100 Miles of Eating Across the City With Our Best of L.A. Issue
Taco pescado at Coni'Seafood
Our Best of L.A. issue came out this week, and there is so much deliciousness contained in the Food & Drink section that we thought it would be fun to turn it into a Best of L.A.-themed road trip. Here's how you can get a taste of the best of L.A. across 100 miles of our great city.
Stop 1: 0 miles
Let's say you were to fly into LAX, and you wanted your food journey to begin as close to the airport as possible. Well, the obvious tactic would be to start with our Best Restaurant Near the Airport, Coni'Seafood: "...our favorite pre- or post-LAX haunt is Coni'Seafood in Inglewood. It certainly has lots to show newbie L.A. visitors in terms of what's awesome about eating in this town. In a cinderblock dining room one friend described as resembling "the Flintstones' living room," there are smoked marlin tacos, which are like the best tuna melt ever, only in taco form. There are all manner of cocteles, such as the ceviche marinero, a jumble of shrimp marinated in lemon, cucumber, cilantro and tomato, topped with hunks of sweet mango and bathed in a wicked, dusky 'black sauce.' Then there are the camarones, giant, head-on shrimp that come in many different variations of sauce, including diablo for the spice lovers and borrachos — a broth made from tequila, lime, cilantro and crushed peppers — for the hungover."
Stop 2: 13 miles
From there, you might find yourself in need of coffee ... perhaps coffee to last you this entire road trip ... perhaps the Best Place to Get a Growler Full of Coffee, Lo/Cal: "Even though Stumptown, from beer-centric Portland, Oregon, invented the whole concept of kegging coffee to begin with, our favorite place to fill up a 64-ounce brown jug with a week's worth of joe is still across town at Lo/Cal, a minimalist neighborhood coffee shop on Pico in Santa Monica, which treats you like, well, a local."
Stop 3: 19 miles
At this point in your trip, a snack is in order. A quick, six-mile drive from Santa Monica to Beverly Hills will find you at our pick for the Best Greek Yogurt: Go Greek Yogurteria. "Here, you'll experience the creamy delight whose taste not only elicits images of a Santorini breakfast overlooking the Crete Sea but also offers a handful of health benefits, including providing 20 percent of your daily recommended calcium intake and the probiotics that encourage your gut's good bacteria. Go Greek's yogurt — flown in every two weeks from Greece to the States — is made of triple-strained cow's milk. Dress up your plain, tart or sweet option (including frozen) with toppings that include quince, sour cherry, carrot, three types of Greek honey, Greek olive oil or even rose, which is sourced from a Peloponnesian monastery that grows a particularly aromatic variety."
Stop 4: 29 miles
Time for a sandwich! Ten miles away in North Hollywood is where you'll find our Best Mediterranean, Hy Mart Sandwiches: "Hy Mart is a family business going 40-plus years strong: George buys fresh groceries for the shop every morning, and Mariam's sister Nadia works the register, schmoozing patrons. Hy Mart's nuanced Mediterranean cuisine is influenced by the Eshoeis' Armenian-Iranian heritage. ... Classic falafel and chicken sandwiches are elevated with thoughtful touches such as Greek olives, avocado, lemon, basil and mint."
Stop 5: 35 miles
Need a beer? Thought so. You can even bring the kids. A quick jog up the 134 will take you to our Best Kid-Friendly Beer Bar, Golden Road Brewing: "The brewmasters at Golden Road have created an environment in which drinkers and kindergarteners can happily co-exist. The pub's expansive patio overlooks a grassy area filled with games for adults and children alike, from foosball to cornhole to a giant Connect Four set. Parents can keep a watchful eye on the little ones while knocking back a pint of Point the Way IPA and ordering something from the kids' menu, which even includes vegetarian options. The grown-up food is pretty tasty, too."
Stop 6: 50 miles
It wouldn't be a proper L.A. food crawl without a trip to the SGV for some amazing Chinese food. Start at our Best Traditional Sichuan, Chengdu Taste: "Tony Xu opened the restaurants as an homage to his hometown, Chengdu — the capital of China's Sichuan province. The city is a melting pot of spices, where fistfuls of fiery chile peppers and tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorns can be found in nearly every pot. At Chengdu Taste you'll find white fish steeped in a vat of chile oil, a platter of lamb sprinkled with cumin and panko bread crumbs, a piquant Mapo tofu over a fresh bowl of rice — and, still, a line. When the spice level gets too intense, wash it all down with a traditional smoked plum juice."
