There’s no one way to express the essence of dining in Los Angeles — to grasp our food culture’s mix of transience and tenacity, to fully fathom its greatness. Still, it is our job to give readers some guidance. Between us we’ve logged more than 1,000 restaurant meals in the last year, including the visits that inform our weekly reviews. This list is our current working definition of where and how to eat in L.A.

Our freshly compiled roster includes familiar names and brand-new entrants: a Thai Town institution and, a block away, a 12-seat upstart serving intricate stews and fiery salads from Chiang Rai. A Rat Pack hangout, invigorated by new ownership, will see the end of its era when its lease expires in spring 2021; one futuristic restaurant bends notions of the time continuum altogether.

Our living portrait of L.A.’s culinary preeminence caps a decade in which the city received national and international attention it deserves. Everyone knows our tacos are superior; our tasting menus probably are as well. Who knows what delicious revelations the next year will bring?

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1

Kato

  • $$$
  • Taiwanese
  • Sawtelle
Photo of Kato
Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

8乐彩票邀请码Jon Yao, a 28-year-old native of Walnut in the San Gabriel Valley, has an extraordinary gift not only for communicating a sense of place in his food but for conveying his own sense of place in the world. At Kato, he thinks through fish steamed with aromatics and finished with hot oil, a classic of Cantonese and Taiwanese repertoires: His take presents snowy turbot served in a tea made of fish bones, deepened with soy and aged rice wine. A relish of ginger and scallions and a ribbon of kohlrabi dusted with powdered scallion strike chords of fragrance and flavor that keep echoing.

Kato dwells in a two-story West L.A. strip mall, inconspicuous among restaurants that serve tlayudas, pupusas and tonkatsu. The room is spare and oddly angled, with the ephemeral feel of a pop-up.

8乐彩票邀请码At the table, familiar tropes of luxury can appear — the freshest uni atop a two-bite slab of crisped tapioca; Dungeness crab threaded into tremulous chawanmushi — but Yao knows not to take things too seriously. The star dessert is boniato, a tuber in the sweet potato genus, pounded into chewy spheres, covered with farmers cheese and shaved brown butter sablé. It playfully summons boba milk tea, but the bouncing textures and nutty warmth turn the dish into so much more than an exercise in clever mimicry.

8乐彩票邀请码An evening at Kato is a top-tier culinary experience; one can intuit that the food — and the mind behind it — will continue to reach and change in riveting directions. For its self-starting ambition, and its creative urgency, and the seamless pleasure of the experience, we couldn’t find a restaurant that better represents the very marrow of L.A dining.

No alcohol. Lot or street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

2

République

  • $$$
  • French
  • Hancock Park
Photo of République
Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

Luxuriating in seasonality is the great cliché of California dining, but Walter and Margarita Manzke have forged their own singularly appealing place in the genre: They’ve perfected the template for the all-day modern American restaurant. Any talk of République should begin with Margarita’s morning pastry counter, a spectacle of laminated doughs, cakes, canelés, crostatas and tarts (for starters) that ranks among the finest in the country. Arrive soon after 8 a.m. opening or miss out on the raspberry-pistachio kouign-amann and the supreme-for-breakfast fruit pies.

8乐彩票邀请码Lines start early for a morning menu that will gratify pretty much any appetite; favorites include kimchi fried rice with diced short rib, poached eggs and pickled radish, and a blueberry-studded riff on kaiserschmarrn, the fluffy Austrian pancake that veers into souffle territory. Daylight favors République’s spectacularly baroque space, a castle-like complex built by Charlie Chaplin in 1929.

At night the restaurant makes an elegant leap from casual daytime meals to formal dinner service. Start by indulging in Normandy butter and pan drippings (imagine a hallucinatory Thanksgiving gravy) served with a baguette. Farmers market salads, restrained pastas and family-style platters (in summertime look for grilled pork loin, belly and sausages offset with roasted peaches) balance subtlety and full-out hedonism. Need it even be said that Margarita's ever-changing desserts are unmissable?

Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

3

Taco Maria

  • $$$
  • Mexican
  • Orange County
Photo of Taco Maria
Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

Carlos Salgado’s cooking is intellectual, syncretic and modernist, bound up in personal history, heritage and years of fine-dining training. You can see these disparate forces at work on the Taco Maria lunch menu, when you can try Salgado’s cooking a la carte; recently there was aguachile made with Hokkaido scallops; wood-fired pork cheek glazed in dark sugar; and ancho-almond mole draped over Jidori chicken. Salgado’s culinary vision is most fully expressed at dinner, when the restaurant switches to a taco-centric, four-course tasting-menu format. In the winter, dinner might begin with Tahitian butternut squash served with nuts and seeds ground into a nutty sikil p’ak dip, or mole de cacahuate drizzled over skirt steak. Summer may bring on the tocino taco, slivers of pork belly glazed in piloncillo, heaped with slices of stone fruit. For dessert, perhaps there’s a shot of spiced Mexican chocolate. Ingredients are sometimes plated over tortillas whose corn has been as judiciously sourced as the most expensive seafood or wine in the city. Salgado’s cooking is helping build a new language for the way we think and talk about Mexican cooking in California, and he’s doing it out of a tiny kitchen inside an open-air shopping center in Costa Mesa. It’s a wildly impressive feat.

Beer and wine. Mall lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

4

n/naka

  • $$$$
  • Japanese
  • Palms
Photo of n/naka
Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

8乐彩票邀请码On any given day, n/naka is booked months in advance. When you do happen to score a table, it may occur to you halfway through the meal that n/naka is perhaps the most quietly subversive restaurant in the city. The restaurant contests tradition at almost every turn, beginning with chef Niki Nakayama herself: Kaiseki cuisine is historically made only by men. The careful pace of a kaiseki meal, which looks to express the ephemeral sense of a place or season over the course of many small dishes, is another subtle yet profound act of defiance, a stopgap to the sped-up pace of modern life. And there’s the food itself, brilliant in its juxtaposition of Japanese and California moods and ingredients, and radical in its reimagining of what a modern-day kaiseki meal ought to look like. On a recent night, in the quietude of her spare, 26-seat dining room, Nakayama served grilled branzino infused with California eucalyptus, and a melty slab of A5 Japanese Wagyu tucked into a miniature cannoli shell. Dinner culminated, as it always does, with Nakayama’s rule-breaking signature dish, the only thing she repeats for regular diners: spaghetti tossed in a ragù of abalone and pickled cod roe, lightly showered with black truffles. If fortune rewards the brave, then the future bodes well for n/naka.

Beer, wine and sake. Valet or street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

5

Sonoratown

  • $
  • Mexican
  • Downtown
Photo of Sonoratown
Silvia Razgova / For the Times

8乐彩票邀请码Sonoratown is Jennifer Feltham and Teodoro Diaz-Rodriguez’s culinary love letter to San Luis Río Colorado, the Arizona-Sonora border town where Diaz-Rodriguez was weaned on the basic dyad of modern norte?o cooking: wheat flour tortillas and mesquite-grilled beef. The menu is basic, economical and utterly satisfying, revolving around carne asada, quesadillas in various configurations and guisados-filled chivichangas. For its carne asada, the kitchen uses mesquite-grilled short ribs, seasoned sparingly and chopped to smithereens. The beef is draped in salsa roja and guacamole and then folded into a handmade flour tortilla. The tortillas — marvelously stretchy and buttery — are at the heart of the Sonoratown enterprise. They have single-handedly raised the tortilla batting average for the entire city of Los Angeles. The kitchen sources ingredients with impressive fastidiousness: Feltham has been known to drive several hours by car to pick up bags of the soft Sonoran flour available only on the Mexican side of the border. Sonoratown’s achievement goes beyond excellent carne asada and flour tortillas, though — the restaurant is helping restore the historic primacy of northern Mexican cooking in Los Angeles.

No alcohol. Street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

6

Dialogue

  • $$$$
  • American
  • Santa Monica
Photo of Dialogue
Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times

8乐彩票邀请码Dave Beran’s 18-seat tasting-menu restaurant hides behind a locked door on the second floor of a food court along Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade. It is the uncanniest location in America for a modernist dinner — or maybe, given the immersive narrative that keeps the focus almost solely on the plate, the most appropriate. Beran structures meals very loosely around the model of Japanese kaiseki: The restaurant’s menu changes four times a year, in communion with winter, spring, summer or fall, but in the progression of 20 courses the meal also references the previous and coming seasons.

Beyond the setup, things turn cerebral quickly: This summer’s menu, for example, began with motifs of spring; the kickoff course, called “the first sprout,” resembled dirt and involved a puree of burnt bread, preserved cherry, braised celery root and Bing cherries pickled in sour beer. It sounds wild and weird like a science project, but the flavors make so much sense and, more important, are a plain joy to eat. This is the gift that makes Beran a world-class chef: His outré ideas manifest into deliciousness. With the help of staff such as chef de partie McKenna Lelah, who established close relationships with local farmers, Dialogue has rooted and evolved since opening in 2017. When Beran started off, he was cooking the California of the mind. Now he’s also more cogently expressing the California of the soil.

Beer, wine and sake. Nearby city lot parking. Reservation only. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »
  • 7

    Centenoplex (Orsa & Winston, Bar Amá, B?co Mercat)

    • $$$$
    • Spanish
    • Downtown
    Photo of Centenoplex (Orsa & Winston, Bar Amá, B?co Mercat)
    Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

    The two restaurants that sit side by side downtown near the intersection of 4th and Main streets do not appear to have much in common. Orsa & Winston is a 32-seat tasting-menu restaurant that merges Italian and Japanese cuisines, a gambit that rarely succeeds. It does here. Bar Amá is the California embassy for Tex-Mex cuisine, where queso, cheddary enchiladas and picadillo-stuffed peppers receive the noble rendering they deserve. (If you don’t accept Tex-Mex as one of America’s salient regional cuisines, let’s meet at the bar and have it out over nachos and margaritas.) Josef Centeno, a San Antonio native who has cooked at high temples of gastronomy across America, is chef and owner of these opposites, which stand as equals. By the way: In case tasting menus don’t appeal — even $85 five-coursers serving beauties such as rice porridge with uni cream, Hokkaido scallop and Parmesan — please don’t overlook Orsa & Winston. Centeno began serving an a la carte roster of “snacks” at the restaurant this year that keeps growing in its ambitions; the squid ink spaghettini puttanesca is reason enough to swing by, and you’ll find his handmade pastas on the a la carte lunch menu.

    Centeno may be the city’s most creatively restive chef, which is evident at each of his restaurants but arguably most so at B?co Mercat, the longest-running of his downtown trio. The many countries that touch the Mediterranean Sea provide its primary inspiration, but its geoposition can never be exactly pinpointed. A dip of eggplant, fava beans and za’atar and abalone in browned butter with tomatoes and capers remain constants (for now), but pounce when fried chicken with coleslaw and patatas bravas is a special. Collectively, Centenoplex represents a chef at the apex of his powers, a single downtown block with portals to many cultures.

    Wine and beer. Street and lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    8

    Hayato

    • $$$$
    • Japanese
    • Downtown
    Photo of Hayato
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    The latest world-class dining experience in Los Angeles is a signless, seven-seat restaurant, all but anonymous among the concrete gorges of the Row DTLA complex. For three hours, aided by a few chefs who dash in and out of sight, Brandon Hayato Go stands at the restaurant’s central counter, wielding chopsticks and knives to compose dishes of profound beauty. He pulls inspiration from the canonical structure of kaiseki, emphasizing a blur of different cooking techniques (fried, simmered, grilled and so on); he also takes exhilarating liberties with the form.

    A dinner of 10 to 12 courses will segue through sushi and sashimi; pairings of seafood and vegetables in weightless tempura; and nabe, or hot pot, filled perhaps with crab, nappa cabbage and shiitake mushrooms. By the last savory course — rice and fish donabe served in a copper pot, made with second or third helpings in mind — diners are often peppering Go with questions, nearly silly from the elation of an astounding meal.

    Reservations for Hayato become available at 10 a.m. on the first of the month for the following month’s seatings. They are the stuff of smartphone alarms and hoped-for cancellations. Would-be solo diners may have the easiest time snagging the odd seventh seat. On Fridays and Saturdays, Go also assembles a small number of $50 lunchtime bento boxes that require an online reservation. They’re nearly as difficult to score as a dinner booking, but persevere. They contain over a dozen meticulous morsels: shrimp dumplings, slices of rolled omelet, miso-infused cod, blocks of snow crab tofu, pickled vegetables, seared duck breast. In small bites, as with long meals, Go achieves glory.

