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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

A plate of mu shu pork at Broadway Cuisine in Chinatown with pancakes and hoisin sauce.
Mu shu pork at Broadway Cuisine in Chinatown.
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.


December 6, 2021

Ribeye steak at 71Above in Downtown

A table set against a thick pane of glass above a twinkling city.
Dining at 71Above in Downtown Los Angeles.
Wonho Frank Lee

Even on the hazy days, it’s good to dine at 71Above. The wraparound restaurant with its gilded touches and sky-high sightlines is a feat of engineering from the inside, and to all beyond its thick windows it remains a destination worthy of its praise, the kind of special place that feels like it could only exist in some of the world’s best cities. Chef Javier López and his team have weathered the weary world of the past two years to return this magical place to its proper pedestal, overlooking Downtown and (on most days) the ocean beyond. If you haven’t been to 71Above in a while, swing by for a drink and a reminder — or better yet, a steak from López and a seat at one of LA’s most unique tables. In LA, there’s really nothing else like it. 633 West 5th Street, Downtown. —Farley Elliott

Mu shu pork at Broadway Cuisine in Chinatown

A plate of mu shu pork at Broadway Cuisine in Chinatown with pancakes and hoisin sauce.
Mu shu pork at Broadway Cuisine in Chinatown.
Cathy Chaplin

I wrote about Broadway Cuisine taking over the Plum Tree Inn space in Chinatown a few months back but didn’t get a chance to experience the restaurant’s plush red booths, peruse its winding 200-item menu, and taste some good ol’ Chinese-American cooking until recently. There was something wonderfully familiar, comforting even, about lunching on generous platters of mu shu pork and orange chicken heaped atop steamed white rice. While the orange chicken — fried to a crisp and stickily sauced with bits of real orange peel — genuinely satisfied, it was the mu shu pork wrapped in delicate pancakes with hoisin sauce that silenced the dining room’s din and turned me into a puddle of nostalgic mush. 913 North Broadway, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

Côte de porc at Horses in Hollywood

Côte de porc with roasted sweet potatoes and spigarello at Horses.
Côte de porc with roasted sweet potatoes and spigarello at Horses.
Matthew Kang

The brilliant fennel-crusted côte de porc was probably the favorite dish of the night at this ultra-popular Hollywood opening. The menu reminds me a lot of the sort of British-style modern bistros, leaning on robust, well-executed flavors without fuss. Co-chefs Liz Johnson and Will Aghajanian have crafted a seasonal, delicious menu with dishes that speak for themselves in plain honesty in their simplicity and sourcing. The vinegar-laced sauteed spigarello provided a punchy, bright vegetable to the crunchy, well-cooked pork chop that retained a lot of its juicy sweetness. Winter-appropriate roasted sweet potatoes rounded out this spectacular entree. Horses is only two months into its opening, but it’s already LA’s most desirable restaurant table. 7617 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

Plant-based wild west burger at Chicana in Fullerton

Plant-based wild west burger at Chicana in Fullerton.
Plant-based wild west burger at Chicana in Fullerton.
Chicana

Some of the region’s best plant-based food is found in Fullerton, right on the main stretch of Commonwealth Avenue. Inside of Chicana — formerly called Chicana Vegana — is a bright, neon-filled, and fun place to grab a bite. And while plenty of the menu skews mostly Mexican, the burgers shouldn’t be missed. Owner Jasmine Hernandez’s extensive plant-based burger menu has something that’ll appeal to anyone, whether a classic cheeseburger, a take on the patty melt, or the fiery ‘hotty’ with a jalapeño and habanero aioli. For today’s purposes, let’s talk about Chicana’s wild west option. She keeps Impossible and Beyond Meat patties on-site for preference, and the wild west burger comes with a melted slice of American vegan cheese, a wonderfully salty and slightly sweet barbecue sauce, outstanding onion rings, and bacon that isn’t necessarily the consistency of the animal variety, but full of smoky flavor that completes the dish. In all, it’s simply a solid burger with a side of long crispy fries. Horchata is my drink of choice here, but the kitchen is always experimenting with something new, including classic milkshakes without a drop of dairy. 113 East Commonwealth Avenue, Fullerton. —Mona Holmes


November 29, 2021

Norwegian mackerel with oiji and perilla oil at Kinn in Koreatown

A plate of fish with herbs on top from Kinn in Koreatown.
Norwegian mackerel with oiji and perilla oil at Kinn in Koreatown.
@scrumphsus

Ki Kim’s modern tasting menu restaurant Kinn opened earlier this month with an ambitious and innovative menu inspired by Korean flavors and informed by fine dining techniques. The dishes are as polished as one might expect from Trois Mec or Orsa and Winston, but through a Korean-American lens. This Norwegian mackerel gets a gentle sear to remind one of classic godeungeo gui, with the contrast of fermented pickle (oiji) and nutty perilla oil. A small bowl of rice comes on the side as a comforting carb. It’s a promising start for Kim, who did pop-ups throughout the past year but partnered with the team at Hanchic to form a new Koreatown-based restaurant group. Kinn still has a figure out if it wants to be a five-course tasting menu at a modest price point or if it might favor diners to pick among a tight set of a la carte dishes, but this mackerel is the standout so far. 3905 West 6th Street, Los Angeles.—Matthew Kang

Homemade Thanksgiving dinner

A plate of Thanksgiving dishes including mashed potatoes with gravy, turkey, and macaroni and cheese.
Homemade Thanksgiving dinner.
Mona Holmes

