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Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate This Week

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

Beef rice at Majordomo in Chinatown.
Beef rice at Majordomo in Chinatown.
Cathy Chaplin

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.


November 28, 2022

Beef rice at Majordomo in Chinatown

Beef rice at Majordomo in Chinatown.
Beef rice at Majordomo in Chinatown.
Cathy Chaplin

It’s hard to believe that nearly five years have passed since Majordomo first opened in Los Angeles. The restaurant was humming along on a recent Friday night when a group of girlfriends and I came in for dinner. (It was easy enough to snag a primetime table on the patio a few weeks in advance.) Our meal started with the dry-aged kanpachi, and moved on to a duo of bings and a little gem salad, before digging into the restaurant’s signature whole-plate short rib. Priced at $210 and feeding four to six people, the meaty marvel was delicately sliced tableside and served with all that’s good to garnish and wrap (lettuce cups, herbs, kimchi, pickled jalapenos, and doenjang). While the ssam situation was truly delicious, the beef fried rice made from the chopped short rib and some beef fat served alongside was somehow even better — the heartier and homier crown jewel of the experience. 1725 Naud Street, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

Parsnip and sweet potato soup at Watertable in Huntington Beach

Parsnip and sweet potato soup at Watertable in Huntington Beach.
Parsnip and sweet potato soup at Watertable in Huntington Beach.
Jean Trinh

A surprising contender for one of the best soups in Southern California is tucked inside a Huntington Beach resort. At Watertable restaurant inside the Hyatt Regency — a behemoth of a hotel compound with massive waterslides and a nine-ton sand sculpture lobby centerpiece — the parsnip and sweet potato soup is the star. The creamy (and very fall soup season) concoction is drizzled with pumpkin seed oil, punctuated with bee pollen, and adorned with a honeycomb tuile. It’s a soup that’s hard to forget. An added bonus is Watertable is fancy dining without feeling overly pretentious, in a space with stellar service that’s also welcoming to kids. 21500 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach. —Jean Trinh

Hainan chicken at Pearl River Deli in Chinatown

Hainan chicken at Pearl River Deli in Chinatown.
Hainan chicken at Pearl River Deli in Chinatown.
Matthew Kang

My best impression of Hainan chicken will always be from Singapore’s legendary Tian Tian, a hawker stall that specializes in the juiciest, most appealing room temperature poached chicken on the planet. Ever since Johnny Lee took on the task of making a top-flight Hainan chicken rice, the chef has been making the finest examples in the LA area. The weekend-only dish at the more fully formed Pearl River Deli in Chinatown, with its spartan but charming dining room, plays the part of a casual Cantonese cafe. It’s been a number of years since I tried Lee’s Hainan chicken and it’s better than ever, with tender, juicy slices of white chicken meat placed over schmaltzy rice. As with Tian Tian, Lee nails the temperature of the chicken. Always ask for an extra side of ginger scallion sauce to provide punchy notes to every bite. 935 Mei Ling Way, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

Egg salad at Konbi in Culver City

Sometimes it’s best to play the hits. At Konbi Culver City, the Japanese-styled takeaway sandwich spot that has risen to acclaim in recent years, there are all sorts of new delicacies, delights, and drinks to choose from (many more than at the Echo Park original), and they’re all worthy of a trip and a taste. That being said, it’s hard not to skew towards the egg salad sando when venturing to the oft-busy new buildout, simply because it really is that delicious, that simple, and that easy to enjoy on the wide, sunny patio for lunch. Future visits require more exploration of the big new menu — to say nothing of the entirely different sit-down service and menu now happening at the Sunset Boulevard location in Echo Park — but for first-timers or anyone just looking to keep it easy, it’s all about the egg salad. 10000 Culver Boulevard, Culver City. —Farley Elliott


November 21, 2022

House-special bean curd at Aghoo’s Kitchen in Temple City

House-special bean curd at Aghoo’s Kitchen in Temple City.
House-special bean curd at Aghoo’s Kitchen in Temple City.
Cathy Chaplin

While there was no question that the “green onion sesame pie” would grace the dinner table at Aghoo’s Kitchen, I had no idea that the house-special bean curd would join alongside until I spotted it on a neighboring table. The intensity with which the three diners ate the dish with chopsticks in hand convinced me that the dish would not disappoint. Slicked in chile oil with slivers of fresh chiles throughout, the tangled heap of shredded bean curd was as good as hoped. Mild enough to eat straight up or with a bit of steamed white rice, the bean curd held its own next to the restaurant’s famed deep-fried scallion bread and a solid rendition of three-cup chicken, seafood, and intestines served in a clay pot. 9406 East Las Tunas Drive, Temple City. —Cathy Chaplin

Loaded fries at Heavy Handed in Santa Monica

A basket of loaded fries, a cheeseburger, and a glass of IPA next to the can at Heavy Handed.
Loaded fries at Heavy Handed in Santa Monica.
Wonho Frank Lee

