2366 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Fancy sausage newcomers like Wurstküche in Downtown LA may boast better bockwurst, but for pure German revelry, nothing beats the Red Lion. With German-speaking servers wearing dirndls, two-liter boot-shaped beer mugs and massive plates of food, piled high with bockwurst, knackwurst and bratwurst, this Silver Lake institution has all the enthusiasm of a Munich biergarten without all the tourists. There’s nightly live music on the first floor, a quiet room for intimate conversation upstairs, and a massive outdoor patio to enjoy the warm Southern California weather. This is great place to bring a crew (especially a crew that likes to drink); if you buy six shots and seventh is free. Side bonus: this may be the one place in Los Angeles no one will judge you if you order Jagermeister.
13317 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Los Angeles is a city of many doughnuts. In their quest to make a new life here, many members of LA’s immigrant communities have embraced the doughnut shop as the path to upward mobility. As a result, we have a wonderful diversity of quirky doughnut shacks—Thai doughnut shops serving traditional American doughnuts alongside Thai iced tea, Chinese doughnut shops serving fried rice, and Mexican doughnut shops with tacos. It’s all too rare, however, when immigrants bring their own doughnut culture with them. Nata’s Pastries in Sherman Oaks is a wonderful exception. Nata’s Portuguese doughnuts, called malasadas, are delightful doughy sacks filled with pastry cream. Nata’s does other Portuguese pastries too, (it’s house special is a Crème brulée custard surrounded by a flaky pastry crust) and serves traditional dishes like bacalhau com natas—baked salt cod and potatoes. But, if you get there early when they’re freshest, it’s the malasadas that will haunt your dreams.
Grand Central Market
317 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013
What is America if not a microcosm of the world? We have every nation, and practically every ethnic group on earth represented within our borders. Diversity is who we are. In that sense, nothing could be more American than the Grand Central Market in Downtown Los Angeles. This cavernous lunchtime favorite has been operating since 1917 and boasts dozens of unique food-stalls covering cuisines from Italy to Asia. Recently renovated, the space has been given a new infusion of life after years of culinary stagnation. The fire-spiced daily Thai specials at Sticky Rice are particularly inspired, and Eggslut has become arguably the go-to choice for breakfast in Downtown Los Angeles. An historical landmark that celebrates food from all over the world—what could be more American than that?
Ga-Dangbe Association of California
12345 Elm Street
If you want a taste of the culture of Ghana in Southern California, you have to be patient. The Ghanaian community in the Southland is small and disparate. “There’s no Ghanaian equivalent of a Chinatown,” says John Baisie, president of the Orange County-based Ga-Dangbe Association of California. “We tend to move close to our work.”
Baisie says that unlike many immigrant groups that move to America, Ghanaian ex-pats are mostly professionals—and so the community lacks the restaurants and shops that new immigrant groups often open up to get established in America. That said, once a year, it is possible to immerse yourself in the culture of Ghana. Every Labor Day weekend the Gadangbe Association hosts its annual party in celebration of the Ghanaian festival of Homowo—a crop fertility ritual celebrated in memory of a terrible famine in pre-colonial Ghana. The festival features the singing, dancing and food of Ghana’s Ga tribe, who traditionally live outside of its capital of Accra.