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The 38 Essential Los Angeles Restaurants, January '13

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It's time to update the Eater 38, your answer and ours to any question that begins, “Can you recommend a restaurant?” This highly elite group covers the entire city, spans myriad cuisines, and collectively satisfies all of your restaurant needs, save for those occasions when you absolutely must spend half a paycheck. Every couple of months, we'll be adding pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible (restaurants must be open at least six months), or have stepped up their game.

To kick off the New Year, we're removing Umami, Drago Centro, The Bazaar, Santouka, and Rustic Canyon, to be replaced by a slew of fresher restaurants as such: Tsujita LA, Superba Snack Bar, ink., L&E Oyster Bar, and Milo & Olive.

For those of you readying the pitchforks because your favorite restaurant isn't on the list, wouldn't it just be more productive to leave your thoughts in the comments? State your cases for (or against) restaurants in the comments or in the tipline.


Additions and Subtractions:
·January, 2013: Umami, Drago Centro, The Bazaar, Santouka, Rustic Canyon dropped; Tsujita LA, Superba Snack Bar, ink., L&E Oyster Bar, Milo & Olive added
·October, 2012: Campanile dropped; Son of a Gun added
·July, 2012: Spago, Mo-Chica, Lazy Ox Canteen dropped; Bäco Mercat, M.B. Post, The Spice Table added
·April, 2012: Sushi Nozawa, Sunnin dropped; sugarFISH, Water Grill added
·January, 2012: Kogi dropped; Picca added
·October, 2011: Valentino dropped; Mo-Chica added
·July, 2011: Sushi Zo, Loteria Grill dropped; Urasawa, Rustic Canyon added
·April, 2011: Capo, AOC dropped; Angelini Osteria, The Tasting Kitchen added
·January, 2010: Axe, Jones, and Stefan's at LA Farm dropped; Park's BBQ, Drago Centro, and Santouka added
·August, 2010: Petros, Fraiche, Bar Marmont and Pace dropped; Patina, Valentino, La Casita Mexicana, and Dean Sin World added

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

La Casita Mexicana

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Some of LA's most authentic Mexican food can be found here. Inexpensive, located in Bell, more than worth the drive.

Father's Office

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Despite one too many rules, Sang Yoon's burger joint is straight-up killer, and serves a vast selection of craft beers.

A newbie by comparison to some 38 listees, Jon and Vinny's small and loud porkapalooza delight remains all the rage with the food set.

Restaurante Guelaguetza

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Traditional Oaxacan bites, all reasonably-priced, served in simple Mexican digs.

Matsuhisa

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The DNA upon which the Nobu empire was built, The Mats is celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa's first restaurant ever, and his best by a margin. Locals who hate on it are lying to themselves.

Pizzeria Mozza

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In a handsomely rustic storefront, Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, and Joe Bastianich what is, on its best days, LA's top pizza.

Dan Tana's

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As old school as it gets. It's all about regulars and not-cheap traditional Italian offerings.

Sushi Park

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A giant in the traditional Japanese sushi category; melts-in-you-mouth-type fish, though it doesn't come cheap.

The namesake eatery within Joachim Splichal's Patina Restaurant Group, come for meticulously prepared seasonal, modern French fine dining.

Wurstküche

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If the hipsters know anything, they know links. Or so it would seem, given how many flock to the downtown joint. Serving craft beers and tasty exotic sausages.

Melisse Restaurant

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It's all about the tasting menus at Josiah Citrin's consistent high quality French eatery.

Jitlada Thai Restaurant

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Are there sweeter words than "Strip Mall" when used in conjunction with "Powerful Thai flavors?" Ansewr: No.

Gjelina

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A neighborhoody spot that's filled with regulars, pick from seasonal small plate offerings and some skinny-crusted brick oven pizzas. While some Eater 38 jurors aren't fooled by the smoke and mirrors menu, the roasted vegetables if nothing else are indeed quite good.

Park's Barbeque

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While people will quibble over whether or not Parks is the de facto best korean barbecue in the city, it's exceptionally solid, and the perfect destination for a night out in K-Town.

Dean Sin World

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Blink and you might miss this San Gabriel Valley hole-in-the-wall where diners can watch dumplings being made from behind a clear partition. There are only about four tables, nobody speaks english, and it's dirt cheap!

Urasawa

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This is definitely a special occasion restaurant. Just 10 sushi bar seats comprise the entire venue, expect to eat for up to five hours at a time and shell out several hundred dollars per guest for beautifully presented, life-changing omakase.

Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery

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Bay Cities Deli - Since 1925, best sandwich in LA.

Chef Ricardo Zarate has paved the way for Peruvian dining in Los Angeles, and here at Picca he serves a modern interpretation of the cuisine. Expect an abundance of small plate seafood dishes, both raw and cooked, plus anticuchos (skewered proteins and veg). The restaurant itself is bright and lively, and seasonal cocktails are expert creations from Julian Cox.

