Best Of Food & Drink
Best Toddler Excursion
The Trails Cafe
The food at the Trails Cafe in Griffith Park is scrumptious enough to satisfy Los Angeles gourmets: The avocado sandwich — full of sprouts and soy "bacon bits" — is particularly yummy, and the cookies are, without fail, amazing. But the spot is best utilized by parents of young kids,
Best Food-Crafting in a Nonfood Environment
Cooking classes aren't hard to come by in Los Angeles. But as long as sanitary requirements are followed, why should food education always mean endless, stainless-steel surfaces and the whirring of exhaust fans? Poketo, Angie Myung and Ted Vadakan's design firm/shop in the downtown Arts District, is about creativity of...
Best Valley Liquor Store
What the Hollywood Sign is to Hollywood, Circus Liquor' 32-foot-tall, neon-clown mascot is to North Hollywood. The nightmare-inducing liquor store clown towers over Burbank Boulevard and has been seen in just about as many movies as the Hollywood Sign itself, although its connotation isn't always positive: Cher got held up...
Best Drive-Thru Giant Doughnut Sculpture
The Donut Hole
Got a hankering for some high-calorie, sugary, fried dough and want to make an adventure of it? Load up the car with your grooviest friends and drive to La Puente, where you will find an incomparably odd 1968 architectural landmark called the Donut Hole. Drive in through a 26-foot fiberglass...
Best Fast-Casual Concept
From the owners of Chipotle — yes, Chipotle — comes a new Southeast Asian chain. ShopHouse shares many of Chipotle's best attributes: fresh ingredients, "sustainable" meats and quick, choose-your-own-adventure, assembly-line service. But we'd argue that ShopHouse's food is actually better than Chipotle's. You choose from cold rice noodles, or brown...
Best Eggs Benedict
The Larder at Burton Way
At the Larder at Burton Way, chef-owner Suzanne Goin (Lucques, A.O.C.) was inspired to update the go-to brunch dish eggs Benedict for her Tavern Benedict, riffing on the classic dish with both favorite ingredients and a twist, she says. The classic hollandaise sauce over poached eggs is there. The twist?...
Best Place to Eat Caviar at Happy Hour
Petrossian West Hollywood
For those who have Champagne tastes but a beer budget, Petrossian West Hollywood's $49 weekday happy hour is a relatively affordable way to indulge in the ultimate briny delicacy of the caviar for which the small West Hollywood café and boutique is known. Like wine, there are different varieties, and...
Best Restaurant With Its Own Boat
The term "daily catch" has real meaning at Catalina Island's Lobster Trap restaurant, owned by commercial lobster fisherman Caleb Lins since 2008. Lins plies the fertile waters off the Channel Islands in his 40-foot boat, Money Matters, bringing in local fish and California spiny lobster to his casual eatery in...
Although it's one of the purest expressions of the bartender's art, it's still surprisingly easy to screw up an old-fashioned. That's why Seven Grand's no-bullshit take on the classic drink stands out. There's no flaming orange peel, no bacon-infused simple syrup, nothing called a "shrub" — just carefully muddled sugar...
Best Use of a Cucumber
The humble cucumber, always the bridesmaid (never the bride), finally gets its day in the spotlight at Goldie's — but it undergoes a makeover akin to a full-body wax and scrub at a Korean spa. Chef Thomas Lin, inspired by the braised cucumbers of Julia Child's day, takes whole cucumbers...
Best Ice Cream Time Machine
No need for a flux capacitor or malfunctioning hot tub: Soda Jerks, the old-fashioned soda fountain at the Santa Monica Pier, takes you back to your childhood — and then some. A throwback to the '20s and '30s, the counter features sundaes, shakes, malts, phosphates and more, all made by...
Best Family-Friendly Restaurant
La Grande Orange
You want a craft cocktail and a salad with ingredients other than shelf-stable lettuces, and maybe a taco platter to share with the table. Your small dining companions want grilled cheese sandwiches, mac and cheese, and hopefully a little fruit. They may be loud, and prone to sudden mood swings...
Best Museum High Tea
Tea by the Sea
Overlooking the Getty Villa's café and gardens is the glass-walled, Founder's Room dining room — where twice-weekly afternoon Tea by the Sea is a high tea with a delicious change-up. The Mediterranean-flavored menu is influenced by the museum's artfully maintained and authentically re-created 1st-century Roman herb, flower and vegetable garden...
Best Vegan Restaurant
Tal Ronnen's new West Hollywood restaurant, Crossroads, plays the part of swank restaurant better than many omnivorous restaurants, with a sexy vibe and a stellar wine list. Much of the menu is devoted to vegetable-intense small plates: artichoke and farro salad with arugula and Kalamata olives; spiced chickpeas with oven-dried...
Best Post-Hookup Brunch
Lazy weekend mornings when you wake up with a stranger in your bed can be either a blessing or a curse. Either way, it might be best to get brunch together. Skip places with long lines and consider Sycamore Kitchen. Impress your accidental plus-one on the trek over with fun foodist...