Santa Monica’s newest fast-casual player may also be its busiest. The Heavy Handed team, known for pandemic pop-ups, bright yellow food truck, and short rib-blended burgers, have secured one of the coolest off-street restaurant spaces along busy Main Street, offering burgers, fries, soft serve, and beer to audiences that routinely stretch out by the dozens along the sidewalk. And while the food itself is no secret, the hidden gem of the menu may well be the saucy, cheesy, loaded fries, laced with just enough crunchy pickle to keep things in line. A tray of these loaded beasts is a must for a group, and could even work as a solo meal (with a beer and lots of napkins) where one really feels a need for some decadence. Be prepared to wait in line a bit to score a tray, though; Heavy Handed is busy, day and night, and owners Danny Gordon and Max Miller have curated the kind of outdoor dining party that makes people want to linger a bit. The wait is worth it. 2912 Main Street, Santa Monica. —Farley Elliott

Ramen-coated karaage at Eat J.F.C. in Chinatown

Ramen-coated karaage at Eat J.F.C. in Chinatown.
Ramen-coated karaage at Eat J.F.C. in Chinatown.
Jean Trinh

Taisei Yamada has been slinging his unique brand of karaage (Japanese fried chicken) coated in crushed dried ramen noodles from a stand outside of the Mar Vista Mitsuwa since January 2021. But in early November, the chef (formerly at Marugame Udon) opened a dedicated brick-and-mortar spot inside the Lokels Only community kitchen in Chinatown on Wednesdays to Sundays from noon to 8 p.m. The tender and juicy bites of meat are marinated in a garlic-ginger-soy base for 24 hours and punched up in flavor with the noodles (a style Yamada learned from his mother growing up). The karaage is paired with Yamada’s array of house-made dipping sauces, including a sweet and spicy Koreatown flavor to garlic-soy mayonnaise. A gluten-free option is also available, and it would be remiss to skip his honey butter fries. 635 North Broadway, Chinatown. —Jean Trinh

Tuna crudo at Sushi Roku in Manhattan Beach

Tuna crudo at Sushi Roku in Manhattan Beach.
Tuna crudo at Sushi Roku in Manhattan Beach.
Matthew Kang

Even after more than 20 years of serving upscale Japanese fare, Sushi Roku continues to capture the middle-to-upper market of aspiring diners who don’t need the magnetism of Nobu or the sleek elegance of Katsuya. Using a shared space with sister restaurant Boa Steakhouse in a shiny area of Manhattan Beach’s Manhattan Village mall, Sushi Roku is already packed to the gills with expense accounts and mid-week birthday celebrants picking at tempura popcorn corn and shareable crunch rolls. Look beyond the chain and clubstaurant trappings and see that Sushi Roku is just a good time with plenty of cocktails and sake flowing at every table. And the fish quality more than stacks up, especially this tuna crudo that features glorious sliced triangles of tender, rich fish studded with perfectly ripe avocado cubes and fried garlic chips. Placed amid a stylish smear of aji amarillo sauce, this crudo has the finesse of Matsuhisa or Asanebo but in a suburban setting. 3110 N. Sepulveda Boulevard, Manhattan Beach. —Matthew Kang

Spicy clams at Ronan on Melrose

If there’s an ideal activity to participate in over the holidays, it’s to get to Ronan on Melrose with a group of friends, order wine and the spicy clams, and let the conversation flow. It’s a marvel of a dish. The clams are one of those dishes that widen eyes when dropped on the table with a generous bowl topped with a layer of flat, pizza-like bread that has to be torn away to access the star crustacean ingredient, but the dish isn’t complete without the broth. Remove the top layer and inhale deeply to absorb the fennel, sofrito, pine nuts, and white wine broth that might require ordering more carbs to sop up every remaining bit. The clams are comforting, can heat up anyone on a cold night, and simply dazzles in execution. And while you’re at it, Ronan’s got far more than wine on the drinks menu including the French 36, a twist that’s got better balance than the traditional French 75 with prosecco, Old Forester bourbon, pomegranate, Angostura bitters, and a hint of lemon. 7315 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles. —Mona Holmes


November 14, 2022

Loaded latke at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim

Loaded latke at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim.
Loaded latke at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim.
Cathy Chaplin

While I adored the banh mi sandwiches that my mom always packed for lunch during our Disneyland trips growing up, I have fully embraced the buffet of theme park fare as an adult. These days, every trip to the Mouse’s house always includes a pitch-perfect corndog (available at multiple locations at both theme parks), and room in my dining itinerary to try something new or buzzed about. The winner on my most recent trip was the loaded latke at Smokejumpers Grill inside California Adventure. The latke raft, golden and crispy throughout, miraculously held up to the weight of both toppings (smoked brisket, horseradish cream, scallions) and an unforeseen wait for an order of chicken fingers. Impressively warm and still crunchy by the time I took the first bite, the latke was just the thing to keep me fueled until dinner rolled around. 1313 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim. —Cathy Chaplin