Once a year, my giddiness level goes up to 11 as I heap servings of turkey, mac and cheese, dressing, mashed potatoes, greens, and gravy all over the plate, which ultimately helps form the perfect series of bites on Thanksgiving Day. It helps that I am extremely lucky to have a family who cooks well, along with an experienced chef/cousin. It also helps that we all know each other’s preferences and loves for Thanksgiving Day — my uncle isn’t keen on mashed potatoes, my husband doesn’t eat meat. We’ve concocted this manner of making our most delicious dishes while sipping on cocktails, lounging on the couch, watching the Thanksgiving parade and an endless stream of football football games. Our family took over a spacious AirBnB, and we got down in the kitchen with those dishes and activities that make late November perfect. A packed plate with all of those things we only eat once a year surrounded by loved ones? I’ll take it. —Mona Holmes

Hun yuan cold jelly at Lao Xi Noodle in Arcadia

A bowl filled with thick cuboids made from potato starch with cucumbers and chile oil.
Hun yuan cold jelly at Lao Xi Noodle in Arcadia.
Cathy Chaplin

When Cindy’s Noodle Land in Arcadia closed earlier this year, Lao Xi Noodle opened in its place. Though the new owners kept the interior mostly the same, they switched up Cindy’s Xianese menu for one with hits from Shanxi. On a lunchtime visit, my dining companion and I tried a few of the restaurant’s specialties including cat ears swimming in a musky lamb broth, hand-pulled “wife’s special” noodles, and this fantastic hun yuan cold jelly — a bowlful of bouncy potato starch cuboids submerged in sesame paste, vinegar, and chile oil with a heap of julienned cucumbers. Given its spicy profile, the cold jelly was unexpectedly light and refreshing with an unforgettable vinegary bite. 921 South Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia. —Cathy Chaplin

Fish tacos at Taco Nazo in Bellflower

A takeout box filled with fish tacos from Taco Nazo.
Fish tacos at Taco Nazo in Bellflower.
Farley Elliott

If you (like many others in Southern California) have been traipsing around the freeways and side streets of the region lately, either for holiday get-togethers or just to escape your current neighborhood for a bit, then there’s a good chance you’ve passed a Taco Nazo. The decades-old fish taco pioneer has locations in Baldwin Park, La Puente, Bellflower, El Monte, and beyond, making it a perfect mid-trip meal for anyone on the go. At the Bellflower location in particular, there are actually two Taco Nazos, one a takeaway and another a sit-down indoor restaurant that comes complete with a bar. Both offer sturdy, crispy Ensenada-style fish and shrimp tacos with lots of slaw and salsa on the side. Don’t forget the squirt of lime, and don’t be afraid to add a bean and cheese burrito, either. 10326 Alondra Boulevard, Bellflower. — Farley Elliott


November 22, 2021

Red King ramen at Ramen Nagi in Century City

Spicy king ramen at Ramen Nagi.
Red king ramen at Ramen Nagi.
Matthew Kang/Eater LA

LA’s ramen scene has been simmering with solid quality, with the likes of curry-fied Menya Tigre and yuzu-tinted Afuri providing different perspectives than the already tonkotsu-laden scene. Enter Ramen Nagi, a Tokyo-based chain that first came to the U.S. market in Palo Alto and Santa Clara, drawing massive lines that go for upwards of an hour (I personally waited this long at the Palo Alto one on a chilly evening a few years ago). Nagi picked a fantastic corner location on the second floor of Century City’s Westfield mall and it’s already drawing queues.

The wait is worth it for an incredibly rich, unctuous bowl that trumps the fattiness of even Tsujita’s broth. The red king, topped with a blob of near-nuclear chili, was just short of too spicy for me. You get a choice of how the ramen is prepared, from the noodles to the saltiness of the broth. I ordered everything as chef’s choice, and it still might’ve been too heavy. But I loved the tender, thinly sliced chashu to the crisp toppings and even added some of the sprouts from the table for extra crunch. It’s likely ramen aficionados will debate Tsujita versus Nagi for the king of fatty pork broth in Los Angeles. To me, right now, the edge goes to Nagi. 10250 Santa Monica Boulevard, Ste. #2850, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

Dungeness crab with noodles at Oc and Lau 2 in Garden Grove

Oc and Lau’s crab with noodles on a square white platter.
Oc and Lau’s crab with noodles.
Matthew Kang/Eater LA

Sloppy, saucy crab is one of my favorite all-time dishes, something our family would enjoy on trips down the Newport Seafood when I was growing up. The Dungeness crab with noodles at Oc and Lau, a massive emporium of seafood delights in Garden Grove, was just as impressive, with its goopy, thick sauce with sweet-savory ginger flavors. Suck out the tender, sweet meat from the end of the claws then do your best to crack through to the leg meat. Fingers are an option, and so are teeth if you’re brave enough (I might be too old for that now). It’s best to ask a server for some crab crackers (though I wish the restaurant offered wet napkins). The noodles are delicious too, resembling something closer to linguine. The most difficult thing is trying to figure out which person on the table is going to get the last piece of crab. Thankfully, no one fought me for it. Note: Oc and Lau’s original location seems to be temporarily closed, so take note of which place you put into your GPS. 9892 Westminster Boulevard, Unit R, Garden Grove. —Matthew Kang

Pork neck ssam at Majordomo in Chinatown

Pork neck ssam with kimchi and butter lettuce at Majordomo.
Pork neck ssam with kimchi and butter lettuce at Majordomo.
Nicole Adlman/Eater LA

Call this the year of magical thinking about barbecue in Los Angeles — in 2021, our team fixated on the way the barbecue scene in Southern California continues to bend and reshape cultural and genre norms. So when I heard that Priedite Barbecue — the sometimes-stationary, sometimes-roving smoker operation that shares a lot with beloved French bistro Bell’s in Los Alamos — announced its pop-up at Majordomo in Chinatown, I had to make a pilgrimage.

