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A collection of Lao dishes on a wooden table at Yum Sະlut in LA’s Chinatown.
Lao dishes at Yum Sະlut in Chinatown.
Wonho Frank Lee

The Best Dishes Eater LA Editors Ate This Year, Mapped

The 20 restaurant dishes we couldn’t stop dreaming about in 2023

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Lao dishes at Yum Sະlut in Chinatown.
| Wonho Frank Lee

The editors at Eater LA highlight our best dishes each week on the site, so it’s only appropriate with 2023 drawing to a rapid close to naming our very best dishes of the year. From crispy fried chicken with a Panamanian bent to a Thai twist on a classic Caesar salad and deep-fried intestines served with heaps of dried chiles, here now are the 20 best dishes Eater editors ate this year, presented geographically from north to south.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process. If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Lobster with sticky rice at Colette

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Chef Peter Lai, formerly of Embassy Kitchen in San Gabriel, is bringing LA’s Chinese food connoisseurs to an unexpected strip mall in East Pasadena. The chef’s menu at Colette includes classic Cantonese dishes along with new-school takes that draw from pan-Asian flavors and traditions. On a visit for a friend’s birthday, the array of dishes included sauteed chayote with minced pork and pickled olives, beef chow fun, crispy chicken with shrimp paste, and lobster with sticky rice. While the stir-fried noodles dazzled with the deep essence of wok hei and the crispy chicken was as good as ever, it was the perfectly cooked lobster combined with sausage-studded sticky rice that proved most enticing. Bringing together two quintessential Cantonese dishes on one feast-worthy platter is the kind of unexpected move that keeps diners coming back to Colette. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Lobster with sticky rice at Colette in Pasadena.
Lobster with sticky rice at Colette.
Cathy Chaplin

Blueberry spiral croissant at Delight Pastry

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As someone who isn’t keen on dessert, I was stunned after tasting the spiral croissants at Delight Pastry. Mother-daughter team Sarah Hashemi and Lily Azar operate this Pasadena bakery offering more than the trendy spiral croissants. The display case is lined with cakes, macarons, and croissants, and the product of Hashemi’s 20 years of experience baking in Iran and Europe. Her specialties are vast, but the blueberry spiral croissant is sweet joy. The pastry is slightly flattened, beautifully crispy, and dipped in a blueberry glaze. Eating the blueberry spiral or the delightful rose water croissant is only half of the experience. The rose-colored shop makes outstanding teas and coffee in a relaxing rose-colored room. —Mona Holmes, reporter

Spiral croissants at Delight Pastry in Pasadena, California.
Spiral croissants.
Wonho Frank Lee

Uni chawanmushi at Uka

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Once you’ve found the fifth-floor perch of Uka in Hollywood inside Japan House, a government-funded hub for Japanese culture, a heavy door opens into one of LA’s most remarkable dining rooms. Helmed by chefs Yoshitaka Mitsue and Shingo Kato, LA’s newest kaiseki restaurant is special from the get-go. Mitsue commands the attention up front at the sunken bar, meeting diners at eye level and giving full 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 sliced fish to delicate plating.

I found the 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 in the custardy steamed egg 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 the city’s kaiseki scene. —Matthew Kang, lead editor

Uni chawanmushi at Uka.
Uni chawanmushi at Uka.
Matthew Kang

Sumo Kumo oyster with caviar at Connie and Ted’s

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I’ll admit to loving chef Michael Cimarusti’s food, especially when he collaborates with other seafood specialists. In early November, Cimarusti, Connie & Ted chef Sam Baxter, and Bar Le Côte’s Brad Alan Mathews put together something special to celebrate 10 years at the West Hollywood restaurant. When a server set a massive Sumo Kumo in front of me — the bigger sibling of the Kumamoto oyster — filled with golden Kaluga caviar and beurre blanc, I secretly wished for a second one which sadly wasn’t possible during a tasting menu. However, it certainly made me want to pay attention to anything happening at Providence, Bar Le Côte, and Connie & Ted. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Sumo Kumo oyster with caviar at Connie & Ted’s.
Sumo Kumo oyster with caviar.
Mona Holmes

