Over the past few months, you've watched us catalog our 100 Favorite Dishes. Catalog being a lovely term meaning eating our way across this town, well, even more than usual. And because we thought you might want a better way to access these, we've collected all one hundred into one piece, a menu if you will.
Turn the page for all 100 dishes. Or, if you're feeling really organized, you can download and print out our 100 Favorite Dishes menu via pdf file. Tape it on your refrigerator, or maybe to the dashboard of your car. Just the thing to look at when you're stuck on the 10 in miserable traffic, right?
No. 100: Dan dan noodles from Lukshon.
Sang Yoon's version of dan dan mian, the classic Sichuan street noodle dish, may not resemble anything you'll ever find at a Chinese restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley. Unless maybe somebody locks Jean-Georges Vongerichten in the back room of JTYH Restaurant some day. (Read more.)
No. 99: Cemita de Milanesa at Cemitas Poblanos Elviritas #1.
There are sandwiches, and then there are sandwiches. The towering Mexican creation known as the cemita, a burly cousin of the torta and specialty of the state of Puebla, is set firmly in the latter camp — in fact, it has about as much in common with your standard coldcut as a two-door Fiat has with an Abrams tank. (Read more.)
No. 98: Chichen Itza's Cochinita Pibil.
You know the drill. Wind your way down the 110, past the concrete universe of downtown L.A., L.A. Live and USC, and into the Mercado la Paloma; thread past the market stalls and the chairs and tables for people who've paused for ceviche or aguas frescas or guanabana sorbet; and step up to the counter of Chichen Itza, where you will order a plate of cochinita pibil. (Read more.)
No. 97: Tsukemen at Tsujita L.A..
Since opening last August, Little Osaka's Tsujita L.A. has quickly become the most serious purveyor of Hakata tonkotsu in town, a fact validated by the noodle-loving crowds waiting outside the building around opening time. Though it serves its ramen only during an abbreviated lunch hour — out of concern that the dish's popularity would overshadow the dinner-time kaiseki menu — the lengthy wait list for a table can often rival something out of the UCLA admissions department. (Read more.)
No. 96: La Cevicheria's Bloody Clam Ceviche. During the most oppressive days of summer, when the beaches are packed elbow to elbow and waves of heat radiate up from the sidewalks, few things are more refreshing than a bowl of chilled, lime-tinted ceviche. La Cevicheria — a storefront along Pico in Mid-City, painted a pale-blue and decorated with nautical knick-knacks — is nowhere near the ocean, but the food it serves is the purest form of beach cuisine.
No. 95: Duck Shawarma at Momed. Beverly Hills might not be the first place that comes to mind when the topic of Mediterranean food comes up. But for just over two years Alex Sarkissian's Momed, a bright and spacious café popular with locals, has specialized in things like spicy soujuk sausage, airy whipped hummus and baba ganoush, and fresh sheets of bread painted with vibrant za'atar and melted akkawi cheese.
No. 94: Peruvian Chicken at Pollo a la Brasa. The Peruvian chicken joint on Western called Pollo a la Brasa — which is the same name as the rotisserie chicken dish itself — has long been one of L.A.'s foodist landmarks. The stacks of wood piled outside the triangular concrete island in Koreatown like an urban fairytale woodcutter's shack.
No. 93: Squash Blossom Quesadilla at Antojitos Carmen. If you've ever wandered the streets of Boyle Heights on a sleepy Saturday afternoon, you've probably encountered the sights and sounds of street food: the sizzling carne asada on the plancha, the scent of hot oil and fried masa, the guys handing out samples of fresh orange wedges with dashes of chile powder.
No. 92: Thai Boat Noodles at Pa-Ord. You ask a friend with a reputation for never traveling beyond Sepulveda if she wants to join you for Thai food. She tells you, oh, of course, she loves Thai; can't get enough of it. But you furrow your eyebrows doubtfully as you cruise eastward along Hollywood Boulevard. This isn't pad Thai, or yellow curry, or pad see ew, you explain. This is graduate-level stuff — the Bitches Brew of Bangkok cuisine. You're headed to a specialist of extra-murky boat noodles, or kuay tiew rua, one of the country's most beloved street foods.
No. 91: Bäco Mercat's Bäzole. If you pull up a chair at Bäco Mercat, Josef Centeno's downtown restaurant — a beautiful collection of brick and glass and wooden furniture the chef probably sanded down himself — you may forget to order the bäzole, even if you've pilgrimaged here precisely for this reason. Because you may get diverted by the bäco, the sandwich Centeno is justly famous for, or any of the small plates of brilliantly envisioned vegetables, or the foie mousse in a Mason jar, or the confit goose leg salad.