Best $5 Milkshake
A five-dollar shake doesn't seem as unreasonable as it did in 1994, when Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace sipped a frosty vanilla at Jack Rabbit Slim's. Almost 10 years later, you'd be hard-pressed to find a cheaper shake anywhere, except maybe a drive-thru window. But it is still just milk...
Best Filipino Fried Chicken
Max's of Manila
Ever try fried chicken with banana sauce? That's how it's done at Max's of Manila, a restaurant chain with more than 100 branches in the Philippines and several here, including Glendale and the City of Industry. You'll find Filipino staples, including pork adobo, crispy pata, lumpia and pancit — but...
Best Safe Place to Eat an Omelet
Los Angeles Police Revolver & Athletic Club Cafe
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day — but is it also the most dangerous? While the statistics regarding the mortal threat of a morning meal are still being calculated, no doubt the safest way to enjoy a hearty breakfast in Los Angeles is in a...
Best Deep-Dish Pizza
There is a lot to love about a Southern California success story like Hollywood Pies. What started as an underground, Chicago-inspired pizza-delivery service quickly gained must-have, cult status. In a smart move, it then morphed into a well-thought-out shop for eat-in, pick-up or delivery around the Pico/La Cienega location. What's offered...
What began as jam-maker Jessica Koslow's "collaborative, pop-up toast-and-coffee experiment" is rapidly evolving into one of the most beloved quirks of its neighborhood. Sqirl opened as a tiny storefront on the Silver Lake/East Hollywood border, where Koslow quickly got the city's attention, partnering with G&B Coffee and serving toast. Yeah,...
Best Art Deco Brewery
Angel City Brewing Co.
Many of the finest beers in Southern California are made in sterile, 1980s-era industrial buildings with little to offer in the way of ambience. If you crave finely crafted ales and lagers in a setting where you can pleasantly spend a day or bring a visitor, look no farther than...
Best Beer City
In 2010, Strand Brewing Co. opened its modest taproom in the depths of an industrial park somewhere off Lomita and Crenshaw Boulevard. Two years later, Belgian-style brewers at Monkish moved in up the road at Western and Del Amo. And in the last six months, two more breweries — the...
Best Growler Design
Smog City Brewing
Intense cartoon animals may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of an image to cover a beer receptacle, but it's exactly what makes the growler at Smog City Brewing so ingenious. While most breweries are satisfied just to print a logo and address on these...
Best L.A.-Made IPAs
Beachwood BBQ and Brewing
A lot of local breweries make good India Pale Ales, but when it comes to variety, consistency and skill in making one of craft beer's most ubiquitous styles, no one even comes close to Beachwood BBQ and Brewing. Maybe that's because brewmaster Julian Shrago spent years perfecting recipes as one...
Best Brewery for Drinking
Eagle Rock Brewery
There is no feeling better than drinking a beer at the source of its creation, especially if it's an Eagle Rock Brewery beer being consumed at its Atwater-adjacent tasting room, one of the most comfortable places in town to cozy up for a pint of local brew. While most production...
Best Belgian-Style Brewery
It takes a lot of guts to brew exclusively Belgian-style beers in IPA-driven Southern California, but Henry Nguyen doesn't care. Since opening his small brewery in Torrance last spring, the theology professor–turned-brewmaster has stood by his decision to focus on the notoriously sweet brewing tradition and is using the niche...
Best Juice Bar
Beverly Hills Juice
Los Angeles is overflowing with cold-pressed juice: On every corner you can satisfy your craving for the liquid essence of kale, apple and everything in between. But the best organic juice in town has actually been around longer than most L.A. residents, and you'll find it at Beverly Hills Juice...
Los Angeles is home to a whole host of upscale bakeries producing small batches of delicious cookies, and each year more and more spots are offering "artisanal" varieties with ingredients like smoked salt. But the down-home cookies at Diddy Riese have been satisfying customers for 30 years, and the shop's...
Best Venice Beach Snack Shack
The Wee Chippy
Nothing complements a day at the beach quite like a calorie-packed treat, and the snack shacks that line the Venice Beach boardwalk don't let anyone's greasy craving go un-fried. With the customizing choice of 11 seasonings — like the applewood smoked or sweet toasted onion — the Wee Chippy is...
Best Pop-Up Turned Brick-and-Mortar
Allumette is born of the Vagrancy Project, a pop-up launched by young chef Miles Thompson in February 2012. After hearing good things, Echo Park's Allston Yacht Club owners Charles Kelly and Bill DiDonna invited Thompson to bring the project to their restaurant two nights a week. They were so taken...
Best Ice Cream Shop
Sweet Rose Creamery
This ice cream shop on the edge of the Brentwood Country Mart had to limit its per-person tastings to two to keep its line, which often streams out into the parking lot, moving right along. The aroma of sweet cookies wafts through the air as the staff mixes the chocolate...
Best Old-School Steakhouse
The 1950s room at Dal Rae is subtle but wonderfully dated in that upscale, blue-haired way. Yawning black booths shade you from the hanging lights, with impeccable waiters in matching black bow ties refilling drinks. Should you find yourself at Dal Rae for a celebration, reserve the banquette table that...
