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The Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate This Week

Follow Eater editors each week as they share their favorite dishes around town

Aunt Vie’s cod fish cakes from Bridgetown Roti at Smorgasburg.
Aunt Vie’s cod fish cakes from Bridgetown Roti at Smorgasburg.
Cathy Chaplin

The editors of Eater LA dine out several times a week, if not per day, which means we’re always encountering standout dishes that deserve time in the limelight. Here’s the very best of everything the team has eaten recently.


September 20, 2021

Dover sole at Tatel in Beverly Hills

Dover sole at Tatel in Beverly Hills.
Dover sole at Tatel in Beverly Hills.
Farley Elliott

Almost nothing is surprising about the Beverly Hills dining scene anymore. The standalone city has seen opening after opening in the past several months (and with more to come), though few are as hotly anticipated as Tatel, the Spanish export backed by a cabal of celebrities. The Canon Drive newcomer is currently underway just steps from big-money spots like Wally’s and Il Pastaio, but is ready to hold its own on the culinary front thanks specifically to chef Luigi Fineo, who has been brought on by the group to run the kitchen. Fineo has been up and down California for years, cooking at a Michelin level (La Botte in Santa Monica, the French Laundry, etc.) across restaurants without compromising his Italian roots. At Tatel, Fineo makes food that’s much better than the scene may suggest, including whole grilled Dover sole deboned tableside and a single rich raviolo with brown butter and just the right amount of Spanish ham. This is upscale eating that is simultaneously fun, colorful, and energetic, a hard match to mix along such a cutthroat stretch of Canon. Pair Fineo’s cooking with the celebrity scene and wealth of Beverly Hills, and it’s easy to bet that Tatel sticks around for a while. 453 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills. — Farley Elliott

Birria de res at Birrieria Gomez in Lennox

Birria de res at Birrieria Gomez in Lennox.
Birria de res at Birrieria Gomez in Lennox.
Matthew Kang

Finding a quick place to eat near LAX is often a decision between some major fast-food chain or the always-busy In-N-Out. But those willing to search for birria de res will be pleasantly delighted by Birrieria Gomez, a truck sitting literally under the landing flightpath of planes. It’s a loud place, but the truck cooks up fantastic birria de res (Tijuana-style stewed beef), with a rich red sauce and ultra-spicy salsa. For a few bucks, travelers going in or out of the busy international airport can get a trademark LA dish with the blaring jet engines above. Parking is a bit of a tough job around here, so make sure you allocate time for that. And remember to bring cash. 10670 South La Cienega Boulevard, Lennox. —Matthew Kang

Caribbean cooking from Bridgetown Roti at Smorgasburg

Caribbean cooking from Bridgetown Roti at Smorgasburg.
Caribbean cooking from Bridgetown Roti at Smorgasburg.
Cathy Chaplin

I hemmed and hawed for a solid 20 minutes trying to decide which dish on chef Rashida Holmes’s menu at Bridgetown Roti merited a nod for this week’s feature. Aunt Vie’s cod fish cakes, perfectly crisp-golden and served with a dainty dollop of garlic aioli, were a worthy contender. But so was the patty filled with rich and savory oxtail that I deeply regretted not buying another for later. The roti filled with smoked goat shoulder had me fighting for bites with my fellow goat-loving dining companion. And the doubles — thank goodness there were two of them — puffy boats filled with expertly spiced chickpeas that properly filled us up and set our mouths afire. It’s impossible to play favorites with a menu so seriously stacked and skillfully prepared. Go to Bridgetown Roti and order it all. 777 South Alameda Street, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

Lebanese-French-style rotisserie chicken at Ojai Rotie in Ojai

Lebanese-French-style rotisserie chicken at Ojai Rotie in Ojai.
Lebanese-French-style rotisserie chicken at Ojai Rotie in Ojai.
Matthew Kang

