Bourbon Steak chef Kyle Johnson has been around. The Las Vegas native, who began his career at restaurant Alize at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas, has since worked in Philadelphia and Cincinnati, and as a traveling chef for Celebrity and Azamara cruises. Since landing in L.A. at Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak, Johnson has spent a lot of time exploring the city's eateries, especially the ones around Glendale, where Bourbon Steak is located.
Last week, Johnson and Bourbon Steak launched lunch at the restaurant, so now if you want to finish up your shopping trip (the restaurant is attached to the swanky Americana at Brand mall) with a rib-eye or a two-course seasonal lunch for $28.50, you can. How civilized.
We asked Johnson to let us in on the best finds he's come across while seeking out great food in Glendale and the surrounding neighborhoods. Here are his 10 favorite dishes.
10. Bucatini cacio e pepe at All'Acqua (Atwater Village)
“While the restaurant is great for Neapolitan-style pizza, I always find myself ordering the cacio e pepe. The fresh-grated Parmesan with cracked black pepper, done with a nice starchy fresh noodle and loads of butter, is reminiscent of childhood in the best way. I think we are all predisposed to love buttered noodles, and now it's elevated so we can enjoy it as adults, guilt-free.” 3280 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village. (323) 663-3280, allacquarestaurant.com.
9. Reuben sandwich at Timmy Nolan's (Toluca Lake)
“My favorite sandwich is a Reuben, and while there are many heralded Reubens around the country, this is my go-to. Melty Swiss with Thousand Island and kraut are all standards, but what takes this to the next level is the cheddar bun. It just works and it's delicious! This place has great comfort food accompanied with a properly poured Guinness and a shot of Jameson after long days behind the line.” 10111 Riverside Drive, Toluca Lake. (818) 985-3359, timmynolans.net.
8. Sunday roast at Birch (Hollywood)
“I know this is cheating a little, as it's not a neighboring area to Bourbon Steak, but I recently went here for Sunday brunch and they have a traditional Sunday roast that I love. I was floored when I ordered it — a huge portion of succulent beef, well seasoned and slow-cooked, complete with peas, carrots, Yorkshire pudding, Parmesan cauliflower and enough gravy that you could drink it. Everything was executed to perfection with technique rooted in serious kitchens.” 1634 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 960-3369m birchlosangeles.com.
7. Hoe cake at Barrel & Ashes (Studio City)
“Chef Hollingsworth obviously knows how to cook, and I always love it when technique-driven chefs from heralded restaurants let loose and have fun making approachable food with serious thoughtfulness behind it. I really can't get enough of the hoe cake — fried sweet corn batter in a cast iron with butter that browns as it cooks in their wood-fired oven. It's essential that you try it once (and again and again after that).” 11801 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. (818) 623-8883, barrelandashes.com.
6. The Ringer at Dog Haus (Burbank)
“When I'm in the mood for junk food, I always find myself at Dog Haus. I know it's a burger at a hot dog place but I can't control myself with this one. It tastes like the best Western Bacon Cheeseburger you've ever had. With processed American cheese almost velvet in texture, smoky bacon thick-cut, crispy onion rings and BBQ sauce on a sweet Hawaiian bun — the result is truly amazing.” 3817 W. Olive Ave, Burbank. (818) 566-4287, doghaus.com.
5. Nozawa Trust Me at Sugarfish (Studio City)
“As everyone should know, when it comes to sushi it's all about the rice, and at Sugarfish they know how to cook their rice. Sushi rice to me has a sense of purity for being simple but complex due to the attention of detail it requires. Get the Nozawa 'Trust Me,' sit back and enjoy. Taste rice the way it should be done. Perfectly balanced 'su': just the right amount of sugar, salt, vinegar and kombu served slightly warm and paired with different well-handled seafood makes for a great meal.” 11288 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. (818) 762-2322, sugarfishsushi.com.
4. Hamachi crudo with sorrel broth at Girasol (Studio City):
“The menu changes frequently at Girasol, so it's always good to go and see what they're up to. The cocktails are top-notch and having great chef-driven food literally right next door to my house is a huge perk. Recently I had their hamachi crudo with sorrel broth and was blown away. The citrus notes from the sorrel and fattiness of the hamachi paired perfectly together, and using finger limes helped brighten all the flavors. You can always tell the quality of a restaurant based on the preparation of raw fish, and Girasol nails it every time.” 11334 Moorpark St., Studio City. (818) 924-2323, girasolrestaurant.com.
3. Birria tacos at Taqueria El Tapatio (Glendale)
“Taqueria El Tapatio's tacos, tortas and burritos are all jam-packed with flavor and authenticity. I always go for the birria or slow-braised goat. It's succulent and flavorful, with enough acidity and spice to keep it well balanced. The tacos come topped with a freshly diced onion and cilantro — pair it with a Toronja soda and you're set! My chefs and I go here after work from time to time, since they're open until 2 a.m., which helps a hungry kitchen after a long day.” 1266 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale. (818) 549-4167.
2. Cuban sandwich at Porto's Bakery & Cafe (Glendale)
“Porto's Cuban is absolutely delicious and worth waiting in that consistently long line. The sandwich has an amazing crispy bread and tender pulled pork topped with gooey Swiss cheese and just enough tang from the mustard to round it all out.” 315 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. (818) 956-5996, portosbakery.com.
1.Din Tai Fung's xiao long bao (Glendale)
“The restaurant is right next door to work at Americana at Brand and very dangerous to have easy access to. The pork xiao long bao will change your life the first time you have them. Nice al dente outer wrapping followed by a surprise rush of warm broth that gushes out as you slowly bite into it. It truly warms your soul.” 177 Caruso Ave., Glendale. (818) 551-5561, dintaifungusa.com.