Read about this year's Best of L.A. Food & Drink issue here.
Best Beignet: Preux & Proper
As a longtime fan of the fantastic beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, I've always wondered if I was ever going to find anything close to that deliciousness in Los Angeles. This is why I was thrilled to find Preux & Proper's incredible deep-fried dessert, created by savvy chef Sammy Monsour. Served warm, the pâte à choux beignet dough is lovingly accompanied by another New Orleans classic, bananas Foster dulce de leche. Topped off by powdered sugar, it is like an explosion of yum in your mouth. Sure, there's lots of calories, but it's so worth the 5-mile walk you will start on immediately after dessert! —Susan Hornik
840 S. Spring St., downtown; (213) 896-0090, preuxandproper.com.
Best Magical Distillery: Lost Spirits
Lost Spirits Distillery is like a mini-Disneyland ride for drunkards (um, I mean, connoisseurs of fine spirits!). The award-winning rum and whiskey maker does things just a bit differently when it comes to the production process, which uses science — and maybe, as your tour guide will suggest on the distillery tour, magic from ghosts and angels — to produce the kinds of aged rum, whiskey and brandy that usually take years; here it's done in as little as a week. You get the whole spiel on the alchemy straight from the company's head, Bryan Davis, and his team on the tour, which occurs in a nautical den, on a jungle boat, on a carousel, in a Gothic-style dining room inspired by The Island of Dr. Moreau and in a gift shop that nods to Disneyland's Enchanted Tiki Room. Samples are served in cute glasses and pretty tea cups throughout the one-hour experience. The red Lost Spirits building was flooded a few months ago, so some things have changed on the current tour (and they're doing a Dracula-themed room for Halloween). No matter the tweaks, Lost Spirits' tours are an only-in-L.A. mix of imbibing, education and eccentric entertainment that everyone should try at least once. —Lina Lecaro
1235 E. Sixth St., downtown; lostspirits.net.
Best Ramen: Okiboru
There are plenty of amazing ramen options around town, but what makes Okiboru in Chinatown the best is the painstaking effort and time that goes into making its noodles on-site. Tsukemen is the noodle ramen dish that originated in Japan and consists of separate servings of cold noodles dipped into hot soup or broth at the table. The signature Okiboru big bowl consists of a mound of thick ramen noodles made in-house daily from imported Nippon hard wheat flour, topped with grilled chashu pork ribs marinated overnight, braised for four hours and then grilled before serving. It's all garnished with house-made pickled radish, scallions, bamboo shoots and nori, plus a lime wedge. Okiboru is the first ramen shop in the United States to use handmade noodles for the dish. —Michele Stueven
635 N. Broadway, Chinatown; (213) 988-7212, okiboru.com.
Best Chicken Sandwich: South City Fried Chicken
South City Fried Chicken owner Joshua Kopel and chef Sammy Monsour have brought their Southern roots to the entrance of the Corporation Food Hall, representing eight cities in their sandwiches. Each one begins with Jidori chicken in marinade and buttermilk brine, marinating together for a minimum of 24 hours. It's then dredged in the “stay crispy batter” before being fried and seasoned in custom spice blends according to each sandwich's destination. The spicy Austin is a stack of rojo bean hummus, burrata, pickled radish, heirloom tomato and blue corn tortilla crumble basted with the signature hot sauce. The New Orleans is a classic, with Creole remoulade, Cajun spice, Thai basil, a fried Chino Valley dark egg and collard green kimchi, topped with ginger-miso BBQ sauce. —Michele Stueven
724 S. Spring St., downtown; (213) 278-0008, southcityfriedchicken.com.