Best Old-School Burger Stand
If you want to tick off every burger-stand expectation you have on one single trip, head to Capitol Burgers. Location: not great. Cool vintage burger sign: absolutely. Owner: old and awesome (bonus points for his beefy son Jim, who helps out daily and looks like a scarier version of Tex...
Best Carne Asada Fries
Alfredo's Mexican Food
Just down the street from Taco Sinaloa #3 sits Alfredo's Mexican Food, another in a long line of Mexican joints attempting to trade on the name of the popular Alberto's franchise throughout San Diego County. Alfredo's doesn't get the foot traffic that Taco Sinaloa #3 receives, but its loaded pile...
Tacos Los Güichos
Tacos Los Güichos isn't afraid to show people how it's done. The weekend-only carnitas operation sits just off of Slauson in an otherwise unassuming neighborhood. But once that superheated cazo hits the pavement on Saturday mornings, people for miles come flocking to catch the attentive taquero at work. By midmorning,...
Best SGV Dan Dan Noodles
No. 1 Noodle House
It's easy to miss No. 1 Noodle House, tucked away in one of the newer mini-malls at the corner of Colima and Fullerton. But once you locate the spot, the bowls of dan dan noodles are more than worth the effort. It's a rather bare-bones operation, and the minimalism suits...
Best Chocolate Chip Cookie
Your first bite of a chocolate chip cookie at Na Young Ma's 3-year-old Proof Bakery in Atwater Village is a 5-second demonstration of the Hegelian dialectic. Your mind will first register the chocolate. Then you'll taste the Maldon salt, throwing you off just a bit. Almost immediately thereafter, the flavors...
Best Bento Box
A bento box at Takamaru will come out quickly, impressively so for set lunches as varied as they are substantial. Bentos come in four options, including salmon, vegetarian and chicken; five if there's a special of the day. A behemoth in size and sheer range of options, the Gozen Bento...
Best Lobster Roll
Hinoki & the Bird
Chef David Myers' new restaurant, Hinoki & the Bird — which celebrates Japan, Los Angeles and the intermingling of their two cuisines — has a lot of standout dishes. But vying for top spot is the lobster roll, a dish that is as nontraditional as it is delicious, an exciting...
Best Evening Farmers Market
South Pasadena Farmers Market
Every Thursday, from 4 to 8 p.m., South Pasadena hosts a dusk farmers market where Meridian intersects with El Centro, beginning a few steps away from the Gold Line stop. It's a market as shaped by the community. Locals make an event of the once-a-week gathering, where farmers (Suncoast Farms...
Best Persian Ice Cream
Mashti Malone in Hollywood is scooping the kind of Persian-style ice cream best described as fragrant, flavored by spices and floral ingredients accenting some of the more notable perfumes and colognes. Rosewater, in particular, is a recurring profile that's paired with sour cherry, ginger or saffron. There's also saffron with...
McCall's Meat & Fish Company
It defies more than one convention that you can find pastries, gorgeously baked and arranged, at a neighborhood butcher shop. Yet at McCall's Meat & Fish Company, you can find not only the usual pastries but also beautifully constructed kouign-amann (pronounced kween ah-MON). A traditional Breton pastry made from laminated...
Best New Seafood Shack
Connie & Ted's
"Shack" is a bit of a stretch when it comes to Michael Cimarusti's new West Hollywood restaurant, Connie & Ted's, but that's definitely where the inspiration comes from for this straightforward homage, which pays tribute to simple seafood. After years of dealing in the (way) higher end of seafood cookery...
Best New Wine Shop
Bar & Garden
It's rare for a new wine store to pop up and feel as personal, as passionate and as accessible as Bar & Garden, a new wine, spirits and plant shop in Culver City. Owned by couple Lauren Johnson and Marissa Mandel, the store specializes in natural-wine small producers, which makes...
Best Cheap Oysters
In the midst of the absolute douchiest strip of Hollywood, Chateau Marmont remains a temple to Old Hollywood, a classier, more worn-in version of American excess. The hotel, restaurant and bar might still play host to starlets and showbiz drama, but early on a quiet Monday evening the bar is...
Best Santa Monica Restaurant That Won't Break the Bank
If you don't have the money to eat the justly lauded $125 tasting menu across the street at Mélisse, your next best bet these days in Santa Monica is Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb's Rustic Canyon. The restaurant's new chef, Jeremy Fox, who gained national acclaim for his work at...
Best New Restaurant
So what is chef Ludo Lefebvre's Trois Mec, exactly? A high-priced, fine-dining restaurant in Hollywood, featuring only a single tasting menu? A casual hole-in-the-wall with counter service, where the cooks act as waiters and the preferred soundtrack is hip-hop? Or is it a dream restaurant, the natural culmination of a...
Marugame Monzo in Little Tokyo is sit-down and upscale, at least for a noodle joint, with black, lacquered tables and a feel that's downright sleek. It's in this way that Monzo bridges the gap between L.A.'s high-end Japanese restaurants and the low-rent ramen shops that were here even before the...
Chi SPACCA is a restaurant concept that grew out of chef Chad Colby's celebrated "salumi night" at Mozza's pizza school. So is it any wonder that the restaurant has a lockdown on the best charcuterie in town? The "salumeria" portion of Chi SPACCA's menu — split among "whole muscles," "salami"...
