Michael Bryant, chef at the Churchill and the Hudson, brings all kinds of influences to his two kitchens. A childhood in Virginia with a French mother gave him an appreciation of Southern and French cuisine. Formative years as a cook with Florida chef Norman Van Aken gave him a love of fine dining. And since he's been in L.A., he's spent time at Joe's, Father's Office and as the chef at the Palihouse Hotel.
He combines all of those influences to create gastropub food that's elegant but rooted in comfort. We asked him where he eats when he's looking for inspiration or just a good bowl of chili on his day off.
10. Chili John's
“Some of the best chili around. I get their spicy chicken chili over rice with a ton of cheese, sour cream, onions and spicy chilies. Not only is the chili good but they do something to those spicy chilies. I can never eat just one. I go for at least 10 before I reach my own cutoff.” 2018 W. Burbank Blvd, Burbank; (818) 846-3611, chilijohns.com.
“Kris [Morningstar] is killing it as usual, and everything that I've tried is spot-on. I still dream about that veal tongue appetizer!” 8265 Beverly Blvd., Beverly Grove; (323) 746-5130, terrinela.com.
8. Manhattan Beach Post
“David LeFevre has been a huge inspiration. I love all the bold flavors of his dishes.” 1142 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach; (310) 545-5405, eatmbpost.com.
“Brendan Collins' new spot is crushing it. I find myself always gravitating to his charcuterie, but the chicken liver mousse is the best!” 1634 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 960-3369, birchlosangeles.com.
6. Casitas Tacos al Carbon
“Some of the best burritos I have had. You have to wait in line any time of day, but it is worth it. And all the salsas are awesome.” 405 N. Victory Blvd., Burbank.; (818) 848-3242.
“After all this time in L.A., I still love this place for their ramen and pork gyoza. Simple and just so good.” 327 E. First St., Little Tokyo; (213) 626-1680; daikoku-ten.com.
“Travis Lett has got something special happening here. First time I walked in, I was transported to what a bakery/deli should be. The vibe, the bustling counter, the openness, the smell, the food, the interaction … just everything. The bread is so damn good!! Love starting my day here with breakfast or lunch and then enjoying the Venice scene.” 320 Sunset Ave., Venice; (310) 695-1748, gjusta.com.
“The entire menu is great, but I love the pastas, side dishes and pizzas here. So fresh and vibrant with flavors that make the palate dance.” 2121 Seventh Place, downtown; (213) 514-5724, bestiala.com.
“That's right … Arby's. Ever since I was a child, I have loved the roast beef sandwich with just Arby's special sauce and extra pickles.” arbys.com.
“I’ve been following Bruce (Kalman) for some time now, and he is a true testament to the fact that when a chef is truly happy, the food is outstanding. The porchetta blew me away, along with his craft of pastas.” 37 E. Union St., Pasadena; (626) 795-5841, unionpasadena.com.