Best Pork Chop: Yours Truly
Let’s face it, pork chops are just something we give a fleeting look on L.A. menus. They’re tempting at first glance, but never seem worth the gamble and you just end up going for the security of a juicy overpriced ribeye instead. Still a little old school in the current California cuisine climate, grilled chops have been eclipsed by their trendy Porchetta cousin.
It’s time to take a second look. Chef Vartan Abgaryan has elevated the lowly chop to new heights and is alone worth the visit to Abbot Kinney’s neighborhood restaurant, Yours Truly, in Venice. The light and airy beachy spot is “a love letter to food, L.A. and the neighborhood” from Vartan and partners Dave Reiss and Paul Pruitt.
Their grilled heritage pork rib chop is enough for two, charred to perfection on the outside with juices running from the inside. The bone is separated from the loin with just enough meat on it for a satisfying gnaw. The pink meat is dusted with sesame, fleur de sel and topped with about a dozen whole soft and sweet garlic cloves that have been slowly poached in milk and then preserved in olive oil. The dilemma is whether to allow them to melt in your mouth whole or smear them across the chop. The plate is served with sautéed rainbow chard (stems included, thank you) that still has a gentle bite to it. This is not your parents’ pork chop. —Michele Stueven
1616 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; (310) 396-9333, ytvenice.com.
Best Plant-Based Cuisine: The Butcher’s Daughter
Los Angeles is ground zero for the plant-based movement with some of the best on the planet, so it’s hard to pin down just one. What sets The Butcher’s Daughter in Venice on top of the list is the sustainable care that is given to everyday operations and owner Heather Tierney’s obsession with eliminating food waste.
The café cold presses fresh juices daily and works with Pulp Pantry to recycle the pulp which is used in the granola you’ll find in your acai bowl or alongside your house made coconut yogurt. The carrot lox bagel made with smoked salt carrots is superb and a clean way to start the day.
For dinner, try the cauliflower rib-eye with labneh, Israeli couscous, baby rainbow carrot, roasted heirloom tomato, garden herbs, toasted almonds, pad thai rice noodles with tamari, scrambled egg, cucumber-carrot slaw, mint, peanut, lime and sesame. There’s a full bar with cocktails and brunch sangrias and punches from locally sourced produce. Try a Bird of Paradise cocktail with agave, lemon, tequila, mezcal and a float of violet liqueur.
The café participates in Postmates’ FoodFight! program, where drivers in the L.A. area pick up leftover foodstuffs from local restaurants and drop it at local shelters. It’s the first rollout from Civic Labs, the social impact arm of Postmates, which launched in 2017. —Michele Stueven
1205 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; (310) 981-3004, thebutchersdaughter.com.