- Food Tours
- Culinary walks
- Our Story
In a metropolis encompassing 88 cities and a near infinite number of neighborhoods, the culinary tapestry of Los Angeles is united by more treasures, currents and paradoxes than the city has freeway exits. It is an ever-fluctuating ecosystem sustained by immigrant enclaves offering genuine tastes of the home cooking and celebratory feasts they feel homesick for. It’s where first-generation sons and daughters aren’t afraid to shatter all the rules.
By publishing the stories of our local heroes, visiting them on culinary tours, or directly fundraising for them when they are in need, we attempt to honor their work and their essential role in maintaining the fabric of the city. Our purpose is twofold. Yes, we want to get travelers to some good places to eat. But we also want to make sure that some of these spots and the artisans making food there find a new audience and get the recognition and support they deserve. They are holding back the tide of globalized sameness, which is not easy work – even if it’s done unknowingly. But we believe that every meal counts and, with the help of our audience, they will add up. We are committed to their perseverance and hope that our modest efforts encourage them to keep at it. Our work is also guided by a belief in: Honest Tourism: The places where we eat and craftsmen that we feature on our culinary tours are all selected with this purpose in mind. We’d never accept a free lunch or consider a discount for our tour groups, because that would contradict our central goal, to support them. Nor do our guides receive any commissions from shopkeepers. Honest Journalism: The same principal is applied to the publishing of stories. There are no sponsored posts or even advertising on CB. The writers and photographers are paid fairly for their work on stories that we all believe in.
The cities we are drawn to all have a culinary tradition of untold richness as well as a certain tension, be it political instability, the tug between East and West, the clash between modern and ancient identities, migration, rapid gentrification, bankruptcy, or a post-colonial hangover. Our decision to get started in a city is always the result of a trip filled with many meals where we are given in intimate view of that tension, right there on the table. By getting lost in this warren of independent food purveyors struggling to preserve or adapt tradition in fast-paced urban life, we start to discover the deep complexity and true flavor of the city. At present, you’ll find our regular dispatches from Athens, Barcelona, Istanbul, Lisbon, Los Angeles, Marseille, Mexico City, Naples, Porto, Queens (NY), Shanghai, Tbilisi and Tokyo.
As travel to most of the cities where we work has resumed, Culinary Backstreets is working with a new set of safety guidelines designed for the physical well-being of our guests, guides and members of the local community that we encounter. These guidelines have been developed in line with the best practices published by governments and health officials in the countries where CB works with regard to restaurant and tour and trip operation. With these procedures in place, our guests — led by our team of professional guides, who are being trained accordingly — can explore with peace of mind. The new procedures we are instituting include:
Culinary Backstreets’ mission has always been to preserve, protect and celebrate local culinary traditions and the unsung heroes of the kitchen. Now, more than ever, we remain focused on this goal. These days, we are paying close attention to the physical, economic and psychological well-being of the local communities and the people who keep them fed. We view this as an opportunity for cities to develop a tourism model that makes sense for them and that avoids the mistakes of the past, and for companies like Culinary Backstreets to be part of that process by renewing our commitment to a more sustainable way of traveling and working. By joining our tours and trips, you are contributing to this effort, which includes:
Culinary Backstreets is offering maximum flexibility for our guests, as we realize that travel this summer and fall might involve unexpected cancellations or postponements. So that our guests can book with confidence, we are putting in place the following cancelation policies:
Introducing our pocket-sized Los Angeles guide — perfect for your next culinary adventure. Yours free when you sign up for our newsletter.
Tour the Backstreets of Los Angeles With Us
Beyond Donuts: Neighborhood by Neighborhood, Bite by Bite
Our Backstreets Envoys, Always Searching for the Next Hidden Gem
Ethan, Los Angeles Walks Leader
Ethan has been guiding people around Los Angeles for over two decades, first as a skipper on Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise, then later as a private guide. Ethan has served as the spokesperson for Proctor & Gamble and The Advisory Board and currently sits as the Chairman of The Cheese Board, where he works to increase people’s cheese education and provide guests with outstanding cheese experiences. Ethan studied at University College London and received his bachelor of arts in politics and history of art from New York University. He is also a JEOPARDY! Champion.
Fiona, Los Angeles Correspondent
Fiona is an Indonesian-born freelance food and travel writer but she has called Los Angeles home for the past two decades. She has previously written for Food & Wine, Eater, and more.
Hadley, Los Angeles Editorial Advisor
Hadley is a Los Angeles-based critic and journalist whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, New York Magazine, and many other places. He is also one the co-founders of the site LA Taco.
Jannine, Los Angeles Guide
Jannine was born and raised in Los Angeles, graduating from California State University Los Angeles with a degree in Anthropology and Mesoamérica Studies. Jannine has a background in culinary arts, working in plant-based kitchens, and has enjoyed seeing a shift in L.A.’s food culture as chefs are veganizing culturally traditional foods. Jannine’s main interest lies in exploring restaurants and street food vendors, who are keeping traditions alive by using ancestral ingredients and dishes.
Ulysses, Los Angeles Guide
Ulysses graduated from the University of Southern California studying visual and cultural Anthropology, using his research in food as a jumping off point to speak on transnationalism, alternative forms of economy, intergenerational studies, and social rights.Recently, in his role as a producer and cinematographer, Ulysses has worked in food and culture on Los Angeles based documentaries. The first will be featured in a historic Latinx museum space highlighting local immigrant grandmothers who share traditional family recipes and stories of migration. Currently featured and nominated in film festivals across the nation, Ulysses helps tell the story of a contemporary award-winning street taco vendor who is fusing traditional family recipes from Michoacán, Mexico with contemporary Los Angeles trends with the help of his family and community. As a graduate student with the goal of teaching in higher education, Ulysses’ experience, whether it be as a student, producer, photographer, or lover of food and culture – has been informed by the need to make storytelling inclusive, not only in participation but in the dissemination of lived experiences that leads to the potential of increasing documentary use in pedagogy.
