ANGE February 2014 : Page 76

1 0 1 musT-Try Although the French dip was created here, and there are taco stands on just about every corner around town, no one food defines Los Angeles. It’s a sea of global flavors, local seasonality and sweet endings. Take a delicious bite out of L.A. with these 101 sips, snacks and more. | By Lesley Balla, Lulu Berton, Jason Kessler, Lanee Lee, Alex Markoff, Jasmin Rosemberg and Chris Wyrick | TAsTes day one. Served with salty pork sausage and black truffles, it’s one of those dishes that makes your eyes roll with delight. 2121 E. 7th Place, L.A., 213.514.5724, bestiala. com [ 1 ] Tomahawk Pork Chop at Chi Spacca This is no ordinary pork chop. Then again, this is no ordinary restaurant. The bone-in pork chop has spare ribs, pork belly and loin in one, and the entire 42-ounce beast is finished with fennel pollen and cooked on an open flame in front of you. The loin comes pink and medium-rare; the ribs are cooked a tad longer for extra char. It’s mouthwateringly good. 6610 Melrose Ave., L.A., 323.297.1133, chispacca. com [ 2 ] Cavatelli alla Norcina at Bestia Chef Ori Menashe has a way with handmade pastas, but only the cavatelli , soft handmade ricotta dumplings, have been on the menu since [ 3 ] The Toron at Bäco Mercat The bäco is purely a Josef Centeno creation, a sort of taco-pita hybrid stuffed with meats, cheeses, vegetables and more. The Toron has everything: meaty oxtail hash, cheddar taters and horseradish-yogurt sauce, all stuffed in soft, housemade flatbread. 408 S. Main St., L.A., 213.687.8808, bacomercat. com [ 4 ] Black Sesame Ice Cream at Quenelle After working with chefs like Sang Yoon, David LeFevre and Jordan Kahn, Pastry Chef John Park opened a tiny little sweet spot on a random corner in Burbank. Treats like black sesame ice cream, which is wonderfully robust with a toasty, rich flavor, come in handmade sugar cones with unique toppings like caramelized puffed rice. It’s off the beaten path, but worth seeking out. 2214 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, 818.843.1035 76 angeleno february 2014

101 Must-Try Tastes

Lesley Balla, Lulu Berton, Jason Kessler, Lanee Lee, Alex Markoff, Jasmin Rosemberg And Chris Wyrick

Although the French dip was created here, and there are taco stands on just about every corner around town, no one food defines Los Angeles. It’s a sea of global flavors, local seasonality and sweet endings. Take a delicious bite out of L.A. with these 101 sips, snacks and more.

[ 1 ] Tomahawk Pork Chop at Chi Spacca

This is no ordinary pork chop. Then again, this is no ordinary restaurant. The bone-in pork chop has spare ribs, pork belly and loin in one, and the entire 42-ounce beast is finished with fennel pollen and cooked on an open flame in front of you. The loin comes pink and mediumrare; the ribs are cooked a tad longer for extra char. It’s mouthwateringly good. 6610 Melrose Ave., L. A., 323.297.1133, chispacca. Com

[ 2 ] Cavatelli alla Norcina at Bestia

Chef Ori Menashe has a way with handmade pastas, but only the cavatelli, soft handmade ricotta dumplings, have been on the menu since day one. Served with salty pork sausage and black truffles, it’s one of those dishes that makes your eyes roll with delight. 2121 E. 7th Place, L.A.,213. 514.5724, bestiala. Com

[ 3 ] The Toron at Bäco Mercat

The bäco is purely a Josef Centeno creation, a sort of taco-pita hybrid stuffed with meats, cheeses, vegetables and more. The Toron has everything: meaty oxtail hash, cheddar taters and horseradishyogurt sauce, all stuffed in soft, housemade flatbread. 408 S. Main St., L.A., 213.687.8808, bacomercat. Com

[ 4 ] Black Sesame Ice Cream at Quenelle

After working with chefs like Sang Yoon, David LeFevre and Jordan Kahn, Pastry Chef John Park opened a tiny little sweet spot on a random corner in Burbank. Treats like black sesame ice cream, which is wonderfully robust with a toasty, rich flavor, come in handmade sugar cones with unique toppings like caramelized puffed rice. It’s off the beaten path, but worth seeking out. 2214 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, 818.843.1035


Chef Jordan Kahn may have made his name with desserts before opening this Southeast Asian fusion restaurant, but his chicken dumplings—big chicken meatballs made with pork fat and scented with lemongrass—serve as a reminder that he knows his way around savory dishes, too. Take one, wrap in a big crisp lettuce leaf, dip in the sauce and hope no one else wants the last one. 8400 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 323. 651.5500,


With myriad salad choices at this growing fast-casual, cafeteria-style local chain, the curried cauliflower with almonds and golden raisins is one that goes perfectly with everything else. With subtle flavors, a bit of sweetness and a little crunch in each bite, it's difficult to pass up. Multiple locations,

[ 7 ] Meatballs at Rao's Hollywood

While the original 10-table eatery burst into East Harlem in 1896, these home-style meatballs became a Rao's trademark just a few decades ago. They're fried first, then slow-simmered in the familyrecipe marinara sauce that's so coveted, it's now jarred and sold around the country. 1006 Seward St., Hollywood 323. 962.7267,

[ 8 ] Garlic Fries at Carlitos gardel

Any debate about who has the best fries in town often includes this longstanding Argentinian steakhouse on Melrose. They're crispy, thin, light and tossed in copious amounts of fresh garlic and parsley, needing no sauce or ketchup (but maybe a breath mint after). 7963 Melrose Ave., L.A., 323.655.0891, ca rli tosga rdel. Com

[ 9 ] Flaming Rice Balls at Seoul Sausage Co.

