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Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate This Week

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

Oysters topped with butter and breadcrumbs.
Oysters Rockefeller at Sea Chest.
Karen Palmer

The editors of Eater 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.


August 15, 2022

Iceberg wedge at Dear John’s in Culver City

A wedge of iceberg lettuce topped with blue cheese, bacon, and tomatoes.
Iceberg wedge at Dear John’s.
Karen Palmer

Having dinner inside at Dear John’s is akin to being in a Vegas casino: Even when it’s still light outside, the windowless dining room stays close to pitch-black. That said, it’s the perfect place for feeling like you’re being transported back in time, thanks to the old-school portraits on the wall and the well-stocked dark wood bar. Whether your main course is going to be a hefty steak or chicken parm, start with the wedge salad, a head of iceberg lettuce split lengthwise and topped with blue cheese, cherry tomatoes, scallions, and thick slab-like pieces of bacon. The ingenious presentation makes it feel like slicing through a steak, so it’s the ideal primer for your meaty main course. 11208 Culver Boulevard, Culver City. —Karen Palmer

Key lime tart at République in La Brea

Four pastries, including a key lime tart and a croissant.
Assorted sweets at République.
Stephanie Wu

I’m often asked how I plan my meals when I’m traveling, and the truth is, like anyone else, I start by reading our Eater city site. I was in Los Angeles for work last week, and my first steps were to review Eater LA’s 38 essential restaurants, followed by the hottest new openings. After I booked my hotel in Koreatown, I browsed the recent posts about the neighborhood, in case there were any conveniently located spots to put on my list. This intel formed the basis of my planning, though when I’m lucky enough to be dining with a local, I’ll always still take their lead. I love getting a glimpse of a city’s restaurant scene, popping into places both new and classic, even if I’m only visiting for a short amount of time. I shouldn’t have been surprised at the line snaking out the door of République when we wrapped our breakfast at 10 a.m. on a weekday. The classic dishes, like the shakshuka and ricotta toast, are menu standbys for a good reason, but the pastry I can’t stop thinking about is the Key lime bar — well-balanced sweet and tart notes, with a dollop of fresh cream to keep things interesting. I wish I could have packed a couple of these for the flight home. Check out where else I ate in LA. 624 S. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles. —Stephanie Wu

Oysters Rockefeller at Sea Chest in Cambria

Oysters topped with breadcrumbs and butter.
Oysters Rockefeller at Sea Chest.
Karen Palmer

Located about four hours north of Los Angeles, the Central Coast seaside town of Cambria is at an inflection point similar to Los Alamos of four or five years ago. There are suddenly a couple of modern boutique hotels (aka, the sort where a developer takes an old motel and freshens it up with Palm Springs vibes). But what makes Cambria special is that it hasn’t yet lost the charm of its classic spots, including worthy seafood destination Sea Chest. It’s the sort of place that can only exist in a small coastal town: cash only, with no-fuss-but-friendly service and a wait list that starts right when the place opens at 5:30 p.m. Sitting at the “oyster bar” is the true meaning of dinner and a show, with cooks frenetically shucking oysters, tossing seafood pasta, and sliding skillets into large salamanders to cook oysters casino and the like. The restaurant’s oysters Rockefeller come out of those salamanders hot, crisp, and browned, each one slathered with a mixture of green onion, celery, garlic, Parmesan, lemon juice, and, of course, breadcrumbs and a whole lot of butter. There’s a surprising freshness and brightness to them — but you’ll find that everything here is kicked up a notch by the restaurant’s charm and Pacific Ocean views. 6216 Moonstone Beach Drive, Cambria. —Karen Palmer

