You’re visiting Los Angeles. No? You live here, and your family’s in town for the holiday?

If your family’s like my family, they’re going to need a bit of sunshine, watering and feeding every so often. Be a decent relative and give them a hand.

There’s a lot of food to choose from in Los Angeles. Here are a few places that might appease the guests.

Best Place With the Worst Service That Isn’t a Deli

Wi Jammin Caribbean Restaurant

5103 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles;

You tell the man at the counter that his chef makes a damn fine piece of chicken, he’ll shoot back a sharp, “Ahh knooow.” The food’s a touch overpriced for such a little joint, the salad is pure filler, the menu lacks plantains and the beans and rice have a nice but subtle flavor that’s tough to pinpoint. But the jerk chicken, coated in dry rub and given a jacket of pure fire when the extra cups of sauce are emptied over it, is enough to make any vegetarian rethink things. Soothe the palate with a bottle of ginger beer. Delish.

Best Place to Reminisce About the Depression With Your Grandparents

Clifton’s Cafeteria

648 S. Broadway, Los Angeles;

You might leave Clifton’s with a slight ache, or even a bit disgruntled after pouring soy sauce all over your salad, having assumed it to be balsamic vinegar. But the décor is the thing – an unexpected forest retreat in the middle of downtown, this is the alternative to stopping at a Black Bear Diner up the I-5. Plus, the ultra-affordable cafeteria still abides by a policy of “Dine Free Unless Delighted.”

Best Place to Nosh When You’re Waiting in Line for “The Price Is Right”

The Blessed King

109 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 933-3100

The paint job is shoddy, the owner will try to sell you the shop, and the massive gobs of cream cheese don’t justify the sliding scale that may or may not apply. But they’ve got the most perfect bagel in Los Angeles – doughy, slightly sour and puffy enough to sustain you.

Best Place to Take the Vegetarian Sibling Who Doesn’t Eat Vegetables

Pie ’N Burger

913 E. California Blvd., Pasadena;

The Apple Pan of the Eastside, what with its cash-only policy and comfortable counter, also boasts a brilliant veggie burger, crisply textured with shredded carrot, a perfect complement to gooey grilled onions and a sheet of cool iceberg. And pie, glorious pie – topped with a hearty slab of vanilla ice cream – follows beautifully.

Best Place to Take the Cousin Who’s Allergic to All Foods

Mäni’s Bakery & Café

519 S. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles;

Everything on the menu is marked for those with dietary restrictions – vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free – and is, for the most part, vegetarian-friendly. The tofu with pesto on rosemary bread is flawlessly savory, the omelets are generous, the cupcakes are rich. Black bean and plantain quesadillas? Yes please.

Best Place to Take the Pleasantly Non-Snooty Date You’ve Just Met

Papa Cristo’s C&K Importing

2771 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles;

Garlic breath, sure. But whether you’ve only got the budget for a few generously sized triangles of spanakopita, or the 15 bucks to shell out for a rack of lamb, there’s no wrong way on the menu here. The meats are delicious, the setting comfortable and you can pick up a jar of olive oil (or wine, what have you) from the Greek market within the restaurant.

Best Place to Attempt These Pupusas You’ve Heard So Much About

Carolina’s Mar Y Sol Restaurante

6011 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park

Now you can probably get a pupusa anywhere and be pretty satisfied. But Carolina’s is sort of comforting – the Salvadoran hole-in-the-wall, a menu with not a drop of English on it, is run by a pleasant lady who requires you to sit patiently and wait a while for your pupusa. Chewy, grilled and filled with a warm and savory mixture of gooey cheese and perfectly spiced meat. It may be one of the more expensive options (at, you know, $1.60 a pop), but worthwhile.


When You’re Stuck in the Valley and You’ve Changed Your Mind About Spending New Year’s at Universal CityWalk

K’s Donut Emporium

10608 Ventura Blvd, Studio City; (818) 506-1797

Peanut butter-filled, chocolate-topped donuts – when you want to eat, like, five pounds of peanut butter.

When You’ve Ventured Off to the South Bay and Come Back Because There’s Nothing to do in the South Bay

Sorrento Italian Market

5518 S. Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City; (310) 391-7654

OK, a lot of the jars and bottles in this market are thickly coated with dust. But within the glass case of the bakery there are a few handfuls of finger-sized cannoli, crisp in the shell, perfectly sweet in the cream – a rare, good cannoli in Los Angeles.

When You Want Proof That The Now-Dying Cupcake Craze Is Not in Fact Overrated

Violet’s Cakes

21 E. Holly St., Pasadena;

The best cupcake in Los Angeles, hands down. Sweet potato? Yes. Rich, chocolatey, mint-swirled Peppermint Patty? Yes please.