The cheesy kimchee rice balls studded with spicy Korean pork sausage are deep-fried and drizzled with garlicjalapeno- Sriracha aioli. They're all the rage at the Little Osaka shop, and made owners Ted and Yong Kim and chef Chris Oh winners on Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race for good reason. 11313 Mississippi Ave., L.A., 310.477.7739,

[ 10 ] Pea Toast at Salt Air

Chef Greg Daniels has a way with specialties from the sea, but his seasonal toasts are strictly farm-to-table fare. Winter might see earthy mushrooms with creamy ricotta and lardons; and sweet pea mash, creamy cheese and onion jam is the essence of spring. 1616Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, 310.396.9333,

[ 11 ] Orecchiette Farina Arsa at Drago Centro

Celestino Drago brought back cases of orecchiette farina arsa from Italy, a unique toasted pasta made from burnt grain that has a deep, rich, earthy, nutty flavor. Tossed with sausage, rapini, tomato and olive oil, it's humble and haute all at once. 525 S. Flower St., L.A., 213.228.8998, dragocentro. Com

[ 12 ] Coffee Cake at Bouchon Bakery

In Thomas Keller's world of impeccable steak frites and croques madames, it's the coffee cake that, quite surprisingly, steals the show. Ribbons of cocoa and cinnamon weave their way through the pastry, making it the perfect morning pickme- up. 235 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, 310.271.9910,

[ 13 ] Chile Relleno at Ray's & Stark Bar

Chef Kris Morningstar's chile relleno is nothing like the traditional cheese-stuffed version. The housemade Spanish chorizo stuffed in a roasted Anaheim chile is a bit spicy and smoky with a hint of cinnamon, and balanced nicely with a slightly s weet smoked almond-and-garlic cream sauce. It's a true work of art for the LACMA restaurant. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., L.A., 323.857.6180, rays a ndsta

[ 14 ] Spuds at Short Order

The small potatoes that can be ordered a la carte at this joint at The Original Farmers Market are baked, torn and then deep-fried into crunchy spuds that put french fries to shame. Why stop at ketchup? Get the loaded baked potato dipping sauce instead. 6333 W. 3rd St. #110, L.A., 323.761.7970, shortorderla. Com

[ 15 ] Juicy Pork Dumplings at Din Tai Fung

The lines don't lie. Whether it's at the original dumpling houses in Arcadia or the new location in Glendale, these beautiful little packets of soup and pork sausage are the star attraction. Watch the cooks fill and twist the wrappers through the restaurant's front window. 177 Caruso Ave., Glendale, 818. 551.5561; 1108 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, 626.574.7068,

[ 16 ] Egg Royale at Petrossian

WeHo's caviar masters may be the foremost innovators in the caviar world (Pressed caviar? Caviar powder?!), but they still do the classics right, like this stunning combination of soft-scrambled eggs, vodka cream and caviar overflowing from the recesses of an eggshell. 321 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, 310. 271.6300,

[ 17 ] Fish Tacos at Ricky's Fish Tacos

Now that Ricky Pina has a food truck, his Baja-style fish and shrimp tacos are available almost every day. What makes these the best: The batter is seasoned and flecked with herbs, and the fresh fish becomes practically molten after hitting the fryers. All that's needed then is some pico de gallo, crema and a splash of hot sauce for one fantastic taco—but you'll want at least two. Find Pina and his truck around the Los Feliz and Silver Lake border and beyond. Twitter. Com/rickysfishtacos


This bright, citrusy cocktail has made many a gin fan out of vodka drinkers. Made with Plymouth gin, freshsqueezed grapefruit juice and grapefruit simple syrup, it s classic with a seasonal L.A. twist. The slice of candied citrus peel adds a sweet touch. 1535 N. Vine St., Hollywood323.462.2155; 100 W. Channel Road, Santa Monica, 310.459.3337,

[ 19 ] Bacon-Wrapped Dates at A.O.C.