No. 90: Furikake Kettle Corn at A-Frame. Roy Choi is rightly credited with many things: launching a fleet of trucks considered the modern street-food equivalent of the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria; tricking skeptical Westsiders into unkowingly enjoying kimchi; and otherwise combining the recombinent DNA of Los Angeles into handheld items that dribble grease down your chin.
No. 89: Live Santa Barbara Spot Prawns at Providence. Providence is the sort of place where you expect to be impressed, perhaps even astonished. Michael Cimarusti's Hollywood restaurant has been open now for seven years — a suitably biblical number for a restaurant that easily duplicates both fishes and Michelin stars — and it seems to avoid both trend and complacency with a similar ease.
No. 88: Fried Pig Tails at Night + Market. Kris Yenbamroong's Night + Market, a next-door offshoot of West Hollywood's Talesai, has quietly taken on the mantle of the place in town that chefs want to visit on their nights off. David Chang stopped by after a UCLA lecture a few weeks ago. Rene Redzepi did the same.
No. 87: Egg Salad Sandwich at Euro Pane. Egg salad is just egg salad, right? Something snatched from cold deli cases wrapped in cellophane or whipped up for a last minute brown bag lunch. Until we began frequenting Sumi Chang's Pasadena bakery, we might have even argued that the best version of egg salad was the one you make at home, gussied up with a little mayo, mustard, salt and pepper.
No. 86: Galbi Jjim at Soban. Walk into any cozy Korean mom-and-pop restaurant, the kind with the old lacquered wood tables and weathered pictures of soups and stews on the wall, and there's a good chance that a clay pot of galbi jjim — braised short ribs — will be on the menu. Korean cuisine is filled with comfort foods, but galbi jjim, a soy- and garlic-intensive version of the best pot roast you've ever eaten, is probably the most comforting of the lot.
No. 85: Truffle Honey-Laced Fried Chicken at Manhattan Beach Post. When David LeFevre decamped to this sleepy Manhattan Beach space from downtown's Water Grill, a place better known for expense-account oysters and anniversary king crab, it was probably the most transformative occurrence since the city started hosting the 6-Man Beach Volleyball Tournament in 1961 (discounting the opening of Sharkeez, of course). Not only did the beach cities finally have a restaurant of national culinary note on their hands, but they netted a damn fun place to eat, too.
No. 84: Mool Naeng Myun at Yu Chic Naeng Myun. The season for cold noodles is upon us. A metal bowl filled with a heap of pitch-black arrowroot noodles, the kind you slurp loudly and chewy profusely, is one of the most invigorating things you'll find in town. Even at the finest Koreatown spas, the ones where old dudes sit in saunas until their skin is as red as clay, there's a good chance that you'll be able to order a bowl of naneng myun before someone hands you a towel.
No. 83: Chicken Vampiro at Mexicali Taco & Co. It almost brings a tear to the eye thinking back to the days when the flame-grilled meats at Mexicali Taco & Co. were available only a few nights a week, scarfed streetside at a taco trailer on First and Beaudry that was best identified by the large plume of smoke drifting upward toward the downtown skyline. With its newish brick-and-mortar location, a hip-music-blasting space located on Figueroa just before it hits the Pasadena freeway, the surreal joy of having access to those tacos nightly has yet to fade (though we do miss the spectacular view of Disney Hall the parking lot afforded).
No. 82: Sooo Cali Dog at Dog Haus. Maximalist-topping hot dogs aren't exactly new in Los Angeles. Pink's has been creating celebrity-named behemoths for the better part of a century. And those famous bacon-wrapped hot dogs, drowned in grilled onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, mayo or anything else on hand, are common enough to be labeled a public commodity.
No. 81:White Anchovy, Tomato and Fresno Chile Pizza at Pizzeria Mozza. The mere mention of anchovies doesn't evoke pleasant memories for most people. Maybe someone dared you to order it as a pizza topping during a childhood slumber party. Perhaps your older brother snuck one onto a slice when you weren't looking.
No. 80: Shu mai at Elite Restaurant. Elite Restaurant in Monterey Park has a reputation for being one of the most civilized dim sum palaces in town — if you're accustomed to waving down rattling food carts or boxing out a table of grandmothers for the last order of har gow, you'd probably find the attentive table service and the subdued vibe a bit of a surprise.
No. 79: Tandoori Chicken at Al-Watan. Surely we can't be alone in our endless fascination with the tandoori oven, a cylindrical-shaped clay oven that facilitates a large amount of the cooking done in South Asia. Imagine an upright high-test jet engine — glowing, roaring and sputtering — powered with the smoky hellfire of a barbecue pit, equipped to churn out buttery swaths of naan, juicy grilled seekh kebabs, or brick-red tandoori chickens with the same frequency that Neapolitan pizza ovens spit out char-flecked pies.
