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Even superstar chef Thomas Keller is a fan of the West Coast chain—and with good reason. The cooked-to-order burgers are made from Harris Ranch beef and served with hand-cut fries. For a messier, more indulgent experience, order your burger "animal style" for extra sauce and chopped grilled onions.
The patrons have Madeline and Mildred to thank for the bakery's treats: owner Susan Sarich's grandmothers carefully recorded recipes on index cards. Even an ancestral Pyrex bowl supplied the minty-green apron color for SusieCakes' retro smiling hostess logo. Classic flavors include fluffy coconut and red velvet.
From a fleet of trucks (and an imminent Culver City storefront), come an unequaled variety of ice cream sandwiches. Rotating flavors like Guinness chip and Meyer lemon mix and match with a range of cookies, like chocolate chip and ginger molasses. Recommended combinations are named after architects—order a Frank Gehry for strawberry with Snickerdoodle cookies.
At their buzzy sequel to Animal, chefs Vinny Dotola and Jon Shook serve a perfect, crunchy fried chicken sandwich inspired by Chick-fil-A and Bakesale Betty, an Oakland institution. Piled with spicy pickle slaw, shredded lettuce and Sriracha aioli in a brioche bun, this version is decidedly higher brow.
When Kogi’s food truck first Tweeted its stops in 2008, no one had heard of Korean short rib tacos. 2010 F&W Best New Chef Roy Choi, who cooked at NYC’s Le Bernardin, changed that. Now hundreds of people line up for them, and for kimchi hot dogs.
Customers have been lining up at the legendary Hollywood hot dog shack since 1939, but the menu evolves with pop culture. Current editions include The Lord of the Rings dog (topped with barbecue sauce and onion rings) and the Martha Stewart dog (topped with relish, onions, bacon, chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut and sour cream).
With a tattooed, flexing cartoon pig as a mascot, Bigmista’s beckons pork lovers to its stand at the Atwater Village farmers’ market. A fitting signature: Pig Candy, slabs of smoked maple bacon sweetened by brown sugar and spiced with cayenne pepper.
Powerhouse team Mario Batali, Joseph Bastianich and Nancy Silverton create some of L.A.'s best pies by combining top California ingredients (squash blossoms and trumpet mushrooms) with Italian tradition (big wood-burning ovens and house-made mozzarella).
Since 1947, this unassuming diner has had crowds lining up for one of the 26 stools at its long counter (there are no tables). The draw: the signature “steakburger”—a juicy, flavorful beef patty topped with mayo, sweet relish, pickles, iceberg lettuce and Tillamook cheddar.