In the hands of a normal person, the combination of bacon, Parmesan and dates could be a jumbled mess. But in chef Suzanne Goin's version, the result is a small dish of elegant mini torpedoes that hit the saltysweet center of your taste buds. 8700 W. 3rd St., L.A., 310. 859.9859,

[ 20 ] Furikake kettle Corn at A-Frame

Fun finger foods are the name of the game at Roy Choi's urban picnic spot, and nothing is more difficult to keep your hands away from than this kettle corn. A little bit of everything— Corn Pops; chile flakes; sesame seeds; and furikake, a seaweed seasoning—results in a diabolically addictive sweet, salty, spicy mix. 12565 Washington Blvd., Culver City, 310. 398.7700, aframela. Com

[ 21 ] Philly Cheesesteak at The Bazaar by Jose Andres

A true food contradiction, this light, zeppelin-shaped "air bread" provides the instant sensation of a dense, salty cheesesteak sandwich. Eat the fine shell from an elevated angle to ensure that the delicate slices of wagyu beef and molten white cheddar cheese slide into your mouth. It is the best possible cheat for that northeast richness done SoCal light. 465 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310. 246.5555,

[ 22 ] Frozen Custard Concrete at Top Round Roast Beef

The folks behind this funky Mid-City stand serve rich, dense frozen custard made from their own recipe, blending it with just about anything a sweet tooth desires, from fruit and caramel to candy bars, chocolate chips and nuts. Think of it as an inverted sundae in a cup. 1000 S. La Brea Ave., 323. 549.9445, eatroastbeef. Com

[ 23 ] Jerusalem Bagels at Bread Lounge

Found on most Jerusalem corners, the city's namesake bagels are giant, oblong things, often served in paper with za'atar on the side. Baker Ran Zimon makes the bready treat (now a staple) at his downtown bakery. The bagels are almost a foot long and soft inside, but crunchy outside from a generous layer of toasted sesame seeds.700 S. Santa Fe Ave., L.A., 213. 327.0782,

[ 24 ] Short Ribs at Lucques

A rainy-weekend brainchild, this rich, comforting dish on Suzanne Goin's opening menu in 1998 was such a standout that customers won't let her remove it. Searing, plus three hours of braising and juice-straining, make this three-bone center cut of meat—enhanced by a dollop of horseradish cream—so tender, it melts. 8474Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 323. 655.6277, lucques.Com

[ 25 ] at Petty Cash Taqueria

Think of a bowl of the best guacamole you can find, and top it with beautiful orange and briny pieces of sea urchin. This delicious earth-meets-sea concoction is found only at Walter Manzke's taqueria, served with puffy chicharrones for scooping (although chips work equally well). 7360 Beverly Blvd., L.A., 323.933.5300, pettycashtaqueria. Com

[ 26 ] Chicharron de Queso at Loteria Grill

The growing Mexican chain is well known for its tacos, chilaquiles and jalapenospiked margaritas, but one specialty that deserves more attention is the crisped cheese pyramid made from grated cheese thrown on a griddle. Served with salsa verde, guacamole and freshly made corn tortillas, it's a unique snack that deserves another round of margaritas. Multiple locations,

[ 27 ] The Burger at The Golden State

Sometimes it's what you don't do to a burger that makes it so great. The all-beef patty at this Fairfax joint is made from a special blend, seasoned only with salt and pepper, and served on a brioche bun with arugula, bacon, sharp California cheddar, ketchup and aioli. Cooked medium-rare every time, this is one of the juiciest, most flavorful burgers 80 ANGELENO FEBRUARY 2014 in the city. 426N. Fairfax Ave, L.A., 323.782.8331,

[ 28 ] Dulce de Leche kisses at Porto's Bakery & Cafe

While waiting in line for a Cubano sandwich or a dozen papas rellenas (beef-stuffed potato balls) at this Cuban bakery and cafe, the sweet, buttery, dulce de leche-filled shortbread cookies are hard to pass up. The little morsels have a wonderful caramel flavor and are delicious with cafe con leche. 315 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, 818.956.5996; 3614 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, 818.846.9100, portosbakery.Com

[ 29 ] Penicillin at Comme Ca

Calling back to Prohibition times, consultant Sam Ross brought his famous scotch remedy from New York's Milk & Honey to David Myers' modern French brasserie. Blended and single malt Scotch meet reparative agents like honey, lemon and ginger, promising to cure all. 8479 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 323.782.1104,

[ 30 ] Bacon Waffle at FIG

This is no ordinary waffle; it's pure pork deliciousness at every turn. First, there are whole bacon strips inside, laid end to end. The syrup, made with a sweet German dessert wine, has bacon chunks in it. And then the whole thing is topped with bacon ice cream, which melts into the syrup, rendering every forkful sweet and savory. 101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310.319.3111, figsantamonica.Com

[ 31 ] Potato Puree at Trois Mec

Leave it to Ludo Lefebvre to transform a spud into a dish that has L.A. talking. At the by-ticket-only Hollywood restaurant, the potato puree seems to be the centerpiece of every meal. With a rice-like consistency, the fluffy, pulped potato topped with clarified butter, Salers cheese and bonito flakes is as delicious as it is fun. 716N. Highland Ave., L.A.,

[ 32 ] Croissant at Maison Giraud

You can depend on a French chef to make one of the best croissants in the greater Los Angeles area. Alain Giraud's croissants are perfectly flaky and buttery, with density and lightness in every bite. 1032 SwarthmoreAve., Pacific Palisades, 310.459.7562, maison-giraud.Com

[ 33 ] Tofu Beignets at Alma

Although he's only serving prix fixe menus now, chef Ari Taymor still adds these light tofu fritters to his meals. Fried and golden brown, tofu and seaweed makes them feel slightly guiltfree— that is, until a dab of yuzo koshi aioli is added; then they're positively decadent. 952 S. Broadway, L.A., 213. 244.1422,

