What does it mean to be the Best of Los Angeles? In this seemingly impossible city, there are 10 million people in the county, 92 languages are spoken in L.A.U.S.D schools, over 150 small cities and neighborhoods, and the world’s largest populations of Saudis, Salvadorans, Mexicans, and Armenians outside of their home countries. It’s the city that is home to the itinerant masses of Skid Row and the entire Kardashian (and Kanye) clan. It’s a region where spacecraft are built just miles away from where movies are realized. The same films that are born from the seed of an idea scrawled by screenwriters on the back of a Silver Lake bar napkin then evolve into the outsized productions in Burbank studio lots. Top-notch taco stands in auto shop parking lots coexist with rarefied restaurants showcasing sculptural sushi, like edible gems plucked our adjacent ocean. You can even get Chinese food AND donuts from the same stripmall. This is a city of opposites, mashups, and reinventions, an ever-evolving mass whose only constant is change.
While it seems like a Sisyphean task, we’re are always up for a challenge, so we proudly present to you, our 2016 edition of L.A. Weekly’s Best of Los Angeles. Assembled from the combined powers of our editors, critics, and our trusty cadre of culturephiles, our Best Of captures a snapshot of our town now.
This compendium can be used by newcomers to our city, those wide-eyed tourists and dream-seekers alike, as well as those of us who have been here for decades. After all, Los Angeles is a city that can never fully be comprehended or entirely experienced. It’s the knot that you can never untie, that endless coil that reveals new turns as you try to get to its center.
And, like that oft-maligned adage, our city has no center either. There’s awesomeness everywhere. From beachside bonfires at Dockweiler to the hikes scaling the San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains and everywhere in between, we’ve explored for the best and brightest our city has to offer. There’s the Sonoran al fresco eatery Salazar, enveloped in savory mesquite smoke billowing under our dimly light stars and Gwen, the uber-high end culinary hotspot from chefs Curtis and Luke Stone. We’ve shopped everywhere from Compton-based fashion house Drifter to the rare vintage shirts of Filth Mart, and dredged for vinyl at record shops from Pomona to Long Beach. We’ve explored ganja gyms, cryotanks, and even a pet crematorium. Yeah, we've been everywhere.
Naturally, Best Of is not the whole picture representing L.A., but it’s a detail of a larger photograph. And hopefully, with these vignettes, we can assemble the larger portrait of who we are, and what our great city is all about.
—Drew Tewksbury, Managing Editor
All illustrations by Scott Anderson