Along with Nick Priedite’s barky, mind-numbingly tender Central Texas–style brisket, the Majordomo team put forth an assortment of smoked meats for its ssam (served with butter lettuce, shiso leaves, and thinly cut daikon) and ssamjang sauce, including pork belly, pork neck, and the restaurant’s short rib, the latter sliced from what looks like a Stegosaurus bone into thin sheets perfect for packing on the citrusy shiso. Paired with sides like stewed-down ham and beans, kimchi, escabeche, and mustard seed–flecked coleslaw, the pork neck, which took the longest to arrive to my table, was also the most satisfying bite — especially when topped with Majordomo’s classic ssamjang and a thick coil of kimchi. 1725 Naud Street, Los Angeles. —Nicole Adlman

Cookies at Nicole Rucker’s Fat + Flour in Downtown

It’s all about pies, pies, pies these days. Thanksgiving is on the horizon and everyone is pie-mad, which is good news for bakers who actually make pies (and people who love to eat pies) but it can really alter the usual baked goods ecosystem for everyone else. Pastry cases get slimmer as pies take up more room, and staff are allocated to work on pies instead of all the other goodies. Again, it’s all good news (if also hard work) for bakeries around Los Angeles this season. Still, for a change of pace on this holiday week, consider picking up something else, like a box of Nicole Rucker’s fantastic cookies from her Fat + Flour stand at Grand Central Market. The cookie menu rotates often, and there are brownies to throw in for good measure too, so there’s always something new to enjoy — plus, a box of Rucker cookies makes for a great holiday gift, and is much easier to serve to a group. Long live pie, sure, but don’t forget about a beautiful box of cookies too. 317 South Broadway, Downtown. —Farley Elliott

Salt and pepper wings at Cluck2Go in Pasadena

As someone who hails from Altadena, I’ve always had a soft spot for the eastern side of Pasadena. With so many hidden gems, it’s always possible to find something fantastic, easy, and considerably easier parking than in Old Town. With a craving for poached Hainan chicken, I entered Cluck2Go and changed my mind when looking at the menu. Less than 10 minutes later, I left with a box of eight salt and pepper wings (will be trying those sticky honey-garlic ones on the next visit). Owners Qi Yang and daughter Jenny Yang source their chicken locally from Wing Lee Farm in Chino, so this is incredibly fresh. The scent prompted me to take an immediate bite before getting home, and these wings maintain a firm crispiness with ample flavors throughout. The restaurant which is only blocks away from Pasadena City College, but if this location isn’t accessible, don’t fret. Simply head to the other two in Rowland Heights and Diamond Bar. 1771 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena. —Mona Holmes


November 15, 2021

Teba (wings) at Tenkatori on Sawtelle

A box full of gluten free fried chicken wings from Tenkatori in West LA.
Teba (wings) at Tenkatori on Sawtelle
Nicole Adlman

Tenkatori — a Japanese fried chicken chain with its original U.S. locations in Gardena and Costa Mesa — has arrived in Los Angeles’s Sawtelle Japantown, opening a storefront in October at the plaza that also houses Mochi Dochi and Nijiya Market. The specialties include chicken karaage (fat, juicy orbs of marinated thigh meat battered in potato starch and fried until golden), teba (wings), nankotsu (soft-bone cartilage), butsu-giri (bone-in breast cuts), sunagimo (gizzard), and gaburi momo or mune (whole-piece thigh or breast). I visited over the weekend on a fried chicken whim (the best kind of whim) and bought a sampling for my partner and me to share: the classic karaage with sweet and spicy and sweet and sour sauces, plus an order of sauceless wings. The karaage features dark meat that pops like a chicken fat–filled balloon in your mouth; the wings are similarly glistening on the inside, with a crispy exterior that holds up on the car-ride home.

Tenkatori’s potato starch batter comes with the fringe benefit that all the chicken is gluten-free except for those orders pre-spun in the shop’s sweet and spicy or sweet and sour sauces, which contain soy (oddly, the restaurant also advertises its disuse of MSG, even given the discourse of the last decade that problematizes the stereotypes associated with using it). As I discovered, a box of chicken here is best balanced with a side of potato salad, which is whipped, spiked with rice vinegar, and pocked with sliced cucumber and carrots. 2130 Sawtelle Boulevard, Suite 210B, Los Angeles. —Nicole Adlman

Warm medjool dates at Hatchet Hall in Culver City

A small pink dish filled with glistening dates sitting in a puddle of brown butter.
Warm medjool dates at Hatchet Hall in Culver City.
Cathy Chaplin

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I ordered the warm medjool dates at a recent dinner at Hatchet Hall. Soon after drinks arrived, a small pink dish filled with glistening dates was set on the table. Sprinkled with sea salt and sitting in a puddle of brown butter and vinegar, the sticky dates hit all the right sweet, savory, and rich notes, and tasted even better paired with a well-made Old Fashioned. The strong, no-nonsense cocktail reeled in the dates’ intrinsic sweetness, creating a harmonious balance that set the tone for the rest of the feast, which included two kinds of buttery bread, a crisp kale Caesar salad, grilled pork, and an Eton mess to finish. Hats off to my colleague Nicole Adlman for being a true Westside influencer. 12517 West Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

