Los Angeles may be known for its beach living and celebrity-infused backdrop, but it was once a farm town. The hillsides were covered in citrus orchards and dairy farms, and agriculture was a major industry. These days, although L.A. is urbanized, the city's culinary landscape has re-embraced a local, sustainable, and seasonal philosophy at many levels—from fine dining to street snacks.
With a growing interest in farm-to-fork, the city's farmers' market scene has exploded, becoming popular at big-name restaurants and small eateries alike. In Hollywood and Santa Monica you can often find high-profile chefs scouring farm stands for fresh produce.
Yet the cache of the celebrity chef continues to carry weight around this town. People follow the culinary zeitgeist with the same fervor as celebrity gossip. You can queue up with the hungry hordes at Mozza to catch a glimpse of Mario Batali or Nancy Silverton, or snag a seat at Street to chat with chef Susan Feniger—also of Border Grill. Elsewhere, Zoe Nathan has caused a huge ripple with her seasonally driven bakery Huckleberry in Santa Monica, and in Culver City chef Roy Choi (of Kogi BBQ fame) has turned a run-down International House of Pancakes into the DJ thumping and ski chalet inspired A-Frame Tavern. The newest addition into the "who's who" of celebrity chefs is Thomas Keller who opened Bouchon Bistro in Beverly Hills.
Ethnic eats continue to be a backbone to the L.A. dining scene. People head to the San Gabriel Valley for dim sum and ramen, Koreatown for epic Korean cooking, and West L.A. for phenomenal sushi. Latin food is well represented in the city, making it tough to choose between Guatemalan eateries, Peruvian restaurants, nouveau Mexican bistros, and Tijuana-style taco trucks. With so many dining options, sometimes the best strategy is simply to drive and explore. Just don't mind the traffic.