LA Weekly has just unleashed the beast that is their annual 99 Essentials list. It’s a pretty exhaustive cataloging of what the dining scene in L.A. looks like; or as third-year critic Besha Rodell describes it in her video intro (sans headshot, of course): "It should be a time capsule of Los Angeles’ dining scene in 2015."
Rodell goes on to call this the Year of the Neighborhood, pointing to fantastic local spots that appeal to the area they're in, and don’t rely on weekend tourists to stay afloat. Saint Martha gets a pretty prominent placement in the opening salvo, as does Silver Lake spot Alimento.
A few quick takeaways from the list:
- As with last year, no chef/owner has more than two placements on the list, which can get a bit tricky with bigger names. Rodell herself nods at the necessary exclusion of Mozza and Chi Spacca as a result of this rule (they're all lumped under the Mozza Group title), which seems pretty jarring given it’s an L.A. Essentials guide.
- Trois Mec and Petit Trois both land on the list, of course, but only take up one combined spot. A bit of list tomfoolery to make room for other restaurants perhaps? And, including Animal, wouldn't it technically make three restaurants for Dotolo and Shook? Or would Petit Trois simply not be able to break into the crowded field on its own?
- Grand Central Market, at once a singular dining destination and a collection of small restaurants, earns the same one-for-all treatment. That has to be a bit frustrating for the owners inside.
- Like always, the ethnic cuisines that make up the backbone of our dining scene are well represented. Ruen Pair and Sapp Coffee Shop, Beverly Soon Tofu and Cemitaas Poblanas Elvirita. There’s even a spot for longtime Artesia dosa house Surati Farsan Mart.
- Night + Market earns a nod over its sister restaurant (and arguably the better of the two) Night + Market Song, which feels like the more complete expression of Yenbamroong’s vision of his Thai concept. Add in the esoteric and exciting wine list, and Song seems a strange exclusion in favor of its West Hollywood brethren.
- Roy Choi earns two spots: one for the Kogi truck (seven years in, and it’s still an Essential) and one for POT, the sometimes-polarizing hot pot shop inside of Koreatown’s Line Hotel.
- No love for Faith & Flower this year. Despite the shower of accolades from outside writers, the bustling downtown restaurant with the killer cocktail program can’t crack the top 99.