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Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate This Week

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

A blue plate filled with grilled asparagus and other vegetables at the Backyard at the Hollywood Bowl.
Grilled asparagus at the Backyard at the Hollywood Bowl.
Mona Holmes

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.


June 26, 2023

Persian princess croissant at Artelice Patisserie in Burbank

A croissant topped with dried rose petals on a rose patterned plate at Artelice Patisserie.
Persian princess croissant at Artelice.
Virali Dave

With locations in Burbank and West LA, Artelice Patisserie makes some of the best pastries in the Southland. There is a range of macarons, croissants, cakes, tarts, and eclairs, plus a variety of drink options, including a surprisingly robust decaf espresso. I recently stopped in for breakfast and had a Persian princess croissant — made with rose and orange blossom dough stuffed with pistachio filling — alongside my morning shot. It was aromatic and floral, tasting and smelling sweet and light. The filling was reminiscent of a frangipane, different from the cream I’ve tasted in most pistachio croissants. 117 N. San Fernando Boulevard, Burbank, CA 91502. —Virali Dave

Grilled asparagus over herbed farro at the Hollywood Bowl’s Backyard in Hollywood

A blue plate filled with grilled asparagus and other vegetables at the Backyard at the Hollywood Bowl.
Grilled asparagus at the Backyard.
Mona Holmes

After years of dragging my own food to picnic at the Hollywood Bowl, we recently decided to keep things easy by dining at the Backyard, Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne’s restaurant at the Bowl. It almost overlooks the stage with an incredible vantage point of the Hollywood Hills. Nearly everything is made over an open fire, including the grilled asparagus farro tabbouleh with a spring herb salad and preserved lemon salsa. This is what you hope to taste when dining out: inventive and perfectly cooked vegetables with flavors that don’t make me miss eating steak, chicken, or fish. It was hearty, fresh, and an ideal pre-concert bite. If heading there, capture the moment by ordering from the Backyard’s excellent wine list, and toast to the historic venue. 2301 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90068. —Mona Holmes

Poppyseed bagel at Jyan Isaac Bread in Santa Monica

LA’s bagel boom over the past several years doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, and Santa Monica-based baking wunderkind Jyan Isaac makes a sourdough version that’s exemplary. Isaac, who trained at Gjusta before ultimately opening his namesake bread bakery on Ocean Park Boulevard in 2021, makes Montreal-ish bagels with an airy crumb, a crisp exterior, and just the right amount of chew. His poppyseed bagels are coated within an inch of their lives with seeds and are studded with Maldon sea salt, which add up to give every bite an extra pop of crunch. I ate my bagel topped with scallion schmear, a thick slice of sweet heirloom tomato, wisps of red onion, a smattering of fresh basil, capers, and a kiss of lemon and olive oil. It tasted exactly like a Los Angeles bagel should: satisfying but surprisingly fresh. 1620 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90405. —Karen Palmer


June 20, 2023

Combination appetizer platter at Carnival in Sherman Oaks

A white plate with hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, and tabbouleh from Carnival in Sherman Oaks.
Combination appetizer platter at Carnival in Sherman Oaks.
Virali Dave

Open since 1984, Sherman Oak’s Carnival is a San Fernando Valley institution. The Lebanese dishes are done incredibly well, made with fresh ingredients and served in generous portions. While there are a number of standout dishes on the menu, including the lentil soup, the combination appetizer is always a good move. Expect a platter filled with some of the most exceptional hummus, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, and falafel the city has to offer, and plenty of it to share with the table. Carnival also serves incredible fries, and there’s no shame in using both fries and pita to finish up all the hummus and baba ganoush. 4356 Woodman Avenue, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. —Virali Dave

Chicken tinga-stuffed arancini at Amiga Amore Highland Park

A colorful basket filled with four chicken tinga-stuffed arancini at Amiga Amore Highland Park.
Chicken tinga-stuffed arancini at Amiga Amore Highland Park.
Matthew Kang

One of Highland Park’s hottest restaurants right now resides along the sleepier, more inland stretch of York Boulevard in a former jewelry shop. Chef Danielle Duran-Zecca and co-owner Alessandro Zecca found a quaint little home for their enduring Mexican Italian pop-up, and I found these arancini to be the best fusion of the two cuisines. Chicken tinga-infused rice comes slightly overcooked for a more risotto-like texture, covered with bread crumbs and then fried. A dusting of cilantro powder and a side of Calabrian tomato sauce comes in the colorful woven basket. El Chorro hot sauce takes things to another heat and tang level. Other courses on the menu I found to be mostly fine, though I wanted more from each aspect of the cuisine. More lime and acidity from the aguachile, more heat from the cavatelli’s chile de arbol-braised beef shank, and more of a salty punch from the cheese inside the panzerotti. But with just over a month so far, Amiga Amore’s first course of arancini is a clear winner. 5662 York Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90042. —Matthew Kang

Smash burger at Goldburger in Highland Park

A mash burger served on a plate with a checkered blue and white sheet of paper on top at Goldburger in Highland Park.
Smash burger at Goldburger in Highland Park.
Mona Holmes

Highland Park’s York Boulevard is consistently busy between Avenue 50 through 53 with Kumquat Coffee, Joy on York, Sticky Rice, or the sidewalk pop-up by Villas Tacos. But there’s plenty to eat slightly eastward and closer to Avenue 56 with longtime businesses and another crop of popular spots: Holcomb wine bar, newcomer Amiga Amore, and the always excellent Goldburger. Owner Allen Yellent opened his smash burger spot in 2019 after popping up all over town and beyond. In 2021, Yellent debuted location number two in Los Feliz, where anyone can try grass-fed patties in the form of cheeseburgers or a hearty double patty melt on Bub & Grandma’s toasted spelt polenta bread. Goldburger’s fries are the ones you hope are served while on a burger hunt: always hot, crispy, and never burned. Swell lemon-lime soda helps balance the meal out in the best kind of way. 5623 York Boulevard, Highland Park CA, 90042. —Mona Holmes

Crispy turmeric fish bánh mì at Carrots & Daikon in Garden Grove

A golden baguette filled with fried fish and cilantro at Carrots & Daikon in Garden Grove
Crispy turmeric fish bánh mì at Carrots & Daikon in Garden Grove
Cathy Chaplin

