Tui kim fried glass nooddles seed weed

Baseball Player Nicknames

Carl Edwards Jr. – The String Bean Slinger, Carl’s Jr.

Brad Eldred – Big Country, King Kong

Jacoby Ellsbury – Tacoby Bellsbury, Chief

Adam Engel – Clarke, Man of Steel

Marco Estrada – Estradabien, Estratosphere, Ponch

Tony Eusebio – The Astro Clipper

Harry Fanok – The Flame Thrower

Bob Feller – Rapid Robert,Heater from Van Meter

Bob Ferguson – Death to Flying Things

Doug Fister – Dougie, Fist, Dougie Fresh

Davy Force – Wee Davy,Tom Thumb

Whitey Ford – The Chairman of the Board,Slick

Dexter Fowler – Daddy Long Legs, Dex

Nellie Fox – Mighty Mite, Little Nel

Clint Frazier – Bubba, Red Thunder, El Rojo

Kyle Freeland – Free, Two One, Flat Stanley

Michael Fulmer – Fulm Piece, The Plumber

Carl Furillo – Skoonj,The Reading Rifle

Joey Gallo – Joe Joe, Pico de Gallo

Pud Galvin – Pud,Gentle Jeems,The Little Steam Engine

Avisail Garcia – Avi, Mini Miggy, Uncle Avi

Freddy Garcia – The Chief, The Rock

Jarlin Garcia – Jarlin The Marlin, The Elephant

Evan Gattis – El Oso Blanco, Bull

Lou Gehrig – The Iron Horse,Biscuit Pants,Buster,Laruppin’,Crown Prince of Swat,Columbia

Ken Giles – 100 Miles Giles

Dan Gladden – Dazzle,The Dazzle Man,Wrench

Tyler Glasnow – Mini Horse, Baby Giraffe

Ed Glynn – The Flushing Flash

Paul Goldschmidt – Goldy, America’s First Baseman

Yan Gomes – Obi Yan, The Yanimal, Gomer

Carlos Gomez – Go-Go, Cargo, El Titere, El Final

Miguel Gonzalez – El Jaliscience, El Mariachi

Niko Goodrum – J.J. Mumford, Stinchcomb

Mark Grace – Amazing, Gracie, Little Hurt

Yasmani Grandal – YRG Jr, Yazmanian Devil

Frank Grant – The Colored Dunlap

Tommy Greene – Jethro, Tee the Greene

Didi Gregorius – Sir Didi, The Knight, Sir MJG

Ken Griffey Jr. – Junior,The Kid,The Natural

Bob Groom – The Toothpick Twirler

Franklin Gutierrez – Death to Flying Things, El Guti

Tony Gwynn – Mr. Padre,Captain Video

Travis Hafner – The Project, Donkey, Pronk

Brad Hand – Brotato, Brotein Shake

J.A. Happ – Happer, JDot ADot

Mike Hargrove – The Human Rain Delay

Bryce Harper – Bam-Bam, Mondo, Harp, Big Kid

Clint Hartung – Floppy,The Hondo Hurricane

Matt Harvey – Real Deal,Dark Knight of Gotham, Harv

Adeiny Hechavarria – La Pantera, La Pantera Uuff

Tommy Henrich – The Clutch,Old Reliable

Ed Heusser – The Wild Elk Of The Wasatch

Charlie Hickman – Piano Legs,Cheerful Charlie

Rich Hill – Brice, D. Mountain, Field of Genes

Derek Holland – Dutch Oven, Last Name, Dutch

Willie Horton – Willie the Wonder, The Ancient Mariner

Rhys Hoskins – Hosk, Big Hosk, Big Fella, Rhys Lightning

Frank Howard – Hondo,The Capital Punisher, The Washington Monument

Dan Howley – Howling Dan,Dapper Dan

LaMarr Hoyt – The Incredible Bulk

Al Hrabosky – The Mad Hungarian,Hungo

Carl Hubbell – King Carl,Meal Ticket

Tommy Hunter – Tommy Two Towel, Bigger Fella

Chris Iannetta – Sponge, Destructobeam, C.I.

Jon Jay – The Federalist, 305 J

Derek Jeter – Mr. November, The Captain, Captain Clutch, DJ

Bart Johnson – Toys in the Attic

Adam Jones – Pappo, AJ, La Gente, Roots

Matt Joyce – DJ SS, Sweet Swingin’

Aaron Judge – The Judge, All Rise, BAJ

Tommy Kahnle – The Kahn, King Kahn

Scott Kazmir – Kazmanian Devil, Pizza Man

Tim Keefe – Smiling Tim,Sir Timothy

Willie Keeler – Wee Willie, Hit ‘Em Where They Ain’t

Ed Kenna – The Pitching Poet

Clayton Kershaw – The Claw, Kid K, The Minotaur, Kersh

Hyun Soo Kim – Hitting Machine, Iron Man

Scott Kingery – Scotty Jetpacks, Jetpax

Corey Kluber – Klubot, Hans Kluber, Klubes

Andrew Knapp – California Kid, Knapp Time

Kevin Kobel – Spaceman, Captain Krypton, Goofy

Sandy Koufax – The Left Arm of God

John Kruk – Krukkie, The Krukker, Jake

Mike Krukow – The Polish Prince, Kruk

Jack Lamabe – Tomato Face, Tomatoes

Johnny Lanning – Tobacco Chewin’ Johnny

Frank Lary – Mule,Taters,The Yankee Killer

Arlie Latham – The Freshest Man On Earth

Ramon Laureano – Razor, Laser, Ramoncito

Vance Law – Long arm of the Law

Mike Leake – Sparky, Spike, Drip

Dae-ho Lee – Big Boy, Pig Tiger

Sam Leever – Deacon,The Goshen Schoolmaster

DJ LeMahieu – Machine, Big Fundy

Jeffrey Leonard – HacMan,One Flap Down,Penitentiary Face

Allan Lewis – The Panamanian Express

Tim Lincecum – The Freak,Big Time Timmy Jim

Jacob Lindgren – The Strikeout Factory

Eddie Lopat – The Junkman, Steady Eddie

Hector Lopez – The Panama Clipper, What a Pair of Hands

Bris Lord – The Human Eyeball

Red Lucas – The Nashville Narcissus

Dolf Luque – The Pride Of Havana

Manny Machado – Hakuna Machado, Baby Face Assassin, El Ministro de Defensa, Mr. Miami

Connie Mack – The Grand Old Man of Baseball, The Tall Tactician

Garry Maddox – Secretary of Defense

Greg Maddux – Mad Dog,The Professor

Luke Maile – Mailes, Lukey Barrels

Martin Maldonado – Cascajo, Valdez, Martincito

Sean Manaea – Baby Giraffe, Da Kid, Manaealator

Mickey Mantle – The Mick,The Commerce Comet,Muscles

Marty Marion – Slats,The Octopus,Mr. Shortstop

Ketel Marte – The Pike, El Nino

Pepper Martin – The Wild Horse Of The Osage

Pedro Martinez – Pedro el Grande,Petey

Justin Masterson – Bat Masterson, Big Masty, Nasty Masty, Masty

Eddie Mathews – Eddie Mattress, Cap’n Eddie, Santa Barbara Bomber, Brookfield Bomber

Gary Matthews – Little Sarge,Sarge Jr.

Don Mattingly – Donnie Baseball, The Hit Man, Cap, Matt

Zach McAllister – EZ Mac, Mac the Knife, Z-Mac

Bake McBride – Shake n’ Bake, Callaway Kid

Brian McCann – Heap, Fun Police, Uno Seis

Andrew McCutchen – Cutch, Uncle Larry, Zoom, Drusneeze

T.J. McFarland – Mac, Return of the Mac, Mac Attack

Tug McGraw – Tug, Tugger, The Barber

Collin McHugh – Snap Dragon 2, Mu Q, 12-6

Jeff McNeil – Squirrel, JT, Flying Squirrel

Heinie Meine – The Count Of Luxemburg

Mark Melancon – Stretch, Mel, Muh Lan Son

Cliff Melton – Mickey Mouse,Mountain Music

Bob Meusel – Long Bob,Languid,Silent Bob

Russ Meyer – Rowdy,The Mad Monk

Miles Mikolas – Lizard King, Mik, 5280’s

Brad Miller – Sergio Millar, Rat, Bamboo Brad, J. Windermere

Kevin Mitchell – World, Mitchell Monster, Boogie Bear, Tatonka

Johnny Mize – The Big Cat, Big Jawn

Earl Moore – Crossfire,Big Ebbie,Steam Engine in Boots

Matt Moore – Matty Moe, Matt Man

Mickey Morandini – Dandy Little Glove Man, Mickey Mo, Beaker

Omar Moreno – The Antelope, The Outmaker

Joe Morgan – Little Joe, The Little General

Jack Morris – Black Jack, Mount Morris

Charlie Morton – Ground Chuck, Uncle Charlie

Don Mueller – Mandrake The Magician

Tony Mullane – Count,The Apollo Of The Box

Max Muncy – Munce, Funky Muncy

Thurman Munson – Tugboat,Squatty Body,The Walrus

Eddie Murray – Steady Eddie, Tired

Stan Musial – Stan the Man, Stashu, Stash, The Donora Greyhound

Josh Naylor – Mississauga Masher, Naylz

Hector Neris – Happy Hector, Compa H, Compa N

Don Nicholas – The Phoenix Flash

Johnny O’Brien – Little John, Johnny O

Jack O’Connor – Rowdy Jack,Peach Pie

Tip O’Neill – The Woodstock Wonder

Rougned Odor – Stink,Stinky,Roogie, El Tipo

Seunghwan Oh – Final Boss, Stone Buddha

Al Orth – Smiling Al,The Curveless Wonder

David Ortiz – Big Papi,Cookie Monster

Roberto Osuna – Little Cannon, Osuna Matata, No Panic

Charlie Pabor – The Old Woman in the Red Cap

Joe Page – Fireman,The Gay Reliever

Gerardo Parra – Parra Shark, El Yolo

Camilo Pascual – Patato Pequeño,Camile,Little Potato

Freddie Patek – The Flea, The Cricket

Roy Patterson – Pat,St. Croix,Boy Wonder

Dustin Pedroia – Laser Show,Petey,Muddy Chicken, Pedey

Barney Pelty – The Yiddish Curver

Félix Peña – Ricardon, La Befla

Hunter Pence – Captain Underpants, Wawindaji

Herb Pennock – The Squire/Knight Of Kennett Square

Jose Peraza – Miguel Angel, El Llanero, My Little Ones

Hub Perdue – The Gallatin Squash

Martin Perez – El De Guanare, El de las Matas

Jace Peterson – Petey, On Base Jace

Jack Pfiester – Jack The Giant Killer

Adolfo Phillips – Panamanian Flash, Dolpho

Bill Phillips – Whoa Bill,Silver Bill

Rick Porcello – Pretty Ricky, Ricky Raindrops, Veintidos

Bill Posedel – Sailor Bill,Barnacle Bill

Joe Presko – Baby Joe,Little Joe

David Price – Astro’s Dad, Slim Dunkin, X

Albert Pujols – Prince Albert,Phat Albert,The Machine,La Maquina,Tio Albert

Ryan Raburn – Second Half Raburn, Bobby

Doug Rader – Rojo,The Red Rooster

Hanley Ramirez – El Nino,Han-Ram, El Trece

Manny Ramirez – Man-Ram,Manny Being Manny,Mannywood

Josh Reddick – Mr. Irrelevant, Red Dawg

AJ Reed – George, Herman, Big Herman, Herm

Jack Reed – Mantle’s Caddie, Mantle’s Legs

Pee Wee Reese – The Little Colonel

Anthony Rendon – Tony, Ant, Rendy, Tone, Tony Two Bags

Mark Reynolds – Mega-Mark, Sheriff of Swattingham, Skeletor, Forrest Gump

Mariano Rivera – Mo,Super Mariano,The Sandman

Joe Roa – The Roa Constrictor

Brooks Robinson – Human Vacuum Cleaner,Mr. Impossible

Hansel Robles – El Penaco, Caballo Blanco

Fernando Rodney – Benjamin, Uiya Clara, La Flecha

Sean Rodriguez – Serpico, Chich, Chi Chi

Taylor Rogers – Mr. Rogers, Lefty Piece

Phil Roof – Babe, The Duke of Paducah

Cody Ross – Toy Cannon, Ross the Boss, Smiles

Amos Rusie – The Hoosier Thunderbolt

Babe Ruth – Babe, The Bambino, The Sultan Of Swat, Jidge, The Colossus of Clout, The King of Crash

Chris Sale – The Condor, Stickman, The Conductor

Tim Salmon – Mr. Angel, Kingfish, Slammin’ Salmon

Gary Sanchez – The Kraken, The Sanchize

Ryne Sandberg – Ryno, Kid Natural, Gabby

Deion Sanders – Neon Deion,Prime Time

Pablo Sandoval – Kung Fu Panda,Round Mound of Pound,Little Money

Carlos Santana – Axeman, El Oso, Slamtana

Hector Santiago – Bulldoze, Bulldog, Santi

Tom Satriano – Satch, Mr. Everything, Tommy Trojan

Max Scherzer – Mad Max, Blue Eye, Brown Eye

Kyle Schwarber – Hulk, Schwarbs, Warbird, Schwarbie

Jim Scott – Death Valley Jim

Tom Seaver – Tom Terrific, The Franchise

Pat Seerey – The People’s Choice

Travis Shaw – Mayor of Ding Dong City

Spec Shea – The Naugatuck Nugget

James Shields – Jamie,Big Game James, Juego G

Bill Shipke – Skipper Bill,Muskrat Bill

Ruben Sierra – El Caballo, El Indio

Lou Skizas – The Nervous Greek

Kevan Smith – Szmyoth, Szmydth, Webby, Smitty

Ozzie Smith – The Wizard of Oz

Will Smith – Fresh Prince, Smitty

Duke Snider – The Silver Fox,Duke of Flatbush

Louis Sockalexis – Deerfoot of the Diamond

Jorge Soler – El Yoyo, El Crudo

Sammy Solis – Show-Show, Big Angus

Mose Solomon – The Rabbi Of Swat

Sammy Sosa – Slammin’ Sammy, Say it Ain’t Sosa

Juan Soto – La Fiera, Childish Bambino, Juanjo, Soto Pacheco

Denard Span – Spanny, D-Span, Spaniard

Matt Stairs – Wonder Hamster, Newf

Craig Stammen – Craigeroo, Stam, Trigger, Craiger, Stammer, Trig

Don Stanhouse – Stan the Man Unusual, Full Pack

Bob Stanley – Stanley Steamer, Bigfoot

Giancarlo Stanton – Bigfoot, Cruz, G, Parmigiancarlo

Sammy Stewart – The Throwin’ Swannanoan

Dee Strange-Gordon – Varis Strange,Flash Gordon Jr.