Naem at Budonoki

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Budonoki chef Dan Rabilwongse’s tapped his mother to make the Spam-like Thai naem sausage, a lacto-fermented slightly sour forcemeat studded with bright red chiles. Served in lovely bite-sized sausages with crispy rice balls and a refreshing mound of shredded cabbage, it’s an unforgettable starter that shows the ideal mishmash of Thai and Japanese flavors at the energetic Virgil Village izakaya. And it’s even better with a glass of crisp Orion beer. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

Naem sausage with crispy rice from Budonoki.
Naem at Budonoki.
Matthew Kang

Stir-fried pork intestines at XiAn Biang Biang Noodle

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You absolutely must order the signature biang biang noodles when dining at XiAn Biang Biang Noodle in San Gabriel, a spot tucked on the ground floor of an aging strip mall with surprisingly few restaurants. The ropey strands deliver a wonderfully toothsome bite that may very well be the platonic ideal of this regional Chinese specialty in Los Angeles. Also toothsome and fabulous are the fried been jelly found under the “local specialty” portion of the menu and the “big plate” preparation made with chicken or lamb. The stir-fried pork intestines, a last-minute addition to a noodle-focused lunch, turned out to be the dish I can’t stop thinking about. Wok-fried with enough dried chiles and Sichuan peppercorns to set my mouth afire, the intestines delivered a pleasantly chewy texture and satisfying burn I was hoping for. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Stir-fried pork intestines Xian Biang Biang in San Gabriel.
Stir-fried pork intestines XiAn Biang Biang Noodle.
Cathy Chaplin

Panang lamb neck at Poltergeist

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It’s hard to imagine a more joyful place for dinner than at Button Mash in Echo Park. Since February 2023, 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 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. —Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

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

Thai Caesar salad at Poltergeist

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Instagram is full of wild dishes that chef Diego Argoti serves at Poltergeist but look beyond the splashy pics to find depth and deliciousness that goes beyond the surface. Poltergeist received Eater LA’s Most Mind-Blowing Dining Experience thanks to Argoti’s spectacular and unexpected cooking. I was taken aback by the towering green splendor that is Argoti’s Thai Caesar salad. It’s briny, crisp, and a bit of a puzzle to figure out how to take a bite. — Mona Holmes, reporter

A pink bowl filled with Thai Caesar salad at Poltergeist at Button Mash.
Thai Caesar salad at Poltergeist.
Cathy Chaplin

Tempura scallops at Ototo

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Ototo in Echo Park may be a “younger brother” (literally, in its Japanese translation, and figuratively, to next-door izakaya Tsubaki) but its James Beard Award-winning sake program and irreverent, frequently changing menu of Japanese bar snacks has given it a main character energy all its own. On a recent visit, we marveled at our array of dishes, including fluke sashimi spiked with ponzu and patches of limey yuzu kararin, okonomiyaki topped with fluttering bonito flakes, and a filet-ototo-fish sandwich that can only be tamed with a two-hand grip. But the standout was a deceptively simple scallop tempura, marked by its precision and accompanying griddled shishito peppers. Each bite burst with the fresh, slight sweetness of the scallop, its interior texture almost milky. The perfect bar snack doesn’t ex— well, maybe it does. — Nicole Adlman, cities manager

Ototo in Echo Park.
Ototo in Echo Park.
Farley Elliot

Tomato perilla salad at Kinn

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A seven-course tasting menu captured the best of Southern California’s summer bounty at the now-closed restaurant Kinn in Koreatown. A luscious corn and scallop soup started everything off before winding to tender slices of bulgogi garnished with ripe peaches and finishing with a watermelon fruit salad. The ingredients were completely of the moment, while the flavors and formats reflected chef Ki Kim’s distinct modern Korean point of view. While choosing a favorite among the parade of hits is hard, the tomato perilla salad was stunning. Juicy-sweet tomatoes were at the forefront, their tangy profile reminiscent of naengmyeon broth, while a perilla sorbet brought an herbaceous and cooling effect. Dabs of burrata and smoked trout roe added just a touch of richness. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Tomato perilla salad at Kinn in Koreatown.
Tomato perilla salad at Kinn.
Cathy Chaplin