Chiles rellenos en guisado at Comedor Tenchita in Mid-City

Traditional Oaxacan dishes laid out on a colorful table.
Chiles rellenos en guisado at Comedor Tenchita in Mid-City.
Wonho Frank Lee

Every Sunday, 76-year-old Doña Hortensia “Tenchita” Melchor opens up her Mid-City backyard for diners hungry for home-style Oaxacan cooking from the Valles Centrales; she and a cadre of other cooks work under a tent, pressing handmade tortillas and ladling broth over higaditos (a hard-to-find egg dish with shredded chicken, onions, tomato, and chiles cooked in broth). A lingering Sunday lunch at the checkered tablecloth-covered tables under the tent found dishes like empanadas filled with fiery yellow mole and hearty potato-and-chorizo molotes dressed in a black bean puree. But some of the best bites came courtesy of a special of two chicken picadillo-stuffed chile rellenos with chicken broth ladled over top. The liquid softened the crisp outer layer of the chile and, as the pepper and chicken were shredded apart, put the dish somewhere between a soup and stew. On a cool Sunday afternoon, it was pure, warming comfort. 2124 S. Cloverdale Avenue, Los Angeles. Open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; specials posted every Thursday on Instagram. —Karen Palmer

Mini galbi pork sausage doshirak at the Window at Seoul Sausage in Echo Park

Galbi pork sausage doshirak at the Window at Seoul Sausage in Echo Park.
Galbi pork sausage doshirak at the Window at Seoul Sausage in Echo Park.
Jean Trinh

Everything about the Seoul Sausage takeout window in Echo Park is a delightful surprise. The cheery sky blue and yellow building adds a pop of color to an otherwise nondescript stretch of Second Street. And the restaurant’s large doshirak (Korean lunch box) offerings are filled with a variety of small dishes and accouterments fit for an unboxing video. The mini doshirak options that are half the size are equally appealing, like its flavor-packed galbi pork sausage that comes with white rice, a soft-boiled egg, kimchi, chopped scallions, and dried seaweed, all showered with toasted black sesame seeds. It makes for a quick grab-and-go comfort meal for a lunchtime break. Or if there is time to sit and relax, enjoy the meal at the restaurant’s vine-covered patio with picnic tables; dining there feels like a tranquil moment in a busy city. 1263 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles. —Jean Trinh

Wood-grilled sea bream at Yangban Society in the Arts District

Wood-grilled sea bream at Yangban Society in the Arts District.
Wood-grilled sea bream at Yangban Society in the Arts District.
Matthew Kang

Given its nearly yearlong tenure in the Arts District, it’s not surprising that Yangban Society has developed a clear list of signature dishes, from the sweet-spicy pleasures of its Korean fried chicken wings to the soulful matzo bowl soup studded with sujebi. People rave about the congee pot pie (which is too much of a carb bomb for me) and the jjajjang bolognese, but this grilled slab of lightly-cured sea bream hit like nothing else has at John and Katianna Hong’s Korean-ish restaurant. Somehow, the thin fish skin retains its shatter-like crunch, with the tender flesh gaining a kind of extra layer of savoriness like a Korean-style grilled atka mackerel or yellow corvina would get from a light salt cure. Light smokiness exudes an earthy bass note that contrasts heavily with sauce underneath. The fish luxuriates in a pool of minced cucumber and heirloom tomatoes resembling a salsa, finished with a spicy hit of chile oil. Served with some fluffy golden millet rice, this could be the best grilled fish I’ve had this year, and one that I hope never leaves this highly mutable menu. 712 South Santa Fe Avenue, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang

Hummus at Saffy’s in East Hollywood

A swirl of hummus and nuts in a bowl with thick toasted bread at a restaurant.
Hummus at Saffy’s in East Hollywood.
Wonho Frank Lee

It’s a beautiful thing to sit in Saffy’s dining room, the elements are perfect — high ceilings, a great playlist, famous chef/owners, excellent cocktails and food, and perfectly spaced tables. When it comes down to it, there’s one dish that’s outstanding: the hummus. Creamy and balanced, the hummus is served with a generous dusting of smoked paprika, pine nuts, spicy zhoug, and thickly-sliced challah. It’s an ideal dish to take in this hot East Hollywood restaurant — which can be challenging to secure a reservation — along with cocktails and everyone dipping bread into this gorgeous shared plate. Ask for more bread, not only because it’s delicious, but because there’s no need to leave a single drop in the bowl. If sitting at the bar for drinks and quick bites, this is a must-order. 4845 Fountain Avenue, East Hollywood.—Mona Holmes


November 7, 2022

Honey cake at Vrej Pastry in Pasadena

Honey cake at Vrej Pastry in Pasadena.
Honey cake at Vrej Pastry in Pasadena.
Cathy Chaplin

