It’s a well-known fact that Los Angeles is a foodie haven. The restaurant business has grown wildly competitive as innovative and artistic chefs consistently enter the scene. The city is brimming with the world’s most renowned restaurants and unlikely gems that offer unparalleled culinary experiences. Nevertheless, spanning over 469 square miles, L.A. can easily create an overwhelming food chase with so much to choose from. For that reason, we’ve devised a list of what you actually can’t choose from…unless you ask.
20 Los Angeles Off-Menu Dishes Worth Trying
This list of off-menu dishes presents a new type of food chase: to find and eat the best-kept secrets throughout Los Angeles.
1. Winter Empañadas at Gracias Madre
Once on the vegan restaurant’s dineLA tasting menu, the winter empañadas are now an off-menu order. It takes this one order to transform from a Gracias Madre devotee to an insider.
2. Secret Pizza at Kettle Black
Although the menu features five incredible wood-fired pizzas, ask for the secret Rogue One: crème fraîche, Yukon potatoes, n’duja, egg, fontina, Taleggio, Italian pancetta, pickled fresnos, and lemon dressed arugula on top.
3. Alfred Cone at Alfred Coffee + Kitchen
Alfred Coffee + Kitchen is now serving their famed brew in chocolate-dipped waffle cone/coffee cups. It isn’t on the menu, though, so you have to spot the clues to get your hands on their unbelievably tasty hardware. Near the register, you’ll notice a picture of the cone – simply ask about it, and reap the benefits.
4. Cheesy Tater Tots at Umami Burger
Umami Burger is known for their array of wildly flavorful sides: smushed potatoes, truffle ‘em cheese fries, fried pickles, tempura onion rings. While you can’t go wrong with any of these, try the off-menu cheesy tater tots. They’re nothing short of life-changing.
5. Challah Baked French Toast at Clementine
If chef and owner Annie Miller happens to be at Clementine when you’re there, inquire about the challah baked french toast. She’s the only one who makes it.
6. Secret Pitaya Bowl at Paradise Bowls
Paradise Bowls has the some of the best acai and pitaya bowls in all of L.A. If you’re a regular, it’s definitely worth trying the Secret Pitaya Bowl that only insiders know about, topped with granola, blueberries, strawberries, mango, banana, kiwi, and coconut.
7. Grilled Cheese at Plan Check
Although Plan Check is known for their burgers and pastrami, ask for the off-menu grilled cheese. With two types of cheeses, pickles, and served on a panko crusted crunch bun, this isn’t your average after-school snack.
8. Machete Quesadilla at Cerveteca
Cerveteca on Rose Avenue in Venice is renowned for their edgy Mexican dishes. But, if you’re looking for a quesadilla, you’ll have to ask. Order the secret Machete Quesadilla with carne asada, habanero aioli, red pickled onions, and cilantro.
9. Wagyu Beef on the Rock at Catch
Only those in the Catch inner-circle know about this incredibly indulgent dish: marinated wagyu cooked on a sizzling rock just beside your table.
10. Fried Chicken Sandwich at Night + Market
What began as a staff meal is now a coveted off the menu item at Night + Market. While most of the usual menu consists of shared dishes, this sandwich is meant to be personally devoured. Before the popular item is put on the Night + Market’s menu, order it now to join the exclusive fan club.
11. Egg Huck McMuffin at Huckleberry
The combination of eggs, bacon, and maple syrup, all piled high atop a maple bacon biscuit, is perhaps the best-kept breakfast secret in Los Angeles. It’s one of those dishes that’s nearly too good to advertise.
12. The All Star at Salt’s Cure
The Salt’s Cure is known for their breakfast 2x2x2, with eggs, house-cured bacon, house-made sausage, and a biscuit. However, if you know about the off-menu All Star, you’ll get additional silver dollar oatcakes.
13. “Blue” Smoothie at Lifehouse Tonics and Elixirs
Not all off-menu items have to be guilty pleasures. In fact, this secret blue smoothie from Lifehouse Tonics and Elixirs is chock-full of superfoods and vibrant in color. It’s also one of actress Shay Mitchell’s favorites.
14. Chocolate and Salted Caramel Parfait at The Church Key
While The Church Key is popular for its dim-sum style service and innovative dishes, they offer something so divine that they’ve had to keep it a secret. After your incredible meal, order the off-menu chocolate and salted caramel parfait, brimming with chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, salted caramel, and peanut brittle.
15. Farinata at Officine Brera
Officine Brera offers the most traditional and exquisite dishes straight from Italy, but one of their best items isn’t available unless requested. Ask for the farinata: a large, wood-fired crepe made solely of chickpea flour, water, olive oil, and sea salt. So simple, yet so good (and gluten-free).
16. Mexicali Fries at Mexicali Taco & Co.
These indulgent fries, loaded with guac, spicy crema, roasted peppers, cotija cheese, and your choice of meat, are only available every so often. If you keep tabs on their Instagram, you might just be able to grab a batch.
17. Tuna Melt at The Apple Pan
The Apple Pan is known for its epic Hickory Burger, a recipe that hasn’t changed since the 1940s, but they also make a mean tuna melt. Not many people know about it, though; perhaps because it isn’t on the menu. Add two slices of Tillamook cheddar, and you won’t be disappointed.
18. Thai Burger at Jitlada
Jitlada offers more than 300 dishes on its menu. Yet, while there’s so much to choose from, one of their most coveted items isn’t even listed. Call ahead to see if they’re preparing the Thai Burger: two patties grilled in palm sugar and garlic, served in a lettuce wrap with a sweet mustard sauce.
19. Donut Breakfast Sandwich at Birdies
Birdies is renowned for their inventive, artisanal donuts and their crispy, flaky fried chicken. Customers don’t often think of combining the two, but you can, and you should. Order the Birdies Special, which has fried chicken, slaw, cheddar, buttermilk ranch mayo, and pickles on a glazed donut bun. Calories definitely don’t count here.
20. Spicy Tuna Cones at Spago
This secret dish at Spago will have you dining like a celebrity. Inquire about the totally-worth-it spicy tuna cones: sesame miso crisps filled with spicy tuna tartar, bonito flakes, and masago roe.