Sheep’s milk cheesecake (and everything else) at Horses in Hollywood

An artsy side shot of cheesecake and a reddish plum on a white plate.
Sheep’s milk cheesecake at Horses in Hollywood.
Wonho Frank Lee

Heaven help us if there’s a busier, more lively, more energetic restaurant than Horses on Sunset right now; the city may not survive that level of excitement. The pulse of Horses is palpable, from the narrow bar and original booths to the bright yellow four-tops in the main dining room, with views to the calm but focused kitchen. Even the food comes with a taste of speed, fast and flashy and built for this current LA moment, where decadence and casual flair meet perfectly in the middle on dishes like smoked salmon atop crispy lavash, a none-too-subtle nod to Spago, that other see-and-be-seen party space (with great food, make no mistake) from a generation ago. Sweep through Horses yourself sometime soon for a social pick-me-up and côte de porc, and the sheep’s milk cheesecake that manages to hit every table, every night — you’re going to want to feel the energy of this place. 7617 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood. — Farley Elliott


November 8, 20201

Trini macaroni pie at Patois in Toronto

A slice of casserole with cheese dripping on all sides.
Trini macaroni pie at Patois in Toronto.
Mona Holmes

It’s not hard to find good food in an incredible city like Toronto. It’s also a spot to discover something special — where restaurant mash-ups can create magic and just plain fun. In this case, Patois is the spot where chef Craig Wong combines Jamaican food with Chinese. Cocktail recommendations are filled with rum and coconut cream, while ordering an assembly of dishes to share. Whether the jerk pork belly yakisoba, the dirty fried rice, and of course, jerk chicken. But the Trini macaroni pie with a light dusting of scallions has me plotting to see if I can take some on my flight home. The pie has a consistency that’s ideal and covered with a cheese sauce that elevates this Caribbean favorite to new levels. Couple all of this with a fantastic playlist, a festive room, while watching a new bride and groom enter Patois to throw down a post-nuptial meal with guests, and you simply cannot beat it. 794 Dundas Street, West Toronto. —Mona Holmes

Korean street foods at Soon Hee Ga in Arcadia

Korean street foods including gimbap, tteokbokki, fishcake soup, and mung bean pancake on a wooden tabletop.
Korean street foods at Soon Hee Ga in Arcadia.
Cathy Chaplin

Lunch plans at Soon Hee Ga were devised as soon as I read Eddie Lin’s write-up on LA Taco. This Arcadia newcomer hails from South Korea and specializes in a variety of street foods including mung bean pancakes, gimbap, fish cake soup, and tteokbokki. The menu is slim enough to order one of everything, so dine with a friend or two and temporarily escape to Seoul’s Gwangjang Market. Plus, the array of dishes play well together when it comes to spice, flavor, and heft. The rice cakes pack the biggest punch, while the gimbap and fishcake soup are mellow enough for a six-year-old. The star of Soon Hee Ga is the crispy pancake — a hefty disc of garlic-laced mung beans, kimchi, and bean sprouts. Drizzle on the accompanying sauce and marvel in its texture and flavors. 1033 South Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia. —Cathy Chaplin

All the meats from Kang Ho-Dong Baekjeong

The outdoor grills are still firing fast at Baekjeong on 6th Street in Koreatown (as are the indoor ones), thanks to a tented back parking lot setup meant to keep the slight LA evening chill at bay. The restaurant, really, is as busy as ever these days, with friends turning meat and scoring sides of cheese corn and sipping soju until late into each night. It’s that camaraderie, that energy, that makes Baekjeong stand out amongst a crowded KBBQ field, and it was sorely missed for much of the pandemic — and it’s precisely that same feel that makes LA stand out as perhaps America’s best Korean food dining destination. For a sample of the smells and the flavor that make Koreatown so special, there are few places more perfect than Baekjeong. 3465 West 6th Street, Koreatown. —Farley Elliott


November 1, 2021

Slow-cooked chicken with radish kimchi at Varro in Venice

Two slabs of chicken with golden skin  garnished with mint leaves and a kimchi sauce.
Slow-cooked chicken with radish kimchi at Varro in Venice.
Matthew Kang

Varro in Venice managed to open without much fanfare in the former Zinqué space on the eastern end of Abbot Kinney. The very sleek dining room has everything a restaurant needs, from a generous outdoor dining area to a fantastic wine list full of natural and obscure picks that would delight oenophiles. The menu, however, aims for less appeal for the sake of innovation and flavor. While Varro is supposed to be Argentine in influence, a lot of Angelenos won’t understand what chef Leo Lanussol, who opened Proper in Bueno Aires (a Latin America 50 Best Restaurant), is really going for (myself included). The results are mostly vegetable-oriented, cerebral dishes that defy context except that cooking methods are both primal and modern. A koji-marinated roast chicken gains a gentle smoke flavor from the indirect heat of the wood-fired stove, then gets placed over radish kimchi slices that even a Korean grandmother would endorse. The tangy fermenting liquid, packed with deliciousness, counters the umami-rich, juicy chicken. Again, Varro has been under the radar, and perhaps its menu doesn’t appeal to a wide swath of diners on paper, but once you take a few bites, it’s easy to understand. 600 Venice Boulevard, Venice. —Matthew Kang

Mixed doner at Ikram Grill in Fountain Valley

A sandwich stuffed with meat and drizzled with white sauce. The bread is a golden pita sliced in half.
Mixed doner at Ikram Grill in Fountain Valley.
[Official Photo]

