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How to Hack Los Angeles

Discover tasty treats in Thai Town, amazing outdoors spots, and a culinary wonderland hiding in plain sight

On this episode of the California Now Podcast, host Soterios Johnson talks to three Los Angeles County locals about where they go to experience the best this SoCal destination has to offer.

First, Johnson speaks with Food Network star Jet Tila. The L.A. native gives Johnson a brief history of Thai Town, sharing his go-to spot to grab jade noodles and exclusive stories from his tour through the East Hollywood neighborhood with Anthony Bourdain. Tila also chats about his favorite family-friendly stops, including Griffith Park.

Next, Johnson connects with Mary Forgione, author of the Los Angeles Times’ e-newsletter, “The Wild.” Forgione discusses extraordinary outdoor experiences, including hiking Mt. Baldy and spotting endangered green sea turtles. She then heads to San Pedro, crafting the perfect day-trip to this coastal community.

And finally, Johnson talks to Zach Brooks, general manager of Smorgasburg Los Angeles. Brooks takes Johnson on an international culinary tour through the largest weekly open-air food market in the country, sharing insights on the best bites and hot tips along the way.


Jet Tila, chef and host on the Food Network

Mary Forgione, author of the Los Angeles Times’ “The Wild” e-newsletter

Zach Brooks, general manager of Smorgasburg Los Angeles


Jet Tila is a Los Angeles chef, cookbook author, and the “unofficial mayor of Thai Town.”

Los Angeles

Thai Town

No Reservations

Jonathan Gold

Ruen Pair

Sapp Coffee Shop

Bhan Kanom Thai

Pa Ord Noodle

Harvard & Stone


Mary Forgione writes “The Wild,” a weekly e-newsletter featuring insider tips on the best of Southern California outdoor adventure.

“The Wild”

Griffith Park

Griffith Observatory

Sierra Club Angeles Chapter

Palos Verdes Peninsula Trails

Mt. Baldy

Sea Turtles  

Long Beach

Hollyhock House

Wayfarers Chapel

San Pedro

Rex’s Cafe

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Korean Friendship Bell

San Pedro Fish Market

Brouwerij West

Zach Brooks is the general manager of Smorgasburg Los Angeles, a weekly gathering of deliciousness in Downtown Los Angeles.

Smorgasburg LA

Downtown Los Angeles


7th Street Produce Market

Churro Boss

Bungkus Bagus

Uncle Terry’s Kitchen

Tacos 1986

Los Cochinitos

The Goat Mafia

Burritos La Palma

Los Dorados LA


I Love Micheladas


Soterios Johnson, formerly the local host of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on radio station WNYC, moved from New York City to Davis in 2016. By combining his journalistic instincts with his personal curiosity, Johnson uses the California Now Podcast platform to develop a deeper understanding of his adopted home.

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