Hunter Strickland – Strick, Southern Thunder

Dick Stuart – Stu,Dr. Strangeglove,Boston Strangler,Stonefingers, The Man With the Iron Glove

Eugenio Suarez – Nicolle, Bolibomba Suarez

Don Sutton – Black & Decker, The Mechanic

Masahiro Tanaka – Masa, Ma-kun, Tanaka Time

Julio Teheran – JT, El Caballo De Olaya

Bill Terry – Memphis Bill, Smiling Bill

Eric Thames – Sang Namja, Mr. Tee, Phone Home

Frank Thomas – Big Donkey, The Original

Lee Thomas – Mad Dog, White Fang

Milt Thompson – Papa Thompson, Uncle Milty, Scooter

Bobby Thomson – Flying Scot,The Staten Island Scot

John Titus – Silent John, Tight Pants

Ka’ai Tom – The Flyin’ Hawaiian

Josh Tomlin – Scrubs, Little Cowboy, JT

Earl Torgeson – The Earl Of Snohomish

Devon Travis – Mailes, The Baby, D-Trav

Sam Travis – Doctor Chill, Captain Caveman

Gus Triandos – Tremendous Triandos, Golden Greek

Mike Trout – Millville Meteor, Kiiiiid

Jim Turner – Colonel, Milkman Jim

Trea Turner – Triple T, Triple Trea, T³

Chase Utley – The Man, Silver Fox

Johnny Vander Meer – The Dutch Master,Double No-Hit

Otto Velez – Otto the Swatto

Joey Votto – Votto-matic, Tokki 2, JoVo, In Flanders Fields, Who

Honus Wagner – The Flying Dutchman

Dixie Walker – The People’s Cherce

Joe Ward – Happy of Manayunk

Lon Warneke – The Arkansas Hummingbird

Adam Warren – Rocket, The Warden

Tony Watson – Watty, Tone Ranger

Joey Wendle – Mendle, Big Bopper

Jayson Werth – Werewolf, The Wolf of First Street, Sunshine, J-Dub, Dub

Gus Weyhing – Cannonball,Rubber Arm Gun,Rubber-Winged Gus

Billy Williams – Sweet Swingin’ Billy from Whistler

Matt Williams – Carson Crusher, Matt the Bat, Big Marine

Mitch Williams – Wild Thing, Mitchie-Poo, Dumb Dumb

Stan Williams – Big Daddy, Big Hurt

Ted Williams – The Kid,Teddy Ballgame,Splendid Splinter,Thumper

Kolten Wong – Wonger, The Pebble

David Wright – Captain America, D-Dub

Lucky Wright – William The Red,Deacon

Kirby Yates – Kirbs, Chubbs Senior

Eddie Yost – The Walking Man

Kevin Youkilis – Youk,The Greek God of Walks

Irv Young – Young Cy,Cy The Second

Ryan Zimmerman – The Z Man, Mr. Walk-Off, Zim, Mr. National

Ben Zobrist – Zorilla, Zobi-wan Kenobi

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Tui kim fried glass nooddles seed weed

W e are super excited to bring you the 2019 Rogue 99, our second edition. As with last year’s list, this is a compilation of 99 restaurants, food trucks and stands we consider essential to Los Angeles — places that capture the energy and beat of the city and its environs. In this way, the Rogue 99 isn’t intended as a guide to the “best” places to eat in LA (whatever “best” means to you); rather, these spots are not only exceptionally good at what they do, but they also reflect the distinct flavor of Los Angeles. Indeed, they’re so woven into the fabric of our environment that they’ve become integral parts of our collective culture. To eat at these spots is to understand LA.

Other than that quality of essential-ness, we had a few other considerations when putting together the Rogue 99. We only considered restaurants that have been open for at least a year. And we only considered places that — to the best of our knowledge — do not tolerate hostile working environments and do not have records of pervasive labor violations.

If you compare this year and last year’s lists, you’ll notice more than a few changes: We’ve removed some of last year’s entries, either because the spot closed or because we wanted to make room for a few old-school places worth celebrating and some relatively new places that are already making an imprint on dining in LA. Creating this list was very much a team effort, and we’re so, so grateful for all the help we had: Sarah Bennett contributed to our list again this year, and Andrea Galdamez, Andy Garcia, Valentina Guevara-Hernandez, Azucena Hilario, and Noemi Pedraza all kindly took time from both their high school studies and their work at the Boyle Heights Beat to contribute to our project. And we very much appreciate Daniel and Alex here at LA TACO, who gave us the room and the resources to do this list for yet another year. — Tien Nguyen and Katherine Spiers

Photo Credit: @allflavornogrease via Instagram

All Flavor No Grease

Last year, we called Keith Garrett the undisputed quesadilla king of Los Angeles for his maximalist take on the Mexican classic. Now, he’s cementing his reputation and vying for that title in Orange County with the first two All Flavor No Grease brick and mortars, one of which opened in January in a stall at Santa Ana’s 4th Street Market and the other coming soon to Westchester in collaboration with fellow underground “Foodminati” spots Taco Mell and Bleu Kitchen. Once just an Instagram account and a single propane grill in the driveway of his house on 108th Street in Watts, the God-loving Garrett is one of a handful of young black chefs in the region who use social media and entrepreneurial savvy to build audiences and drive business to their culinary popups. It also helped that his tacos, burritos and quesadillas are all some weighty combination of secret-spice-grilled chicken, steak or shrimp (quesadillas and burritos are given a zig-zag of sour cream and cilantro salsa before being chopped into pieces that ooze orange cheese like molten Earth. After cops shut down any food on “the Ocho” last year, a roving truck became the only source for Garret’s creations. Long live the quesadilla king. —Sarah Bennett

Photo Credit: Eric Chan via Flickr

Angelini Osteria

Angelini Osteria opened back in 2001 and since then has become not only one of the most reliable rustic Italian spots in the city, but among the most respected. Because it’s hard not to bow down to Angelini’s Lasagna Verde — veal and beef ragu spliced between sheets of spinach pasta— or the branzino tucked under a bed of salt, or the fact that owner Gino Angelini was singing the praises of freshly made pasta long before the current obsession with fresh noodles. And that might be what really sets Angelini apart: It’s a relief from all the manufactured trends of the moment, a place where you go if you want to have good pasta in an environment that is sincerely convivial and joyful. In that way, it’s just as fitting for a Friday night dinner as it is for a post-screening party after catching the 35mm version of Shirkers down the street at the New Beverly. — Tien Nguyen

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Animal

When Animal opened in 2008, it caused an absolute frenzy of media attention, based largely on its wildly meat-heavy menu. Just about every menu item was carnivorous, including the “bacon chocolate crunch bar” for dessert — that one got the lion’s share of the attention even though (are you shocked?) it’s nowhere near the best dish at Animal. And the mains aren’t just meaty, they’re downright aggressive in their decadence: chicken hearts, pig head, bone marrow, rabbit, sweetbreads and a tomahawk chop. (Surprisingly, lighter items, like the hamachi tostada, are must-orders too.) The two founding chefs weren’t just being outrageous when they developed this menu. They were up to the task, creating something really interesting amongst all that indulgence. The pared-down dining room fades away as you behold dinner and, probably, ponder man’s dominion over animals. Eating here is a heady experience. — Katherine Spiers

Photo Credit: Cesar Hernandez

Apple Pan

There was panic in the food nerd community earlier this year when it was announced that the family that has owned Apple Pan since it opened in 1947 had sold the business. It is, after all, one of L.A.’s most beloved institutions. The tiny place with a tiny menu will start accepting credit cards, but the new owners promise not to change anything else. Except maybe they’ll expand to other locations. We’ll see how that goes, but for the time being Apple Pan is still the same, serving ham, tuna, egg salad and cheese sandwiches (are these ever ordered?), and more importantly, two burgers: original and hickory, which presumably just has a little liquid smoke in the mix. French fries are separate and soda is served in a paper cone. There are also three pies to choose from: apple, pecan and a daily cream pie. Should you come across the Apple Pan’s banana cream pie, absolutely take one home. —KS

Photo Credit: Memo Torres

Asanebo

Asanebo is good choice among the many restaurants dotting the Valley’s Sushi Row, even though it didn’t start out serving sushi. In fact, it was called “No Sushi” by some, since it very famously refused to put raw fish on rice, opting instead to serve grilled and fried seafood. And sometimes sashimi, but resolutely no sushi. Hilariously, the real reason the chefs wouldn’t make it was because their lease included a non-compete with the sushi bar next door. So when the neighbor closed in 2000, Asanebo quietly, but quickly, added sushi to the menu. But the restaurant still excels mostly at the non-sushi offerings, like Wagyu steak, kampachi sashimi and expertly-made chawanmushi. The owner’s brother is also on this list, way down at Shunji — this is one talented family. —KS

Photo Credit: Patrick Manalo

Baco Mercat

Chef Josef Centeno doesn’t seem to like too much attention. Well, too bad: his food is really good. Centeno’s tenure at Lazy Ox Canteen is where the city at large began to learn about his Tex-Mex/East Asian/Mediterranean style, but Baco Mercat was the first restaurant where he had creative control from the start. A “baco,” as Centeno defines it, is a flatbread sandwich; it has elements of naan and pita and flour tortillas. Current fillings include shrimp sriracha and chive dressing, and pork belly, beef tongue, smoked aioli and romesco. Centeno has plenty of meat on the menu, but it’s clear he loves vegetables: they’re all roasted and blistered and caramelized and mixed with all kinds of spices. The focus is never on health, just flavors – just how L.A. likes it. —KS

Photo Credit: Memo Torres

Barrel and Ashes

Though traditionally Los Angeles didn’t know as much about barbecue as other cities did, in the past few years we’ve really gotten into the pit game. (Though to be fair we still don’t really acknowledge that grilling and barbecuing are two different processes.) Maybe it’s because the city conquered so many other types of food that we suddenly went nuts for southern American barbeque. Barrel & Ashes was one of the early adopters, setting the irreverent tone with its refusal to stick to one regional style. The menu has expanded over the years; now it even includes fish and chips. Maybe that’s Boston barbecue. There’s also brisket, pulled pork, and Santa Maria tri-tip. Whatever you order, get a hoe cake too, and revel at how much butter you’re putting in your body. —KS

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Beverly Soon Tofu

Beverly Soon Tofu has long rated among the very best of soon tofu houses, no small feat when it seems as though tofu stews can be found on most every block in Koreatown. Those around during the Reagan years will recall that Monica Lee first opened Beverly Soon Tofu on Beverly Boulevard in 1986; the second and current location opened in 1988 in a strip mall off of Vermont and Olympic. The restaurant is outfitted with a cabin aesthetic that would fit in nicely with the forests of Middle Earth, and the magic here comes in the form of a sputtering cauldron of red stew, stippled with freshly made soft tofu and laden with anything else you might want to add (kimchi, fish roe, beef) or on the side (galbi, bulgogi, bimbimbap). It will arrive on the table hot enough to cook an egg, and the server, with your permission and as if to prove the point, will crack a raw egg into the bowl. If there were one soup to rule them all, this just might be it. — TN

Photo Credit: Courtsey Black Market Liquor Bar

Black Market Liquor

Maybe there was a time pre-”gastropub,” a time under its reign, and the post-gastropub era. That’s what seems to have happened on Ventura Boulevard, which has been known for its sushi restaurants since the 1980s, but really expanded its quality offerings starting around 10 years ago when chefs started copying Jamie Oliver’s moves. Now, Ventura is a very playful restaurant row, and Black Market Liquor Bar, still going strong eight years later, is one of the best semi-gastropub, semi-California restaurants there. The executive chef is Antonia Lofaso, a well-known and well-liked presence on a number of food competition shows. More importantly, she’s a great cook, and her style is a good match for fancy bar food. Fried cauliflower is a sleeper hit; the trout toast with quail eggs is great; Korean-style chicken wings are crowd pleasers. Just as much thought is put into the drinks menu, which is pretty important when you’re charging $28 for a cocktail. (There are regular-priced drinks, too.) The place is always jamming from about 6pm onwards, and during weekend brunch, which is the defining meal of Valley culture. — KS

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Boiling Crab

Vietnamese-Cajun seafood boils began popping up in Houston in the early 2000s, when inspired Vietnamese shrimpers and fishers decided to put their own spin on the Cajun classic, throwing in butter, lemon and garlic to the seasoning in the to their boiling points. Not uncoincidentally, these are the primary ingredients in the Boiling Crab’s most popular seasoning sauce, the Whole Sha-Bang. Here your pick of seafood, including crayfish when it’s in season, is doused in the sauce, steamed in a plastic bag, then dumped, ceremoniously, onto your table for hands-on feasting. You are a given a comically oversized bib whose protection is more psychological than anything else, because no matter how hard you try, you will end the night with seasoning, butter, lime juice and shards of shell on the bib and beyond. This is about as close as you can get in Los Angeles to tasting the dynamism of the American South, and it’s also a window into the sort of unhyphenated Asian American cuisine that we can only expect to see more of in the future. — TN