Best Next-Gen Northern Thai
Night + Market
At Night + Market, which chef Kris Yenbamroong opened in the space next to his parent's established Thai restaurant as a kind of act of guerrilla restaurateurism, he presents the unadulterated, riotous flavors of Northern Thailand's street food in all their complexity. On any given night, his menu is likely...
Best Restaurant Trend
For a coastal city, L.A.'s seafood options — outside of the sushi, which has always been stellar — have been oddly limited, falling mainly to high-end treatments (Water Grill, Providence) and a few cutesy tourist spots (Blue Plate Oysterette). But over the past year or so, Los Angeles has suddenly...
Best New Southern Restaurant
The Hart and the Hunter
Chefs Kris Tominaga and Brian Dunsmoor are serving up what they call "country food," though the country they're presenting has a very Southern twang. Biscuits, pimiento cheese, and shrimp and grits share the menu with nods to other simple, European, country cooking, like steak tartare and venison carpaccio. They're following...
As an ode to the food of his childhood, chef Josef Centeno's Bar Ama gives us an excuse to indulge in the glory of Tex-Mex cuisine. In some ways, the downtown establishment is two restaurants in one: The first serves giant mounds of guacamole, oozy bowls of queso dip and...
BierBeisl, Austrian chef Bernhard Mairinger's Beverly Hills restaurant, can be on the expensive side. But Mairinger also delivers one of the city's great deals in its sausage tastings, which cost $35 for three sausage courses, each paired with a different beer, or $55 for five courses. Mairinger works with Continental...
Cliff's Edge Wednesday nights
"You've never had my strawberry balsamic drink, have you?" bartender Matthew Biancaniello calls out to a customer from behind the bar on Cliff's Edge Wednesday nights. "You'll love it. It's got kale and pear and St. Germain foam on it." Biancaniello's weekly stints behind the bar at Cliff's Edge give...
There's a friendly bustle and clamor to the room at Salt's Cure on Sundays during brunch, a welcoming din that somehow comforts you: This is how brunch is supposed to feel. The menu isn't long or overly fancy — there are thick, oatmeal griddle cakes; a ham, egg and cheese...
Best Restaurant Bar
When people talk about Providence, they usually talk about the hushed, refined dining room, where gorgeous, multicourse tasting menus are served, and eye-popping, multifigure checks are delivered at the meal's end. But recently we've become enamored of a different aspect of the place — its comfortable, quiet nook of a...
Best Al Pastor Taco
Surely you've noticed Tacos Leo parked at a 76 gas station on the corner of La Brea and Venice, if not because of the weekend crowds, then because of the tornado-shaped al pastor stacked and rotating on a spit right in front of the taco truck. This exclamation mark of...
Best Fried Rice
Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village
Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village is an opulent restaurant on the second story of an Alhambra shopping plaza, with a menu the size of the fall issue of W magazine. You can be forgiven if you're overwhelmed by, well, everything, and don't make it quite to the end of the...
Best Arcadia Coffee Shop
Until recently, your best bet for coffee in the Arcadia area of the San Gabriel Valley has been limited to the excellent ca phe sua da (Vietnamese iced coffee) at Fresh Roast; sometimes, though, it's just a simple, no-frills cappuccino that you need. Enter Taza, billed as "A Social Coffee...
Best Taco Pop-Up
Maybe this city's fine-dining scene has not declined, as some have said, so much as it has migrated. Specifically, to the streets, where chefs like Wes Avila — who worked with Gary Menes at Le Comptoir, among other places — are using tacos as vessels upon which they apply their...
Best Fish Taco on the Westside
Tacos Punta Cabras
Up until now, if you lived on the Westside and craved a proper Baja-style taco, your choices were severely lacking. Which is why anyone looking for a solid fish taco anywhere west of the 405 has made a beeline to Tacos Punta Cabras, a small taco shop in Santa Monica,...
Best Giant Rib in Koreatown
Star King BBQ
Don't worry about all those people ordering tomahawks at Star King BBQ. They're not going to hurt you — they just want to tuck into the biggest, most unusual cut of beef in Koreatown. The tomahawk is the center of the rib-eye, very thick and on the bone, like an...
Best Bánh Mì Downtown
The San Gabriel Valley certainly has more bánh mì joints per city block than any area of Los Angeles, but when your Vietnamese-sandwich craving hits — or you only have three bucks and some change to spend on lunch — and downtown is as far as you can go, head...
Best Coffee-Subscription Service
If you're the type of person who loves coffee the way you love your dog — that is, absolutely — then it only makes sense that you've yearned to have excellent coffee, packaged within a day or two off a roast, and delivered straight to your door. In which case...
Best French Dip
Philippe the Original
One hundred and three years after it opened, Philippe the Original still has the best French dip sandwich in the city: a crusty baguette stuffed with beef or, better, lamb, some blue cheese if you want, then dipped or double-dipped in intensely flavorful jus. But the pleasure of this sandwich...
The weekend crowd at the Alameda Swap Meet is as formidable as the Sunday shoppers at Costco, but if you brave the crush of people and that parking lot, you will be amply rewarded in the form of dessert. Specifically, churros, which you might want to seek first, to have...
