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The Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate This Week

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Follow Eater editors as they share their favorite meals during the pandemic

Pepperoni pizza from Brandoni pepperoni.
Pepperoni pizza from Brandoni pepperoni
Matthew Kang

The editors of Eater LA aren’t dining out as much as before stay-at-home orders were put in place, but that doesn’t mean the team isn’t eating well. From pantry hacks to stress baking to delivery and takeout, here now is the very best of everything the team has eaten recently.


November 23, 2020

“La Bomba” at De Buena Planta in Venice

La Bomba from De Buena Planta in Venice on a wood board.
La Bomba from De Buena Planta
Nicole Adlman

Over the weekend, I finally got to try De Buena Planta, an outdoor, mostly plant-based pop-up on Abbot Kinney from the folks at The Butcher’s Daughter. The patio somehow evokes Tulum without trying too hard, with its sand-colored gravel, string lights, low-to-ground seating, and baby palm trees fanning from all four corners. The tightly curated menu offers what one might consider a taco pop-up’s greatest hits: Supporting dishes include housemade chips, smoky salsa roja, and cotija-flecked guacamole; a gluten-free quesadilla stuffed with cheese and Impossible chorizo; and a Mexican Caesar salad that honors the Tijuana restaurant namesake. The main stage act at Buena Planta, however, is “La Bomba,” a taco platter featuring a drippy potato-egg taco, an all-veg taco with spicy calabasa squash and shredded radish, a crunchy Impossible chorizo taco, and a grilled cauliflower taco with a thick swipe of chipotle crema. 1118 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA —Nicole Adlman

Tacos at Wild Living Foods in Downtown LA

Raw cuisine is such an odd, fascinating subsection of veganism. I remember first hearing about it in 2000, and lived blocks away from a restaurant that bragged about food in its natural form and never cooked over 117 degrees. But that doesn’t sound particularly appealing in 2020, when comfort food calls out to me day and night. Recently a friend dropped off tacos from Downtown’s Wild Living Foods, and I was shocked at how happy I was to get a healthy serving of vegetables in my system days before I consume plates full of mac and cheese. The tacos in particular are delicious. Every ingredient is made in-house starting with a lettuce-wrap stuffed with ‘chorizo’ made from pumpkin seeds, drizzled with cashew cheese that feels decadent, avocado, crispy walnuts, a spicy, creamy sauce without an ounce of actual dairy. Wild Living Staff go big on flavor, which always works no matter what type of food you’re eating. 760 Main Street, DTLA, CA —Mona Holmes

The Polish boy at Barbie-Q in Encino

A Polish sandwich on a roll, covered in fries.
Polish boy
Farley Elliott

You know what just about everyone could use right now? A gigantic, delicious, satisfying meal from a local restaurant — which is precisely the point of the Polish boy at Barbie-Q, the new takeout restaurant in Encino. Formerly a food truck run by owner Fortune Southern, the spot on Ventura Boulevard now traffics in Midwestern comfort dishes and a touch of barbecue, with the star of the show undoubtedly the massive Polish grilled sandwich. The whole thing is topped with barbecue sauce, laced with coleslaw, and finished off with French fries for the kind of sink-into-yourself meal that might put anyone into an afternoon nap, just like at Thanksgiving. Sounds about perfect right now. 15928 Ventura Boulevard, Encino. —Farley Elliott

Pepperoni pizza from Brandoni Pepperoni

Pepperoni pizza from Brandoni pepperoni.
Pepperoni pizza from Brandoni pepperoni
Matthew Kang

Craving a pepperoni slice, I biked past Prince St. Pizza in West Hollywood only to see a massive queue. So instead, I opted for the ease of ordering a cheesy, saucy pepperoni pizza from Brandoni Pepperoni, which is baked and then brought to your car by chef Brandon Gray, who worked at Providence and Cape Seafood. The pie has a slightly singed bottom, that can feel a tad firmer than the usual Neapolitan-style crust, but the seasoned tomato sauce and stretchy cheese makes up for it. Pepperoni triangles make for a fun photo and a nice meaty topping. Gray can also parbake it to finish in your home oven. Tiramisu on the side is also impressive, and does a nice job of completing the meal. Order via text on the website and pick up at 5881 Saturn St. Brandoni Pepperoni. —Matthew Kang

November 16, 2020

Breakfast burrito from All Day Baby in Silver Lake

Breakfast burrito from All Day Baby in Silver Lake.
Breakfast burrito from All Day Baby in Silver Lake
Farley Elliott

After this awesome breakfast burrito list came out over at LAist, from writer Cesar Hernandez, I knew that I’d been slacking. Breakfast burritos are a singular food for me — and for much of Los Angeles; the kind of dish I dream about having every day, even if it’s only just that... a dream. That list of burritos is filled with gems, most of which I’d had before, but more than a few that had still escaped me, including the offering at All Day Baby in Silver Lake. I was finally able to rectify this miscue on Friday, picking up my own hefty takeaway bag for in-car consumption and boy, does Hernandez nail this one. ADB’s smoky longanisa is a welcome antidote to so many simplistic bacon and egg affairs, and the refried beans make for a creamy, delicious finish. The best part of all? It’s available all day. 3200 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. —Farley Elliott

Oat milk matcha from Super Rich in Echo Park

 Oat milk matcha from Super Rich in Echo Park.
Oat milk matcha from Super Rich in Echo Park
Mona Holmes

My phone’s weather app read 88 degrees on Sunday, and even though this fall temperature rollercoaster is typical for LA, it always lands as a shock. I ducked into Super Rich and asked for a cold recommendation and chose the oat milk matcha. This concentrated tea’s glowing green color is always a welcome sight, so are the earthy and flowery notes. Super Rich’s matcha scent overwhelms in a good way, and is the best sort of pick-me-up on a warm afternoon. While there, it’s not a bad idea to nab some onigiri or donburi, especially the latter with yuzu salmon with pickled vegetables. 1814 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park. —Mona Holmes

Sisig and giniling combo plate at Big Boi on Sawtelle

Sisig and giniling combo plate at Big Boi on Sawtelle.
Sisig and giniling combo plate at Big Boi on Sawtelle
Matthew Kang