    Beer, wine and sake. Lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    9

    Mozzaplex

    • $$$
    • Italian
    • Hancock Park
    Photo of Mozzaplex
    Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angele Times

    In Los Angeles, the southwest corner of Highland and Melrose belongs to Nancy Silverton, the pastry and bread savant whose many influential restaurants have made her one of the city’s leading culinary figures. The neighborhood complex of Italian restaurants that she operates with partner Joe Bastianich includes Pizzeria Mozza, where I once ate a wood-fired pizza topped with fried parsley, Meyer lemon and Fresno chiles that made every other pizza in the world seem wan by comparison. (Much of the Pizzeria Mozza menu is available at the takeout counter around the corner, Mozza2Go.) At Chi Spacca, a temple of Italian salumi and dry-aged steaks, the ultra-rich beef cheek and bone marrow pot pie activates pleasure receptors you didn’t even know existed. Next door at Osteria Mozza, an elegant dining room with wine bottles lining the walls, feather-light gnocchi is simmered in a duck ragu with more depth than the last 10 I have eaten. The best seat in the house is at the L-shaped mozzarella bar in the middle of the dining room, where burrata plates (often assembled by Silverton herself) parade across the smooth Italian marble.

    See website for details about Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza, Chi Spacca and Mozza2Go. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    10

    Providence

    • $$$$
    • American
    • Hollywood
    Photo of Providence
    Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

    A common platitude holds that Los Angeles isn’t a fine-dining town. Actually, the city is a paradigm for how many ways one can characterize “fine dining.” Providence hearkens to a celebratory, European style of sumptuousness that is disappearing locally and nationally, and it upholds the institution magnificently. The staff spins a cocoon around every table; diners may fill every available seat yet your party feels like the only ones in the room. Michael Cimarusti won the Best Chef: West James Beard Award this year for Providence’s lavish, worldly expressions of seafood. He has his local darlings of the sea — geoduck, Dungeness crab, rockfish, spot prawns — but his staging of them changes ceaselessly. During a recent tasting menu, a prawn arrived between richer courses on a bed of shiso and basil leaves; I peeled the critter, splashed it with nuoc cham and wrapped it in the herbs to devour it. Cimarusti understands tempo and crescendo and surprise. If you’re indulging, go ahead and order the special egg, soft scrambled and returned to its shell, gilded with uni and Champagne beurre blanc. Luxury lunching also falls into the near-extinct category in America; Providence excels equally in the daytime and evening.

    Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    11

    Bavel

    • $$$
    • Middle Eastern
    • Downtown
    Photo of Bavel
    Mariah Tauger / For The Times

    No atlas exists that can trace the exact geographic influences of Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis’ second Arts District restaurant. Menashe was raised in Israel and also comes from Turkish and Moroccan roots; Gergis’ family is of Egyptian ancestry. With Bavel’s menu they pay homage to their personal lineages, but the food traverses Southern California and the terrain of their own imaginations too. A whirl of hummus, nearly as smooth as yogurt, topped with a pool of duck ’nduja is the passport dish into their worldview; the soft, pancake-shaped pita served alongside will fill you too quickly, but you’ll keep eating anyway. Swing to something lighter — grilled prawns marinated in harissa and served with a clever tzatziki that subs zucchini for the usual cucumbers — then dive back into the deep end with the signature lamb neck shawarma (more straight-from-the-oven flatbread; more futile resistance) or the beef cheek tagine over couscous. Ordering at least one of Gergis’ desserts is non-negotiable — a Levantine version of a Pop-Tart filled with strawberry and sweet cheese if you saved room, or mulberry ice cream if you can only manage one bite. Like Bestia, the couple’s first blockbuster restaurant, Bavel is bombastically popular and yell-across-the-table loud. Even in the fray, the long vines cascading from a suspended garden in the center of the room manage to make it feel like an oasis.

    Full bar. Valet or street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »
  • 12

    Trois Mec

    • $$$$
    • French
    • Hollywood
    Photo of Trois Mec
    Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

    There is Ludo Lefebvre, phone in hand, pacing behind the counter of his restaurant with the intensity of a caged jaguar. “Rookie mistake,” he sighs, when one of his cooks leaves a waffle roasting too long in the oven. Then he pats the cook on the shoulder and goes about the business of finishing the night’s dinner service. Trois Mec is one of the city’s great tasting-menu restaurants, and Lefebvre one of its great culinary personalities. It’s the creative, meticulous cooking at Trois Mec, not a stately dining room or wine cellar, that makes you long for regular ringside seats at the restaurant. The French-leaning restaurant he operates with partners Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook, shoehorned into a former pizza parlor, has helped redefine what we mean by fine dining. Dinner might begin with Lefebvre’s mustard crème br?lée, or maybe the aforementioned seafood waffle, beautifully crisp, drizzled with a Vietnamese-inspired vinaigrette. Maybe there will be a sliver of ripe avocado superimposed over lime-tinged, salted cod cream; spears of steamed asparagus served with Parmesan custard and caviar; and, for dessert, creme fraiche panna cotta, followed by a fruity lozenge of strawberry mochi. Whatever is on the menu, it will be surprising, and invariably delicious.

    Beer and wine. Valet or street parking. Reservations required. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    13

    Cassia

    • $$$
    • Vietnamese, French
    • Santa Monica
    Photo of Cassia
    Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

    When it opened in 2015, Cassia received local and national raves for Bryant Ng’s style-plus-substance merger of Vietnamese, Singaporean, French and California cuisines in a big, cacophonous Art Deco building around the corner from the Santa Monica Public Library. The buzz has calmed, the noise, particularly on weekdays, is often less thunderous now, and the restaurant has settled in as one of the decade’s defining Los Angeles dining experiences. Pot-au-feu trumpets Ng’s brand of genius, a brawny mix of short rib and jutting bone marrow in pho-inspired broth fragrant with star anise. Seafood dishes show off equal savvy. Grilled sea bass riddled with turmeric and dill channels Hanoi’s famous cha ca la vong; lime leaf and lemongrass perfume a gorgeous pan roast of oysters, crab and shrimp. For Cassia’s overall excellence and its contributions to expanding definitions of Southern California cooking, Ng, with his business partner and wife, Kim Luu-Ng, received the third annual 8乐彩票邀请码 Award at The Times’ Food Bowl in May.

    Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    14

    Here’s Looking at You

    • $$$
    • American
    • Koreatown
    Photo of Here’s Looking at You
    Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times

    At first glance Jonathan Whitener’s menu might jangle the brain. “Bone marrow, yuzu, green peppercorn, red onion, parsley, perilla” abuts “turkey tails, harissa, white bbq, parsley,” which bumps into “frog’s legs, salsa negra, scallion, lime, s&p.” Many ingredients, much splicing of cultures. His cooking is like Los Angeles in this regard and, to the point, has a beautiful cohesion. His dishes click. Harry Chin’s complex and lucid cocktails, created with tiki’s sweet-sour-savory fluidity as inspiration, demand similar attention. His gin drinks particularly match starters such as shishito peppers and tonnato, the smooth Italian tuna sauce. Lien Ta, who owns the Koreatown restaurant with Whitener, leads a front-of-house staff of true believers: They understand this food and its place in the microcosm, and their relaxed confidence will nudge you into believing too.

    Full bar. Valet. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »
  • (626) 350-8286
  • Website
  • 16

    Sqirl

    • $$
    • American
    • East Hollywood
    Photo of Sqirl
    Mariah Tauger / For the Times

    Jessica Koslow’s restaurant is at the heart of the modern-day craft food boomlet in California, an unassuming temple of West Coast seasonality, preservation, perfect toast and things in bowls. There’s a casual quality about Koslow’s cooking that belies its rigor: Her famous sorrel pesto rice bowl requires multiple cheffy techniques — pickling, fermenting, poaching — but it eats as if it’s the simplest thing in the world to throw together. Koslow’s genius is in her perfectionist’s drive to translate the landscape and its fleeting flavors onto the plate. Like a winemaker, she understands that jams are a pure expression of terroir, and that perfect fruits will yield perfect jams. More than any other contemporary L.A. restaurant, Sqirl taps into the city’s sunny, feel-good ethos, and celebrates the mythology of California as a place where the bounty is always great and the food is both wholesome and delicious. When you stand in line at Sqirl, you are often shoulder to shoulder with people from all over the world who have come to experience that version of California, fellow dreamers of the golden dream.

    No alcohol. Street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    17

    Rossoblu

    • $$$
    • Italian
    • Downtown
    Photo of Rossoblu
    Calvin B. Alagot / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码Steve Samson spent parts of his childhood growing up in Bologna, the capital of Italy’s fertile northern region Emilia-Romagna — a literal culinary wonderland that gave the world Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, prosciutto di Parma, aceto balsamico and some of Italy’s most recognizable stuffed pastas. Samson’s menu isn’t dogmatic about serving only Bolognese dishes, but they’re the terra firma upon which the restaurant builds its foundation: tortellini in brodo filled with two kinds of meat in four different forms; Parmesan dumplings that are gently plonked into cloudy broth tableside; the sort of light-handed lasagna one usually has to book a flight to experience; milk-braised pork shoulder, the meat’s every molecule sweetened and transformed. Above all else, make room to share pastas, including the impeccable tagliatelle al ragù Bolognese; Rossoblu is among our finest noodle practitioners, wholly worth the trek to its isolated warehouse-hip corner of downtown’s Fashion District. Those still mourning the recent closure of Samson’s Sotto and its standout pizzas can swing around the corner from Rossoblu for a slice or a whole pie at his carryout operation, Superfine (open until 10 p.m. most nights).

    Full bar. Valet and street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    18

    Lukshon

    • $$$
    • Southeast Asian
    • Culver City
    Photo of Lukshon
    Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码It is a custom among Los Angeles food critics to cite Lukshon as one of the city’s most undervalued restaurants; I gladly take up the torch. Its dining room, ensconced in Culver City’s Helms Bakery complex, should be more mobbed midday in particular; lunch on the shaded patio is spectacular. Chef Sang Yoon’s menu arises out of no one nation. He plucks ideas from Vietnamese, Sichuan, Thai, Malaysian and Korean cuisines, but he doesn’t much consider borders when coloring in his culinary maps. His imagination even occasionally wanders to New England. The lobster roll banh mi, spiked with crackly-chewy pig’s ear terrine and folded into buttered toast, is a rightful menu fixture; more recently he introduced clam chowder airlifted to Southwest Asia with coconut cream and Chiang Mai-style sausage. Cocktails, rife with herbs and fruits, skirt similarly limitless frontiers. The restaurant also invests in single-origin teas, including floral Taiwanese oolongs that match Yoon’s beguiling flavor combinations.

    Full bar. Lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    19

    Somni (The Bazaar)

    • $$$$
    • Spanish
    • Beverly Grove
    Photo of Somni (The Bazaar)
    Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码José Andrés’ two dining rooms inside the SLS Beverly Hills aren’t conventional hotel restaurants. The Bazaar debuted a decade ago, a Spanish-inspired small-plates restaurant offering traditional delicacies (slivers of jamón ibérico) and modernist concoctions (cocktails fashioned out of cotton candy). Last year, Andrés and his team replaced Saam, the tasting-menu dining room inside the Bazaar, with Somni, led by chef Aitor Zabala. Somni is a pricey, 10-seat chef’s counter situated in a spare, dome-like space with a full view onto a well-lit exhibition kitchen. Like the Bazaar, Somni is frequently theatrical, riffing on Spanish modernist tropes and technique for a 20-course-or-more dinner punctuated by flashes of surreality (Margherita pizza constructed from tomato-flavored meringue) and seasonal flourishes (fresas con nata). Collectively, the two restaurants’ allure has to do with their innate playfulness and continually evolving menus, qualities that can be otherwise hard to find in this part of town.

    Both Somni and the Bazaar, (310) 246-5555, are inside SLS Beverly Hills. Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »
  • (213) 624-2378
  • 21

    Majordomo

    • $$$
    • American
    • Chinatown
    Photo of Majordomo
    Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

    When David Chang’s first restaurant in California opened in early 2018, it was an event: The globally known chef who’d once famously dismissed the 8乐彩票邀请码en State’s culinary ethos as nothing more than a plate of figs finally joined the conversation. Rhapsodic Changian dishes arrived with him: peppers filled with Tennessee-style sock sausage, blobs of odiferous raclette shaved onto short-rib stew straight from the wheel, enormous smoked ribs rolled out on carts. With executive chef Jude Parra-Sickels at the daily helm, Majordomo has settled comfortably into the firmament of Los Angeles dining. Arguably, the most pleasurable time to eat at the restaurant is during weekend lunch. Daytime light flatters the concrete beauty of the renovated warehouse space; the staff seems more relaxed; the made-to-share entrees are a little more manageable in size and ambition. A dish of skewered ground short-rib meat captures the kitchen’s intuitive synthesis of cuisines at its smartest: The preparation links Korean dduk galbi with Persian kebab traditions. It comes over a bed of lemon rice with kimchi, lettuce wraps and herbs, spiced yogurt, and a riff on the spicy Yemeni green sauce zhoug. Everything meshes sublimely.

    Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    22

    Bon Temps

    • $$$
    • French
    • Downtown
    Photo of Bon Temps
    Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码At a time when many restaurants write off desserts as an afterthought — throw together a sundae, outsource a Key lime pie — Bon Temps swerves strategically in the opposite direction. Lincoln Carson, a lauded pastry chef who opened his first solo restaurant this year in the Arts District, makes erudite sweets that are themselves reason to head downtown. These include a stately, intricately flavored chocolate soufflé; a fruit Pavlova flipped upside down with a meringue nearly as big as a portobello mushroom cap; a meticulous circle of silky cheesecake wittily named “Gateaux Philadelphia.” The whole menu conveys his aesthetics, though, with savory dishes full of sculptural geometries and swoops of sauces. Simplify group decisions by ordering two outrageous feasts: a sumptuous platter of chicken involving truffle paste, creamed leeks and dark meat turned into fried sausage, followed by Carson’s ode to the caramel-cloaked St. Honoré cake, a confection orbited by choux pastry globes and clouds of piped cream. Morning pastries, including a cream-cheese-stuffed croissant covered in everything bagel seasoning that is, indeed, everything, are excellent, affordable introductions to his wizardry.

    Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    23

    Meals by Genet

    • $$
    • Ethiopian
    • Carthay
    Photo of Meals by Genet
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码Genet Agonafer’s vegetarian combination platter is among the city’s supreme meat-free extravagances, a color wheel of ruddy lentils and orange-tinted split peas, turmeric-stained cabbage, greens, tomato salad and lemony beets. They’re arranged over injera that’s thinner and more pleasantly sour than most versions served in restaurants. This is a complete meal, filling and uplifting. That said? The meat dishes also persuade mightily. Heated butter with cardamom and other spices infuses pristine kitfo, the Ethiopian counterpart to steak tartare. Yebeg siga alicha, a mildly garlicky lamb stew, is a menu underdog; most diners understandably order Agonafer’s doro wat, chicken in a sauce fueled by sweet-sharp berbere and cooked for two days until everything is profoundly interconnected. Agonafer presides regally over her Little Ethiopia restaurant, in and out of the kitchen, weaving among tables covered with white cloths and glass tops, checking in on customers, her presence as warming as her food.

    Wine and beer. Street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    24

    Bestia

    • $$$
    • Italian
    • Downtown
    Photo of Bestia
    Christina House / For The Times

    Before walking into Bestia’s concrete bunker of a dining room I brace involuntarily, as if walking into a downpour. Only instead of pelting rain, it’s a torrent of decibels and bodies. Why do the crowds never let up at Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis’ first Arts District rumpus? Because of the bombastic food in the eye of the storm. Menashe grabs the notion of California-Italian cooking by its neck, and then he pummels it with chiles, salt-cures it in squid ink and buries it in burnt breadcrumbs. Take out the day’s aggressions by destroying a pizza splattered with ’nduja and fennel pollen or thwacked with guanciale, capers and Aleppo pepper. The blood pressure lowers while savoring pici (an extra-thick relative of spaghetti) in a sultry lamb ragù or smoked chicken liver paté with preserved lemon. I know people who show up solo at the bar (the only way to slip in without a reservation — maybe) just for the charred bone marrow over spinach gnocchetti. Gergis’ desserts are fleeting pleasures — here’s hoping her summer berry pudding cake returns next July — but her maple ricotta fritters are a year-round balm.

    Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    25

    Kismet

    • $$$
    • Mediterranean
    • East Hollywood
    Photo of Kismet
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    Until recently I would have most readily recommended an early lunch at Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson’s all-day Los Feliz restaurant. That’s mostly due to their “Turkish-ish breakfast,” a $26 spread, enough for two or three people, which usually includes labneh with cucumbers coated in verdant, spicy zhoug; jammy-yolked eggs speckled red from tart sumac; “flaky bread,” a riff on Yemeni malawach; and a rotating cast of vegetable salads. Lately I’ve been showing up at night, when the move is making a meal out of four or five medium-size plates: fritters made of freekeh, fried cauliflower with yogurt, lamb belly with carob syrup, a take on the Persian crisped-rice staple tahdig. It’s a tricky feat to parse flavors from myriad cuisines of the Middle East and North Africa and direct them through a California lens, but Kramer and Hymanson pull it off with respect. The beverage list is full of individualist vintners whose left-of-center efforts fall under the broad definition of “natural wine”; in any case they pair superbly with Kismet’s eclectic cooking.

    Wine and beer. Street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    26

    Le Comptoir

    • $$$$
    • French
    • Koreatown
    Photo of Le Comptoir
    Mariah Tauger / For the Times

    8乐彩票邀请码Dinner at Le Comptoir begins with a short preamble from chef Gary Menes, who stands behind the 10-seat chef’s counter inside the Hotel Normandie and explains the structure of the menu, the provenance of the ingredients (most of the vegetables are grown at his organic garden in Long Beach) and the virtues of the carefully sourced, single-origin coffees available at the end of the meal. Then Menes turns up the music — everything from vintage jazz to Jay-Z — and gets to work. What follows next is a procession of beautifully calibrated courses, centered around vegetables: a velvety purple artichoke soup poured over cashew yogurt and fried bread crumbs; a poached egg simmered in brown butter and fresh lemon; an elaborate, brightly mosaicked plate of bite-size vegetables, fruits and tweezer-placed herbs. You can supplement your meal with lobster or grass-fed beef, but Menes’ California-French cooking is most mesmerizing when he is extracting maximum flavor out of a sugar snap pea or slice of peach. And his signature dessert — doughnut holes made using a 20-something-year-old sourdough starter — inspire a rush of euphoria that’s hard to shake.

    Inside Hotel Normandie. Wine. Valet parking available at the hotel. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »
  • 27

    Broken Spanish

    • $$$
    • Mexican
    • Downtown
    Photo of Broken Spanish
    Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

    As the restaurant’s name alludes, the key to relishing Ray Garcia’s cooking is to not dwell too much on province or region, or where true-minded Mexican culinary traditions blur with Angeleno modernism. Trust his melding and imagining. Albondigas made with duck meat and blasted with bacon and chipotle push the classic meatball dish to smokier, spicier outer limits. Tamales filled with shredded lamb neck and king oyster mushrooms or with spinach, celeriac, feta, green garlic and pistachio etch new paths through the brain’s pleasure centers. His chicharrónshowstopper involves a massive block of pork belly rubbed with chiles and garlic, submerged in a sous-vide bath and then fried to order. His brand of mind-expanding cuisine lends itself to group dining; Broken Spanish is a standup choice for dining before or after an event at Staples Center. I’m also partial to a solo dinner at the bar on a quieter night. I could make an entire meal out of blue corn tortillas, made in the open kitchen by the restaurant’s entrance, slathered with whipped carnitas fat or swiped through wonderfully rich refried lentils. A shot of pechuga mezcal chases it all down.

    Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    28

    Petit Trois

    • $$$
    • French
    • Hollywood
    Photo of Petit Trois
    Silvia Razgova / For The Times

    The first Petit Trois — chef Ludo Lefebvre’s 22-seat bar in Hollywood, a partnership with Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo — remains one of the great French escapist fantasies in America. Lefebvre pours his Gallic-Angeleno soul into paradigms such as the blond rolled omelet, filled ironically but perfectly with Boursin; escargots awash in butter and garlic; and endive salad blanketed with shaved Ubriaco cheese and walloped with a mulchy vinaigrette of ground walnuts. The Big Mec deluged with Bordelaise, garlic aioli, caramelized onions and American cheese could well be the last word in over-the-top luxury burgers; then again, the tall, aggressively cheesy croque-madame might be even more deserving of praise and calorie allotments. The second, much larger Petit Trois in Sherman Oaks splits the difference between intimate bistro and soaring brasserie; it’s a boon for the community (and features more of pastry chef Rachel De Jong’s desserts; yes to the rice pudding with salted caramel ice cream) but the tiny original will always have the bigger piece of my heart.

    Full bar. Valet and street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    29

    Porridge + Puffs

    • $
    • Filipino
    • Westlake
    Photo of Porridge + Puffs
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    At her calm, quirky, Historic Filipinotown sanctuary, Minh Phan begins her porridges by simmering Kokuho Rose rice from Central California’s Koda Farms with aromatics; she uses this base like staves on blank sheet music, adding meats, pickles and other garnishes to build melodies and counterpoints. Her creations revolve constantly, though one steadfast option with chicken, mushrooms, pickled celery and soy-spiked ground turkey is an ideal introduction to her quietly spectacular brand of comfort food. In warmer months I veer toward Phan’s vivid fermented tea salad strewn with nuts and of-the-moment vegetables and fruits. “Puffs” are hot, deep-fried sticks of dough that most resemble youtiao, the Chinese crullers often served with congee for breakfast. They can be ordered with powdered sugar and dipping creams but I prefer them plain and savory; the true draw for dessert is the melting mochi cakes drizzled with miso caramel. Though the restaurant deserves to be busier, Porridge + Puff’s minimalist room is a reprieve from the madding world.

    No alcohol. Street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    30

    Auburn

    • $$$$
    • American
    • Hollywood
    Photo of Auburn
    Silvia Razgova / For The Times

    8乐彩票邀请码Eric Bost’s solo restaurant debut lays out a blueprint for how special-occasion experiences can still dazzle as we arrive at the 2020s. His menu has 12 items, including three desserts. Choose any of them in a progression of four, six or nine courses. Want cheese and all sweets, or nothing but seafood and vegetables? Done. The cooking finds rare equilibrium between head and heart. A dish such as box crab meat with various essences of tomato and seaweed looks downright surgical in its tweezered perfectionism, but then the ease of the flavors melts the day’s tensions. Warmed, runny, just-funky-enough époisses spooned over soft sunchokes is frank, luxurious pleasure. Bost has an ideal counterpart in pastry chef Dyan Ng. Her signature dish pairs chilled yogurt with caramel deglazed using mushroom stock. Yes, mushroom caramel; it’s amazing, a dessert even non-dessert lovers can swoon over. Meals unfold in a storied Melrose Avenue building — previous tenants include the late Michel Richard’s Citrus and Hatfield’s — among exposed oak beams, soothingly blank walls, leather the color of white peaches and a purple-leaf acacia growing in the center of the dining room. It looks like the house of the friends whose home you most covet. You won’t want to leave.

    Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    31

    Shunji

    • $$$$
    • Japanese
    • Sawtelle
    Photo of Shunji
    Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码Shunji is the city’s most uninhibited omakase experience. Shunji Nakao trusts himself, and so we trust him — to serve us barracuda nigiri, sweet corn puree with shrimp and caviar, tomato condensed to the texture of tofu and chawanmushi overlaid with uni and truffles. He has the gift for knowing what shapes and seasonings make a piece of fish taste most startlingly of itself. The staff is excellent at pairing sakes that can keep up with the food’s swings and curveballs. Make a reservation at the bar; a table in the dining room can feel lonely, even though the dining room is small. Speaking of which: A serious, big-ticket sushi restaurant housed in a 1930s-era building designed in the shape of a chili bowl? It really is one of the most delightful possible expressions of only-in-Los-Angeles weirdness.

    Beer, wine and sake. Lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    32

    Rustic Canyon

    • $$$
    • American
    • Santa Monica
    Photo of Rustic Canyon
    Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

    A room of mixed woods envelops you in its bustling din and butterscotch lighting. Mezcal sours are sipped alongside almonds distantly perfumed with lavender and generous, taut slices of coppa. Beaming servers wear bespoke aprons. Calling-card dishes (yielding pozole in salsa verde with mussels; a “beets and berries” salad enriched with avocado, pistachios and quinoa; polenta cake) mingle among seasonal surprises such as chanterelle toast with fennel butter and mango. Sounds like a quintessential Southern California restaurant, right? That’s Rustic Canyon. The kitchen, run by executive chef Andy Doubrava, must surely house a teleportation machine that sends the Santa Monica farmers market’s finest hauls straight to the restaurant. Sommelier Ferdinando Mucerino honors Rustic Canyon’s roots as a wine bar: Look for a $30 bottle of Grecian sparkling wine, a feisty Oregonian white called the Assassination of Chardonnay and pinot noirs from at least three continents in every imaginable price tier.

    Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    33

    Sun Nong Dan

    • $$
    • Korean
    • Koreatown
    Photo of Sun Nong Dan
    Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码Much of the menu at this Koreatown darling, open 24 hours every day, focuses on variations of sullungtang, the cloudy, vitality-restoring soup made from slowly simmering beef bones. But the impatient crowds milling outside its strip-mall fa?ade at noon or 6 p.m. aren’t here for a hangover cure. Most have come, friends in tow, for the galbi jjim. a crimson hill of short ribs, gochugaru-flecked potatoes and chewy rice cakes that easily feeds four. Cheese will be requested; phones will be brandished. The server delivers the galbi jjim in a stone pot on a wooden platter, sprinkles shredded mozzarella, pulls out a no-joke blowtorch and aims it at the stew until the cheese melts. Humans can’t resist staring into fire; everyone in the restaurant gapes mesmerized, every time. Another staffer follows with scissors, snipping the meat into manageable pieces. The stew is a miracle. It soothes, it burns, it satisfies, it exhilarates, and it will make you look like an Instagram baller.

