National dining champion Bill Addison dropped his annual list of Eater’s 38 essential restaurants in America, and to no one’s surprise, Los Angeles is well represented. The anonymous national dining critic spends almost the entire year hopping from city to city to find the best, brightest, and tastiest places to dine, from worthy old standbys to up-and-comers alike. Earlier this summer, Addison revealed his list of best new restaurants across the country, so today’s endeavor is a championing of places across the timeline spectrum.
With 36 cities and close to 600 meals under his belt this year alone, the struggle to whittle down a national 38 list of essential restaurants is all but impossible. Yet here we are, with four slots out of 38 dedicated to fantastic restaurants found in Los Angeles. They include Here’s Looking at You in Koreatown, Mariscos Jalisco in Boyle Heights, Park’s BBQ (also in Koreatown), and gorgeously personal kaiseki restaurant n/naka.
While each restaurant is very much its own thing, it’s easy to still make some broad comparisons about the state of dining in Los Angeles right now. Street food endures under the watchful eye of Mariscos Jalisco, whose line has not slowed despite an increase in competition on the same block from places like Tacos y Birria La Unica. And then there is Park’s BBQ, still holding strong as one of the finest examples of not only Korean barbecue, but Korean food (and hospitality) overall.
Palms staple n/naka remains one of the most remarkable (and still hard to get into) restaurants anywhere in America, let alone Los Angeles. The nuanced restaurant is a journey through Japanese kaiseki traditions but with a decidedly California lens, making it a perfect fit for a do-it-all dining city like LA. And let’s not forget Here’s Looking at You, situated in Koreatown but far from being a straightforward nod to the neighborhood. Instead, owners Jonathan Whitener and Lien Ta are making some of the most vibrant, diverse food anywhere, swinging through pan-Asian influences into the flavors of Mexico, Nashville, and just about everywhere else. The killer cocktails alone are worth a visit.
Previously, Addison had given his new restaurant love to David Chang’s Majordomo, Bestia follow-up Bavel, and tasting menu secret Dialogue out in Santa Monica. Taken together with today’s list of most essential restaurants, it’s impossible to not see how Los Angeles is leading the national dining conversation more than ever, and at every different level.