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Animal: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

PHOTO BY ANNE FISHBEIN

Would you like to go to Animal? I mean right this second? You're probably out of luck, because it's the most popular restaurant in Los Angeles at the moment. The seats are already filled with twice-a-week regulars, chefs in town for a taping, fantastically beautiful women attracted to the testosterone in the air and everyone else fixated on pig's belly, pig's ear, pig's heads and pig's tails, monstrously caloric dishes like foie gras loco moco and oxtail poutine and what seems now like a sweetly old-fashioned devotion to bacon, which appears everywhere on the menu, up to and including the chocolate crunch bar. One hears that the building's owner specifically wanted a nonkosher restaurant for his space, one that wouldn't compete with the stalwarts of the Fairfax Glatt corridor, and chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, perpetually red-eyed and rarely seen outside one another's company, couldn't have been more obliging — no dish here is complete without a healthy dash of the pig. You know that moment when fried pig's ear started to replace beet salad on local menus, when curried veal brains started to show up at restaurants that weren't Pakistani? That was Animal, the first restaurant to raise Boy Food to the level of a genuine cuisine — a farmers market–powered version of Boy Food, but Boy Food nonetheless: uffalo pigtails with celery and blue cheese dressing; coconut sweetbreads with chutney; fried rabbit legs with aioli. Chefs have been serving seared foie gras with syrups and compotes for centuries; Animal's take is to put it on a sweetened version of the truck stop–standard biscuits and sausage gravy. There is a nice list of manly wines available by the bottle, the glass and the half-bottle carafe. 435 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax District. (323) 782-9225, animalrestaurant.com. Sun.-Thurs., 6-11 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Valet and street parking. American.

99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:

Jonathan Gold's Introduction
Anne Fishbein's Photos
The Google Map

The List:

A-Frame
Akasha
Alcazar
Angeli Caffe
Angelini Osteria
Animal
Antojitos Carmen
Attari
Babita
Bludso's
Border Grill
Bottega Louie
Bulgarini Gelato
Cacao
Campanile
Casa Bianca
Chang's Garden
Chego
Chichén Itzá
Chung King
Church & State
Ciro's
Comme Ça
Cut
Dae Bok
Din Tai Fung
Drago Centro
El Huarache Azteca
El Parian
Elvirita's
Euro Pane Bakery
Eva
Fab Hot Dogs
Father's Office
Fig
Gjelina
Golden Deli
Golden State
Good Girl Dinette
The Gorbals
Guelaguetza
Guisados
Huckleberry
Hungry Cat
Ink.
Jar
Jitlada
Kiriko
Kobawoo
La Casita Mexicana
Langer's
Larkin's
Lazy Ox Canteen
Le Comptoir
Little Dom's
Lou
Lucques
LudoBites
Lukshon
Mantee
Marouch
Mayura
Meals by Genet
Mélisse
Mezze
Mo-Chica
Mother Dough
Mozza
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
The Nickel
Night + Market
Oinkster
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Park's Barbecue
Picca
Playa
Pollos a la Brasa
Providence
Ray's
Red Medicine
Rivera
Rustic Canyon
Salt's Cure
Sapp Coffee Shop
Sea Harbour
Son of a Gun
Sotto
Spago
Spice Table
Street
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Tasting Kitchen
Terroni
Tsujita L.A.
Vincenti
Waterloo & City

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miles
Animal

435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

323-782-9225

www.animalrestaurant.com


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