Photo Credit: Gabriel Carbajal

Broken Spanish

Mexican-American cuisine covers a lot of delicious sub-genres, and chef Ray Garcia is one of the best interpreters of it. He was raised in L.A., and his high-end Broken Spanish reflects that: it’s expensive, but it’s not at all stuffy, and the food is spicy, and a lot of the dishes pay homage to home cooking, like the chicken necks and the albondigas. Come in for happy hour and grab both of those dishes at the bar (the cocktails are great too), or make a night of it with lamb shank with onion marmalade, chile negro, and pomegranate, and/or the whole red snapper with capers, olives, celery, chile piquin, and avocado. Finish off with the “flanna cotta” of goat milk custard, caramel corn, brown butter, caramelized buttermilk, and huacatay, also known as Peruvian black mint. —KS

Photo Credit: Gabriel Carbajal

Carnitas El Momo

In the hands of Romulo “Momo” Acosta, pork turns into a magnificent, beautiful, tender thing: He loads various pork cuts in a wide copper vat filled with seasoned lard, and cooks it at a bare simmer for upwards of three hours until the meat relents and relaxes. It’ll emerge soft and beautifully bronzed, ready to be shredded and heaped by the tongful onto warmed tortillas. You can choose among a few select cuts (stomach, skin, shoulder) or, for the undecided and/or the maximalist, the Aporkalypse, which is a mix all three. For anyone who has never had carnitas made like this (the only truly correct way, a carnitas aficionado might say), Carnitas El Momo will be a revelation. After downing a taco or two, you might want to take some home, in which case you’re in luck: The carnitas are available to go by the pound. — TN

Photo Credit: Memo Torres

Casa Vega

Casa Vega isn’t really a flashy restaurant, and it certainly isn’t elegant, and yet, there’s always at least one paparazzo lingering near the carport. That’s because a celebrity spotting is pretty much a guarantee — in fact, it’s just about as likely as the chance that you’ll decide mid-meal that yes, you would like a second margarita. The Valley restaurant is owned by one of L.A.’s old restaurant families: they opened their first in the 1930s, and this one has been operating since 1956. Since most Hollywood folk actually live in the Valley, it’s been an industry hangout since day one. The dim lighting and dark wood always makes it seem a little sexy, even if you’re chowing down on a combo platter. (On second though, combo platters are incredibly sensual.) The service is friendly, the menu is huge, and the drinks are strong. The only problem is remembering if the person you recognize at the next table is from real life or just TV. —KS

Photo Credit: Cesar Hernandez

La Casita Mexicana

There may not be a more colorful restaurant in L.A. than La Casita Mexicana. The decor, sure: orange and blue walls and tablecloths across the entire red spectrum, plus an impressive collection of hojalata here, so you’ll enjoy yourself even if you’re more into art than food. But that food is a visual wonder too, what with all the glorious sauces here that come in just about every naturally-occurring color, sometimes even on the same plate, as in the case of the enchiladas tres moles. Or go in a different, still lovely direction with the beautiful ceviche verde. Chile en nogada, with its bright green stuffed pepper, white walnut sauce and sprinkling of pomegranate seeds continues the colorful-delicious theme. If you make it in time for breakfast, you’re faced with seven different chilaquile options. That’s a great problem to have, and one that people choose to overcome on the regular. —KS

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Cassia

Cassia is one of the loveliest restaurants in greater Los Angeles, a bustling Southeast Asian brasserie that Bryant Ng and Kim Luu-Ng opened in 2015. The restaurant was uncommonly good when it first opened and somehow even better now: You will want the charcuterie plate with candied Singaporean pork and a slice of Vietnamese meatloaf that will trigger memories for those who grew up with a plastic-wrapped casserole dish of it in their fridge. You’ll probably also want the utterly beautiful sea bass scented with dill and turmeric, any one of the clay oven breads but especially the one with the Koda Farms chickpea curry, and perhaps the newer prime rib salad, which is reminiscent of be thui, but with thinly slices of smoked prime rib instead of veal. If you were a fan of the pair’s previous restaurant, The Spice Table, you will also happy to know that a few heirlooms there made it over here, including a few favorite dishes (the pig’s tail, the kaya toast), furniture (the birdcages) and cooking equipment (the grill). How good is Cassia? So good that a promise of a dinner here could convince even the most ardent Eastsider to cross La Brea.— TN

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Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Cena Vegan

The vegan food revolution is here and Los Angeles is its epicentre, with more conceptual animal-free pop ups per square farmers’ market than anywhere else (and a rabid Instagram mafia of fans to match). But the most impressive – and, for L.A., logical – veganized makeover of the last few years happened to Mexican food, and no single company is dominating this emerging sphere like Highland Park’s Cena Vegan. Mike Simms, his wife Carmen Santillan and their friend Gary Huerta started selling affordable plant-based pollo, pastor and barbacoa tacos on the corner of York and 51st in late 2015 and spawned a bi-weekly food court of Latino street vendors that is now both a destination and a neighborhood draw. In the spirit of Mexi-vegan innovators like Oakland’s Taqueria La Venganza, Cena Vegan takes the best parts of a cuisine where animal flesh and lard lurk in nearly every dish and makes exact flavor replicas of them out of seitan and soy skin instead. The result is a homestyle mock meat — many of Cena’s marinades are from Santillan’s Guadalajaran family recipes — that’s so adored by even carnivores that it’s gone wholesale, with one-pound bags available in your freezer aisle or for nationwide shipping online. —SB

Photo Credit: T.Tseng via Flickr

Chengdu Impression

Chengdu Impression did something so simple and so savvy when it opened its first U.S. location in Arcadia: it made a little mochi dessert that looks like a panda face. There’s not much to it, but it’s extremely Instagram-friendly. And so, people flocked to the restaurant to get their own picture of it. But gimmicks aside, they’re doing real work in the kitchen. There are a number of prix-fixe menus, some served French-style, some family-style. The food gives diners a well-rounded picture of Sichuan food and its flavors, from spicy (of course) to sweet and tart and sometimes incredibly rich. The restaurant also operates during the day as a teahouse, the common kind of hangout spot throughout China, where you get a pot of tea and a little snack and you shoot the shit. Not a bad way to pass the time. —KS

Photo Credit: Gabriel Carbajal

Chichen Itza

Gilberto Cetina opened his Chichen Itza in 2001 in the Mercado la Paloma, a building that once housed a garment factory and is now, thanks to the work of the Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, a bustling cultural and arts center aimed towards revitalizing and supporting the local community. All these years later, Chichen Itza’s cochinita pibil — a bundle of shredded pork marinated in sour orange juice and housemade achiote, cooked in banana leaves and served with pickled red onions and warmed corn tortillas — is still the standard to which all others are measured. And while the cochinita pibil is fantastic, don’t miss Cetina’s other wonderful Yucatecan specialties here, from the kibi (fried wheat and beef patties) to the pollo asado (chicken legs marinated in that achiote and sour orange juice and served with fried plantains and rice). After that? Maybe grab some ceviche next door at Holbox, also owned by the Cetina family, and peruse the rest of the mercado. — TN

Photo Credit: Erwin Recinos

Colonia Publica

Colonia Publica is a gastropub where you will find truly excellent tacos — not a surprise, if you’re familiar with Ricardo Diaz’s resume, which includes co-founding Guisados way back when and running the truly excellent Colonia Taco Lounge in La Puente for a few too short years. But while you can easily have a good time with a few Baja fish tacos and a michelada at Colonia Publica, Diaz’s focus here is really on his DIY fideo: a chicken and pork broth that’s been simmering for the better part of a day, along with your topping(s) of choice. Depending on your particular cravings and mood, you might want your fideo outfitted with nopales and the terrific chorizo made in house, or you may gravitate towards the simplicity of frijoles negros and tortilla strips. These soups are satisfying most any time of the year, but on crisp winter days when the temperature dips into the 40s, a fideo here will nourish your body and warm your soul. You can imagine that M.F.K. Fisher, who grew up in Whittier, would have loved this spot. How to feed a wolf? Try fideo. — TN

Photo Credit: Gabriel Carbajal

Coni’Seafood

The pescado zarandeado at Coni’Seafood is a real showstopper: This is snook that’s been beautifully butterflied — if you get an overhead shot of it, as many do, it sort of resembles the Millennium Falcon — and lacquered with a marinade that includes, among other things, mayonnaise and soy sauce and spices. The snook is grilled whole, served with caramelized onions and sheaf of corn tortillas; a few gentle nudges of your fork and a liberal dash of hot sauce later, you have yourself one of the most perfect bites in Los Angeles. As arresting as that snook is, there are other revelations on the menu, including an aguachile where the shrimp lounge in a Technicolor green sauce and langoustines doused in hot red sauce. If you don’t already live nearby, it’s all well worth going well out of the way for, though it’s almost mandatory on the way to or from LAX; in fact, its proximity to the airport means you can probably convince someone to wheel around that loop in exchange for a meal here. We have a good feeling about this. — TN

Photo Credit: Gabriel Carbajal

El Coraloense

One owner of this restaurant was born in Sinaloa, the other in Nayarit. They combined the food traditions of both coastal states into their glorious little ceviche spot, El Coraloense. The inventive menu offers the marinated seafood dish in a number of different styles, some with mayonnaise, some wildly spicy, some with nuts or fruits. The best way to go is to get the sampler plate of three different “mini” ceviche tostadas — it’s a ton of food and a great introduction to what’s going on here. Try the shrimp with walnut and peanut sauce, the smoked marlin and the mango-chamoy-shrimp. Another great option is the “cocoloco,” a coconut filled with all kinds of seafood treasures and topped with a cocktail umbrella, because showmanship counts for something. There are lobster nachos on the menu, but those are a gimme. The cooks are clearly challenging their creativity with the menu, and as diners, we should challenge our boundaries in kind. —KS

Photo Credit: Erwin Recinos

Dal Rae

Are you familiar with the “relish tray”? It’s not common around here, but in the middle of the last century this icy plate of fresh and pickled vegetables was an indicator that a restaurant wanted to be seen as upscale. Dal Rae, which opened in 1951, still sets a pepper-heavy, California-style rendition down at every table. This very fun (and very expensive) restaurant does retro very well (except the bar program, which sadly is just outdated); it is technically a steakhouse, so sure, get steak (in particular, the famous pepper steak), but more importantly, order things that are created tableside. The Caesar salad for two is a work of art created before your very eyes, and it might well be the very best one you’ll have in your life. For dessert, order Cherries Jubilee or Bananas Foster, because setting fruit on fire is always a great time. Request a table in the old dining room for the full experience. —KS

Photo Credit: Mariah Castañeda

Dan Sung Sa

Dan Sung Sa is the quintessential Koreatown pub, a dark, moody spot where you duck into a tattered booth decorated with autographs, messages and old Korean movie posters (fitting, as the place is named after the first movie theater in Korea). The prime seats, though, might be a bar stool before the enormous open kitchen that’s been planted square in the middle of the joint. This may evoke in your mind’s eye the tented pojangmachas that used to be found curbside throughout Seoul, which is the point: The tent might be physically absent, but it is here in spirit, channeled through the many different types of skewers (Vienna sausage, pork belly, ginko nut) lined up neatly on the grill, singed by the crackling curls of fire. Its spirit also lives through the fried chicken wings sticky with a sweet-spicy sauce, the platters of corn cheese, and the raw fruit on ice. Wash it all down with multiple rounds of soju cocktails and Hite. — TN

Photo Credit: Courtsey Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung

Earlier this year, Din Tai Fung, that venerable temple to xiao long bao, announced it would begin taking reservations. Yes, the reservations are limited in number, and available only at certain locations. But still. For anyone accustomed to waiting upwards of 45 minutes on a weekday (and at least twice that on a Sunday morning) for soup dumplings, these limitations are merely inconveniences. Because Din Tai Fung’s xiao long bao truly are superb, delicate purses of pork and broth wrapped in a thin dough and so impeccably folded and sealed that nary a tipple of broth ever escapes its confines. And while you are here for the dumplings, your order sheet probably should have a few other dishes ticked off, too: the noodles tossed in a fantastic chili oil sauce, or the fried rice that initially may seem pedestrian but is anything but. Din Tai Fung is worth the wait. But maybe try making a reservation first. —TN

Photo Credit: Courtsey Dulan’s on Crenshaw

Dulan’s on Crenshaw

You may do all the things you do before going to a restaurant nowadays — read up on the menu, check the Instagram feed, see who’s tagged whom when — and think you know exactly what you’re going to get when you get to Dulan’s. But there’s something about actually being there, staring at the freshly fried chicken and the chops smothered in gravy and the oxtails jutting from their sauce and the dressing and the mac and cheese and the candied yams and red beans, that just throws your best laid plans into utter disarray. That’s as pretty good as a welcome as you can have at any restaurant these days, and whatever meat and three you finally choose, you will end up with a tray of food enough for dinner and then some. Along with its other locations in Inglewood, Dulan’s has been serving up its fare for over 30 years now, and it’s not uncommon to walk in on the seventh day and to find a crowd in their Sunday best, considering the desserts: peach cobbler, sweet potato, cake, banana pudding. You’d do well to contemplate the same. Will you be paralyzed by choice yet again? Almost certainly. — TN

Photo Credit: @fathersofficeofficial via Instagram

Father’s Office

Los Angeles is a global leader in the hamburger space, and this little beer bar was and is a big part of our position. The divey tavern now known as Father’s Office had existed quietly for years before Sang Yoon bought it in 2000 and installed a teeny kitchen in the back. And there, a burger was created. Inspired by French onion soup, Yoon stacked bacon-y caramelized onions, arugula, gruyere, blue cheese and a charbroiled patty on a garlic-butter toasted oval bun. There’s another, bigger Father’s Office location now, but both have the same rule: no substitutions, no additions. Not even ketchup, no matter how much you beg. It’s a signature FO move, but it’s something that came from the complete lack of shelf space at the original. Besides, you can get ketchup anywhere else. —KS