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is the best $16 plate of food you can get in LA at the moment. Big Boi’s tremendous combo meals are generously portioned and superbly executed, with plush garlic rice, crunchy vegetables over well-seasoned pancit, plus a choice of two entrees. The pork sisig boasts deep soy flavors without the overwhelming grease that typically comes with the dish. Giniling, the Filipino take on picadillo, has plump golden raisins to balance the savory ground beef. One wonders why Big Boi doesn’t have a dozen locations across the city at this point. 2027 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

Central Vietnamese fare at 5 Stars Hue in Alhambra

Central Vietnamese fare at 5 Stars Hue in Alhambra.
Central Vietnamese fare at 5 Stars Hue in Alhambra
Cathy Chaplin

After months of hearing my best pals rave about the good cooking at 5 Stars Hue, my family and I finally made it there for lunch. On the menu are specialties from the central Vietnamese city of Hue including better-known dishes like bun bo Hue (spicy beef noodle soup), as well as less common ones like cha oc (steamed pork forcemeat with snails) and nem lui (grilled pork shoulder skewers). Also on hand are delicate little nibbles like banh beo, banh ram it, and banh bot loc. While most of LA’s Vietnamese restaurants are generalists of the genre, it’s never been easier to get a taste of regional cooking with 5 Stars’ three Southland locations in Duarte, El Monte, and Alhambra. 31 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra. —Cathy Chaplin


November 9, 2020

Gumbo from Swift Cafe in Leimert Park

Gumbo from Swift Cafe in Leimert Park.
Gumbo from Swift Cafe in Leimert Park
[Official Photo]

If there was perfect timing for a soulful gumbo, this past weekend was it. Swift Cafe owner/chef Kyndra McCrary experimented with her gumbo recipe in recent weeks, trying out healthier substitutions while adding flavor to the dish. McCrary’s deeply dark roux does not use any bacon and she substituted vegan butter for actual butter. McCrary prepared one gumbo with seafood and the other with andouille sausage and chicken. All of her efforts point to an incredible, slightly spicy gumbo where those formerly essential ingredients are not missed. And because the mercury dipped into the 40s Saturday night, this made for an incredible dinner while sipping on the bubbly Meinklang’s Foam Vulcan from Silverlake Wine. 4279 Crenshaw Boulevard, Leimert Park. —Mona Holmes

Gaeng hang lae at Northern Thai Food Club in Thai Town

Gaeng hang lae in a black plastic bowl on a shiny metal table, at Northern Thai Food Club in LA’s Thai Town
Gaeng hang lae at Northern Thai Food Club in Thai Town
Cathy Chaplin

My new normal now includes dining out in parking lots. While the ambiance can be kind of gritty, it’s a major upgrade in both comfort and convenience from picnicking in my trunk. Northern Thai Food Club converted the parking spots outside its doors into a makeshift dining room with an awning for shade and four or so socially distanced tables. After placing an order inside, the khao soi, pork curry, house-made sausages, smokey jackfruit salad, and sticky rice arrived soon after. All four of the dishes gracing the table were truly fantastic, but the gaeng hang lae — a Thai-Burmese pork curry with tamarind paste and ginger root — was unrivaled in its balance and flavor. Every last bit of the gravy was sopped up with sticky rice for good measure. 5301 Sunset Blvd. #11, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

Wagyu shawarma from Avi Cue

Wagyu shawarma from Avi Cue.
Wagyu shawarma from Avi Cue
Farley Elliott

One of LA’s best underground meat masters is now in the Hollywood spotlight. Avi Cue, the Sherman Oaks backyard maestro known for his unique riffs on decadent chops and Middle Eastern dishes like arayes, has burst onto the wider food scene with a series of wagyu shawarma pop-ups at places like Yamashiro and Delilah in West Hollywood. Now his biggest event to date is taking place this week, at the TCL Chinese Theater (read: Grauman’s) right at Hollywood and Highland no less. This is the home of movie stars and tourists looking to catch a glimpse of fame, except on Wednesday night it will be Avi spinning meat and smiling for his own cadre of fans. The shawarma is worth the price of admission, and makes for a far easier ticket to score than an invite to Avi Cue’s back yard. 6925 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. —Farley Elliott


November 2, 2020

Barbacoa de chivo from Madre Oaxacan Restaurant and Mezcaleria in Palms

Beef barbacoa tacos from Madre
Barbacoa de chivo from Madre Oaxacan Restaurant and Mezcaleria in Palms
[Official Photo]

Sunday morning after a Saturday night Halloween called for maximum takeout comfort, which I found in the form of barbacoa de chivo from Madre’s Palms outpost, one of three LA locations for the Oaxacan restaurant and mezcaleria. The stew gets its earthy flavor from a blend of chiles, herbs, spices, and simmered avocado leaves, the goat is fork-tender, and the best bite includes spoonfuls of stewed meat sprinkled with onions, diced jalapenos, and lime in a yellow-corn tortilla. To level-up the dish, you can ask for one of Madre’s giant homemade tortillas, which have a paratha-like texture and are particularly amenable to being dipped in scorching-hot stew. 10426 National Blvd, Los Angeles. —Nicole Adlman

Rotisserie Chicken from Chicken Dijon in Redondo Beach

Rotisserie Chicken from Chicken Dijon in Redondo Beach.
Rotisserie Chicken from Chicken Dijon in Redondo Beach
Matthew Kang

Perhaps it tasted sweeter because the Dodgers were on their way to winning game five of the World Series, but this rotisserie chicken from Chicken Dijon has scratched the itch of tasty and healthy twice this month for me. The chicken remains juicy even after the trek home, pulling apart and dipping easily into the creamy garlic sauce or the even better, the spicy lemon sauce that Chicken Dijon is known for. Sides of coleslaw and hummus were complementary too, not overwhelming the main event. For a longtime Glendale resident, I surely miss the likes of Sevan and Zankou in my backyard, but having the budding Chicken Dijon chain spread across the South Bay makes it easier for me to grab a quick meal any night of the week. 2515 Artesia Blvd #B, Redondo Beach. —Matthew Kang

