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Jonathan Gold Declares Locol the First-Ever LA Times Restaurant of the Year

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The Watts-based modern fast food franchise keeps turning heads

Locol Watts Grand Opening
The grand opening of Locol in Watts
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.

Score another victory for Roy Choi, Daniel Patterson, and the entire team at Locol. Last night, as part of the LA Times opening salvo for their newly-minted monthlong food festival called Food Bowl, food critic Jonathan Gold named Locol LA’s restaurant of the year.

The announcement has been predictably met with kudos for Choi, Patterson, and Co., who have since the beginning sought to remake the fast food restaurant model by offering quality, often healthy food at affordable prices in traditionally underserved parts of the country. Their flagship location continues to be Watts, where Locol took over a corner space at 103rd Street, not far from the Jordan Downs Housing Projects.

Along the way, Locol has been met with loads of national press, both positive and negative. The New York Times’ own critic Pete Wells famously slammed the Oakland location of the restaurant with a zero-star review, to which Choi offered his own tempered response online.

In penning his ode to the Locol award, Gold notes that, throughout it all, the restaurant has done more than any other this year to push forward a conversation:

One might not expect the first Restaurant of the Year award to be won by a burger stand, but the choice was inevitable – no restaurant in years may have made more of a difference than Locol, Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson’s skater-themed fast-food spot in Watts.

The Times also produced a short video celebrating the occasion, and showing of Locol’s efforts in South LA. In all, a great win for an organization with a do-good ethos, and a long road ahead of them.