The expansive, shaded confines of Ojai Rotie are probably the best place to be in this charming town tucked into the mountains northeast of Ventura during a heatwave. The Lebanese rotisserie chicken is about as delicious as one could expect, with crusted seasoning and a dark, well-developed flavor on the skin. The roasted potatoes and roughly-chopped tabouleh were spectacular too. My only knock against Ojai Rotie is that the prices are high, so expect to pay about $35 a person for a modest amount of chicken and sides without alcohol. The quality is certainly there for that price, but just be aware of the premium. 469 East Ojai Avenue, Ojai. —Matthew Kang

Salmon belly sushi at Sushi Gen in Little Tokyo

If you are unaware, Los Angeles has it going on with sushi. LA’s unquestionable supremacy of sushi, sashimi, and rolls can be experienced far and wide, but a clear frontrunner is Little Tokyo’s Sushi Gen. This star restaurant opened in 1980 and it’s hard to find someone to disagree that the quality of fish and skill is high. Whether nabbing the tempura, chirashi, or teriyaki dinners, always get a combination platter to see how incredible Sushi Gen is, with the wonderfully fatty salmon belly, yellowtail, or any of your favorites. There is no fuss, they just focus on making perfect cuts and beautiful presentation. Even though it’s takeout-only for now, get a giant platter to share with friends and head to Honda Plaza’s properly spaced outdoor patio to enjoy the wonder that is Sushi Gen. 422 E Second Street, Little Tokyo. —Mona Holmes


September 13, 2021

Oxtails at Ozi’s Kitchen in Pico-Union

Oxtails at Ozi’s Kitchen in Pico-Union.
Oxtails at Ozi’s Kitchen in Pico-Union.
Farley Elliott

Mark down another success story to emerge from the ongoing pandemic. Ozi’s Kitchen, formerly a delivery-only pop-up offering Jamaican staples across the city, has turned on the lights at a brand new and permanent home in Pico-Union, just west of Downtown. The small corner shop holds just enough room for a few tables inside, some shaded stools outside, and all of chef Ozi Brown’s vision. Swing through any time for patties, chicken curry, and especially a plate of Brown’s oxtails; rich and soft, they pull away easily from bone and go down well with plantains and a scoop of rice. Better still, Brown uses halal meats and offers vegetarian and vegan options for many of his items, served either a la carte or as plates. LA has no shortage of Jamaican food options to choose from, but few have the hero backstory that Ozi’s Kitchen can claim. 1403 West 11th Street, Pico-Union. —Farley Elliott

Umami onion rings at Ardor in West Hollywood

Umami onion rings at Ardor in West Hollywood.
Umami onion rings at Ardor in West Hollywood.
Cathy Chaplin

Chef John Fraser’s gorgeous West Hollywood restaurant will make you feel glamorous the second you walk in the door. We sat on the edge of the lush plant-filled patio that makes you feel like a voyeur overseeing the elegantly dressed crowd. While engaging in the immensely satisfying practice of people watching, immediately order the Manhattan and umami onion rings. When onion rings are made by fast-food restaurants, they’re delicious. But with Fraser’s skill, they are a must-eat. They check all the requirements for a perfect onion ring. Post-bite, the onion remains intact. The rings are not remotely oily. And as a bonus, the proprietary umami powder makes Ardor’s side dish into one I will return for, even if sitting at the bar for a drink along with the soft, comforting milk bread layered with beefsteak tomatoes. 9040 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood. —Mona Holmes

Pozole verde at Tamales Elena Y Antijitos in Bell Gardens

Pozole verde at Tamales Elena Y Antijitos in Bell Gardens.
Pozole verde at Tamales Elena Y Antijitos in Bell Gardens.
Cathy Chaplin

For those who think that soup is for cold weather only, please consider the supremely delicious pozole verde served at Tamales Elena Y Antijitos in Bell Gardens. Made by Maria Elena Lorenzo and served all days of the week, the soup is simmered with tender shredded pork and hominy, and comes topped with all that’s good in this world — avocado, onions, radishes, cabbage, pickled jalapenos, and softened cheese. A baggie filled with tostadas and pork rinds are served on the side to add some crunch, a little bit at a time. The soup hits every soulful note and is bright and light enough for every season, warm or cold. A taco or tamale makes for an ideal accompaniment. 8101 Garfield Avenue, Bell Gardens. —Cathy Chaplin

