You don’t have to be starstruck to be wowed by Los Angeles. Filled with enough legend to rival Manhattan, it’s a city that lives up to its reputation, for better or worse: Just as you’ll spot a celebrity or two and gape at Rodeo Drive a la Pretty Woman, you’ll likewise spend a lot of time in your car, getting to know the city sprawl, the Skid Row grit between the glitz, the notorious freeway traffic. But like any good challenge, L.A. is worth it—for its food as much as for those instantly recognizable pop-culture icons.

But what is L.A. food? To understand the city’s diverse gastronomy is to first understand the city’s diverse demographics, which is to say a mish-mash of many ethnic enclaves—there’s not only a Chinatown, Koreatown, and huge Hispanic population here, but also a Little Ethiopia, Little Armenia, and “Tehrangeles,” to name a few. Next, consider that L.A. loves its trends, and many of the culinary sort have stuck around here, from drive-through burger joints and street food trucks to vegetarianism and locavorism (the latter forming the general basis of the vague catchall “California cuisine”). Then there’s the natural intermingling of what came before (hello, vegan Vietnamese and Korean tacos!), plus celebrity-approved landmark eateries that hold their ground year after year. Hungry yet? Widespread, creative, and ever-evolving, L.A.’s food scene is ready for its close-up.