I decided on a whim one Friday evening to pick up dinner on a single stretch of Allen Avenue in Pasadena. For an appetizer, I procured a half pound of Garo’s finest basturma. For a side dish, I walked across the street to Old Sasoon Bakery for a trio of lahmajune (cheese, za’atar, and chile onion za’atar) and a jingalov hats. And as a main course, I bought a few pounds of spiced luleh kebab meat from Armen grocery store to prepare at home. While dessert from Vrej Pastry was somewhat of an after thought, it turned out to be the highlight of the feast. Opened in 1994 by Lebanese immigrants Vrej and Armig Tomboulian, the bakery boasts an incredible selection of scratch-made sweets including a most excellent Russian honey cake. Burnt honey-kissed from top to bottom, the four-layer stunner was interspersed with an irresistible meringue frosting. 1074 Allen Avenue, Pasadena. —Cathy Chaplin

Ciopinno at Slay Steak and Fish House in Manhattan Beach

Ciopinno at Slay Steak + Fish House in Manhattan Beach.
Ciopinno at Slay Steak + Fish House in Manhattan Beach.
Matthew Kang

I’m a sucker for this San Francisco fish stew whenever I see it on menus, and the ritzy Slay Steak and Fish House in Manhattan Beach has one of the best ones in town. This one is loaded with plump shrimp, mussels, and clams, plus a few chunks of white fish for added measure. The garlicky, wine-tinted tomato broth was balanced and supremely sippable, while the crusty bread helped to mop up the remaining liquid. The steaks and vegetable dishes also shined, which sports a timeless East Coast feel and a bustling dining room, but this seafood stew is the one I’ll go back for. 1141 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach. —Matthew Kang

Wood-grilled flatbread at American Beauty in Venice

Wood-grilled flatbread at American Beauty in Venice.
Wood-grilled flatbread at American Beauty in Venice.
Jean Trinh

Flatbreads seem so commonplace at restaurants nowadays that they can often get overlooked. However, the version at American Beauty, a casual steakhouse in Venice, is one that shouldn’t be missed. Incredibly fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside, the wood-grilled flatbread — that’s showered with toasted sesame seeds — is paired with a heap of creamy labneh covered in a pool of smoked honey. The marriage of flavors and textures makes for a perfectly shareable appetizer before a dinner of roasted vegetables and wood-grilled steaks. 425 Rose Avenue, Venice. —Jean Trinh

Smoked chicken wings at Tet-A-Tet in Silver Lake

Smoked chicken wings at Tet-A-Tet in Silver Lake.
Smoked chicken wings at Tet-A-Tet in Silver Lake.
Andre Karimloo

I am enjoying the evolution of Silver Lake’s All Day Baby. Partners Lien Ta and chef Jonathan Whitener have made a handful of changes since opening in 2019. In October 2020, the two launched an outdoor restaurant on an adjacent lot with small bites called Helluva Time. And in early September, the two overhauled All Day Baby’s nighttime menu into Tet-A-Tet. This current iteration is an old idea, featuring Whitener’s Mexican American background and Ta’s Vietnamese heritage. As expected, everything is bold in flavor, especially the smoked whole chicken wings. Deeply fried and wonderfully aromatic thanks to the Veracruz-inspired salsa matcha, these wings are full of cilantro, crispy shallots, and lime to brighten it all. They are indeed messy, but who cares when this type of dish is front and center. 3200 Sunset Boulevard, Silver Lake. —Mona Holmes

Fried chicken sandwich at Bar Le Cote in Los Olivos

Bar Le Cote may be a sustainable seafood restaurant in the Santa Ynez Valley, but chef Brad Mathews clearly knows his way around a piece of fried poultry, as evidenced by a new fried chicken sandwich on the lunchtime menu: A hulking, shatteringly crisp chicken breast is paired with a Basque-style jardiniere and a healthy slathering of spicy Calabrian aioli, both of which have a heat that lingers. A layer of crunchy shredduce underneath the chicken cools everything down; it’s all piled on a toasted brioche bun from beloved local bakery Bob’s Well Bread. And as a final touch, perhaps as a nod to the fact that the focus here is on the water, the sandwich is topped with a toothpick-impaled boquerone and green olive. While one shouldn’t skip seafaring standards like Mathews’s peel-and-eat shrimp and fried oyster-topped steak tartare, the chicken sandwich is a great alternative for anyone who’s not fanatical about fish — and really, just anyone who loves a good sandwich. (Insert obligatory “chicken of the sea” joke here.) 2375 Alamo Pintado Drive, Los Olivos. —Karen Palmer


October 31, 2022

Chicken chivichanga at Sonoratown in Mid-City

Chicken chivichanga at Sonoratown in Mid-City.
Chicken chivichanga at Sonoratown in Mid-City.
Karen Palmer