Bar burger at Oy Bar in Studio City

The Valley has never lacked for great corner bars, low-key and dimly lit hangouts where people go to either be left alone, or to make friends. It’s a tricky balance for places like this, offering just enough to attract most folks without alienating the rest or ‘throwing off the vibe.’ That delicate effort is particularly what makes the newer Oy Bar in Studio City so unique; it’s got charm, substance, a laid-back sort of effortless cool, and it’s already pulling in a very wide swath of Valley diners and drinkers. It helps, of course, that the place also has one of the more appealing new bar burgers in Los Angeles. The seeded bun, thinly shaved red onions, the crunch from cucumbers and fresh cilantro (yep), and the sizable patty also make it one of LA’s most particular new burgers, topped off with a housemade hoisin ketchup and served (this being an offshoot project from the Jeff’s Table team) with a deli pickle spear. Some bars are about going to a place where everybody knows your name; other bars are just about turning the lights down low and amping the flavors up. At Oy Bar, both doors work just fine. 12446 Moorpark St., Studio City. —Farley Elliott

August 8, 2022

Bluefin tuna crudo at Dudley Market in Venice

Bluefin tuna crudo at Dudley Market in Venice.
Bluefin tuna crudo at Dudley Market in Venice.
Karen Palmer

Venice’s Dudley Market hosted a series of pop-ups this summer, then closed momentarily to prepare for the arrival of Mexico-born chef Diego Hernandez, who started overseeing the kitchen last week. A visit the other night showcased some of Hernandez’s new dishes, like a shrimp quesadilla and tuna tostada — but a favorite bite of the evening, the bluefin tuna crudo, proved to be impeccably simple. To make the dish, thick slices of tuna were served with a dab of yuzu kosho and dressed with a drizzle of housemade ponzu and olive oil. One of Dudley Market’s great selling points is that it sources its own fish — and when the product is so fresh, all it needs is a light touch. As someone who lives close by, I’m looking forward to seeing how else Hernandez puts his own imprint on the menu, while hopefully keeping some of the no-fuss seafood Dudley Market is known for. 9 Dudley Avenue, Venice. —Karen Palmer

Txule burger at Agua Viva in Downtown

Txule burger at Agua Viva in Downtown.
Txule burger at Agua Viva in Downtown.
Farley Elliott

It’s easy to feast on the views at Agua Viva, the rooftop hangout recently opened at the Conrad Hotel in Downtown, part of José Andrés’ massive return to LA. The open-air project is meant to serve as a breezy accent to coastal Spanish living, where olive trees sway and sunshine dapples in from light coverings above. The place is all of that, yes, but it’s also a heck of a place to enjoy that most Angeleno of traditions: eating a burger. Here the beefy bar-style burger is composed of ribeye and given a nice slice of American cheese. Peppers add a zip, a garlicky aioli amps up the richness, and the views bring the whole thing home. There are more important, more composed, and more thoughtful dishes to be had around Andrés’ new Downtown food compound — but few as simple and satisfying as Agua Viva’s txule burger. 100 S. Grand Avenue, Downtown. —Farley Elliott

Slab cake at Quarter Sheets in Echo Park

Slab cake at Quarter Sheets in Echo Park.
Slab cake at Quarter Sheets in Echo Park.
Cathy Chaplin

I am admittedly late to the Hannah Ziskin fan club. The talented pastry chef worked at Chez Panisse and Nopa up north before landing at the now-closed M. Georgina and launching a home bakery here in LA. Currently she’s making the sickest cakes in town at Quarter Sheets, an early pandemic pop-up turned permanent brick-and-mortar in Echo Park. On a recent lunch outing, my dining companion and I sidled up to the bar that peers into the kitchen. After polishing off a melon salad and two slices of pizza, we dug into the most magnificent strawberry shortcake slab cake. The plastic fork cut through the cake’s plush layers of polenta chiffon, vanilla bean custard, fresh strawberries, and strawberry preserves with ease. The cake’s bright and balanced flavors left us speechless one moment and plotting a return visit the next. 1305 Portia Street, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

Whole fried fish at the Exchange in Downtown

Whole fried fish at the Exchange in Downtown.  
Whole fried fish at the Exchange in Downtown.
Matthew Kang