Whenever I am in or around the Garden Grove area, a stop at Carrot & Daikon is imperative. While the bánh mì đặc biệt is my go-to at practically every Vietnamese deli in town, I cannot resist ordering the #15 crispy turmeric fish banh mi here. A riff on the famous Hanoi dish, chả cá Thăng Long, a toasted baguette gets crammed full of fried filets of fish, pickled carrots and daikon, and jalapeno, and finished with a cilantro-lime sauce. It’s an extraordinary sandwich, one I always wish were available just a little closer to home. 8511 Westminster Boulevard, Garden Grove, CA 92844. —Cathy Chaplin


June 12, 2023

Mushroom pepper fry at Baar Baar in Downtown

Mushroom pepper fry at Baar Baar in Downtown.
Mushroom pepper fry at Baar Baar in Downtown.
Virali Dave

With another location in New York, Baar Baar made its LA debut last month, bringing chef Sujan Sarkar’s contemporary Indian dishes to Southern California. Just blocks away from L.A. Live, Sarkar and his team are adding something really special to the LA Indian dining scene, with dishes that showcase a wide regional range across India and Bollywood-inspired drinks that riff on several classics. A menu highlight is the mushroom pepper fry made with sunchokes, smoked almonds, and ramps. It’s a hearty dish best shared family-style like everything else on the menu. The chutney set, avocado pachadi, and homemade crisps are other standouts. The menu also features avocado bhel, tandoori butternut squash, paneer pinwheels, and monkfish osso bucco. 705 W 9th Street Los Angeles, CA 90015. —Virali Dave

Lunchtime omakase at Kogane in San Gabriel

Hands of sushi chef at Kogane assembling three pieces of sea urchin nigiri.
Lunchtime omakase at Kogane in San Gabriel.
Cathy Chaplin

It’s impossible not to feel a sense of serenity stepping into Kogane at lunchtime — notable considering its location next to a Wingstop on busy Fremont Boulevard in Alhambra. The restaurant’s lunchtime omakase, abbreviated and less expensive than the one served for dinner, makes for a terrific weekday splurge. While the menu changes from day to day depending on fish market conditions, a recent lunch began with simmered octopus before a parade of a dozen nigiri. From a 20-day, dry-aged toro with extra-vinegary rice to an ever-so-lightly grilled golden eye snapper and an impeccable sardine butterflied and prettied with chives, the progression moved at a steady yet ceremonial pace. Meals scarfed down in front of the computer are the norm around here but every so often it’s a treat to luxuriate over lunch. 1129 S. Fremont Avenue, C, Alhambra, CA 91803. —Cathy Chaplin

Esquites-style sweet corn agnolotti at the Rose in Venice

Esquites-style sweet corn agnolotti at the Rose in Venice.
Esquites-style sweet corn agnolotti at the Rose in Venice.
Matthew Kang

Available as a standalone dish or part of the month-long vegetable tasting menu at the Rose, the esquites-style sweet corn agnolotti is easily one of the most delicious kinds of pasta in the city. Chef Jason Neroni sprinkles crumbled cotija and Tajin for a salty and tangy kick to this classic spring-summer dish imbued with a pleasant sweetness from the corn. The agnolotti is just one of Neroni’s many inventive takes on California Italian. That vegetable tasting, available at the chef’s counter and priced at just $65 per person, could be the most affordable way to sample the Rose’s food, inspired by Neroni’s time at places like Blue Hill, El Bullí, and beyond. The chef’s counter vegetable tasting is available from Tuesday to Saturday until the end of June. Reservations are recommended. 220 Rose Avenue, Venice, CA 90291. —Matthew Kang

Peach fattoush salad at Momed in Atwater Village

Peach fattoush salad at Momed in Atwater Village.
Peach fattoush salad at Momed in Atwater Village.
Mona Holmes

Chef Vartan Abgaryan’s fingerprints are all over Los Angeles. He ran the kitchen at 71 Above, Cliff’s Edge, and Tommy’s in Beverly Hills, but keeps a firm hand at Atwater Village’s understated restaurant Momed. In recent months, Abgaryan revamped the menu where it’s nearly unrecognizable. He knows his way around a wood-fired grill so be sure to order the octopus on a massive skewer, but also take a close look to see what Abgaryan is doing with seasonal vegetables. The peach fattoush salad is where to start. Abgaryan’s version is not traditional and made with grilled peaches, nectarines, avocado, mint, red onions, and a sumac vinaigrette on a bed of garlic yogurt. Even as the gloomy June skies persist, Momed’s salad is refreshing and tastes like summer. 3245 Casitas Avenue, Atwater Village, CA 90039. —Mona Holmes


June 5, 2023

Uni chawanmushi at Uka in Hollywood

Uni chawanmushi at Uka. Matthew Kang

Once you’ve found the fifth-floor perch of Uka in Hollywood inside Japan House, a sort of government-funded showcase for Japanese culture, a heavy door opens into one of LA’s most special dining rooms. Helmed by chefs Yoshitaka Mitsue and Shingo Kato, LA’s newest kaiseki restaurant is simply remarkable from the get-go. Mitsue commands the attention up front at the sunken bar, meeting diners at eye level and giving those sitting at the bar a perfect view of the artful movements and preparations of a master Japanese chef. Mitsue’s approach to ingredients is about as intricate as one could expect, from pristine fish to delicate plating.

I found this creative chawanmushi particularly ravishing, with a light custardy steamed egg settled beneath a layer of gelatinized dashi and minced cucumber. Little nuggets of shrimp come along for a swim while a topping of Hokkaido uni acts as the star. LA has had the pleasure of N/Naka for over a decade now and Hayato for a few years, and while they remain destination worthy, it’s nice to have another top-grade addition to our kaiseki scene. 6801 Hollywood Boulevard, inside the Japan House, Los Angeles, CA. —Matthew Kang

Potato soup at Polka in Glassell Park

Potato soup at Polka in Glassell Park.
Potato soup at Polka in Glassell Park.
Mona Holmes

I’m sighing heavily as Gray May is officially June Gloom. It’ll be outrageously hot soon enough, which is why it’s best to consume some hot soup. This week, an ideal bowl came from a longtime Glassell Park operator, Polka Restaurant. This restaurant resides in a strip mall — in the same complex as respectable operator neighbor Donut Star — where they make a rare thing in Los Angeles: Polish food. And while the pierogies are worth ordering, the soup was simple and comforting as light rain drizzled on my car. The flavors are not complex, which is a bold approach in a spicy dining city like LA. 4112 Verdugo Road, Glassell Park, CA 90065. —Mona Holmes

