As is tradition, the Eater closeout of the year is a survey of industry types, bloggers, media and readers. This year we asked seven questions, from Best Newcomers to Top Standby, and Most Memorable Meals, Biggest Dining Surprises, and Best Dining Neighborhoods have dropped already. The rest will be answered by the time we turn off the lights today. The responses are in no particular order:
Pretty much home away from home: Delancey, Hollywood [Photo: Alen Lin, 5/08]
Q: What was your standby restaurant of '08 (not necessarily a newcomer)?
Lonny Pugh, UrbanDaddy: I live in Hollywood, where I can get to Hungry Cat, Bowery, Delancey and the Mission Cantina on foot. Life could be much, much worse.
Lesley Bargar, Los Angeles Magazine: I’ll still take Mozza any night. Fan of the Hot ‘N’ Sweet Pepperoni at Garage Pizza too. Elf in Echo Park.
Jonathan Gold, LA Weekly: Europane seems more like home than home does sometimes. I end up at Lou and the bar at Osteria Mozza an awful lot, because the wine is good and the conversation is better. And there's this new Hong Kong-style chicken specialist in San Gabriel I've been to six days out of the last seven?
Jessica Gelt, LAT/The Guide: I have always loved Michelangelo in Silver Lake. The old location by Spaceland was small and cozy and I loved eating outside, but the new place is really charming and always bustling. I can’t get enough of the homemade Burrata, and when I want no-nonsense pasta dishes this is where I go. Also, the Park in Echo Park never disappoints me. I love bringing a bottle of wine and a few friends to linger over the crispy Szechuan calamari and the yummy Korobuta pork. Also for breakfast, the Park omelet with soyrizo and crème fraiche is at the top of my list.
Brad Johnson, Angeleno: I probably ate at Animal more times than at any other restaurant in 08. My dining schedule generally doesn’t allow me to become a regular anywhere, but I found myself going back repeatedly on my nights off. It’s just so easy to have a great time there. No pretense. No worries. Great food. Great wine. Great prices. And, oh, that amberjack!
Caroline on Crack: Honestly, I have to say Buddha's Belly in Santa Monica. It's near my work, it has something to suit my every mood, the prices are reasonable, I don't need a reservation and it's around the corner from one of my fave bars.
Rich Alossi, Angelenic: Move over, Pete's Cafe! Colori Kitchen and Ma Petit are our standby restaurants. Ebisu is great too. Oh, and Kogi BBQ truck!
Vinny Dotolo, Chef/Owner, Animal: Father's Office
Jon Shook, Chef/Co-Owner, Animal: Ruen Pair
Jeff Miller, Thrillist: I found myself going to Loteria Grill on a regular basis, as well as my sushi standbys (Ike and the Izaka-Ya on 3rd). I've also become a staple at Empress Pavillion for dim-sum and Jinky's on Sunset for brunch on the weekends, but if you were to tally where I ate the most, it'd probably be Trimana. Am I automatically disqualified?
Betty Hallock, Los Angeles Times: The L.A. Times cafeteria, which has really good carnitas. Pizzeria Mozza, for the chicken liver crostini. Canele because I can heap a salad (dandelion greens), appetizer (shrimp and avocado) and entrée (Nonni’s spaghetti aglio/olio) all onto one plate and have one meal all mixed together. Or the bar at Providence for at the very least an end-of-the-evening go-around from the cheese cart. Or Hungry Cat because I can stop by for oysters after the farmers market in Hollywood on Sunday. Or Sokongdong in Koreatown for spicy tofu stew. Or Kokekokko in Little Tokyo not for the yakitori but for the soboro rice -- ground chicken over rice, topped with quail egg and scallions. For some reason, a go-to Eastside sushi spot eludes me; I should look harder
Pat Saperstein, Eating L.A.: My standby restaurant has become Pasadena's Daisy Mint, for its reliably tasty Thai fusion dishes and sweet interior.
Food Marathon: Jitlada.
Josh Lurie, Food GPS: Elena's Greek Armenian Cuisine is a 32-year-old, family-run restaurant in Glendale that experienced a remodel and still delivers unrivaled kebabs, grape leaves, falafel and lentil soup.
H.C., LA & OC Foodventures: My fave fallback place is Cafe Hiro in Cypress; the peking pork appetizer is the closest thing L.A. has to Momofuku pork buns.
Noah Galuten, Man Bites World: The food I craved the most above all else were probably the cold soba noodles from Ichimiann in Torrance. Sitting down to hand made soba noodles that make most other versions seem inedible by comparison, pairing it with a great rice bowl and having the whole thing set you back ten dollars is pretty amazing. After eating there, I always feel satiated, light as air, and could swear that my entire body has a thick coat of golden sunshine.
Marissa Gluck, Curbed LA: Any of Suzanne Goin's and Mozzas. And Noodle House - sense a trend?
Alissa Walker, Gelatobaby and Eater LA guestblogger: Pizzeria Mozza. We try to branch out. We really do. But when the hunger pangs hit, we find ourselves perched at the bar (never made a reservation for a table, they are so sweet and accommodating that we never see a reason to) with a couple of quartinos, two pizzas and that all-powerful, all-knowing copetta.
Lesley, Eater LA: The only real consistent was Europane in Pasadena for pastries and coffee or sandwiches. The restaurants I actually went to more than once this year: the Mozzas (always a constant), Animal, Anisette, Hungry Cat, and Delancey and the Bowery for drinks and the occasional pizza/pasta or sliders.
As always, please add yours in comments.