After nearly 20 months of hiatus, the Exchange quietly reopened earlier this year with longtime cook Narita Santos stepping up as the lead chef. Santos leads a small but mighty team that turns out some of Downtown’s most flavor-packed food, from sticky lamb ribs to a gorgeous melon salad studded with crisp fish skin. Her piece de resistance, a hulking platter of whole fried fish, is basically an entire meal for three people posing as a shareable large-format entree. One could conceivably walk in, order this dish, and call it a night. That’s because the deeply seasoned exterior gives way to flakey, fall-apart flesh, in this case rock cod, while the sesame noodles are difficult to stop eating. To the side, everything from brussels sprouts to broccoli come topped with fresh cilantro, scallions, and cherry tomatoes, which all work in tandem to cut through any richness. I only wish I had left more stomach room for this, which I will certainly do on the next visit. 416 West 8th Street, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang


August 1, 2022

Duck rice and melon shaved ice at Kato in Downtown

Side-by-side of two dishes from a fine dining restaurant, one with duck and salad, and another of Asian shaved ice in a white bowl.
Duck rice and melon shaved ice from Kato.
Stephanie Wu

My big splurge this past week in Los Angeles was a meal at Kato. I didn’t have a chance to dine at the original iteration, and I’ve been wanting to see how chef Jon Yao translates Taiwanese and Japanese flavors into a multi-course tasting menu. I thought the meal really came together toward the end, where some of the most memorable dishes were a duck ru rou fan — a side that came with the final savory course, duck breast, and stone fruit. And I absolutely loved the dessert, which celebrated melon in multiple ways — melon shaved ice, melon sorbet, melon yogurt, and melon jelly. I’m sad I just missed their new bar tasting menu, but am excited to see which of these dishes make it over — and how the Kato team transforms their offerings yet again. 777 S. Alameda Street, Building 1, Suite 114. —Stephanie Wu

Spicy chlorella dongchimi noodles at MDK Noodles in Koreatown

Spicy bowl of cold noodles from Koreatown in a metal bowl.
Ul-keun dongchimi guksu from MDK Noodles.
Matthew Kang

With this striking summer humidity in Los Angeles, the city is starting to feel more like Seoul than the LA of years past. While the lifelong Angeleno in me is annoyed by this climate change scenario, the slight silver lining might be that cold Korean noodles are just that much more satisfying in the higher humid heat. The ul-keun chlorella dongchimi noodles are hard to pick out from the English menu (ul-keun is another way to say spicy), but just look for the spicy dongchimi noodles served with crunchy raw vegetables and sporting a tangy, mildly sweet broth. Think of it like a more exciting sister to naengmyeon, with less beefiness and more vinegary tang thanks to the dongchimi, which is basically the pickling water for certain kinds of kimchi. The green chlorella noodles add more color than flavor, but they're bouncy enough and do a nice job of lapping up the broth. I can't think of a more cooling way to cut through the midsummer LA heat. 3630 Wilshire Boulevard. —Matthew Kang

Rice-battered king trumpet mushrooms at Birdie G’s in Santa Monica

Rice-battered king trumpet mushrooms on a plate.
Rice-battered king trumpet mushrooms at Birdie G's in Santa Monica.
Karen Palmer

There are so many delicious things to eat at Birdie G’s, seeing as chef Jeremy Fox deftly weaves so many flavors and textures into his Jewish-inflected menu. At dinner the other night, I was impressed by the simplicity of the rice-battered king trumpet mushrooms. Quickly fried and served with little more than a dusting of parmesan, a smattering of fresh herbs, and a wedge of lemon, the meaty mushrooms were shatteringly crisp outside, pleasantly chewy inside, and immensely snackable, with the right amount of salt to keep one reaching for more. The only thing I’m worried about is that my next plate of fritti misti (which can too often be soggy or undersalted) will pale in comparison; these mushrooms may have ruined me. 2421 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica. — Karen Palmer

La Mortazza from Mother Wolf in Hollywood

Stuffed pizza with mortadella and pistachioes on a plate in a dimly lit restaurant.
La Mortazza pizza from Mother Wolf.
Matthew Kang

