now you’ll have something to savor as you binge watch Portlandia.
What hometown spots do you love in LA? Did we miss your fave? Hit us up in the comments below!
– Jennifer O’Brien