Lazy Ox Canteen: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

Like many of the best restaurants of the moment, Lazy Ox is tinged with aggression, leaping like flames from the open kitchen, in this case served up by Joseph Centeno, a young, Texas-born chef with a sweet smile, a working command of Mediterranean, izakaya Japanese and several Latin American cuisines, and a signature snack, the bäco, which is something like a cross between a flatbread and a taco. Centeno's vigorous, imaginative and not-quite-polished cooking is the sort of thing you want to dive into: flavors from a dozen food cultures ramming into and across and through each other, until a culinary Higgs Particle either comes into being or it doesn't. Is that Foghat blasting from the speakers? What is a paleron with kumquats? And did I just miss out on the bäco? If you want bäco, which are available only a couple days a week, your job is to find them on the board, and then hope they haven't yet sold out. And you will hunt for bäco, which may or may not include beef, crunchy pork belly, scallions and something like a Catalan romesco sauce. If you manage to land one, it will be a little like bumping into Ozzy Osbourne in the elevator: an encounter you will talk about for weeks. 241 S. San Pedro St., dwntwn. (213) 626-5299, lazyoxcanteen.com. Lunch, Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; dinner, Sun.-Thurs., 5-11 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5 p.m.-mid. Beer and wine. Street and lot parking. All major CC. Mediterranean/Japanese/Latin.

99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:

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

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