Ah, John Mariani. The "food and travel correspondent" for Esquire magazine is perhaps the most controversial of all food writers. Over the years, he has been accused of many, many transgressions of decorum and ethics. He and Anthony Bourdain have a beef as epic as anything in the rap world. And yet, his yearly Best New Restaurants list in Esquire remains incredibly influential.
And so, we're here to tell you about Mariani's just-released Best New Restaurants of 2013 list -- we'll leave the cynicism or acceptance up to you. Three L.A. restaurants made it onto the list this year: Hinoki & The Bird, Trois Mec and Paiche.
Of Paiche, Ricardo Zarate's Marina Del Rey restaurant, Mariani says "Zarate has taken the small-plates ideas of his other restaurants and raised them several clicks at Paiche (named after a huge Amazonian fish), focusing on the concept of a Peruvian izakaya -- a casual place for friends to drop by, drink some beer and pisco, order more than they can eat, then order more because everything is so delicious. Zarate offers salads, ceviches, grilled items, frituras (fried) dishes, mains, and vegetables, all spread over a large menu."
Of Hinoki and the Bird, David Meyers' Century City restaurant, Mariani says "[executive chef Kuniko] Yagi marries seemingly incongruous flavors and textures with impeccable grace, making friends of unlikely ingredients like a culinary secretary of state. Ramen salad is jammed with succulent ginger-braised short ribs and spiced English peas. An outstanding beef tartare is finely chopped and barbed with jalapeño."
And of Trois Mec, the Ludo Lefebvre nook of a restaurant in collaboration with Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, Mariani says "Trois Mec (loosely "three guys" ) is a bewildering exception to at least three of my ironclad rules for restaurants: A restaurant should have a telephone; it should invest in some kind of decor; and it shouldn't use the previous tenant's sign...The atmosphere you can laugh along with. Five courses, lots of extras, for about $75, with wine pairings another $49 -- cheap for sheer bliss." He also mentions asking Lefebvre to "turn down the awful French rap music," a scene that would have been fun to behold.
Other restaurants on the list include Virtù in Scottsdale, Arizona, The Ordinary in Charleston, S.C., and Betony in New York City. San Francisco was not on the list, nor was any other California restaurant outside of Los Angeles.
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You can read Esquire's full Best New Restaurants package here.
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