Quesabirria tacos from Birrieria El Comal in Hollywood

Quesabirria tacos from Birrieria El Comal in Hollywood.
Quesabirria tacos from Birrieria El Comal in Hollywood.
Farley Elliott

In the race to make birria the next big thing in LA’s prodigious Mexican food scene (hint: it already happened, a while ago), a slew of newcomers entered the scene. And while a lot of honest cooks opted to make the kind of birria that mattered to them, plenty more took shortcuts and tossed in a hefty amount of griddled cheese just to make things passable. Thankfully that’s not the case at Birrieria El Comal, the weekend-only pop-up inside Hollywood’s Banh Oui. Angel Padilla runs his setup with passion and perspective, offering a rich and flavorful birria that comes with soul-warming cups of consommé for sipping and dipping tacos. There’s birria ramen and other fun stuff on the menu as well, but for simplicity’s sake make the first order some quesabirria tacos, if only to remember how good the ongoing birria movement can be if handled by those who care. Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Banh Oui in Hollywood. 1552 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. —Farley Elliott

Artichoke spread from Vreamery Vegan Cheese Shop and Melt Bar in Paso Robles

Artichoke spread from Vreamery Vegan Cheese Shop & Melt Bar in Paso Robles
Artichoke spread from Vreamery Vegan Cheese Shop & Melt Bar in Paso Robles
Mona Holmes

As an obsessive cheese lover who has no intention of giving up one of the world’s best food gifts, this week’s best dish came as a bit of a shock. Yet, when traveling through Paso Robles and into the Paso Market Walk food hall for lunch, my husband gravitated towards the Vreamery Vegan Cheese Shop and Melt Bar. This plant-based sandwich and cheese shop is owned by Jennifer Golden — who initially took vegan cheese-making lessons from Venice’s Plant Food and Wine chef Matthew Kenney — launched a cottage business that’s become quite popular. In the coming months, she’ll move into a larger space thanks to demand. Golden convinced us to buy some “cheese” for the road and this smooth spread builds on herbs, flavors, and technique. Plus, there’s an added and unexpected benefit — after finishing most of the tub there’s no gut ache, just a longing for more and Golden’s crispy house-made turmeric crackers. 1815 Spring St., Paso Robles. —Mona Holmes

Shrimp ceviche at Coin and Candor in Westlake Village

Shrimp ceviche at Coin and Candor in Westlake Village.
Shrimp ceviche at Coin and Candor in Westlake Village
Cathy Chaplin

Restaurants have always offered a simple escape from ordinary life. And with the election around the corner and stress running at an all-time high, its never been more critical to get away from it all — if only for an afternoon. Sitting on the sun-soaked patio at Coin and Candor in Westlake Village this past weekend was just the diversion that the entire family needed. From start to finish, Jesus Medina and his team dazzled with house-made breads, fire-grilled whole fish, and intricate desserts. The highlight of the afternoon was the shrimp ceviche in an orange juice-spiked dashi along with late-season tomatoes and early-winter citrus. It was easy to get lost in the meal with every bright and snappy bite. 2 Dole Drive, Westlake Village. —Cathy Chaplin


October 26, 2020

Blue prawns at Angler in Beverly Grove

A white bowl filled with head-on prawns.
Blue prawns at Angler In Beverly Grove
Cathy Chaplin

Angler opened two weekend ago after shutting down in March due to coronavirus measures. One of the unforeseen perks of operating at a mall is having access to a spacious parking structure for al fresco dining. Jazzed up with plush navy carpet, a festive soundtrack, and mood-setting candles, Angler’s concrete dining area was as nice as could be expected. The menu is a bit smaller than the one served in the Before Times, but fortunately the prawns are still available. The best way to eat these is with abandon — carefully extracting the head from its body, slurping the cranial juices, gnashing each antenna, and licking fingers along the way. The addictively spicy marinade makes for a messy and irresistible course. Make sure to order the thickly sliced grilled sesame sourdough for sopping. 8500 Beverly Blvd Suite 117, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

Juicy chicken from Chicken Chick in Torrance

Chicken Chick in a takeout container
Chicken Chick
Matthew Kang

Torrance’s Persian restaurant Chicken Chick has a secret weapon in its hands. The overnight marinated “juicy chicken” is supposedly breast meat, but it’s possibly the most delicious white meat I’ve ever had. Gently seared, brimming with juices (as advertised), and irrationally delicious, the only thing the dish could have used was some garlickly toum (which would be more appropriate for Lebanese or Armenian kebabs) or some of the house cucumber yogurt for some other element. The rice is superb: fluffy and tender. As a longtime Glendale resident and newer South Bay denizen, I now have a go-to kebabs spot. 16300 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance. —Matthew Kang

Impossible Beauty burger from the Window in Venice

A close-up shot of two burgers, fries, and a fried chicken sandwich all in a paper bucket.
Burgers from the Window in Venice
American Gonzo Food Corp.

The Window, a once-upon-a-time side hustle of throwback steakhouse American Beauty in Venice, has become a full-time, front-and-center burger and fried chicken sandwich joint during the pandemic. Its newest location, tucked in a busy corner on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, serves up the same great double or single burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, startlingly craveable kale salad, and fries, with the addition of an ice cream menu for those who think cones are best eaten just steps from the beach.