Gukbap at Lee Ga

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Much of my last month has been swathed in sickness, as me or my family members succumbed to the miscellaneous RSVs lurking around Los Angeles right now. The remedy to feeling unwell is always soup, of course, and that soup can very often be found in Koreatown. On a crisp fall day, we visited soup and naengmyeon specialist Lee Ga, a new-school favorite popular for its hangover-abating seolleongtangs and cold noodle dishes that spin long, springy buckwheat strands into gold. For whatever reason, the signature gukbap struck me: The ox bone stew, while spicy, was not hot enough to be a throat irritant, and filled with soul-warming ingredients like napa cabbage and other vegetables. I left feeling not only fuller, but a little more whole. — Nicole Adlman, cities manager

LeeGa dining room in Los Angeles.
LeeGa dining room in Los Angeles.
Matthew Kang

Lao sausages at Yum Sະlut

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There are many dishes to adore at Yum Sະlut, the Lao food pop-up in Chinatown at Lokel’s Only, but the one that I can’t stop thinking about is the sausages. The hand-made links are filled with all that’s good including coarsely ground pork, makrut lime leaves, lemongrass, shallots, chiles, and garlic. Chef and owner Tharathip Soulisak isn’t shy about the amount of pork fat he adds for oomph and flavor. The thick tomato chutney served alongside ought to be swiped atop every taut and meaty bite. —Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Lao fried sausage platter at Yum Sະlut in Chinatown.
Lao sausages at Yum Sະlut.
Wonho Frank Lee

Gambas al ajillo at San Laurel

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Leave it to José Andrés and the kitchen team at San Laurel to perfect one of the most common Spanish dishes: gambas al ajillo. I’ve been searching far and wide for a version that I wanted to finish to the last drop of olive oil, and the rendition at San Laurel might be the one that I’ll think about for a long time. The five plump head-on shrimp arrived swimming in a pool of deeply garlicky oil. The entree’s layered flavors included fresh bay leaves, paper-thin garlic slices, and a mild garnish of chopped herbs. Unlike other versions, there are no red pepper flakes to distract from the pure flavor of the sweet, juicy shrimp. A side of airy pan de cristal helped mop up the last bits of flavor. —Matthew Kang, lead editor

A Spanish-style preparation of shrimp with garlic in olive oil.
Gambas al ajillo at San Laurel.
Matthew Kang

Southern catfish at Gritz N Wafflez

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It’s not uncommon for out-of-towners to take repeat meals at chef Jurni Rayne’s Gritz N Wafflez. It’s regularly packed because visitors want to make sure her bacon and cheese-encrusted waffles, and some of the city’s best Southern fried catfish weren’t a fluke. Rayne has a sixth sense of when to remove the fish from the fryer so it retains moisture filled with the right amount of seasoning and a cornmeal battered bite. One cannot go wrong if consuming the catfish on a waffle or a bed of grits. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Soy-braised wild black cod with dongchimi at Baroo

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The tasting menu at Baroo is in a class of its own when it comes to modern Korean cooking in Los Angeles. The broiled black cod swimming in a pool of lemongrass and buttermilk dongchimi is a delightful interpretation of jorim, capturing the comfort of the rich, flaky fish but feeling texturally interesting from the crunchy bits. Every dish is remarkable, though, of course, some folks will pine for the wild fermented plates of the Baroo of yesteryear. Those dishes may make a comeback in some capacity in the future, but until then, relish the new Baroo. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

Soy-braised wild black cod with dongchimi at Baroo.
Soy-braised wild black cod with dongchimi at Baroo.
Matthew Kang

Chicken and sausage gumbo at Fixin’s Soul Kitchen

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Though this tourist-friendly L.A. Live dining destination endured a tragedy earlier this year, Fixin’s and its team continue to serve delicious food, possibly the best in the Downtown entertainment district. The chicken and andouille sausage bowl comes in a huge, shareable portion topped with a choice of biscuit or cornbread over a bed of plump white rice. Imbued with deep umami flavors from the dark roux, and a tight balance between the meaty chicken and sausage to the piquant aromas, it’s a great bowl to have before a show or a game. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

Chicken and sausage gumbo at Fixin’s Soul Kitchen.
Chicken and sausage gumbo at Fixin’s Soul Kitchen.
Matthew Kang