It’s hard to look at the sandwiches and wraps that parade around Ikram Grill’s Instagram page and not want to transport yourself to the Fountain Valley restaurant immediately. Thick slices of doner shawarma meat (beef or chicken), stuffed into a bread of choice and slathered with sauce and veggies; it’s ideal food for many, and the images make it easy to understand why there’s always a crowd at this strip mall destination near the freeway. There are loaded fries too, for those who choose a different path, plus platters, falafel wraps, and Turkish kadaif shredded phyllo for dessert. But for the best case scenario, the one that’s going to have your friend ready to hop in a car after you post your own pic? For that photo, it’s all about the doner. 9895 Warner Avenue, Fountain Valley. — Farley Elliott

Cornbread at Hatchet Hall in Culver City

Cornbread at Hatchet Hall in Culver City on a plate with a huge melted slab of butter.
Cornbread at Hatchet Hall in Culver City.
[Official Photo]

For some inexplicable reason, I had not been back to Hatchet Hall since before the pandemic (even though the restaurant reopened with expanded outdoor dining and added a new experience to its menu: low country seafood boils). My return last week made me regret this fact, immediately, because the food at Hatchet Hall continues to be some of the best in Los Angeles — both in terms of the Southern genre and in general. My table started things off the right (and only) way, with the spongey, honeyed cornbread flecked with cheddar and shishito peppers and topped with a pat of cultured butter that looks like a large quenelle of ice cream melting into its golden upper layer. It also is the only gluten-free bread option on the menu (I hear the buttermilk biscuits and house rolls are equally revelatory, but I can’t partake in them). As we progressed through a two-plus-hour meal of consecutive stunners (tender country ham! charred rapini! wild-caught shrimp and magic grits! tonnato-swathed lamb sirloin!), the cornbread lay heavy on my mind, and will linger in my memory until I’m back — hopefully sooner than last time. 12517 West Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles. —Nicole Adlman

Green curry at Holy Basil in Downtown

A bowl with purple rice and green sauce with chicken and vegetables.
Green curry at Holy Basil in Downtown.
Cathy Chaplin

Thai pick-up window Holy Basil opened amid the pandemic and its takeout-friendly service model continues to thrive even as LA dining rooms welcome diners back inside. Picking up dinner was as easy as placing an order online, pulling up to the curb, and rolling down the passenger side window. My five-dish haul included the herbaceous and spicy larb hed with seared oyster mushrooms, yum dry-aged salmon, crispy pork belly with long beans and a fried egg, pad Thai, and the star of the spread: a scrach-made green curry. Brimming with superbly tender chicken, baby eggplants, and winter melon, the curry captured the heady scent of lime leaves and galangal, along with a subtle sweetness that I tend to associate with red curries. Ladled atop a bed of purple wild rice, the green curry made for a comforting finish to a fantastic dinner. 718 South Los Angeles Street, Space A, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin


October 25, 2021

Banh mi at Skinny Dave’s in Westchester

A hand holding a sandwich chock-full of fillings including vegetables and meat.
House banh mi at Skinny Dave’s in Westchester.
Matthew Kang

Westchester’s charming block of 87th Street, with Ayara Thai, Ramen Joint, Westchester Bakery, and now Skinny’s Dave’s sandwich shop, is a little gem of a dining neighborhood just a few minutes outside of LAX. David Kuo’s little shop has grand ambitions for the block, starting with very good banh mi which comes with Vietnamese ham (made on the premises), shredded barbecue pork, a pork patty, and chicharron on a French roll with most of the interior pulled out. Ask for a bit of pate for even more meaty, savory goodness. The crunch of the vegetables and crisp roll makes this one of the top new banh mi in LA. 6208 W 87th Street, Westchester. —Matthew Kang

Fruit and nut bread from Bub & Grandma’s

A slice of bread from Bub and Grandma’s with walnuts and dried cherries.
Fruit and nut bread from Bub & Grandma’s.
Cathy Chaplin

Do you remember those cheesy Folgers ads from the ‘90s where the smell of freshly brewed coffee compels sleepy heads to get out of bed? Well, the promise of a toasty slice of Bub and Grandma’s bread has been having the same effect on me as of late. The two loaves currently on rotation at my house are the cinnamon and raisin, and the “fruit and nut” with walnuts and dried cherries. Both are dotted with an impressive number of juicy bits and have a tangy profile that balances it all out. Paired with a banana and two cups for Earl Grey tea — and I’m set until lunch. Available for sale at the Hollywood, Culver City, and Altadena farmers markets. —Cathy Chaplin

Birria burrito at Burritos La Palma in Boyle Heights

Three burritos in a red basket at Burritos La Palma.
Birria burrito at Burritos La Palma in Boyle Heights.
Cathy Chaplin

As rain rolls into the Southland today, my usual go-to is to make sure I have handmade tortillas ready for snacking or recipes, along with something that’ll pair with the weather: burritos. A successful option is always Burritos La Palma. The slightly nutty, blistered, and flavorful flour tortillas are what works in just about everything, whether lightly heated, layered with cheese and grilled, or dipping into a sauce or stew. These incredible tortillas even work right out of the fridge thanks to years of perfecting the recipe. Owners Alberto and Lauren Bañuelos placed locations throughout SoCal, worth the trek to Santa Ana, the window in Boyle Heights, or the original in El Monte. While there, pick up a dozen tortillas along with the birria burrito. The quality of the tortilla maintains its integrity with the birria’s sauciness, and complements the popular dish that’ll easily have you going back to order another. Which is what you already planned to do, right? 2811 East Olympic Boulevard, Boyle Heights. —Mona Holmes