[ 34 ] Tableside Classic Caesar at BOA Steakhouse

There's something special about food prepared right in front of you. Ordering the garlicky tableside Caesar at this sleek steakhouse turns your dinner into theater before your very eyes, as each ingredient is added to create salad alchemy. 9200 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 310. 278.2050; 101 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica,310. 899.4466, boasteak.Com

[ 35 ] Cochinita Pibil at Chichen Itza Restaurant

The divine Yucatan-style shredded pork slow-roasted in banana leaves is pretty much the reason to seek out the Mercado La Paloma near USC. That, or the fire-breathing habanero salsa that chef-owner Gilberto Cetina serves alongside it. Take a tortilla; fork in some meat; add a dab of salsa; and repeat. 3655 S. Grand Ave., L.A., 213.741.1075,


While some old favorites were lost in Spago's reinvention, new ones have ably filled their place. This tartare, made with diced veal filet mignon underneath a smoked marscarpone cheese cap and served inside two marrow bones, certainly fits the bill. 176 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, 310.385.0880,

[ 37 ] Southern Mussels Curry at Jitlada Restaurant

Heat-seekers hit this tiny Thai Town spot for its Southern Thai dishes. Plump New Zealand mussels in green jungle curry are a mainstay paired with the heady broth, flavored with chiles, pineapple, lemongrass and galangal, among other things. It's a comforting brew wit h a kick. 5233 1/2 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A., 323. 667.9809, jitladala.Com

[ 38 ] Hot Dogs at let's Be Frank

Made from sustainably grown meats—one owner was the meat forager for Berkeley's Chez Panisse—these grass-fed beef and heritage pork hot dogs served from the Helms Bakery parking lot or the roving truck are always juicy, snappy and bursting with flavor. Top with grilled onions and sweet heat from the curry and cumin-spiced Devil Sauce.

[ 39 ] grilled Octopus at Osteria Mozza

To get octopus this tender, it's poached in olive oil with corks. That's right, corks. Then it's grilled for flavor and char, and served on a bed of celery leaves, potatoes and lemon. It's light and complex, an Osteria masterpiece. 6602 Melrose Ave., L.A., 323. 297.0100, osteriamozza.Com

[ 40 ] Porcetto at Sotto

Suckling pig rubbed with fennel pollen and other spices, slow-roasted in an Italian wood-burning oven, and served in hunks with greens and a seasonal mostarda, the porcetto here is good enough to make you weep. Note that it's only served for dinner on Sunday. 9575 W. Pico Blvd., L.A., 310.277.0210,

[ 41 ] Whole Fried Fish at Fishing With Dynamite

After plowing through oysters, bowls of creamy chowder and chef David LeFevre's mom's soft squash rolls, the whole fried fish is the meal's piece de resistance. Marinated in ginger and garlic, and stuffed with kaffir lime leaves and citrus, it's fried to a deep golden brown and served with homemade ponzu. 1148 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach, 310. 893.6299,

[ 42 ] Fried Clams at Connie & Ted’s

Sure, there’s lobster rolls, chowder and Portuguese fisherman stew at Michael Cimarusti’s haute East Coaststyle seafood “shack,” but the fried Ipswich clams mean it’s the real deal. Golden brown with plump little bellies, they make any New Englander feel right at home. 8171 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, 323.848.2722, connieandteds. Com

[ 43 ] Bibimbap at genwa korean BBQ

The sizzling rice dish served in a hot stone pot is one of the most satisfying specialties on the menu. Mixed at the table and served with a heap of fresh vegetables and chilli paste, it might be pricier at these two locations than at traditional Koreatown spots, but with all the banchan that comes out first—and the smokeless grills—it’s worth it. 170 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills 310. 854.0046; 5115 Wilshire Blvd., L.A., 323.549.0760, genwakoreanbbq. Com

[ 44 ] Sambal Skate Wing at hinoki & the Bird

Chef David Myers took to the Silk Road for his Century City restaurant, coming back with things like the sambalcoated skate wing, a meltingly good piece of fish tinged with a bit of heat. Drizzle some of the housemade sambal sauce on it for extra bursts of flavor. 10 Century Drive, L.A., 310.552.1200, hinokiandthebird. Com

[ 45 ] Pozole Verde at Rustic Canyo

Chef Jeremy Fox takes a traditional Mexican staple and turns it on its head at this Santa Monica restaurant.The broth is green and spicy from chiles and tangles of green garlic, filled with plump kernels of Rancho Gordo hominy and perfectly cooked mussels and clams. Shreds of crunchy tortillas add just the right texture. 1119 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310.393.7050, rusticcanyonwinebar. Com

[ 46 ] The FraNCeS DONuT aT FraNCeS BakeRy

A month after manhattan’s Cronut craze took hold in may 2013, this Little Tokyo bakery launched its first donut-meetscroissant version. Made with layers of flaky croissant dough and a custard center, the Frances donut is devilishly decadent. 404 E. 2nd St., L.A., 213. 680.4899

