Here’s how to eat your way through LA

This culinary map of Los Angeles proves the city is more than just the world's movie capital.

  • Fast food and car culture found each other in Los Angeles.
  • Add a unique blend of cultures and cuisines, and LA is a culinary hotspot second to none.
  • This map details some of the city's most famous eateries.

WALTER: He lives in North Hollywood on Radford, near the In-N-Out Burger--

THE DUDE: The In-N-Out Burger is on Camrose.

WALTER: Near the In-N-Out Burger--

DONNY: Those are good burgers, Walter.

WALTER: Shut the f*** up, Donny.

"The Big Lebowski" (1998)

Fast cars and fast food

Image courtesy of Clay Hickson.

Drive-by food is a perfect fit for LA's car-based culture

There are many ways to navigate a city. Take its architectural wonders as guideposts, its museums or houses of worship. Or its bars or bookshops. But the hungry visitor to Los Angeles could do worse than to pick the string of famous eateries festooning this map of the City of Angels.

Drive-by food is a perfect fit for LA's car-based culture, and both – the fast cars and the fast food – conquered the city before they took over the world. So even if they're relatively recent, a lot of places on this map deserve a mention in fast food history.

But 'fast' is just one item on LA's menu. So are various Latin and Asian cuisines, sophisticated restaurants, farmer's markets, and the moveable feast that is the food truck.

Anyone looking for a foodography of Los Angeles can stop right here, at this map produced by illustrator Clay Hickson. And take a bite.

"To celebrate the return of the LA Times Food Section (at the start of April, Ed.), I was asked to illustrate a map of some of the best/most beloved/iconic restaurants in Los Angeles," Mr Hickson says. "I didn't choose the restaurants myself, but I was able to slip a few suggestions in there."

Here are some eye-catching (and appetite-whetting) examples:

Pastrami on rye and lobster Thermidor

Image courtesy of Clay Hickson

Bob's Big Boy is another foodie landmark nearby.

Brent's Deli

Officially Brent's Delicatessen & Restaurant, this Jewish deli opened in Northridge in 1967. It was taken over by Roy Peskin two years later (for the princely sum of $1,700) and has since opened a second location in Westlake Village. Brent's is most famous for its Black Pastrami Reuben (pastrami, Russian dressing, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese on grilled rye bread).

Bill's Burgers

This burger stand on Oxnard Street in Van Nuys produces, according to Forbes Magazine, "the kind of burger you marry." The burgers may be legendary, but Bill Elwell, who has been flipping them since the mid-1960s, doesn't do fries. Mr Elwell is in his early nineties now, so it may be wise to put this shack high up the to-do list – fries or no.

Casa Vega

This Mexican restaurant in Sherman Oaks, still owned by the same family that opened it in 1956, is an LA institution – and not just for its food. Their Mexican Coffee, made with 1800 Tequila Reposado, Kahlua, whipped cream (and coffee), is as famous for its name as for its kick: 'Keep the Change, Ya Filthy Animal'.

Musso & Frank Grill

Opened in 1919 on Hollywood Boulevard, Musso & Frank advertises as the 'oldest (bar and restaurant) in Hollywood', but has a few other claims to fame. It is the Hollywood restaurant, making appearances in countless movies ("Oceans Eleven" and "Ed Wood", to name but two). It was the beloved haunt of writers such as Fante, Faulkner and Fitzgerald; and movie royalty including Chaplin, Garbo and Bogart. Popular items on the classic menu include Welsh Rarebit, lobster Thermidor and chicken pot pie (the latter only on Thursdays).

Old French and new Asian

Image courtesy of Clay Hickson

The most mouthwatering map ever of the San Gabriel Valley and environs.

Pie 'n Burger

Old-fashioned joint serving classic burgers, milkshakes and fruit pies in Pasadena since 1963 – and 'home of America's Top 5 cheeseburger as ranked by the Food Network', the website proclaims.

Golden Deli

This Vietnamese restaurant has been a San Gabriel institution since 1981. Whether you show up for the breakfast pho or a banh mi lunch, expect the food to be delicious and the helpings generous – but only after you've braved the inevitable queue.

Sichuan Impression

To the original restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley, Sichuan Impression has added two more locations in LA, the latest one last year on Santa Monica Boulevard. The expansion reflects the growing popularity of the spicy fare typical of China's Sichuan province.