    Beer, wine and soju only at San Gabriel location. Valet and street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    34

    Taste of Tehran

    • $$
    • Persian
    • West Los Angeles
    Photo of Taste of Tehran
    Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times

    Saghar Fanisalek grew up in Shiraz, an ancient city in south-central Iran. Seek out her six-table restaurant hidden among Westwood’s throngs of Iranian American cafes and markets. Her menu dabbles in modernist concoctions such as spiced lentil-quinoa salad with raisins and dates, but the heart of her cooking lands squarely in tradition: kebabs, rice and dips, all prepared with exacting finesse. Koobideh kebabs display a master’s hand, the grated onion in the tender-singed beef added in just the right proportions, every bite precisely seasoned. Same for the lemony grilled chicken and nicely singed cubes of filet mignon; the trio can be ordered as a combo. Over a few visits I noticed enough regulars composing forkfuls of grilled trout (a frequent special) with rice and charred tomato that I finally ordered the dish and instantly understood its balanced appeal. Amid heartening people-watching in an understated but wholly welcoming space, the restaurant is a wonderful way to experience the finest of culinary Tehrangeles.

    No alcohol. Street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    35

    Gjusta

    • $$
    • American
    • Venice
    Photo of Gjusta
    Christina House / For The Times

    This may sound like a very Venice thing to say, but: Remember to breathe at Gjusta. The lunchtime mobs can feel engulfing. Before ordering, while keeping an eye and ear out for your ticket number to come up, careen among the other would-be diners and take in the enormity of the deli-bakery-plus selections. What to choose? Maybe a slab of the pizza just pulled from the oven? A small heap or two of something green — perhaps chilled, garlicky broccolini or a meaty chopped salad? A plate of house-cured lox, pickled herring and smoked mackerel? Surely a sandwich: possibly the signature porchetta melt or the banh mi variant crammed with smoked brisket. Throw in the herbed rotisserie chicken to go, with sides of tzatziki, chimichurri and harissa, for dinner. Don’t forget a slice of carrot cake or fruit galette. Scramble to find a seat on the patio, where staffers will deliver your food. Depending on your decisions, it can feel like a picnic or a proper meal. How, given the volume, is everything so uniformly satisfying? The entrance, with its wood-framed screen door, remains unmarked. Too bad Gjusta is nobody’s secret.

    Full bar. Street and limited lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    36

    Chichen Itza/Holbox

    • $
    • Mexican
    • Historic South-Central
    Photo of Chichen Itza/Holbox
    Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码At lunchtime, every office worker within a five-mile radius seems to be gathered inside the Mercado La Paloma complex near USC. The most coveted seat inside the busy food court is the chef’s counter at Holbox, the broadly Yucatán-style marisqueria from Gilberto Cetina Jr. The menu teems with fresh, exquisitely prepared seafood: yellowtail-uni ceviche; griddled scallop tacos with chile morita; smoked fish tostadas with an arbol-peanut soy sauce. The mariscos cocktails are excellent; the mixta is a sweet-sour goblet of octopus, wild Mexican shrimp and oysters in a citrus-spiked sauce. Across the room, the Cetina family’s Chichen Itza restaurant continues to make soulful renditions of Yucatecan classics. There is a lovely cochinita pibil; the mesquite-grilled pork shoulder called poc chuc; and bowls of citrusy sopa de lima. Try the papadzules, corn tortillas stuffed with slices of hard-boiled egg, blanketed in a creamy sauce of roasted pumpkin seeds and epazote. The hardest decision you’ll make all day is when you walk into Mercado La Paloma and you must decide whether to eat at Holbox or Chichen Itza, but rest easy: There is no way you’ll go wrong.

    No alcohol. Lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    37

    Northern Thai Food Club

    • $
    • Thai
    • East Hollywood
    Photo of Northern Thai Food Club
    Silvia Razgova / For The Times

    To understand what splendidly sets apart “Nancy” Amphai Dunne’s 12-seat Thai Town restaurant, meet her at the steam table. The steel barge is a transporter to her native Chiang Rai, Thailand’s northernmost province. She’s constantly tending intricate, brothy stews such as gaeng hung lay, a pork belly curry animated by chiles, sour-sweet tamarind and the zap of julienned ginger. On the table’s left side sits a warming rack laid out with coils of sausage, small battered fish and knobby fried pork ribs; zero in on the sai ua, Chiang Rai’s remarkable, herb-packed pork links coursing with lemongrass. Once you’ve navigated the steam-table specialties, pad the meal with some menu items: green mango salad, khao soi (make sure to douse it with chile oil and squeezes of lime) and a brooding, extra-meaty version of pork larb. Anyone invested in the ecology of L.A.’s Thai dining landscape should put Dunne’s tiny storefront on their itinerary right this minute.

    No alcohol. Lot and street parking. Cash only. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    38

    Alimento

    • $$$
    • Italian
    • Silver Lake
    Photo of Alimento
    Mariah Tauger / For the Times

    8乐彩票邀请码Alimento is the charismatic kid in your high school class who fit in well among several cliques without committing to one group or label. The restaurant rides the line between neighborhood staple and citywide destination. It’s a great choice for a promising first date. Families with food-loving teenagers will find dinner here worthy of an occasional Sunday night splurge. Zach Pollack’s Italian menu at once upholds and rebuffs tradition: He turns tortellini in brodo into soup dumplings. A dish of scallop crudo derives its acid and heat from Japanese yuzu kosho. I can’t escape spaghetti in tomato sauce with Dungeness crab everywhere in the city; this is the version, finished with bottarga-laced breadcrumbs, that nails the tensions between sweetness and sharpness, creaminess and crunch. The wine list leans to small producers and amiable oddballs. Brunch, new at the restaurant this year, caters to brunch haters: An eggy, cheesy, porky English muffin sandwich says breakfast, a punchy chopped salad with salami and anchovy epitomizes lunch, and the culinary twain, if so desired, need never meet.

    Wine and beer. Street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    39

    Ma’am Sir

    • $$
    • Filipino
    • Silver Lake
    Photo of Ma’am Sir
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    Rattan-covered light fixtures swaying over the bar; a tropical, leafy pattern in the dining room that resurrects the 1980s with its peach-and-seafoam-green color scheme: The boisterous, beachy decor at this Silver Lake draw sets an upbeat mood for the Filipino glories that follow. Cocktails such as Hala Kahiki (pineapple, mezcal, fernet, tamarind and black pepper) prime the palate for starters like uni-gilded lumpia filled with shrimp mousse and lardo. Sizzling sisig is a tour de force featuring various cuts of pork braised, grilled, chopped and then depth-charged with onion, vinegar, chile and the extra-sour juice from calamansi citrus. Look for the comforting adobo rice bowl overlaid with braised chicken thighs — it’s a nod to Rice Bar, Charles Olalia’s downtown ground-breaker that closed earlier this year. That tiny spot helped set the bar high during a decade that saw Filipino food become one of the nation’s deservingly emergent cuisines. With Ma’am Sir (the name refers to a long-standing, gender-neutral greeting used in the Philippines, particularly in the hospitality trade), Olalia keeps the conversation moving.

    Full bar. Street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    40

    Shibumi

    • $$$
    • Japanese
    • Downtown
    Photo of Shibumi
    Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

    When Shibumi opened in 2016 on a lonely downtown block, next to the yawning concrete maw of a parking garage entrance, the buzzword around its format was kappo, a style of multicourse counter dining in Japan that splits the difference between casual izakaya and ceremonial kaiseki. David Schlosser, who spent years cooking in Japanese restaurants locally and abroad (including the original Masa and its successor, Urasawa), has eased up on that definition over time; a la carte and omakase are both available. Schlosser likes to pickle just about any fruit or vegetable he gets in his hands. He marinates greens in black sesame tofu sauce, smokes salmon over cherry bark and batters hemp leaves in the most fragile tempura. Shibumi can be divisive. Some people bristle at Schlosser’s idiosyncratic interpretations and flavor combinations. I chose to have my birthday meal at the restaurant this year, so you know where I land. For the most persuasive experience, choose the bar over a table and ask for the seats at the end, where Schlosser stands meditating over his dishes and talking diners through his philosophy.

    Full bar. Lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    41

    A.O.C.

    • $$$
    • French
    • Beverly Grove
    Photo of A.O.C.
    Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

    Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne’s sophomore restaurant presaged the “globally inspired” small-plates thing in Los Angeles and helped establish what could have been a neighborhood wine bar as a serious dinner destination. You could spend many happy nights in the courtyard patio — a tableau of Moorish tiles, laurel trees and a red-brick open hearth — with only the wine menu at hand (the list is more than 20 pages long). A.O.C. has the soul of a wine bar, but it’s Goin’s quietly virtuosic cooking, French and Mediterranean at heart, that keeps you coming back. Dishes such as pork confit served with figs, and summer squash tossed with Fresno chiles, vibrate with brilliant contrasts and twists. The Parmesan-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates are perhaps the dish most closely associated with A.O.C. But leave room for focaccia — it’s among the best in the city.

    Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    42

    Tsubaki

    • $$$
    • Japanese
    • Echo Park
    Photo of Tsubaki
    Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times

    Though calmer than a typical Tokyo izakaya, Echo Park’s shining culinary beacon hums with the congenial essence of a Japanese pub. Charles Namba and Courtney Kaplan feed the soul of their neighborhood; the small plates bolster as hearteningly as the beverage selection. A solo diner can be deeply sated with Namba’s Dungeness crab chawanmushi, a skewer or two of chicken yakitori (particularly the meatballs with egg dipping sauce and, my favorite, the exquisitely textured chicken oysters) and a finale of grilled abalone. Ah, but come with others and include sake-steamed Alaskan king crab in seaweed butter, and fried sweetbreads with endive, and a summertime salad of tomato kimchi in tofu miso cream. Pair the meal with Fukucho “Forgotten Fortune,” a sake whose description by Kaplan reads, “Made using a previously extinct variety of heirloom rice revived by the brewer herself.” Kaplan is one of L.A.’s sake authorities; this year she and Namba opened their sake and snack bar, Ototo, next to Tsubaki. You might end up there if you didn’t make a reservation for Tsubaki, which has only 35 seats. The cooking at Tsubaki is more finessed, but both places are treasures.

    Sake, wine and beer. Valet or street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    43

    Q

    • $$$$
    • Japanese
    • Downtown
    Photo of Q
    Christina House / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码To sit at the counter at Q, a small, sedate omakase restaurant in downtown L.A., is to receive an education in edomae sushi, a mode of sushi-making that involves lightly treating the fish with some type of cooking or curing element. Chef Hiroyuki Naruke is a master of the genre. At dinner, he guides you through 20 or so pristine bites, the fish manipulated just far enough to amplify its essential tones and flavor. There might be clean-tasting, delicate fluke, marinated with kombu and sliced so thin it’s nearly translucent; oysters punched up with a bright, extra-tart ponzu sauce; or silvery mackerel, treated with red vinegar to amplify its rich, pronounced flavor. The pageant of meticulously treated fish usually ends with Naruke’s tamago, not the sweet egg cubes of workaday sushi joints but a compact bite packed with chopped shrimp. The flavors at Q are thrilling in their precision, and memorable most of all for their fleeting, ephemeral quality.

    Beer, wine and sake. Valet parking after 6:30 p.m. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    44

    Birdie G

    • $$$
    • American
    • Santa Monica
    Photo of Birdie G
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    After leading the kitchen at Rustic Canyon for six years, vegetable savant Jeremy Fox partnered with Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan, owners of the Rustic Canyon Family restaurant group, to open his dream restaurant in June. He dreams big. The menu at the 5,000-square-foot space in Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station is a sprawling memoir of childhood remembrances and California revelations. Follow the Ashkenazi and Italian American culinary narratives for the most gratifying meal: Hangtown Brei (an amalgam of San Francisco’s Hangtown fry and matzo brei), Southern California’s most ethereal matzo ball soup (fighting words but true), corned brisket spiced to evoke Montreal-style smoked meat and served with exemplary fries, and comforting chicken scaloppine smothered in Caesar salad. Frame the meal around two delightful, sharable winks to Fox’s Midwestern upbringing: a relish tray appetizer mounded with five-onion dip and, for the finale, rose-petal mousse pie — a trembling, semi-translucent vision in pink hovering above a pretzel crust.

    Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    45

    Mian

    • $$
    • Chinese
    • San Gabriel
    Photo of Mian
    Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码Mian is a sleek, compact Sichuan noodle restaurant from Tony Xu, the chef behind Chengdu Taste. There is nearly always a wait to get a table, but your patience is rewarded with the excellent house zhajiangmian, hand-pulled wheat noodles overlaid with generous quantities of ground pork and chopped scallions. The lightly chewy, springy noodles are pleasurable on their own; stir in the chile oil sitting at the bottom of your bowl and you catalyze the dish’s spicy, heady, hypnotic qualities. (Order the dish Chongqing-style and your noodles are tossed with soft peas imported from China.) You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu: A bowl of the house beef noodles is intensely lush and meaty; hot and sour noodles are gleeful and pungent. Order the minced-pork dumplings; the well-filled slippery half-moons burst in your mouth with a blaze of tingly Sichuan heat. There are few dishes at Mian that don’t thrill in one way or another.