For Westsiders, driving to Sonoratown in Downtown LA used to be a commitment. (I, for one, would always swing by for lunch after visiting the nearby Flower Market). Now that there’s a location in Mid-City, we Westside folks have easier access to the taqueria’s superlative flour tortillas. I’ve been a few times in recent months, and my favorite dish remains the taqueria’s signature chivichanga, a small, crisped-up burrito filled with a guisado, roasted tomatoes, Monterey Jack, and Anaheim chiles. It’s a perfect example of simplicity being the key to deliciousness, as the smokiness of the stewed meat mingles with the light char of the tortilla and a touch of sweetness from the tomatoes. Plus, its size makes it an ideal snack — or, if I’m swinging by for a full meal, leaves enough room to sample the kitchen’s other Sonora-style delights. 5610 San Vicente Boulevard, Los Angeles. —Karen Palmer

Passion fruit doughnut at Bub and Grandma’s Restaurant in Glassell Park

Passion fruit doughnut at Bub and Grandma’s in Glassell Park.
Passion fruit doughnut at Bub and Grandma’s in Glassell Park.
Cathy Chaplin

It’s been a game-changer in my world since learning that Bub and Grandma’s Restaurant in Glassell Park has a bread slicer. Now, I can procure loaves upon loves of the bakery’s fantastic bread, and not have to personally saw my way to neat, even slices. Best of all, whenever I swing by to pick-up a month’s worth of bread there’s usually a warm-from-the-fryer passion fruit doughnut waiting for me, too. While the restaurant’s sandwiches and bread usually get top-billing, the yeast doughnut is a sleeper hit — plush, light, and frosted in tangy icing. It’s worth a visit just to get one’s paws on this well-constructed and perfectly delightful lil’ number. 3507 Eagle Rock Boulevard, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

Consomé de cabrito at Tacos de Cabrito y Machito El Lagunero in Muscoy

A perfect bite of consomé on a metal spoon.
Consomé de cabrito at Tacos de Cabrito y Machito El Lagunero in Muscoy.
Photography by Erwin Recinos

I drove all the way to Muscoy for a bowl of consomé de cabrito al pastor, a broth made made with with lots of chile guajillo, melted goat fat, full of of chunks of cabrito meat, garnished with onions, cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and lots of salsa macha. The salsa really transformed an already delicious dish into a masterpiece, with some added salt, heat, and a layer of complexity from charred chile de árbol, plus the chile oil. The consomé with corn tortillas is the perfect northeastern meal at Tacos de Cabrito y Machito El Lagunero. 2598 State Street, Muscoy. — Bill Esparza

Egg foo young at Pearl River Deli in Chinatown

Egg foo young at Pearl River Deli in Chinatown.
Egg foo young at Pearl River Deli in Chinatown.
Jean Trinh

For diners, there’s an element to Johnny Lee’s cooking at Pearl River Deli (PRD) that has a Pokémon “Gotta Catch Em All” vibe. Wait too long and you could lose out on the chance to get something new. Some dishes, like his Hainan chicken rice and Macau pork chop bun, are regulars, while others come and go based on his ever-changing Cantonese comfort food menu. In August, Lee switched his popular shrimp scramble to his version of egg foo young. He pays homage to his Toisan-Cantonese grandmother’s iteration that she used to cook for him when he was growing up but incorporates some tricks of his own. The silky soft scrambled omelet is football-shaped, with house-made char siu, onions, scallions, peas, and carrots folded in. It’s then drenched in an umami-laden brown gravy, and best enjoyed over a bowl of warm white rice. The best part? This comforting dish travels well as takeout, which is great because PRD just began offering delivery on UberEats a few days ago. 935 Mei Ling Way, Chinatown. —Jean Trinh


October 24, 2022

Salted egg yolk French toast at Needle in Silver Lake

Salted egg yolk French toast at Needle in Silver Lake.
Salted egg yolk French toast at Needle in Silver Lake.
Jean Trinh

The Hong Kong-style French toast is a thing of beauty — and chef Ryan Wong’s version is made with aplomb at his Needle restaurant in Silver Lake. He uses slices of milk bread, stuffed with a runny salted duck egg yolk custard that perfectly straddles the line between sweet and savory. It’s battered and deep fried, and drizzled with sweetened condensed milk and maple syrup. There’s also a peanut butter version sans the salted egg yolk; and plenty of coffee and tea options to pair with both toasts, which are best enjoyed immediately on the restaurant’s relaxing patio, while watching the hustle and bustle of folks going by on Sunset Boulevard. 3827 West Sunset Boulevard., #C, Silver Lake. —Jean Trinh

Crispy quail at Gunsmoke in Hollywood

Crispy quail at Gunsmoke in Hollywood.
Crispy quail at Gunsmoke in Hollywood.
Cathy Chaplin

The cooks working inside Gunsmoke’s kitchen seem to be having a great time exploring and executing Nikkei cuisine — the mash-up of flavors, ingredients, and dishes informed by the melding of cultures made possible by immigration. The freewheeling spirit shows up in the lively dining room and of course, on the plate. While it’s hard to pick favorites on a menu that’s chock-full of gems, the crispy quail was truly unforgettable. Coated in a Sichuan peppercorn-laced batter and fried to a shattering crunch, the quail dazzled with every bite. The creamy aji verde sauce served alongside quelled some of the batter’s numbing spice, while the fried basil and squeeze of lemon juice added freshness and zing. 1550 North El Centro Avenue, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

