You used to go to this L.A. neighborhood just for the classics. Now the area has it all: nouveau Asian, daring cocktails, and a cult burger. Here's what to order where.
Dongchimi Guksu at The Corner Place
So secret is the recipe for this refreshing cold white-radish noodle soup, the owners strictly forbid takeout or doggie bags. Rumor has it that the key ingredient is a couple of teaspoons of 7-Up, but you didn't hear it from us. $7.50.
Liquid Omakase at The Walker Inn
The team behind New York's award-winning Death & Co. runs this popular lounge in the back of the Normandie Club. Let the bartender pick a sampling of three drinks, or go for the boozy White Sesame Seed, made with mushrooms, Thai chiles, and bourbon, part of a menu inspired by Alice Waters. $20 per cocktail, $45 for omakase.
The Beep Beep at Pot
Roy Choi's slightly gonzo take on Asian cooking has been the talk of the city for years, and this dish, available at his restaurant in the Line Hotel, serves as a mission statement of sorts. The best way to describe it: a mayonnaise-laced roll in bowl form, jazzed up with fresh Santa Barbara sea urchin and layered over hot rice. $19.
Cheeseburger at Cassell's Hamburgers
Al Cassell opened his namesake, no-frills lunch counter on Wilshire Boulevard in 1948, and his house-ground burgers have been on best-of lists ever since. In 2014, the restaurant was reborn in an airy space inside the Hotel Normandie. The classic cheeseburger—served on a fluffy Parker House bun—is as juicy as ever. $10.
Wang Mandoo at Pao Jao Dumpling House
The food court at Koreatown Plaza is a good place to sample the greatest hits of Korean cooking. If you only have room for one dish, order these freshly made, fist-size dumplings stuffed with chives, glass noodles, and fragrant minced pork. 928 S. Western Ave.; 213-385-1881; 4 for $8.
Matt Rodbard is the author of Koreatown: A Cookbook, which is in stores now.