    No alcohol. Lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    46

    Jun Won

    • $$
    • Korean
    • Koreatown
    Photo of Jun Won
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    Jun Won has been a fixture in Koreatown for so long that its greatness is easily taken for granted. The restaurant migrated to an upgraded space about three years ago, but its obscure new address, tucked into the rear of a Western Avenue strip mall, hasn’t dimmed its popularity. The dinner crowds keep coming, especially for seafood specialties like the braised cod; the fish’s ultra-tender flesh melts beautifully into its intensely garlicky red pepper broth. There is an excellent scallion pancake bursting with plump oysters; a dish of pan-fried mackerel plays up the dish’s warm, fishy notes. Don’t miss the bossam, a resolutely traditionalist take on the dish: a tower of sliced pork belly flanked with piles of raw garlic, sliced jalape?os, a thicket of pungent radish kimchi and a stack of nappa cabbage leaves. Wrap, eat, repeat, dabbing your bundles with the ssamjang on the table. Bring a group and order as much as your table can hold.

    414 S. Western Ave., Suite B, Los Angeles, (213) 383-8855, jun-won-restaurant.cafe-inspector.com . Beer and wine only. Street and valet parking. Credit cards accepted. $$

    Beer and wine only. Street and valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »
  • (310) 559-9644
  • 48

    Lucques

    • $$$
    • French
    • West Hollywood
    Photo of Lucques
    Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

    On any given visit, the menu at Lucques probably could double as the local farmers market report. In the summer there are dishes like ricotta dumplings in a yellow tomato confit; squab served with corn pudding and grilled nectarines; salads boosted with opal basil and Fresno chile oil. Suzanne Goin’s French-leaning cooking is rigorous and assured, overflowing with sensuous Mediterranean flavors and California seasonality. Winter brings on Sunday suppers of creamy gratins, Meyer lemon on everything, and creamy onion tarts as decadent as any dessert. You will want to try the ultra-comforting braised beef short ribs with horseradish cream, a Lucques classic that stays on the menu year-round.

    Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    49

    Felix

    • $$$
    • Italian
    • Venice
    Photo of Felix
    Christina House / Los Angeles Times

    Every evening around 5 p.m., a short line begins to form at the north end of Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. It’s the standby crowd outside of Felix, pasta lovers angling for one of a handful of unreserved seats available at the bar. When the doors open at 5:30 p.m., a host cautiously ushers in customers like a security guard working the crowd at a sold-out rock concert. Within minutes, the bar is packed. If the idea of standing in line for pasta sounds wild to you, perhaps you haven’t tried chef Evan Funke’s pappardelle: thin, elastic noodles engineered to mop up every particle of meaty, drippy Bolognese ragù. Funke has a gift for pairing textures with sauces, and for letting simple flavors build to improbable proportions. Tomato sauce clings to springy, chewy orecchiette; scroll-like busiati are an ideal method of conveyance for olive oil and fresh basil. A three-ingredient plate of tonnarelli tossed with pecorino Romano and black pepper tastes impossibly nuanced and deep. Funke’s flavors are attuned to regionality but not bound by it, and his predilection for al dente noodles is influencing a new generation of pasta makers in Los Angeles and beyond.

    Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    50

    Night + Market

    • $$
    • Thai
    • Silver Lake
    Photo of Night + Market
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码For a lot of us, the Night + Market restaurants rejiggered what we thought we knew about Thai food. Kris Yenbamroong proved himself a master raconteur. He immersed us in full-blast iterations of Northeastern Thai cooking; we were rapt to his stories written in blood soup and etched in the curve of grilled pig’s collar. His success empowered other chefs to mix memoir and imagination in ways that helped delineate the only-in-L.A. ethos of the 2010s. Yenbamroong’s food continues to thrill, whether it’s the fun of his tower-of-power fried chicken sandwich or the electric acid test of his larb(particularly the livery pork salads). The Venice location is the newest; the Silver Lake outpost, with its vibe that still recalls a pop-up in a recently vacated locker room, will forever have many of our hearts. The West Hollywood original is the sly upstart among the group: It has grilled, crackly skinned pig’s tail on the menu, and dishes that recall its origins as Talésai, the Thai restaurant that Yenbamroong’s parents opened the year he was born. Try the comforting chicken grapow, ground chicken with garlic and basil underneath a fried egg. WeHo is the only one that serves cocktails (lychee-infused vodka spikes the Thai martini), though, as with the other two Night + Markets, it has an adventuresome, smartly annotated wine list.

    Beer and wine (full bar at WeHo). Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    51

    Angler

    • $$$$
    • Seafood
    • Beverly Grove
    Photo of Angler
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    Angler rates as one of the most bravura seafood restaurants to open in Los Angeles this decade. Also, though, the place is a trip. Its windowless ground-level space sits embedded within the fortresslike Beverly Center; enter the mall at the La Cienega Boulevard entrance or risk wandering aimlessly through the parking structure trying to find it. The setting — taxidermy, stacks of wood, aquariums with sea creatures awaiting their fate — creates a distinct mood: fishing lodge by way of David Lynch. Suited servers glide calmly through the room, their brains having blocked out the blaring 1980s soundtrack. This is the domain of chef and restaurateur Joshua Skenes, who also operates an Angler in San Francisco. Under the daily direction of executive chef Dameon Evers, the L.A. kitchen yields success after success: a radicchio salad, presented as a nearly whole head, that bleeds its crimson dressing; harissa-slicked spot prawns; whole poached marble fish, served with its skeleton fried to a crisp for nibbling. Splurge on the tableside caviar service. A staffer spreads the roe over banana pancakes dripping butter infused with barbecued banana peels. It’s a ridiculous thing to eat. I’ve rarely been so happy.

    Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    52

    Nightshade

    • $$$
    • Chinese
    • Downtown
    Photo of Nightshade
    Silvia Razgova / For the Times

    The cooking at Mei Lin’s debut restaurant in the Arts District is driven as much by ideas as ingredients. Some of her finest dishes showcase her clean, cerebral, technique-intensive style: sweet Hokkaido scallops cured in a tart coconut vinaigrette; diced kanpachi brushed with the funk of radish kimchi; beef tartare turbocharged with Korean Chile powder and egg yolk jam. She has a propensity for erasing the boundaries between cultures on the plate. Her signature dish is probably the mapo tofu lasagna, a slinky block of egg noodles layered with Sichuan peppercorn ragù and tofu cream. But try the Sichuan hot quail, a brilliantly spicy dish that reckons with the local obsession with Howlin’ Ray’s and the numbing properties of Sichuan peppercorns. Her congee is a thick, molten swirl of XO sauce, pork floss, crisped-up scallions and egg. It may be the most satisfying dish in the house.

    Credit cards accepted. Valet parking. Full bar. Dining room and restroom are wheelchair accessible. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    53

    The Exchange

    • $$$
    • Middle Eastern
    • Downtown
    Photo of The Exchange
    Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

    The menu at the Exchange is airily described on the restaurant’s website as a celebration of L.A.’s multicultural flavors refracted through an Israeli lens. I thought the conceit sounded unwieldy, but chef Alex Chang proved me wrong at the Exchange, the stylish restaurant wedged into a corner of downtown’s Freehand L.A. hotel. Chang makes harissa with Mexican chiles, and grills sweet potatoes and drapes them in a creamy Chile morita-spackled almond sauce. For brunch, he cooks shakshuka divorciados, a dish that probably does more for modern Israel-Mexico relations than any hard-working diplomat. You’ll want to plumb the depths of the salatim menu, mezze-like offerings that include a lovely hummus made with Rancho Gordo chickpeas, and a cucumber plate brightened with Chile sauce and fried halloumi. There is no shortage of dinner showpieces; try the terrific yellowtail collar marinated in amba, or the crisp, fragrant whole grilled branzino accented with glistening heaps of seaweed chermoula. Chang is a master at balancing big flavors, and his experiments in culinary cross-pollination frequently translate seamlessly onto the plate.

    Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    54

    Alta Adams

    • $$
    • American
    • West Adams
    Photo of Alta Adams
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    Keith Corbin, a native of Watts, calls his cooking “California soul food.” It’s his way of honoring the African American cooking of the interior South that traveled to other regions of the country, most notably during the Great Migration, while also owning his instincts to innovate and lighten. He smothers hanger steak in mushroom gravy spiked with Hennessy, his favorite Cognac. He keeps the flavors of collard greens bright and sharp with vinegar, Chile flakes and smoked oil. His thrice-cooked fried chicken — first he deep-fries the bird and then par-bakes it before finishing it in a skillet — achieves the kind of delicate crust that has all but disappeared from restaurants. And, wow, his oxtails, braised in a liquid zapped with miso and soy and served with rice to catch all the goodness. The restaurant, a partnership with Bay Area chef and restaurateur Daniel Patterson, has an adjoining coffee shop; it’s a great place to work and the Cobb salad makes an excellent lunch. The conjoined businesses sit on a sunny corner in the West Adams neighborhood, and word is out in the community: The two honey-toned dining rooms are always full, drawn by Corbin’s masterful approach and the restaurant’s generous spirit of hospitality.

    Full bar. Valet and street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    55

    Kobee Factory

    • $
    • Middle Eastern
    • Van Nuys
    Photo of Kobee Factory
    Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码Kibbeh, in its essence, is a combination of spiced ground meat and fine bulgur wheat; how a cook shapes and prepares the recipe varies between the Levantine countries (Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan) that most cherish the dish. At Waha Ghreir’s Van Nuys restaurant, start with an order of fried kibbeh — the tapered croquettes common among Middle Eastern restaurants in America. Ghreir’s are superior, the crunch of the shell cracklier and the filling showing a liberal hand with pine nuts. Then branch out, trying a slightly bouncier grilled version, a specialty of Ghreir’s native Syria, and a beautiful layered variation baked in a pan. The rest of the menu is brief, but each item reveals equal parts prowess and heart: falafel, a few kebabs, a wonderful mujadara (bulgur and rice pilaf covered with deeply caramelized onions). To summon the taste of breakfast in the Levant, come early for fatteh hummus, soft whole chickpeas folded among yogurt, tahini and olive oil and topped with fried shards of pita. Kobee Factory is unassuming, with half a dozen tables and spare decor, but the cooking — uplifting, stunning — is anything but.

    No alcohol. Lot and street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    56

    La Diosa de Los Moles

    • $$
    • Mexican
    • Paramount
    Photo of La Diosa de Los Moles
    Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times

    Rocío Camacho is the undisputed mole whisperer of Los Angeles, a chef who has left her mark on many of Los Angeles’ most inventive Mexican kitchens. She is an alumna of La Casita Mexicana, cooked at Moles la Tia in East L.A. for a spell, and suffered every restaurateur’s worst nightmare a few years ago when her Sun Valley restaurant, Rocío’s Mole de los Dioses, was shuttered due to arson damage. In late 2017, the Oaxacan native, who self-assuredly branded her restaurant with a translation of her nickname “the Mole Goddess,” opened a new mole-centric restaurant in Paramount. You can sometimes catch glimpses of her — a blur in her chef’s whites — through the partially open kitchen, pounding spices, pulverizing nuts, blending dried chiles. She cooks all the dense, complex mother sauces you would expect from a top Mexican kitchen: a complicated, ink-black mole oaxaque?o; a sweet, viscous mole poblano; and a mild and nutty mole verde. Camacho’s signature dish is la cuchara, wild salmon bathed in a manchamanteles (“tablecloth stainer”) mole. Suffused with chiles and fruits, her manchamanteles is delicately fruity and sweet, and very spicy. The mole fiesta plate showcases many of Camacho’s most distinct moles. On the weekends the restaurant hosts a Mexican brunch to end all Mexican brunches.

    Credit cards accepted. Full bar. Lot parking. Dining room and restroom are wheelchair accessible. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    57

    Jon & Vinny’s

    • $$
    • Italian
    • Fairfax
    Photo of Jon & Vinny’s
    Silvia Razgova / For the Times

    The menu at Jon & Vinny’s is a heat-seeking missile for a certain sort of nostalgia. The salads, the herb-speckled mozzarella sticks, the crisp-chewy pizzas, the saucy pastas, the smothered chicken entrees, the dairy-laden desserts: If you grew up in any way knowing the abundant comforts of Italian American cooking, something on the list will call to you and melt you. As familiar as it can all register, the best of these recipes have been calibrated with just a few degrees more finesse than you’d expect. That’s the formula, overseen by chef de cuisine Craig Tragni, that makes Jon & Vinny’s such a success. It’s why the original on Fairfax Avenue has been booked for lunch and dinner daily since chef-entrepreneurs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo opened it in 2015. (Breakfast, with its righteous spaghetti carbonara, has always been the prime time to slip in spontaneously.) The second Brentwood outpost — and surely there will be others eventually, this brainchild was born to be cloned — stands almost twice as big as the Fairfax flagship. Though nearly as booked at night, at least lunchtime tables are easier to score.