Soft serve at Heavy Handed in Santa Monica

Soft serve at Heavy Handed in Santa Monica.
Soft serve at Heavy Handed in Santa Monica.
Wonho Frank Lee

Yes, the brand-spanking-new brick-and-mortar location of Heavy Handed on Main Street in Santa Monica turns out a mean short-rib cheeseburger, and the beef-tallow fries are crisp and salty. But no visit should go without an order of Straus Creamery soft serve, available in vanilla, chocolate, or a swirl of the two. It’s unclear what sort of wizardry Danny Gordon and Max Miller are working with the soft serve machine to get the ice cream so dense, but its thickness and ability to withstand melting are both downright magical; the soft serve comes out almost custard-like in texture. While a plain cone is excellent on its own, dipping options are available too: chocolate, butterscotch, and rainbow sprinkles. As Ina would say, “How fun is that?!” 2912 Main Street, Santa Monica. —Karen Palmer

Bacon, egg, and cheese at Bub & Grandma’s Restaurant in Glassell Park

It took weeks to secure a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich from Bub & Grandma’s Restaurant in Glassell Park. Every time I braved the long lines, the BEC sold out shortly after the owners unlocked the doors. Clearly the demand was high and remains so. But now that the opening hype settled down, it’s entirely possible to walk in at 9 a.m., and secure the first meal of the day. While there’s plenty to choose from, the bacon, egg, and cheese is the standout. This isn’t a New York-style option, this is one with softly scrambled eggs, oven-roasted bacon, and cheddar on a house-made bun. It is seriously hearty and only sets one back $8 — a bonus in this very expensive city. Those who know always nab a baguette to-go while placing any order. 3507 Eagle Rock Boulevard, Glassell Park.—Mona Holmes


October 16, 2022

Pâté chaud at Tet-a-Tet in Silver Lake

A collection of dishes, including a whole fried fish and spring rolls, at Tet-Tet.
Dishes at Tet-a-Tet.
Andre Karimloo

There are so many delicious things to eat at Tet-a-Tet, the Vietnamese-meets-Mexican-American dinnertime pop-up Lien Ta and Jonathan Whitener have opened at All Day Baby. There’s the show-stopping crispy whole fish, coated in puffy rice crisps and set on a bed of two vibrant sauces (green curry and fish sauced-spiked coconut caramel, to be exact). There’s umami-rich fried rice dotted with scallions and chunks of crab. There’s also a silky-smooth chicken liver pate with mango jam and pickled red onions. One of my favorite bites during a dinner the other night, though, happened to be one of the simplest: pâté chaud, or a house-made pork sausage wrapped in a flaky puff pastry casing and served with truffled garum mustard. The Vietnamese snack is elevated to its highest form here, from the warm spice of the pork to the flaky crispness of the pastry and the punch of the mustard. Just be forewarned: If there are more than two people at the table, you should definitely order more than one. 3200 W. Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles. —Karen Palmer

Lobster roll at Broad Street Oyster Co. at Smorgasburg

A buttery lobster roll from Broad Street Oyster Company.
Lobster roll from Broad Street Oyster Company.
Mona Holmes

Navigating around Smorgasburg can be overwhelming at times. With nearly 60 food vendors lining the weekly open-air event, indecision coupled with long lines can mar the experience. And even though many make the trek for a specific dish, it’s sometimes best to go to a vendor with little or no wait. Amazingly, this Sunday that was Broad Street Oyster Co. I was able to approach the cashier with a lobster roll in-hand within three minutes. It was slightly warmed, brushed in butter, and one of those dishes that can be consumed while walking through the rows of folks out on a Sunday afternoon. Note: this dynamic can change from week to week depending on Smorgasburg’s crowds. However, Broad Street’s Downtown location is dependably less busy than the outlet location in Malibu. 777 Alameda Street, Los Angeles. —Mona Holmes

Lemongrass pork patty banh mi at Bonmí in Frogtown

Lemongrass pork patty banh mí at Bonmì.
Lemongrass pork patty banh mí at Bonmì.
Jean Trinh

Even though Bonmì exists inside of a bright green food truck (that, fun fact, was once a TMZ celebrity tour bus), it isn’t easy to find. Tucked away in the Gilroy Campus in Frogtown between Morning Service Coffee and the LA River, this pop-up that’s there Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. is home to chef-owner Justin Duong’s Vietnamese creations. The Orange County native, who left his career working in an advertising agency, started Bonmì early in the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 doing pop-ups at places like Bar Bandini before going all-in with a food truck earlier this summer. His lemongrass pork patty banh mi is a step up from the average sandwich. The complex, umami-packed sausage that is Duong’s rendition of bun cha, is perfectly charred, and paired with all the traditional banh mi accouterments like cilantro and pickled carrot and daikon. It’s stuffed inside a crunchy and pillowy French roll that’s slathered with a jalapeno aioli. After grabbing a banh mi, get a coffee next door and hang out by the tables while watching bicyclists ride by for a complete experience. 3014 Worthen Avenue, Los Angeles. —Jean Trinh

