We missed Miles Thompson while he was gone. The chef left town after Allumette, the restaurant he ran in Echo Park, closed in June 2014. He worked in Northern California for a couple of years before returning last summer to take over the kitchen at Michael's in Santa Monica, and it's wonderful to have his brand of thoughtful, highly inventive cooking back in Los Angeles.
It turns out he missed us as well. Have you ever wondered what you'd crave the most if you were to leave town? We asked Thompson to tell us about the spots he dreamed about while he was living up north, and he came up with a list that could serve as a guide for newbies, or as a reminder to the rest of us that we have it pretty damn good. Here are the 10 places Thompson missed the most while he was away.
10. El Comal
"This tiny, family-run Mexican kitchen is hitting on all cylinders. Don't miss the birria, seriously." 5465 Santa Monica Blvd., East Hollywood. (323) 962-1706.
"Subtle and focused omakase in a simple room with a quietly passionate and genial sushi chef. What else do you need?" 8711 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood. (310) 358-9134.
8. Sapp Coffee Shop
"Boat and jade noodle heaven. Also phenomenal (albeit elusive) taro cakes strewn with wilted bean sprouts and sweet neon sauces." 5183 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz. (323) 665-1035.
7. Tacos Arizas
"This is the taco truck near Allumette that has been a mainstay in my and my wife's life since she first moved to Los Angeles. Excellent buche, especially when fully crisped and supplemented with their habanero pickled onions and tons of lime. The carne asada quesadilla is something special as well. There are no tacos (outside of Mexico, of course) that compare to those hawked on the streets of LA." Corner of Sunset Boulevard and Logan Street, Echo Park.
6. Rustic Canyon
"Poetic and delicious food from a genuinely kind and warm team. Many a Ratatouille flashback has been sparked at the tables of Rustic, along with a good amount of giggling and head-shaking about the brilliance of dishes like 'long bean puttanesca.'" 1119 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 393-7050, rusticcanyonwinebar.com
5. Dan Sung Sa
"A dark, spicy adventure into the depths of beer, soju and punishingly hot chicken feet. I often crave the onion salad jingling with raw sugar and scallions that accompany one of the many fantastic pork dishes."
3317 W. Sixth St., Koreatown. (213) 487-9100.
4. Choi Ga Nei
"A pinball machine of a Korean BBQ restaurant. Quick and buzzing with an efficient and friendly staff and, of course, wonderful food." 3914 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown. (213) 382-8988.
"An incredible restaurant run by wonderful, über-talented people. The bar in front of the pizza oven is a favorite date location for my wife and I, gazing into the open kitchen next to the Expo Line. We are welcomed with a speedy and well-oiled show punctuated with dreamy, thoughtful and muscular food and drink." 2121 E. Seventh Place, downtown. (213) 514-5724. bestiala.com.
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2. Siam Sunset
"This is the ultimate Thai breakfast spot in my opinion. It’s loaded with people every Sunday morning. I go after the Hollywood farmers market to sample Chinese doughnuts, spicy ginger and tofu soups, the requisite and wonderful noodles, and loads of tea. It is an odd find bunkered in the corner of a motel on Sunset Boulevard, but looks can be deceiving." 5265 Sunset Blvd., East Hollywood. (323) 467-8935.
1. Ruen Pair
"Since my first meal here this has been — and will likely forever be — one of the top five restaurants that I have ever eaten at over the course of my life. Everything is perfect: the dizzyingly good pork jerky, the holographic lion art on the wall, the Thai iced tea, the salty turnip and egg omelette, deep-fried egg salad, Chinese sausage fried rice with pineapple, and beyond. It’s always important to remember that it is cash only. Don’t worry, though, they have an ATM."
5257 Hollywood Blvd., East Hollywood. (323) 466-0153. ruenpairthaila.com.