Recently, we published our 99 Essential Restaurants in Los Angeles issue for 2017, along with its new sister list, the Freshmen 15 (for the newbie restaurants too young to be “essential” but that we love nonetheless). Hidden within that massive list is a lot of great seafood, from mariscos to oyster platters to spot prawns cooked table-side at one of the fanciest joints in town. (We did not include sushi on this list; for that head over to our collection of the seven essential Japanese restaurants in L.A.) Here are the six essential seafood restaurants of 2017.
Left in the hands of owners Vicente Cossio and his daughter Connie Cossio, Coni'Seafood is still turning out some of the best Mexican seafood in town. It’s not surprising — Vicente Cossio was the originator of almost all of the dishes that garnered Coni’Seafood so much attention in the first place. There are all manner of cocteles, such as the ceviche marinero, a jumble of shrimp marinated in lemon, cucumber, cilantro and tomato, topped with hunks of sweet mango and bathed in a wicked, dusky “black sauce.” Then there are the camarones, giant, head-on shrimp that come in many different variations of sauce: diablo for the spice lovers; borrachos — in a broth made from tequila, lime, cilantro and crushed peppers — for the hungover.
Read the full Coni'Seafood 99 Essentials blurb here.
Connie & Ted's
If you grew up, as Michael Cimarusti did, fishing in the Atlantic and dining on the bounty of the great Northeast, you’ll understand the chef’s nostalgia for the brine and comfort of that type of seafood. Connie & Ted’s is Cimarusti’s ode to New England, and he’s created a restaurant that would be utterly at home on Boston Harbor but also feels exactly right for West Hollywood. The large dining room is an immensely convivial place to scarf down chowder and lobster rolls and fried clams, and the bar is one of the best places in town to watch the Dodgers while slurping on oysters from the massive raw bar.
Read the full Connie & Ted's 99 Essentials blurb here.
The Hungry Cat
Chef/owner David Lentz has been a pioneer of Pacific-focused seafood (as opposed to the odes to New England that have proliferated in recent years) for more than a decade, serving cold oysters on the half-shell, fresh Santa Barbara uni and modern, creative seafood dishes that sometimes hint at Maine or Massachusetts but more often celebrate the bounty and spirit of the California coast. Rather than classic fish-house fare, your Manila clams are more likely to come with merguez, sofrito and garbanzo beans; your barramundi over freekeh, kabocha squash, pea tendrils, yogurt and pumpkin seed pesto.
Read The Hungry Cat's full 99 Essentials blurb here.
Go directly to this corner of Olympic Boulevard and wait as Raul Ortega and the crew at this Boyle Heights mariscos truck fold shrimp into a tortilla and fry the whole thing in hot oil, pulling it out at the perfect point of golden crisp, then coat it with creamy slices of avocado and pert red salsa. If you’re in the mood for a feast, the Poseidon tostada, loaded with a jumble of ceviche, octopus and shrimp aguachile, will have you feeling like a god of the sea yourself.
Read the full Mariscos Jalisco 99 Essentials blurb here.
There are only a handful of restaurants in Los Angeles that aim for the same heights as Providence does, and perhaps none that achieve those lofty aims quite so well. Michael Cimarusti’s seafood-focused, fine-dining standard-bearer excels at the formal service that much of the restaurant world has abandoned. There’s a lot of joy to be found on the plate as well. Ultra-fresh (and always sustainable) seafood, such as Santa Barbara spot prawns or Norwegian red king crab, is presented elegantly and simply.
Read the full Providence 99 Essentials blurb here.
Ricky's Fish Tacos
Ricky Piña’s Baja-style tacos are the stuff of legend, the delicate white fish cooked to an ideal golden brown, topped with chopped cabbage and pico de gallo and folded into a warm flour tortilla. Ricky’s Fish Tacos started as a makeshift parking-lot taco party and then morphed into a truck; these days he’s usually parked on Riverside Drive near the entrance to Griffith Park, serving up the best lunch $3 can buy. There’s creamy white sauce and spicy red salsa to drizzle at your discretion, there are shrimp tacos if you want to mix it up, and there’s Piña himself, one of the friendliest taqueros around.
Read the full Ricky's Fish Tacos 99 Essentials blurb here.