Best Late-Night Eats
BCD Tofu House
The best meals after midnight tend to be savory, meaty and spicy, to better soak up that alcohol and snap open droopy eyelids. Which might be why both Koreatown locations of BCD Tofu House are open 24 hours; indeed, both branches seem to be as bustling at 1 a.m. as...
Best Coffee Shop
Handsome Coffee Roasters
Los Angeles — finally, one might say — has an awful lot of great coffee shops, and while your favorite place for a cup of joe is, like your favorite taco, an intensely personal choice, it would be well worth the mileage to seek out Handsome Coffee Roasters' beautiful flagship...
Best Pulled Pork in a National Park
Adams' Pack Station
Forget your backyard barbecue — there's real campfire cooking going on up at Adams' Pack Station in the Angeles National Forest. Located at Chantry Flat in Big Santa Anita Canyon above Arcadia, Adams' Pack Station resupplies weekend hikers and uses mules to pack in goods to campers and residents of...
Best Belizean Food
Flavors of Belize
How does one small, Central American country acquire such a rich culinary tradition? It's all in Belize's history, which is full of Creole, British, Mexican, Mayan and South American influences. You can taste the cultural fusion at Flavors of Belize on La Brea Avenue, where thickly fried tortilla chips share...
Israelis take their hummus seriously. That's why the simple chickpea dish is handled with such care at Haifa Restaurant along Pico's Jewish corridor. The signature Mediterranean staple comes as an appetizer with falafel balls or fresh fool; as a side salad; as an entree with a pile of shawarma; or...
Best Carne Asada Taco
The guys behind Mexicali Taco really know how to work a grill. From their days at First and Beaudry to their current digs at the Figueroa edge of Chinatown, Mexicali has committed itself to all things meat and fire. That means carne asada, and lots of it, served in all...
Best New Coffee Shop
Former Intelligentsia employees Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski — that's the "G" and "B," respectively, in G&B Coffee — have had a busy year, opening not just one but two coffee shops within the span of just a few months. While their second shop, Go Get Em Tiger, is a...
Most resort food comes with a large scoop of scenery, to help you escape the forgettable main dishes staring up at you from the table. Not so at Mar'Sel at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, where chef Rebecca Merhej's inspired cooking may keep you from ever noticing the...
El Chato Taco Truck
Burritos and tacos all have their place, but sometimes you need a little something more to save you after a night of heavy drinking. Enter the al pastor quesadilla from El Chato Taco Truck. With mounds and mounds of perfectly melted cheese, the griddled quesadilla is a work of late-night...
Best New Pizzeria
How do you get noticed as a new pizzeria in a town that already lays claim to Mozza, Sotto and Vito's Pizza? Use what you know. In the case of Wildcraft Pizza, that's sourdough fermentation, which is used as a base for its inventive, Neapolitan-style pizzas. The Culver City joint...
Best Patio for Beer Drinking
Red Lion Tavern
There are plenty of new places to enjoy some craft beer and a pint of sunshine these days, but none has quite the cachet of the Red Lion Tavern. The 1959 Silver Lake establishment comes with some seriously deep German roots, which means steins of beer, sausages and a year-round...
Best New Food Truck
It's been years since the city's initial food-truck boom, so what does it take to cut through all the reverberating noise and make it as a new truck in 2013? A return to fresh, straightforward food, mostly. And a warm smile never hurts. On-board the classically painted Deano's Deli truck,...
Best Off-Menu Burger
Jitlada Thai Burger
You already know Jitlada. You've witnessed the power of its chile use firsthand, and you've thumbed through its Southern Thai menu, which spans hundreds of regional dishes. But in all those entree options, you won't find its off-menu Jitlada Thai Burger; it's a special creation from owner Jazz Singnasong herself...
Best On-Tap Mint Juleps
Bludso's Bar & Que
Forget draft beer, infused sodas or anything else you thought could be carbonated and poured straight from the handle. Bludso's Bar & Que on La Brea is here, and it has kegged up some seriously strong mint juleps. As far as we know, there's no other place in town (or...
Best Homesteader Crash Courses
Institute of Domestic Technology
Self-reliance is a virtue. Learning to make your own cheese or roast your own coffee would make you awfully virtuous — as well as prepared for the apocalypse. The Institute of Domestic Technology is here to help. Its classes offer instruction in useful skills such as pickling, canning, making cheese,...
Best Place for After-Work Drinks
A stylishly dim basement of a pizza place located just below buzzy Picca on an otherwise forgotten stretch of West Pico, Sotto serves up what may well be the city's best pie. But that's not the only reason to come here. There's also an excellent list of Italian wines, and...
Best Chocolate Twist
There are as many versions of the chocolate twist as there are appetites to consume them. The most common structure involves skeins of bready yumminess deliberately intertwined with ribbons of chocolate. By comparison, the one at Amandine Café (baked, like everything else, in-house) seems almost like an afterthought. But, man,...
Best SFV Farmers Market
Encino Farmers Market
Set among tall elms with endless free parking, the laid-back, organic-certified Encino Farmers Market is uniquely Valley: Buy alfafa-fed beef from Dey Dey's, then jam into G Farms, where Jose sells organic fruit for $2 a pound; then it's on to Given Farms, where Hank hawks great kale, leeks and...