Photo Credit: @felixlosangeles via Instagram

Felix

Italians were among the very first European immigrants to Los Angeles, but their culinary contributions to the culture were pretty rarely heralded over the past 50 or so years. (Though Cal-Italian has long been a mainstay of the Beverly Hills area.) But lately a local group of chefs, including Steve Samson and Zach Pollack, have been doing interesting work with the cuisine. Evan Funke at Felix stands out for his pastas in particular, which are ordered according to their home region of Italy. Get the malloreddus from the “pastas from the islands” section; it’s sauced with lamb ragu and a sheep’s cheese from Sardinia. Order a loaf of sfincione (identified on the menu as Sicilian foccacia), too, and call it a language class. The crowd here is effortlessly chic, so drape yourself in loose-fitting black clothes and go make the scene – while carb-loading at the same time. —KS

Photo Credit: Cesar Hernandez

Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop

Gardena Bowl opened in 1948 in response to what was, apparently, the South Bay’s favorite pastime. The bowling alley hasn’t changed much, and still operates as an unofficial Gardena community center. The question is: are they really there for the bowling, or is it the Japanese-Hawaiian food that’s been drawing generations of locals? The coffee shop may have always served kimchi bacon fried rice and saimin — that information seems to be lost to the sands of time — but those are certainly among the specialties now. For breakfast (at any time) get the Hawaiian Royal, a scramble of rice, eggs, chashu and Portuguese sausage with green onions and teriyaki sauce. There are sandwiches and bacon and eggs and the like, too, but how many places can you get tempura with a side of egg foo young? And Spam musubi to take home? Go for the specialties. —KS

Photo Credit: @gjelinarestaurant via Instragram

Gjelina

Venice has been absolutely kinetic for the past decade, morphing into something almost unrecognizable after generations of stereotypical beachside small town life. (With a bunch of crime thrown in.) The latest iteration is tech-heavy and arguably soulless, but Gjelina, which got in before that manifested, is still wildly popular, even though it’s no longer the latest, shiniest thing. The restaurant is full of dark wood and has big windows and a brick floor, plus a great back patio that’s been the setting for millions of Instagram photos. As luck would have it, the food is great too. A pizza is a mandatory order (try the mixed mushroom with rosemary and garlic); get a couple seasonal vegetable dishes too (perhaps dandelions with anchovy vinaigrette), and finish with the butterscotch pot de creme. It’s wild to think that this is now one of Venice’s old-school joints, but this beach town is fast-paced now. —KS

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Grand Central Market

A little more than a century ago, Grand Central Market opened to fulfill the grocery needs of the WASPy bourgeois of Bunker Hill. However, as the population began to diversify mid-century, so did the market, adding more prepared-food stalls and Mexican and Central American grocers. Downtown L.A. continues to be a place of great diversity and Grand Central Market, through all its growing pains in the last decade, finally reflects that – though it has gotten pricey again. The lunchtime experience is chaotic, so go in with a plan of attack; the bright neon signs, a lease requirement for each vendor, help with navigation. To fully understand the contemporary market, visitors need to visit both the new and “legacy” stalls. Chinatown Cafe, one of the market’s oldest vendors, is always busy and lightning-quick. A new customer favorite is Sari Sari, with its colorful rice bowls and indulgent Filipino desserts. Kismet Falafel and DTLA Cheese are comfort-food standouts, as is Ana Maria, where you should get a gordita. The market has gotten a little Disney-fied under the current owners, but the food is still great. – Noemi Pedraza

Photo Credit: Gabriel Carbajal

Guelaguetza

Guelaguetza opened in Koreatown in 1994, a year after the original owner, Fernando Lopez, migrated to the U.S from Oaxaca, Mexico, bringing his cache of traditional recipes with him. The restaurant became widely regarded as the best Oaxacan option in the city, which is a big deal: L.A. has a large Oaxacan population, and plenty of places serving Oaxacan food. Over the years the restaurant became best known for its moles, ranging from the spicy-sweet mole negro to coloradito, one of the most complex dishes known to man. Guelaguetza serves other dishes, like the customer-favorite tlayuda, a large, thin and crunchy toasted tortilla which is toasted with a bean spread, quesillo, cabbage and meat. Chapulines come in two different forms, “chapulines a la mexican,” sauteed with jalapenos, onions and tomatoes and the simpler “plato de chapulines,” sauteed with salt and pepper in olive oil. On the sweet side, there’s nicuatole, a jelly-like dessert made from maize and sugar, and drinks like agua de chilacayote (a type of pumpkin) and horchata sweetened with tunas, the sweet fruit from from cacti. It’s a big menu. It might take 25 years to try everything. – Azucena Hilario

Photo Credit: Gabriel Carbajal

Guerrilla Tacos

Going from taco truck to sit-down restaurant is a rare success story in the food world. But Wes Avila made it happen with Guerrilla Tacos, gaining enough popularity and goodwill to make it happen at a buzzy Arts District intersection. The brick and mortar is still playful and personal like a food truck: food is served on trays, rather than plates; the walls are covered in murals (including a sweet homage to Jonathan Gold); the “cochiloco” cocktail is served in a ceramic pig. The food is very Angeleno, using ingredients and techniques from all over the world. Try the sweet potato tacos with feta and corn, the pork with pickled persimmons, or the potato taquitos. Those aren’t unusual, but they are a nod to L.A. taco culture. – Andy Garcia

Photo Credit: Courtsey HaiDiLao

HaiDiLao

By now it’s a practically an established fact that Chinese restaurant chains choose L.A. as their first international location. HaiDiLao was one of the first a couple years back, opening in the Westfield Santa Anita, a mall that’s really figured out how to reinvent itself as a worthy destination: offer good food. Even with all the competition, there’s a line at HaiDiLao every night (you can kill time at the adjacent tchotchke store). This is a hot pot specialist with very specific methods. Order your broth and the setup of your choosing: land meat from one kitchen, seafood from another, vegetables from another area. Then head over to the buffet to put together your sauce — this part is largely a guessing game on your first few visits, as you figure out the fresh herb to vinegar ratio that works best for you. FInally, should you desire some showmanship with dinner, extra noodles can be ordered from a “noodle dancer” who’ll twirl enormous circles of dough into the air before cutting them into your pot. —KS

Photo Credit: T.Tseng via Flickr

Ham Ji Park

Ham Ji Park first opened in Arlington Heights in the early 1990s, and its second, in Koreatown proper, followed nearly a decade later. In all that time, those with a predilection for dwaeji galbi have found a home here, because despite the fact that you could find spicy pork ribs most everywhere in Koreatown, Ham Ji Park is the acknowledged premiere specialist. Its ribs are slathered in a gojuchang marinade that hits the right balance between spicy and sweet, and grilled patiently and properly until sticky with caramelization. Stacked high on a sizzling plate, a party of six could easily demolish two orders of these, plus make good progress on the kimchi fried rice and a huge bowl of gamjatang, the pork neck stew that some claim to be an unrivaled hangover cure. Note that of the two locations, the second in Koreatown generally seems more popular than the first; the first, however, has the distinct advantage of being within walking distance to Mateo’s Ice Cream and Fruit Bars. After a few rounds of soju and ribs, a paleta for dessert seems only right. — TN

Photo Credit: Cesar Hernandez

Hawkins House of Burgers

When the smell of bacon fills the street, you know you have arrived at Hawkins House of Burgers. Hawkins stands at the edge of the neighborhood of Watts in South Los Angeles, and there’s almost always a line of customers waiting to order from the menu that includes some of the best burgers in town, chili fries, waffles, and the “house breakfast” all created with homestyle recipes. The roots of this family restaurant were established in 1939, when Cynthia Hawkins’s father opened it as a small food stand; nowadays, Cynthia Hawkins owns and runs the place herself. While remaining a small business, over the years it’s grown into be a neighborhood treasure for burgers with buttery, toasted bread, Angus beef patties, and variety of toppings that can be added (including applewood smoked bacon, which is so popular throughout the menu that you could say it’s essential to the Hawkins experience). There are behemoth specialty burgers, too, like the Colossal, the Whipper, and Leaning Tower of Watts, which carries three half-pound patties and is taller than a Samsung Galaxy Note 9. And we can’t forget about their most popular drink: The lemonade with tiny chunks of strawberries, so it tastes especially sweet and juicy. And the employees are super friendly and take every demand seriously: They will not let you leave until you are satisfied with your meal. — Andrea Galdamez

Photo Credit: @hereslookingatyoula via Instagram

Here’s Looking at You

Koreatown has long been one of L.A.’s best neighborhoods for eating, and in the past couple years it has gotten even more interesting and diversified. Here’s Looking At You is an interesting sample, a small, cocktail-heavy restaurant that could be called fusion. It represents L.A., which is, after all, the best city on the planet for smashing together various food traditions to delicious effect. So maybe it’s just how we eat. The drink menu is much longer than the food menu, and pays a great deal of homage to tiki, L.A.’s homegrown contribution to the cocktail world. Rare rums and homemade syrups and juices show up everywhere, and they are not cheap. Neither is the food, which changes a lot but is always flavorful and quite often pretty spicy. Get the frogs’ legs with salsa negra, the pork belly with pineapple and herbs, and the yellowtail in a coconut sauce. —KS

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Honda-Ya

The indoor mall in Little Tokyo has lived a million lives, but Honda Ya has been a jam-packed constant on the third floor for 12 years. There are tatami rooms, a bar in front of the grills, booths, and tables, some of which seat 16 or so and are always full of birthday revelers. It’s a joyful sight to behold after passing through the rest of the shopping center, which is a bit of a twilight zone. The sushi is actually pretty good here, but since it’s an izakaya (imagine a tavern, but with even more beer, and then even more), stick to the cooked food, especially the robata skewers – the chicken meatball is a solid choice. Also be sure to order whatever fish collar the restaurant has that day, plus the stewed kabocha squash, the takoyaki, and the “extremely tender pork,” buta kaku. Everything comes in small portions that are meant to be shared, so don’t be afraid to go nuts on the menu. —KS

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Howlin’ Rays

Most days, and then multiple times throughout those days, the crew at Howlin’ Rays looks outside. Almost always, what they see if is their line snaking from their doors all the through Far East Plaza onto Broadway and unyielding as it winds its way due north. And so the crew looks and does some quick math and then tweets and Instagrams a rough time estimate of the current wait time. These appraisals are useful, not the least because they often double as weather reports: One day, the wait was approximately 1.5 hours (weather: sun with rays emoji,); another, 2 to 2.5 hours (weather: umbrella with rain drops emoji). What everyone is waiting for is Howlin’ Ray’s hot fried chicken (hot fried chicken, as you may know, has its roots in Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack and Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish in Nashville). Howlin’ Ray’s version is exceptional; it’s beautifully battered and fried, with about as much heat as you can handle. That is among the best fried chicken in town is without question; how long you’re willing to wait for said fried chicken is for you to decide. Should you do opt to bear the line, maybe it would be a good time to finally dive into that Elena Ferrante series. The entire trilogy. You have the time. — TN

Photo Credit: Memo Torres

El Huarache Azteca/Jugos Azteca

A few years ago, El Huarache Azteca closed to remodel. There was some excitement about this, because El Huarache Azteca has been serving Highland Park for well over two decades now and a little refresh was more than earned. But there also was some muted concern, because Highland Park already had endured so much displacement and so much outrageously speculative development, so any change to an institution like El Huarache was almost too much to bear. As it turns out, there was nothing to be worried about: The walls benefitted from a new coat of paint, new furniture was brought in, a new menu board replaced the old, the DIY salsa bar was removed in favor of salsa in squeeze bottles. About the only thing that didn’t change was the food: It remains as terrific now as it was before the makeover. The restaurant’s specialty, of course, is the huarache, a ball of masa tugged into the approximate shape of an extra wide size 10 sandal, then topped with your pick of meat or vegetable, crema, cheese and raw onions. El Huarache’s weekend specials, too, remained, meaning there’s still a line on Saturdays and Sundays for the restaurant’s Texcoco-style lamb roast, sold by the pound, plus enough consommé to cure what ails you. Next door, meanwhile, is the family’s jugos spot, where you can grab an agua fresca or a green juice to wash it all down. — TN

Photo Credit: TheDeliciousLife via Flickr

Jitlada

Jitlada has been a fixture in Thai Town since the late 1970s, when the Thai community was coalescing in East Hollywood. It didn’t have many fiery Southern Thai dishes on the menu then; no, that modification came about in 2006, when siblings Suthiporn “Tui” Sungkamee and Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong took over the restaurant. The two appended their favorite Southern dishes to the existing menu — among them, a terrific fried turmeric sea bass, a green mussel curry, and a plate of kua kling pork that comes standard with ice and raw vegetables to ease your pain — and became Internet legends, with tales of fire and feasts recounted in countless threads on Chowhound and and food blogs. These days, you’re just as likely to be waiting in the parking lot for a table next to Harrison Ford as you are a chef from the other side of town. Come by often enough and Singsanong might offer to make you her special Jazz Burger, a beef patty neatly charred and packed with chili. She may as well be giving you the keys to the city. — TN

Photo Credit: Erick Huerta

Karina’s Catering

A while back, some of the most exciting food in Los Angeles was being made by the street vendors who set up shop on Breed Street in Boyle Heights. But then someone complained, cruisers rolled through, equipment was confiscated, food was thrown out and all in all the entire debacle laid bare how expensive street vending can be. Things have been pretty quiet there ever since … but for Caridad Vazquez, that is, who can often still be found in the area, assembling mulitas and tacos on fresh tortilllas and drenching thick slabs of bread in red salsa and grilling them on the hot plancha to make her stellar chorizo and potato pambazos. As you wait for your food, you may realize you recognize her: She is one of the most prominent faces and voices of the street vending movement, on the frontlines of rallies and in front of the microphone, volunteering her name and comments for the record during city council meetings. It was her and vendors like her— in tandem with the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, the East L.A. Community Corporation, the Leadership for Urban Renewal Network and others involved in the L.A. Street Vendor Campaign — who pushed the campaign to its recent successes. Maybe, then, grab an extra taco or two in solidarity and gratitude. — TN

