Chef Ray Garcia has had a lifetime of Los Angeles eating to inform him. Garcia recently left a six-year stint as chef at Santa Monica's Fig to open two new downtown endeavors with Sprout (restaurateur Bill Chait's company): BS Taqueria, which opened in late March, and Broken Spanish which will open soon in the old Rivera space.
Garcia has always claimed to draw inspiration from L.A.'s diverse cultures, and these two new restaurants seem like a reflection of that more than anything he's done in the past. With that in mind, we wondered where the chef loves to eat around town — what's inspiring him as he embarks on this new chapter? Here are his ten choices.
10. Ye Rustic Inn
"You won’t find any craft cocktails at this Los Feliz bar, but the wings are incredible. Order them extra crispy and spicy. You can even do a 'suicide' level that is hot but still enjoyable."
9. East Side Market
"This is a place that I went to with my father growing up. They showcase a lot of Italian-American classics. My favorite is the No. 7 (Hot Pastrami and Roast Beef) and a pile of sport peppers."
8. Los Cincos Puntos
"A Boyle Heights landmark, Cincos Puntos is a carniceria that serves up some great tacos. The tortillas are pressed by hand so they are a bit thicker than what you would find in most taquerias. Pork is what they do best so I go with the carnitas, chicharrones or trompa."
7. Senor G’s
"This is my [Playa Del Rey] neighborhood go-to for meals with my wife and son. It's a very casual spot but service is sincere and efficient. They do breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as juices and smoothies to order. Everything is pretty tasty but the chile verde and nopales are a must try."
6. Continental Market
"This is not a restaurant per se, but they produce great empanadas. The beef and spinach are my two favorites. You need to preorder if you have a large order."
"The quality of this family-run sushi bar in Seal Beach tops that of most any place that you will find in the city. For pristine fish, an incredible omakase experience and a great list of sakes and wines, Koi is definitely worth the drive."
4. Pine and Crane
"You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu but some standouts for me are the Three Cup Mushroom and Layered Pork Pancake. They make it on to my order every time."
3. Cliff’s Edge
"The food is always artistically presented but more importantly delicious! Seasons dictate the menu offering but when you can get them, the Duck Fat Roasted Parsnips with Dates are insanely good. The Chicken Liver Mousse is also among the best in the city."
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"The menu at Terrine is full of offerings with tons of big, bold flavors. Dishes that have me coming back for more are the Squid Ink Spaghetti and the over-the-top decadent pain perdu."
1. Taco Maria
"This is an all around remarkable restaurant. The dinner menu changes frequently and is incredibly imaginative and soulful. Off of the lunch and brunch menus you have to try the Mushroom Chorizo and Molletes. For me they are the unexpected stars."