During my first visit to this outpost, I switched up from my regular double cheeseburger order and tried a double Beauty burger, The Window’s take using Impossible meat. I typically prefer house-made veggie patties to those from corporate behemoths, but in this case, the Beauty is as hedonistic as oozy, charred beef patties. Blanketed in melty American cheese, bread and butter pickles, and the brand’s house sauce, the Beauty burger renders meat irrelevant (if only for the moment). 1827 Ocean Front Walk, Venice. —Nicole Adlman

Tlayuda from Poncho’s Tlayudas in Arts District

Poncho’s Tlayudas
Poncho’s Tlayudas
Matthew Kang

Poncho’s Tlayudas popped up in the former Church & State space this past weekend as part of the five-part Taqueando series at the prime Arts District location. Alfonso “Poncho” and wife Odilia Martinez were on hand serving the wonderfully charred tlayudas on wood boards with toppings of their own amazing moronga, nopales, and thin strips of tasajo. I’ve been craving Poncho’s for months ever since their residency at Smorgasburg went on hiatus due to the pandemic. Smeared with black bean and riddled with stringy Oaxacan cheese, the version here is possibly the best I’ve had, as Poncho gets to cook it over a controlled Josper oven. The next few weeks at Taqueando’s weekend series features some fantastic Mexican chefs. —Matthew Kang

Lasagna by the pan from Justino’s Craft Kitchen

Lasagna from Justino’s Craft Kitchen
Lasagna from Justino’s Craft Kitchen
Matthew Kang

There is no end to the ingenuity of Instagram food entrepreneurs these days. From back yard grill masterminds to Bridgetown Roti, the pop-up Caribbean restaurant recently profiled in the NY Times, people are finding — more and more — that the underground food life is actually rather mainstream. Enter Justino’s Craft Kitchen, the Torrance-based lasagna shop doing weekly orders of hearty and literally homemade lasagna, plus cheesy garlic bread of course. Available by the massive full or half pan, these warming creations are perfect for fall, provided no one is gluten or dairy intolerant. For everyone else, it’s a rich, delicious hit. Justino’s Craft Kitchen. —Farley Elliott

Fried chicken sandwich at George’s in Boyle Heights

Fried chicken sandwich from George’s
Fried chicken sandwich from George’s
Farley Elliott

Fall is here in Los Angeles, and that means slightly chilly air and lots of Dodger Blue hanging around in Boyle Heights — especially at George’s, the remade classic burger stand run by Armando De La Torre, Jr. and Rob McCord. Together with their team, the guys have found a way to keep the nostalgia of patio-only burger dining, though this particular early weekend score was the Friday-only fried chicken sandwich. Matching flavors from the iconic McChicken, this saucy setup is best served alongside some steamy garlic fries, because Go Dodgers. 2311 E. Cesar Chavez, Boyle Heights. —Farley Elliott

La Super-Rica special at La Super-Rica Taqueria in Santa Barbara

La Super Rica special
La Super Rica special
Mona Holmes

When driving through Santa Barbara last week, I turned onto Milpas Street and walked into the 40-year-old La Super-Rica Taqueria. And even though I’ve spent ample time in this coastal city, I never visited La Super-Rica Taqueria. Ask any employee for recommendations, and most will steer you towards la Super Rica especial or house special with asada, roasted chiles, cheese, with an added bonus of house made salsa and tortillas. This dish only has medium heat, but bold flavors and gooey cheese to complete what’s clearly a classic dish. They’ve even set up an outdoor table that surrounds a giant palm tree, as in-house dining is still restricted. Note: cash-only. 622 N Milpas St., Santa Barbara. —Mona Holmes


October 19, 2020

Rolex Chapati from Goodboybob in Santa Monica

Rolex Chapati from Goodboybob in Santa Monica
Rolex Chapati from Goodboybob in Santa Monica
Matthew Kang

Goodboybob is a bit of a find in Santa Monica, hiding amid film production offices and buildings, but everything from the stellar coffee and wine menu to the food is worth the journey. The well-named Rolex chapati wrap takes warm Indian flatbread and rolls in scallions and eggs for an alternate take on the popular breakfast burrito. A spicy sauce adds heat and an acidic punch. The menu expands to solid pastries like a plush pistachio cinnamon roll to one of the best salmon salads I’ve had this year. Coffee nerds might be keen on tasting the top Cup of Excellence (COE) brew from Ethiopia and priced at $25 a serving. 2058 Broadway, Santa Monica. —Matthew Kang

Meat “pancake” at Tianjin Feng Wei in Alhambra

Meat “pancake” at Tianjin Feng Wei in Alhambra.
Meat “pancake” at Tianjin Feng Wei in Alhambra
Cathy Chaplin

Alhambra’s newish Tianjin Feng Wei was built for the new normal with its takeout-only footprint, Chinese comfort food menu, and travel-friendly wares. With our massive order of pork knuckles, beef tripe, scallion pancakes, beef “pancakes,” and a duo of steamed dumplings (pork and pork-crab) in tow, my family and I drove to Alhambra Park for lunch in the shade. The best dish of the Tianjinese feast were the crisp-golden pucks filled with ground beef, teeny tiny onions, and warm spices. For those who adore the meat pies at Beijing Pie House, these beefier takes are just as great. And please be careful of scalding spurts of meat juices. 525 West Valley Blvd. Ste. B, Alhambra. —Cathy Chaplin

Puerto Rican fare from Triple Threat Truck

For all the culinary surprises that Los Angeles offers, consistently great Puerto Rican food is sadly not among them. Thankfully there is the Triple Threat Truck, rolling around the city turning out overclocked Boricua delights like the three-meat tripleta sandwich served with chicken, steak, pork, and fries inside of a made-daily pan sobao roll, or served over top of a plate of cheesy fries. Then there’s the mofongleta, a mash-up dish that includes the aforementioned sandwich’s ingredients wrapped in a mash of green plantain mofongo for maximum richness (and messiness). This is classic food truck fare, served quick and easy and meant to go heavy on sauce and flavor. Best of all, the truck roams all over greater LA, so there’s a decent chance it’ll show up near you soon. —Farley Elliott


October 13, 2020

Roast chicken meal at Great White Rotisseria in Venice

A roast chicken meal with sides on top of a metal grated black table.
Roast chicken family meal at Great White Rotisseria in Venice
Matthew Kang

Roast chicken shops are a bit of a big pastime in Australia, so it was due time that Great White in Venice employed the idea in a takeout and delivery setting in a space across the street from its Pacific Avenue restaurant. Tender, juicy chicken gets chopped up for easy eating while garlic, chimmichurri, and a ketchup-y barbecue sauce help mix up every bite. On the side, whipped beets topped with feta, roasted corn, hummus, and crisp roasted potatoes provide punch and crunch, and are stark reminders that this is clearly not Zankou, California Chicken Cafe, or Sevan. LA has an unending love of roast chicken, so I imagine Great White Rotisseria will be successful if it expands across the Westside. Order on delivery apps or directly for takeout. 80 Windward Ave., Venice. —Matthew Kang