Po' boy at Little Jewel
Stop 7: 56 miles
From China to New Orleans, let's now head to Chinatown for the Best Po' Boy, Little Jewel: "Little Jewel aims to bring the soul of New Orleans directly to the streets of Chinatown, and it succeeds. For his massive, 10-inch po' boys, Marcus Christiana-Beniger brings in bread daily from Leidenheimer Baking Company in New Orleans. And he offers far more than just fried seafood (though if you're a purist and just want a fried oyster sandwich, this one is practically faultless). There's also a chaurice po' boy, with patties of spiced Creole sausage similar to Spanish chorizo but left uncured. It's hard to find even in New Orleans. Then there's the cochon de lait po' boy, a mess of pulled pork so juicy that I also would have to deem it the best Southern-style barbecue sandwich in Los Angeles."
Stop 8: 57 miles
L.A. is known for its amazing sushi, but much of it is insanely expensive. Which is why this year we decided to honor something more accessible in Little Tokyo, the city's Best Affordable Sushi, Sushi Gen: "Request a seat at the sushi bar and marvel as the line of sushi chefs doles out some of the highest-quality, lowest-cost raw fish in America. Rumor has it that it's the buying power and longevity that affords them this miracle, a long-standing relationship with purveyors that gives Sushi Gen first choice of the fish coming into L.A. The lunch specials and dinner plates (not available at the sushi bar) deliver the best bang for your buck, but we prefer to sit and talk to the chefs, seek out the best of the day and order à la carte."
Salmon with squash blossom sauce at Rocio's Mexican Kitchen
Stop 9: 67 miles
It's time to head to Bell Gardens for the Best Oaxacan, Rocio's Mexican Kitchen: "[Rocio's] moles are paragons of the form, the dark mole Oaxaqueño gloriously silky and with a depth of flavor that's downright profound. It's a dish that might be cast in the starring role of some magical-realism novel, the dark sorcery used to seduce a young lover. And when you look beyond the expected and begin to sample some of Camacho's creations that aren't age-old recipes, you're rewarded with dishes such as the exuberantly yellow, buoyant, almost fluffy sauce made of squash blossoms that's served over a salmon filet, its taste just on the mysterious edge of floral and vegetal."
Stop 10: 79 miles
It would be possible to create a 100-mile journey around Los Angeles in search of great tacos alone. This year, we wanted to honor something a little different. Head over to Exposition Park for the Best North African Tacos, Revolutionario: "At first, the tacos at Revolutionario near USC look as if they could be just another one of L.A.'s modernist Mexican offerings: The barbacoa is cooked with tomatillos, the chicken is flecked with cilantro and the vegetables are coated in an aromatic red spice. But then you take a bite and realize that the barbacoa is marinated in pungent chermoula and the roasted cauliflower is tossed in ras el hanout. Once you realize that the garnish bar is decked out with kimchi curtido and red and green harissa, you'll realize this isn't your ordinary take on tacos."
Petit Trois Burger
Stop 11: 87 miles
At this point, you must be hungry for a giant, rich-as-hell burger. Head up to our pick for Best Burger, Petit Trois: "The burger is a mash-up of cultures, taking inspiration from the classic American cheeseburger as well as chef Ludo Lefebvre's homeland in the form of bordelaise sauce with a smidge of foie gras, and piles of caramelized onions. There is more than a hint of French onion soup but, with its American cheese and rare beef, this is also undeniably a cheeseburger. It's a monstrosity of a thing, which won't hold together after a couple of bites, but you find yourself unable to slow down long enough to figure out a decorous way to eat it. You look up, stunned, 10 minutes later, covered in sauce and meat juice and having eaten the entire thing, which is far too big for any one meal."
Stop 12: 100 miles
End your day back on the Westside with an elegant dinner and a fantastic bottle of wine at our pick for Best Wine List, Mélisse: "If you want a bottle of $8,000 1988 La Tâche, you can certainly get that here. But the list is also surprisingly approachable and offers plenty for the value-minded. There are some lovely bottles of Premier Cru Chablis for less than $100, plus a large selection of half bottles and plenty of lovely full-bottle picks in the $30 to $50 range, which is a hard thing to find in any decent restaurant these days. Not only that, the staff provides the kind of wine service that feels like an exciting, giddy conversation about joy and pleasure."