Photo Credit: Memo Torres

Kobee Factory and Syrian Kitchen

Wafa Ghreir’s kobee is a glorious thing, a mix of buglar, beef, pine nuts and seasonings patted into a thick round and grilled. That’s the template, anyway; she also offers variations on the theme, including a vegetarian version, a fried version that is lighter and more delicate than you might expect, and a supersized version cooked in a 12-inch skillet. Most days, you can find Ghreir in the kitchen cooking up a row of kobees, or at the front counter, taking or packing orders and thanking you for waiting even though it wasn’t that long of a wait at all. In addition to the kobees flying off the grill, the other Syrian dishes are popular here, too, especially the mjadara, a combination of bulgar and lentils pulled together by a generous heap of fried onions. The crowd in the compact space tends to almost include at least a few people waiting for the car to be serviced at one of the several auto shops nearby, and you might start thinking about getting your oil changed around here, too, just to have an excuse to drop by. —TN

Photo Credit: Gabriel Carbajal

Kogi BBQ

Taco trucks in Los Angeles are often divided into two groups: those founded prior to 2008, and those created after. Because 2008 is when Kogi launched and changed the game. Roy Choi is world famous now, and at the helm of a hip new Las Vegas spot, but when he decided to sell a Korean-Mexican street food mashup, he was a former hotel chef looking for something a little, or a lot, more interesting. The Korean short rib taco was the first menu item, followed by things like spicy pork burritos and chicken mulitas. (The sweet chili chicken quesadilla somehow isn’t as well-known, but it’s the most delicious option.) Choi and his team harnessed the power of the then-new Twitter for marketing, and parked the truck strategically outside bars. The Kogi empire now includes a brick and mortar in Palms, and while not all of Choi’s efforts have been slam-dunks, Kogi will probably be around till the endtimes. —KS

Photo Credit: Memo Torres

Lalibela

Lalibela is one of Little Ethiopia’s newest stars, a place where you walking in feels like walking right into owner Tenagne Belachew’s bright, airy dining room. Belachew makes so many wonderful things here that it’ll take a few visits to really dive into everything; to start, anyway, try the excellent sambusas, a crisp, spiced package of lentils, onions and herbs, then move onto to the Cornis, a meat lover’s combination that includes kitfo and tibs served on a spongy injera that hits the slightest of sour notes (if you’d rather, there’s a stellar vegetarian combination, with lentils, collards, potatoes and cabbage, too, and you can add a side of trout to both). On a later visit, you might want to pick up the kitfo sandwich, which is exactly what it sounds like it is (beef tartare in a meld of clarified butter in a French roll) or the doro wot, the only chicken option on the menu, and the only chicken option you really need. If you have the time, you can also sit down for a proper coffee ceremony with beans roasted and ground right then and there. It’s a swell way to end your meal. — TN

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Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Langer’s Delicatessen-Restaurant

The number 19 is associated with a few things: Adele. Steve Yzerman. John Milton considering how his light was spent. And, of course, Langer’s. Late last year, word got around that the building that housed the 72-year old deli was for sale. A very brief but entirely correct response — panic — ensued before Norm Langer assured everyone they planned to stay, sale or no sale. Indeed, if any misguided developer even hinted at the idea of shutting down Langer’s, they’d have to contend with an entire city roaring in its defense, not only because it is one of L.A.’s most cherished institutions, but also because it is home to the greatest pastrami sandwich in the country, full stop. This is pastrami that’s been smoked and steamed for hours, hand-cut into thick slices and stacked high on double-baked rye. Top it with a heap of coleslaw, a slice of Swiss and a few dabs of Russian dressing, and you have the famous number 19, and it’s number 19’s legions of fans who would probably be among the first line of defense against any physical or existential threat to Langer’s. If and until then, they also serve who only stand and wait. And eat pastrami. — TN

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Longo Seafood

When sometimes-writer David Chan reports that a new Chinese restaurant is important, the fooderati takes note. That’s why there was a stampede to Longo Seafood in late 2017, after Chan noted the new arrival on his blog, explaining that the San Gabriel Valley rarely gets new Cantonese restaurants these days, and that it’s even rarer that they focus on dim sum. And Longo doesn’t serve just the standard. It does an excellent job with it, adding some excitement to a genre of food that had seemed a bit like a boring old standby recently. Steamed barbecue pork rolls are standouts, as are the baked buns of all kinds. Truffles and lobster can be added to many of the dishes, should you feel that’s necessary, and entire birds and fishes are great choices if you’re there with a big group. Round it out with chicken feet and seafood noodles. All that, and the dining room contains the largest television you’ve seen in your life. —KS

Photo Credit: Mariah Castañeda

Los Molcajetes

The pupusas at Los Molcajetes are about the diameter of mini Frisbee and as thick and pliable as a good pupusa should be. You can order two stuffed with, say, loroco and cheese, and top it with a sluice of salsa and a generous heap of curtido, the jar of gently pickled cabbage that arrives on your table alongside your order, and even someone with a healthy appetite will be well satisfied. Those who grew up in or around Pico Union in the late 1970s may remember when Maria-Luisa Gonzales and Juan Guzman began Los Molcajetes as a food truck followed by a brick and mortar soon after. The family now has several locations, mostly within central L.A.; that a few locations are mere blocks from each other is a testament to how beloved it is. The menus at all locations are broadly similar; you’ll find fine chicken and sweet corn tamales and the raw minced beef dish called salpicon at all of them. And those pupusas, too, of course. A few locations even offer pupusas made with rice flour instead of corn, which gives it a lovely, chewy consistency, and the location on Temple Avenue offers pupusas stuffed with vegan cheese. Something, in other words, for everyone to enjoy some of the best Salvadoran cooking in town. — TN

Photo Credit: @lucquesla via Instagram

Lucques

It’s a very particular type of person who can look at a speckled, frilled head of lettuce and mark it as one grown by The Garden Of, or to taste a peach and divine that it was just plucked off a tree at Tenerelli Orchards. If Suzanne Goin is that person, it would very much not be a surprise: She, after all, has been doing the local, seasonal, farm-to-table thing at Lucques ever since she opened the restaurant with Caroline Styne in 1998. Since then, we’ve seen the elegantly simple, understated way she pulls together a dandelion and Treviso salad and pairs the fragrant apples from Windrose Farm with a pear vinaigrette and walnuts. We’ve ordered, more than once and even during the summer, her signature braised shortribs, and we’ve gathered friends on the patio for a Sunday supper that ends in five layers of chocolate cake. It’s easy to understate the influence of Goin’s cooking in L.A., but the fact is if you study the menus at some of the newer spots in town that emphasis this sort of hyperseasonal cooking, you’ll realize that many owe a debt to the space Lucques created. — TN

Photo Credit: T.Tseng via Flickr

Luv2Eat

When Fern Kaewtathip and Noree Pla opened Luv2Eat back in 2014, they made heat waves with their fiery Southern dishes, including a scorching Phuket-style curry brimming with blue crab. Since then, their cooking has become sharper, more confident; you are more than free to continue measuring your heat tolerance against the Scoville scale with that curry or the fried rice laced with a spicy shrimp paste, but you don’t need to put in that much sweat to appreciate what the two are doing here. Their hat yai fried chicken rivals any other fried bird in town, and the noodles, especially the restaurant’s zeed noodles served in a clear, every so slightly sour broth toting a tickle of spice, are fantastic. The two have been busy of late, as they just opened Noree Thai on Beverly late last year, but they’re still attentive to their firstborn: Luv2Eat still is dishing out some of the most interesting, engaging Thai dishes around. — TN

Photo Credit: Cesar Hernandez

Majordomo

Being that it is a David Chang restaurant, and the celebrity chef’s first one in L.A. at that, Majordomo has been a big deal since before it opened. Placing it in an unlikely neighborhood, the warehouse-y north end of Chinatown, further ensured its hipness. The prices make this sprawling, indoor-outdoor industrial palace a special occasion restaurant for most people, so it stings a bit when you’re seated next to a family with children dressed in their soccer uniforms, clearly straight from a game. Maybe this is the Pizza Hut buffet of L.A.’s one-percenters. For the rest of us, this is an interesting, expensive evening of entertainment, especially if you order one of the large-format plates, be it the ribs, the bo ssam, or the boneless short rib, each served with a number of accoutrements, banchan-style, and carved tableside, with second courses of the meat mixed into, say, fried rice. (The menu shifts around pretty regularly.) The food is a little Chinese, a little Korean, but mostly west coast – don’t worry about trying to categorize it, just dive in, and definitely order things you don’t recognize. Finally, we are told that the wine list is incredible. —KS

Photo Credit: Cesar Hernandez

Manhattan Beach Post

Ever since David LeFevre opened Manhattan Beach Post in 2011, it’s become as integral to the neighborhood as the Kings and the Lakers, a force that draws in the crowds with the promise of Nueske bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits and roasted Brussels sprouts in browned butter. Once there, LeFevre’s seasonal, ever changing menu awaits; one side of the menu is devoted almost entirely to meticulously sourced cured meats, including quite a bit of prosciutto (duck and otherwise). You can, and probably should, start off with those biscuits and a charcuterie and cheese board while you figure out whether you want the char-siu lamb belly or the pork and ricotta meatballs or the special the kitchen came up with that morning and scrawled onto the night’s menu. The menu can’t resist a pun (hello, “Pasta Kneads Its Own Section”), which gives you a sense of the restaurant’s sense of fun, for better or for better. In fact, it might inspire you to take a trip to the beach followed by a bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuit. Post haste. — TN

Photo Credit: Gabriel Carbajal

Mariscos Jalisco

Along with the farmers market, the Hollywood sign and traffic on the 10, the taco dorado de camaron at Mariscos Jalisco is a Los Angeles icon. The taco is a mix of shrimp, mashed potatoes and other secret ingredients slathered onto a corn tortilla, folded in half, deep fried then topped with generous slices of avocado and doused in salsa, and it so well captures the spirit of L.A. that any visitor seeking to understand the city would do well to stop by. Mariscos Jalisco has been operating out of a lonchera in Boyle Heights since 2001; over the last few years, it’s branched out to other parts of the county — a truck in Downtown, a sit-down in Pomona, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s house — which means a fried shrimp taco might be closer than you think. And while every visit mandates at least one taco, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that the other items on the menu are good, too: try the ceviche de camaron. — TN

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Meals by Genet

If you peer into the small square of a window that serves as the kitchen pass during the evenings that Meals by Genet is open for diner, you can very often catch owner and chef Genet Agonafer. She’s there, at the stove, before a pot of doro wot that’s been simmering for some two days. Or, there, at the kitchen island, assembling with care gomen (collars), azifa (lentils) and the other components of her lovely vegetarian combination entree. Or, there, at the pass, handing off a plate of tofu tibs, pan-fried and resplendent in green chilies and Ethiopian butter. Agonafer opened her restaurant nearly 20 years ago and while you can also spot a small crew in the kitchen with her as you peek through the window, she’s always been the restaurant’s only cook. And so after you’ve had a terrific dinner and are about to head back out to the bustling lights of Little Ethiopia, it might not be a bad idea to swing back to the window. And pay your compliments to the chef. — TN

Photo Credit: Erick Huerta

Mercado Olympic

On the weekdays but especially on the weekends, the stretch of Olympic Boulevard starting at Central Avenue is crammed. With people, with tacos, with piñatas, with elotes, with strollers, with mulitas, with balloons, with bionicos. With Los Angeles, in other words, browsing for Aquaman-shaped piñatas (complete with trident, natch) and other supplies for their kid’s birthday party or graduation. And eating, of course, all the meanwhile. Likely you’ll take but a few steps before finding yourself in front of someone from Mexico City, working a huge mound of blue corn masa to press into a quesadilla. If you see someone offering soft, steamy tacos de canasta — basket tacos — you’ll want to pick one or two up. At some point, the slightest of zephyrs will pick up the smell of fried dough, at which point you’ll turn around and find a churro master fishing out tangled ropes of dough from a huge pot of hot oil. Hard as some try, you can’t manufacture spaces like the Mercado Olympic — and that makes these precious few blocks among the most valuable real estate in the city. — TN

Photo Credit: @michaelssm via Instagram

Michael’s

Michael’s opened in 1979 and almost immediately became a legend in California cuisine, getting in at the forefront of the European-inspired food boom that defined the popular conception of west coast restaurants for decades. In recent years it had gotten a boost on the strength of its young chef, Miles Thompson, who made the Santa Monica restaurant truly hot again. But he left last fall; maybe one day he’ll be added to Michael’s list of star alumni, which includes Jonathan Waxman, Sang Yoon and Brooke Williamson). For now, Jeff Lustre has taken over in the kitchen, and while he hasn’t gotten the full PR treatment yet, it seems like he’s having fun. The happy hour cocktail of the day for 1.79 is still on the happy hour menu, which is having a playful moment: a double cheeseburger, animal-style fries, and “Nashville hot calamari;” dinner options include a play on xiao long bao, a bowl of perfect beans, and calamansi pudding, the latter in homage to our county-wide obsession with Filipino food. —KS

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Misky Misky

The star of Misky Misky, Julio and Cecilia Tawata’s Peruvian restaurant in West Covina, is its ceviche. Ceviches, actually; on any given day, there are at least six options on the menu, most with the catch of the day, with a few options to mix it up with mango or shrimp or mussels. It’s all beautifully fresh, kicked up with the snap of lime juice and topped with the crunch of Peruvian corn. If seafood is not really your thing, there are other things you will like very much here, too, like an excellent rendition of the classic lomo saltado made with bits of filet mignon, or linguine that’s been tossed in huancaina, the spicy cheese sauce usually found spooned over sliced potatoes. Misky Misky is a true gem, well worth the drive out if you don’t already live nearby. — TN