Angelini Osteria

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High quality rustic Northern Italian fare served within a small, minimalist space.

Langer's Delicatessen

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LA's most famous old school deli, do not miss the pastrami sandwich!

SUGARFISH | Downtown LA

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Former Sushi Nozawa chef and owner Kazunori Nozawa's more casual, wallet-friendly sushi haunt serving top quality fish a la carte and omakase-style. Trust him.

The Water Grill

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Premier seafood served in a recently renovated, modernized space. There's a raw bar, a tank with live ocean creatures, but do remember fresh fish will cost you.

Spice Table

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Expect a dimly lit rustic den of exposed brick and hanging bird cages, scarf down Vietnamese/Singaporean plates with craft brews.

Bäco Mercat

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Former Lazy Ox Canteen chef Josef Centeno has earned a following for his hybrid sandwich/taco/pizza creation he calls the "bäco," also the name of his industrial/rustic new downtown lunch and dinner spot. In addition to the bäco expect a bevy of seasonally inspired plates, craft beer, boutique wine, modern cocktails, and house-made sodas.

Manhattan Beach Post (M.B. Post)

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M.B. Post is a seasonal gastropub of sorts focused on serving small plates which highlight the daily farmers market offerings. Since day one this rustic, hip haunt has been a hit with locals who take over the many communal tables sipping farm fresh cocktails, but M.B. Post has also attracted diners around the city for date night and more.

Son of a Gun Restaurant

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This sophomore effort from Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Animal features seafood-centric fare inside a nautical-inspired space.

Top Cheffer Michael Voltaggio's first formal restaurant, hip and minimalist in aesthetic. Expect beautifully presented seasonal dishes prepared using innovative techniques for MV's take on "Modern Los Angeles" cuisine.

Tsujita LA

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Tsujita LA serves the best standard ramen and tsukemen in all of Los Angeles. The broth and noodles are nearly perfect, while the tsukemen might even be better than the ramen. Only available during lunch and cash only, but definitely the biggest destination ramen in the city. Expect to wait for a table.

Superba Snack Bar

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A hip Venice hang from Pitfire Pizza co-founder Paul Hibler and chef Jason Neroni. This small, smartly designed eatery is described by management as a "modern pastaria," serving creative, seasonal Cali-Italian plates alongside boutique wine and craft beer.

L&E Oyster Bar

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A project by Dustin Lancaster and Matt Kaner of Bar Covell, this cozy, hip Silver Lake oyster bar offers a limited menu of seafood plus a well-curated selection of boutique wines and craft beer.

Milo and Olive

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A tiny, always packed bakery and cafe from the Rustic Canyon team. Expect seasonal small plates, impeccable baked goods, and some of the best pizza pies in the city.

Los Angeles' most iconic restaurant went under the knife last summer and Wolfgang Puck's Spago emerged with a clean new aesthetic, thanks to designer Waldo Fernandez (Soho House). A new California-Asian fusion menu is in place, too.

Din Tai Fung Dumpling House #1

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Synonymous with Chinese food in America maybe more so than any other restaurant. Come for the made-to-order xiao long boas but always expect a wait.

Chef Ori Menashe and restaurateur Bill Chait's rustic gem of a hip, seasonal Italian restaurant in the Arts District is a must try, and has been packing a crowd since its early days. There's heavy emphasis on house-cured meats, pizzas, and pastas, with unexpected and inspired flavors. The beverage program here, from cocktails to wine, is a hit, too.

Rustic Canyon Wine Bar

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Under the careful watch of chef Jeremy Fox, Santa Monica darling Rustic Canyon is now the best it has ever been. In addition to a new full bar program, Fox's lighter California-style veggie-centered dishes shine, making the staple westside date spot once again obligatory.

After a decade on West Third Street, chef Suzanne Goin's relocated wine bar is now as buzzy as ever. With a new full bar and revamped California-style menu, the tastefully designed eatery is perfectly poised for drinks with friends at the communal bar up front or a quiet date in one of the back booths.

Trois Mec

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Dinner at the French mashup, from all-star team Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook, and Vinny Dotolo, is a tough ticket to score (just 26 seats), and meals must be purchased in advance off Trois Mec's website. Including tip but excluding alcohol, the nightly prix fixe amounts to nearly $100 a head.

The Hart + The Hunter

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Perhaps the quintessential Los Angeles restaurant born out of a Venice pop-up, H+H embraces seasonality with a Southern twang. Now tucked inside Palihotel, the rustic hip abode has reached critical mass and the biscuits are to blame.

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La Casita Mexicana

Some of LA's most authentic Mexican food can be found here. Inexpensive, located in Bell, more than worth the drive.

Father's Office