Grilled dry-aged branzino at Etta in Culver City

Grilled dry-aged branzino at Etta in Culver City.
Grilled dry-aged branzino at Etta in Culver City.
Matthew Kang

Is it just me or is grilled branzino the new roasted Jidori chicken of Los Angeles? A somewhat healthy protein that’s relatively easy to procure and sports wide appeal on menus, branzino seems to be on every modern LA menu that has any whiff of Mediterranean in it. I’m not complaining at all because I love branzino. And the tender fish is even better when it’s been dry-aged for a few days thanks to the Joint Seafood in the Valley, which supplies the flavorful product to Etta in Culver City. Etta has already managed to be one of the busiest restaurants in town, with a sizable dining room and wide outdoor patio that’s really friendly to dogs (seriously, they have a branded hanker-chief for your pup). The menu has plenty of highlights, from the cassarecce bolognese to the fire-licked green beans, but this dry-aged branzino is the winner. Nicely browned skin basted with a lemony caper sauce gives way to flaky white flesh that exudes an extra punch of umami thanks to the aging. My first impression is that Etta has a little bit of that Bestia vibe about it, with a high energy dining room and flavor-packed food. But now I’m thinking, Etta stands on its own as the paragon of a California-Italian restaurant in 2021. 8801 Washington Boulevard, Culver City. —Matthew Kang


September 7, 2021

Dry-aged raw salmon at Holy Basil in Downtown

Thai dishes from Holy Basil in Downtown LA.
Dry-aged raw salmon at Holy Basil in Downtown.
Matthew Kang/Eater LA

The dry-aged salmon ceviche is so delicious that it really has no place being served in a thin paper bowl atop fresh Chinese celery, scallions, onions, and fish sauce. The steelhead salmon just melts in the mouth with a long finish of buttery fish, contrasted with the crunch and crisp of the accoutrements. It’s not cheap here at $18, but served in a full-service restaurant in a different part of the city, the dish could easy go for twice that. Diners benefit from the unassuming location of Holy Basil, placed into a not-completed food hall in Downtown. The chicken curry special, tom yum goong, pad kee mao, and green curry are among the best examples of such dishes that I’ve tasted in LA in recent memory. In fact, based on the early sampling, Holy Basil could very well be the best new Thai restaurant to open in the city since Luv2eat Thai Bistro. 718 South Los Angeles Street, Suite A, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

Lemon garlic chicken at Jerusalem Chicken in View Park-Windsor Hills

Lemon garlic chicken at Jerusalem Chicken in View Park-Windsor Hills.
Lemon garlic chicken at Jerusalem Chicken in View Park-Windsor Hills.
Mona Holmes

Let’s make a bet. Drive to the corner of Slauson and Overhill and figure out what you want to eat — whether it’s a dish from the iconic Simply Wholesome, a sticky-sweet New Orleans-style sno-ball, or something from the newish spot from the family who owns Orleans & York. All are solid picks, but Jerusalem Chicken is where to go when a combination platter of Palestinian chicken calls you. The serving sizes are huge, and hummus creamy with wonderful flavor. But if you truly want a punch in the taste buds, get the lemon garlic chicken. Be warned, it is full flavored — savory, pungent, and so incredibly juicy. The bed of rice absorbs plenty of the sauce as well. They can have you in and out of there within minutes, but if you have the time, sit down at one of the outdoor tables and watch the busy View Park corner pass you by. 4448 West Slauson, View Park-Windsor Hills. —Mona Holmes

Loaded baked potato dumplings at Agnes in Pasadena

Loaded baked potato dumplings at Agnes in Pasadena.
Loaded baked potato dumplings at Agnes in Pasadena.
Cathy Chaplin