[ 47 ] Toast at Sqirl

While the menu and space at Jessica Koslow's small Los Feliz cafe have expanded, one of the best bites is still the toast topped with vinegary greens, fresh tomatillo salsa, housemade jalapeno hot sauce and a perfectly fried egg. Spicy, pickled, buttery—it's wonderful. 720 N. Virgil Ave. #4, L.A., 323. 284.8147,

[ 48 ] Queso at Bar Ama

Former Texan Josef Centeno brings a taste of his home state to downtown with this queso, an oozy bowl of melted cheese mixed with the holy trinity of Tex-Mex condiments: salsa, sour cream and avocado. Get the optional chorizo; take a crispy tortilla chip; dip; and repeat. 118 W. 4th St., L.A., 213. 687.8002,

[ 49 ] Rotisserie Chicken at Melisse

Taking a classic and elevating it to decadent, must-have status, chef Josiah Citrin stuffs black truffles under the skin of a chicken, roasts it to perfection, carves it tableside and serves the beautifully moist chicken alongside creamy pomme puree. 1104 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310. 395.0881,

[ 50 ] Lobster Roll at Littlefork

There are lobster rolls all over town now, but chef Jason Travi's stand out for the hunks of claw and tail meat dressed with just enough mayo, the split-top Parker house roll it rests in, and the housemade salt-and-vinegar chips that come alongside them. The only problem? They disappear much too quickly. 1600 Wilcox Ave., L.A., 323. 465.3675,

[ 51 ] Martini at Musso & Frank Grill

The oldest restaurant in Hollywood never gets old, even among the tourist traps and eclectic scene along the boulevard. Musso is a saving grace among the chaos, where a perfect martini (up, two olives, please) served by aging, red-jacketed servers is still rather civilized. Or maybe that's just the extra drink they put on ice next to the glass. 6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323.467.7788, mussoandfrank. Com

[ 52 ] Chowda at Providence

Even deconstructed, the clams, potatoes and bacon sitting in a bowl awaiting the creamy broth to be poured on top, Michael Cimarusti’s clam chowder is the very essence of New England. 5955 Melrose Ave., L.A., 323.460.4170, providencela. Com

[ 53 ] Pig’s ear Cheetos at The Church key

Wispy thin, deep-fried pig’s ears coated in a bright orange powdered cheese should be bagged and sold like their namesake snack. Served from the fun carts wheeled around the Sunset Strip restaurant, it’s almost impossible to stop at one serving. 8730 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 424.249.3700, thechurchkeyla. Com

[ 54 ] Tsukemen at Tsujita l.a.

After a bowl of tsukemen (dipping noodles) at either Tsujita L.A. or the second location across the street, expect to become a noodle zealot. Bean sprouts, a simmered soy egg and slices of barbecued pork belly float harmoniously in a rich pork broth. Th e noodles, cold and thick, are served separately to mix as you wish, for a bespoke lunch experience every time. 2057 Sawtelle Blvd., L.A., 310.231.7373; 2050 Sawtelle Blvd., L.A., 310. 231.0222, tsujita-la. Com

[ 55 ] Bone Marrow Flan at Cut

There’s a reason this is a mustorder dish at the Wolfgang Puck steakhouse: With a rich and savory bone marrow flavor, the light, creamy custard is topped with a rich mushroom marmalade. 9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310.276.8500, wolfgangpuck. Com

[ 56 ] espresso Granita at Caffe Vita

When the temperatures soar, nothing beats an iced coffee. But at this Seattle import in Los Feliz, the frozen espresso drink topped with a swirl of real whipped cream trumps all. It starts as a sort of slushie that becomes a creamy, slightly sweet, iced coffee drink as everything melts. 4459 Sunset Blvd., L.A., 323. 663.6340,

[ 57 ] Sazerac at Cole's

It may be the official cocktail of New Orleans, but it's a great barometer for any bar touting classic cocktails: Use too much absinthe or bitters, and the whole thing is thrown off. Cole's is the one to measure all others against, a perfect cocktail at one of the oldest bars in town. 118 E. 6th St., L.A., 213.622.4090,

[ 58 ] Breakfast Pizza at Little Dom's

At this hoppin' Los Feliz spot, the thin-crust pies topped with speck (Italian ham), mozzarella and a sunny-side up egg is the best way to start the day. The one with smoked salmon, crescenza cheese, capers and red onion on whole-wheat flatbread is a close second. 2128 Hillhurst Ave., L.A., 323. 661.0055,

[ 59 ] Chicken Cracklins at The Hart and the Hunter

Dixie is alive on Melrose, and these cracklins are the proof. Sheets of golden-fried chicken skin come piled on top of each other, accompanied by a housemade vinegar hot sauce to cut through the richness. 7950 Melrose Ave., L.A., 323.424.3055,


Of all the things made in-house at this Helms Bakery spot—and there are many—the finest may be the fresh-baked focaccia, a piping hot, spongy round loaf with rosemary needles and thick salt crystals that yields with every bite. 3280 Helms Ave., Culver City\ 310. 876.0286,