Vitaly, Los Angeles Photographer
Originally from Ukraine, Vitaly is a photographer who now calls LA his home.
CB’s work was started in 2009 by Ansel Mullins and Yigal Schleifer as a humble food blog called Istanbul Eats. The following year we published a book of our reviews, now in its fifth edition. That year we also launched our first culinary walk in Istanbul, a route we are still using today. In 2012, we realized that what we built in Istanbul was needed in other cities we knew and loved. We started CB that year with Athens, Barcelona, Mexico City and Shanghai as pioneering members of our network. In 2013, we added Rio and also launched our iPhone application in Istanbul. In 2015, Tokyo and Tbilisi came into the fold. That year we published mini-guides to Barcelona and Athens and also launched an iPhone application in those cities. Our Eatinerary service, which provides travelers with tailor-made culinary travel itineraries, was also launched in 2015. In 2016, Lisbon – the latest city to kindle our curiosity – joined the CB network. In 2017 we added Naples and Queens, NY – two places with very compelling stories to tell – to our roster and also published full-size eating guides to Athens and Barcelona. In 2018, Porto joined the list of cities we cover.
Visual Dispatches from the Frontlines of Local Eating
Where is Los Angeles?
The City of Los Angeles is the seat of Los Angeles County in the southern half of the American state of California. It is the second-most populous city and metropolitan area (after New York City) in the United States. The city sprawls across a broad coastal plain situated between mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The much larger Los Angeles County, which encompasses the city, contains some 90 other incorporated cities, including Beverly Hills, Pasadena and Long Beach.
What are the best things to do in Los Angeles?
One of the things Los Angeles is most famous for is the Hollywood industry. On top of that, the sunny weather, laid-back vibe (and, on the other end, ultra-ritzy glam) makes it an ideal tourist destination. Movie buffs will love the studio tours, surf lovers can hit the many beaches and those into science, art or nature can pay a visit to Griffith Observatory and Griffith Park, Sunset Boulevard, LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Runyon Canyon. some of the best places in Los Angeles. For active folks, hiking to the Hollywood sign, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, surfing and yoga classes are all potential activities.
When is the best time of year visit Los Angeles?
The best times to visit Los Angeles are from March to May and between September and November, when the air is more breathable and the crowds are less oppressive.
What is the weather in Los Angeles?
In Los Angeles, the summers are warm, arid and clear and the winters are cool, wet, and partly cloudy. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 48-85 F and is rarely below 42 or above 93. July– August is as hot as it gets, reaching upper 90s. The beach areas are much cooler, with Pacific Coast winds and breezes.
Is Los Angeles expensive?
Prices in Los Angeles are typically higher than in the rest of the United States. Hotels can range from $75-250 a night, and meals will vary widely. However, some of the best eats in LA are taco trucks parked outside a gas station, and you can fuel up your belly for under $15. While we’ve made the city walkable on our CB LA tour, expect to pay for taxis or Ubers to get around town.
Is Los Angeles safe?
Los Angeles is a safe and easy holiday destination. Like anywhere, it is best to remain aware of your surroundings, be wary of pickpockets and pay attention to where you are going at night.
What is the best food in Los Angeles?
From celebrity chefs to timeless burger joints, lively Los Angeles has a wide range of dishes to impress you. It’s hard to name on best food in Los Angeles, because the city is home to a huge number of cuisines and communities that have made an impact on restaurant tables. From Mexican tacos and birria to Korean kimchi and bulgogi, you’ll find everything East to West.
Where is the best place to stay in Los Angeles?
First-time visitors to Los Angeles are usually keen on staying in Hollywood, and its central location makes it easier to get around without a car. If you’re looking to be close to the beach, booking something on the west side of the city, close to Santa Monica, is better, since you’ll usually be traveling against the flow of traffic. Echo Park/Silver Lake has become a fun and trendy part of the city, with an excellent alternative nightlife. Staying just outside of downtown is also a good option if you prefer to avoid hotel accommodation.
What is the COVID-19 situation in Los Angeles?
The State of California has a vaccination rate of about 73% and there are currently no mandates in place.
Can I fly directly to Los Angeles?
While technically, Los Angeles has five airports, most international flights land at LAX, and it is the closest to the city center. If you are planning to explore outside the city, you can consider flying into: Long Beach Airport (close to Orange County), Hollywood Burbank Airport and John Wayne Airport (closer to Hollywood studio lots, Disneyland and Universal Studios), and Ontario International Airport (40 miles east of Downtown).
What is the best restaurant in Los Angeles?
As this is the always-sunny and glamorous LA, many restaurants have patio seating, are located on rooftops, have gorgeous views of the beach/urban landscape, or are known for their interior decorating and decor. For us, the glitz and glam behind what many consider to be the “best” restaurants in LA don’t compare to the down-home and storied eats you can find all over the city. Mexican food and fusion are also synonymous with LA cuisine: We recommend checking out the birria tatemada at El Jaliciense or Korean fusion at Hanchic.
Are there beaches in Los Angeles?
Los Angeles may possibly be the American city with the best overall variety of local beaches. There are a wide range of beaches within Los Angeles County as well as north and south of it.
Is Los Angeles suitable for children?
When it comes to where to stay in Los Angeles with kids, its best to be aware of areas that will be loud and busy at night, as nightlife is big part of the city – particularly Downtown and the Fashion District. In general, though, many families with kids love traveling to Los Angeles. It is home to world-famous theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios (to name only a few), as well as fun beaches and museums.