On my third visit to Mother Wolf, I made sure to order this incredible dish that chef Evan Funke had teased at his short-lived Hollywood restaurant Fingers Crossed. This epic mortadella-pizza sandwich situation stuffed with ricotta is so outrageous and so fun that it should be split from the kitchen to share with the table. Servers bring out a sharp steak knife to help in the endeavor, which may or may not be fruitful. Either way, this monstrous pizza-sandwich might be my favorite new dish here, loaded with paper-thin mortadella, fresh pistachios, and creamy ricotta, with blistered pizza dough to keep it all together. I grew up eating mortadella sandwiches, but I never thought I'd ever see carbs and mortadella upscaled in this way. 545 Wilcox Avenue. —Matthew Kang

Barbacoa flautas at Los Dorados at Smorgasburg

Crispy flautas covered with cotija cheese and salsas.
Barbacoa flautas from Los Dorados.
Nicole Adlman

Summer might be the most ideal season for Smorgasburg in Los Angeles, when Sundays feel even longer and more languid and the food market’s ice cream alley set-up offers cool-treat relief from the afternoon sun. A recent visit brought myriad delights, but none so potent as my first stop at Los Dorados, a vendor that sells regularly from its stand in El Sereno and also every weekend at Smorgasburg’s permanent space outside The Row in Downtown LA. Most of the menu’s flautas were either sold out or unavailable — a non-concern for me because what I came for was still being slung from the colorful stand’s small takeout window. I ordered the barbacoa flautas but swapped its salsa borracha for a citrusy tomatillo-avocado salsa and queso fresco that complemented the meaty, gaminess of the goat. Even for just a first bite of many on my crawl through the stands, Dorados’s ultra-long rolled tacos stood out for their crispness, the tenderness of the barbacoa de chivo, and the relative ease with which we could eat them and keep crawling. 777 S Alameda Street, Los Angeles. — Nicole Adlman


July 25, 2022

Prawns with Brentwood corn and chile ancho at Asterid in Downtown

Prawns with brentwood corn, chile ancho, apricot, and cherry tomatoes at Asterid.
Matthew Kang

Ray Garcia’s Asterid might be the most underrated Downtown restaurant at the moment, packed to the gills before 7 p.m., and then emptying out a relaxed half-full afterward. Consider it an ideal last-minute date night reservation thanks to the pre-theater dynamic. Asterid’s gorgeous plates of seasonal produce-studded might start with chicken liver mousse, hiramasa aguachile, and fresh beets with housemade ricotta, each displaying Garcia’s adept understanding of LA’s perfect ingredients and intense flavors. The prawns placed above a luscious sauce of Brentwood corn, chile ancho, apricots, and cherry tomatoes showed the best combination of fresh summer sweetness and skillful cooking technique. The swoon-worthy prawns were plump and juicy, satisfying to suck out to the last bit of umami. I wished the dish came with a few more prawns, especially for the $27 price, but the price was understandable given the location and attentive level of service. Asterid is on my short list of places I need to which I need to return, and this prawn dish is one of the main reasons why. 141 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

Osetra caviar and summer corn at Maude in Beverly Hills

Delicate dish of caviar and corn from a fancy restaurant served in a glass.
Osetra caviar and summer corn at Maude.
Mona Holmes

Not all tasting menus delight, but Maude’s does. This cozy dining room only seats 24, and feels very much like a European space, but right placed in the heart of Beverly Hills. Chef Osiel Gastelum has a firm grasp on making the most of summer ingredients, and even incorporates some family techniques in the seafood dishes. But the stunner is the osetra caviar dish, with creme fraiche-infused baby corn from the McGrath Farm right over the hill in Camarillo. The briny roe is wonderfully strong, making the perfect combination during peak corn harvest. It’s a classic and thoughtful fusion of salty and sweet, even better when paired with wine from Maude’s expansive collection. Savor each bite — this is a tasting menu after all. Before you know it, it’ll be gone and you’ll be wondering how you can acquire more. 212 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills. —Mona Holmes