This one morsel at chef Hiroyuki Naruke's new omakase-only sushi bar downtown exemplifies his philosophy that the best ingredients require little adornment. Fresh local sea urchin from santa Barbara or san Diego marinated in miso paste for extra flavor and a bit of firmness is pure, graceful simplicity, and is just enough to elevate the dish to the next level. 521 W. 7th St, L. A., 213.225.6285,

[ 62 ] Fried Chicken Sandwich at Son of a Gun

Son of a Gun may specialize in seafood, but the real standout on Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo's menu is the fried chicken sandwich: a crunchy, moist masterpiece with pickle juice slaw and spicy aioli balanced artfully on a white roll. 8370 W. 3rd St., L.A., 323.782.9033,

[ 63 ] Baked Crab Dip at Plan Check

Plan Check may be known for its burgers, but this play on sushi bar-favorite crab dynamite more than holds its own with mildly spicy, creamy crab plus charred tomatoes, masago and thin strips of nori, all on top of crispy toast rounds. 1800 Sawtelle Blvd., West L.A., 310. 288.6500, 351 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A., 310.288.6500, plancheckbar. Com

[ 64 ] Oxtail Poutine at animal

L.A. may not go through harsh Quebec winters, but we do have poutine, the classic French-Canadian comfort food that meathaven Animal amplifies with thick-cut fries, ultrarich braised oxtail gravy and sharp cheddar. 435 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A., 323.782.9225,

[ 65 ] #19 at Langer's

A Jewish deli in the middle of a predominantly Latino neighborhood serving hand-cut pastrami on rye with Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Russian dressing: If there's another sandwich that represents L.A. better than the #19, we haven't found it. 704 S. Alvarado St., L.A., 213. 483.8050,

[ 66 ] French Toast at Canele

Weekend brunch in Atwater Village wouldn't be the same without the mile-high French toast, a gorgeous spectacle of golden-brown ciabatta bread, served with a swipe of rich mascarpone on the plate and sweet poached prunes instead of syrup. 3219 Glendale Blvd., L.A., 323. 666.7133, can ele-la. Com

[ 67 ] Butterscotch Budino at Pizzeria Mozza

Before salted-caramel everything took America by storm, there was Dahlia Navarez's butterscotch budino. The dense butterscotch pudding layered with gooey caramel and a cloud of salted whipped cream is a dream. The rosemary pine-nut cookies on the side make the whole thing. 641 N. Highland Ave., L.A., 323.297.0101,

[ 68 ] Grits With Bacon and Cheddar at Square One Dining

Sure, you could get a bowl of these handsome stoneground grits by itself, but why would you? For $2.25 more, you can add in slow-roasted lardons of Nueske's bacon and sharp cheddar to transform that bowl from Robin to Batman. 4854 Fountain Ave., L.A., 323.661.1109,

[ 69 ] Ceviche Mixto at Mo-Chica

Ricardo Zarate is the patron saint of haute Peruvian cuisine in L.A., and his ceviches are magical. The ceviche mixto with fresh halibut, prawns, scallops and squid swimming in tangy leche de tigre sauce is a seafood salad with attitude. 514 W. 7th St., L.A., 213. 622.3744,

[ 70 ] Ding-a-Lings at Semi Sweet Bakery

If only Hostess made Ding Dongs this good. Chef Sharlena Fong's mini cakes layered with buttercream and covered in rich chocolate are fantastic sweet treats. Favorite flavors include peanut butter, traditional chocolate and red velvet. 105 E. 6th St., L.A., 213.228.9975, semisweetbakery.Com

[ 71 ] Stromboli at Scarpetta

Quality bread service is already a bonus at any restaurant, but at Scott Conant's restaurant, the breadbasket is a course unto itself. The star is the stromboli, an upscale pizza bread with salami and smoked mozzarella sure to ruin your appetite. Price? Free. 225 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, 310.860.7970, montagebeverlyhills.Com

[ 72 ] Mac 'n' Cheese at Pete's Cafe

Westside denizens might not know the allure of downtown's Pete's Cafe, but the mac 'n' cheese is sure to change that. Made with an array of carefully selected ingredients (chedder, Asiago, tarragon), this dish is worth the drive—a daring approval in L.A. terms. 400 S. Main St., L.A., 213. 617.1000,

[ 73 ] Deep Dish Pizza at Hollywood Pies

Chicago expats finally have a deep-dish spot worthy of Windy City praise. After years of playing hide-and-seek, its roots are firmly planted on Pico, where the pies are layered with whole-milk mozzarella, housemade ricotta, tangy tomato sauce, Italian sausage and more. Thin-crust devotees are being converted daily. 61161/2 W. Pico Blvd., L.A., 323.337.3212, hollywoodpies. Com

[ 74 ] Falafel Laffa at Joe's Falafel

The Cahuenga Pass isn't exactly known for quality Israeli food, but that's just what you get at Joe's, where fluffy falafel is fried to a crispy brown before being tucked away in supple, baked-to-order laffa flatbread. 3535 Cahuenga Blvd. W., L.A., 323. 512. .4447, joesfalafel.Net

[ 75 ] Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake at Valerie at Grand Central Market

