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LA Food Writers Discuss Their Best Restaurant Meals of 2020

From Providence to omakase sushi, here are incredible meals LA food experts enjoyed this year

Sukiyaki bento from IMA in Beverly Hills.
Sukiyaki bento from Ima Beverly Hills
Matthew Kang

2020 will be the year that upended the restaurant industry. It’s difficult to talk about the year in review when everything changed, when people and businesses suffered during the pandemic. In light of the challenging year for everyone in Los Angeles, we asked food writers and industry folks what their go-to takeout and delivery destinations were across the city.

Mona Holmes, Eater LA Reporter

Providence. On February 28, I snuck in my best sit-down meal of the year, while Michael Cimarusti and his team fed me a tasting menu of everything that I miss right now. Small bites of beautifully curated dishes with local ingredients in a gorgeous setting. I’m fearful for the future of tasting restaurants right now, or at least until a vaccine arrives. The meal was everything I hoped for in a restaurant like Providence, friendly faces, fresh seafood and produce, and mindful service with a white tablecloth.

Euno Lee, Eater LA writer

Chả cá lã vọng at Pho Quang Trung when Orange County briefly re-opened for dine-in; the smell of turmeric, dill and sizzling onions was emotionally overwhelming. Bánh cuốn at Tan Hong Mai was also outstanding and delicious. Eating naengmyeon and meat with my mom on her birthday. It wasn’t so much about what I ate this year so much as the small wisps of normalcy I was able to squeeze out with the people I care about.

Joshua Lurie, FoodGPS.com founder

The I-NABA Manhattan Beach anniversary lunch that my wife and I shared on a bench overlooking the ocean was definitely memorable. Chef Yasu’s chirashi, “jewelry box” and “futomaki” provided momentary relief from a relentless year.

Danielle Dorsey, LA editor, Thrillist

Sunday brunch at Manuela. I think that meal is seared into my memory forever. A friend and I dined on their outdoor patio for brunch. We drank sangria alongside buttery biscuits, BBQ oysters, and yellowtail ceviche, with potato leek quiche and shrimp & rice grits as our mains. Even though our visit was limited to two hours due to COVID restrictions, that time spent on their lush DTLA patio was a welcome distraction from “everything that’s going on.”

Esther Tseng, freelance writer

Laurent Quenioux’s multi-course take-out meal, known as LQ Foodings

Jim Thurman, freelance writer

Sake-marinated grilled salmon at Otafuku in Gardena.

Farley Elliott, Eater LA senior editor

Basically anything from Bridgetown Roti, though dressing up to eat Kato takeaway in the back of my Subaru also made for a memorable night.

Oren Peleg, Eater LA contributor, freelance writer

Found Oyster (coincidentally, my final meal out before lockdown)

Cathy Chaplin, Eater LA associate editor

A&J Seafood Shack in Long Beach

Hadley Tomicki, L.A. Taco

After months of quarantine, getting dressed up and leisurely idling away a couple of early summer evenings over impeccable dinners at Angelini and Belvedere at the Peninsula felt like pure, restorative magic. I was apparently human all along.

Matthew Kang, Eater LA editor

The best meal I had was at Fauna in Baja California’s Valle de Guadalupe, before the pandemic. Here in Los Angeles, I was blown away by the meals at Mírame in Beverly Hills and Kato in West LA. The Italian American-inspired cioppino and other dishes from Heroic were amazing takeout, one that my wife and I will remember for a long time. And the wagyu sukiyaki bento from IMA in Beverly Hills was pure luxury with artful Japanese presentation.

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