The Masterpiece at Ggiata Delicatessen

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In September, Ggiata introduced gluten-free bread to its lineup of Jersey-style sandwiches, and already the gluten-intolerant crowds (myself included) are showing up. I visited the sunny new Venice Beach location at 83 Windward Avenue, just a skip from the ocean and the undulating bowls of the Venice Beach Skate Park. Perhaps one of the unsung sandwiches on the menu, the Masterpiece lives up to its name: Thinly shaved prosciutto blankets marinated eggplant, roasted red peppers, and plump tomato confit that glistens like stained glass. It’s then draped with sinewy stracciatella, arugula, and dressed with red wine vinaigrette. On Original Sunshine’s squishy gluten-free roll, the whole thing works. Art. — Nicole Adlman, cities manager

Fried chicken at Si! Mon

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Si! Mon is a worthy newcomer to the North Venice Boulevard space that was home to James Beach for 26 years. The menu, small and mighty, spotlights delicate seafood preparations with Central American flair: think black lime-spiked tuna carpaccio nestled over a razor-thin yuca tostada; baked oysters with jammy shallot butter; and patacones, double fried and served with an herby ajillo sauce. The standout on the menu for me, though, is the gluten-free fried chicken, which eschews cragginess for skin dusted with a salt, spices, and roasted rice powder that chef José Olmedo Carles Rojas calls “chicken salt.” The spice blend sticks to your lips and begs for the next bite. — Nicole Adlman, cities manager

Three fried chicken drumsticks in a metal plate sitting atop a marble table at Si! Mon.
Fried chicken at Si! Mon.
Ashley Randall Photography

Taco gaxiola at Muelle 8

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Muelle 8 has one of the best origin stories of 2023. After a pandemic-induced lull around concert tours, music industry veterans Orlando Loya and Bruce Soto shifted gears and brought some outstanding mariscos to Los Angeles. The Downey restaurant requires gathering a solid group of diners to order as much as possible, but not when it comes to the taco gaxiola with marinated tuna, guacamole, and smoky bandera sauce on a flour tortilla. It’s worth keeping this taco to oneself at this incredible Sinaloense restaurant. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Gaxiola, with marinated tuna on a flour tortilla.
Gaxiola taco.
Matthew Kang

Double smash burger at the Heyday

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Riding out from Palm Springs after a long festival weekend left me feeling somewhere in between needing a very large, very green salad and a massive, dripping cheeseburger. Luckily, the Heyday does both, as well as one delightful, riffy pile of fries loaded with queso, chopped chilis, caramelized onion, and “special sauce.” The double smash burger is the way to go here; I switched it up by ordering mine with one beef patty and one house-made mushroom patty. The deep umami goodness of grilled mushroom and an expertly griddled smashed beef patty made the whole thing soar far beyond my roadside burger aspirations. — Nicole Adlman, cities manager

Lobster with sticky rice at Colette

Chef Peter Lai, formerly of Embassy Kitchen in San Gabriel, is bringing LA’s Chinese food connoisseurs to an unexpected strip mall in East Pasadena. The chef’s menu at Colette includes classic Cantonese dishes along with new-school takes that draw from pan-Asian flavors and traditions. On a visit for a friend’s birthday, the array of dishes included sauteed chayote with minced pork and pickled olives, beef chow fun, crispy chicken with shrimp paste, and lobster with sticky rice. While the stir-fried noodles dazzled with the deep essence of wok hei and the crispy chicken was as good as ever, it was the perfectly cooked lobster combined with sausage-studded sticky rice that proved most enticing. Bringing together two quintessential Cantonese dishes on one feast-worthy platter is the kind of unexpected move that keeps diners coming back to Colette. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Lobster with sticky rice at Colette in Pasadena.
Lobster with sticky rice at Colette.
Cathy Chaplin

Blueberry spiral croissant at Delight Pastry

As someone who isn’t keen on dessert, I was stunned after tasting the spiral croissants at Delight Pastry. Mother-daughter team Sarah Hashemi and Lily Azar operate this Pasadena bakery offering more than the trendy spiral croissants. The display case is lined with cakes, macarons, and croissants, and the product of Hashemi’s 20 years of experience baking in Iran and Europe. Her specialties are vast, but the blueberry spiral croissant is sweet joy. The pastry is slightly flattened, beautifully crispy, and dipped in a blueberry glaze. Eating the blueberry spiral or the delightful rose water croissant is only half of the experience. The rose-colored shop makes outstanding teas and coffee in a relaxing rose-colored room. —Mona Holmes, reporter

Spiral croissants at Delight Pastry in Pasadena, California.
Spiral croissants.
Wonho Frank Lee

Uni chawanmushi at Uka

Once you’ve found the fifth-floor perch of Uka in Hollywood inside Japan House, a government-funded hub for Japanese culture, a heavy door opens into one of LA’s most remarkable dining rooms. Helmed by chefs Yoshitaka Mitsue and Shingo Kato, LA’s newest kaiseki restaurant is special from the get-go. Mitsue commands the attention up front at the sunken bar, meeting diners at eye level and giving full 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 sliced fish to delicate plating.