    Wine and beer. Street parking (and valet in Brentwood). Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    58

    Konbi

    • $
    • Japanese
    • Echo Park
    Photo of Konbi
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    Akira Akuto and Nick Montgomery’s 10-seat Echo Park cafe plays out different lives on social media and in reality. Online an egg salad sandwich, cut in three and anchored around soft-boiled eggs whose yolks glow like clotted sunshine, ran amok with the restaurant’s identity. The actual experience offers far more nuance. The restaurant is daytime only. Come in the morning or early afternoon and marvel at its precision constructions modeled after Tokyo convenience store sandos, with fillings of pork or eggplant katsu with the sheerest crusts, or the fluffy strata of a dashi-seasoned omelet. Salads, including a memorable summer squash with pickled plums served in warmer months, keep pace with the sandwiches. A set breakfast — often with rotating vegetables, miso soup, broiled cod and eight-grain rice — leaves the mind clear for the day. Croissants and canelés are baked in small quantities. The staff keeps the croissants warm yet they retain an almost otherworldly flakiness; there is probably no better pain au chocolat on the West Coast. Show up much past 9:15 a.m. and you’ll likely miss it. On second thought, everyone go back to focusing on the egg sandwich.

    No alcohol. Street parking. Credit and debit cards only; no cash accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    59

    Playa Amor

    • $$
    • Mexican
    • Long Beach
    Photo of Playa Amor
    Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

    Thomas Ortega smudges the line between high and low, and what we think of as “Mexican” and “American” cooking, at his restaurants Amor y Tacos in Cerritos, Ortega 120 in Redondo Beach and the fast-casual Amorcito at the Long Beach Exchange. At Playa Amor, his beachy, marina-adjacent restaurant in Long Beach, Ortega goes full-bore into his brand of Chicano “pocho” cooking. He makes poutine dolloped with black mole; pasta is tossed in a New Mexico Hatch green chile sauce; and lobster is roasted with clarified butter and served with fresh pico de gallo, Puerto Nuevo-style. Short ribs are justly popular, cooked until they collapse into a fragrant, musky birria. For an ode to Southern cooking via Long Beach, try the paprika-spiced Mexican white shrimp served over a bowl of the buttery, house-ground hominy — Ortega’s smart, delicious take on shrimp and grits.

    Full bar. Lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    60

    Sichuan Impression

    • $$
    • Chinese
    • Westwood
    Photo of Sichuan Impression
    Christina House/Los Angeles Times

    This has been the decade of Sichuan cuisine’s ascent in Los Angeles and beyond, when “ma la” and “hot and numbing” became catchwords in American food culture. Lynn Liu and Kelly Xiao — natives of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province — opened their first restaurant in Alhambra in 2014, with cooking that proved their region’s specialties have as much subtle shading of flavor as they do blatant burn. They’ve maintained their nuanced approach at additional locations in Tustin and, as of last year, Westwood. If you do want to set your tongue and soul immediately on fire, go straight for the Ginger Rabbit of Zigong and its translucent, fire-engine-red sauce that seems to glow from within. Or wade in slightly more gently by ordering boiled fish with rattan pepper, the broth rippling with Sichuan peppercorns. Bobo chicken, with submerged vegetables and chicken parts impaled on bamboo skewers, is a group favorite, but don’t overlook mao cai, a similarly enthralling hodgepodge featuring lotus root, bamboo shoots, tripe and pink, porky slabs that look and taste an awful lot like Spam.

    No alcohol. Credit cards accepted. Street parking. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    61

    Mariscos Jalisco

    • $
    • Mexican
    • Boyle Heights
    Photo of Mariscos Jalisco
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码For nearly 20 years Raul Ortega has sold tacos, aguachiles and ceviches out of his Boyle Heights mariscos truck on Olympic Boulevard. Anyone moving to Los Angeles and looking for a defining lunch on their first day should consider a plate of his tacos dorados de camaron. They come two to an order, fried corn tortillas gripping spiced shrimp that peek out and crisp a bit in the hot oil. Salsa roja and avocado slices blanket them. Enjoy the tacos right in the moment, perched on the short, painted brick wall in front of the truck, or, on rare rainy days, dashing into the spare adjacent dining room. The taco’s closest attention-seeking rival is the Poseidon, a mountain of shrimp, octopus, cucumber, avocado and tomato covered in a scorching salsa, which blurs the lines between aguachile and ceviche. It’s fantastic, but a second order of tacos might be even better.

    No alcohol. Street parking. Cash only. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    62

    Spoon by H

    • $$
    • Korean
    • Fairfax
    Photo of Spoon by H
    Silvia Razgova / For the Times

    8乐彩票邀请码Last year David Chang proclaimed Yoonjin Hwang’s 20-seat, low-on-the-radar Beverly Boulevard cafe his “restaurant of the year” to his million-plus Instagram followers, and lines soon trailed down the sidewalk. Hwang’s quiet, artful approach to food has calmly carried on past the tsunami of hype. Open since 2012, Spoon by H at first focused mostly on desserts and flavored teas. In the restaurant’s tiny kitchen Hwang builds kinetic, color-blasted sculptures from cut fruits and shaved ice. She pulls extra crisp rice flour waffles, ornamented with berries, caramelized bananas and Nutella, out of the breakfast space and into the treat zone. Hwang really sets herself apart, though, with the restaurant’s savory dishes, particularly her interpretation of tteok mandu guk, rice cake and dumpling soup. She takes cues from tonkotsu ramen, crafting a milky, meaty broth from pork and beef bones. In goes a whirl of vegetables and textural garnishes among meticulously crimped dumplings. Every spoonful is different and vital. It’s the kind of dish you’ll go out of your way to introduce to visitors; while they blink in wonder and their shoulders relax, you glow with pride and say, “This is Los Angeles.”

    No alcohol. Lot and street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    63

    Longo Seafood

    • $$
    • Seafood, Chinese
    • Rosemead
    Photo of Longo Seafood
    Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码There are no rolling carts at Longo Seafood, a glitzy dim sum emporium in Rosemead with a Vegas-style ballroom chandelier and massive, 20-something-foot-wide television projecting noiseless images of pop videos and CCTV news. Someone hands you a paper menu with more than 100 options. You check off your selections and waves of dishes begin to roll in: lobster dumplings and black truffle shumai; metal steamers of chicken feet in spicy XO sauce; fresh, tender buns filled with coconut and creamy egg yolk. The kitchen puts its spin on the steamed rice noodle rolls called cheong fun, which are twisted loosely and filled with things like tender roast pig and scallops. At dinner, Longo Seafood turns into a grand Hong Kong-style banquet restaurant. Try the soy sauce chicken, whose crisp, crackly skin shatters between your teeth beautifully. You could spend days at Longo Seafood and not exhaust the menu.

    No alcohol. Lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    64

    Chaak Kitchen

    • $$
    • Mexican
    • Orange County
    Photo of Chaak Kitchen
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码At her sleek Old Town Tustin restaurant, chef Gabbi Patrick pays homage to her family’s Yucatecan heritage with time-intensive interpretations of the region’s revered dishes. Banana-leaf-wrapped cochinita pibil, smoked over red oak for 11 hours, is intensely succulent. Her pavo en recado negro — braised turkey rubbed in a blackened chile paste — celebrates the dish’s natural earthiness and pungency. A take on tamal colado, masa strained into a pudding-like cake, is dessert-like in its decadence. Smaller plates also shine. Corn empanadas are hot, crisp goblets of stretchy Oaxacan cheese; the traditional pumpkin seed dip called sikil p’ak is a delicate pastiche of fruity, earthy notes. Seekers of flavor at full throttle will want to sample the restaurant’s charred habanero salsa, a dense, ink-black, devastatingly spicy substance that may haunt your palate for days. You can recover at the bar, where mezcal cocktails and Mexican wines by the glass are the order of the day.

    Credit cards accepted. Full bar. Street parking. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    65

    Carnitas El Momo

    • $
    • Mexican
    • Boyle Heights
    Photo of Carnitas El Momo
    Michael Owen Baker / For the Times

    8乐彩票邀请码Anyone who lives in Los Angeles and partakes of pig should know the splendor of El Momo’s carnitas mixta taco at least once. The Acosta family sometimes brand their creation — a combination of maciza (chopped pork shoulder), cuerito (slivers of pork skin) and buche (tender, wishbone-shaped slices of pork stomach) — as the “Aporkalypse.” It tastes far more like a blessing than a catastrophe. The Acostas primarily serve their sublime carnitas from a trailer that has popped up across far-flung stretches of the metro area over the years; lately they most frequently set up close to home in Boyle Heights. Try at least one taco dressed solely with pickled vegetables in the style of Salamanca, Mexico, where founder Romulo “Momo” Acosta mastered his recipe. Then go decadent with a mulita; queso blanco oozes out between griddled tortillas, forming a crisp, golden halo as it cooks. Follow Carnitas El Momo on Instagram to learn its daily whereabouts.

    No alcohol. Street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »
  • (626) 308-3222
  • 67

    Pizzana

    • $$
    • Italian
    • Brentwood
    Photo of Pizzana
    Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码Daniele Uditi is one of the city’s most accomplished pizza maestros. He was raised in Naples and in Caserta, Italy, among a family of bakers. His neo-Margherita is as much of a statement of intent as it is delicious sustenance: bready, tangy crust; San Marzano tomatoes simmered down to their essence; and melted dollops of fior di latte mozzarella, with a finishing sprinkle of basil-infused bread crumbs. Other pizzas (spicy arrabbiata, porky amatriciana, creamy carbonara) pull cleverly from the pasta lexicon: cacio e pepe, as in its noodle form, is hardest to resist. Salads, straightforward antipasti and desserts such as salted caramel panna cotta with pretzel crunch round out the menu, but direct most of your appetite toward the pies. Brentwood houses the first Pizzana; a new location that opened in West Hollywood in June matches the original’s ebullience.

    Beer and wine. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    68

    Little Sister

    • $$
    • Southeast Asian
    • Downtown
    Photo of Little Sister
    Christina House / For the Times

    The menu at chef Tin Vuong’s Vietnamese-leaning small-plates restaurant is a collage of flavors and impressions; dishes ping-pong between Saigon, Singapore, Hong Kong and the San Gabriel Valley, never fully stopping in one place. Vuong gleefully remixes familiar dishes. Autumn rolls are stuffed with sweet potato, jicama, Chinese sausage and candied shrimp. His pho banh cuon is an eccentric mashup of spring rolls and thinly sliced flank steak. His rendition of shaking beef incorporates crisp, fresh watercress and nutty burnt-butter soy. Dishes tend to be crammed with odds and ends, not just fried garlic and dried chiles but pickled okra, paté butters and crispy lardons. The lemongrass chicken — tossed with garlic, herbs and vast sums of dried chiles — probably doesn’t resemble the one at your local Vietnamese cafe. But it is indisputably delicious and snackable, bar fare masquerading as dinner. And the breakfast congee, served with an admirable duck confit, is reason enough to get up in the morning.

    Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »
  • (213) 483-8050
  • 70

    Yours Truly

    • $$
    • American
    • Venice
    Photo of Yours Truly
    Silvia Razgova / For the Times

    In many ways, the avocado hummus at Yours Truly is the perfect California dish. The satiny blend of avocado — spliced with tahini, poblano chiles and yuzu — revels in easygoing multiculturalism. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s delicious. Chef Vartan Abgaryan is fond of Middle Eastern spice blends, Japanese seafood, Mexican peppers and Italian cheeses; sometimes you find them all on the same plate. He tosses roasted carrots with XO sauce and serves them with burrata; mussels and clams are boiled in a coconut, lime and roasted poblano broth; octopus is encrusted in dukkah. His finest dishes have a vibrant, kaleidoscopic quality, smoothed over with the finesse of a fine-dining kitchen veteran. Dishes that might flop elsewhere — a plate of crisp Nashville hot shrimp, or a bowl of cacio e pepe fingerling potatoes — shine under his command, in a space tucked in between a metaphysical bookstore and an upscale jewelry boutique on Abbot Kinney.

    Credit cards accepted. Wine menu. Street and valet parking. Dining room and restroom are wheelchair accessible. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    71

    Connie and Ted’s

    • $$$
    • Seafood
    • West Hollywood
    Photo of Connie and Ted’s
    Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times

    “Can you recommend a great seafood restaurant?” is the question I’ve been asked most during my 17 years as a critic. Michael Cimarusti’s follow-up to his opulent Providence is my enthusiastic first answer: He and executive chef Sam Baxter pilot a 160-seat barge of a West Hollywood restaurant, named for Cimarusti’s grandparents, who took him on fishing outings at their Rhode Island summer cabin. An egalitarian spirit sweeps through the menu: Fried clams and battered cod with chips have easy Americana buoyancy; sustainably caught fish from California and beyond veer pricier but the evident skill in their stripped-down grilled presentation justifies the cost. It’s natural to pinpoint favorite, nostalgia-fueled dishes to order here again and again; I wait for the fried Maryland soft-shell crab sandwich that appears in the spring, followed by a slice of strawberry-rhubarb pie.