Kitfo at Awash in Pico-Robertson

A bowl of Ethiopian kitfo / raw beef with a spoon on the side.
Kitfo at Awash in Pico-Robertson
Cathy Chaplin

After months of ordering only takeout from restaurants, I finally broke my streak for the love of kitfo — an Ethiopian dish of raw chopped beef with clarified butter and mitmita (chile powder). The fine folks at Awash don’t serve this specialty to-go, which makes sense given its delicate composition, so my husband and I decided on-the-spot to dine on one of the restaurant’s two tables on Pico Boulevard. Laced with warm cardamom and a rush of heat, the buttery beef was a total flavor powerhouse. The injera’s inherent tang kept the meat’s richness in check, while striking a beautiful balance of textures. 5990 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

Arroz chaufa from Aymara Peruvian Kitchen in Lincoln Heights

Peruvian fried rice with green onions on top.
Arroz chaufa from Aymara Peruvian Kitchen in Lincoln Heights
Mona Holmes

The intersection of mom-and-pop restaurants and ghost kitchens is a huge plus for Los Angeles. The price is often right and the options are expansive. Right over in Lincoln Heights is a new startup called Aymara Peruvian Kitchen. Husband and wife team Caroline Beaurin and Ralph Walde opened Aymara less than a week ago, where traditional Peruvian dishes like lomo saltado, ceviche, and my personal favorite, arroz chaufa are available. The fried rice is never oily, full of flavor, and filling. Order Aymara’s ceviche as a side dish for a complete meal, and don’t forget an ice-cold Inca Kola. Pull up to the Lincoln Heights location for quick pick-up. 242 N. Ave. 25 #212, Lincoln Heights. —Mona Holmes

Buns from Mason’s Dumpling Shop in Highland Park

Chinese buns filled with beef and pork.
Buns from Mason’s Dumpling Shop in Highland Park
Farley Elliott

What’s better than a whisper-light steamed bun wrapped around hearty chunks of slowly-braised meat and fresh greens? Few things, if any, really. And while Mason’s Dumpling Shop, the Highland Park offshoot from the Luscious Dumpling family, is perhaps more known for its steamed and pan-fried dumplings, there’s still something special about its complex little baos. The pork belly option is rich and fatty and soft, while the Angus beef option opts for denser, chewier bites, but honestly both work wonderfully when served side by side. Eat them fast in the parking lot, just like if this were an In-N-Out double double, for maximum effect. 5803 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles. —Farley Elliott


October 5, 2020

Bee Sting at Roberta’s pop-up in Venice

A blistered, wood-fired pizza from Roberta’s shown from above.
Bee Sting at Roberta’s in Culver City
Brandon Harmon

I’m gluten intolerant but deeply vulnerable to its taste and textural brilliance, which is why, for a long, misguided stretch, I denied the physical and emotional toll of eating wheat-based anything and did anyway. In the last two or so years, on the heels of a blood test confirming my sensitivity to wheat and grains, I finally embraced my gluten-sensitive status and started to seek out the best gluten-free everything in Los Angeles, including pizzas, pastries, pastas, and breads. But once in a blue moon (there is a blue moon this October, by the way), I brave the potential bloat to eat like I did when I was five and not intolerant to anything. It happened this weekend at Roberta’s pop-up in Venice. I asked the requisite “Do you offer any gluten-free pies?” knowing the answer would be no, and then ordered the Bee Sting, prepared for both the lip-sting of Calabrian chile and the gut-sting of crust made from raw wheat. I ate the entire pie, appreciating its non-gummy, non-boardy texture (sorry gluten-free crusts, I still love you), melting into its sweet-savory medley of soppressata, honey, and chile. Hashtag no regrets, and all that. 69 Windward Ave., Venice. —Nicole Adlman

Hand roll kit from Kazunori in Downtown

Ingredients for making handrolls at home.
Hand roll kit from Kazunori in Downtown
Matthew Kang

Kazunori’s takeout system seems to favor its cut rolls, mostly in an attempt to preserve the restaurant’s essence of warm rice sushi rolls with crisp nori. Which means the only way to experience Kazunori as it was intended is to get the $95 hand roll kit, which comes with everything you need to make about 20 rolls, including nori (the nigori sake cups shown in the photos aren’t included in the kit). Fish fillings include blue crab, toro, yellowtail, and salmon, and the portion is ample enough for a fun, interactive meal at home. The fish is as fresh as you would expect while the rice comes with great vinegary seasoning. I will say the kit is sufficient for four smaller appetites or three heftier eaters, so order a few extra cut rolls if your family can put down a lot of food. 421 South Main St., Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

Taiwanese breakfast from Today Starts Here in Chinatown

A rice roll filled with a doughnut, egg, and pickled mustard greens.
Taiwanese breakfast from Today Starts Here in Chinatown
Cathy Chaplin

The fine folks behind Pine and Crane in Silver Lake and Joy in Highland Park debuted a Taiwanese breakfast pop-up this weekend in Chinatown called Today Starts Here. On the menu are the genre’s greatest hits including fan tuan (rice rolls stuffed with a fried doughnut, hard boiled eggs, pickled mustard greens, and pork floss), dan bing (crepes filled with eggs and vegetables), and sweet and savory soy milk. After picking up our haul on Hill Street, my family and I made the short drive to Los Angeles Historic Park for lunch under the shade of a tree. While every dish was carefully made and quite delicious, the fan tuan — with its textural contrasts, pickley notes, and abundance of pork floss — dazzled most. Also fantastic was the silken tofu with ginger syrup for dessert. 935 Mei Ling Way, Chinatown. —Cathy Chaplin

Lemon garlic shrimp and snow crab from Mr. Fries Man in Inglewood

French fries topped with shrimp and crab with a lot of sauce.
Lemon garlic shrimp and snow crab from Mr. Fries Man in Inglewood
Mona Holmes

