If you’re trying to find the best Los Angeles restaurants, then in our view the latest Zagat guide is a pretty good place to start. And not just LA - this guide to dining covers Southern California including Orange County, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara. You don’t get the long and lingering reviews of restaurants that you have with some dining guides, but what you get instead are the collected views of over 10,000 regular diners, rating 2,106 places to eat.
What we like about Zagat is that in trying to assess the best Los Angeles restaurants, they don’t just stay at the dining high-end. Their Top 20 list of the most popular LA eating spots includes delis and burger places, and even the Cheesecake Factory chain, alongside the likes of Spago and Mélisse. Sure, the list for Top Food is very different from the Most Popular places, but the reviewers - and editors - do take account of the fact that different diners want different things, and you also want different things on different days. Sometimes you just want a pizza - but a good one.
And, as it happens, the Most Popular Los Angeles restaurant according to Zagat reviewers is a pizza place: Pizzeria Mozza. It’s obviously no ordinary pizza parlor, though. Zagat’s reviewers say the whole thing is a ‘gastronomic experience’ and call their pies ‘delectable’ and ‘better-than-sex’. OK, make mine the Margherita.
This LA guide also covers Southern California, including Santa Barbara, and this is the Zagat choice of the five Most Popular restaurants in Santa Barbara:
Another appeal to us is the way Zagat lists the best options under different categories - by cuisine, by location, by special features like wine lists or late dining, by views, best service, and also the best bang for the buck. You feel like Mexican? Babita is up there with the same Zagat rating as Spago. Best View? The Saddle Peak Lodge out there on Cold Canyon Road, which also gets rated as one of the two best romantic locations in LA. Best Value? The In-N-Out Burger chain.
Zagat guides are easy to follow, with the restaurants listed alphabetically, first for LA, then Orange County, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara. Each entry has full contact details, the write-up which consists of snippets from several different reviewers, and finally ratings in four categories: Food, Décor, Service, Cost. It’s a really simple approach and for us, it works.
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