No. 78:Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding at The Hungry Cat. Sure, you can go to The Hungry Cat, David Lentz' Platonic (read: Los Angeles) ideal of a Maryland seafood shack, for the actual seafood or for the glorious Pug burger, a massive hamburger Lentz named after his dog. You can drink yourself silly on the cocktails — muddled herbs, local citrus, God knows what else — and fork up thin slices of hamachi topped with green harissa. But do not, under any circumstances, forget to order dessert. Because although The Hungry Cat (or Cats, as there are three of them) may not have many desserts, they do them very, very well.
No. 77: Agedashi Tofu at Izakaya Bincho. At Izakaya Bincho, a cubbyhole of a restaurant hidden along the boardwalk Redondo Beach Pie, chef Tomo Ueno might have been best known for his skewers of charcoal-grilled chicken yakitori: plump meatballs bursting with schmaltz, slices of heart glazed with sauce, cubes of breast dotted with plum paste and shiso. At some point though, the plumes of smoke wafting from his grill upset a next door neighbor and Tomo-san's epic grilling was struck down by the iron fist of the county heath board.
No. 76: Pork Chop at Salt's Cure. I didn't like pork chops as a kid. Growing up in a home where pigs were raised in the backyard, this was often a point of contention at the dinner table. Maybe it was because my trichinosis-paranoid mother cooked them too well done; maybe it was because I slathered everything in way too much applesauce.
No. 75: Porcetto at Sotto. Porchetta is one of those dishes that, once you've tried it, tends to feature prominently in recurrent dreams. The same genre of dream as those in which Dario Cecchini intones Dante in Italian and everybody's pasta turns out like Gino Angelini's and world peace is somehow achieved through fennel pollen. Porchetta, or porcetto as they call it at Sotto, is magic in the form of slow-roasted pork. Seasoned with salted herbs.
No. 74: Sea Urchin Tostada at La Guerrerense. Sure, you can eat Sabina Bandera González's glorious seafood tostadas here in Los Angeles, at the L.A. Street Food Fest, say, where last weekend they won the top award. Or at last year's same event, where her sea urchin tostadas were named Best Original Dish. But Gonzalez's stunning creation is best appreciated while standing in the sun next to La Guerrerense, her street cart, on the actual Ensenada street where it has been parked for much of the last half-century.
No. 73:Persian Mulberries at Weiser Family Farms. If you've never had a bowl of ripe Persian mulberries — a berry about which the Homeric adjective “wine-dark” would work nicely, unlike the nouns for which Homer actually used it — then you might want to find your nearest Weiser Family Farms market stall. This should not be difficult, as Alex Weiser goes to a lot of Los Angeles farmers markets. At yesterday's Wednesday Santa Monica market, he had a stack of containers filled with mulberries, their dark purple juice collecting at the bottom of the plastic like, well, wine.
No. 71: Hunan-Style Preserved Pork with Tofu at Hunan Chilli King. Walking up to San Gabriel's Hunan Chili, located in a nondescript section of strip mall along Valley Boulevard, a woman standing near the door motioned over to me. “Is this place any good?” she asked, perhaps noting that I, like her, was one of the few non-Chinese people in the vicinity. “If you like spicy food it is,” I said. Her expression turned into a look of uncertainty, and she asked me if they could make it non-spicy. Sure, I said, knowing full well that asking for non-spicy food at a Hunan place would be about as fruitful as asking for a NASCAR driver to keep the engine-revving to minimum.
No. 70: Brisket Banh Mi at Gjelina Take Away. In its purest form, the banh mi is a humble lunch: a thin layer of meat, a smear of pate or mayo, a handful of flash-pickled daikon and carrot, some sprigs of cilantro, all wedged into a long, airy baguette split lengthwise.
No. 69: Yukhwe Bibimbap at Oo-Kook Korean BBQ. It's been a week filled with those days when you glance around the kitchen, throw up your hands and lament that's it too hot to cook. Don't worry, because you won't have to wait around for some hamburger patties to defrost in the kitchen sink — in fact, Oo-Kook, a rather ritzy Korean BBQ that specializes in high-quality cuts of cow (it's in the logo and name, after all), has the whole frozen-beef aspect covered.
No. 68: Lamb Pie at Beijing Pie House. See those xian biang, those hefty, puck-sized, round meat pies known as a popular roadside snack in northern China? They might look innocuous, but don't be fooled — they can transform into deadly weapons when placed into untrained hands.