I found the 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 in the custardy steamed egg 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 the city’s kaiseki scene. —Matthew Kang, lead editor

Uni chawanmushi at Uka.
Uni chawanmushi at Uka.
Matthew Kang

Sumo Kumo oyster with caviar at Connie and Ted’s

I’ll admit to loving chef Michael Cimarusti’s food, especially when he collaborates with other seafood specialists. In early November, Cimarusti, Connie & Ted chef Sam Baxter, and Bar Le Côte’s Brad Alan Mathews put together something special to celebrate 10 years at the West Hollywood restaurant. When a server set a massive Sumo Kumo in front of me — the bigger sibling of the Kumamoto oyster — filled with golden Kaluga caviar and beurre blanc, I secretly wished for a second one which sadly wasn’t possible during a tasting menu. However, it certainly made me want to pay attention to anything happening at Providence, Bar Le Côte, and Connie & Ted. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Sumo Kumo oyster with caviar at Connie & Ted’s.
Sumo Kumo oyster with caviar.
Mona Holmes

Naem at Budonoki

Budonoki chef Dan Rabilwongse’s tapped his mother to make the Spam-like Thai naem sausage, a lacto-fermented slightly sour forcemeat studded with bright red chiles. Served in lovely bite-sized sausages with crispy rice balls and a refreshing mound of shredded cabbage, it’s an unforgettable starter that shows the ideal mishmash of Thai and Japanese flavors at the energetic Virgil Village izakaya. And it’s even better with a glass of crisp Orion beer. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

Naem sausage with crispy rice from Budonoki.
Naem at Budonoki.
Matthew Kang

Stir-fried pork intestines at XiAn Biang Biang Noodle

You absolutely must order the signature biang biang noodles when dining at XiAn Biang Biang Noodle in San Gabriel, a spot tucked on the ground floor of an aging strip mall with surprisingly few restaurants. The ropey strands deliver a wonderfully toothsome bite that may very well be the platonic ideal of this regional Chinese specialty in Los Angeles. Also toothsome and fabulous are the fried been jelly found under the “local specialty” portion of the menu and the “big plate” preparation made with chicken or lamb. The stir-fried pork intestines, a last-minute addition to a noodle-focused lunch, turned out to be the dish I can’t stop thinking about. Wok-fried with enough dried chiles and Sichuan peppercorns to set my mouth afire, the intestines delivered a pleasantly chewy texture and satisfying burn I was hoping for. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Stir-fried pork intestines Xian Biang Biang in San Gabriel.
Stir-fried pork intestines XiAn Biang Biang Noodle.
Cathy Chaplin

Panang lamb neck at Poltergeist

It’s hard to imagine a more joyful place for dinner than at Button Mash in Echo Park. Since February 2023, 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 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. —Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

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

Thai Caesar salad at Poltergeist

Instagram is full of wild dishes that chef Diego Argoti serves at Poltergeist but look beyond the splashy pics to find depth and deliciousness that goes beyond the surface. Poltergeist received Eater LA’s Most Mind-Blowing Dining Experience thanks to Argoti’s spectacular and unexpected cooking. I was taken aback by the towering green splendor that is Argoti’s Thai Caesar salad. It’s briny, crisp, and a bit of a puzzle to figure out how to take a bite. — Mona Holmes, reporter

A pink bowl filled with Thai Caesar salad at Poltergeist at Button Mash.
Thai Caesar salad at Poltergeist.
Cathy Chaplin

