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Los Angeles Is (Still) America’s Favorite Place to Dine

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A look at our own Eater National 38, and why this city still reigns supreme

Petit Trois, Los Angeles
Wonho Frank Lee
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Today’s big release of roving Eater critic Bill Addison’s annual national 38 list, which tracks the best restaurants all across America right now, shows just how much everyone is loving Los Angeles at the moment. There is no better dining city in the United States (still), and our continued proliferation of great concepts at both the high and low end continue to reveal just how versatile Los Angeles is.

The Eater LA team picked Addison’s brain on some of his selections for this year, including Petit Trois and Sqirl. First up, Ludo Lefevbre’s casual ode to his home country:

Petit Trois just does its thing so incredibly well. Its older sibling Trois Mec was on the list the previous two years, but in seeing how French bistro/brasserie cooking is slowly starting to gain favor again in American restaurants, I find myself comparing all the takes on escargot or rolled omelet or croque monsieur I may have to Ludo Lefebvre’s versions. Few measure up. Also? His insanely rich, saucy burger is still my favorite in the country.

Addison also praises Sqirl’s masterful grasp of localized LA cooking, noting that it’s a stop he makes every single time he’s in Los Angeles. And now that home cooks can enjoy those same jammy, sunny, all-day flavors at home thanks to owner Jessica Koslow’s cookbook, Addison says that the restaurant has become "as much cultural force as restaurant at the moment."

A slice of toast covered with ricotta and two jams, one orange, the other raspberry colored Wonho Frank Lee

Even Alhambra’s own Szechuan Impression nabbed a coveted spot on the list, making a play (above Chengdu Taste) to rank as among the best regional Chinese restaurants in America. Here’s what Addison had to say:

Szechuan Impression may be the most unexpected restaurant on this list, period. In my travels I made special care over the last year to eat at standout Sichuan restaurants — not just in expected cities like Houston or New York but in smaller metropolises like Richmond and Pittsburgh.

And none impressed me more than Szechuan Impression, both for the force of the chile heat but also the nuance of the overall spicing.

And it’s not like he ignored Chengdu Taste while he was here.

Like plenty of readers, I expected the spot to go to nearby Chengdu Taste — that restaurant has unquestionably paved the way for an embrace of Sichuan cuisine locally and nationally. But on two different trips I went to both Chengdu Taste and Szechuan Impression on the same day to compare, and both times Szechuan Impression clearly delivered the most masterful cooking. The hot pots burned brighter with spice, the toothpick lamb tasted fresher, and meats like rabbit and frog legs showed finesse.

Not bad for a lowkey option in the San Gabriel Valley. Then again, if you’ve spent any real dining time in and around Los Angeles proper, you’ve long known that this city makes surprising restaurants part of the natural discourse. And now we’re making taking those conversations nationally, too.