No. 67: Son of a Gun's Uni and Burrata. There are quite a few contenders for favorites on Son of a Gun's menu, dishes that made this restaurant a destination in the first place. But right now on the menu is a dish that is more about texture and purity of flavor than the toasty deliciousness and fried chicken and mayo-rich lobster that chef-owners Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo are known for.
No. 66: Pastrami Reuben at Art's Delicatessan. The motto at Art's Deli in Studio City is “Every sandwich is a work of art.” The deli, which has changed little since it opened in 1957, serves all the Jewish deli classics: creamy chopped liver, rich matzoh ball soup.
No. 65: Koobideh at Kabab Mahaleh. On Friday afternoons, the Pico corridor is a happening place — especially at Kabab Mahaleh, where the Persian Jewish community packs in for a lunch of turmeric-saturated ground meat skewers called koobideh, served with a trencherman's portion of sangak, baked sesame flatbread, roasted in tall ovens just behind the counter; a couple of charred plump tomatoes; raw onion; and a pile of aromatic lemon basil.(Read more.)
No. 64: The Whipper Burger at Hawkins House of Burgers. Forget what Jimmy Buffett says, the best cheeseburgers aren't found in paradise; they're found on the mean streets. Across the street from Watts' oldest and largest housing project and a few blocks away from the iconic Watts Towers is Hawkins House of Burgers, a small grocery store that has developed a reputation for behemoth burgers over its half-decade of business.(Read more.)
No. 63: Slippery Shrimp at Yang Chow. It's a pretty simple directive — when you go to Yang Chow, you order the slippery shrimp. Everyone does it: Chinatown tourists, L.A. city workers, late-night partiers migrating from downtown, and of course, just ordinary people who like their fried shrimp covered in a sweet-sticky sauce. It also doesn't hurt that the dish was featured on the Food Network.(Read more.)
No. 62: Whole Channel Island Red Sea Urchin at Water Grill. There's a lot to indulge in at Water Grill. There's the rotating list of oysters on the half shell. There's the iced shellfish platters with oysters, shrimp, clams and lobster. There's even a pound of prime rib eye if that's what floats your boat. (Read more.)
No. 61: Going Dutch Panini at Bread Lounge. There are people who might tell you that all panini are created equal. That putting some bread, meat and cheese inside a hot sandwich press will always yield the same result. These people have not tried the Going Dutch panini at Bread Lounge.(Read more.)
No. 60: Huckleberry's Green Eggs & Ham. This breakfast dish, named for the Dr. Seuss book, has been on Huckleberry's menu since 2009, when Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb opened their Santa Monica bakery, conveniently located down the street from what I suppose can now be called their flagship restaurant, Rustic Canyon. (Read more.)
No. 59: Pickled Watermelon Salad at L&E Oyster Bar. On days like these, when the temperature is pushing 100, we just want a cooling salad. A salad with bursts of cool refreshing flavors. A salad that could almost double as air conditioning. We want something cold, dammit. (Read more.)
No. 58: Spaghettini with Abalone, Pickled Cod Roe and Truffles at n/naka. A meal at n/naka, by its very nature, is full of surprises. A parade of traditional kaiseki courses travels from an unseen kitchen into a zen-like dining room. (Read more.)
No. 57: Brown Brown Bread Ice Cream at Scoops Westside. Robert Redford once said “health food may be good for the conscience, but Oreos taste a hell of a lot better.” We couldn't agree more. (Read more.)
No. 56: Smothered Chicken at R & R Soul Food. A good soul food plate should be formidable. It should make you worry whether you are going to be able make the drive home without falling asleep, never mind cleaning your plate. (Read more.)
No. 55: Duck Fried Rice at Jar. Walk through the heavy wooden doors at Jar, Suzanne Tracht's 11-year-old West Hollywood chophouse, and you'll probably feel like ordering a steak. And a few martinis. It's that kind of place: a gloriously atavistic restaurant, with white tablecloths under low light, an iceberg lettuce wedge on the menu, and a maître d' wearing a suit rather than a canvas of tattoos. (Read more.)
No. 54: Taco Sampler at Guisados. Decisions are hard. At Guisados, chef Ricardo Diaz makes things a bit easier. The Boyle Heights taquería — best known for its braised and stewed fillings and its thick, chewy homemade corn tortillas — offers the Taco Sampler, a platter of six medallion-sized mini-tacos that are picked from about dozen menu options.(Read more.)
No. 53: The Sycamore Kitchen's Double BLT-A Sandwich. Quinn and Karen Hatfield's newish casual place on La Brea, The Sycamore Kitchen, is an exercise in incommensurateness, albeit a very L.A. one. It is a breakfast and lunch place with valet parking. (Read more.)
