Anytime we’re planning to visit a city as big and famous as Los Angeles, it can be stressful trying to pick from a long list of attractions and activities. There’s so much to do and never enough time, so finalizing an itinerary is always a challenge.
On our most recent visit to L.A., we decided to mostly ignore the tourist attractions and try some of the authentic international cuisines of Los Angeles. In fact, nearly all the restaurants we wanted to try served international food. So, let’s make the day into a challenge! During our day in L.A., let’s try to eat food from every continent (minus Antarctica).
The Challenge: During a single day in Los Angeles, eat cuisines from North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
In the wise words of Barney Stinson: Challenge Accepted!
The Day Begins: Train Ride into Los Angeles
We started our day early—like, 5 AM early—and drove up to Oceanside, CA to catch the Surfliner from the train station. We had never taken the train up to L.A. before and really enjoyed the experience! It took about 1 hour and 40 minutes, and the train actually arrived in Union Station ahead of schedule!
Once we arrived, we both needed to stretch our legs a little, and walked over to Grand Central Market to take in the scenery. When we first visited Los Angeles last summer, we ate at Wexler’s Deli (a great deli stand within Grand Central) and had a delicious bagel & lox. But this time, we had our hearts set on a breakfast taco shop just a few blocks away.
Mexican-Style Tacos at Guisados
North America: ✓
I could tell that the tacos were going to be amazing the moment we walked inside Guisados, a small taco shop located on South Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles. Behind the counter, employees were busily making fresh tortillas and stirring large pots of simmering meats. I ordered a Chorizo taco and Jack got the Chuleta taco, and we took a seat outside on the patio overlooking the hanging string lights and nearby shops.
The tacos didn’t disappoint. Each consisted of steaming hot meats, some veggies, and a freshly made corn tortilla. They even brought us a fork, which I quickly realized was for the large portions of meat that fall out every time you take a bite of the jam packed taco. I’m definitely not complaining—tacos with a little extra filling are the best.
After inhaling our breakfast tacos, we decided to take a break from food and head over to the Last Bookstore to browse some books and art. For those who haven’t visited, The Last Bookstore is a pretty iconic bookstore in L.A. Housed in a renovated bank, the entire bookstore has a really cool layout and features some amazing art from local artists, not to mention some comfy leather chairs to take a break on if you’re like us and chose to walk everywhere.
French Pastries at Bottega Louie
Next up, it was time for our second breakfast of the day! Located just a few blocks west of the Last Bookstore is an AMAZING French Bakery called Bottega Louie. They’re famous for their incredible pastries and sweets, but they also have a full service restaurant and bar inside. For us, a couple macaroons and a decadent chocolate croissant hit the spot. Both were even more incredible than they look.
Ever since watching the episode of Parts Unknown where Anthony Bourdain ventures into L.A.’s Koreatown, we’ve been obsessed with trying some of the foreign yet delicious looking food. Since Koreatown is a bit of a walk from downtown L.A., we decided to start walking and digest our TWO breakfasts of the day.
Empanadas at Sabor Colombiano
South America: ✓
Along the way, we were lucky enough to hear about a Colombian restaurant called Sabor Colombiano. It was almost noon and after a few hours of walking around in the hot sun, we had regained our appetites enough to stop in and try some Colombian food and check South America of the list.
The food, atmosphere, and service at Sabor Colombiano were all 10 out of 10. We ordered a bunch of appetizers of the menu, our favorite of which were the chicken empanadas. The crust on the empanadas was the best part—it was extra crispy instead of the soft shells we were used to. Jack even got to practice his Spanish with the waitress! He is trying to learn ahead of our trip to Peru at the end of October.
Although the food at Sabor Colombiano was to die for, our favorite part of the experience was definitely the coffee. We were about the get the check when we decided last minute to order a cup of café au lait. Turns out, Colombians are known for their coffee for good reason. It is absolutely delicious!