Unagi eggplant at Planta Cocina in Marina del Rey

Unagi eggplant at Planta Cocina in Marina del Rey.
Unagi eggplant at Planta Cocina in Marina del Rey.
Virali Dave

Canadian and American plant-based restaurant chain Planta made its Los Angeles debut less than two weeks ago in Marina del Rey and is already drawing quite the crowd; the restaurant was packed when I visited this past weekend. The menu at Planta Cocina draws inspiration from pan-Latin cuisine with croquetas, tostadas, tacos, queso fundido, and more. There is also sushi, pasta, salads, and other vegetable plates, all meant to be shared. A highlight on the menu is the unagi eggplant: two thin pieces of eggplant so soft they melt, set atop bits of rice and finished with truffle miso. It’s a testament to how delicious the present (and future) of plant-based dining is. 4625 Admiralty Way, Suite 104, Marina del Rey, CA 90292. —Virali Dave.

Spicy dry noodles at 1919 Lanzhou Beef Noodle in Arcadia

A bowl of noodles topped bok choy and spices aat 1919 Lanzhou Beef Noodle in Arcadia.
Spicy dry noodles at 1919 Lanzhou Beef Noodle in Arcadia.
Cathy Chaplin

1919 Lanzhou Beef Noodle in Arcadia came across my radar a few years ago while researching regional Chinese beef noodle soups for an Eater feature. While I adored the cooking at this modest noodle shop, I hadn’t returned until this past weekend. One slurp of the spicy dry noodles reminded me of just how stellar 1919 is. The menu offers over half a dozen different noodle shapes and sizes, from angel hair to extra-wide belts. I selected the “flat” pappardelle-like strands that were hand-pulled to order and topped with blanched bok choy and heaps of aromatics like minced garlic, scallions, crushed dried chiles, and Sichuan pepper. A trio of cold appetizers that included pigs ears, kelp, and chicken gizzards made for an ideal accompaniment. The San Gabriel Valley is truly a Chinese food paradise. 148 E. Duarte Road, Arcadia, CA 91006. —Cathy Chaplin


May 30, 2023

Tandoori monkfish osso bucco at Baar Baar in Downtown

A roasted fish in a light yellow sauce on a long plate with a bowl of millet and crispy rice paper at a marble table at a new restaurant Baar Baar.
Tandoori monkfish osso bucco at Baar Baar in Downtown.
Wonho Frank Lee

There are many dishes to rave about at the brand-new Baar Baar in Downtown Los Angeles, not to mention the slate of thoughtful cocktails named after Bollywood films. (I’m still thinking about the Old Fashioned variation I sipped made with ghee-washed bourbon, bitters, and saffron syrup.) Following a slew of memorable starters that included a piping-hot green pea kulcha and chilled oysters topped with pickled cucumbers and a guava-chile granita, my husband and I shared a few mains, including the butter chicken and the tandoori monkfish osso bucco. While it’s hard to beat chef Sujan Sarkar’s signature butter chicken, the tender fish, delicately spiced and garnished with pickled rhubarb, gave it a run for its money. The comforting millet porridge served alongside the fish may have given it the slightest edge. 705 W. 9th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015. —Cathy Chaplin

Seafood gumbo at Stevie’s Creole Cafe in Mid-City

Seafood gumbo at Stevie’s Creole Cafe in Mid-City.
Seafood gumbo at Stevie’s Creole Cafe in Mid-City.
Matthew Kang

I’ve been on the hunt for some of the city’s best gumbo and I’d be remiss if I didn’t try the epic bowl from Stevie’s Creole Cafe in Mid-City. The restaurant’s own literature says the late Jonathan Gold considered the gumbo the “best this side of New Orleans,” but a keen reading of Gold’s original review doesn’t use that actual construction. Either way, it doesn’t matter because this nearly $30 feast of seafood and filé is certainly one of the most tremendous bowls of gumbo in LA, stocked with tender shrimp and king crab pieces, rounds of chewy andouille sausage and flakes of shredded chicken. The next time I try Stevie’s gumbo, I’ll ask for rice on the side so I can let the broth soak it up little by little instead of all at once. 5545 W. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90019. —Matthew Kang

Bacon egg and cheese sandwich at Bodega Park in Silver Lake

A bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich from Bodega Park.
Bacon egg and cheese sandwich at Bodega Park in Silver Lake.
Wonho Frank Lee

As someone who grew up in Southern California, I frequently encourage transplant residents to embrace LA for what it is, and to please leave their former city where it belongs. So it’s been surprising (and slightly triggering) to see a number of bodega-esque pop-ups and sandwiches in LA as of late. But I found my way into Silver Lake’s Bodega Park over the weekend and was delighted at the merging of cities on a menu. While the bacon, egg, and cheese is positively delightful, there’s also an aji chicken burrito with salsa roja, bulgogi roll, Philadelphia-inspired mantua, and even a chopped cheese. Former Black Hogg owner Eric Park made excellent sandwiches before opening Bodega Park and continues to push the envelope with new and fresh ingredients. What an excellent and very LA thing to do. 2852 W. Sunset Boulevard, Silver Lake CA 90026. —Mona Holmes

Saffron pistachio Medjool date “ice cream” at Awan in West Hollywood

Saffron pistachio Medjool date “ice cream” at Awan in West Hollywood.
Saffron pistachio Medjool date “ice cream” at Awan in West Hollywood.
Virali Dave

The menu at Awan, which means “cloud” in Indonesian, is straightforward. There are several flavors available, but as the brand’s Instagram bio is quick to point out, what’s being served through a small window in West Hollywood is not ice cream. Made from Indonesian coconut, the dessert has the scoopability and texture of an extra-creamy gelato, but it’s all vegan. The saffron pistachio Medjool date flavor is particularly special. It’s a riff on the Persian classic and is made with a saffron and rosewater base, with crunchy pistachios and soft date pieces added in for flavor and texture. 866 Huntley Drive, West Hollywood, CA 90069. —Virali Dave