No. 52: House Wonton Soup at China Café In a city so stocked with brilliant Chinese food, it might to seem a bit strange to point out a '20s-era lunch counter hidden in downtown's Grand Central Market — it's by no means the most authentic place you'll find — but for many Angelenos, ourselves included, China Café holds a special significance. (Read more.)
No. 51: Almond croissant at Proof Bakery. It's hard not to drool all over the glass of the bakery case at Proof Bakery in Atwater Village, such is the bounty that resides within. Cakes, tarts, pastries, and quiches all sing their siren song from behind that glass. (Read more.)
No. 50: The Southern Fry at Plan Check Kitchen + Bar. While the centerpiece of Plan Check Kitchen + Bar on Sawtelle is undoubtedly its dripping, concentrated burgers — head chef Ernesto Uchimura was an ex-corporate chef at Umami Burger, after all — there seems to be a populist swell in favor of the restaurant's smokey fried jidori chicken. (Read more.)
No. 49: The Dodger Dog at Dodger Stadium. Are Dodger Dogs the best hot dogs in L.A.? Um, no. Not even remotely close. But often the success of a dish depends more on context than on the specifics of the dish itself. (Read more.)
No. 48: Papaya Salad at Krua Siri. It's 3 a.m. on a Saturday night — Sunday morning, really — do you know where your papaya salad is? Krua Siri, a small pill-box of a restaurant located in the Eastern stretch of Thai town, might be best known among certain Hollywood residents as the place that delivers until the wee hours of the morning every day of the week. (Read more.)
No. 47: Lucky Baldwins' Traditional Full English Breakfast. Breakfast can mean many things to many people. A perfectly constructed pastry from Joan's on Third. Brunch at Salt's Cure or Canele. A bowl of natto somewhere in Gardena. But for some people it means the sort of meal that is best served with a pint of lager and a Birmingham City match. (Read more.)
No. 46: Edomae Tendon Bowl at Hannosuke. The saying goes that good tempura should last about as long as a snowball in August (or September, if you happen to be caught in a late-season heat wave). It should be eaten immediately, in other words, so as to preserve its crispy architecture before it starts to sink like soggy newspaper. (Read more.)
No. 45: The Pescado Zarandeado at Coni'Seafood. The pescado zarandeado at Coni'Seafood in Inglewood has long been the stuff of near-legend in this town. It's been blogged and written about for years, before chef Sergio Peñuelas decamped from the Mariscos Chente in Mar Vista to his current location of Coni'Seafood in Inglewood — which still has the name Mariscos Chente on the restaurant receipts. (Read more.)
No. 44: Hot Wings at Beer Belly. Is there a more natural and satisfactory partner for football and beer than a plate of deep-fried, sauce-drenched chicken parts? Not at Beer Belly, the Koreatown pub whose offerings seem as dedicated to hair-on-your-chest dude food as they do local craft beers. (Read more.)
No. 43: Raw Kale Salad at Elf Café. Fifty-some entries into this list and we feel like we need a virtual detox — the onslaught of pork, pizza, and pie is taking it's toll. From time to time this happens, which is why places like Echo Park's Elf Café exist.(Read more.)
No. 42: Steak Tartare Tacos at MessHall. The historic Brown Derby space in Los Feliz (and former Louise's Trattoria) recently debuted as MessHall, a hip new restaurant with chef Keith Silverton (no relation, by the way, to Nancy) behind the stoves and owned by Rob Serritella.(Read more.)
No. 41: Bánh Mì at Buu Dien. For such a seemingly humble sandwich, the Vietnamese bánh mì stirs up a surprisingly high level of debate. Some swear by the drive-thru variety at Lee's, others the buy-two-get-one-free deal at Banh Mi Che Cali chain, and even more by the sandwiches sold alongside lottery scratchers at Banh Mi My Tho in Alhambra. Our favorite — if you happen to catch us on a particular day — is the tiny sandwich shop Buu Dien, hidden in Chinatown mini-mall. (Read more.)
No. 40: Sicilian Slice at Pizzanista. The thick-crusted Sicilian pizza at Pizzanista, cut into a long rectangle and covered in a heavy amount of tomato sauce, won us over on first bite. Sure, this might not be on the same level as L&B's Spumoni or DiFara's in Brooklyn, but the tangy oregano-spiked sauce and the chewy and dense bread — which resembles a fine focaccia — are good enough to put this Sicilian pizza into a class all it's own in L.A. (Read more.)
No. 39: Grilled Baby Goat T-bone at Mozza's Scuola di Pizza Salumi Bar. There are a ton of reasons to stop by Mozza's Scuola di Pizza on a Thursday night for chef Chad Colby's salumi bar, not least of which is the salumi itself. But you can also expect a small but amazing variety of “butcher cuts,” which, according to the menu, are “an exclusive selection of cuts that are available in limited quantities.” (Read more.)
