Eat Your Way Through Los Angeles With These Food Tours

You don’t need to be a tourist to appreciate these gastronomic excursions

June 25, 2024 6:04 am
One of the delights you may experience on an outing from Sidewalk Food Tours.
One of the delights you may experience on an outing from Sidewalk Food Tours.
Sidewalk Food Tours

Native Angelenos have always known their city’s food scene is unparalleled, but in recent years, Southern California cuisine has been under a global spotlight in a new way. The work of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathan Gold, in particular, helped increase awareness of Los Angeles’s food culture, which is so notable partially because it’s an international mix of cultures, styles and flavors. Practically every kind of food in the world is represented in L.A., and odds are the execution is pretty exceptional too. 

Enter: the food tour. Visitors often find it in their gastronomic interests to book one of these excursions that hits multiple spots within a certain neighborhood, so they can experience more than just one or two restaurants during a trip. Of course, these tours are also great for locals who might need a push to go explore a new area of town, or just want to learn more about the history and context of the restaurant scene here. 

One of the most popular and well-known tours in town comes courtesy of Culinary Backstreets

Though they are a global company that runs food tours all over the world, their lengthy walking tour in downtown L.A. is considered to be one of the best in the city. Along with guided tours, they also create editorial content around the chefs and restaurants in places where they’re active, which is now close to 20 cities. 

“Culinary Backstreets likes to run our walking food tours in cities that are misunderstood, and for us Los Angeles presented a great opportunity to dispel some long-standing myths,” says Yigal Schleifer, the company’s editor-in-chief. “First and foremost is that L.A. is not a walkable town. Second is that the city is too sprawling to be explained and understood through one part of town. With our downtown L.A. tour, we’ve managed to put together a walking tour that also helps give a sense of how the city has grown and come to be the metropolis that it is.” 

Culinary Backstreets is always a great option, but whether you’re just visiting Los Angeles and looking for the best way to get a taste, or a local who wants to zero in on some of the historical context, here’s a few more of our picks for the best food tours in town. 

Pearl River Deli in Downtown LA, one of many stops on the 5.5 hour Culinary Backstreets food tour
Pearl River Deli in downtown L.A., one of many stops on the Culinary Backstreets food tour.
Culinary Backstreets

Culinary Backstreets

If you’ve got stamina, then Culinary Backstreets is the walking tour for you. Clocking in around five and a half hours (!), this waltz through downtown Los Angeles doubles as a history tour of the city’s expansion and will not leave you hungry. Though it’s something of a marathon, this experience proves two things: 1) You can walk in Los Angeles, and 2) it’s such an expansive food city that even five hours is barely enough to cover just one neighborhood.

For some examples of the kinds of places included, Schleifer noted two vendors he thinks are particular standouts: “My Dung is a Vietnamese grocery in Chinatown that serves some of the best banh mi in L.A. And Fugetsu-Do is a family-run mochi shop that’s been in business in Little Tokyo since 1903.”

Melting Pot Tours

For a unique itinerary, the offerings from Melting Pot Tours are your best bet. This company includes guided experiences through the Original Farmers Market in Fairfax, a jaunt through Old Pasadena and even experiences in Long Beach and East L.A. Because they’re not as focused on the more obvious areas like West Hollywood, downtown or Venice, these treks will give you even more of a local perspective on the city.

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Six Taste

There are five basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. This tour has dubbed themselves capable of helping you find that ambiguous sixth one, which might just be the memories you make along the way. But with a three-to-four-hour tour that consistently hits up to seven different restaurants, cafes or shops, their framing isn’t really an exaggeration. Tours from Six Taste are also popular because they offer private bookings from groups of two up to 100 people, so you can hop around the city with only friends and family if you like. This company offers tours in a whole slew of different neighborhoods from Santa Monica to Hollywood to Glendale, and even includes an option specialized by cuisine type: their Delicious Dumplings guide through Monterey Park.

Sidewalk Food Tours' walking tour includes stops in Downtown LA, West Hollywood, and Venice Beach
Sidewalk Food Tours’ walking outing includes stops in downtown L.A., West Hollywood and Venice Beach
Sidewalk Food Tours

Sidewalk Food Tours

Mainly focused on three neighborhoods — downtown, West Hollywood and Venice Beach — a tour from Sidewalk is just as much a walking tour as it is a celebration of all things food. Originating in New York, this brand now hosts experiences in Chicago, San Francisco, Paris and New Orleans, with L.A. as their latest expansion. Their itineraries focus on off-the-beaten path spots, and include five different restaurants that encompass both savory and sweet flavors in the selected neighborhood.

Secret Food Tours

If you’re looking for a food tour that also includes a substantial drinking element, Secret Food Tours is the one for you. Another company who offers tours in many cities all over the world, SFT’s L.A. experiences focus on historical context as well as delicious local fare. With options on both sides of town — either Venice Beach or downtown — these tours include a “secret dish” selected by the guide, as well as special upgrades for those who want to add alcohol to the mix. Both of those tours offer five or six stops in about three hours, but there’s also a separate beer tour that hits 12 tastings in about the same timeframe.


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