May 22, 2023

Sunchokes with a grilled strawberry at Pasta Bar in Encino

Sunchokes with a grilled strawberry at Pasta Bar in Encino.
Sunchokes with a grilled strawberry at Pasta Bar in Encino.
Virali Dave

The standout dish on Pasta Bar’s ever-evolving 11-course tasting menu is the fowl course. While this course typically features dry-aged duck, a grilled strawberry, salsify puree, and a grilled ramp, there’s also a vegetarian version that uses slow-roasted sunchokes instead of duck. The sunchoke is roasted for an hour and a half with butter, grilled, and served alongside a charred strawberry jam, salsify puree, and grilled strawberry and ramp — all topped with a smooth sunchoke and allium chowder. The resulting dish is a revelation, proof that sunchokes and strawberries make a beautiful and complex combination: savory, sweet, creamy, and tart. 16101 Ventura Boulevard #255, Encino, CA 91436. —Virali Dave

Pad kra pao at Rad Nah Silom in East Hollywood

A ground pork Thai dish at Rad Nah Silom pop-up restaurant in East Hollywood, California.
Pad kra pao at Rad Nah Silom in East Hollywood.
Wonho Frank Lee

A recent dinner at Rad Nah Silom had me giddily sitting on a pink plastic stool in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard. The family-run, evenings-only Thai street food operation makes for an ideal meetup spot these days now that the weather is finally cooperating. Rungthip Sathirathiwat and her four sons serve a succinct menu of wok-fired noodles and rice, with not a single slouch on the menu. The pad thai topped with crunchy dried shrimp is well balanced, while the rad na noodles offer pure comfort on cooler evenings. But there’s nothing like the pad kra pao for those who can’t resist the unbeatable combination of bird-eye chiles, Thai basil, and ground pork. Served over steamed white rice with the option of adding a fried egg on top, the pad kra pao delivers an irresistible burn. 5321 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90027. —Cathy Chaplin

Roman California-style pizza at Roca in Pacific Palisades

Roman-California-style pizza at Roca in Pacific Palisades.
Roman-California-style pizza at Roca in Pacific Palisades.
Matthew Kang

Roman-style pizza hasn’t quite caught on the way that deeper-crusted Detroit-style has in Los Angeles, but that doesn’t mean the possibilities to explore the thinner crust, cut slice style are limited. That’s certainly what Roca founder Rick Rosenfield, who co-founded California Pizza Kitchen, saw in the format when he opened its first location in Pacific Palisades in the sprawling Caruso development. With prime placement along the sidewalk, Roca caters to a busy after school crowd and curious shoppers who aren’t used to seeing affordable food options in the Palisades. While Rosenfield and his chef Ohad Yosef were keen to develop classics, like sopressata, funghi, or caprese, Rosenfield wanted to make sure the imprint of his CPK past was on the menu. Hence, a barbecue chicken salad, barbecue chicken pizza, and Thai chicken pizza, three classics carried over but modified a bit for Roca. The results are half-inch thick pizzas covered to the edge with stringy mozzarella with a slight crisp coming from the dark metal pans and special Bonci-designed gas ovens. Luigi Roditis of Il Romanista and Nancy Silverton of Triple Beam might’ve been the first to help bring the style to LA, but given Rosenfield’s experience and resources, it’s not inconceivable to see Roca proliferating across busy commercial areas across town. 1061 N. Swarthmore Avenue, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272. —Matthew Kang

Blueberry spiral croissant at Delight Pastry in Pasadena

Blueberry spiral croissant at Delight Pastry in Pasadena.
Blueberry spiral croissant at Delight Pastry in Pasadena.
Mona Holmes

Delight Pastry in Old Town Pasadena is a visual stunner that’s spacious, bright, and inviting. The shop’s glass case holds a meticulous display of cakes, macarons, croissants, kouign amann, and other delicacies that appear way too beautiful to eat. Mother-daughter team Lily Azar and Sarah Hashemi operate the two-year-old bakery with a delicate touch and flavors developed from Azar’s 20-plus years of pastry experience in Iran and Europe. Her specialties are vast, but the blueberry spiral croissant is what got me. The pastry is slightly flattened, beautifully crispy, and dipped in a blueberry glaze. I’m not the biggest dessert fan, but this pastry must be shared and talked about. Order the blueberry spiral (or the delightful rose water croissant) with tea or coffee, sit down, and take the joyful moment in. 39 Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA, 91103. —Mona Holmes


May 15, 2023

Spaghetti and meatballs at La Dolce Vita in Beverly Hills

Spaghetti and meatballs at La Dolce Vita in Beverly Hills.
Spaghetti and meatballs at La Dolce Vita in Beverly Hills.
Wonho Frank Lee

The red sauce renaissance is real in Los Angeles. Or, more specifically, the East Coast Italian moment has finally arrived. Out of nowhere, a handful of saucy, savory spots has opened seemingly overnight, some focusing on seafood and others — like La Dolce Vita in Beverly Hills — crashing headlong into nostalgia with what may be the city’s best spaghetti and meatballs. Carbone isn’t coming to LA any time soon and the Jon & Vinny’s team is busy expanding to Miami soon, leaving La Dolce Vita as the current front-runner for cool, new (well, redone and reborn), one-off spots to hang out all night and really feel like Frank Sinatra. It’s not easy to get into the restaurant, but patience will be rewarded with one of the best and most satisfying bowls of pasta in town. La Dolce Vita is back, and LA’s red sauce moment is here in a very big way. 9785 S. Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. —Farley Elliott

Cheesecake at Tatel in Beverly Hills

Cheesecake at Tatel in Beverly Hills.
Cheesecake at Tatel in Beverly Hills.
Virali Dave

Located in Beverly Hills, with additional locations in Madrid, Ibiza, Mexico City, and beyond, Spanish restaurant Tatel launched a new tapas brunch menu this month. Chef Marva Desimone and her team are serving up a range of Spanish tapas — tortilla Española, Andalusian gazpacho, croquetas de jamón Ibérico — alongside some traditional American brunch dishes. Also on the menu is Tatel’s world-famous cheesecake, which is served a la mode with a scoop of smoked milk ice cream. It’s not exactly a Basque cheesecake, nor is it fully similar to a New York cheesecake; it’s somewhere in between, properly firm and gooey. Whether shared or eaten solo, a slice is a rich and indulgent treat, a wonderful close to any meal. 453 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. —Virali Dave