    Full bar. Valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    72

    Badmaash

    • $$
    • Indian
    • Downtown
    Photo of Badmaash
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    What happens when a classically trained Indian chef and his two hip-hop-loving, Toronto-raised sons open an Indian restaurant in Los Angeles? You get Badmaash, an exuberantly unconventional restaurant whose name roughly translates to “badass” in Hindi. Pawan Mahendro and sons Nakul and Arjun mine their family’s dual heritage to produce brash culinary remixes that reference everything from familiar tandoori standards to Canadian comfort food. They make a gravy-smothered chicken tikka poutine with masala-dusted French fries; chili cheese-stuffed naan, vivid and bright with serrano peppers; and fried Punjabi-style catfish that has been transmuted into snackable crispy nuggets. There are Indian restaurant standard-bearers like saag paneer and butter chicken, but you’re here for the spiced lamb burger, a delicious byproduct of the sort of cooking that happens at the Mahendro family’s backyard tandoori barbecues. The menu reverberates with tradition, personal history and a fair amount of culinary badassery.

    Beer and wine. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    73

    Guisados

    • $
    • Mexican
    • Boyle Heights
    Photo of Guisados
    Silvia Razgova / For the Times

    Is Guisados taking over Los Angeles? The De La Torre family’s acclaimed Eastside taquería now has seven locations, stretching from the O.G. Boyle Heights address all the way to Beverly Hills. Their tool of domination is guisos caseros, home-style Mexican braises that take hours to cook and mere seconds to devour. There are 15 guisos on the menu, including an intensely smoky tinga de pollo; a bacon-infused, griddled flank steak; a marvelously soupy chicharrón in chile verde; and cochinita pibil underscored by the fury of habanero chiles. Guisados’ constellation of well-calibrated tacos has more than decent vegetarian options — the hongos con cilantro is a satisfying taco of mushrooms, green chiles, bright cilantro and queso fresco. Spice hounds come for the famous chiles toreados, a selection of four super-spicy chiles blistered together over high heat. All tacos are served on hot, thick, pliant corn tortillas, pressed fresh before your eyes.

    No alcohol. Street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    74

    Lasa

    • $$
    • Filipino
    • Chinatown
    Photo of Lasa
    Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times

    Have you tried the braised short ribs at Lasa? Chad Valencia’s version involves tender beef, heaps of charred green beans and crisp peanuts, and an aillade that’s vaguely mysterious in its profound umami-ness. The sauce, it turns out, is inflected with bagoong, the pungent Filipino fish sauce. It’s a simple twist that magnifies the dish’s savoriness and leaves you slightly breathless with pleasure. At their Chinatown restaurant, brothers Chad and Chase Valencia (the former is the chef, the latter front of house) tap into their family’s heritage to create a vision of California-Filipino cooking that’s at once serious and irreverent. Chicharon is a crisp white wafer dusted with calamansi powder; adobo is evoked through cocktail peanuts. Try the delicious homage to Filipino spaghetti, the ultimate down-home classic, made here with pancit noodles and glossy heaps of aged white cheddar. This is cooking with a distinct point of view, and it is very good.

    Beer and wine. Street and underground parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    75

    Jitlada

    • $$
    • Thai
    • East Hollywood
    Photo of Jitlada
    Silvia Razgova / For the Times

    8乐彩票邀请码When chef Suthiporn “Tui” Sungkamee died in 2017, his sensitivity and largesse in helping introduce the idea of regional Thai cooking to Los Angeles came into sharp focus. His spirit lives on at Jitlada, a restaurant that’s as essential today as it was a decade ago. Jitlada captures the spirit of Southern Thai cooking better than other restaurants in Los Angeles: the steady barrage of aromatics, tongue-lashing chile heat and intricate spice blends. Kua kling, minced beef infused with a dry curry of chiles and herbs, throbs with heat and fragrant spices. Tiger prawns are plump and buttery in a pineapple-tinged curry. Steamed mussels in a spicy lemongrass broth jolt the nervous system and clear your sinuses. Come here to contemplate the perfect equilibrium of a salad made with fresh mango, shredded coconut and dried shrimp. The vast menu encompasses curries, salads, seafood specialties and the famous “Spicy Dynamite Challenge,” a custom stir-fry (your choice of frog legs, lobster or chicken) steeped in a fresh and dried Thai chile sauce that is famous for battering the senses and making grown men weep.

    Beer and wine. Lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »
  • (323) 936-9106
  • 77

    Chong Qing Special Noodles

    • $
    • Chinese
    • San Gabriel
    Photo of Chong Qing Special Noodles
    Scott Varley / For the Times

    There is great pleasure in a platter of fried chicken, especially one as deeply snackable as the Gele Mountain Chicken at Chong Qing Special Noodles. The chicken — cubed into bright, chile-stained morsels — is crisp yet meaty, and seethes elegantly with the vivid, tingly fragrance of Sichuan chiles and peppercorns. Chong Qing Special Noodles is a sparse, low-key strip-mall dining room in San Gabriel with a menu of nearly 100 mostly Sichuan dishes, including the finger-staining Gele Mountain Chicken. You no doubt are here for the excellent noodles. There are thickish you po noodles streaked with tart vinegar; zhajiangmian with pork and black bean paste, more savory than spicy; and the house special, Chongqing noodles — springy and light, with a brooding spiciness that leaves you wanting more. Get an order of the “numbing” dumplings, slippery, garlicky half-moons filled to bursting with minced pork and thrilling amounts of red chile oil.

    No alcohol. Lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    78

    Osawa

    • $$
    • Japanese
    • Pasadena
    Photo of Osawa
    Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

    Most acclaimed Japanese restaurants are specialists, masters of a highly particular food or style of dining. Osawa is the rare high-achieving generalist, a Japanese restaurant where you can find everything from first-rate bento boxes to finely burnished Japanese fried chicken, served in a friendly, casual dining room off the main drag in downtown Pasadena where families are welcome and the dining room is never too loud. Larger parties sit at the counter for the excellent shabu shabu; couples share udon bowls; and every table seems to have at least one order of sashimi or sushi. The secret to Osawa’s greatness lies in its daily-changing specials board, updated frequently by wife-and-husband team Sayuri and Shigefumi Tachibe; offerings include wild-caught fish and inventive small plates like shrimp-stuffed mushrooms and octopus carpaccio in a shiso pesto. Osawa’s popular uni pasta is always a good idea; the dish is creamy and pungent in all the right ways.

    Beer, wine and sake. Street and valet parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    79

    Tsujita

    • $
    • Japanese
    • Sawtelle
    Photo of Tsujita
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码If the popularity of the L.A. ramen shop has cooled somewhat in the last couple of years, you wouldn’t know it from the way traffic on Sawtelle slows to a crawl around Tsujita L.A. and its annex location across the street. The object of desire is the shop’s specialty, tsukemen — thick, long, sinuous noodles that you wrest from your bowl with chopsticks and then dip into simmering bowls of rich broth before consuming them in one unbroken slurp. The porky broth is remarkably dense and rich, and the noodles have a springy, tensile strength that makes them a joy to slurp. You can order your tsukemen topped with slices of fatty barbecued pork, and customize your bowl with various accoutrements: a jammy boiled egg, nori, bamboo shoots. Along with excellent tsukemen, Tsujita also is home to a terrific tonkotsu ramen bowl. The Tsujita group continues to grow; there are now branches of the noodle shop on Fairfax Avenue and in the Americana at Brand in Glendale.

    Beer, wine and sake. Valet and street parking. Cash only. Read the Los Angeles Times review »
  • (562) 776-8800
  • 81

    Howlin’ Ray’s

    • $
    • Southern
    • Chinatown
    Photo of Howlin’ Ray’s
    Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码Is three hours too long to wait for an order of fried chicken? Not for the cayenne-blasted, adrenalized style native to Nashville’s legendary Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. In L.A., the Nashville hot chicken phenomenon has reached its apogee at Howlin’ Ray’s, a restaurant whose famously long lines are a testament to the thrilling potency of its product. More than three years after it opened inside Chinatown’s Far East Plaza, Johnny Ray Zone’s Nashville-style hot chicken restaurant continues to produce fried chicken of enormously addictive properties: preternaturally juicy, with a splendid, crackly crust that seethes with hot peppers. The restaurant’s fiery, bespoke spice blend can be adjusted to the limitations of your palate. There is succor to be found in a medium-heat leg or thigh, a spice level that roils the palate and only briefly makes your lips go numb. You could go hotter — the heat index goes from “Country” (no spice) to the nearly homicidal “Howlin’ Hot.” But anything beyond medium-hot is probably a cry for help.

    Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    82

    Hippo

    • $$$
    • Italian
    • Highland Park
    Photo of Hippo
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    Matt Molina, a Nancy Silverton protégé, won a James Beard Award for his cooking at Osteria Mozza; his star-turn restaurant, a lofty space that once housed the Highland Park Post Office, is first and foremost a place to devour pasta. Cappellacci, a silky hat-shaped pasta, rolls with the seasons: It contains sweet corn in the summer and the timeless trinity of winter squash dressed with browned butter and sage in cooler months. Gossamer fettuccine snaring pork ragù and triangoli (a ravioli variation) filled with celery root purée in a buttered shallot sauce have become year-round showpieces. All that said, there’s more to Molina’s “Californian-Mediterranean” cooking — a throwback 1980s term he embraces — than what can be twirled on fork tines. It’s the Californian part of the equation that shows fluidity: chile-sparked hamachi crudo paired with melon; grilled cauliflower dressed in pureed cauliflower and sesame that riffs on tahini; hanger steak with cranberry beans in tomatillo with avocado. General manager David Rosoff compiles a rigorously edited wine list with bottles that complement the multitudes of Molina’s cooking. Prod Rosoff to share his general thoughts on skin-contact and natural wines; hot takes will ensue.

    Full bar. Street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    83

    Colonia Publica

    • $$
    • Mexican
    • Whittier
    Photo of Colonia Publica
    Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

    In Uptown Whittier, on the aptly named Greenleaf Avenue, Colonia Publica is the great Chicano public house of Southeast L.A., a destination for Baja-made craft beer, michelada Sundays and the most down-home Mexican dish of them all: sopita de fideo. Five years after chef Ricardo Diaz debuted Colonia, the idea of a restaurant dedicated almost entirely to vermicelli-in-broth still feels revolutionary. A mainstay of Mexican and Mexican American home kitchens, the dish is still widely understood as fast, cheap sustenance for the working class. At his restaurant, Diaz ennobles the dish with a hip, ramen bar-inspired twist: endlessly customizable bowls featuring toppings traditional (nopalitos, queso fresco) and not (cilantro chutney). Someone hands you a long slip of paper and you make your selections. What results is a simmering bowl of wispy noodles, steamy in a light tomato broth, topped with a fried egg, bolts of smoked sausage and maybe a sprinkling of roasted corn. Lest you think fideo is everything at Colonia Publica, the menu is chockablock with excellent tacos and light Mexican aperitivos. The chicharrón quesadilla alone is worth a cross-town drive.

    Beer and wine. Street and city lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    84

    189 by Dominique Ansel

    • $$$
    • American
    • Fairfax
    Photo of 189 by Dominique Ansel
    Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

    I didn’t have high expectations for 189 by Dominique Ansel, the first full-service restaurant from the New York pastry superstar. Ansel is best known as the creator of the cronut, a dessert so wildly popular that I wondered whether he could make lightning strike twice. But Ansel is meticulous and inventive, qualities that translate well in both sweet and savory cooking. Start with Ansel’s sweet corn “elote” milk bread, a Wonka-esque masterwork of cotija-dusted bread cubes filled with pureed corn. The dish captures the essence of the Mexican street classic in a single neat bite. Crisp pork belly with labneh and fresh figs is a refreshing, delicious pairing, and if it’s on the menu, there are few less surprising and gratifying ways to spend an afternoon at the Grove than with Ansel’s cabbage soup. Handmade gnocchi dolloped with fresh peas and lemon burrata won’t set Instagram afire, but it’s so good you may be tempted to skip dessert altogether.

    Full bar. Validated garage parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    85

    Kali

    • $$$
    • French
    • Larchmont
    Photo of Kali
    Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码To work backward in a discussion of Kali, the must-order dessert is a masterful transformation of egg — a meringue gelato covered with yolk cured for two weeks in sugar and salt and shaved tableside. It doesn’t taste eggy; it tastes of pure, almost nutty sweetness expressed in fluffy and firm textures. This isn’t a dessert you save room for; in its compact size it almost saves room for you. It will follow Kevin Meehan’s easy-to-like California stylings: charred avocado with a clever kombucha vinaigrette, spaghetti glossed with ricotta whey and crowned with sea urchin, duck breast over whole wheat spaetzle and surrounded with figs. He ups the ante with colossal steaks dry-aged in-house and the option of a six-course tasting menu (the meringue gelato is, wisely, the finale). The boxy, clean-lined space has a few awkwardly placed tables; aim to sit in the back dining room. This is also a canny choice for a just-enough-out-of-the-way Hollywood lunch.