Spicy wonton soup from Qin West Noodle

What could be more perfect for a rainy day (or really, even just seeing rain on the horizon via your phone’s weather app) than a large, hearty bowl of spicy wonton soup from Qin West Noodle? The staple spot, known for its locations from Irvine to the Westfield Santa Anita, is offering takeaway and on-site open-air dining at Far East Plaza in Chinatown these days, where massive bowls of life-affirming soup come hot and fast. The bowls, easily enough to feed two people, are best converged upon with a couple of Chinese mo pancake pork sandwiches as well. It all makes for a great, filling day spent shopping, lounging around, drinking tea, and eating soup in Chinatown, one of LA’s best and most walkable neighborhoods. 727 N. Broadway, Chinatown. — Farley Elliott


October 18, 2021

Tan tan men at Josui in Torrance

A bowl of noodles in and orange broth with a heap of ground beef on top.
Tan tan men at Josui in Torrance.
Matthew Kang

The tan tan men at Josui is one of the most balanced bowls of ramen in Los Angeles, with just the right hint of spice and oil to go along with the restaurant’s sweet miso pork, which forms a generous mound in the center of the bowl. Noodles are tender and perfectly cooked, swimming in a rich, porky broth that doesn’t feel overladen with fat. The crunchy sprouts provide the right texture to the richer parts while chopped onion and scallion bring a heady punch. This is the kind of simple but elegant spicy ramen one could eat on a regular basis. 2212 Artesia Boulevard, Ste. B, Torrance. —Matthew Kang

Steak tartare at Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood

A plate of steak tartare with a quail egg, mixed greens, and toast points.
Steak tartare at Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood.
Cathy Chaplin

Prior to an evening of ‘90s alt rock at the Hollywood Bowl, my husband and I dined at Musso & Frank for a different kind of nostalgia. While seated at a slightly too tight booth for two, we perused the wonderfully dated menu chock-full of culinary gems from yesteryear. The offerings haven’t changed too much since the restaurant’s debut in 1919, and on the table this evening were tender lamb kidneys with bacon, sauerbraten with apple sauce, and diplomat pudding for dessert. The steak tartare, punctuated by plenty of capers and served with buttered toast points, micro greens, and a wobbly quail’s egg, was perfect in its solidly straightforward composition. It tasted just as it should and that’s all we could ask for. 6667 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood. —Cathy Chaplin

Lamb makhni at Lal Mirch in Studio City

An overview of  two Indian curries, basmati rice, and paratha.
Lamb makhni at Lal Mirch in Studio City.
Mona Holmes

With cooler weather comes cravings for comfort. For me, a saucy Indian dish always hits the spot, and heading to Studio City’s Lal Mirch is what worked for me and my vegetarian dining partner. Nestled on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, the family-operated business has a vast menu that ranges from tandoori, somosas, lentil soup, and an incredible lamb makni that’s cooked with ground cashews in a creamy sauce that’s essentially butter chicken. It’s thick, rich, deeply flavorful, and when served by delightful staff (thanks, Tania) makes the experience that much more pleasant. Opt for the slightly crispy, pan-fried paratha instead of the naan; both are well-made, but the paratha bread is so incredibly flaky and perfect for sopping up the remaining makhni sauce. Note: the restaurant is closed between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. 11138 Ventura Blvd, Studio City. —Mona Holmes

Khao soi from Sticky Rice in Highland Park

Sometimes just looking at the weather app on your phone is enough to change your dinner plans. Scant rain, arriving overnight with a wave of lower temperatures that will hover around greater Los Angeles this week, called for a return to Sticky Rice, the prominent Thai specialist with locations at Grand Central Market, in Echo Park, and along York in Highland Park. The khao soi is the dish to beat here, thick and rich and served with noodles both fried and bouncy, plus pickled vegetables, some hard-boiled egg, and plenty of lime and onion. It’s perfect for rainy weather (or even just the possibility therein), and even better when paired with the full slate of Thai dishes, new and old, that owner David Tewasart has put together. Score some khao soi this week at any of their locations, because the weather app told you so. 5043 York Boulevard, Highland Park. — Farley Elliott


October 12, 2021

Lemongrass “chicken” at Happy Buddha Kitchen in Temple City

A black plate with steamed white rice, cucumber, a bowl of cabbage pickles, and lemongrass chicken.
Lemongrass chicken at Happy Buddha Kitchen in Temple City.
Cathy Chaplin

A vegetarian lunch was in order when my mom visited LA on an auspicious day on the Lunar Calendar last week. Nearly every table at the newish Happy Buddha Kitchen in Temple City was filled with diners also observing the first day of the new moon when we arrived. While my mom ordered the vermicelli noodles topped with cha gio and bi (she remarked that the faux shredded pork was especially good), I ordered the lemongrass chicken served with pickled cabbage and steamed white rice. The meatless morsels made from wheat gluten soaked up the fresh lemongrass and chiles like a dream, making for a totally savory and satisfying vegetarian lunch. 5551 Rosemead Boulevard, Temple City. —Cathy Chaplin

Poke plate at Jus’ Poke in Redondo Beach

Two takeout containers filled with cubes of fresh fish, rice, seaweed, and vegetables.
Poke plate at Jus’ Poke in Redondo Beach.
Matthew Kang