Best Trucker's Breakfast
Halfway House Café
Picture your archetypal, middle-of-nowhere Western diner and you know exactly what Halfway House Café looks and feels like. Even if you've never driven up the dusty, two-lane Sierra Highway that's favored by truckers from Los Angeles to Mojave, you've likely already encountered Halfway House Café in countless movies, TV shows...
Best Restaurant for Real Estate Agents
Walk into any real estate open house near Montana Avenue in Santa Monica or in the Helms Bakery area of Culver City and the real estate agent will likely mention the home's proximity to Father's Office. It may seem like a cheap ploy to prove how hip the neighborhood is,...
Best Escape From the Downtown Trendiness Boom
Recently at the Brazilian restaurant Wood Spoon, the waiter introduced the dishes by saying "Natalia made ..." without saying who Natalia is. There's a welcome sense of intimacy in Natalia Pereira's so-small-you'll-probably-miss-it spot, and its straight-ahead, good, old-fashioned Brazilian cooking is refreshing amidst so many downtown places trying to be fusion-this and weird-ingredients-that. Many...
Best Restaurant in Silver Lake
L&E Oyster Bar
When L&E Oyster Bar opened last year, it gave the cutest retail strip of Silver Lake a focal point — and it gave the east side of town a place for oysters and crisp wine. A year later, L&E just keeps getting better. The cooking is better: The menu features...
Best Portable Breakfast
Gjelina Take Away
Beautiful people are breakfasting on biscuits with strawberry jam and blueberry brown sugar scones at Gjelina Take Away, the to-go counter next door to Gjelina in Venice. Although Gjelina Take Away is open late, breakfast service cuts off at 11 a.m. In the two years since it opened, the morning...
Best Bar to Drink at if You Don't Drink
Doing a cleanse? Preggers? Driving everyone home? You want to get your party on, but it's a no-alco night? The Edison lets you feel like one of the "sin" crowd, while still being good, with its selection of well-crafted, nonalcoholic cocktails. Head bartender Andrew Smith, who created the menu, says,...
Best Place to Drink Mezcal
Petty Cash Taqueria
Exactingly curated and meticulously sourced mezcals are the focus at Petty Cash Taqueria, the newish taco joint from chef Walter Manzke and restaurateur Bill Chait. Beverage director Julian Cox is a man on a mission to introduce Angelenos to this obscure south-of-the-border beverage. Mezcal has been popping up on L.A...
Best Guest Bartender Program
Harvard & Stone
Want to hang with L.A.'s cocktail coterie? Head on over to the R&D Bar at Harvard & Stone. As general manager Steven Sué will tell you, the R&D is a bartenders' bar, a place where L.A.'s food and beverage industry comes to hang out. R&D — short for "research and...
Best Organic Cocktail Program
FEED Body & Soul
It ain't easy being green, but at FEED Body & Soul on Abbot Kinney in Venice, it's a way of doing business — even bar business. Cocktail wunderkind Marcos Tello of Tello Demarest Liquid Assets spent months sourcing organic spirits and other ingredients — not an easy task in the...
It might be a cliche to point out that Pizzeria Mozza is the best pizzeria in town, but that doesn't make it any less true. Nancy Silverton's insanely popular pizza operation continues to turn out food of stunning quality, from the ultra-fresh salads and antipasti to the soulful daily specials...
Servers have the words "More Dosa!" emblazoned on the back of their maroon polo shirts at Udupi Palace, so there's no question what the specialty of the house is at this Artesia stalwart. And rightly so. The coconut chutney is almost creamy in its richness, the sambar is cuminy and...
Best Outdoor Dining
The view from Nobu Malibu, Nobu Matsuhisa's swank new restaurant on PCH, is utterly magnificent. Tables run along the front balcony of the restaurant, which rises above the sandy beach and lapping waves. Every view is an ocean view — to the north, south and west — and every hour...
Best Octopus Dish
RivaBella in West Hollywood offers an octopus salad so delicious that even someone wary of eating these eight-legged creatures might reconsider. Drawing inspiration from chef Gino Angelini's Northern Italian roots, the polipo con olive e patate is a roasted octopus salad with potatoes, Taggiasche olives, cherry tomatoes, celery slivers and...
Best Hainan Chicken
The constant lines out the door are a daily tribute to Savoy Kitchen's longtime reign as the king of Hainan chicken. It's a Singaporean place — which says a lot, because the dish is heralded as a national symbol in that country. There are only a couple of tables at...
Best Taco Truck
Rather than offering up a bulging menu of pork, beef, chicken and tilapia, Raul Ortega does one thing with absolute integrity at his Mariscos Jalisco truck parked on Olympic Boulevard: tacos dorados de camarón. A secret blend of vegetables, fresh shrimp and assorted spices is packed inside a corn tortilla...
Best Soup Dumplings
Din Tai Fung
The dumplings at this revered Arcadia dumpling house — and its sister shop right next door — are pricier than some ($9 for 10), but there's a reason Din Tai Fung is the gold standard when it comes to soup dumplings, or xiao long bao. The Taiwanese XLB chain is...