No. 38: Papri Chaat at Jay Bharat. As sort of shameful as it is to admit, I drove to all the way Cerritos this weekend just to pick up a pre-ordered iPhone (it was the closest store that had them in stock). Despite a two-hour wait in line surrounded by other exasperated Apple addicts, there was one redeeming factor (in my food-minded estimation) in driving fifty-plus miles on Carmageddon weekend: a stopover along Pioneer Blvd. in Artesia, colloquially known as Little India. (Read more.)
No. 37: The Island Combo at TiGeorges' Chicken. One imagines George Laguerre, who opened his Haitian restaurant TiGeorges' Chicken some fifteen years ago, as something of an Echo Park Job. First there was the devastating January 2010 earthquake in his native Haiti, which destroyed the homes and businesses of many of his friends and family. Then, only a month later, an electrical fire destroyed the roof of his restaurant, as if catastrophe had simply changed direction. (Read more.)
No. 36: Tacos Al Pastor at Tacos Leo. Great lonchero wagons are certainly thick on the ground in this city, but when Tacos Leo first appeared on the street scene two summers ago, even hardcore taco veterans knew something formidable was happening — perhaps tipped off by the fragant plume of charred pork that wafted down Venice Blvd. A true al pastor specialist had landed in Mid-City. (Read more.)
No. 35: “Sandwich” at Roma Italian Deli. If locating the best golden Sicilian olive oil, some buttery Prosciutto di Parma, or rounds of garlic-flecked mortadella as wide as bowling balls is of paramount importance, you will at some point end up at Pasadena's Roma Italian Deli a store where owner Rosario Mazzeo has held court for decades, seated behind a deli slicer handing out little samples of sheep's milk cheese or pork guanciale. (Read more.)
No. 34: Bossam at Kobawoo House. Kobawoo is one of Koreatown's older restaurants, having been established all the way back in 1985, and although it began as something of a late-night dive, it has transformed since then into one of the area's upper-echelon restaurants. (Read more.)
No. 33: Cauliflower T-Bone at Superba Snack Bar. It's not very often that, at an eatery with a meat-loving menu, the dish that reverberates through your sense memory for weeks is the vegan option. And yet, that's the case at Superba Snack Bar, the Venice Beach “modern pasteria” that's also capable of working magic with veggies. (Read more.)
No. 32: Pupusa Revuelta at Atlacatl. All hail the pupusa, in its crisp-edged, cheese-oozing glory. Enjoying this Salvadoran staple has long been an essential part of Los Angeles' culinary tapestry — no matter what neighborhood you inhabit, there's a good chance a superb pupuseria is just a short drive away. (Read more.)
No. 31: Bonjiri Yakitori at Kokekokko. If you're looking for a temple of fairness and equality, then Kokekokko might not be for you. It's no secret at this Little Tokyo yakitori-ya that chef Tomohiro Sakata plays favorites with regulars — certain chicken cuts, roasted over charcoal and sprinkled with coarse salt or brushed with thick tare sauce are unavailable for some customers, but suddenly in stock for VIPs. (Read more.)
No. 30: Crispy Pork at Crispy Pork Gang & Grill. You don't mess with the Crispy Pork Gang (& Grill). This restaurant, located in the heart of East Hollywood's Thai Town, might not count Pony Boy, Sodapop, or Two-Bit as members — but it certainly does one thing very well: crunchy bits of fried pork belly. (Read more.)
No. 29: Sashimi Special at Sushi Gen. In a perfect world, every visit to your favorite sushi bar would entail an omakase meal, an ever-changing elaborate parade of courses that showcases the day's best ingredients. This, of course, is impractical for a variety of reasons. (Read more.)
No. 28: Tamal de Mole Negro at Guelaguetza. The legacy of the Lopez family's popular Oaxacan restaurant looms large over not just over Koreatown, but over Los Angeles' Latino culture in general — a place where wedding receptions, retirement banquets, and quinceañera parties seem to cycle through at regular intervals. Everyone comes, and everyone eats. (Read more.)
No. 27: The Hickoryburger at Apple Pan. Los Angeles' burger boom, in many ways, owes much to this humble onion-scented lunchroom, a place that stands out among the development along Pico Blvd. like Carl Fredricksen's house in Up. The Apple Pan has been around since 1947, and it's still cash only, with bills being exchanged out of a dusty antique register. (Read more.)
No. 26: Lobster Thermidor at Musso & Frank's. It may as well be a civic requirement that any mention of Musso & Frank's's include the phrase “Hollywood institution” at least once. Opened in 1919, the clubby dining room is a bedrock of history and tradition in the part of town where style is as impermanent as studio backdrops. (Read more.)