Short rib hand pie and strawberry madeleine at Republique in Mid-Wilshire

Seed-studded hand pie from Republique.
Short rib hand pie from Republique.
Julia Hess

Just off Miracle Mile lies my favorite French cafe in Los Angeles. Republique serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but its pastry case steals the show: It bakes up a wondrous amount of savory and sweet pastries with unique and creative twists like ube, sesame paste, and more in addition to traditional French pastries. On my most recent visit, I tried the short rib hand pie and a strawberry madeleine. The hand pie was flaky and stuffed with succulent short rib and potatoes; the Madeline had custard and jam filling inside, with strawberries on top. My other staple thing to order for breakfast is the potato pancake — a smoked salmon Benedict atop a giant crispy potato pancake. Unfortunately, Republique only allows walk-ins for breakfast, so get in early to avoid the mile-long lines, and load up on the eye-catching pastries to accompany your meal. 624 S. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles. —Julia Hess

Tomate at Jeune et Jolie in Carlsbad

Plate of colorful tomatoes topped with fresh herbs.
Tomate from Jeune et Jolie in San Diego.
Nicole Adlman

After a weekend spent at flip-book speed in San Diego that included the essentials (a bright, drippy Dungeness crab poutine from Point Loma stalwart Mitch’s Seafood; oozy bone marrow birria tacos from Tuetano Taqueria), we were ready to be back home in Los Angeles. But first, we stopped in seaside gem Carlsbad, where, on a sleepy Sunday night on State Street, we visited modern California French restaurant Jeune et Jolie, which earned its first Michelin star in 2021.

We were tired, sandy, and still a little full from the weekend’s food adventuring, but found joy in the small details on Jeune’s romantic patio: an earthy buckwheat crust encasing a silky goat’s milk filling, caramelized mushrooms, and cherries; a slightly tart plum, cherry, and lime broth bathing our cured amberjack crudo. But my favorite dish of the night was perhaps the most straightforward — a plate of peak summer tomatoes and strawberries drenched in basil oil and topped with a refreshing, near-snowfall layer of granita. These starting bites were simple but deeply memorable, which is what destination dining is all about. 2659 State Street, Suite 102, Carlsbad. —Nicole Adlman


July 18, 2022

Tres leches cake at La Guelaguetza in Koreatown

Tres leches cake at La Guelaguetza in Koreatown.
Tres leches cake at La Guelaguetza in Koreatown.
Guelaguetza

During a team dinner last month, as a parade of Koreatown icon Guelaguetza’s greatest hits landed on our floral-wrapped tables — among them a stretchy queso fundido threaded with chorizo and mushroom, a flight of moles, massive tlayudas spread with refried black beans and asiento, mounds of crispy chapulines, and tightly rolled barbacoa tacos — no one felt they had left much room for an elaborate dessert. But we had already pre-ordered a full-sized tres leches cake to share, which landed on the table ceremoniously, strewn with fresh flowers and ripe fruit. This cake had depth in size and texture, worthy on its own as a birthday or celebration centerpiece. But its flavor is what floored us — it may be the best tres leches in Los Angeles. The cake itself is soaked and sweetened by condensed milk (among others), the whipped frosting so light and creamy it could have been dessert on its own. We all finished the cake in wonder — wondering, primarily, how we had not ordered it here before. Go to Guelaguetza for everything it is known for, but don’t forget to order the tres leches (whole cakes can be ordered in advance). 3014 West Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles. —Nicole Adlman

Ribeye pad krapow at Krapow Kitchen in Culver City

Ribeye pad krapow at Krapow Kitchen in Culver City.
Ribeye pad krapow at Krapow Kitchen in Culver City.
Matthew Kang

