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10 Best Onion Rings in Los Angeles

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Mon, Aug 20, 2012 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge Onion Rings at Nickel Diner - RACHAEL NARINS
  • Rachael Narins
  • Onion Rings at Nickel Diner
Angelenos, there are some spectacular onion rings being fried up in our midst. They're most commonly found in two very similar, yet disparate places -- burger joints and steakhouses. In other words, you can pay $3 and get them on a plastic tray with a beer or a bottomless soda; or you can pay $12 in a white tablecloth restaurant and have a sommelier suggest a good wine pairing. We like both versions.

To us, there is no ideal in terms of size or batter. The onion rings should just taste equally of the exterior and interior. On our hunt, we came across fat and skinny, cornmeal and breadcrumb, beer and tempura and on and on. There were for sure more frozen-food standard versions out there than we cared for -- we're looking at you, Birds, The Hat and Nickle Diner -- but even some of those rose above the chatter. For our purposes, we tried to keep our list limited to restaurants that dip their own. We sampled as many as our skinny jeans would allow and found our top 10 favorites. Turn the page.

click to enlarge Farmer Boys Onion Rings - RACHAEL NARINS
  • Rachael Narins
  • Farmer Boys Onion Rings
10. Farmer Boys:

If your idea of the perfect restaurant is the kind of place where you can roll in at 8 a.m. to order a stack of four or seven (why those numbers, we can only guess) gigantic onion rings, this is the spot for you. Sliced from a seemingly jumbo onion, the rings are at least an inch and a half tall and are in a fine-meal breadcrumb crust that falls right off as you bite in. Served with what can only be described as chemical-flavored ranch dressing (read: terrible), these monsters stand alone and for sure are going to require a knife and fork and a stack of napkins. 726 S. Alameda St., Los Angeles; (213) 228-8999.

click to enlarge Fatburgers Onion Rings - RACHAEL NARINS
  • Rachael Narins
  • Fatburgers Onion Rings
9. Fatburger:

When you walk into a Fatburger, you're greeted with a riot of red and yellow and a prominent sign that says, "Most onion rings come from freezers. We prefer onions." Hardee har har. Even without the jokes, it's obvious from first bite that the local-origin fast-food chain really is committed to its rings. With a medium crumb-sized batter and a medium slice, these lean the slightest bit toward being greasy (see above photo), but in the words of the late, great Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, "I'm fly at Fatburger when I'm way out west." And since you're on the West Coast, you can be fly, too, if you order a basketful. 12005 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 268-1112.

click to enlarge Stout Onion Rings - CHICKS WITH KNIVES
  • Chicks With Knives
  • Stout Onion Rings
8. Stout:

If you have a burger spot that specializes in serving small-batch, craft beers, it makes perfect sense that your onion rings would be of the beer-battered variety. Adding a carbonated liquid to the mix is the classic technique for creating a lighter crust. What isn't quite as expected is how deeply the end result tastes of that malty, yeasty, beer -- under a chestnut-colored shellac of coating. When you bite into it, the onion entombed within releases itself like a translucent ribbon, leaving you to choose your adventure: fried bits, vegetable bites or just gathering it all up for finger-licking, beer-soaked gluttony. 1544 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 469-3801.

Turn the page for picks 7 through 5...

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