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Seven Busy L.A. Restaurants To Visit When Everyone Else Leaves L.A. For the Holidays

6:30 AM PST on December 23, 2022

photo: Kang Ho-Dong Baekjeong

You made the right call, staying put for the holidays and not leaving L.A.

Just look at the airports. And there are some people you know out there who are dealing with a strange, cold substance known as "snow" below their feet.

Not you. You're refused to budge for the holidays and now you're going to reap the rewards, storming SoCal restaurants that are typically too full to squeeze into. So they can be yours. ALL YOURS.

Here are seven of the region's busiest to get you started.

photo: Angel's Tijuana Tacos/Instagram

Angel’s Tijuana Tacos

There’s something about terrific Tijuana-style tacos, with their generous splotches of guacamole and adobado shorn from titanic trompos, that seem to create hours-long lines. It’s what we except at the always excellent Angel’s. But maybe, just maybe, this week offer exceptions to the rule. Locations in North Hollywood, Sylmar, Eagle Rock, Echo Park, Van Nuys, Muscoy, and El Monte.

photo: Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung

If you’re anything like us, you’d eat at this Taipei-exported dumpling mecca all the time. If it wasn’t for the extreme wait times. Here’s hoping this week sees reduced traffic at its generally mobbed Glendale location, so you can pack on the XLBs, spicy noodles, and black fungus in vinegar. If not, there are locations in Century City, Torrance, Arcadia, and Costa Mesa, to try your luck at, as well. Although, hasn't Rick Caruso had enough rejection this year?

177 Caruso Ave, Glendale, CA 91210. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 92, 94 or 180 - “Brand/Colorado.”

photo: The Boiling Crab/Facebook

Boiling Crab

True bliss in life is only attainable in those moments when you’re soaked in Cajun spices from your lips to your fingers, a soggy plastic bag oozing onto a table piled high with corn, shrimp, potatoes, and Louisiana mud-bugs, a thin bib clinging to your chest. We speak, naturally, of The Boiling Crab, the esteemed Vietnamese-owned Cajun seafood restaurant known for messy feasts and well-worth it wait times of unusual size. L.A. locations in Rosemead, Burbank, Westwood, Alhambra, Koreatown, Woodland Hills, and Rowland Heights.

pizza sei
A white pie at Pizzeria Sei. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.

Pizzeria Sei

Everybody’s talking Pizzeria Sei these days. It’s a tiny, Tokyo-inspired, wood-fired, Neapolitan pizza place in Pico-Robertson, known for its stellar pies and rabid demand for a piece of their crimped-crust masterpiece. Perhaps this is the week you’ll finally come face-to-face with its Diavola? Only time will tell.

8781 W. Pico Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90035. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 617 - “Robertson/Pico.”

Photo via @courage_bagels/IG.

Courage Bagels

First a bunch of New York transplants ruined arrived in Los Angeles. Soon the dispiriting epoch of the bagel wars broke out, a landscape arguably dominated today by Courage Bagels. The East Hollywood deli necessitates great feats of bravery to join in the frenzied scrum for its $10-$18 schmeared bagels, which have been praised by the New York Times, among others. 

777 N. Virgil Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90039. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 10 - “Melrose/Virgil.”

photo: Kang Ho-Dong Baekjeong

Kang Ho-Dong Baekjeong

The busiest name in luxe Koreatown barbecue is known for wait times up to 2-3 hours, with most people saying the wait is worth it. Let’s hope they’re all destined to be several sheets to the wind in an ugly sweater this weekend, as you place a thin marbled slice of grilled brisket onto your tongue, to melt like so many snowmen in the desert sun. Even should you get Gangnam Style stuck in your craw all weekend, hard hit by the Hite, it will be worth all the pain as long as your wait time is sliced in half.

3465 W. 6th St. Ste 20 Los Angeles, CA 90020. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 18 - “6th/Alexandria”, Bus Line 20 - "Wilshire/Alexandria" or Metro D Line - "Wilshire/Normandie Station."

Heritage Barbecue

Speaking of barbecue, we’re in boom times for smoked meat in SoCal. Along with such destinations as Moo’s Craft BBQ, Ray’s in H.P., and the mobbed new pop-up from Adam Perry Lang we just wrote about, Heritage Barbecue is an excellent Orange County pitmaster specializing in Central Texas-style BBQ using wood-fueled fire and really, really, really good meats. It always sells out and frankly, can be a little intimidating to even conceive of getting our grubby little hands on some. Fuck a sugarplum. This week, we have visions of unfettered access to beef ribs, brisket burgers, smoked crawfish, and small hills of pulled pork. 31721 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Howlin' Ray's

photo: Howlin' Ray's

Glide effortlessly into a blissful chicken sandwich at a fraction of the usual time it takes to place an order at Chinatown’s beloved Nashville hot chicken joint. And remember: you earned this.

727 N Broadway, Suite 128, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 81, 90, 94, or 96 - “Hill/Ord”, Bus Line 45 - "Broadway/Ord" or Metro A Line - "Chinatown Station."

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