On Thursday, July 13, Craft L.A. turns 10 years old. The restaurant is marking that milestone with a new chef de cuisine, Denis Crutchfield, who has worked his way up through the ranks from line cook and was promoted in April to lead the kitchen at Craft (under the direction — as with all Craft restaurants — of executive chef Tom Colicchio).
Like many in the restaurant industry, Crutchfield does a lot of his eating out post-shift, meaning late at night after his own kitchen has closed. We asked him to share his favorite spots for an after-work meal. Here are his seven picks.
7. OB Bear
“This Koreatown spot nails it with its versions of classic Korean bar fare. I get the leek pancake, Korean fried chicken and spicy chicken wings. The fried chicken is covered in a hot glaze, so it’s sticky and super messy — you’ll need, like, 10 napkins, but it’s great.” 3002 Seventh St., Koreatown; (213) 480-4910. Open until 2 a.m. daily.
6. Aburiya Raku
“This Japanese restaurant on La Cienega serves up izakaya-style plates. I always get the agedashi tofu that they make in-house and serve with a super simple green tea salt, and, when it’s available, the steamed foie gras custard with dashi. One time when I went they had a “nikomi hamburg” as a special — it’s a play on a hamburger with a Kurobuta and Wagyu patty topped with mustard onions, mushrooms and a thick demi-glace sauce.” 521 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood; (213) 308-9393, aburiyarakula.wixsite.com/weho. Open until midnight Mon.-Thu. and 1 a.m. Fri. & Sat.
5. Sri Siam Cafe
“The crispy rice salad at this North Hollywood Thai spot is the best I’ve ever had. It comes with Thai sour sausage, ginger, green onions, peanuts, mint and an addictive chili lime sauce. It’s refreshing and so textured and well balanced. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” 12843 Vanowen St., North Hollywood; (818) 982-6262, srisiamcafe.com. Open until 10 p.m. daily.
4. Afters Ice Cream
“Afters takes ice cream sandwiches and elevates them to the next level — they fill donut-like pastries with ice cream. I always get the Mint Monster, because I’m a sucker for mint ice cream.” 1265 E. Green St., Pasadena; aftersicecream.com. Open daily until midnight.
3. Leo’s Tacos
“Leo’s is an essential L.A. experience. I go there a lot after service for the al pastor tacos topped with all their salsas and the habanero onions.” 515 S. La Brea Ave., Hancock Park; leostacostruck.com. Open until 3 a.m. Sun.-Thurs., 4 a.m. Fri. & Sat.
2. Isa Japanese Restaurant
“A rare spot in L.A. that’s open until 4 a.m. They make their Japanese curry in-house, and it’s the perfect consistency and has the right amount of spice and ratio of gravy to vegetables. It comes with chicken katsu and rice to soak up the gravy.” 916 S. La Brea Ave., Mid-Wilshire; (323) 879-9536, isajapanese.com. Open daily until 4 a.m.
1. Plan Check
“The 'chef’s favorite burger' is my go-to here — cheese two ways (including a Parmesan crisp), bacon, a fried egg, the signature ketchup leather and hot sauce. It’s cooked perfectly every time. I go to the original location on Sawtelle.” 1800 Sawtelle Blvd., Sawtelle; (310) 444-1411, plancheck.com. Open until 10 p.m. Sun.-Wed., 11 p.m. Thu. and midnight Fri. & Sat.