Panang lamb neck at Poltergeist in Echo Park

Panang lamb neck at Poltergeist in Echo Park.
Panang lamb neck at Poltergeist in Echo Park.
Cathy Chaplin

It’s hard to imagine a more joyful place for dinner these days than at Button Mash in Echo Park. Since February, chef Diego Argoti and his team have taken over the stoves at the barcade to deliver some of the most wildly creative cooking in town. The menu is full of familiar dishes turned on their heads. While individual dish descriptions can sound outlandish on the menu, everything makes perfect sense under Argoti’s care and the kitchen’s solid execution. Warm Parker House rolls arrive coiled like a cinnamon roll and glazed with miso honey. Ropey strands of hollowed-out pasta come slathered in green curry. And perhaps best of all, a perfectly cooked lamb neck, showered with fresh herbs, plops on the table ready to be tucked into saffron buns with a dab of hot sauce and a plethora of pickles. The kitchen is having a blast with flavors and format — come get a taste of their palpable energy and excitement. 1391 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026. —Cathy Chaplin


May 8, 2023

Risotto verde at Grandmaster Recorders in Hollywood

Risotto verde at Grandmaster Recorders in Hollywood.
Risotto verde at Grandmaster Recorders in Hollywood.
Virali Dave

Located in the heart of Hollywood, Grandmaster Recorders is a 15,000-square-foot multi-level space serving coastal Italian and Australian fare alongside an impressive array of cocktails and wines. Given its past as a recording studio — where the likes of David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Gwen Stefani once recorded some of their hits — there’s also always eclectic and tasteful music playing to create the right ambiance. The dinner menu includes an array of breads, antipasti, and other small plates, alongside larger plates, and pizzas join the menu this week. A highlight was the risotto verde, which comes with green garbanzo, spring peas, goat cheese, and scallion oil. It’s creamy without being heavy, vibrant and herbaceous, and made all the more delightful with generous dollops of cheese. 1518 N. Cahuenga Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028. —Virali Dave

Crispy intestine at Golden Leaf in San Gabriel

Crispy intestine at Golden Leaf in San Gabriel.
Crispy intestine at Golden Leaf in San Gabriel.
Cathy Chaplin

There are many ways to enjoy intestines, whether braised with aromatics in dark soy sauce or tenderly cooked with rice in a porridge. My current favorite preparation entails slicing the offal lengthwise, trimming it into bite-sized pieces, and frying it to a golden crisp. With its slight musk and unyielding chew, intestines can be challenging for some. But at the Taiwanese restaurant Golden Leaf in San Gabriel, the kitchen’s ingenious method yields an awesomely crispy texture that glistens like lacquered duck skin, while the flip side’s molten layer melts in one’s mouth. 717 W. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel, CA 91776. —Cathy Chaplin

Chicken Parm at the new Drake’s on Melrose

The booths are deep, the tables are big, and the lights are low at the new Drake’s at 8747 Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. Formerly a furniture store, this see-and-be-seen hangout has been completely overhauled by the Vandelay Hospitality team out of Texas (Hudson House). The group is growing into Los Angeles with other projects in the coming months, despite some rough waters, and this new throwback Italian steakhouse arrival is just the beginning. Look for big platters of spicy pasta, fun starters like crab rangoon, and a towering multi-layer cake that gives alternate Hollywood Hills hotspot Lavo a run for its money. The real show-stopper is certain to be the chicken Parm, served wide and thin with a just-sweet-enough sauce. It’s not the kind of massively overhanging chicken breast that has been pounded to death in the kitchen (that’s a good thing), making it a satisfying entree that can also be shared by one or more diners at the table if everyone is sharing everything. And at Drake’s, the party is certainly meant for everyone. 8747 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood. —Farley Elliott


May 1, 2023

Truffle risotto at Casa Madera in West Hollywood

Casa Madera inside the Mondrian Hotel is a stunner. Tall windows reveal beautiful city views and the interior’s carefully curated neutral decor creates a warm environment. The drink program is thoughtful and thorough and comes with all the bells and whistles — expect smoke, fire, foam, and more. The menu features Mayan and Mediterranean fare, and the dishes are a true feast for the senses. Presentation is everything, but it’s never style over substance. Casa Madera’s truffle risotto is as beautiful as it is rich and comes with wild mushrooms, Parmesan fondue, and shaved Parmesan, with the option to add shaved black truffle as well. The dish is made all the more visually appealing with pops of color from blue flowers, green chives, and red chile flakes. It’s hearty and warm, and best-shared family style. 8440 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069. —Virali Dave

Arròs negre at Flor y Solera in the Arts District

Arròs negre at Flor y Solera in the Arts District.
Arròs negre at Flor y Solera in the Arts District.
Cathy Chaplin

There are many ways to start (tapas of all stripes including classic gildas and several types of croquetas) and end (churros, crema Catalana, and more) a meal at Flor y Solera, but it is essential to make room for the arròs negre somewhere in between. Found under the Arroces y Demas section of the menu, the one-pan wonder arrives at the table white-hot and ready to be devoured. The squid ink-stained Calasparra rice, embedded and topped with both squid and cuttlefish, whisks tastebuds to the sunny shores of Valencia. Equal parts comforting and transportive, it’s the dish that needs to be on every table. 1335 E. 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021. —Cathy Chaplin

Marionberry huckleberry merlot pie at Know Reality Pie in Eagle Rock

Marionberry huckleberry merlot pie at Know Reality Pie in Eagle Rock.
Marionberry huckleberry merlot pie at Know Reality Pie in Eagle Rock.
Stephanie Breijo

I am nursing a hangover this morning. My body is in very bad shape after tasting 30-plus pies within a few hours. This all happened on Sunday at KCRW’s Good Food PieFest and Contest, where a group of judges gathered at UCLA to choose from hundreds and hundreds of pies entered by home chefs and professional ones. My category was fruit, and we narrowed it down to three. Though there was an outstanding cherry-plum zinfandel, Know Reality Pie baker Michael Biggie’s marionberry huckleberry merlot pie stole my heart with a complex interior, perfect sweetness, and latticed top. It’s a bold choice given that most berries are not quite at peak, but I would happily take another slice or a whole pie anytime, even in my present state. Head over to Know Reality Pie to try one of Biggie’s creations; they take orders in advance and walk-ups on weekends. 5106 Townsend Avenue, Eagle Rock, CA 90041. —Mona Holmes

