99 Things to Eat in L.A. Before You Die | Counter Intelligence | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

99 Things to Eat in L.A. Before You Die 

Fugu to foie gras, pizza to panuchos

Friday, Feb 26 2010

Page 11 of 17

Why is Los Angeles the best place to eat on the planet? Because on a random East L.A. street corner, a woman behind a rickety card table can be cooking the best cheese enchiladas you've ever tasted in your life: prefab tortillas fried way too hard with way too much oil, dunked in too much chile and given another industrial sear. They're chewy and crunchy, spicy and smoky, smeared with a bit too much cream, and are absolutely amazing. Then you'll never see her again. Except when you do. No address, but she seems to operate about one block from the vendors who tweet as @BreedStScene. Maybe you'll get lucky.

A-Won's Al Bap

Korean sushi has its fascinations — its live-fish fixations, the emphasis on strong-tasting invertebrates like sea squirt and fresh sea cucumber, and the delightful custom of including sliced hot chiles, raw garlic and kkaennip alongside the customary wasabi and soy. But peasant that I am, I can never tear myself away from the ever-fascinating al bap, a big bowl of sushi rice frosted with a half-dozen different kinds of fish eggs, laid out in contrasting streaks radiating from a plop of creamy sea-urchin roe at the center of the bowl like rays from the sun. You can mix them together, gild them with the raw chicken–egg yolk that shares its bowl, or savor them egg by egg by egg until you are done. A-Won, 913½ S. Vermont Ave., Koreatown. (213) 389-6764.

Brandt Beef

Southern California is blessed with superlative homegrown fruits and vegetables, but local meat is much harder to buy. It's not economically viable to raise cattle on expensive land. Brandt isn't precisely local — the ranch is down south of the Salton Sea — but it's closer than pretty much anything else, and the quality of the organic, sustainably raised beef is exceptional, especially the braising cuts. Oddly, Brandt beef is much easier to find in New York City than it is here, but you'll find a small, nicely curated selection in the meat case of HOWS supermarkets. brandtbeef.com.

Krakatoa-Blend Coffee
click to flip through (10) PHOTO BY ANNE FISHBEIN

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Because sometimes you want coffee from that three-hectare, 1,730-meter, southwest-facing, tree-shaded, granitic-soiled, Cup of Distinction finca, and sometimes you just want something that's going to jolt you back to life in the morning. Monkey and Son's colossal Krakatoa coffee, a muscular blend of African and Sumatran beans strong enough to put hair on a bald ape's chest, is organic, Fair Trade–certified and locally roasted, all of that save-the-planet stuff, but the flavor roars out of your cup like an early Stooges record. Beans sold at Surfas, and through monkeyandson.com.

El Atacor #11's Potato Tacos

You will encounter many schools of thought when it comes to these tacos, some of which call for coarsely mashed spuds, others for herbs, and still others for a wallop of chorizo. But all pale before El Atacor #11's tacos de papa: thin corn tortillas folded around gooey spoonfuls of puree and fried to an indelicate, shattering crunch. The barely seasoned potatoes ooze out of the tacos with the deliberate grace of molten lava. The glorious stink of hot grease and toasted corn subsumes any subtle, earthy hint of potato, and guacamole-drenched tacos de papas evaporate so quickly from the table that you understand why they come 10 to an order. El Atacor #11, 2622 N. Figueroa St., L.A. (323) 441-8477.

Rajdhani's Thali

What the owners of Rajdhani like to call Gujarati dim sum might more properly be called a bottomless vegetarian thali, the cooking of the central Indian province overwhelming you with labyrinths of flavor and a profusion of perfumes, a 10-course combination platter constantly refilled in all of its components. After 45 minutes, your plate will look like a slightly messier version of the plate you started with. But even as your buttons start to pop, you will find yourself unable to stop begging for khandvi, tart, fermented-batter crepes smeared with lentils and coiled into tubes. The concept of too much khandvi does not exist in any language. Rajdhani, 18525 Pioneer Blvd., Artesia. (562) 402-9102.

Ludo's Fried Chicken

When you glance at a 1940s edition of Duncan Hines' Adventures in Good Eating, the important national restaurant guide of the time, Los Angeles looks to be the most chicken-obsessed metropolis in the universe — almost one-third of the listed restaurants are devoted to the specialty. But the fried chicken that the city is dreaming about at the minute comes from a Parisian haute-cuisine dude who probably couldn't tell you the difference between the chickens fried in Iowa and the chickens fried in Mississippi, but sets a crust like a Jesus-loving Alabama housewife with a bit of the devil in her soul. Brined, impossibly juicy, laced with strong herbs, Ludovic Lefebvre's fried chicken is pretty close to the godhead, whether fried Basque-style in duck fat, served with Oaxacan mole or served to 2,000 people waiting in line at a food festival on a winter afternoon. Find the latest incarnation of Lefebvre's pop-up restaurant, LudoBites, at ludolefebvre.com.

Lawry's Prime Rib

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