Photo Credit: @yui_vaghaza via Instagram

Musso & Frank Grill

Musso & Frank turns 100 years old this year. 100! No other place has Hollywood embedded in its bones the way Musso & Frank’s has; this is the place, after all, where Dorothy Parker drank when she was out here working on screenplays (among them: A Star Is Born, Little Foxes), and where Carole Lombard apparently still haunts. It’s also the place where a good number of servers have been here for a good portion of their adult lives, and where you are reminded of the powers of a very good martini. As for the fare, you can’t go wrong with a steak, charred on the charcoal grill, and a simple but effective Caeser salad. There are throwback dishes like the flannel cakes and grilled lamb kidneys with bacon (the menu tells you it was Charlie Chaplin’s favorite; insert Modern Times joke here), and there are regulars who still come in for the Thursday chicken pot pie special. As much as some of us tend to try to avoid the Hollywood side of Los Angeles save for the Sunday farmers market, it’s hard to resist the allure of sitting in the booth where Lucille Ball once sat. Here’s to another century of fine steaks, finer martinis and ghosts of Hollywood past. — TN

Photo Credit: @carolerikaiida of n/naka via Instagram

n/naka

It is 10:05am on February 24th and there is not one reservation available for n/naka. The reservations opened at 10:00 a.m., but nope, the restaurant is, between now and June 1, completely booked. If the algorithm gods smiled upon you, though, don’t let go of that reservation: Niki Nakayama’s cooking is a beautiful study in stillness and fluidity, as ethereal as it is cerebral. What you will have is a proper kaiseki meal, 13 restrained courses in which each dish stays true to a theme or idea, or the culinary equivalent of a structured poem that follows rules of meter and rhyme. Though there are few dishes, like her pasta with pickled cod roe, that shows up with some regularity, the rest of her menu changes constantly, depending on what Nakayama is tooling around with, what she’s picked from her garden and what impeccable seafood her fishmonger brought in that morning. And so the hamachi with white strawberries that showed up during the third course (modern sashimi) one weekend might be gone the next in favor of, say, delicate pieces of hirame kobujime. All in all, it’s a meal more than worth saving up and setting alarms for. — TN

Photo Credit: @trebonium via Instagram

Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa

Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa is squeezed between a water store and a barber shop in a strip mall on Valley Boulevard, and exudes such an easy, comfortable amiability that makes it feel like it’s always been there, waiting for you to grab a seat and order a plate of nem nuong. Because that is what you are here for: sprightly, bouncy pork meatballs that are skewered and grilled; you can get them solo, but you may want to opt for the combination special that supplements the nem nuong with other porky treats, including pork patties about the size of a hockey puck and crisp shrimp rolls that are about the length and width of a number 2 pencil. In either case, you are to wrap and roll the meat with a few herbs and a sliver of a cucumber, in moistened rice paper (if you’ve rolled a taquito or burrito in your lifetime, you’ll get the hang of this pretty quickly). Fans of Central Vietnamese cuisine will be happy to know that the bun bo Hue — often mistakenly and infuriatingly referred to the “other pho” even though it’s a different soup entirely, made with beef and pork buns and spiced red with annatto and chiles — is very good here, too. And so is the banh beo, nine small steamed rice cakes perfect for sharing. — TN

Photo Credit: carlfbagge via Flickr

Neptune’s Net

Compared to other seaside cities, L.A. hasn’t had much of a seafood culture in modern times. Maybe it’s because we take it for granted, maybe it’s because Santa Monica Bay is often polluted beyond belief. (Oh … those two things are related, aren’t they.) But, we are blessed by Neptune’s Net, all the way up in the northern reaches of Malibu, across the street from the ocean. It was very nearly lost in the fires last fall, but it only had to shut down for a short while. It was founded in 1956 by an astronaut, so it’s not gonna go under that easy. Though you’ve almost certainly seen it in movies, the outdoor restaurant is not at all pretentious, in fact, it’s a popular stop for motorcycle clubs — the friendly kind. Once you weave your way through the bikes and past the be-leathered folks who ride them, you’ll be faced with a choice: the fry side or the steam side. The former is where deep-fried seafood and items like the (really quite delicious) pineapple-shrimp tacos are ordered, while the latter is for crab claws and peel-and-eat shrimp. The restaurant also makes bold claims about its cheeseburger, so add Neptune’s Net to your personal burger rankings. —KS

Photo Credit: Patrick Manalo

Newport Seafood

When you sit down at Newport Seafood, the question usually is not whether you’ll order The House Lobster, but, rather, how many pounds of the crustacean you want. Because to go through the trouble of waiting in an hour or so line and not order The Lobster is a bit like going to Universal Studios and skipping the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: You can, but why? This would be a Maine lobster showered with generous amounts of jalapenos, green onions, butter and black pepper and cooked until it becomes the deepest of reds; it’s become so iconic that it has spawned countless imitators and inspired takes throughout the San Gabriel Valley and beyond. None, though, have quite matched the original. And so, while you will probably want to round out the table with, say, a platter of bo luc lac (shaking beef), a plate of salt and pepper shrimp, and some pea sprouts, the priority is to determine how much of The Lobster you want. Our advice? It’s generally better to go big so you can go home with the leftovers. There are few things more magical than lobster fried rice for breakfast. — TN

Photo Credit: Gabriel Carbajal

Night + Market Song

Night + Market is now a three-location consortium, but it’s the second location, in Silver Lake, (full name: Night + Market Song) that has most captured the imagination, taste buds and wallets of Angelenos. On any given night it looks like a casting call for “gorgeous but unbothered artist type” in the dining room and the line spilling out the door, but it’s not just a hip destination, it’s a serious cuisine destination. The chef and owner is the scion of an L.A. restaurant family: his parents and grandmother opened Talesai on the Sunset Strip in 1982, introducing white westsiders to the glory of Thai food. The cuisine is now a staple for all Angelenos, and the menu here certainly contains some crowd-pleasers, but is also attempting, it seems, to further the education of a new generation of eaters: alongside the larbs and the pad thai there’s khao soi (an increasingly popular northern noodle dish), grilled pig neck with a chili dip, a Burmese curry with squash, and “Bangkok mall pasta.” —KS

Photo Credit: Cesar Hernandez

al-Noor

Los Angeles is rightfully famous for its excellent food in humble surroundings. Newcomers often express shock that Angelenos prefer the unpretentious and delicious to the flashy nonsense, but, like … we contain multitudes, you know? Indian food in L.A. can be somewhat run-of-the-mill, which makes al-Noor a double treasure. One would absolutely drive by it many times without noticing it, but eat at al-Noor once and it’s added to your regular rotation. The restaurant specializes in northern Indian and Pakistani food — i.e., the same dishes that the vast majority of Indian restaurants here serve. And yet, it does it so much better than the others. Even the chicken tikka masala, that most common of orders, is orders of magnitude better than most anywhere else on the west coast. Less common dishes like tala gosht, a fried-and-sauced beef speciality of Hyderabad (where’s it often made with mutton), will also open your eyes to a whole new realm of Indian food. Unless you already knew, of course. —KS

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Oaxacan Quesadilla Cart

Should you ever be in Echo Park, maybe nearish to the lake and maybe in the afternoon and maybe on a weekend, and happen to come across a woman named Alejandra scooping a blue corn masa out of a bucket and onto a hot grill, you might want to stop. Because she makes wonderful quesadillas out of that bit of masa, filled with cheese and crunchy bits of chicharron or earthy, funky chorizo huitaloche or papas and chorizo, folded over and grilled. Once the cheese has bubbled and melted, and the tortilla has browned nicely, she’ll hand it back to you to flip open and dress to your heart’s desire (among your options: red and green salsas, cotija, onions, cilantro and jalapeños). You can find a little perch nearby to eat it right then and there, or take it to with you to snack on as you head out to watch the ducks and the dogs play around the lake. Not a bad way to spend a Los Angeles afternoon. — TN

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Oh My Pan Bakery & Tea

The toasts are the thing at Oh My Pan, but we’re not talking about avocado toast. No, at this Taiwanese-style bakery and cafe, it’s all about towering sugar temples, decked out in fruit, ice cream, syrups and creams served in and on half-loaves (or more) of toasted sweet white bread. (That’s low gluten, high butter bread.) The “volcano strawberry,” for instance, includes strawberries, chantilly cream, vanilla ice cream, and vanilla and strawberry sauces. Another option comes with custard cream, egg pudding, red beans, green tea ice cream, and honey; customizing is allowed as well. This is a popular spot for youths to come get an after-school sugar rush, and the free wifi gives it a study group sheen, though the kids probably can’t see straight after a toast and a milk tea. The signature items aren’t available to go, but exquisitely decorated pastries and cake slices can be wrapped up. But stick around for a bit, have some toast. —KS

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Omar’s Halal

L.A. County is blessed with a plethora of regional Chinese cuisine options. You’d probably be able to fake having gone to China just by eating at half of the restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley. Having said that, halal Chinese cuisine is a relative rarity – a shame, because it’s so delicious and can introduce eaters to a part of China that doesn’t get as much attention as the more eastward and southern regions. The food at Omar is the food of the Uighur people, who have been stripped of their rights by the Chinese government in one of this planet’s current man-made disasters. The dishes here are hearty and a little spicy, and full of both potatoes and hand-pulled noodles (blessings to the carb lovers). Omar’s most famous dish is the “big plate chicken” which does, in fact, feed a crowd, and needs extra time to prepare, so order it when you get to Omar, or even call it in before you get in the car. The enormous platter doesn’t look like it’s going to knock your socks off, the but the peppercorns and the star anise and the cumin make it something special. Order the stuffed flatbread called “meat pie” (and eat it quickly, it gets soggy) and dry-rubbed bone-in lamb chunks as first courses, with garlic cucumbers to perk everything up. Food is a great way to get to know a culture, and the more the outside world knows about Uighur cuisine, the better. —KS

Photo Credit: Courtsey Otafuku

Otafuku

Los Angeles is blessed with many great noodle houses, and among these great noodle houses is a nondescript spot in Gardena called Otafuku. The restaurant’s name hangs above its door, but the window shades facing Western Avenue are sometimes drawn, and there’s not much on the façade that even hints there are great noodles waiting inside. However mishegoss it seems to not at least show off a photo or two of its awesome soba noodles, clearly the neighborhood knows what’s up: During lunch, the restaurant’s two rooms are crammed, and there are usually folks hanging out in the hallway near the back door, waiting for a table or a spot at the counter. Indeed, outside of the soba making classes that Sonoko Sakai often hosts, there are few better places for soba in greater Los Angeles. The restaurant makes three types of soba, including a white soba made with the heart of the buckwheat and a darker noodle with 100% buckwheat, and you can have your choice of soba served cold with a dipping sauce alongside, or added to hot broth. Sometime towards the early evening, the place starts to fill up with folks coming in for a post-work beer, rice bowls and tempura. And noodles, too, of course. — TN

Photo Credit: Tien Nguyen

Otomisan

Otomisan opened back in 1956, in Boyle Heights, back when Boyle Heights was home to a significant Japanese population, and back when, despite being deemed unconstitutional just less than a decade earlier, redlining and restrictive covenants still played a part in determining who lived where and owned what in Los Angeles. Since then, the neighborhood demographics has shifted quite a bit, and ownership has changed hands a few times — the current owner, Yayoi Watanabe, took over in 2005 — but if you walk in, it feels almost like a time capsule: old posters hang on the walls, vintage Mickey Mouse and Snoopy tchotchkes line the shelves, there are three lovingly worn booths, and a scruffy counter with half a dozen stools faces a small television tuned to NHK or the Dodgers, depending. Come by often enough, and it might feel like something out of Midnight Diner, with regulars coming in, greeting Watanabe, sharing their day as they order without bothering with the menu. If you too come often enough, you might single out Otomisan’s oyakodon as comfort in a bowl, and after ordering the tonkatsu or tempura or the potato croquettes, you may realize the kitchen has quite a way with the fryer. And decide this could be your home away from home.