Tempura scallops at Ototo

Ototo in Echo Park may be a “younger brother” (literally, in its Japanese translation, and figuratively, to next-door izakaya Tsubaki) but its James Beard Award-winning sake program and irreverent, frequently changing menu of Japanese bar snacks has given it a main character energy all its own. On a recent visit, we marveled at our array of dishes, including fluke sashimi spiked with ponzu and patches of limey yuzu kararin, okonomiyaki topped with fluttering bonito flakes, and a filet-ototo-fish sandwich that can only be tamed with a two-hand grip. But the standout was a deceptively simple scallop tempura, marked by its precision and accompanying griddled shishito peppers. Each bite burst with the fresh, slight sweetness of the scallop, its interior texture almost milky. The perfect bar snack doesn’t ex— well, maybe it does. — Nicole Adlman, cities manager

Ototo in Echo Park.
Ototo in Echo Park.
Farley Elliot

Tomato perilla salad at Kinn

A seven-course tasting menu captured the best of Southern California’s summer bounty at the now-closed restaurant Kinn in Koreatown. A luscious corn and scallop soup started everything off before winding to tender slices of bulgogi garnished with ripe peaches and finishing with a watermelon fruit salad. The ingredients were completely of the moment, while the flavors and formats reflected chef Ki Kim’s distinct modern Korean point of view. While choosing a favorite among the parade of hits is hard, the tomato perilla salad was stunning. Juicy-sweet tomatoes were at the forefront, their tangy profile reminiscent of naengmyeon broth, while a perilla sorbet brought an herbaceous and cooling effect. Dabs of burrata and smoked trout roe added just a touch of richness. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Tomato perilla salad at Kinn in Koreatown.
Tomato perilla salad at Kinn.
Cathy Chaplin

Gukbap at Lee Ga

Much of my last month has been swathed in sickness, as me or my family members succumbed to the miscellaneous RSVs lurking around Los Angeles right now. The remedy to feeling unwell is always soup, of course, and that soup can very often be found in Koreatown. On a crisp fall day, we visited soup and naengmyeon specialist Lee Ga, a new-school favorite popular for its hangover-abating seolleongtangs and cold noodle dishes that spin long, springy buckwheat strands into gold. For whatever reason, the signature gukbap struck me: The ox bone stew, while spicy, was not hot enough to be a throat irritant, and filled with soul-warming ingredients like napa cabbage and other vegetables. I left feeling not only fuller, but a little more whole. — Nicole Adlman, cities manager

LeeGa dining room in Los Angeles.
LeeGa dining room in Los Angeles.
Matthew Kang

Lao sausages at Yum Sະlut

There are many dishes to adore at Yum Sະlut, the Lao food pop-up in Chinatown at Lokel’s Only, but the one that I can’t stop thinking about is the sausages. The hand-made links are filled with all that’s good including coarsely ground pork, makrut lime leaves, lemongrass, shallots, chiles, and garlic. Chef and owner Tharathip Soulisak isn’t shy about the amount of pork fat he adds for oomph and flavor. The thick tomato chutney served alongside ought to be swiped atop every taut and meaty bite. —Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Lao fried sausage platter at Yum Sະlut in Chinatown.
Lao sausages at Yum Sະlut.
Wonho Frank Lee

Gambas al ajillo at San Laurel

Leave it to José Andrés and the kitchen team at San Laurel to perfect one of the most common Spanish dishes: gambas al ajillo. I’ve been searching far and wide for a version that I wanted to finish to the last drop of olive oil, and the rendition at San Laurel might be the one that I’ll think about for a long time. The five plump head-on shrimp arrived swimming in a pool of deeply garlicky oil. The entree’s layered flavors included fresh bay leaves, paper-thin garlic slices, and a mild garnish of chopped herbs. Unlike other versions, there are no red pepper flakes to distract from the pure flavor of the sweet, juicy shrimp. A side of airy pan de cristal helped mop up the last bits of flavor. —Matthew Kang, lead editor

A Spanish-style preparation of shrimp with garlic in olive oil.
Gambas al ajillo at San Laurel.
Matthew Kang

Southern catfish at Gritz N Wafflez

It’s not uncommon for out-of-towners to take repeat meals at chef Jurni Rayne’s Gritz N Wafflez. It’s regularly packed because visitors want to make sure her bacon and cheese-encrusted waffles, and some of the city’s best Southern fried catfish weren’t a fluke. Rayne has a sixth sense of when to remove the fish from the fryer so it retains moisture filled with the right amount of seasoning and a cornmeal battered bite. One cannot go wrong if consuming the catfish on a waffle or a bed of grits. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Soy-braised wild black cod with dongchimi at Baroo