No. 25: Tavern's Poached Pear Coupe. Like pretty much anything else you find on the menu at any one of Suzanne Goin's restaurants, the desserts at Tavern are artful studies in composition. Goin is terrific at many things, but juxtaposing seasonal ingredients, using classical technique to access sudden bursts of flavor, is perhaps her particular genius. (Read more.)
No. 24: Coconut Bavarois at Red Medicine. Red Medicine is a complicated place. After a year existing in the shadow of it's infamous critic controversy — in which the owners tweeted pictures of then L.A. Times critic S. Irene Virbila — the restaurant finally began to develop into one of the hippest places to eat along Beverly Hills' restaurant row. (Read more.)
No. 23. The Tasting Kitchen's Pork Rillettes. Deciding what to order at The Tasting Kitchen, the Abbott Kinney restaurant run by chef Casey Lane that has been one of the best restaurants in the city pretty much since it opened, is always a happy quandary. You might ask if Lane has been breaking down whole animals recently, or what form the many pastas, made daily in the small kitchen, might have taken. (Read more.)
No. 22: Beef Ribs at Bludso's BBQ. Kevin Bludso's Texas-style barbecue pit, powered by dense hickory logs and a massive custom-designed smoker, is as close to true barbecue gospel as you can get in Los Angeles. Most days, Bludso himself can be found out back, pulling from the smoker blackened beef ribs as tender and smoky as a blues ballad. (Read more.)
No. 21: Anson Mills Grits & Eggs at Milo & Olive. Finding good grits is hard in LA — finding good breakfast grits is even harder. So the bowl of grits and eggs served at Milo & Olive for breakfast and brunch comes as sweet relief for those of us who understand the glorious possibilities of savory hot breakfast cereal. (Read more.)
No. 20: Lamb Dip at Philippe the Original. There are preferences in Los Angeles that speak volumes about a person: Dodgers or Angels? Lakers or Clippers? Fritz Coleman or Dallas Raines? But the one that predates all of them is the classic Philippe's-Cole's debate, a rivalry that has evolved from claims of creating the first-ever French dip sandwich into two highly respectable civic landmarks. (Read more.)
No. 19: Salsa de Chorizo Con Cesina at Gish Bac. Gish Bac, the Oaxacan restaurant in Mid-City, is best known for its barbacoa, and for good reason. The weekend-only goat and lamb barbecue is destination-worthy. But in the weeks since my review of the restaurant, the dish I've been craving is the salsa de chorizo con cesina. (Read more.)
No. 18: Matsuhisa's Yellowtail Scallion Donburi. You may be able to eat chef Nobu Matsuhisa's stunning Peruvian-influenced Japanese cuisine at one of his many restaurants around the world, the Nobus in Aspen or the Bahamas or London or Milan or Greece or Tokyo. (One could go on.) Or at one of the two Nobus in Los Angeles, either the palace on La Cienega in what was once L'Orangerie, or the newly opened beachside fish museum in Malibu, which Matsuhisa had built right on the Pacific. (Read more.)
No. 17: Green Curry Mussels at Jitlada. If there is one menu in town that has the best chance of being written about by cultural anthropologists twenty years from now, it's undoubtedly Jitlada's collection of Southern Thai specialities, whose epic range of toxic-smelling curries and fiery salads has become a firm part of L.A. canon. (Read more.)
No. 16: Creamy pumpkin soup at BierBeisl. It's true: autumn brings with it way too many pumpkin-flavored things. And, yet not enough pumpkin soup. Butternut squash seems to have become the fall soup of choice for many chefs, leaving the pumpkin to its fate in latte land. (Read more.)
No. 15: Fish Taco from Ricky's Fish Tacos. There's so much to love about Ricky's Fish Tacos” target=”_blank”>Ricky's: Ricky Piña himself, who couldn't find good enough Ensenada-style fish tacos in L.A. to satisfy him, so he started making them himself. (Read more.)
No. 14. Spago's Baked Jonagold Apple. When Spago closed its Beverly Hills doors over the summer, for a $4 million overhaul, it was not simply for a bit of fresh paint. Wolfgang Puck and his crew, many of whom have been with the Austrian-born chef for well over a decade and in some cases closer to two, were busy in the restaurant's giant kitchen — the view of which now opened up by huge glass doors — completely overhauling the menu while the dining room was getting a pretty swank redesign. (Read more.)
No. 13. Rivera's Tortillas Florales. It's perhaps fitting that John Sedlar's downtown restaurant Rivera is on Flower St., as one of the few dishes that has been on his ever-changing menu since the place opened is the stunning tortillas florales, simple corn tortillas into which have been pressed fresh flowers. (Read more.)