Photo Credit: Memo Torres

Pann’s

Pann’s is the Googie-style diner you see as you cruise down La Cienega before or after an airport run, a building brilliant with neon, hatted with a tilted roof and outfitted with sharp, dramatic angles. It has a sense of a future even as its roots are very much in the past: Designed by Helen Liu Fong at Armet & Davis (Fong also designed the Holiday Bowl on Crenshaw Boulevard), Pann’s opened in 1958, the same year the Dodgers first played in Los Angeles. Enough physical and spiritual elements of the original have been preserved over the years that it well embodies the classic 1950s diner, with all of its hopes and anxieties, in a way that few other diners channeling that era do. If you walk in now, just over six decades after it originally opened, it feels like the convergence of multiple timelines — past, present and future all rolled into one. And as in the past, the present and hopefully the future, a fine way to start your day would be to grab a stool at Pann’s long counter, or to slide into one of its squishy booths, and order a hot cuppa, then maybe some chicken and waffles or a breakfast plate of eggs and hash browns. — TN

Photo Credit: T.Tseng via Flickr

Park’s BBQ

Korean barbecue is a staple of Los Angeles food culture and a popular choice for both large gatherings and intimate dinners with the person you don’t mind eating $40 worth of meat in front of. This subset of Korean food is also very Californian — some of the meat choices and a good proportion of the banchan were developed here in our own Koreatown. Park’s, operated by chef Jenee Kim, who moved here from South Korea in 2000, is widely considered to be the most high-quality KBBQ in town (stick to the beef, since the restaurant focuses more on cows than on pigs). It’s certainly the most celebrity-filled: the walls are covered with photos of meat-sated famous faces from around the world. A Park’s shop has opened a couple doors down, where you can buy the same meats from the restaurant and grill them at home. —KS

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

The Park’s Finest

You might have had your first taste of The Park’s Finest more than a decade ago, when owner Johneric Concordia catered (and sometimes hosted) the arts and culture showcase Tuesday Night Cafe in Little Tokyo. In 2012, he opened The Park’s Finest in Historic Filipinotown, not too far from where he grew up in Echo Park, bouncing between that neighborhood and this one and attending more than a few backyard BBQs. Fittingly, then, The Park’s Finest is home to the ultimate backyard BBQ, a place where Filipino flavors meld and mix with all manners of smoked meats: the hot links are made with longanisa. The cornbread, made with cornmeal and rice flour and baked on banana leaves, is really a riff on the bibingka. You’ll douse the pulled pork and ribs in a vinegary BBQ sauce that’s been spiked with pineapple and soy. You’ll kick it all back with a beer and argue about the Mike Trout deal. This is an L.A. BBQ after all. — TN

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Photo Credit: @philippetheog via Instagram

Philippe the Original

One of L.A.’s perennial debates concerns the French dip sandwich. Was it first cobbled together at Philippe the Original (more commonly called Philippe’s), or in another part of downtown at Cole’s? The answer is probably that people had been dipping their bread in basting juices for as long as sandwiches had existed, but it is fun to get all riled up about the issue. (But it was definitely Philippe’s.) The restaurant hasn’t changed much: you still order at the counter, coffee is less than a dollar, and there are jars of pickled eggs on the counter, should you want one. In fact, the whole menu is a retro delight, with items like tapioca pudding and cream of spinach soup available. But you’ll get a sandwich, of course — and after you’ve tried the traditional beef, you’ll graduate to lamb with blue cheese, the connoisseur’s choice. —KS

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Pho 87

At first glance, one might miss Pho 87, a restaurant tucked into the corner of North Broadway and Cottage Home Street on the northern end of Chinatown, but it’s worth scanning the street to find it. For only $10, you can enjoy a very good bowl of pho. Number one on Pho 87’s list of 26 pho bowls is their specialty, a comforting pho dac biet, made with beefy broth, rice noodles and a combination of beef cuts, including brisket, flank and tripe, served with bean sprouts, jalapeno slices and limes. Pho 87 also serves oxtail pho, making it one of the few places in Los Angeles that does so. The 84-item menu serves a variety of other Vietnamese dishes, including goi cuon (spring rolls). The restaurant’s close proximity to Dodger Stadium makes it a regular destination for Dodger players and fans alike; indeed, the walls of 87, adorned with pictures of notable visitors the restaurant has hosted, burst with an enormous amount of Dodger pride. Pho 87 has provided Angelenos with a space for classic dishes for decades — since 1987! — and in that time, it has secured its reputation as having one of the best bowls of pho in L.A. — Valentina Guevara-Hernandez

Photo Credit: Erwin Recinos

Phnom Penh Noodle Shack

Long Beach is home to the largest population of Cambodians in the country, making it the only place in this region to explore the complex, pungent flavors that define Khmer cuisine. Best practice is to start at Phnom Penh Noodle Shack, the iconic purveyor of a Cambodian noodle soup that’s served as a crucial community space serving the entire Khmer diaspora. Known as kuy teav, the soup is a breakfast dish based around a pork broth; you can customize the noodles (from vermicelli to wavy ramen), the meats (the house special includes sliced and ground pork meat along with stomach, liver and shrimp), the presentation (wet, with the noodles in the soup broth, or dry, with the noodles served in one bowl and its broth, with a scraggly piece of bone-in knuckle, separately in another), and the condiments (hoisin, chili paste, salted and pickled things, and a sweet fish sauce are all at your disposal). Now in the hands of second-generation owners, “The Shack” is expanding its reach outside the Khmer community, with servers who are always stoked to share with newbies how to get down on a bowl of Phnom Penh noodle and a robust social media presence that draws non-Cambodians to the tiny dining room built into the front lawn of a house in Central Long Beach. A second location in Cerritos is still chugging along with replica soups and an expanded menu (wings, cornish hens), but it’s hard to replicate the soul of a neighborhood kitchen that’s been churning out the same kuy teav for three decades. —SB

Photo Credit: T.Tseng via Flickr

Playa Provisions

Playa Del Rey is such a perfect little archetypal SoCal beach town, and Playa Provisions is the restaurant it deserves — frankly, more seaside hamlets should have something exactly like it. The compound is divided into five parts (one of them a homegoods and housewares store), with a couple of outdoor areas. There’s a whisky bar with a menu of heavy snacks, an ice cream counter, a super casual counter-service restaurant decorated in exposed planks with pops of green and blue, and, closest to the beach, with a lovely patio, a more upscale option called Dockside. Try the herb- and oil-poached Nicoise and the fried sampler with calamari, rock shrimp and clams. If you don’t want a full meal, the cookies and homemade ice cream here are must-orders. The compound rents bikes, too, the better to work up an appetite cruising along the beach path first. Brooke Williamson, who we know, from her stints on Top Chef, can make fancy food, seems to be in her natural, breezy element here.—KS

Photo Credit: City Foodsters via Flickr

Providence

If you tend to genuflect before the door of white clothed temples of fine dining, you probably have already paid your respects to Providence. Michael Cimarusti’s opened his restaurant over a decade ago, and to this day it is one of the finest fine dining restaurants in the city. This is a restaurant where you can have a leisurely three hour meal with carefully sourced, ultra fresh seafood dishes that very likely will include an egg shell filled with beautifully soft scrambled eggs and a generous sliver of uni, this morning’s rockfish catch with quince, and spiny lobster with a bracelet of caviar. And when you think you can’t possibly eat anymore, a cheese cart will be presented, as might the option for a slice of dark chocolate ganache with a quenelle of passionfruit ice cream. Yes, you are full, but skipping dessert? Sacrilegious. — TN

Photo Credit: Memo Torres

Raffi’s Place

Raffi’s is the go-to Persian restaurant on the Eastside, especially for big celebrations, which the sprawling, be-columned, indoor-outdoor restaurant can easily handle. The restaurant has expanded greatly from the small deli that first opened in 1994, but it’s the same owners walking the floor and overseeing the kitchen, where hundreds of kebabs are grilled every day, alongside all kinds of pickles and sauces and dips – hummus is just the beginning. (Kashk o’bademjan, which is fried eggplant with onions and whey, is a delightful appetizer.) The huge platters of chicken or beef skewers, served with rice and a grilled tomato and pepper, though especially well-made at Raffi’s, are familiar to most people who’ve eaten at other Persian and eastern Mediterranean restaurants around town. Here, take the opportunity to discover some other dishes, like fesenjoon, a chicken stew in a pomegranate molasses and ground-walnut sauce. It’s rich, and also tangy enough to make you sweat, and you might finish the entire bowlful as you try to place all the ingredients, as enormous as that bowl is. —KS

Photo Credit: @republiquela via Instagram

Republique

Republique is upscale and ostensibly French, so the fact that it doesn’t take reservations for its heralded brunch is a surprise … but it’s also good marketing. Chef Walter Manzke is locally famous for his classic French cookery, and his wife and partner Margarita is finally getting as much shine as him. Maybe even more, given the Filipino influence she brings to the menu and her nearly supernatural ability as a baker, especially her rustic loaves, fruit pies, and ice creams in flavors like creamsicle and banana caramel. She’s been nominated for a James Beard pastry chef award multiple times. This is not an inexpensive restaurant – “chips and dip” includes salmon, baby beets and avocado, and kaluga caviar, an ingredient du jour, pops up here at $84 per serving – but a focus on dishes like cassoulet and schnitzel with turnips and apples keep things homey. —KS

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

RiceBar

The recent Things in a Bowl trend was a quite an odd one, but it may have all been worth it if it helped propel RiceBar into our collective consciousness. This is Charles Olalia’s spot in Downtown — his first spot, anyway; his second, Ma’am Sir, opened last year in Silver Lake — and it’s a place that somehow manages to cram a seven stool counter and a few tables in less than 300 square feet. Olalia’s focus here is on heirloom rice from the Philippines, offered steamed or flavored with garlic; in the bowl along with the rice are fun things like pork longganisa, or chicken tinola with broth and papaya. Every once in a while, Olalia brings in special lots of rice to showcase, and during the recent holidays the restaurant set its Instagram account atwitter with a photo of the steamers used to make puto bumbong, the purple sticky rice treat. Whatever things you put in your bowl, know there are two key things you can always add to your order: a slice of fried Spam or a fried egg. Or, better, both. — TN

Photo Credit: Gabriel Carbajal

Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen

Rocio Camacho’s “goddess of moles” title may seem a bit much at first — but not after you’ve eaten her food. A visit to Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen is fun, delicious and bright, from the interior design scheme to the food. The eight different moles on the menu range from bright red to deep brown to earthy green to various shades of orange and yellow. And then there’s the aguas frescas. And the excellent guacamole. Also, try the queso fundido. You could fill up on those alone, but clearly you’re here to try the moles. The tortilla chips come topped with two or three options, so you won’t be completely at sea if this is your first foray into mole. The house mole is the obvious choice, but if you want to branch out, the roasted pistachio and jalapeno is interesting, as is the pipian de melon, made with cantalope seeds and almonds, all of which come atop the protein of your choice. Or try one of the special sauces, whether it’s made from squash blossoms, wine or tequila, or something on the specials board. Camacho cut her teeth at a number of restaurants around town, but this one gives her room to breath and experiment. —KS

Photo Credit: @bridget.davidson via Instagram

Ruen Pair

Ruen Pair can be considered Thai Town’s consummate diner, as reliable as your old Honda, as comfortable as your favorite pair of Converses and — crucially — open into the wee hours of the night and on most major holidays. As with a good diner, the menu is large enough that you’ll certainly find something you like: You’ll do fine with the pad thai and the pad see ew with its edges crisped on a searing hot wok. The tom yum probably should be in your cold-fighting arsenal and there seems to always be room for the strips of BBQ pork and the omelet outfitted with slices of salted turnip. Once you start to dig into the menu a little bit, you’ll start to find that the kitchen’s morning glory is exceptionally good, and its green papaya salad is among the best in Thai Town and therefore Los Angeles and therefore California — and therefore the United States. — TN

Photo Credit: Courtsey Jeremy Fox/Rustic Canyon

Rustic Canyon

The Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers’ Market is a very big deal in the Southern California restaurant industry. The region’s most excellent ranchers and produce sellers get there at the crack of dawn, ready to present their goods to chefs from all over L.A. County – yes, the chefs and/or their emissaries actually come to this market. Rustic Canyon, also in Santa Monica, must make regular market runs, as it clings to the flickering trend of listing every purveyors on the menu, from Grist & Toll’s polenta to JJ’s avocados to Liberty Farms ducks. The practice is a bit of a punchline, but when you’ve got the best ingredients in the country, and we think they do, the pride of origin makes sense. Rustic Canyon’s reputation was built on a burger; though it’s long been scrubbed from the menu, the restaurant is still as popular as ever, even as it goes more vegetable-focused all the time. —KS

Photo Credit: Erick Galindo

San Pedro Fish Market

The 64-year-old San Pedro Fish Market has weathered a lot of storms, some of them literal, but none as dramatic as the closing of sections of Ports O’ Call Village, the daytripper-friendly waterfront development that finally took a bow two years ago to make way for a massive reconstruction. Most of the tenants were given the permanent boot, but not the Fish Market, which has been operating in some form since 1955, and at this location since 1981. The current iteration seats 3,000 (seriously), and it’s packed on weekends. The default order is the shrimp tray, with potatoes, bell peppers, onions and tomatoes mixed with shrimp and cooked with “seafood seasoning” and “soybean butter.” There are also crab and lobster tanks; a seafood counter where you can pick out a fish; a fast-food area with fried clams and calamari, that sort of thing; and a full menu of pastas, sandwiches, salads and soups. There’s even a burger, for the one person in every party who won’t eat seafood. Come on a breezy day, have a drink, go to town on some shrimp. —KS

Photo Credit: LWYang via Flickr

Sapp Coffee Shop

Sapp Coffee Shop (which is a coffee shop in the older sense of the term: a no-frills neighborhood spot for quick comfort food) got enthusiastic endorsements from both Jonathan Gold and Anthony Bourdain, making it a straight-off-the-plane destination for food nerds on a pilgrimage. It is famous for the offal-heavy, pig blood-thickened “boat soup” that apparently originated with food vendors working the Bangkok canals in their canoes. (How much cooler would our Venice canals be if they were full of noodle boats?) It is the signature dish here; if offal is off the menu for you (or more likely, if it’s just too hot out for this soup), the jade noodles are also excellent: pork, duck, dried crab, peanuts, cilantro, green onions, a dried chili mix and lime stirred into a mass of green noodles. But check out the under-heralded Sukhothai noodles in a hot and sour broth. —KS

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

The Serving Spoon

Breakfast and brunch are the same thing at The Serving Spoon, a morning-meal institution since it opened almost 40 years ago. The small restaurant, where diners sit at the counter or faux-leather booths (you might share a table with strangers — get into it), offers a lot of straightforward, well-executed Southern and soul food classics, like fried catfish and grits that people go pretty nuts for. On the weekends, chitlins are available. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the cornbread comes in the form of grilled slices. It’s worth noting that the owner named Serving Spoon after a location on his favorite soap opera, All My Children, and he once convinced the show to shoot a scene there. On weekends, everyone gets a mimosa of sorts: orange juice and Cook’s in a plastic flute. The owners know that with food this good, the bubbly doesn’t have to be fancy. —KS