Best Farmers Market
Santa Monica Certified Farmers Market
Picking your favorite L.A. farmers market is a deeply personal thing, contingent upon on the vicissitudes of neighborhood and traffic, farmers and weather — and maybe your relationship to particular varieties of produce. But even if you don't live anywhere near the Third Street Promenade, it's worth the drive on...
Best Armenian Bakery
Any Armenian will swear that Partamian's Bakery is the best spot for lahmajune — flatbread covered in a piquant layer of smashed lamb — in all of Southern California. In addition to being the Lahmajune King, the Mid-City bakery has been cranking out the same recipe for 60-plus years. It...
Best Place to Eat Lunch While on Jury Duty
Grand Central Market
If you're lucky (well, relatively) the next time you receive a summons, you'll be assigned to Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center on Temple Street downtown — and you'll be within reasonable walking distance of Grand Central Market. Odds are that an open seat at the Sticky Rice counter will...
The Scarpetta breadbasket is the king of all breadbaskets, a literal font of carb, crumb and accompaniments. Beneath the white napkin you'll find house-made filone, a rustic Italian bread; a whole-wheat focaccia topped with rosemary and sea salt; baby ciabattini rolls; and unbelievably, Stromboli! Yes, this chic Beverly Hills kitchen...
Best Seafood Noodle Soup
Miari Noodle House
Read no farther than the first dish on the menu card at Miari Noodle House in Koreatown — the hand-rolled noodle and clam soup is the restaurant's No. 1 attraction. Other Korean noodle shops have this same soup, but Miari's version tops them all. It's simple, a bowl of handmade...
Best Health-Food Store
So many of us live in limbo between Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. The former because it's too rich for our blood (see: "Whole Paycheck"), the latter because the place seems a little too suited to college students. So what's an Angeleno to do for good-quality food at only a...
Best Edo Eats
The line for freshly griddled imagawayaki (a kind of stuffed Japanese pancake) may appear long outside Mitsuru Cafe in Little Tokyo's Japanese Village Plaza, but it's not bad, considering the centuries-old path these treats have traveled. Imagawayaki were created during Japan's Edo period (1603-1868), and Mitsuru makes them just as...
Best Whole Foods
Pasadena Whole Foods
As one of the larger Whole Foods stores in all of Southern California, there's an underlying feel of experimentation at the Pasadena Whole Foods on Arroyo Parkway, as if the Austin-based chain is using it to test its bolder ideas. There's certainly enough space to play in the two-story, 77,000-square-foot...
Best Non-Belgian Waffle
Whatever happened to predictability? The milkman, the paperboy — and waffles that aren't Euro-fancifications of the Sunday-morning treat you remember? In other words, where have all the midcentury American waffle irons gone? The ones that make thinner, more pancake-like waffles, much as your grandma did. Most you find on brunch...
Best Restaurant Steam Bath
Steamed Organic Vegetarian Cuisine
Got steam? It's not only one of the healthiest ways to cook, it's also the only way food is cooked at Steamed Organic Vegetarian Cuisine. The warm fig and fennel salad; quinoa quesadilla; and happy tuna fresca bowl (with "vegan tuna, walnut meat and chipotle sauce") are all prime choices...
Onigiri (also called omusubi) are one of the best snacks you can eat on a Tokyo bullet train — or on a Santa Monica beach. The little triangular rice cakes are deceptively simple: rice pressed around a filling, then wrapped with a sheet of nori (seaweed) like a study in...
Milky Way Malt at Milk
Certainly more than the sum of its parts, the Milky Way Malt at Milk on Beverly Boulevard is a blend of house-made vanilla ice cream, malted milk and chocolate-caramel syrup, combined in such perfect proportion that they are altogether elevated to a kind of supernova flavor status. So thick that...
Best New Bakery
Red Bread Bakery
The respectably eco-conscious and food-justice-focused Red Bread Bakery, founded by Rose and David Lawrence in 2012, finally opened its first brick-and-mortar store in Culver City in July. What started as an electric-bike delivery service for Lawrence's rustic, wild-yeast breads, natural jams and charcuterie quickly evolved into one of the most...
Best Old-School Chinese Diner
"This is a chop suey restaurant," says the server at Paul's Kitchen, handing over a dish of fried wonton strips. "Very traditional." In the tradition of Americanized Cantonese food, that is. Since at least 1946, Paul's Kitchen in downtown's Garment District has served chow mein, almond chicken and egg rolls...
Best Vegan Ice Cream
Divine Dips Vegan Ice Crème
So you love ice cream, but ice cream doesn't love you. No can do dairy? No problem. Instead of swearing off all things that are good, discover Divine Dips Vegan Ice Crème and turn your world right side up again. Former cake maker Diane R. Jacobs has figured out how...
Best Mariachi Restaurant
El Mercadito Mariachi Restaurant
At El Mercadito Mariachi Restaurant, food takes second place to the music: mariachi bands in snazzy cowboy suits blasting exuberant tunes on trumpets and guitars and violins. You likely will find not one but two bands crooning at once, battling for applause by playing at deafening decibels. They perform on...
