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Larkin's: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

For a place known for great banana pudding and happy Sunday brunch, this Eagle Rock restaurant is oddly controversial, distrusted by people expecting cheap soul food and snobs looking for haute cuisine, by big fellas looking for Roscoe's-size portions and Southerners skeptical of the trace of fresh mint in the jelly jars of sweet tea. Chef Larkin Mackey, a shy, slender African-American man who rarely leaves the kitchen, sometimes calls his restaurant a modern juke joint. There is Fats Waller on the stereo and faded Southern commercial art on the walls, tables made out of old doors in the dining room and picnic benches in the garden out back. Every dish on the menu is probably somebody's best recipe: The tart, creamy potato salad is credited to Aunt Carolyn; the ground beef–intensive chile verde to Mackey's grandpa; the caramel-tasting banana pudding to Mama. But one thing is beyond argument: Larkin's fried chicken, tender-crusted and juicy, golden and singing with the taste of clean oil, is about as good as it gets in Los Angeles restaurants. 1496 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock. (323) 254-0934, larkinsjoint.com. Wed.-Sun., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; brunch, Sat.-Sun., 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; No alcohol. Limited lot parking. AE, MC, V. Southern.

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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