Newbies to the immensely popular Jus’ Poke in Redondo Beach might be a bit confused upon looking at the menu. There aren’t any options for fish. The only choices are the kind of rice, whether you want furikake, and a few sides. There are also multiple kinds of seasonings/sauces, like spicy mayo, shoyu, and wasabi, tossed into delicious, perfectly fresh cubes of tuna. Founded by Stefanie Honda, this is poke the way it’s eaten in Hawaii, with minimal adornment and certainly not the poke salad-style setup that’s common across LA. And the simplicity isn’t just refreshing, it’s really well executed, hence the line that snakes into the parking lot from this small standalone building on PCH. Order ahead to save time, and pick-up near the register. 501 North Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach. —Matthew Kang

Migas taco at Hot Tacos in Koreatown

A hand holding a taco with a strip of bacon sticking out.
Migas taco at Hot Tacos in Koreatown.
Farley Elliott

It’s a funny thing, eating the migas taco from the neon-tinged Hot Tacos truck parked at the Line Hotel in Koreatown. On the one hand it’s a wholly unremarkable experience, because who among us hasn’t spent time hovering over a paper tray of tacos in a parking lot, saucing with one hand, holding with another, napkin stuffed inelegantly into a pocket somewhere? But this taco isn’t like other Los Angeles tacos, in part because it calls back to the breakfast taco scene — scrambled eggs, wide strip of bacon, cheese, and flour tortilla and all — of Austin and greater Texas at large. The Hot Tacos owners know that world well, having made a national name for themselves with their collection of trucks and takeaway spots under the banner of Veracruz All Natural; here, they’re Hot Tacos. And while the menu is new for LA (don’t sleep on the cauliflower al pastor), the feeling is simultaneously one of local familiarity and far away comfort, where eggs and cheese and tortilla chips and bacon play so well together that, for just a moment, you’re floating happily, everywhere and nowhere at once. 3515 Wilshire Boulevard, Koreatown. — Farley Elliott

Snapper zarandeado at Viva! in Las Vegas

A fish with sauce on a plate, a bowl of rice in the background.
Snapper zarandeado at Viva! in Resorts World Las Vegas.
Matthew Kang

While it seems Resorts World is still getting its sea legs along the very competitive Las Vegas Strip, with many restaurants still to open and the place feeling less than complete inside, Viva! from LA’s very own Ray Garcia looks like it’s already strumming along nicely. The colorful but tasteful decor and attentive service are exceptional from the start, but really the food is the reason to venture out here. There isn’t another modern Mexican restaurant performing at this level on the Strip. The appetizers are all really tasty, and even the Carolina Gold Mexican-style rice is amazing. But the snapper zarandeado is the early highlight, with a wonderfully tangy jus spilling off the moist, well-seared fish. The only thing lacking is a bit of the fullness of a traditional whole snook grilled and served tableside, but the sweet, tender flesh of snapper works in this more polished application. I would eat this dish once a week if I could. Here’s to hoping Garcia serves a version of it at his upcoming Downtown LA restaurant. 3000 South Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas. —Matthew Kang

Beyond ramen at Gokoku Vegetarian Ramen Shop in Studio City

When yesterday’s Santa Ana winds kicked into full gear, I wasn’t prepared to feel so chilly. Upon the realization that I didn’t dress the part when the mercury dropped into the low 60s, we took a quick detour in Studio City’s Gokoku Vegetarian Ramen Shop. Staff plied us with hot green tea, an incredible plant-based dynamite roll, and ramen to warm our bodies as the dust flew by on Lankershim Boulevard. The star here is the slightly spicy ramen filled with a hearty broth, diced and sauteed Beyond Meat, scallions, kale, corn, carrots, and plenty of bok choy that can be made with gluten-free glass noodles. There’s a long list of completely plant-based ramen dishes including one with curry or the tan tan men. Staff will tell you the mushroom ramen is the clear crowd favorite, and it’s easy to understand why when the bowl arrives chock-full of shiitake mushrooms and a wonderful broth. 4147 Lankershim Boulevard, Studio City. —Mona Holmes


October 4, 2021

California burrito from Pacific Tacos in Long Beach

Three different dishes: burrito, nachos, and quesadilla.
California burrito from Pacific Tacos in Long Beach.
Farley Elliott

Long Beach’s Mexican food scene sometimes just feels cooler, in a beachy kind of way, than other parts of greater Los Angeles. There are late night spots and everyday taquerias and seafood taco joints, carrying names like El Sauz or Pacific Tacos. The latter is a great place to find oneself on a mellow Sunday afternoon, tucking into al pastor quesadillas or a California burrito stuffed with fries and carne asada. The San Diego burrito invention feels perfectly at home here, blocks from the Long Beach waterside, and comes lovingly flourished with a diagonal cut and a little extra cheese sprinkled on top. Pacific Tacos doesn’t feel like the most upscale place to eat, or even the most popular in Long Beach, and that feels just perfect. Here (as in the LBC overall) the emphasis is on quiet quality and a laid-back assuredness that is hard to match in other parts of LA County. It’s a draw unto itself, made all the better because the food is simply delicious. 146 W. 10th Street, Long Beach. — Farley Elliott

Pork ribs at Moo’s Craft Barbecue in Lincoln Heights

A platter of barbecued meats and sides.
Pork ribs at Moo’s Craft Barbecue in Lincoln Heights.
Mona Holmes

I tend to judge most barbecue slingers by one item: pork ribs. As a brisket and pulled pork fan, they’re far more forgiving than messing up baby back ribs, spare ribs, or country-style ribs. Just douse in more sauce or slap between some bread, and the taste can always be improved. But those pork ribs require careful handling to produce satisfaction that comes from taking that perfect barbecue bite — and Moo’s Craft Barbecue satisfies that bite. A little Texas love goes a long way, and Moo’s giant, pale green smoker doesn’t hurt. What’s special is the simple rub, tender meat with spices that are on-point, and knowledge about when to remove it from the heat. Walk directly across to the bar and ask how to pair your selections, and the meal will turn out to be a fun romp in Lincoln Heights. Get there early, since they’ll stop serving once everything’s sold out. 2118 North Broadway, Lincoln Heights. —Mona Holmes