Culver City’s Selmaraine Drive cloud kitchen is turning out some excellent food from aspiring restaurateurs. In addition to Sexy Beans, Krapow Kitchen serves from this 405 freeway-adjacent commissary specializing in an upscale take on pad krapow. Instead of ground meat, the trio behind Krapow Kitchen (David Wu, Na Snidvongs, and Nak Suthapreda) prepare the holy basil-fried dish as a rich fried rice studded with spicy chiles and layers of umami. On top, there’s a wok-fried egg and luscious, meaty slices of seared ribeye. They’ve taken the concept of a Thai street food dish and brought it to an Instagram-ready level (not that the 50 baht plates in Bangkok aren’t worthy either). Ask for “spicy” if you can handle it for maximum flavor, but if not, lower levels of heat will suffice. Available through pickup, delivery apps, and Tock. —Matthew Kang

Pigs in a blanket at Dear John’s in Culver City

Pigs in a blanket at Dear John’s in Culver City.
Pigs in a blanket at Dear John’s in Culver City.
Cathy Chaplin

Am I the only one who goes to steakhouses for the starters and sides? Red meat is fine and all, but it’s the supporting dishes that really standout for me. At a recent dinner at Dear John’s in Culver City, steak played second fiddle to orders of oysters Rockefeller, caviar-heaped tater tots, and the tremendous pigs in a blanket. Served with a sweet mustard sauce, the two-bite piggies arrived hot and golden. The wagyu beef wiener was expertly snappy, while the puff pastry blanket cradled it just so. Paired with a well-made Old Fashioned and all was right with the world. 11208 Culver Boulevard, Culver City. —Cathy Chaplin

Warm buttered cockles at Kippered in Downtown

Warm buttered cockles at Kippered in Downtown.
Warm buttered cockles at Kippered in Downtown.
Karen Palmer

There are few things I enjoy more than a snack dinner — especially when said snack dinner involves tinned fish and cheese. Therefore, I’m more than a little obsessed with Kippered, the cozy months-old tinned fish and sparkling wine bar from Lydia Clarke and Reed Herrick of DTLA Cheese. You can mix and match fishies from a wide selection of favorite brands like Matiz and José Gourmet, along with Clarke’s curated selection of cheeses and smart snacks from Herrick (don’t sleep on the chips and dip, which is essentially Herrick’s superlative version of onion dip). On my latest visit, my friends and I ordered Donostia cockles in brine from Galicia. Now, most tinned fish spots will simply open the can, give you some delicious accompaniments, and let you dig in. Clarke brilliantly offered to warm the cockles up with some butter, but not just any butter — fragrant, cultured Rodolphe le Meunier Beurre de Baratte. The cockles were an absolute revelation: meaty, tender, buttery, briny. We finished every last bite of them, including sopping up all of the leftover butter with pieces of warm bread. 361 S. Broadway, Downtown. —Karen Palmer

Blackberry cobbler at Cobblers Cakes & Kream in Inglewood

Summer is the perfect time of year for fruit-forward baked goods, so heading to Inglewood’s Cobblers Cakes & Kream for the berry cobbler is a solid plan. Most know the owner as the Cobbler Lady, who started her venture in 1989, but firmly established this neighborhood spot in 2011. It’s here where staff prepare tea cakes, cupcakes, cakes, sweet potato pies, oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies, and even scoops of ice cream. The Key lime pie is one of the standouts, so is the 7-Up bundt cake with beautiful icing. But the winners are the individual-sized and large cobblers, which come with apple, blackberry, or peach. The blackberry is so ripe that it’s deeply dark, and paired with a perfectly made crust, this is the type of dessert to heat up, crack open a pint of ice cream, grab two spoons, and unapologetically dive in. 2323 W. Manchester Boulevard, Ste. B, Inglewood. —Mona Holmes


July 11, 2022

Tuna sandwich at ZonZon Organic in Mar Vista

Tuna sandwich at ZonZon Organic in Mar Vista.
Tuna sandwich at ZonZon Organic in Mar Vista.
Karen Palmer