Fair warning: Mr. Fries Man’s serving sizes are massive. It is entirely possible to eat a pile of slightly crispy french fries covered in shrimp, snow crab, and lemon garlic sauce, or build your own creation with toppings like steak, buffalo chicken, or plant-based Beyond meat. One order can complete a day’s worth of calories in one sitting. Business is booming for husband and wife owners Craig Batiste and Dorothy Morales, who launched the business from their home in 2015. Why is it going so well? Batiste replies, “people gotta eat.” Head to the original Gardena location or the new spot in Inglewood, and enjoy these loaded fries without guilt. 1120 W. Florence Ave. Suite C, Inglewood. —Mona Holmes

Pastrami sandwich from Ugly Drum on La Brea

Ugly Drum is the stuff that meaty dreams are made of. The place is known almost exclusively for its tender, smoky pastrami, cut thick and served in tall stacks to long Smorgasburg lines, but lately the group has been doing to-go and delivery service out of the Bludso’s space on La Brea. That means that now anyone, any day of the week (and without a wait, really) can queue up digitally for a tall stack sandwich that piles on a half-pound of pastrami along with Russian dressing, slaw, and Swiss cheese. It’s a deliberately bulbous concoction, perfect warming food for wishing on the cooler weathers of fall. And best of all, there’s no line. 609 N La Brea Ave., Los Angeles. —Farley Elliott


September 28, 2020

Breakfast burrito from Phanny’s in Redondo Beach

Holding breakfast burritos, cut in half.
Breakfast burrito at Phanny’s in Redondo Beach
Wonho Frank Lee

My visit to Phanny’s in Redondo Beach this weekend felt folkloric, from pulling into the parking lot where bleachy-haired surfers and local families sit in their open car trunks, legs swinging a few feet above ground; walking through the arched, ivy-covered alleyway to reach the breakfast dive’s front takeout window; and finally hearing my name called for my pair of burritos (one ham, one turkey sausage, each with all the fixings). My turkey sausage burrito had extra heft from added peppers, onion, mushroom, and avocado; the kind of fully composed meal made for eating in a car and enough to fill me for the better half of the day. Phanny’s accompanying salsa is mild but pleasing, offering the right amount of acid to cut through the dense layers of potato and egg. 1021 South Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach. —Nicole Adlman

Fried chicken from Honeybird in La Canada

A box of fried chicken with biscuits, mac and cheese, and Brussels sprouts.
Fried chicken from Honeybird in La Canada
Cathy Chaplin

After a routine week of distance learning and remote working, Friday night called for a change of scenery. After picking up a whole fried chicken, biscuits, macaroni and cheese, Brussels sprouts, and a slice of salted honey pie from Honeybird, our family of three high-tailed it to nearby Hahamongna park to feast. The wings and thighs were the first to go — nicely seasoned with craggy crusts and juicy dark meat. The biscuits, dotted with cheddar, chives, and bacon, and served with a maple-vanilla butter, paired like a dream. Good fried chicken can truly be found in every corner of this glorious city. 714 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge. —Cathy Chaplin

Funghi pizza at Great White in Venice

A pizza with greens, mushrooms, and truffles.
Funghi pizza at Great White in Venice
Matthew Kang

Venice’s Great White might not be known as a pizza destination, especially in a crowded field with places like Gjelina Take Away, the Rose, and South End in the neighborhood. But the sunny outdoor patio of the Australian-ish cafe is a solid place to cut apart a plush funghi pizza loaded with black truffles, maitake mushrooms, and creamy caciocavallo cheese. Roasted garlic and spinach provides brings bass and mid-range punch, while a lemon white wine cream gives it a high note to balance out the earthiness from the mushrooms. 1604 Pacific Ave., Venice. —Matthew Kang

“Shrimp taco” at Republique in Mid-Wilshire

A bite of shrimp and micro-cilantro, a shot of “salsa water”, and lime sorbet drowned in good mezcal.
“Shrimp taco” at Republique in Mid-Wilshire
Nicole Adlman

My visit to Republique for its Monday prix fixe was, in fact, my first nighttime visit to the storied Fairfax restaurant (when I lived around the corner from it a few years back, it was a frequent choice for meandering Sunday brunches). Many of the Monday menu dishes stood out: a wild arugula and radicchio salad and a wood fire-grilled quail — both served on top of roasted butternut squash mousseline — made it clear to me that we are firmly into fall and its earthy flavors. But my favorite dish was perhaps the first one to come to the table, a deconstructed “shrimp taco” featuring side-of-the-road flavors in an unexpected format: a bite of shrimp and micro-cilantro, a shot of “salsa water” that tasted somewhere between a light gazpacho and savory agua fresca, and lime sorbet drowned in good mezcal. 624 South La Brea Ave., Los Angeles. —Nicole Adlman

Family dinner from Bavel in Downtown

I prepared for Bavel’s family dinner ($49 per person) carefully. I brought out the nice wine glasses for the Sancerre along with folded cloth napkins and a tablecloth. When sitting down, waiting for chef Ori Menashe’s food to reheat, it felt like I was dining out again. Bavel has been doing these family-style dinners since March and they are wonderful. Last week’s was hummus with burnt harissa and puffy housemade pita, a lemony endive and pecan salad, smashed cucumber yogurt to cover the serrano and turmeric marinated prawns, plus a duck confit. The serving sizes appear small in the to-go containers, but don’t be fooled. This is plenty for dinner, and you’ll barely be able to finish the sheet pan chocolate cake with buttermilk frosting. 500 Mateo St., Arts District. —Mona Holmes


September 21, 2020

Grilled Khmer sausage from A&J Seafood Shack in Long Beach

A plastic container full of steamed rice and sausage.
Grilled Khmer sausage from A&J Seafood Shack in Long Beach
Cathy Chaplin