Whether you’re seated in the main dining room with views of the wood-burning hearth or in the idyllic patio out back (or even in one of the cozy nooks in the cheesery), get a table at Agnes to taste some of the most creative cooking in Pasadena. A feast last Saturday night included an arugula salad topped with duck pastrami, chicken liver mousse fancily piped atop cornbread eclairs, a suped-up take on a Choco Taco, and best of all — a deconstructed baked potato masquerading as a pasta dish. The loaded baked potato dumplings brings together classic toppings like broccoli, cheddar, and bacon, and presents them in a fun and delicious new light. The delicate dumplings make for an ideal canvas, while a flourish of shoe string potatoes adds crunch and flair. 40 West Green Street, Pasadena. —Cathy Chaplin

Roasted butterflied prawns at Amalfi in Caesars Palace Las Vegas

Roasted butterflied prawns from Amalfi in Caesars Palace.
Roasted butterflied prawns from Amalfi in Caesars Palace.
Matthew Kang

Food Network chef Bobby Flay has reformatted the Mesa Grill space inside Caesars Palace into a more contemporary coastal Italian restaurant that would’ve made sense somewhere in LA’s Westside back in 2018, when the genre was all the rage. Here in Vegas, seafood always seems to be a solid bet (despite its location nowhere near the ocean). Amalfi has familiar elements of places like Milos and Avra, with a ‘market’ boasting freshly caught fish from around the world, like branzino, John Dory, and turbot. The butterflied prawns on the appetizer section really spoke to us, roasted to a nice, deep flavor and laced with tangy gremolata and crunchy bread crumbs. It’s probably the most delicious thing on the menu, fish included, though don’t sleep on the pastas. The zucchini spaghetti with shishito was an unexpected delight. 3570 South Las Vegas Boulevard, Caesars Palace. —Matthew Kang

Vegetable curry medley jalfrezi at All India Cafe in Pasadena

You know what’s perfect after a long holiday weekend? Absolutely nothing. Well, doing nothing, that is — or more specifically, ordering takeout because all you feel like doing is laying on your couch pressing buttons on the remote. Thankfully LA’s takeout scene (even before the pandemic, but especially so now) is robust and delicious, with options at every price point and cuisine imaginable. A personal favorite of late has been to pick up way too much great food from All India Cafe in Pasadena, rotating on a whim between the chicken curry of the day to the lamb biryani, with plenty of sides and other snackable items thrown in for good measure. For one singular dish that really packs in the flavor, opt for the vegetable curry medley jalfrezi with chicken or paneer (or tofu for the vegans), and don’t forget to pick up some dessert on the way home, too. It’s couch time after all. 39 South Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena. — Farley Elliott


August 30, 2021

Muffuletta at Bread Head in Beverly Hills

Muffuletta at Bread Head in Beverly Hills.
Muffuletta at Bread Head in Beverly Hills.
Farley Elliott

Just about everyone got busy making sourdough and focaccia during the height of the 2020 pandemic, but nobody was making the kind of stuff that Alex Williams and Jordan Snyder are putting out now. The former Trois Mec alums have turned focaccia into a vehicle for big, satisfying sandwiches served as part of a pop-up in Beverly Hills. It’s a limited-time affair for now, but fans are queueing up for bites of house-made roast beef, chicken salad, and lots of stracchino. The muffuletta with salami, mortadella, and lots of olives is a fan favorite, and for good reason. Though not quite pressed like the New Orleans original, this take carries the same density of flavor, making each bite a star. Most folks would be fine with a half sandwich, but the real stars know to spring for a whole. 9909 South Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Hills. — Farley Elliott

Guadalupe breakfast taco at Home State in Pasadena

An array of tacos from Home State.
Guadalupe breakfast taco at Home State in Pasadena.
Wonho Frank Lee

The closing of bakery-slash-cafe Lincoln in Pasadena was one of the pandemic’s harsher hits for me, so it took a while to muster up the enthusiasm to try its replacement Home State — a local Tex-Mex chain with nearly half a dozen locations scattered throughout the Southland. I finally came in on Friday evening and couldn’t get over how lovely it all was. The space exuded a fresh vibe complete with a bustling kitchen, tables filled with chatty neighbors, and the festive whir of the frozen cocktail machines. We placed our order up front and grabbed a seat on the shaded patio. Though it was well into dinner time, the taco filled with softly scrambled eggs, chorizo crumbles, and cheddar tucked inside a flour tortilla fit my mood just right. Enjoyed with a spicy paloma on the rocks, all while taking in the new scene, made for a fantastic start to the weekend. 1992 Lincoln Avenue, Pasadena. —Cathy Chaplin