Best Secret Breakfast Sandwich
The Spice Table
On Saturday afternoons after the brunch crew at the Spice Table in downtown L.A. finishes turning out some of the best French toast, kaya doughnuts and beef short ribs hash ever, they prepare themselves a postservice leftovers treat. It's the perfect union between an over-easy egg and executive chef–owner Bryant...
Best Uncommon Mexican Drink
You've probably had lots of jamaica, tamarindo and horchata, the top three drinks in most Mexican restaurants. But you probably haven't tried tepache, because few restaurants serve it. While the common drinks often come ready-made in bulk containers for restaurants — although some places do prepare their own — real...
When Tsujita L.A. opened in 2011, people lined up along Sawtelle Boulevard for the duration of its lunch hours — the only time the ramen shop served tsukemen, a version of ramen in which the broth is reduced to a deeper intensity and the noodles, cool and chewy, are served...
Best Street for a Food Crawl
Just north of the intersection of Sawtelle and Olympic, there's a quadrant of Los Angeles with so much outstanding food crammed into a relatively small space that it makes you wonder why the neighborhood planners responsible for it can't have a crack at other parts of town. Little Osaka, as...
Best New Patisserie
Chaumont Bakery and Café
Once upon a time, Frederic and Laila Laski lived in Paris, where they both worked for giant yogurt company Dannon and dreamt of opening not — Dieu merci — a frozen yogurt shop but a traditional French bakery. Fast-forward to February 2013, when the married couple opened exactly that, albeit...
Best Upscale Dan Dan Noodles
The version of dan dan mian, the classic Sichuan street noodle dish, that Sang Yoon makes at his Culver City restaurant Lukshon resembles less an iteration of the dish you'd find anywhere in the SGV than it does a high-tech experiment. Which is kind of what it is to Yoon,...
Best Giant Xiao Long Bao
Wang Xing Ji
Xiao long bao, or XLB, has long been a cultish food dish, the kind of thing people line up for, faces pressed against any available windows into the kitchen, watching the Chinese soup dumplings being made as they wait — patiently, hungrily — for their number to be called by...
Best Plated Desserts
Long before chef Jordan Kahn opened his own restaurant, Red Medicine, in Beverly Hills, he was a pastry cook, coming up through the now-legendary pastry kitchens of the French Laundry and Per Se and Alinea. Thus it's hardly surprising that, even though he now runs the whole show, both pastry...
Best Sunday Supper
These days, having a Sunday supper is almost de rigueur at a certain kind of market-driven, farm-to-table restaurant. But it's easy to forget that in 1998, the idea of a prix fixe Sunday dinner in which the chef decides what everyone eats was pretty much unheard of — unless you...
Best French Macarons
Little Next Door
French macarons (please God, not macaroons) are glorious confections, little sandwiches of buttercream or ganache filling pressed between two meringue disks. When well-made, macarons are delicate combinations of crunch and cream. What also distinguishes them, and makes them the hands-down favorite amongst sixth-grade girls, is the vast array of colors...
Best Cochinita Pibil
There are few odes to the pig quite as glorious as cochinita pibil, the Yucatan specialty in which citrus-marinated pork is wrapped in banana leaves and roasted into utterly tender submission. The version you'll find at Gilberto Cetina's Chichen Itza — a tiny counter, huge kitchen and collection of tables...
La Bottega Marino
In this era of pig fetishization, the rustic Italian dish of porchetta — long-roasted pork, heavily laced with fennel and garlic, a carapace of burnished, crispy skin — is uber-trendy, on the menus of half the gastropubs in town. But chef Salvatore Marino has been making it since 2007 at...
Best Restaurant in Pasadena
Walk a block south from the outdoor mall of Old Town Pasadena — American consumerism, albeit with good architecture — down to the leafy environs of Green Street and through the doors of the Basque restaurant Ración, and you'll find yourself unexpectedly transported, if not to the actual high altitudes...
Best Suckling Pig
On Friday and Saturday nights at Bestia, chef Ori Menashe orchestrates a whole suckling pig, one each night, like a weekend floor show. The restaurant is a warehouse-chic jigsaw of metal and brick and glass built into what was once an actual downtown loft so close to the railroad that...
Best Downtown Restaurant
The happy upswing of downtown Los Angeles — thanks to a substantial influx of investment money and loft dwellers — has meant a culinary renaissance, with many fantastic restaurants opening or reinventing themselves. Perhaps the most important of these has been Bäco Mercat, which chef Josef Centeno (a Texas-born, longtime...
Best Pasta Restaurant
You would be forgiven for following the trail of pigs to Bucato. After all, it was chef Evan Funke's Porchetta Truck that functioned as the precursor to his recently opened Italian restaurant in Culver City's Helms Bakery plaza. But as good as the pig-intensive portion of Bucato's menu is, it's...
Best Veggie Burger
Santa Monica's R+D Kitchen already serves up a seriously tasty beef burger, yet it's the simple veggie burger that steals the spotlight. Made from a mix of lightly toasted brown rice, mushrooms for depth and nutty almonds for crunch and a bit of forward flavor, plus some sautéed vegetables, the...