I’ve long been a fan of local sauce/condiment company ZonZon Organic and its Tunisian-style spicy tomato sauce, harissa spread, preserved lemons, and the like. Recently, the company launched a prepared food pop-up, offering a compact selection of sandwiches and shakshuka at farmers markets around the city. This Sunday at the Mar Vista market, I tried the Mediterranean-inflected tuna sandwich. To make it, olive oil-preserved tuna, cucumber salad, carrot spread, boiled potatoes, and ZonZon’s harissa and preserved lemons are all piled on an airy Sweet Lily Bakery baguette. The mixture of textures and bright, fresh flavors, combined with warm spice notes from the harissa, made it one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in a while. Find ZonZon Organic weekly at the Marina Del Rey Farmers’ Market. Via Marina & Panay Way, Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. —Karen Palmer

Red beet risotto at Asterid in Downtown

Red beet risotto at Asterid in Downtown.
Red beet risotto at Asterid in Downtown.
Cathy Chaplin

The pre-concert crowd is lucky to have a restaurant like chef Ray Garcia’s Asterid tucked into the ground floor of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The menu is certainly approachable, but with enough chef-driven twists and touches to keep things exciting for folks swinging in just for dinner and no show. In fact, the best time to arrive at Asterid is when the pre-concert-goers have vacated the premise, leaving the dimly lit dining room wonderfully peaceful. During a recent dinner, my companion and I delighted in the beef tartare with summer truffles and the squash tamal heaped with caviar, but it was the more humble beet risotto that wowed. Served comfortingly warm, the creme fraiche-fortified porridge tasted of fresh dill with a mild hum of sweet beets. Sometimes it’s the simplest preparations that impress the most. 141 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

Grilled octopus at Elephante in Santa Monica

Grilled octopus at Elephante in Santa Monica.
Grilled octopus at Elephante in Santa Monica.
Matthew Kang

Santa Monica has more tourist traps than other places in the LA area, but Elephante succeeds at weaving the line between approachable and high-quality. The menu doesn’t make any attempt to challenge diners, but instead tries to please at every phase, from the pull-apart balloon of a quick-based bread with whipped eggplant spread to crisp calamari. The star of the appetizers is the grilled octopus, featuring just a smidge of actual grilled tentacle but with plentiful slivers of tender octopus paired with tangerines, heart of palm, celery, and capers for a puttanesca-style seasoning that hits salty, briny, crunchy and sweet notes. It’s hard to think of a nicer summertime dish to enjoy over a pristine ocean view and a rooftop full of very happy diners. 1332 2nd Street, Santa Monica. —Matthew Kang

Lobster roll at Broad Street Oyster Company in Malibu

Broad Street Oyster Company
Lobster roll at Broad Street Oyster Company in Malibu.
Farley Elliott

After any good hike or surf in Malibu, I love to treat myself to LA’s finest lobster roll at Broad Street Oyster Company. My usual order is the warm lobster roll prepared with drawn butter, and served with crispy French fries and an Old Bay aioli. The lobster rolls are stuffed with melt-in-your-mouth lobster and topped with chives — everything is held together in a fluffy toasted bun. It’s so simple, yet so decadent, and has me coming back no matter how long the line looks. If you’re looking to branch out, try the sea urchin spaghetti with Aleppo pepper, lemon, and chives. The pasta has a great kick to it and I love the balance of the lemon and spice. Pro tip: order ahead so you don’t have to bother with the long weekend lines. 23359 Pacific Coast Hwy., #3874A, Malibu. —Julia Hess

Salmon tartare at Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood

Salmon tartare at Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood.
Salmon tartare at Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood.
Mona Holmes

Arguably LA’s most famous restaurant, Musso & Frank Grill has the history and the chops to appeal to anyone (except the plant-based crowd). It’s open late, serves steaks, offals, stirred-only martinis, and if sitting at the bar, an entire menu designed for noshing. One of those items is the salmon tartare, a simple and wonderful handful of bites served on a tray with thinly sliced fried potatoes. The contrast between the two is perfect, the salmon is creamy and fresh, and paired with a cocktail, it becomes one of the best late-night dishes in the entire city. This dish is under the cold seafood section, where fresh oysters, crab Louie, and shrimp cocktail are rivals. They come close, but aren’t as show-stopping as the salmon tartare. Take a rideshare to and from this establishment, since the alcohol pours are very generous. 6667 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood. —Mona Holmes

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