Short ribs at Theia on West Third

Every night is a party at Theia on West Third Street. The Greek-by-way-of-the-dance-floor restaurant is prone to bring out sparklers and spin napkins in the air to the thrum of upbeat DJ sets, inviting everyone into the mid-block party between Robata Jinya and a nail salon. Theia is a unique experience even for Los Angeles and is best enjoyed with friends who are ready to laugh, stand up, and generally have a great night. The food skews towards lighter fare and roasted meats, and works well when paired with strong and continuous cocktails, but the sleeper hit of the space may well be the slow-cooked short ribs served in a garbanzo bean stew. It’s rustic, rich, and filling for a colder week like the one Los Angeles is about to have, and warms up the body enough to keep the sparkling party going all night long. 8048 W. Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048. —Farley Elliott


April 24, 2023

Papaya salad at Anajak Thai in Sherman Oaks

Papaya salad at Anajak Thai in Sherman Oaks.
Papaya salad at Anajak Thai in Sherman Oaks.
Virali Dave

There are so many incredible dishes from Anajak Thai that are worth ordering over and over again, and the green papaya salad might genuinely be my favorite. Though it might appear to be one of the simpler offerings on the menu, the dish is so multifaceted — spicy, sour, sweet, citrusy, savory, umami, and crunchy all at once. The addition of the kumquats in the papaya salad made the start to our meal feel all the more special, and added texture and brightness that played well with the tomato, peanut, lime, and chile. The first and last bites were most special; the first shocked my palate with the dish’s complexity. The last — a spoonful of the spicy, sweet, sour, citrusy dressing — was so delicious and drinkable that I’d like to make a cocktail with it. 14704 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403. —Virali Dave

Bánh cuốn đặc biệt at Bánh Cuốn Lưu Luyến in Garden Grove

Bánh cuốn đặc biệt at Bánh Cuốn Lưu Luyến in Garden Grove.
Bánh cuốn đặc biệt at Bánh Cuốn Lưu Luyến in Garden Grove.
Cathy Chaplin

With the recent openings of Tenseven Rolls in San Gabriel and Bánh Cuốn Hương Bắc in El Monte, bánh cuốn is having a moment of sorts in LA. While this northern Vietnamese delicacy of steamed and filled rice paper rolls can be hard to come by locally, it’s easy to find in Little Saigon — and Bánh Cuốn Lưu Luyến is one of the most popular destinations for the dish. On my first visit to the fast-casual restaurant, my mom and I shared the house special, which included plain rice rolls and ones filled with ground pork and shrimp. The generous platter arrived topped with an egg roll, two different kinds of steamed pork, fried tofu, bánh cống (deep-fried mung bean cake with shrimp), and a heap of deep-fried shallots. We doused everything in fish sauce, of course. The variety of textures and flavors on the platter left nothing to be desired. Pro tip: It’s always a great idea to order the đặc biệt on any Vietnamese menu to get a sense of what the restaurant considers its strongest offering. 14351 N. Euclid Street, #1J, Garden Grove, CA 92843. —Cathy Chaplin

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
Hatchet Hall

Wes Whitsell departed from Hatchet Hall last week, leaving the impressive restaurant without a chef at the helm. My group already booked a reservation before the news came out and canceling was out of the question. We all wondered if the kitchen standards would remain intact, but after one bite of the cornbread, I am happy to report that they are. That was the case with every dish, but that wonderful, custardy cornbread is one of the star items that keep customers returning. The heirloom grains hail from Anson Mills in South Carolina and are baked with care. There’s ample butter to assist, so much so that one could even designate the cornbread as dessert. Whatever the path, order one or two for the table and dig in. 12517 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90066. —Mona Holmes

Brazilian cheese bread and delightful drinks at Nossa Caipirinha Bar in Los Feliz

The best part about one of those really fine spring days, the warm ones that come after days of rain and wind and cold, is being outside with a drink in hand. Spaces like Nossa Caipirinha Bar are built specifically for such moments, when the doors and windows are open and the energy of the room inside calls to people passing by. Others opt for the sun-dappled sidewalk patio, catching wafts of music from the primary dining room and errant chatter from the street beyond. It’s a moment that can feel like a beautiful lifetime, especially when caipirinhas and some of Nossa’s simple pão de queijo (cheese bread) get involved. With luck there are many more days like that ahead, where the world of LA dining opens up and suddenly, sitting on a patio sipping Brazilian drinks and pulling off bites of cheese bread, feels like the most natural thing in the world to be doing on a Saturday afternoon. 1966 Hillhurst Avenue, Los Feliz. —Farley Elliott


April 17, 2023

Kee mow at Dek Sen’s in Sherman Oaks

Kee mow at Dek Sen’s in Sherman Oaks.
Kee mow at Dek Sen’s in Sherman Oaks.
Virali Dave

Los Angeles has the largest Thai population outside Thailand, so it’s no surprise that the city is rich with options for incredible Thai restaurants. The San Fernando Valley is home to many of them, and Dek Sen’s, which serves Thai-inspired comfort food in a small shop in Sherman Oaks, is one of the newer spots to enter the scene. (It joined sister restaurants Rustic Spoon, which has locations in nearby Valley Village and Toluca Lake, in January 2023.) Dek Sen’s is the sort of spot you want in every neighborhood for quick and easy access to rich and flavorful Thai dishes. I stopped by for the first time this week, and the kee mow was a true highlight. I order Thai takeout regularly, but these noodles were exceptional. They were extra long with wavier edges that held even more sauce, and they tasted fresh, with a perfectly chewy texture. Stir-fried with white onion, bell peppers, peanuts, and a signature drunken sauce (and finished with a shot of whiskey), the kee mow comes at a range of spice levels and should not be missed. 14845 Burbank Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA 91411. —Virali Dave

Carne asada burrito at Tacos Tumbras a Tomas in Downtown

Carne asada burrito at Tacos Tumbras a Tomas in Downtown.
Carne asada burrito at Tacos Tumbras a Tomas in Downtown.