Photo Credit: T.Tseng via Twitter

Shunji

Chef Shunji Nakao was one of the three original guys behind the sushi bar at Matsuhisa, and went on to co-found Asanebo with his brother. At his own spot, called Shunji, Nakao does innovative work with seasonal fish and vegetables alike, and two omakase options are available: sushi-only, and the whole shebang, which may include black cod with potato dashi or conch soup. In summer, make sure to get the “tomato tofu.” This is all very high-end, expensive food, but the restaurant is not stuffy. It was built, about 90 years ago, to resemble a coffee cup (L.A. really got into programmatic architecture for a while), and it doesn’t have its own bathroom – you’ll have to cross the parking lot with a key. Heavy drinking is not discouraged, but with this food, you’ll want to remember the evening. —KS

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Sichuan Impression

There was a hot moment in the San Gabriel Valley five years ago or so, when it seemed as though every new restaurant in the area was cooking up Sichuan dishes and promising menus replete with the spicy, numbing effects of Sichuan peppercorns. Among the best of those was Sichuan Impression, where owners Kelly Xiao and Lynn Liu are interested less in the ma la effect for its own sake and more in showcasing the breadth of Sichuan cooking. And so the kitchen can churn out classic Sichuan dishes like kung pao chicken, mapo tofu and boiled fish fillets in a soothing but numbing broth, but it also can give you a sense of some of the dishes you could find in Chengdu now. And so you have pork ribs beautifully smoked in tea leaves, “street corner potato strips” and crab stir-fried in a hot wok with chilies. There are other options, too, you may want to order based just on their names alone: The Bo-bo Chicken of Leshan would not be out of place in either Don Quixote or The Princess Bride, either as a character or a lethal weapon (the dish is a chile-laced soup with its contents speared by at least a dozen standing bamboo skewers), and the sweet, chewy Cinderella’s Pumpkin Rides with red bean that serves as an appetizer or a dessert, depending on your predilection. Last fall, Sichuan Impression added a outpost in West L.A., meaning the Westside no longer has make that trek east on the 10 to get their Sichuan fix. — TN

Photo Credit: @simplywholesome via Instagram

Simply Wholesome

When nutritional specialist Purcell Keeling decided he was sick of leaving his Windsor Hills neighborhood just to find nourishment outside a drive-thru, L.A.’s health food stores were mostly leftover hippie havens that stocked supplements and served homestyle vegetarian meals for the Valley and Westside set. But then, Keeling opened Simply Wholesome on the corner of Slauson and Overhill and redefined not only what role a health food store could play in a neighborhood, but also who it could serve. Originally a small nutrition center started by the Inglewood native in 1981, Simply Wholesome expanded into a counter-service eatery and grocery store four years later, nabbing the historic Googie diner across the street and turning the restaurant side into a neighborhood hub for clean living that doesn’t skimp on its strong Southern and Caribbean roots. The restaurant menu is as loaded as the piled-high plates, veering from standard vegan options (blackened tofu with sauteed spinach and veggies) to vegetarian soul food (black-eyed peas, candied yams, collard greens, cornbread) to seafood-anchored tropical cornucopias (maybe the only place in L.A. to get West Indian potato salad). Smoothies and juices are made to order, too, and eight kinds of Jamaican patties sit in a warming bin on the counter, ready to be dropped into bags and eaten one-handed like a Pop Tart. Dine in the lush seating area with a view of the city and grab your groceries and sustainable beauty products from the adjoining store on the way out. —SB

Photo Credit: Gabriel Carbajal

Sonoratown

Teodoro Diaz-Rodriguez grew up in San Luis Río Colorado, a border town in the Mexican state of Sonora, where crispy tostadas are known as “lorenzas” and tacos of exquisitely perfumed mesquite-grilled meat come on chewy flour tortillas as thin as wedding veils. In 2016, Rodriguez and his girlfriend Jen Feltham opened Sonoratown, a shoebox-sized downtown taqueria modeled off Rodriguez’s hometown favorite, Asadero Campas. The Campas family consulted and even worked the line to help recreate everything from the taqueria’s beloved meats (short rib asada, pollo, crispy tripas) to its salsas (a spicy chile de árbol and a cooling avocado sauce made with pureed iceberg lettuce), ensuring that everything at Sonoratown is just as it is at the original Campas spot in northern Mexico. National acclaim over the last year has pushed Sonoratown to launch evening hours, add a beer and wine license, and expand into the unit next door. Follow the scent of mesquite carbon down Los Angeles Street for the best smoky caramelos, hand-held chivichangas and flour tortillas in the city. —SB

Photo Credit: Ernesto Andrade via Flickr

Spago

Wolfgang Puck changed the proverbial game as one of the pioneers of excellent European food in Los Angeles. The Austrian chef moved here to work at the late, lamented and scandal-ridden Ma Maison, but it was his own restaurant, Spago, that began an empire. Working with pizza legend Ed LaDou (who went on to make magic at California Pizza Kitchen), Puck designed pizzas with non-traditional toppings, most famously the smoked salmon version that he apparently told every celebrity guest had been made in their own honor. The restaurant’s name still operates as shorthand for expense-account lunches and the half-social, half-networking dinners that are so common in “Hollywood,” but the restaurant’s vibe has certainly mellowed with age – its own and that of the regulars. A lot less public cocaine use now. When the restaurant moved a few years ago, the menu was updated, and a lot of the old classics went away. Unless you’re close, personal friends with Wolfie, in which case spaetzle and schnitzel are still available. —KS

Photo Credit: Patrick Manalo

Sqirl

An East Hollywood neighborhood that’s now often referred to as Virgil Village has long been a commercial center, but it only began getting outsider attention in 2012, when Jessica Koslow opened Sqirl. The tiny operation turned toast and jam into an eight-dollar object of fascination — a thick slice of brioche, specifically, slathered with homemade ricotta and seasonal jam — and became a phenomenon that changed the neighborhood. The issue has become a media cause lately, so there’s a lot of talk about whether said phenomenon is a net positive or not. There are solid arguments on both sides. But, there is now a line out the door here, always. Literally every day. Locals and tourists alike come for the beautiful, IG-friendly food like a $14 ham sandwich, a kale and crispy rice bowl called “kabbouleh,” and pink and green breakfasts full of things like preserved lemons, watermelon radishes, sorrel pesto, fancy heirloom rice and poached eggs. —KS

Photo Credit: Cesar Hernandez

Super Tortas DF

From a small cart a few feet off Central Avenue in Historic South Central, tortero Justino Gress skillfully assembles hearty Mexican sandwiches, todo estilo chilango. For Gress’ Super Tortas D.F., this means oversized telera rolls slathered in mayo and dropped on a plancha before being stuffed with combinations of grilled meats and cheeses according to a loose international theme. The alemana (German) is fried beef milanesa and yellow and white cheese. The española is chorizo, eggs and melty quesillo. And the torta cubana — well, that one comes with a little bit of everything. Ten different ingredients go into the mother of all Mexico City sandwiches, and it’s hard not to gawk through the grease-stained window as each layer gets individually prepared then delicately placed atop the one before it, like watching sped up geologic time, except with grilled animal parts and molten cheese instead of earth. It starts with a slice of ham and a few eggs and a lot of bite-sized nuggets of store-bought hot dogs; strips of milanesa, chunks of chorizo and pork leg come next; then head cheese, and finally three kinds of cheesesl. Somehow, the bread holds it all. And if you ask Gress how the loaded sandwich got its name, he’ll smirk, then deadpan as he tells you: “Because Cuban women have it all.” —SB

Photo Credit: Erwin Recinos

Surati Farsan Mart

Surati Farsan Mart opened in Artesia in 1986, when the city, and Pioneer Boulevard specifically, was well on its way towards establishing itself as the focal point of the Southern California Indian community. Surati’s digs originally were just some 1,400 square feet; over the decades, it’s more than doubled its footprint and added a shop in San Diego. You and everyone else are here for Surati’s Gujarati-style and inspired chaat and snacks like samosas, bhel puri (puffed rice tossed about in a mix of potatoes, onions and cilantro) and pav vada, the fried potato sliders found throughout the streets of Mumbai. If you’re feeling more peckish, Surati also has its own fascinating quesadilla, this one stuffed with the spicy mix of vegetables called bhaji, and a list of dosas, including a chocolate version, that arrive rolled up as you would a scroll. The fun part is going to the case full dried fruit rolls, chocolates, milk-based barfis and all other manners of sweets, and picking out your heart’s desire to be packed in a beautiful red box to go. Many a kid has come home after school to find that red box sitting on the kitchen table, with the promise of a treat in exchange for the dishes. A pretty fair trade, if you ask me. — TN

Photo Credit: T.Tseng via Flickr

Sushi Gen

The lunch special at Sushi Gen is now so legendary that it is pretty much guaranteed that by approximately 10:45 a.m., there will be at least one party at the door, waiting for the restaurant to open to have first crack at the restaurant’s excellent and more than reasonable sushi, sashimi and chirashi lunch specials. But it’s more than the lunch specials that have made Sushi Gen such a cherished place: Toshiaki Toyoshima opened the restaurant in 1980 in Honda Plaza, not too long after the plaza itself opened. He became part of the generation of masters who popularized fresh sushi in Los Angeles (and, by extension, the United States). Toyoshima apparently had some designs to return to Japan to start a sushi restaurant there, but communities have ways of coalescing and he and Sushi Gen ended up staying put. Since then, the restaurant has become a bulwark of the neighborhood, and every year the Nisei Week Queen and her court stop by to pay their respects. As you should, too. Just maybe get here a little early. — TN

Photo Credit: Memo Torres

Sushi Katsu Ya

Youths might not give spicy tuna on crispy rice too much thought, but there was a time when it seemed pretty revolutionary. Katsuya Uechi moved to Los Angeles in 1984 after a classical chef training in Japan, and 13 years later opened his own restaurant in Studio City, Sushi Katsu-ya. He was a standout in an area already somewhat known for Japanese food, leaving strict traditionalism beyond as he experimented with U.S. and Mexican flavors. The restaurant serves a fish carpaccio with arugula and dried tomatoes, and jalapenos pop up everywhere. There’s no snobbery at this sushi bar: order all the baked, mayo-heavy sushi rolls you like. Uechi has gone on to helm an international empire, bringing his very L.A. flavor profiles to a number of countries, who are all lucky to have him. —KS

Photo Credit: Gabriel Carbajal

Tacos Leo

Showmanship can take you to a certain point in the L.A. food world, but the victuals have to be excellent to keep us coming back. Tacos Leo has the former covered, with its huge trompo (that’s a vertical spit) spinning around outside the truck, topped with a pineapple and manned, always, by someone who attacks the meat and the fruit with artistry. That al pastor is nearly perfect on its own, but feel free to go nuts at the salsa bar, where the plethora of colorful options might overwhelm you on your first visit. (Stick to one salsa, a bit of cilantro and onions, and a lime and a couple radish slices.) There’s a wide menu of other options, too: other animal parts, and quesadillas, mulitas, burritos and other preparations. Tacos Leo (or Leo’s Tacos; they don’t seem to caught up in what you call it) currently sets up shop at four locations, but the Mid-City gas station truck is widely considered the one to be at. Pull up around 11pm, order a bunch of tacos, contemplate the Mexico-Lebanon culinary connection. —KS

Photo Credit: Gabriel Carbajal

Tacos Quetzalcoatl

Tacos Quetzalcoatl’s truck can’t be missed, so long as you know you’re looking for a lonchera decorated with colorful polka dots and outfitted with a rainbow umbrella. When you walk up, owner Max Enriquez will likely be jonesing with a few customers as he throws a few fresh corn tortillas onto the warm plancha and grills up some onions and peppers for his Chalmita-style tacos. You can’t go wrong here, whether you’re jonesing for chorizo, adobo or barbacoa, but what you will want to try is Enriquez’s Omega-2, filled with quelites, a Mexican wild green (in recipes that call for it, the common if inexact substitute is chard or baby spinach), mushrooms and other vegetables, topped with a slab of cheese that’s been fried crisp on one side. All the while, Enriquez will crack a joke or two, laugh heartily, continue grilling. Maybe it’s the polka dots talking, but this might be one of the funnest taco trucks in town. — TN

Photo Credit: Eric Chan via Flickr

Tsujita

Not too long ago, it seemed as if everyone in Los Angeles was obsessed over ramen, going from one side of town to the other debating the merits of one bowl or another, ranking and re-ranking popular ramen joints the way animation fans rank Pixar movies. But when Tsujita opened on Sawtelle in 2011, there at last was something everyone could agree on: Here was one of the best bowls, if not the best bowl, of ramen you could have this side of Fukuoka. The broth simmers for some 60 hours and is exceptionally rich, if occasionally overwhelming; in the broth are excellent thin egg noodles with a slice of chashu pork and, if you’re so inclined, a soft-boiled egg. There’s an excellent tsukemen, too, served with thick noodles in one bowl and a concentrated broth the other; you are to judiciously dip your noodles in the broth almost as if the broth were a condiment. Tsujita has expanded a bit since it opened, with an Annex across the street, a spot at the Americana and a take-out location on Fairfax. Let the rankings begin all over again. — TN

Photo Credit: Erick Huerta

X’tiosu Kitchen

X’tiosu Kitchen is a Oaxacan-Lebanese mashup brought to you by two brothers, Felipe and Ignacio Santiago, who came to Los Angeles from Oaxaca as teenagers, cut their teeth in Lebanese restaurant kitchens before deciding to go all in with their own spot. X’tiosu Kitchen, then, is all theirs, a little spot on the edge of small strip mall where you order at the window and eat at one of the picnic tables. Their tacos are a thesis statement of sorts: The chicken shawarma taco, with a fantastic tahini-salsa verde sauce rich in garlic and completed with a thick, hot pink stripe of pickled turnip, reminds you that shawarma is al pastor’s ancestor, brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants. The excellent falafels in the falafel taco are made with black beans rather than fava. You can have chorizo kebabs, Oaxacan tabouleh salad with nopales, crispy potatoes with copious amounts of cilantro and garlic tempered by a burst of citrus. In just over a year, X’Tiosu Kitchen has produced some of the most interesting, delicious dishes in Los Angeles. We can’t wait to see where they go from here. — TN