Dry-aged beef tartare tostada at Little Prince in Santa Monica

Dry-aged beef tartare tostada at Little Prince in Santa Monica.
Dry-aged beef tartare tostada at Little Prince in Santa Monica.
Little Prince

At some point during the pandemic, Santa Monica’s not-so-hidden gem Little Prince transitioned to a bottle shop and market — the Providore — serving the neighborhood and other local fans; in July, the restaurant finally reopened with dinner and Sunday brunch. I only made it out last Friday, for an impromptu date night after a long week (did I mention Little Prince puts a high focus on its wines?). Although there was a slew of standout dishes — a bed of heirloom bean stew with fatty bacon and an unexpected peanut crunch, glistening bone marrow brioche served with wildly airy marrow mousse, crispy duck leg confit in a hazelnut hoisin sauce with cucumber and herb salad — I was most partial to the dry-aged beef tartare tostada, which was brighter and more spiced than the usual tartare-and-bread renditions you find at steakhouses. This version, flecked with Sichuan pepper and chile de arbol, mixed with egg yolk and tangy salsa, was the best two-bites of tartare I’ve had — the tostada the perfect vehicle for crunchy, meaty bites. 2424 Main Street, Santa Monica. —Nicole Adlman

Po’ boy at Darrow’s New Orleans Grill in Carson

Bayou classic po’ boy at Darrow’s New Orleans Grill in Carson.
Bayou classic po’ boy at Darrow’s New Orleans Grill in Carson.
Farley Elliott

It’s a difficult moment for many in America now, from wildfires and rains to raging Hurricane Ida that began to pummel Louisiana on the 16th anniversary of Katrina. New Orleans is a resilient, vibrant, and heartwarming city, evidenced in part by the number of offshoot New Orleans-inspired restaurants that exist across the country. Among the better options locally is Darrow’s New Orleans Grill in Carson. Formerly Uncle Darrow’s further north, owner Norwood Clark, Jr. lost his business and relocated (with a slightly new name) to a newer development 21720 S. Avalon Boulevard, while still keeping some of his regulars and all of his and his team’s passion. Inside, find a hardworking crew turning out everything from jambalaya and gumbo to frozen cocktails and, yes, po’ boys. The simple double-seafood option known as the Bayou Classic is, well, just that; a timeless mix of oysters and shrimp, cornmeal dusted and fried and best served with lots of crunchy lettuce and plenty of thin, vinegary hot sauce. This is the sort of sandwich that immediately reengages any eater with the flavors and feeling of New Orleans, one of America’s great culinary capitals. Click here to help support Hurricane Ida relief efforts along the Gulf. 21720 South Avalon Boulevard, Carson. — Farley Elliot


August 23, 2021

Brisket, smoked turkey, and more at Moo’s Craft Barbecue in Lincoln Heights

Brisket, smoked turkey, and more at Moo’s Craft Barbecue in Lincoln Heights.
Brisket, smoked turkey, and more at Moo’s Craft Barbecue in Lincoln Heights
Matthew Kang

Moo’s Craft Barbecue had one mission: to bring the excellence of Texas barbecue to Los Angeles. And based on my experience eating through Central Texas’s barbecue destinations, I can say with confidence that Moo’s has absolutely succeeded. The meats here exude the moist, juicy barbecue imbued with deep smoke flavor that one would expect in Texas’s Hill Country and beyond. The bark on the brisket had a dark, peppery bite while the sausages were packed with well-ground meat. The sides are also terrific, from the dense chili and crisp coleslaw to the esquites that would one would expect to see on a menu in LA. I’m somewhat surprised Moo’s doesn’t get hours long lines every day, and it just might get those queues in due time. But until that sort of hype arrives, it’s not too difficult to place a pre-order and grab your barbecue within minutes. 2118 North Broadway, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

