Welcome to Year in Eater, an annual review of some of the best and notable openings and restaurant news that took place in Los Angeles over the past year. Eater LA asks writers, editors, and food luminaries to pitch in to help summary the incredible year in dining that was 2019. Here now, LA food writers and editors give their insights on the best dining neighborhood in the city this past year.
Gary Baum, features writer and restaurant critic for The Hollywood Reporter
Between Pasjoli, Onda, and Birdie G’s I’m going to give it to Santa Monica.
Andy Wang, writer, Food & Wine
I guess you could say Santa Monica, but Birdie G’s, Pasjoli and Onda don’t feel like they’re in the same neighborhood. I love what’s going on in Historic Filipinotown with Woon, Porridge + Puffs, Valerie Confections and so much more. But eating at All Day Baby (on the same block as Dayglow and across from Spoon & Pork and La Playita Siete Mares) and seeing Ma’am Sir’s Charles Olalia and Fat Dragon’s Ivy Wei sitting together was a reminder that Silver Lake always seems to have it all.
Hadley Tomicki, freelance writer
L.A.’s greatest gain in 2019 was a proliferation of street food spurred by the potential promise of “legalization.” It felt like every day introduced another incredible vendor to the curb. Not just smashed burgers, Armenian-Nashville hot chicken and birria de res, but the growth of scenes like Avenue 26 in Lincoln Heights, Lincoln Boulevard in Venice and an ampler spread of options on Alvarado Street. As well as just the occasional stranger frying fish tacos in their front yard. I’m not sure we’ll see that same wealth of open street cooking once the vendor fees and official Babylon rules coagulate in 2020.
Andrea Chang, LA Times food section deputy editor
My go-to spots this year were spread out all over the city, which is how I like it, but I found myself spending a lot of time eating in Silver Lake and Echo Park. What if I name a best dining intersection? Because with the addition of Auburn a block away, I think Melrose/Highland is unbeatable.
Oren Peleg, LA food writer
Santa Monica/Venice. The Westside may finally be having its resurgence.
Joshua Lurie, FoodGPS founder
I found myself less drawn to Koreatown, my typical answer, for the first time in years. However, they had a pretty big lead on other neighborhoods and remain my default thanks to restaurants like Jun Won, Park’s BBQ, Soban, and Surawon Tofu House. K-Town also has more good coffee options than ever before, so I can hang out and write.
Euno Lee, Eater LA contributor
Bill Esparza, Eater LA contributor
Westlake all the way—the Guatemalan Night Market.
Esther Tseng, LA food writer
Downtown LA continues to be the place, but it is specifically the Arts District and Fashion District that seem to be the main hubs of relevancy. Steve Samson’s Rossoblu continues to be underrated, and Antonia Lofaso’s beautiful DAMA continues to be in high demand. Bestia was still great when I went the other day, and Bavel remains one of my favorites. Nightshade was my most frequented Arts District restaurant this past year.
Stephanie Breijo, Time Out LA editor
Historic Filipinotown, hands down. Thunderbolt’s an incredible 2019 add, Woon’s fantastic, Gru is solid, and they only augment the killer restaurants and bars that were already there.
Mona Holmes, Eater LA reporter
Highland Park, but South LA is where I go to explore. It is truly satisfying to discover a new favorite on my own, like Inglewood’s Banadir Somali Restaurant, or the Sweet Red Peach bakery. And Downtown is an easy go-to, but I’ve finally come around to the San Fernando Valley. I’ll battle traffic for Sushi Note anyday, quality Middle Eastern options are plentiful, and so are hangout spots with incredible selections like Mirabelle Wine Bar.
Cathy Chaplin, Eater LA associate editor
Silver Lake for ambitious newcomers like Bar Restaurant, All Day Baby, and Spoon & Pork. SGV for everything else.
Farley Elliott, Eater LA Senior Editor
Downtown. This is the year, by and large, that many of the big names (though certainly not all) came into their own in the Arts District, including Nightshade and the Firehouse, while Tacos 1986 and the massively successful Sonoratown are crushing at their own game at the same time.
Matthew Kang, Eater LA Editor
I begrudgingly say Santa Monica. Pasjoli, Onda, Birdie G’s, Colapasta, Osen Izakaya, Fia, the new Melisse/Citrin, and now Socalo, are big new entries to LA’s restaurant scene. If I could choose to eat in one neighborhood every day of the week, it’s still Koreatown for me.