Mille crepe at Bell’s in Los Alamos

Mille crepe at Bell’s in Los Alamos.
Mille crepe at Bell’s in Los Alamos.
Cathy Chaplin

There’s not much to say about the awesomeness of Bell’s that hasn’t been already said, so instead I’ll make the case for lunching at the beloved Los Alamos restaurant. While dinner is a pre fixe affair with tough-to-snag reservations required, lunch is a breezy, freewheeling time with a French-meets-Santa-Ynez-Valley menu that winds from egg salad sandwiches to yolk-fortified steak tartare and crisp salads made using pristine local produce. Best of all, a few of the dinnertime all-stars make a daytime appearance, including the mille crepe with Santa Barbara sea urchin and caviar, and house-made sourdough bread served with cultured butter and fennel pollen. The well-shaded patio seating is as chill as it gets and perfect for lazing the afternoon away in one of the best Southern California food destinations around. 406 Bell Street, Los Alamos. —Cathy Chaplin


October 11, 2022

Tuna chop at Carla Cafe in Santa Monica

Tuna chop at Carla Cafe in Santa Monica.
Tuna chop at Carla Cafe in Santa Monica.
Karen Palmer

I used to live close enough to where Carla Cafe launched its sandwich “drops” in the early days of the pandemic; pick-ups were at the door of the Bootsy Bellows nightclub in West Hollywood. After I moved further west, the mini deli’s impeccable sandwiches became an only once-in-a-while treat — until recently, when Carla Cafe moved its operations to Colony Kitchen in Santa Monica. Anyone who knows me well knows that a tuna sandwich is one of my favorite lunches — and the tuna chop from Carla Cafe just might be my favorite iteration, ever. It combines the vegetable-packed brightness and crispness of a chopped salad (in this case, lightly dressed shredded lettuce, chickpeas, pepperoncini, tomatoes, and avocado) with a well-seasoned, mayo-based tuna salad studded with little slivers of red onion. It’s all piled on a crunchy ciabatta roll slicked with yellow mustard; every bite is packed with an explosion of flavors and textures. My hope is that one day Carla Cafe will have its own standalone storefront, but for now, I’m just happy that I can order the tuna chop (and other superior sandwiches) any time my heart desires. Available for pickup or delivery at Colony Kitchen, 11419 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles. —Karen Palmer

Stuffed dates at Bettina in Santa Barbara

Stuffed dates at Bettina in Santa Barbara.
Stuffed dates at Bettina in Santa Barbara.
Cathy Chaplin

While driving to the Santa Ynez Valley last week, I made a pitstop in Santa Barbara to lunch at Bettina. It was something kind of wonderful sitting on the breezy outdoor patio, chatting with old friends, and digging into excellent salads and pizzas. The pie topped with prosciutto was especially great, as was the classic Caesar, but of all the wonderful dishes gracing our table, it was the first one to arrive that made the most lasting impression: ‘nduja stuffed dates with vanilla oil. The petite dates delivered on all flavor fronts — sweet, savory, spicy, and herbaceous. Any fears of the vanilla oil veering into perfume territory was unfounded — these dates were great. 1014 Coast Village Road, Santa Barbara. —Cathy Chaplin

Vegetable fideuà at Soulmate in West Hollywood

A paella pan with Spanish rice and topped with lots of colorful vegetables.
Vegetable fideuà at Soulmate
Wonho Frank Lee

On a recent weeknight while driving through West Hollywood, I wondered where everyone was dining as the streets seemed empty. I soon realized they were all at Soulmate, a sleek Spanish restaurant with a massive outdoor patio centered around an olive tree. A lively spot with loud music and a dressed-up crowd, it seems like the perfect place to grab drinks and dinner before heading out for a night of more drinks. While chef Rudy Lopez’s croquetas, and salmon crudo with brown butter and pineapple ponzu were solid starters, the star of the show was his vegetable fideuà. Similar to paella, the fideuà is cooked in a wide and shallow frying pan; but instead of rice, the dish utilizes vermicelli noodles. Lopez’s version is a beauty, as it’s showered with a rainbow of vegetables: squash blossom petals, thinly sliced zucchini and radishes, English peas, and tomatoes. The vegetables are charred and the whole dish comes together with sofrito verde and dollops of garlic aioli. It’s a dish that I can’t stop thinking about. 631 North Robertson Boulevard, West Hollywood. —Jean Trinh

