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Celebrating this year's Best of L.A. issue — now out in print and online — we're counting down, in no particular order, 100 of our favorite dishes.

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.

A shining example of this is the crispy pig head. Could the name of this dish be more aggressive, more in-your-face? And yet, what's delivered on the plate is not some deep fried eyeball or gelatinous head cheese worthy of a dare. Rather, the meat of the head is pulled, made into patties, then breaded and fried. Topped with chow chow — Southern pickled relish — the mellow, fatty, porcine meat gets a bright shot of vinegar and a fruity element that brings the whole dish into piggy, tangy harmony.

Which, now that we think about it, could be a tagline for Animal in general: Piggy tangy harmony.

100: Lukshon's Dan Dan Noodles

99: Cemita de Milanesa at Cemitas Poblanos Elviritas #1

98: Chichen Itza's Cochinita Pibil

97: Tsukemen at Tsujita L.A.

96: La Cevicheria's Bloody Clam Ceviche

95: Duck Shawarma at Momed

94: Peruvian Chicken at Pollo a la Brasa

93: Squash Blossom Quesadilla at Antojitos Carmen

92: Thai Boat Noodles at Pa-Ord

91: Baco Mercat's Bazole

90: Furikake Kettle Corn at A-Frame

89: Live Santa Barbara Spot Prawns at Providence

88: Fried Pig Tails at Night + Market

87: Egg Salad Sandwich at Euro Pane

86: Galbi Jjim at Soban

85: Truffle Honey-Laced Fried Chicken at Manhattan Beach Post

84: Mool Naeng Myun at Yu Chic Naeng Myun

83: Chicken Vampiro at Mexicali Taco & Co

82: Sooo Cali Dog at Dog Haus

81: White Anchovy, Tomato and Fresno Chile Pizza at Pizzeria Mozza

80: Shu Mai at Elite Restaurant

79: Tandoori Chicken at Al-Watan

78: Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding at The Hungry Cat

77: Agedashi Tofu at Izakaya Bincho

76: Pork Chop at Salt's Cure

75: Porcetto at Sotto

74: The Sea Urchin Tostada at La Guerrerense

73: Wood-Roasted English Peas at Tar & Roses

72: Persian Mulberries at Weiser Family Farms

71: Hunan-Style Preserved Pork with Tofu at Hunan Chilli King

70: Brisket Banh Mi at Gjelina Take Away

69: Yukhwe Bibimbap at Oo-Kook Korean BBQ

68: Lamb Pie at Beijing Pie House

67: Son of a Gun's Uni and Burrata

66: Pastrami Reuben at Art's Delicatessen

65: Beef Koobideh at Kabab Mahaleh

64: The Whipper Burger at Hawkins House of Burgers

63: Slippery Shrimp at Yang Chow

62: Whole Channel Island Red Sea Urchin at Water Grill

61: Going Dutch Panini at Bread Lounge

60: Huckleberry's Green Eggs & Ham

59: Pickled Watermelon Salad at L&E Oyster Bar

58: Spaghettini with Abalone, Pickled Cod Roe and Truffles at n/naka

57: Brown Brown Bread Ice Cream at Scoops Westside

56: Smothered Chicken at R and R Soul Food

55: Duck Fried Rice at Jar

54: Taco Sampler at Guisados

53: The Sycamore Kitchen's Double BLT-A Sandwich

52: House Wonton Soup at China Cafe

51: Almond Croissant at Proof Bakery

50: The Southern Fry at Plan Check Kitchen + Bar

49: The Dodger Dog at Dodger Stadium

48: Papaya Salad at Krua Siri

47: Lucky Baldwins' Traditional Full English Breakfast

46: Edomae Tendon Bowl at Hannosuke

45: The Pescado Zarandeado at Coni'Seafood

44: Hot Wings at Beer Belly

43: Raw Kale Salad at Elf Cafe

42: Steak Tartare Tacos at MessHall

41: Banh Mi at Buu Dien

40: Sicilian Slice at Pizzanista

39: Grilled Baby Goat T-bone at Mozza's Scuola di Pizza Salumi Bar

38: Papri Chaat at Jay Bharat

37: The Island Combo at TiGeorges' Chicken

36: Tacos Al Pastor at Tacos Leo

35: “Sandwich” at Roma Italian Deli

34: Bossam at Kobawoo House

33: Cauliflower T-Bone at Superba Snack Bar

32: Pupusa Revuelta at Atlacatl

31: Bonjiri Yakitori at Kokekokko

30: Crispy Pork with Morning Glory at Crispy Pork Gang & Grill

29: Sashimi Special at Sushi Gen

28: Tamal de Mole Negro at Guelaguetza

27: The Hickoryburger at Apple Pan

26: Lobster Thermidor at Musso & Frank's

25: Poached Pear Coupe at Tavern

24: Coconut Bavarois at Red Medicine

23: The Tasting Kitchen's Pork Rillettes

22: Beef Ribs at Bludso's BBQ

21: Anson Mills Grits & Eggs at Milo & Olive

20: Lamb Dip at Philippe the Original

19: Salsa de Chorizo Con Cesina at Gish Bac

18: Matsuhisa's Yellowtail Scallion Donburi

17: Green Curry Mussels at Jitlada

16: Creamy Pumpkin Soup at BierBeisl

15: Fish Taco from Ricky's Fish Tacos

14: Spago's Baked Jonagold Apple

13: Rivera's Tortillas Florales

12: Kalbi at Soot Bull Jeep

11: Sugar and Spice Beignets at Hatfield's

10: Ceviche Mixto at Mo-Chica

9: Pastrami on Rye at Langer's Delicatessen

8: Smoked Salmon with Mango at Kiriko

7. Water-Boiled Fish at Chung King.

6. Mole de los Dioses at Rocio's Mole de los Dioses


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