Fried bean jelly at Noodle Art in Monterey Park

Fried bean jelly at Noodle Art in Monterey Park.
Fried bean jelly at Noodle Art in Monterey Park
Cathy Chaplin

A Xianese restaurant called Noodle Art recently opened in one of Monterey Park’s oldest shopping complexes, and I couldn’t resist heading in for lunch just as soon as I could. The cuisine of Xi’an, with its embrace of breads, noodles, cumin, and mutton, is one of my favorite regional traditions. Beyond the usual cold noodles, “burgers,” and paomo (flatbread and mutton soup), Noodle Art is serving a few dishes rarely found in the San Gabriel Valley, including fried bean jelly. The dish brings together translucent cubes of mung bean starch with savory and spicy aromatics in a searing-hot wok. The result is a bouncy, supple heap of goodness that’s familiar and novel all at once. 117 North Lincoln Avenue, Monterey Park. —Cathy Chaplin

MOS Burger at Ototo in Echo Park

MOS Burger at Ototo in Echo Park.
MOS Burger at Ototo in Echo Park
Farley Elliott

It’s a beautiful thing, sitting inside at Ototo in Echo Park as the sake flows and the conversation swirls around you. The casual Japanese restaurant has a vitality that feels all the more important now, 16-or-so months into an ongoing global pandemic; frankly, it’s the kind of place that fills your cup with life, each sip a reminder of just how special eating at a restaurant can be. One of the menu’s many stars (beyond the sake, that is) is the MOS Burger, a chili-topped beef and shredded lettuce bomb that has had its own journey over the years, crossing from Los Angeles to Japan and back again. This ode to an ode to the famous LA chili cheeseburger is so beloved by Ototo’s regulars that it basically can’t come off the menu for fear of an uproar — just to give you a sense of how personal people take this place. In every corner, at every bar stool, and with every bite, Ototo reminds LA of what is possible when flavor, passion, dedication, endurance, and fun come together in a restaurant. The burger, ultimately, is over in just a handful of bites; the feeling Ototo gives you sticks around for much longer. 1360 Allison Avenue, Echo Park. — Farley Elliott

Sweet and savory waffles at Hidden Kitchen in Cambria

Sweet and savory waffles at Hidden Kitchen in Cambria.
Sweet and savory waffles at Hidden Kitchen in Cambria
Nicole Adlman

A weekend spent on California’s Central Coast calls for some ritualistic stops — always La Super-Rica for molten queso de cazuela and corn tortillas, always Bell’s in Los Alamos for good wine and dishes like whipped chicken liver mousse encased in a layer of crackling-flavored fat. But on a recent birthday trip, we crawled up to the coastal town of Cambria, where I found an appropriately named hidden kitchen — the restaurant is actually called Hidden Kitchen — just off Cambria’s Main Street. Here, you’ll find stone-ground blue corn waffles prepared in sweet or savory ways (everything on the menu is also gluten-free). I tried the special of the day, a “Street Waffle” with crispy carnitas, a mound of guacamole, fresh tomatillo salsa, and spicy aioli, which brought out the earthiness of the waffle’s blue corn base; my partner got a Monte Cristo, which balanced the savory corn flavor by way of bright strawberry jam and maple syrup (poured on top of seared ham and havarti cheese fried on the grill-top). The menu focuses on organic produce, grass-fed meats, and of course that unique blue corn waffle base (which itself is firmer than a regular waffle, but still light as the foundation to Hidden Kitchen’s many variations). 2164 Center Street, Cambria. —Nicole Adlman

Gazpacho a la El Bulli at Loquita in Santa Barbara

Loquita, a deeply chic Spanish restaurant converging at the corner of State Street and East Yanonali in Santa Barbara, served as the foundational first night of my recent Central Coast adventure and left a lasting impression with its gazpacho a la El Bulli, a riff on the famous El Bulli liquid olive but actually a spherified heirloom tomato gazpacho. The bite bursts in your mouth like an overfilled water balloon, a literal flavor splash showcasing the best that late summer tomatoes have to offer. In other things that melt in your mouth: the croquetas de queso, a shaggy fritter encasing bubbling, melted cheese and topped with pimentón aioli and sweet corn, and the carpaccio de carne — made into something somewhat new with an unexpected (and super-bright) mustard seed and sherry vinegar dressing. 202 State Street, Santa Barbara. —Nicole Adlman