Lemongrass duck rolls at Vin Loi Tofu in Cerritos

I will be the first to admit that the word “tofu” is off putting. As a woman who craves animal protein, selecting a tofu dish on a menu often disappoints, unless from a Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, or Southeast Asian specialist. While driving around Cerritos with a vegetarian, dinnertime arrived while in an unfamiliar neighborhood, but we stumbled into Vin Loi Tofu. Everything is vegan including the recommended and delicious orange chicken and curry soup that felt more like a stew with strong aromatics and flavor; I’ll return for the lemongrass duck rolls. Yes, of course the duck “meat” was vegetable protein, but it was smoked and lightly grilled for great texture and taste, along with bean sprouts, carrots, lettuce, and cabbage wrapped with that wonderfully chewy and translucent rice paper. Traversing through Southern California can be such a joy when looking for food because there’s always something to discover for oneself; the well of great restaurants will never run dry. (If Cerritos is too far, go to the location in Reseda.) 11818 South Street, #101, Cerritos. —Mona Holmes


October 3, 2022

Lucenachon tray at Kuya Lord in Melrose Hill

Lucenachon tray at Kuya Lord in Melrose Hill.
Lucenachon tray at Kuya Lord in Melrose Hill.
Meghan McCarron

Pandemic-era pop-up success story Kuya Lord makes its home in a bright and charming storefront on Melrose on a corner shouldering several intersecting neighborhoods. The individual rice bowls made for a satisfying-looking lunch for the solo diners who ducked in on a recent Tuesday, but I was glad to have company so we could order a full tray of garlic Java rice, pancit chami, a tomato-cucumber salad, and the pleasantly sweet-sour pickled papaya — all of which accompanied generous slices of lucenachon, the restaurant’s slow-roasted pork rolled up with a blend of lemongrass and other aromatics. A tart mango Sanzo seltzer cut through the pork’s fattiness once the papaya had been eagerly consumed. One of the pandemic’s true silver linings is seeing successful pop-ups begin their new phase, and Kuya Lord is one of the most exciting. 5003 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles. —Meghan McCarron

Omakase at Sawa in Little Tokyo

Omakase at Sawa in Little Tokyo.
Omakase at Sawa in Little Tokyo.
Cathy Chaplin

It felt surreal to sidle up to the six-seat sushi counter at Sawa on a recent Friday evening. Though my current dining habits have mostly returned to Before Times ways, I hadn’t partaken in a proper omakase since 2020. Behind the counter at this underground spot is executive chef Anthony Nguyen, who treated us to a well-paced menu featuring a trio of appetizers, a dozen nigiri, a lil’ helping of somen noodles, and dessert before sending us off into the night. Highlights from the omakase included the smoked and soy-marinated chutoro appetizer, the otoro nigiri with a teeny heap of ginger-garlic sauce and salted jalapenos, and the Basque-inspired soy sauce cheesecake. Sipped slowly on the side was an Old Fashioned made with Japanese whiskey. It was beautiful night in Little Tokyo. 111 S. San Pedro Street, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin

Cornbread eclair at Agnes in Pasadena

Cornbread eclair at Agnes in Pasadena.
Cornbread eclair at Agnes in Pasadena.
Wonho Frank Lee

Saving one’s appetite for dinner isn’t always the best strategy. If eating sparsely until a 6 p.m. reservation, it can go one of two ways: Going to dinner with a low appetite, or arriving with shaking hands and a desire to order the entire menu. Unfortunately, I arrived at Agnes in the latter state, and instructed our server to recommend a dish that required little preparation. I didn’t even ask my plus-one what she wanted, just anything to take the edge off. When she delivered an eclair-shaped cornbread boat slathered in chicken liver mousse, the plate barely touched the table as immediate sustenance was required. This appetizer is as rich as it sounds, with a healthy piping of chicken liver mousse on Agnes’s mildly sweet cornbread. This is an ideal delivery vessel for the wonderfully salty mousse, chives, and marinated Luxardo cherries. 40 West Green Street, Pasadena. —Mona Holmes

Holy shawarma at Ammatolí in Long Beach

Sometimes when you order a dish and it’s not what you expected, it’s a major disappointment. I had the exact opposite experience recently at the Levantine restaurant Ammatolí in Long Beach: I dropped in for brunch after a couple of hours spent perusing the Long Beach Antique Market and ordered the Holy Shawarma, which, from its description, I assumed was going to be a wrapped sandwich of sorts. Instead, I was presented with a burrito-like creation: juicy chicken shawarma and house-made pickles are wrapped in a long pita, then drenched in punchy green tomatillo sauce, drizzled with labne, and topped with a smattering of feta, thinly sliced red onions, and cilantro. It ended up being a complete flavor bomb that I couldn’t stop eating — and I even couldn’t stop dipping pieces of fresh-baked pita from the restaurant’s wood-fired oven into the tomatillo sauce after I’d finished the shawarma. Even though my order ended up being unexpected, I didn’t regret it a single bit. My only regret, in fact, is not going with more people, because there’s so much on the menu I would’ve happily shared. 285 E. 3rd Street, Long Beach. —Karen Palmer

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