No. 12: Kalbi at Soot Bull Jeep. If a spaceship landed on the outskirts of L.A.'s Koreatown, with it's extraterrestrial inhabitants dead set on experiencing the atavistic pleasure of Korean barbecue, then we would likely point them to Soot Bull Jeep, a loud, bustling brick-lined restaurant on 8th street that resembles one of those dark underground comedy clubs with a dozen or so huge metal grills instead of a brick-backed stage. (Read more.)
No. 11. Sugar and Spice Beignets at Hatfield's. There are myriad glorious things to find at Hatfield's, Quinn and Karen Hatfield's lovely study in elegance and culinary atavism in what was once Michel Richard's Citrus. There is the open kitchen, in which you can see the chefs in their toques (hence atavistic) cooking your dinner. There are the gorgeous plates that Quinn Hatfield constructs: the beet-cured fluke strewn like magenta ribbons across buckwheat crisps, or the charred Spanish octopus that comes nestled among paprika-spiked potatoes, or the 36-hour braised “pastrami,” which is as like pastrami as it is not. (Read more.)
No. 10: Ceviche Mixto at Mo-Chica. When Ricardo Zarate moved his inaugural restaurant Mo-Chica last year, from a tiny food court space in South L.A. to a hip industrial space near downtown (from 37th and Grand to 7th and Grand, technically) it was a cross-town move worthy of Weezy Jefferson. (Read more.)
No. 9: Pastrami on Rye at Langer's Delicatessen. Dozens of food writers and chefs, many greater than ourselves, have said it before: Langer's Delicatessen doesn't just have some of the best pastrami in Los Angeles, but possibly the world. A recent trip to New York, which included a spectacular but ultimately second-fiddle pastrami sandwich from Katz's Deli, served only to prove this rapidly spreading hypothesis. (Read more.)
No. 8: Smoked Salmon with Mango at Kiriko. Few itamae balance the stylings of modern and classic sushi with the flair of Kiriko's Ken Namba. Some nights there will be plump tomato geleé or pale lozenges of skipjack topped with yuzu rind and shaved pink sea salt. He might even surprise you with a bowl of cooked tuna mashed with bits of okra, green onion and grated yamaimo, a dish that would be well received at any PTA potluck. (Read more.)
No. 7: Water-Boiled Fish at Chung King. There are many excellent reasons to head down San Gabriel Blvd., although maybe not if you're former U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson. Probably the best reason of all is to eat at Chung King, the much-lauded Sichuan restaurant that looks more like a tiny laundromat than it does the best Sichuan restaurant in America, at least according to a recent somewhat emotional — who knew “tonguegasm” was a word — story in The New York Times. (Read more.)
No. 6. Mole de los Dioses at Rocio's Mole de los Dioses. This colorful Sun Valley restaurant, tucked into a small strip mall off of I-5, has many menu items that might lure you out there. The aguas frescas are fantastic. The empanadas, made with vibrant green nopales (cactus) masa, are savory and delicious. (Read more.)
No. 5: Crispy Pig Head at Animal. A certain brand of excess has quite rightly given Animal a reputation as a purveyor of dude food: meat-heavy, no-holds-barred, calorific glory. But the true secret to Jon Shook and Vinny Dototlo's success is actually the lightness with which they present their ingredients, giving fat-dense components a delicate touch, and enough acid to make every dish balanced and delicious. (Read more.)
No. 4: Butterscotch Budino at Mozza. There are many, many reasons to spend time at the glorious food complex that is Mozza on the corner of Melrose and Highland. The fennel sausage pizza. The porchetta (!). Salumi Thursdays. The pizza classes. (Read more.)
No. 3. Roasted Kabocha Squash at Lucques. The fall salad is a fairly ubiquitous menu item, and one of those things that's a safe bet almost anywhere you go. There will be some squash and nut elements, perhaps some pomegranate, a cheese of some sort, and usually a flurry of greens that don't do much in the way of harm or excitement. (Read more.)
No. 2. Philly Cheesesteak at The Bazaar. Aside from “spatchcock,” it's possible there's no better word in the culinary lexicon than “espuma.” At least if you have the sense of humor of an 8-year-old boy, which we do. And what's better than the word “espuma” than being told by a waiter, repeatedly, that you need to eat this dish over a plate because the cheddar espuma will likely rupture from your “air bread” and spill out uncontrollably? (Read more.)
No. 1: Spago's Veal Filet Mignon Tartare. When it arrives at your table, Wolfgang Puck's iteration of veal tartare may look more like a Sally Mann photograph than your dinner. But inside the twin marrow bones is not, well, marrow, but the centerpiece of a beautifully orchestrated dish. (Read more.)