August 16, 2021

Creme brulee latte at Earth Bean Coffee in Downtown

Creme brulee latte at Earth Bean Coffee in Downtown.
Creme brulee latte at Earth Bean Coffee in Downtown
Mona Holmes

Shopping in Santee Alley, the Flower Mart, or the Fashion District is a rite of passage for any LA resident. Everyone needs swaths of material, bunches of flowers, and reasonably priced jeans to pair with life in Los Angeles. Before making that sometimes overwhelming step into crowded marketplaces for a bargain or unique item, get caffeinated at Earth Bean Coffee on the edge of Santee Alley. Owners Joan and David Leclerc opened this quiet spot two years ago with lovely pastries and a coffee menu that includes superfood boosters like anti-inflammatory ingredients or shots of matcha. For those of us craving a coffee-energized boost with tons of sugar, try the creme brulee latte. It’s already chock full of two espresso shots, but David layers the foam with crystalized sugar and a blow torch to make something that teeters on dessert and coffee. You’ll need a spoon to break the crust along with ample time to come down from the ingredients but that’s what shopping is for. Open weekdays only. 1040 South Los Angeles Street, Downtown. —Mona Holmes

Wagyu short rib at Mun Korean Steakhouse in Koreatown

Wagyu short rib at Mun Korean Steakhouse in Koreatown.
Wagyu short rib at Mun Korean Steakhouse in Koreatown
Matthew Kang

There’s clearly a surge in high-end Korean barbecue places in Koreatown right now. Daedo might have the complete package of interior design and elemental menu, but Mun is a dark horse contender for the top new spot. The raucous, club-like interior with loud music gives the place a more convivial atmosphere, while a set $55 per person menu gives diners a great survey of what Korean barbecue could be in 2021. The wagyu cuts in particular are tender and flavorful, getting direct sear from the open grate grill. The wagyu short rib has the intensely beefy goodness of American wagyu but the rich, fatty tenderness of the Japanese-origin cow. The steak-like chunks are an homage to Cote in New York City, which may have originated this shape in the U.S. Banchan and sides are fantastic too, from the japchae to the complex kimchi jjigae. 3519 West 6th Street Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

Oxtails and jerk chicken at Barrington’s Jamaican Kitchen in Bakersfield

Oxtails and jerk chicken at Barrington’s Jamaican Kitchen in Bakersfield.
Oxtails and jerk chicken at Barrington’s Jamaican Kitchen in Bakersfield
Farley Elliott

Between the historic Basque restaurants, the enduring Italian destinations, and the many taquerias, it can seem at times like Bakersfield is a bastion of sameness — especially once the chain restaurants are thrown in. But the city’s thriving Indian food scene, it’s longstanding Chinese restaurants, its many vegan upstarts, and its barbecue backbone make the Kern County city a force all its own, and now there’s even a top-tier Jamaican restaurant to know about in Barrington’s Jamaican Kitchen. The small takeaway (which even has its own drive-thru) on Ming Avenue focuses on jerk chicken, weekend oxtails, and other staple Jamaican flavors, and is one of the better quick stops if passing through on the 99. Make way for Bakersfield’s food scene — and Bakersfield, make way for Barrington’s. 4120 Ming Avenue, Bakersfield. —Farley Elliott

Special pan-fried rolls at the Congee in Alhambra

Special pan-fried rolls at the Congee in Alhambra.
Special pan-fried rolls at the Congee in Alhambra
Cathy Chaplin

I came to the Congee for the namesake dish (the bowl with pork and preserved egg is excellent, as is the one with silken chicken and Maggi), but all I could think about after leaving the restaurant was the pan-fried cheong fun. The Congee serves two versions of this Cantonese specialty — one ladled with stewed beef hunks and tendons and a simpler take that is cooked in a wok with a thick soy sauce. The tender rice rolls arrive tightly coiled and deeply caramelized, with the breath of the wok imparting its unmistakable sear and flavor onto every bite. A few lashes of the tableside XO sauce available on the condiment caddy dialed up the dish’s umami factor to an 11. 19 Valley Boulevard, Alhambra. —Cathy Chaplin