    Full bar. Valet or street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    86

    Adana

    • $$
    • Middle Eastern
    • Glendale
    Photo of Adana
    Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

    Edward Khechemyan’s menu forges a one-of-a-kind synthesis at his ornately muraled restaurant in Glendale. He takes the cooking of his Armenian heritage and mixes in dishes from Iranian, Lebanese and Turkish cuisines — with the odd Caesar salad and side of waffle fries thrown in — to create a triumphant hodgepodge that makes complete sense. Come with a crowd and strategize a meal in two abundant courses: First will come the mezze, a whirl of eggplant dips, dolmas fashioned from grape and cabbage leaves, yogurt with shallots or cucumbers, fattoush and tabbouleh and hummus, even a platter of mild Armenian cheese paired with a spicy olive condiment. Then the staff marches out of the kitchen with kebabs: Order a combination of ground and cubed beef, lamb chops and lemony marinated chicken for a feast, and make sure a fluffy rice pilaf specked with either sour cherries or saffron and tiny barberries is part of the lineup. The leftovers will be superb.

    No alcohol. Lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    87

    X’tiosu Kitchen

    • $
    • Mexican, Lebanese
    • Boyle Heights
    Photo of X’tiosu Kitchen
    Calvin B. Alagot / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码Oaxacan-born brothers Felipe and Ignacio Santiago spent years working in local Lebanese kitchens, and they bring that experience to their baby-blue storefront in Boyle Heights, where they cook Oaxacan-inflected, Lebanese-inspired dishes. The menu at X’tiosu (pronounced “sh-tee-oh-sue,” it means “thank you” in Zapotec) yields various marvels: ruddy, delicately spiced house-made chorizo kebabs; black bean hummus punched up with cayenne pepper; crisp falafel that eschews chickpeas and fava beans in favor of black beans, garlic and cilantro. The high point of the mezze offerings is the herb-intensive nopales tabbouleh salad, which swaps out bulgur in favor of cactus. The dish is simple, clean, bright; you’ll wonder why you haven’t been eating it all your life. Don’t leave without a chicken shawarma taco. The spit-roasted chicken is shaved over corn tortillas and anointed with the house “arabesque salsa,” a creamy blend of tahini sauce and salsa verde.

    Credit cards accepted. No alcohol. Lot parking. Outdoor seating only. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    88

    Joy

    • $
    • Taiwanese
    • Highland Park
    Photo of Joy
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    The Taiwanese menu at this Highland Park treasure is remarkable in its concision and its enormous appeal: a few soups and bowls of noodles, a handful of rice dishes, half a dozen riffs on sandwiches. Take a moment before ordering to study the cold appetizers in the case near the counter. You might see wood ear mushrooms, curled and inky; bamboo shoots, resembling a jumbled pile of woodwind reeds; pig ears, sliced into squiggles; and crunchy-soft braised peanuts. The changing array of salads has become a signature for owner Vivian Ku, who also runs Silver Lake's Pine & Crane. Follow them with something warming — shrimp wontons (the slippery wrappers giving way to firm minced seafood) swirling in chicken and pork stock, or lu rou fan, a dish of gently spiced pork sauce over rice — and Joy’s simple, wonderful dessert of mochi rolled in crushed peanut and black sesame, a Hakka specialty. With most dishes priced under $10 and a tirelessly cheerful staff, the place is a 2019 archetype of an open-hearted neighborhood restaurant.

    Wine, beer and sake. Street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    89

    Brodard Chateau

    • $$
    • Vietnamese
    • Orange County
    Photo of Brodard Chateau
    Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

    As its name suggests, Brodard Chateau is a cavernous place, a marble-accented, two-story restaurant housed in a stately Victorian mansion in Garden Grove. The restaurant is owned by the Dang family, Orange County food royalty who oversee a small empire of distinguished Vietnamese restaurants. The dish that built the family’s reputation is the nem nuong cuon, grilled pork spring rolls, each bite vivid with crunchy bits of meat, chives and bracing hints of mint. The rolls are served with a sweet dipping sauce that has developed a cult following all its own. Beyond the requisite nem nuong, order the bun cha ha noi, beautifully smoky pork patties served with a slightly sweet fish sauce. The crisp rice flour saucers called banh khot are exquisite, each one cradling a springy, well-cooked shrimp. It’s difficult to exhaust the sweeping menu, and you could piece together a whole meal centered around the restaurant’s skewered filet mignon or grilled rack of lamb. But it would be unthinkable to leave without one or two rounds of those unforgettable pork spring rolls.

    Full bar. Lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »
  • (213) 380-1717
  • (626) 291-2295
  • 92

    Marché Moderne

    • $$$
    • French
    • Orange County
    Photo of Marché Moderne
    Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

    Marché Moderne is a French restaurant at heart, and its best dishes are an exaltation of classic bistro cooking. That means well-browned roasted marrow bones basted in demi-glace; crisp duck confit with Sauternes-drizzled peach slices; and a tour-de-force coq au vin in an inky wine sauce flavored with burnished onions, mushrooms and lardons. Husband-and-wife chefs Florent and Amelia Marneau are the team behind this sprawling, high-ceilinged dining room, which is tucked into a high-end Newport Beach shopping center across the highway from a quiet beach. The kitchen’s range and versatility are laudable; the menu includes everything from kale-and-beet salads to small plates of seared hamachi with jalape?o sorbet. You can lose yourself here in a bowl of celery root soup or a plate of impeccable steak frites. Start with the Bordier butter tasting, infused with flavors like yuzu and Espelette peppers and served with fresh French bread.

    Full bar. Valet and lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    93

    Dear John’s

    • $$$$
    • American
    • Culver City
    Photo of Dear John’s
    Silvia Razgova / For the Times

    Actor Johnny Harlowe opened Dear John’s in 1962 under the advisement of his pal Frank Sinatra, or so the story goes. Its dim, wood-paneled room is a tableau from another time, and it won’t be around for much longer. In April 2021 the building will be razed to make way for a new development. Meanwhile, three accomplished new owners — chefs Josiah Citrin and Hans R?ckenwagner and entertainment executive Patti R?ckenwagner — are throwing the place an extended farewell. For a time-capsule romp featuring tuxedoed servers, heavy-pour martinis and continental cooking that’s far better than it needs to be, this is a party worth attending. The menu is pure midcentury swankery: shrimp cocktail blasted with horseradish, oysters Rockefeller, chicken Parm that gushes like chicken Kiev, lobster Thermidor nipped with tarragon, and, of course, tableside Caesars. The bar might be where you wind up having your meal: It’s the easiest place to find a walk-in seat. Reservations, particularly earlier in the evening, have been tough to secure. It makes sense. The human psyche loves the ephemeral: We want in on a farewell to a vestige of Hollywood power and glamour before it’s gone forever.

    Full bar. Lot and street parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    94

    Chengdu Taste

    • $$
    • Chinese
    • Alhambra
    Photo of Chengdu Taste
    Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码Six years after chef Tony Xu opened the first location of Chengdu Taste on Valley Boulevard, it remains a key barometer for Sichuan cooking in the San Gabriel Valley. The menu is a rich cache of greatest hits (dan dan noodles) and deep cuts (spicy, deep-fried bullfrog); peppercorns steadily throb in plate after plate. There are a number of essential dishes: mung bean noodles with fresh and pickled chiles; ultra-tender slips of boiled beef in a lava-red chile broth; sauteed eggplant stewed in a rich garlic sauce. Flavors are layered and seemingly bottomless. Toothpick lamb is a plate of fried cubed lamb encrusted with cumin and peppers, skewered onto toothpicks — a signature Xu dish, it’s reliably excellent. Don’t miss the boiled fish with green peppers, a white fish broth spiced with vast sums of sliced fresh green chiles. Jonathan 8乐彩票邀请码 once wrote that eating it was like “a mysteriously pleasurable punch to the mouth.” The description is as timeless as the dish.

    No alcohol. Credit cards accepted. Street parking. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    95

    La Casita Mexicana

    • $$
    • Mexican
    • Bell
    Photo of La Casita Mexicana
    Maria Alejandra Cardona / Los Angeles Times

    When chefs Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu opened La Casita Mexicana in Bell two decades ago, the restaurant helped shift the conversation about Mexican cooking in Los Angeles beyond tacos and combo platters and into haute cuisine territory. This is where a generation of Angelenos sampled the breadth of regional Mexican cooking: chile rellenos stuffed with mushrooms, nopales and epazote; enchiladas bathed in crema de flor de calabaza; white dinner plates drizzled with dense, 40-something-ingredient moles. La Casita’s chile en nogada is flawless, and the banana-leaf-wrapped cochinita pibil is every shade of sweet, bright and savory. At the heart of the menu are the superlative moles: two nutty pipián versions and a thick, dark mole poblano that unspools elegantly with sweetness and spice. Do try the chamorro de res adobada, a fragrant, chile-soaked beef shank. It’s essentially osso bucco from the highlands of Jalisco.

    Beer and Mexican wine. Lot parking in rear. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »
  • (310) 878-9620
  • 97

    Hasiba

    • $
    • Israeli
    • Pico-Robertson
    Photo of Hasiba
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码You don’t need hummus to eat well at Hasiba. There’s a satisfying shakshuka on the menu, along with a crisp falafel sandwich. You’ll probably want to snack on the drippy, delicious mess that is the warm, overfilled Israeli street sandwich known as a sabich. But Hasiba is a counter-service restaurant patterned after Israel’s neighborhood hummusiyas, or quick-service hummus shops. So you are here for the hummus, especially the wild mushroom hummus, which is bolstered by a garlicky slash of Moroccan chermoula. There is hummus pounded to a satiny, bittersweet finish and topped with marinated eggplant. There is hummus ful, a bright, clean puree of stewed fava beans and herbs. The restaurant’s “classic” hummus is terrific: an ultra-creamy blend of chickpeas and tahini blasted with smoked paprika. You’ll want to dollop it all over the restaurant’s thick, fresh sourdough pita or onto an order of falafel — in fact, there are few dishes at Hasiba that a smear of its classic hummus won’t make even better.

    Credit cards accepted. Street parking. No alcohol. Dining room and restrooms are wheelchair accessible. Read the Los Angeles Times review »
  • (213) 427-0608
  • 99

    Apey Kade

    • $
    • Sri Lankan
    • Tarzana
    Photo of Apey Kade
    Silvia Razgova / For the Times

    8乐彩票邀请码Lalith Rodrigo and his wife, chef Niza Hashim, are natives of Colombo, the port-city capital of Sri Lanka. The name of their Tarzana restaurant translates from the Sinhalese language as “our store,” and their menu reflects the scope of Sri Lanka’s many intermingled cultures. Hashim makes fantastic string hoppers — thin rice-flour noodles steamed into flat, pearly nests. Garnishes surround them: kiri hodi, a golden spiced coconut-milk gravy served with a hard-boiled egg; pol sambol, a fluffy coconut condiment dyed peachy orange from red chiles; mallum, a salad of finely chopped greens (in this case kale) with coconut, onion and lemon; and coconut chutney dusky with chile powder. Call ahead, to dine in or take out, for dishes listed under the menu’s “special orders” section; most of these take only an hour or two of notice. Lamprais (pronounced lump-rice) is the most compelling one to request. The word has Dutch origins but the meal thoroughly evokes Sri Lanka: It is a feast of chicken or beef curry with vegetables and other sides warmed in a banana leaf. The steam when you unwrap this parcel carries the scents of sweet spice and coconut palms and nutty rice.

    No alcohol. Lot parking. Credit cards accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »

    101

    Vespertine

    • $$$$
    • American
    • Culver City
    Photo of Vespertine
    Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

    8乐彩票邀请码I’ve been to Vespertine three times this year. Twice I loathed it and once, most recently, the meal-from-another-dimension precepts clicked. It is the most confounding and polarizing restaurant I’ve ever endured. I’d encourage anyone who regards dining as culture and who has $295 per person to invest (before beverage options, tax or tip) to book a reservation and form their own conclusions. Go early; experiencing Jordan Kahn’s Culver City phantasmagoria can take four or more hours. The outlandish building, designed by Eric Owen Moss, looks like it was branded on all sides by an enormous waffle iron and then melted into itself as it cooled. On a clear night, its top floor affords sunset views of mountains and the downtown skyline. Dinner usually starts up there, with an amazing cookie that involves blackcurrants, burnt onion and a bouquet of edible flowers, among other snacks. Many courses later, the affair concludes in the restaurant’s garden, sitting on heated benches eating fruit (oversize blackberries and a stunning essay on plums in late summer) and sipping earthy digestifs. In between? Meditations on unctuousness and fragrant trees. Serving vessels like dark moons, into which you dip a spoon while not quite understanding the contents. Exhilaration. Fatigue. What feels like a weird, purposeful tension emanating from the service staff leaves me knotted by meal’s end. I have unsettled dreams after meals at Vespertine; the three-chord tones that continuously play in the dining room disrupt my circadian rhythms. That might well be the point.

    Wine and beverage pairings. Valet parking. Credit cards (but not cash) accepted. Read the Los Angeles Times review »