The tasting menu at Baroo is in a class of its own when it comes to modern Korean cooking in Los Angeles. The broiled black cod swimming in a pool of lemongrass and buttermilk dongchimi is a delightful interpretation of jorim, capturing the comfort of the rich, flaky fish but feeling texturally interesting from the crunchy bits. Every dish is remarkable, though, of course, some folks will pine for the wild fermented plates of the Baroo of yesteryear. Those dishes may make a comeback in some capacity in the future, but until then, relish the new Baroo. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

Soy-braised wild black cod with dongchimi at Baroo.
Soy-braised wild black cod with dongchimi at Baroo.
Matthew Kang

Related Maps

Chicken and sausage gumbo at Fixin’s Soul Kitchen

Though this tourist-friendly L.A. Live dining destination endured a tragedy earlier this year, Fixin’s and its team continue to serve delicious food, possibly the best in the Downtown entertainment district. The chicken and andouille sausage bowl comes in a huge, shareable portion topped with a choice of biscuit or cornbread over a bed of plump white rice. Imbued with deep umami flavors from the dark roux, and a tight balance between the meaty chicken and sausage to the piquant aromas, it’s a great bowl to have before a show or a game. — Matthew Kang, lead editor

Chicken and sausage gumbo at Fixin’s Soul Kitchen.
Chicken and sausage gumbo at Fixin’s Soul Kitchen.
Matthew Kang

The Masterpiece at Ggiata Delicatessen

In September, Ggiata introduced gluten-free bread to its lineup of Jersey-style sandwiches, and already the gluten-intolerant crowds (myself included) are showing up. I visited the sunny new Venice Beach location at 83 Windward Avenue, just a skip from the ocean and the undulating bowls of the Venice Beach Skate Park. Perhaps one of the unsung sandwiches on the menu, the Masterpiece lives up to its name: Thinly shaved prosciutto blankets marinated eggplant, roasted red peppers, and plump tomato confit that glistens like stained glass. It’s then draped with sinewy stracciatella, arugula, and dressed with red wine vinaigrette. On Original Sunshine’s squishy gluten-free roll, the whole thing works. Art. — Nicole Adlman, cities manager

Fried chicken at Si! Mon

Si! Mon is a worthy newcomer to the North Venice Boulevard space that was home to James Beach for 26 years. The menu, small and mighty, spotlights delicate seafood preparations with Central American flair: think black lime-spiked tuna carpaccio nestled over a razor-thin yuca tostada; baked oysters with jammy shallot butter; and patacones, double fried and served with an herby ajillo sauce. The standout on the menu for me, though, is the gluten-free fried chicken, which eschews cragginess for skin dusted with a salt, spices, and roasted rice powder that chef José Olmedo Carles Rojas calls “chicken salt.” The spice blend sticks to your lips and begs for the next bite. — Nicole Adlman, cities manager

Three fried chicken drumsticks in a metal plate sitting atop a marble table at Si! Mon.
Fried chicken at Si! Mon.
Ashley Randall Photography

Taco gaxiola at Muelle 8

Muelle 8 has one of the best origin stories of 2023. After a pandemic-induced lull around concert tours, music industry veterans Orlando Loya and Bruce Soto shifted gears and brought some outstanding mariscos to Los Angeles. The Downey restaurant requires gathering a solid group of diners to order as much as possible, but not when it comes to the taco gaxiola with marinated tuna, guacamole, and smoky bandera sauce on a flour tortilla. It’s worth keeping this taco to oneself at this incredible Sinaloense restaurant. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Gaxiola, with marinated tuna on a flour tortilla.
Gaxiola taco.
Matthew Kang

Double smash burger at the Heyday

Riding out from Palm Springs after a long festival weekend left me feeling somewhere in between needing a very large, very green salad and a massive, dripping cheeseburger. Luckily, the Heyday does both, as well as one delightful, riffy pile of fries loaded with queso, chopped chilis, caramelized onion, and “special sauce.” The double smash burger is the way to go here; I switched it up by ordering mine with one beef patty and one house-made mushroom patty. The deep umami goodness of grilled mushroom and an expertly griddled smashed beef patty made the whole thing soar far beyond my roadside burger aspirations. — Nicole Adlman, cities manager

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