Founded in 1927 by Marius Taix Jr., this family restaurant in Echo Park is known for its generous portions at modest prices. It is also the oldest French restaurant in Los Angeles.

Gigantism and deconstructivism

Image courtesy of Clay Hickson

Vespertine is an avant-garde restaurant in an avant-garde building.

Randy's Donuts

Randy's isn't just a 24-hour drive-in bakery, but also a landmark making frequent appearances in movies and on tv. A giant donut on your roof will do that – although in all fairness, a few other examples of donut gigantism survive throughout the city from its heyday up to the 1950s. But this one, located on the corner of La Cienega and W Manchester Blvd. in Inglewood since 1953, is the most famous one.

Beverly Soon Tofu Restaurant

Soon tofu is a red, bubbling, almost pudding-like soft tofu stew, and few places do it better than this one on the corner of Vermont and Olympic in Koreatown.

El Cholo

In 1925, a customer waiting for his food at the Sonora Café doodles the figure of a man on the menu. When asked who it is, the man answers: El Cholo – the term for farm labourer given by the old Spanish rancheros in California. The name stuck, and so did the restaurant, which has been called 'the mother of Mexican food in Los Angeles'.


Expect to fork out a few hundred dollars for your food at Vespertine – an avant-garde restaurant in an eye-catching tower of twisted orange steel – but in return you get an experience in culinary deconstructivism unrivalled in LA, lasting several hours and (typically) over a dozen courses. Critics – and customers – are divided, between those who laud the restaurant as refreshingly experimental, and others who find it all more than a bit pretentious.

From Aleppo to Anaheim

Image courtesy of Clay Hickson

All you can eat? Probably a bit more than that...

Aleppo's Kitchen

This Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant in Anaheim serves Syrian, Turkish and Armenian fare, and is famous for its nine types of kibbeh and the secret spice blend for its kebabs. The name is not accidental: the Syrian city of Aleppo – alas, largely destroyed during the Syrian Civil War – was once known as the culinary capital of the Middle East.

Guerrilla Tacos

Between jobs back in 2012, chef Wes Avila started selling tacos from a cart in Downtown LA's Arts District. That blossomed into Guerrilla Tacos, first a food truck, since July 2018 a brick-and-mortar restaurant a few blocks from where Wes sold the first taco from his cart.

Grand Central Market

This place brings together a wide variety of food retailers under one roof, as it has done since 1917. You can sample Japanese and Chinese cuisine, but also gobble down a real Berliner currywurst. You can buy bread, cheese and other staples, or just get a burger or grab a pizza.

Following their North Hollywood misadventure, The Dude, Walter and Donny return home.

We are looking into the car through the broken windshield as it rattles down the freeway. Wind whistles through the caved-in windows. The Dude drives, his jaw clenched, staring grimly out at the road. Walter, beside him, and Donny in the back seat, munch on In-N-Out Burgers. Creedence music plays above the bluster of wind.

Neither Camrose Drive nor Radford Avenue, about 6 miles from each other in North Hollywood, has an In-N-Out Burger. The Big Lebowski was filmed in Los Angeles, but the city's cinematic landscape doesn't necessarily mirror its culinary one.

Map reproduced with kind permission of Mr. Hickson. Found here, at the relaunch of the LA Times's food section on 11 April.

Strange Maps #972

Got a strange map? Let me know at

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Maps show how CNN lost America to Fox News

Is this proof of a dramatic shift?

Strange Maps
  • Map details dramatic shift from CNN to Fox News over 10-year period
  • Does it show the triumph of "fake news" — or, rather, its defeat?
  • A closer look at the map's legend allows for more complex analyses

Dramatic and misleading

Image: Reddit / SICResearch

The situation today: CNN pushed back to the edges of the country.

Over the course of no more than a decade, America has radically switched favorites when it comes to cable news networks. As this sequence of maps showing TMAs (Television Market Areas) suggests, CNN is out, Fox News is in.

The maps are certainly dramatic, but also a bit misleading. They nevertheless provide some insight into the state of journalism and the public's attitudes toward the press in the US.

