Alma: 99 Essential Restaurants 2013

This is what the promise of the food revolution was supposed to deliver: young, talented chefs forging their own paths in funky, unexpected spaces, simultaneously elevating our cities and our palates. Alma chef-owner Ari Taymor has carved a very cool niche for himself. His restaurant, on Broadway downtown, is nestled among parking lots and empty-looking buildings yet manages to feel both airy and intimate. His food is a lot of next-generation riffing: Beignets are made with seaweed and tofu, while sunchoke soup is poured over an egg yolk and a paste made of amaranth for a sweet, creamy, smoky experience that's as cerebral as it is sensual. There are moments when the food can be too precious, and times when you get the sense that the creator loves an idea too much in theory to see its failures on the plate. But mostly, Alma is an exercise in watching the future happen now, in seeing what happens when chefs push the boundaries of creativity on the ground level, in our neighborhoods, without pretense. 952 S. Broadway, dwntwn.; (213) 444-0984, alma-la.com. Tues.-Sat., 6-10 p.m. Entrees $16-$26. Beer and wine.

 

Besha Rodell's Introduction

Anne Fishbein's Photography

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