There’s much to love on the menu at A&J Seafood Shack in Long Beach, which is located on the corner of Anaheim and Obispo on the edge of Cambodia Town. The surf side of the menu is spectacular with fresh lobsters hacked and stir-fried with aromatics, along with garlic shrimp that rivals the trucks on Oahu’s North Shore. Still, it’s best not to overlook the turf side of the menu. The grilled beef baguette sandwiches are seriously fantastic, while the Khmer sausages served over steamed white rice is worthy of obsession. Every taut and caramelized link delivers an avalanche of smoke and funk. Don’t let summer get away without partaking in Cambodia’s wonderful tradition of charcoal grilled proteins. 3201 E. Anaheim Street, Long Beach. —Cathy Chaplin

Vegan parade platter from Post & Beam in Baldwin Hills Crenshaw

A takeout container full of vegan snacks like vegan crab cakes, collard wraps with roasted butternut squash, fried grit sticks, apple cider glazed carrots, roasted cauliflower, and nut balls
Vegan parade platter from Post & Beam in Baldwin Hills Crenshaw
Mona Holmes

After six months of non-stop bread, steak, shrimp, and heavy sauces, and the occasional heavy cream in my coffee, my body needs a break. Under advice from my doctor, staying healthy for the upcoming flu season is crucial. I’ve shifted my focus to healthy and delicious foods, like this vegan parade platter from Post & Beam. It’s enough to feed two, or as leftovers if dining single with a healthy assortment of plant-based dishes. Chef/owner John Cleveland assembled his classic vegan crab cakes made with artichoke hearts, while adding vegan collard wraps with roasted butternut squash, fried grit sticks, apple cider glazed carrots, roasted cauliflower, and flavorful nut balls. The three sauces work beautifully with every dish, just dip anything into the black-eyed pea hummus, white bean remoulade, or gochujang aioli. 3767 Santa Rosalia Dr., Los Angeles. —Mona Holmes

Monta from Monta Factory in Glendale

An aluminum tray full of Armenian dumplings.
Monta from Monta Factory in Glendale
Matthew Kang

Monta, delectable little meat dumplings encased in pie-like dough wedges, could be the most salient example of simple things making the greatest food. Monta Factory’s dumplings are hard to stop eating when covered with its zesty tomato sauce and tangy yogurt sauce (just make sure they include those sauces in the to-go order, as they unfortunately forgot on mine, necessitating a return to the restaurant). Depending on the occasion, I might eat an entire tray over the course of a movie or ball game at home, and feel uncomfortably full for hours as a result. 1208 West Glenoaks Blvd, Glendale. —Matthew Kang

Full platter at Heritage Barbecue in San Juan Capistrano

A tray full of barbecued meats like brisket and ribs.
Full platter at Heritage Barbecue in San Juan Capistrano
Farley Elliott

On its face, barbecue is about community and celebration and time. The slow-cooked meat method has its Texas roots in weekend parties and neighborhood get-togethers; all things that are hard to safely pull off right now. The next best version may well be a distanced afternoon in line at Heritage Barbecue in Orange County, waiting for brisket and sausages and pork ribs and beans with a few hundred other “friends.” The all-outdoor setup is about as safe as it gets right now, and the end result of all that waiting around is a rainbow of a platter stacked high with proteins of all sorts. Make an afternoon out of the whole experience soon, if only to have a sense that celebration isn’t dead, it just looks a little different right now. 31721 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano. —Farley Elliott


September 14, 2020

Chicken fettuccine alfredo from Edibol in the Arts District

A plate of noodles in a cream sauce with pieces of fried chicken.
Chicken fettuccine alfredo from ediBOL
Mona Holmes

I’m having trouble remembering the last time I actually ate fettuccine alfredo. It was probably a few decades ago with my niece who could eat this favorite dish daily. It was a bit unusual to try this dish from Edibol in the Arts District, where owner Andrea Uyeda puts together weekly meal kits for her loyal customers. Every ingredient comes in a box with instructions, which took under seven minutes to reheat. If we’re being honest, I’m a little burned out from cooking at home so it was nice to avoid the grocery store and preparing for the moist chicken breast and buttery noodles. Her menu changes weekly, but it’ll always be something comforting with an accompanying salad. 300 south Santa Fe Avenue, Suite Q, Arts District. —Mona Holmes

Pork satay from Medan Kitchen in Rosemead

A container with grilled pork on a stick with compressed rice and peanut sauce.
Pork satay from Medan Kitchen in Rosemead
Cathy Chaplin

In the Before Times, the parking lot of the Duarte Inn hosted Pondok Kaki Lima, a Saturdays-only outdoor food bazaar serving some of the best Indonesian cooking in Los Angeles. For those missing homey Indonesian fare, Medan Kitchen is here to save the day. This takeout-only operation with a grocery component serves pre-packaged meals, along with sweet and savory dishes, prepared by local cooks. While everything on the daily-changing menu is worthy of a taste, the pork satay here is truly great. The pork was tender, while its char and caramelization just right. Served on the side are nasi impit (compressed rice cakes) garnished with fried shallots and a fantastic peanut sauce full of richness and spice. 8518 Valley Blvd., Ste. 102, Rosemead. —Cathy Chaplin

‘Everything’ crispy potato cake with smoked salmon at Strings of Life

A potato rosti with smoked salmon and a side of arugula.
‘Everything’ crispy potato cake with smoked salmon at Strings of Life
Matthew Kang

Despite opening in the thick of the pandemic, Strings of Life seems to be adapting well to outdoor dining in West Hollywood. C-list TV celebrities waltz in with their entourages while yoga-bound diners pick at salads. A few tables stretch out over the West Hollywood cafe’s outdoor areas, where a massive daytime menu features everything from breakfast comfort fare like burritos and avocado toast to heftier pastas and sandwiches. The smoked salmon with potato pancake gets a dusting of “everything” seasoning, with lightly dressed arugula and dill providing all the flavors of a New York deli experience. 609 N W Knoll Dr., West Hollywood. —Matthew Kang

DIY hand roll kit from KazuNori in Downtown

Seaweed wrap with rice and fish, being assembled by hand.
DIY hand roll kit from KazuNori in Downtown
[Official Photo]