Made to honor the famous cake from San Francisco's Blum's Bakery, Valerie Gordon's crunch cake— two layers of sponge cake with coffee whipped-cream frosting and crunchy, delicious honeycomb—is absolutely divine. Sweet, buttery and completely addictive, it's also available for pickup. 317 S. Broadway St., L.A., 213.621.2781, valerieconfections.Com

[ 76 ] Hamachi Croque Madame at Hatfield's

Every chef has a signature dish, and the hamachi croque madame happens to be Quinn Hatfield's. This Franco-Asian hybrid swaps out traditional ham for prosciutto and adds thick slices of yellowtail sashimi, but keeps the buttery brioche and bearnaise. You'll be saying arigato and merci. 6703 Melrose Ave., L.A., 323.935.2977, hatfieldsrestaurant. Com

[ 77 ] Mole Negro Tamale at Guelaguetza

A great mole is the sum of its parts—spices, fresh chiles, nuts, chocolate, a slew of secret ingredients and love. The sweet-spicy black mole at this long-standing, familyowned Mexican restaurant in Koreatown is wonderful on everything, but matched with sweet corn tamales and chicken, all cooked in a banana leaf, is hard to beat. 3014 W. Olympic Blvd., L.A., 213. 427.0608,

[ 78 ] Garlic knot at Milo + Olive

This bronzed bread balloon comes straight from the wood-fired oven swimming in a delectable pool of fruity olive oil with a mountain of whole-roasted garlic cloves packed inside. Good for fighting vampires; bad for first dates. 2723 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310.453. 6776,

[ 79 ] Grilled Corn at Cafe Habana

New Yorkers are quick to claim Cafe Habana as their own, but this restaurant's mass following makes it a Malibu mainstay. The grilled corn—cooked with cheese, chilli and lime juice—is nearly folkloric. We're hungry just thinking about it. 3939 Cross Creek Road, Malibu, 310. 317.0300,

[ 80 ] Pork, Pork, Pork Burger at Tavern

Three types of pork— ground pork, chorizo and bacon—make up this hefty, flavor-packed burger Suzanne Goin coins a "porkapalooza." Aioli, spicy Spanish romesco dressing and a melted slice of manchego cheese add a festive Latin finish. 11648 San Vicente Blvd., L.A., 310. 806.6464,

[ 81 ] Black Cod With Miso at Nobu Malibu

The new Nobu Malibu is quintessentially Californian, especially with its unparalleled ocean views and sleek new space. Some things remain the same, however, including the famous black cod with miso. Silky, kicked with umami and still a stunner, it never goes out of style. 22706Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, 310.317.9140,

[ 82 ] Fried Stuffed Olives at Cecconi's

Inspired by a popular Italian street food, chef Andrea Cavaliere's addictive snack is fast becoming a mainstay. Pitted La Bella di Cerignola olives are packed with beef, vegetables and mortadella and Parmigiano cheeses; breaded with semolina and panko crumbs; and fried till golden. 8764 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 310.432.2000,

[ 83 ] Banana Chocolate Sundae at Water Grill

Once past the chilled seafood towers, clam chowder and grilled whole fish, there is the ultimate sundae at both downtown and Santa Monica locations. What's not to love: It's a brownie shoved into a glass sitting like a chocolate treasure trove under a layer of banana ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream and crispy chocolate-covered corn flakes. 544 S. Grand Ave., L. A., 213.891.0900; 1401 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, 310. 394.5669,

[ 84 ] Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits at M. B. Post

File under "never remove from menu." These flaky biscuits studded with tiny chunks of bacon, chives and cheddar cheese are served with a maple butter that makes these savory pucks the ultimate breakfast food, even at dinner. 1142 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach, 310. 545.5405,

[ 85 ] Tacos al Pastor at Leo's Taco Truck

Cruise by the gas station at La Brea and Venice after hours, and you'll see massive crowds surrounding Leo's taco truck. Chances are, they're there for the al pastor, marinated pork expertly sliced from a vertical broiler (trompo) and thrust into fresh tortillas. 1515 S. La Brea Blvd., L.A., 323.231.5116,

[ 86 ] Spicy Miso Ramen at Santouka Ramen

This small Hokkaido-style ramen shop in the Mitsuwa Marketplace serves up steaming bowls of chewy noodles and pork broth. This is the way to go with umamirich miso intermingling with just enough spice to let you know it's there. 3760 S. Centinela Ave., WestL.A., 310.391.1101,

[ 87 ] Warm Butter Cake at Mastro's Steakhouse, Beverly Hills

Beef is the name of the game at this steakhouse, but if you have any room left after that gorgeous hunk of meat, order this decadent warm cake, an ice cream-topped butter bomb with a super-sweet soft center. 246N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, 310.888.8782,

[ 88 ] Chubby Pork Belly Bowl at Chego

Roy Choi may be known for his Korean tacos, but the bowls at his Chinatown counter are even better. The full-on flavor assault starts with kochujangmarinated Kurobuta pork combined with vegetables and rice, plus a soygarlic sauce, chilli sambal and a mixture of salsas. 727N. Broadway, L.A., 323. 380.8680,

