Read about this year's Best of L.A. Food & Drink issue here.
Best Thai: Chao Krung
After decades of serving Americanized Thai food, Katy Noochlaor and Amanda Kuntee have taken over the baton at Chao Krung to create a chef-driven, elevated menu that reflects their parents' original offerings in what is now L.A.'s oldest Thai restaurant. The curry selections are plentiful and would make any grandmother proud. The kaeng hung-ley (braised pork belly curry) is prepared with Northern Thai sweet pork belly and pork shoulder, simmered with ginger, palm sugar, turmeric, tamarind, curry powder and pickled garlic. The Thai green curry is made in the spicy central Thai style with green chiles, kaffir lime, coconut milk, eggplant, jalapeños and sweet basil. The menu is huge and may take a while to digest, but musts include “drinking food” small plates such as “Sister A's” sour Isaan sausage, which is a divine mix of pork, lemongrass, garlic, sticky rice and coriander root. It's served with fresh ginger, lime and bird's eye chili. Another favorite is the hoi todd — crispy broken crepes with steamed fresh mussels, garlic, chives and bean sprouts, served with sriracha. —Michele Stueven
111 N. Fairfax Ave., Beverly Grove; (323) 939-8361, chaokrungla.com.
Best Reboot: Crustacean
Crustacean Beverly Hills, the award-winning restaurant from House of AN hospitality group, recently reopened its doors following an 8-month-long, $10 million redesign. That includes the Da Lat Rose restaurant located upstairs on the second floor with its own separate entrance, set to open later in the fall. The new, more modern interior of the main restaurant has a sleek new silver look, with the koi pond walkway still leading guests to their tables. The rebooted Crustacean features a brand-new menu of revamped classics (yes, the garlic noodles and Dungeness crab are back) and a whole new bar program from beverage director Peter Barriga, which features specialties such as a turmeric mule, with turmeric-infused gin, turmeric syrup, ginger syrup and citrus. Chefs Tony Nguyen and Helene An oversee both restaurants and are bringing to the table dramatic starters such as Tuna Cigars, made with instant smoke, brick de feuille, macadamia nut, Vidalia onion and tobiko caviar; Surf & Turf sashimi with wild salmon, A-5 Wagyu, crispy garlic, purple potato and tobacco chili vinaigrette; and Karate Salad with kohlrabi, black truffle, crispy Kennebec potato and garlic blossoms. For special occasions, reserve a front-row seat for two at the Chef's Kitchen Counter. —Michele Stueven
468 N. Bedford Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 205-8990, crustaceanbh.com.
Best Bar Chef: Christiaan Rollich
The handsome bartender with the perpetual smile from the Lucques Group (Tavern, A.O.C. and Lucques), Christiaan Rollich can easily be credited with the mind-boggling renaissance of the cocktail in Los Angeles and the inventive use of ingredients and techniques that have exploded in local bars. Each season he brings new cocktails to the bar, dependent on what's best at the farmers markets. He makes his own gin with a personalized combination of herbs and botanicals for the most kickass gin and tonic you will ever experience. In summer he raids the farmers markets for bushels of cherries, which are painstakingly pitted and then brandied with sugar, lemon, orange, star anise, cinnamon, sassafras and lavender to be used as a garnish for your Manhattan. The drink is a combination of rye whiskey and Rollich's house-made sweet vermouth and angostura bitters. His cocktail handbook of recipes, Bar Chef, comes out next year. —Michele Stueven
Lucques, 8474 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; (323) 655-6277, lucques.com.
Tavern, 11648 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood; (310) 806-6464, tavernla.com.
A.O.C., 8700 W. Third St., West Hollywood; (310) 859-9859, aocwinebar.com.
Best Roast Chicken: Mon Petit Poulet
Godefroy Prenot and Michael Denoun have brought the success of their restaurants in France to a small corner of a strip mall in Venice, where Mon Petit Poulet serves juicy organic and free-range oven-roasted chickens to go. They are cooked in natural juices with herbs like thyme and rosemary or fruits like oranges, olives and figs. You can get duck if you order in advance. Sides include haricots verts, roasted potatoes, lentils and ratatouille from Denoun's grandmother's recipe. There are lunch-box combos and madeleines or house-made chocolate cake for dessert. —Michele Stueven
705 Lincoln Blvd., Venice; (310) 314-2016, monpetitpoulet.la.
Best Theater Bar: The Broadwater Plunge
Let's just get it out of the way: At the Broadwater Plunge the guy who serves you a drink may very well be a familiar figure, a pop culture icon actually, the guy who shot J.R. on Dallas and dreamed the entire show, then woke up on TV a few years later as Suzanne Somers' loving hubby on the sitcom Step by Step. Patrick Duffy's son Padraic owns the bar inside the Broadwater Theatre, and his dad gets his — and your — drink on from time to time. But this lively bar, popular with the actor and playwright crowd, is a destination regardless of the celebrity factor. The senior Duffy is a consistent supporter of the local theater scene, and his Broadwater complex hosts some inspired productions, including those of the Sacred Fools Company, helmed by his son. The family-owned bar is a new way to expose what's happening on Hollywood's Theatre Row but it's also a place for the community to gather, rehearse or party after shows. You don't have to be a thespian to drink here. A nice beer and wine selection and cocktail menu inspired by Sacred Fools (the Bombay Sapphire–based Siren's Call and mezcal-heavy Serial Killer both reference plays there) will make anyone want an encore. —Lina Lecaro
6324 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 538-5660, thebroadwaterla.com.