Let's zoom in:

  • It's 2008, on the eve of the Obama Era. CNN (blue) dominates the cable news landscape across America. Fox News (red) is an upstart (°1996) with a few regional bastions in the South.
  • By 2010, Fox News has broken out of its southern heartland, colonizing markets in the Midwest and the Northwest — and even northern Maine and southern Alaska.
  • Two years later, Fox News has lost those two outliers, but has filled up in the middle: it now boasts two large, contiguous blocks in the southeast and northwest, almost touching.
  • In 2014, Fox News seems past its prime. The northwestern block has shrunk, the southeastern one has fragmented.
  • Energised by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News is back with a vengeance. Not only have Maine and Alaska gone from entirely blue to entirely red, so has most of the rest of the U.S. Fox News has plugged the Nebraska Gap: it's no longer possible to walk from coast to coast across CNN territory.
  • By 2018, the fortunes from a decade earlier have almost reversed. Fox News rules the roost. CNN clings on to the Pacific Coast, New Mexico, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast — plus a smattering of metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest.

"Frightening map"

Image source: Reddit / SICResearch

This sequence of maps, showing America turning from blue to red, elicited strong reactions on the Reddit forum where it was published last week. For some, the takeover by Fox News illustrates the demise of all that's good and fair about news journalism. Among the comments?

  • "The end is near."
  • "The idiocracy grows."
  • "(It's) like a spreading disease."
  • "One of the more frightening maps I've seen."
For others, the maps are less about the rise of Fox News, and more about CNN's self-inflicted downward spiral:
  • "LOL that's what happens when you're fake news!"
  • "CNN went down the toilet on quality."
  • "A Minecraft YouTuber could beat CNN's numbers."
  • "CNN has become more like a high-school production of a news show."

Not a few find fault with both channels, even if not always to the same degree:

  • "That anybody considers either of those networks good news sources is troubling."
  • "Both leave you understanding less rather than more."
  • "This is what happens when you spout bullsh-- for two years straight. People find an alternative — even if it's just different bullsh--."
  • "CNN is sh-- but it's nowhere close to the outright bullsh-- and baseless propaganda Fox News spews."

"Old people learning to Google"

Image: Google Trends

CNN vs. Fox News search terms (200!-2018)

But what do the maps actually show? Created by SICResearch, they do show a huge evolution, but not of both cable news networks' audience size (i.e. Nielsen ratings). The dramatic shift is one in Google search trends. In other words, it shows how often people type in "CNN" or "Fox News" when surfing the web. And that does not necessarily reflect the relative popularity of both networks. As some commenters suggest:

  • "I can't remember the last time that I've searched for a news channel on Google. Is it really that difficult for people to type ''?"
  • "More than anything else, these maps show smart phone proliferation (among older people) more than anything else."
  • "This is a map of how old people and rural areas have learned to use Google in the last decade."
  • "This is basically a map of people who don't understand how the internet works, and it's no surprise that it leans conservative."

A visual image as strong as this map sequence looks designed to elicit a vehement response — and its lack of context offers viewers little new information to challenge their preconceptions. Like the news itself, cartography pretends to be objective, but always has an agenda of its own, even if just by the selection of its topics.

The trick is not to despair of maps (or news) but to get a good sense of the parameters that are in play. And, as is often the case (with both maps and news), what's left out is at least as significant as what's actually shown.

One important point: while Fox News is the sole major purveyor of news and opinion with a conservative/right-wing slant, CNN has more competition in the center/left part of the spectrum, notably from MSNBC.

Another: the average age of cable news viewers — whether they watch CNN or Fox News — is in the mid-60s. As a result of a shift in generational habits, TV viewing is down across the board. Younger people are more comfortable with a "cafeteria" approach to their news menu, selecting alternative and online sources for their information.

It should also be noted, however, that Fox News, according to Harvard's Nieman Lab, dominates Facebook when it comes to engagement among news outlets.

CNN, Fox and MSNBC

Image: Google Trends

CNN vs. Fox (without the 'News'; may include searches for actual foxes). See MSNBC (in yellow) for comparison

For the record, here are the Nielsen ratings for average daily viewer total for the three main cable news networks, for 2018 (compared to 2017):

  • Fox News: 1,425,000 (-5%)
  • MSNBC: 994,000 (+12%)
  • CNN: 706,000 (-9%)

And according to this recent overview, the top 50 of the most popular websites in the U.S. includes in 28th place, and in... 27th place.

The top 5, in descending order, consists of,,, and — the latter being the highest-placed website in the News and Media category.
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