[ 89 ] Chopped Salad at La Scala

There are countless words to describe this iconic dish, which was first created at the classic Beverly Hills eatery in the 1950s, but "delicious" is still one of them. The combination of lettuce, salami, mozzarella and garbanzo beans, among other ingredients, has been copied endlessly, but this one still reigns supreme. 434 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, 310.275.0579, lascalabeverlyhills.Com

[ 90 ] Potato Chips and Dip at Jar

There are many reasons Suzanne Tracht's modern chophouse is still one of the best in town, including the pot roast, steaks, creamed corn and butterscotch budino. But only at the bar will you find the potato chips, which stand at attention like crisp little soldiers with a side of horseradish cream dip. 8225 Beverly Blvd., L.A., 323. 655.6566, thejar.Com

[ 91 ] Spicy Chicken Pops at Lukshon

These could be the best chicken wings in the city. The drumsticks are marinated in Southeast Asian flavors, including kecap manis, an intensely flavored sweet Indonesian sauce. Deep-fried twice and tossed in more spices, they're sticky and hot and perfect with a crisp lager. 3239 Helms Ave., Culver City, 310. 202.6808,

[ 92 ] Japanese Matsuzaka A5 Rib-Eye at n/naka

At Niki Nakayama's nondescript kaiseki restaurant, each course is a work of art. The niku (meat course) is no exception. A small strip of the finest-quality Japanese Matsuzaka wagyu rib-eye beef is placed on a hot rock and seared slightly for an incredible melt-in-your-mouth bite. 3455 Overland Ave., Palms, 310. 836.6252, n-naka.Com

[ 93 ] Pork Belly at Gjelina

Known for its good food as much as its vanguard status, Gjelina is an enduring Venice favorite, as is the pork belly served with creamy polenta, greens and a wonderful apple glaze that pulls it all together. 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, 310. 450.1429,

[ 94 ] Tuna Tartare at Chaya Brasserie Beverly Hills

When Executive Chef Shigefumi Tachibe swapped tuna for beef at the flagship brasserie in 1984, he birthed a legendary tartare, and, as a result, his chef knife and coat are permanently on display at the Smithsonian Museum. Marrying sushigrade tuna with avocado, egg yolks, Dijon mustard, olive oil and seasonings, his leaner 87 ANGELENO FEBRUARY 2014 take remains a staple. 8741 Alden Drive, Beverly Hills, 310. 859.8833; 110 Navy St., Venice, 310.396.1179; 525 S. Flower St., L.A., 213. 236.9577,

[ 95 ] Lasagna Verde at Angelini Osteria

This L.A. institution is known for quality Italian cuisine and supreme hospitality, and dedicated patrons needn't consult the menu. The sumptuous lasagna verde, green sheets of handmade pasta layered with bechamel, cheeses, and beef-and-veal ragu, is an automatic must. 7313 Beverly Blvd., L.A., 323.297.0070, angeliniosteria.Com

[ 96 ] Banh Mi at Ink.Sack

Michael Voltaggio's ode to the popular Vietnamese sandwich includes L.A. touches like onion spread and chicharrones, proving once again that the chef is in sync with the city's diverse palate. It's available at the Melrose original and the new stand at LAX. 8360 Melrose Ave., L.A., 323. 655.7225,

[ 97 ] Smoked Bucatini Carbonara at Superba Snack Bar

Chef Jason Neroni brings a modernized twist to this Roman classic dish with homemade pasta that's smoked and full of wild umami flavor, extra layers of salty pancetta, cream, pepper, Parmesan and a perfectly poached egg on top. 533 Rose Ave., Venice, 310.399.6400,

[ 98 ] Vegan Oysters at Crossroads kitchen

L. A.'s newest all-plant-based eatery playfully interprets oysters Rockefeller with artichoke leaves as shells and oyster mushrooms atop artichoke puree. Sealing the mock-mollusk deal, each bite-size morsel is topped with yellow tomato fauxbearnaise sauce and kelp "caviar" garnish. 8284Melrose Ave., L.A., 323.782.9245,

[ 99 ] Brussels Sprouts at Cleo

More salad than side dish, the Brussels sprout leaves are first separated and then deep-fried for a distinct crunch. Capers, parsley, chile flakes and toasted almonds add flavor and texture to the dish, which is tossed together in red-wine vinaigrette, Mediterranean-style. 1717 Vine St., L.A., 323.962.1711, cleorestaurant. Com

[ 100 ] Chocolate Pizza at Craig's

Only Craig's regulars know to order this decadent off-menu dessert: a warm, doughy pizza decked with different types of chocolate and cookie crumbles and topped with vanilla ice cream. When Craig's devotees Zack Schiller, Ryan Phillippe, Breckin Meyer and Jesse Bradford attended a preopening pizza-tasting, someone joked about chocolate pizza, and the idea stuck. 8826 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 310. 276.1900,

[ 101 ]

French Dip at Philippe The Original

One of the greatest inventions that L.A. gave culinary history is the rare roast beef or lamb served on a soft French roll and then dipped in hot, meaty jus. Ask the woman behind the counter for a double-dip, slather a generous amount of nasal-clearing mustard on it, and ponder its place in sandwichdom. 1001 N. Alameda St., L.A., 213. 628.3781,

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