There’s a hierarchy to Grand Central Market, Downtown LA’s historic dining and shopping destination. All of the restaurant vendors there are busy, sure, but some — like Eggslut — pull in an outsized crowd, for one reason or another. At the newish Broad Street Oyster Co., it’s all about branding and social media engagement; at G&B Coffee it’s the location and high-quality coffee. Few vendors carry the same level of influence, fanbase, and flavor as Tacos Tumbras a Tomas, though. The legacy stall is surrounded by signs informing queueing customers as to where they should stand, lest the hordes of taco, burrito, and torta eaters clog up the aisles entirely. Even with fast service and a steam table setup, there are so many eager eaters ready to eat at Tacos Tumbras that things can go from busy to bursting in no time flat, particularly around lunchtime when the carne asada burritos and taco plates become perhaps the most in-demand dining option in the whole market. Part of the equation that keeps people coming back is price, surely, and part of it is flavor, but in the end, it is the confluence of those and other factors (like the stand’s lasting legacy) that keep Tacos Tumbras a Tomas as busy as can be, day in and day out. There is no shortage of fantastic burritos around Los Angeles, but there is only one Tacos Tumbras a Tomas. 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013. —Farley Elliott

Stuffed apricots at Café Basque in Downtown

Stuffed apricots at Café Basque in Downtown.
Stuffed apricots at Café Basque in Downtown.
Cathy Chaplin

Chef Daniel Rose’s Café Basque has been humming along since opening at the tail end of last year, attracting buzzy crowds during dinner hours. While it's hard to deny the charms of sitting at a booth, the bar stools perched along the restaurant’s counter peering into the open kitchen offer excellent views while nibbling on pintxos and sipping crisp wines. In addition to ordering the classics like tortilla Española and croquettes, lean into less familiar bites, especially the stuffed apricots. The apricots, poached in cider vinegar and stuffed with duck confit, taste like a triple punch of sweet, savory, and tangy. A delicate drizzle with duck jus adds the finishing touch. 1060 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90015. —Cathy Chaplin

Super saiyan crunch roll at Naughty Vegan in Pasadena

Super saiyan crunch roll at Naughty Vegan in Pasadena.
Super saiyan crunch roll at Naughty Vegan in Pasadena.
Mona Holmes

When someone recommends a plant-based restaurant, I proceed with caution. My follow-up is: “What kind of vegan food do you like?” Preferences vary from those who embrace faux meats to those looking for culinary creativity using actual vegetables. I live with a vegetarian and we try to eat mostly vegan at home, but no matter the restaurant, it should taste delicious upon first bite. This week, the best bite without question was the super saiyan crunch roll from Naughty Vegan. My eyes were on a slice from U Street Pizza directly across the street, but my partner insisted I try the roll. It’s got ample crunch and is stacked with ingredients: house-made imitation crab meat, avocado, cucumber, crispy onions, spicy mayo, scallions, sesame seeds, and a wonderful glaze drizzled on top. 20 E. Union Street, Unit 170, Pasadena, CA. —Mona Holmes


April 10, 2023

Fish and chips at the Lonely Oyster in Echo Park

Fish and chips at Found Oyster in East Hollywood.
Fish and chips at Found Oyster in East Hollywood.
Mona Holmes

Go to the Lonely Oyster and order the fish and chips. Full stop. And yes, this dish is easy to find in LA but not all live up to the standard set by this Echo Park restaurant. After all, this is an eatery that prides itself on ample seafood choices like salmon crudo, ceviche, uni and caviar service, and of course, oysters. Here chef Dom Crisp dips New Zealand snapper in tempura batter before dropping it in the fryer, and sprinkles fries with Old Bay seasoning while whipping together house-made tartar sauce. Staff expertly suggested a Santa Barbara chardonnay to go with this satisfying and classic item. 1320 Echo Park Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90026. —Mona Holmes

Vermicelli mac and cheese at San Laurel in Downtown

Vermicelli mac and cheese at San Laurel in Downtown.
Vermicelli mac and cheese at San Laurel in Downtown.
Virali Dave

San Laurel is one of two restaurants from chef Jose Andrés currently open in Los Angeles, joined by Agua Viva just across the 10th floor of the Conrad Hotel downtown. The restaurant transforms Southern California produce using Andrés’s signature spin on Spanish cuisine. The resulting dishes are imaginative and familiar. (I went to school in Washington, DC, and Andrés’s numerous spots in the city are what first taught me to love restaurants.) This weekend, I tried the vermicelli mac and cheese at San Laurel — fideuá pasta and Idiazábal cheese topped with chanterelle mushrooms, dollops of egg yolk sauce, and a generous amount of crispy shallots, all garnished with a single laurel leaf. Visually, the dish was almost akin to birds in a nest. It was also comfort food at its best — hearty, warm, and not overly complex. 100 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012. —Virali Dave

Burrito at Damian in the Arts District

Burrito at Damian in the Arts District.
Burrito at Damian in the Arts District.
Cathy Chaplin

Weekend brunch at Damian is an understated affair in a town chock-full of high-energy options with free-flowing mimosas, souffle pancakes, and tipsy crowds. Though usually darkly lit during dinner hours, the space on a weekend morning gives off appealing industrial vibes, especially on the covered patio. After starting off with a duo of savory-leaning sweets, including the blue corn concha and panque de elote, my dining companion and I shared a tostada, the amply portioned fried chicken, and delightful chilaquiles topped with machaca-style fish. The most memorable dish of the morning was the most seemingly simple one, a Norteño-style burrito filled with conchita pibil. The tender flour tortilla held the contents well, while the salsa verde was just the thing to brighten up the delicate parcel. And now that I’ve experienced the serenity of brunching at this Arts District gem, it’ll be hard to go back to the days of long waits, over-the-top waffles, and booming dining rooms. 2132 E. 7th Place, Los Angeles, CA 90021. —Cathy Chaplin

Mt. Lowe-Down pizza at Side Pie in Altadena

The simple back patio at Side Pie in Altadena is part hidden gem, part family hangout, and entirely a blast. The hilltop corner restaurant — which began life as an underground pizza project serving out of the side yard of a house nearby, hence the name — is a gathering spot for Altadena locals who come through to enjoy wide slices of wood-fired pizza cooked in a domed oven that’s tiled in homage to the Grateful Dead. The pizzas move from basic to complex depending on one’s needs, with options for simple pepperoni and cheese to this month’s Mt. Lowe-Down special, a red sauce option that comes with Korean-flavored bits of beef, fermented cucumber, and a habanero ranch sauce for a nice kick. It’s a wild, flavor-packed pie with sales proceeds going to the Lowelifes Respectable Citizens Club, which works locally to fix area hiking trails and promote access to the wilderness just beyond Altadena’s front door. Good pizza, great vibes, amazing cause — what’s not to love? 900 E. Altadena Drive, Los Angeles, CA 91001. —Farley Elliott