Gnocchi at U Street Pizza in Pasadena

A plate with a green trim with little dumplings and tomatoes covered with cheese.
Gnocchi at U Street Pizza in Pasadena.
Cathy Chaplin

Though summer may officially be over according to the books, it’s hanging on by a thread based on what’s served on the plate. Some of the most memorable dishes during a recent dinner at Pasadena’s U Street Pizza highlighted the very best of the outgoing season, including cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, summer squash, and eggplant. The seared and pillowy gnocchi was especially good, with its bright tomato sauce, torn basil, and taut corn kernels. Living in LA can sometimes feel like an endless summer with its steady weather, and we can still eat like it is for a few more short weeks. 33 Union Street, Pasadena. —Cathy Chaplin

Signature wonton chashu ramen at Kazan

A bowl of wonton dumplings in broth with green onions.
Signature wonton chashu ramen at Kazan.
Matthew Kang

Kazan has been a bit under the radar for me even though I know it’s been popular with food forum users for a while. I finally stopped by this week and got lucky enough to avoid paying for parking at the next door Matsuhisa lot because it was before 5 p.m. The high-end ramen shop has bowls starting at $20, which feels like a lot until you dive into it. With a glistening layer of clear pork fat and sturdy, well-made soba noodles made on the premises, this is truly one of LA’s most luxurious ramen bowls. The broth is stellar, save for the truffle oil, which really doesn’t add much. In fact, next time I order this I’ll ask for them to keep the truffle oil out. The plump wontons and tender chashu pork complete the package of a ramen that sings with a high hit spice from the ribbons of dried chiles. 111 North La Cienega Boulevard, Beverly Hills. —Matthew Kang


September 27, 2021

White pie at Bagel and Slice in Highland Park

White pie at Bagel and Slice in Highland Park.
White pie at Bagel and Slice in Highland Park.
Mona Holmes

Though it’s not open yet, Highland Park’s soon-to-be-open restaurant sometimes pops up on weekends to serve a slice or two of New York-style pizza. Actually, there were multiple options this time around, with cheese and pepperoni. Bagel and Slice included a gorgeous option that satisfied this omnivore with a stunning vegan white sauce pizza with NUMU Vegan mozzarella and ricotta from Crossroads chef and Kite Hill Foods founder, Tal Ronnen. The chewy yet crisp crust is ideal, as well as the flavors with a fresh amount of herbs and a drizzle of sauce that added a slight kick of spice. The flavors rotate weekly, and while they’re not selling bagels as the shop continues construction, head here during weekend daytime hours to try a slice. 4751 York Boulevard, Highland Park. —Mona Holmes

Chicken karaage at Moto Ramen in Culver City

Chicken karaage at Moto Ramen in Culver City.
Chicken karaage at Moto Ramen in Culver City.
Matthew Kang

It’s been a while since I’ve had excellent chicken karaage. Most of the time it’s a bit of a tack-on, something that’s relatively easy to prepare and simple to place onto a ramen or izakaya menu. Moto Ramen might take an equally simple approach to its karaage, but the results on the plate are really good. The crust is stellar, almost shatteringly crisp — something it maintains throughout the duration of the meal. The chicken is tender but flavorful, featuring hefty thigh chunks that retain their juiciness. Squeeze on a bit of the lemon and dip into the kewpie mayo for a fantastic $6.50 appetizer that segues nicely into the ramen at this Culver City restaurant. The tan-tan men was my favorite bowl in that department. 11172 Washington Boulevard, Culver City. —Matthew Kang

Xiao long bao sampler at Paradise Dynasty in Costa Mesa

Paradise Dynasty’s multi-colored soup dumplings in a tray.
Xiao long bao sampler at Paradise Dynasty in Costa Mesa.
Paradise Dynasty

Can a picture of colorful soup dumplings act like a bat signal? But instead of summoning Batman to save Gotham, the images beamed across social media beckon dumpling-obsessives to Costa Mesa for a taste of Paradise Dynasty? It seems so by the looks of the long line of hungry folks waiting over an hour for the technicolor xiao long bao. In a world full of Instagram bait — foods that never taste as good as they photograph — Paradise Dynasty’s soup dumplings merit the hype and trek. The xiao long bao sampler, which includes eight different fillings (like garlic, Sichuan, foie gras, black truffle, and crab roe) boasts thin skins and delightfully delicate flavors that are as true as billed. Eating all eight is easy-peasy leaving plenty of room for fried rice with pork chops, sweet and sour fish, and whatever else tickles your fancy. 3333 Bristol Street, Suite A, Costa Mesa. —Cathy Chaplin

Nam prik wings at Piccalilli in Culver City

The vibes are right at Piccalilli, the downtown Culver City restaurant that’s bathed in neon green and retro ambiance. The restaurant has had a wild 20 or so months, opening just before the first round of pandemic shutdowns in March 2020, but now continues to find firm footing with locals and a bursting weekend crowd. Among the highlights on the short, flavor-packed menu are the nam prik wings, crispy and crunchy and just spicy enough to make drinking all the easier. You can spot them on the happy hour menu, or stop in for a table with friends to fire basically the whole menu some evening; it’ll all be worth it. 3850 Main Street, Culver City. — Farley Elliott


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/Eater LA

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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