Since the pandemic began, all sorts of restaurants have been trying to figure out how to make at-home dining just a little more interactive. Some have turned to Zoom videos, others to vampire-themed game nights, but for KazuNori, the Sugarfish hand roll offshoot, interactive just means “do it yourself” in the best way possible. The restaurant’s take-home hand roll box is a feast for two (or fun for the whole family) and comes with the usual intuitive packaging that makes for seamless prepping, rolling, and enjoying. This is date night flair, done right. 421 S. Main St., Los Angeles. —Farley Elliott


September 8, 2020

Chicken tenders at Lilah’s Diner in West Hollywood

Chicken tenders from Lilah’s Diner in a turquoise-lined paper box.
Chicken tenders from Lilah’s Diner
Farley Elliott

H.Wood Group has transitioned many of its most popular properties into ghost kitchen mock-ups to keep their fans comfortable while businesses remain closed. That includes Lilah’s Diner, a takeout and delivery-only version of Delilah’s on Santa Monica Boulevard, a place known for its celebrity clientele and H.Wood co-owner John Terzian’s popular chicken tenders. The thick strips are a staple of the Lilah’s menu and a perfect pandemic treat, equal parts nostalgia and comfort food and easily-accessible, relatively inexpensive weeknight fare. From the branded packaging to the simple culinary pleasures, H.Wood knows that going all in on ghost kitchens right now requires playing an entirely new type of hospitality game, and so far they’re pulling it off. lilahsdiner.com to order; pickup at 755 N. La Cienega, West Hollywood. —Farley Elliott

Pitman Farms half chicken from Manuela in the Arts District

Pitman Farms half chicken from Manuela
Pitman Farms half chicken from Manuela
Matthew Kang

Manuela’s outdoor dining area is almost seamless, with nearly covered area just outside its main space accommodating plenty of well-spaced tables in the Hauser and Wirth gallery in Arts District. Rustic Southern cooking is the main draw here, with a good dash of California sensibility. The Pitman farms half chicken wouldn’t have been a normal order for me, but since it was part of the dineLA menu we decided to spring for it. Crisp little gems covered with a wonderful smoked olive lemon vinaigrette provided a punchy counterpoint. Speckled with herbs and juicy to the late bite, my only wish was for more of that white barbecue sauce pooled underneath the bird. 907 E 3rd St, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

Phuket wings at Emporium Thai in Westwood

Phuket fried chicken wings at Emporium Thai on a wood plate with shredded vegetables.
Phuket wings at Emporium Thai
Matthew Kang

With a craving for Thai food on the Westside, Emporium in Westwood from John Sungkamee (the younger brother of “Jazz” Singsanong and the late Suthiporn “Tui” Sungkamee) and might be the best bet. The Phuket wings come laced with rich Southern curry sauce that work as a nice foil against the deeply crisped chicken wings. Usually Thai chicken wings tend to be sweet and tangy with a fully coated sauce, but these savory bites are a terrific starter ahead of entrees like massamum shrimp curry and Thai basil chicken for Emporium’s dineLA lunch menu, which is available on a cloistered back patio behind the restaurant. 1275 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

Kabob party at Botanica in Silver Lake

Kabob party at Botanica on a white plate with sides in the background.
Kabob party at Botanica
Botanica [Official photo]

Like everyone else, Botanica in Silver Lake has transformed itself several times over the course of quarantine. The latest iteration is their so-called kabob party, where plates of lamb kefta or seared maitake mushrooms with sumac arrive in hearty boxes filled with mounds of herbed rice and laffa bread. The simple satisfaction of fire-cooked meat and rice is ideal for the smoky, uncertain moment, and made all the better with sides of pickles and heirloom bean hummus. Grab a bottle of wine on the way out too, because (for now at least) the kabob party is going down at home. 1620 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake. —Farley Elliott


August 31, 2020

Barbecue spread from Neighborhood BBQ

A spread of barbecue dishes including corn bread, ribs, corn, and mac and cheese.
Barbecue spread from Neighborhood BBQ
Matthew Kang

Erik Piedrahita, formerly the executive sous chef at the now-closed Bon Temps, has been doing these wonderful family barbecue meals for the past five weeks, selling about 15 sets a weekend via Instagram. The fine dining veteran built a backyard grilling and Santa Maria barbecue setup in his father’s house during the pandemic, unleashing his skills into Neighborhood BBQ. This week’s feast included sweet-sticky pork ribs, a fresh little gem salad with peach slices and sunflower seeds, charred corn, and possibly the densest, most flavor-packed mac and cheese I’ve ever had. The cornbread probably needed a second warming, which we couldn’t do while at Griffith Park, but it helped round out the meal. Neighborhood BBQ doesn’t require any actually grilling which makes it picnic-ready. Order Neighborhood BBQ on its website. —Matthew Kang

Braised sardines and tomatoes from Gamboge in Lincoln Heights

A bowl of braised sardines with a baguette on the side.
Braised sardines and tomatoes from Gamboge in Lincoln Heights
[Official Photo]

Canned sardines in tomato sauce was a lunchtime staple growing up. Mom emptied the sauce-soaked fishes onto a plate, topped it with paper-thin slices of onions and ground black pepper, and served it with a toasted baguette. This low-lift dish was as simple and satisfying as it got in our house. Gamboge, the new Cambodian spot in Lincoln Heights, serves a scratch-made version that’s truly irresistible. Gently braised in tomatoes, onions, and garlic, the meaty sardines meld into the sauce. It’s served with a sturdy baguette that makes for a trusty vehicle to deliver simmered sardines and sops up all that’s left with aplomb. Lunch on Gamboge’s sun soaked patio is exactly where I want to be. 1822 North Broadway, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

Curry chicken roti from Bridgetown Roti

In the land of tacos and burritos, Bridgetown Roti is king. Rashida Holmes’s Caribbean food pop-up runs weekends out of Crafted Kitchen in the Arts District, selling filled patties in the style of Barbados, as well as those namesake rotis, a wrapped-up effort that comes stuffed with curried chicken thighs, pickles, and lots of fresh veg. The result is a squat, almost square, self-contained roti that’s perfect for on-the-go eating. Score a couple if you can (Bridgetown sells out almost immediately) and head to a park to devour with some pineapple habanero hot sauce. —Farley Elliott

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