August 2, 2021

Mushroom pizza at Grá in Historic Filipinotown

Mushroom pizza at Grá in Historic Filipinotown.
Mushroom pizza at Grá in Historic Filipinotown
Matthew Kang

The blistered, naturally fermented pizzas at Grá in Historic Filipinotown have just the right air of sophistication to them. Recently, I tried the mushroom pizza, covered with wonderful oyster and crimini mushrooms, porcini cream, and aged gouda before getting a whiff of truffle oil to emphasize the earthy, aromatic fungi. The crust at Gra is superb for the style, though I’ve personally been gravitating toward crispier New York City pies of late. Still, the effort at the very chic Grá, with superb service, is worth checking out for pizza fans. 1524 Pizarro Street, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

Cornmeal mochi pancake at Yang’s Kitchen in Alhambra

Cornmeal mochi pancake at Yang’s Kitchen in Alhambra.
Cornmeal mochi pancake at Yang’s Kitchen in Alhambra
Cathy Chaplin

Even though Yang’s Kitchen in Alhambra is no longer serving the Taiwanese fare that initially attracted lines out the door, the restaurant’s slew of new offerings is truly just as memorable. There’s much to love on the updated menu — from the chilled silken tofu with avocado and ikura to the stupendously crispy smoked salmon hash and the glossy fried chicken wings. And while the aforementioned dishes wowed on a recent midday meal, it was the deceptively simple cornmeal mochi pancake that my fork kept coming back to. Rich, crispy-edged, and thinner than most, the crepe-like pancake came topped with whipped cream and fresh blueberries. The sweetened condensed milk served on the side was just gravy — the pancake was superb on its own. The batter 112 West Main Street, Alhambra. —Cathy Chaplin

All grilled everything at San Juan Capistrano’s Hearth dinners

All grilled everything at San Juan Capistrano’s Hearth dinners.
All grilled everything at San Juan Capistrano’s Hearth dinners
Farley Elliott

The Ecology Center is a 28-acre working organic agricultural patch set in the heart of San Juan Capistrano in Orange County. The land doubles as a farm stand, education center, and (for now) dinnertime destination all its own, thanks to a new series of chef-in-residence dinners by Texan Tim Byres, who won a James Beard Foundation award in 2014 for his Dallas restaurant Smoke. Byres is handy with a flame, as evidenced by the vertical grill station he had built at The Ecology Center for the weekend ticketed dinners, turning out slow-smoked vegetables, piping-hot queso in stone vessels, and seared fish and rabbit sausages over the course of a single evening. The dinners also include a walk through (and discussion of) the farm itself, along with nods to the ancestral Indigenous ties to the place, and a look forward at the group’s growing mission to feed children organic and locally-grown food, and to increase awareness and connectivity to the land. It’s a worthy mission, made all the more impactful for first-timers thanks to an all open-fire-cooked meal out under the stars. 32701 Alipaz Street, San Juan Capistrano. —Farley Elliott

Grilled chicken at Holy Shit This Is So Good pop-up

Grilled chicken at Holy Shit This Is So Good pop-up.
Grilled chicken at Holy Shit This Is So Good pop-up
Mona Holmes

It’s easy to find the Holy Shit This Is So Good pop-up in Highland Park. Just follow the smoke, or look for the massive barrel barbecue pit smokers set up right next to the 99 Cents Only Store on Figueroa and York. The family-run business keeps an easy menu with brisket or grilled chicken straight from the grill. The quarter plate comes with rice, beans, and jalapeno. Ask for a sliced hot link on the side for extra heat, but the salsas provide plenty of spice. Dip the chicken into the housemade sauce for less mess, but barbecue is never intended to be easy eating. You have to work hard to keep it neat, and this weekly pop-up’s food is worth every single messy bite. 6235 York Boulevard, Highland Park. —Mona Holmes

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