April 3, 2023

Backyard classic burger at Flavor Season in Glendora

Backyard burger from Flavor Season.
Backyard burger from Flavor Season.
Farley Elliott

The smashed and heavily-seared burger is ubiquitous in Los Angeles now, spreading from its early local days at spots like Burgers Never Say Die to become the de facto style for any new burger restaurant in the region. That’s a mistake, in my view, because it’s so limiting — and only further saturates an already over-served market. Still, there’s no denying that heavily-crusted burgers have their place (so long as they’re not only crusted and charred beef), particularly when married with quality simple ingredients like pickles, chopped onions, American cheese, and some kind of sauce.

At Flavor Season in Glendora, the simple Backyard Classic does just that, and the result is predictable if delicious, making it a standout for the Inland Empire. The strip mall restaurant, which is otherwise short on ambiance, is managing not to push the boundaries of the smash burger form but to act as an intentional steward, expanding the virtues of the genre to an ever-more-suburban audience. And for that, we thank Flavor Season for the work they’re doing. 1311 S. Grand Avenue, Glendora, CA 91740. —Farley Elliott

Lobster scampi pizza at the Rose in Venice

Scampi pizza from the soon-to-open Best Best in Culver City.
Scampi pizza from the soon-to-open Best Best in Culver City.
Matthew Kang

There’s a new brunch menu at the Rose in Venice, which doesn’t seem to faze chef Jason Neroni serving through hundreds of people each weekend day. While there, he modified a pizza he plans to serve at Best Bet, scheduled to open in the very near future in Culver City. A blistered Neapolitan-style pie came topped with a garlicky, oily red scampi sauce that substitutes lobster for shrimp since we’d already ordered the shrimp and grits. Be sure to have napkins ready for this wonder of a pizza, with thick red oil ready to splatter onto clothes and chins.

Expect a thick, airy cornicione with blackened blobs (which one may or may not prefer) from a wood-fired oven. The scampi pizza shows a good deal of Neroni’s creative thinking forthcoming at his new restaurant, and I certainly excited. 220 Rose Avenue, Venice, CA 90291. Best Bet is opening 12565 W. Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90066 within a few weeks (fingers crossed). —Matthew Kang

Spicy no-tuna hand roll at Niku Nashi on Melrose Avenue

Seemingly out of nowhere, vegan sushi is having a micro moment in LA. While the genre itself is not new, some of the players are, including Niku Nashi, which operates a self-described “permanent residency” within APB on Melrose.

The new vegan cocktail bar and hangout in the former Darkroom space (which also offers alcohol-free cocktails and entirely dry days of the week) has found a ready audience thanks to its leafy interior and garden-esque appeal. The sushi at Niku Nashi matches the vibes, served on slate-toned plates and with lots of sauce and sides. The food isn’t groundbreaking as sushi, but it is high quality and thoughtfully constructed to appeal to as many diners as possible.

That’s good news, vegan or not, for many Angelenos who simply enjoy the creative possibilities with fun, colorful cut and hand rolls. No one who is a real sushi aficionado will be “fooled” (not that anyone is trying) by the dishes at Niku Nashi, but for an everyday snack at a lush new Melrose bar, dishes like the spicy no tuna hand roll are more than up to the challenge. 7302 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036. —Farley Elliott

Assorted poke bowl at Ali’i Fish Company in Torrance

Hawaiian tuna and spicy ahi tuna with seaweed salad at Ali’i Fish Company in Torrance.
Hawaiian tuna and spicy ahi tuna with seaweed salad at Ali’i Fish Company in Torrance.
Matthew Kang

Even after my trip to the big island of Hawai’i last year, I’d had high reverence for great poke, knowing that most, if not essentially all of the poke in Los Angeles falls short of the high standard one would expect to find on the islands. To me, the essence of everyday poke is in the market-style setup with seasoned fish and just a few additions, like seaweed salad or avocado slices. There aren’t any additional sauces or fish roe or modifications, really. Just pick your fish and eat over a salad, rice, or both. I seem to have lucked out in getting the takeout location of Ali’i Fish Company, which also has a more built-out restaurant in El Segundo, just a few miles from my South Bay home.

At Ali’i’s Torrance outlet, it’s just four to five different kinds of tuna or salmon sporting light marinates that allow the freshness and flavor of the fish to come through. Ali’i claims to have its own buyers getting fish direct from Hawai’i, and it’s clear the fish quality is a step above a garden-variety poke spot in LA, given their plump, almost luxurious texture. Coupled with a sweet, chewy seaweed salad and seasoned sushi rice on the bottom, it’s an exercise in simplicity. 4437 Sepulveda Boulevard, Torrance, CA 90505. —Matthew Kang

Dry-aged duck at Pasta Bar in Encino

Dry-aged duck bread at Pasta Bar in Encino.
Dry-aged duck bread at Pasta Bar in Encino.
Matthew Kang

The varied, ambitious tasting menu at Pasta Bar in Encino landed the San Fernando Valley one of its newest Michelin stars when the guide returned to LA a few years ago, leaving food enthusiasts in the 818 their own impressive counter to enjoy fine dining without having to trek over the Hollywood Hills. Pasta Bar features all the mores and fineries of a Michelin Star tasting counter, with stellar wine pairings and an Italian-influenced set of small plates where each dish focsuses on a few strong flavors.

Of all the savory courses, the dry-aged duck breast stood out to me, the intense minerality and gentle funk of the duck complemented by a tangy, sweet citrus sauce. The kitchen did a terrific job cooking this to a perfect rare while searing the skin to a chicharrón-level of crispiness. I wished for a tad more of the buttery salsify puree to help bind every bite, that’s a foible I can get over when thinking about the delicious, elemental duck preparation. 16101 Ventura Boulevard #255, Encino, CA 91436. —Matthew Kang