Exploring MacArthur Park
At this point, we were both pretty stuffed. After two breakfasts and a delicious round of empanadas, we knew we needed to do some walking before our next stop or we would explode. Since it was a beautiful day, we decided to head over to MacArthur Park, a park in L.A.’s Westlake neighborhood that features a pond and beautiful views of the L.A. skyline.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stay for long. Not pictured: an insane amount of birds and, sadly, bird poop. Everywhere.
Spicy Korean Kimchi Soup at Hamji Park
Next up, it was finally time for our Anthony Bourdain-inspired dreams of Koreatown to come true! At this point, it was about 2 PM and we had over 10,000 steps for the day (most of which were walked in direct sunlight) so we were more than ready to take a break from all the walking and eat some Korean food.
We decided to eat at Hamji Park based on their stellar Google Reviews. Given that we had already had 3 meals that day, we decided to split an order of their Kimchi Spicy Stew. It came out in a huge cast iron bowl (plenty of food for two people), still bowling from the heat! Served over rice mixed with the various sides that come with it, this dish was a great new experience for us. We both loved it, despite going through numerous napkins to blow our nose—it was crazy spicy!
By the time we had finished up our meal at Hamji Park, it was about 3 PM and the sun was directly overhead. Rather than walk another 2 miles to our next stop, we decided to hop in an Uber and ride down to Los Angeles’ Harvard Heights neighborhood.
Ethiopian food at Palm Grove
For our next meal, neither of us had experienced anything even remotely close to what we were about to eat. We chose Palm Grove, an Ethiopian restaurant located in a strip mall, because it had pretty good google reviews and was relatively close to where we were. Neither of us expected it to be our favorite meal of the day.
We ordered the beef combo platter since neither of us were very hungry at this point and splitting a dish sounded like a good idea. The beef came out piping hot, with a platter of sides to try. Since neither of us had eaten Ethiopian food before, the chef was kind enough to demonstrate how to eat it—how great is that?
For me, as delicious as the food was, it was the service that really made the experience. Although, I’m sure Jack would beg to differ—he finished the entire platter of food!
Exploring L.A.’s Arts District
I know I’ve said this before, but at this point we were super full. We would sooner die than eat another meal, so we headed over to Angel City Brewery to hang out. For those who haven’t been, Angel City Brewery is about as cool as it gets when it comes to breweries. Located in a renovated cable warehouse, there’s a ton of seating and games scattered throughout the industrial brewery to have fun with friends.
We both had a beer and enjoyed the people watching before wandering into L.A.’s Arts District to check out the scenery. Once of the coolest places we’ve stumbled upon is called Hauserwirth, and it’s basically an old industrial building that they turned into galleries and a restaurant.
Drinks at Wolf & Crane in Little Tokyo
Next, we stopped by Wolf & Crane for a drink. Located in Little Tokyo (right next to the Arts District), Wolf & Crane had beautiful Asian décor & design—not to mention delicious drinks! It felt great to take a break and have a drink at this super cool watering hole. Neither of us wanted to leave.
At this point, about 3 hours had passed since our delicious Ethiopian meal so we were just starting to get hungry again. It was also at this point that we realized that there were absolutely ZERO Australian restaurants around. Unfortunately, we gave up on adding Australian cuisine to our list and decided to succumb to our cravings for Japanese food for dinner (it helped that we were also right smack in the middle of Little Tokyo).
Noodles & Sushi at Tenno Sushi
Asia (Again): ✓
Tenno Sushi was closeby and had excellent reviews, so we stopped by for our sixth (Yes, sixth!) meal of the day. Jack ordered sushi and I got a noodle dish, both were excellent!
Now past 7 PM, it was time to head to the train station to catch our 8:15 train back to San Diego. Despite it being relatively early in the night, we were both exhausted from our jam packed day and over 20,000 steps of walking.
Overall, we had an absolute blast attempting this L.A. Food Challenge! And while we weren’t able to check all 6 continents off the list (Sorry, Australia), it was well worth all the calories to try all this delicious cuisine in one day!
What are your favorite restaurants in Los Angeles? Drop us a comment below!
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