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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.

1. La Casita Mexicana

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4030 Gage Avenue
Bell, CA 90201
(323) 773-1898
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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.

2. Father's Office

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3229 Helms Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 736-2224
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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.

3. Animal

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435 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 782-9225
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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.

4. Restaurante Guelaguetza

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3014 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(213) 427-0608
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Traditional Oaxacan bites, all reasonably-priced, served in simple Mexican digs.

5. Matsuhisa

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129 N La Cienega Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(310) 659-9639
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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.

6. Pizzeria Mozza

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641 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 297-0101
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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.

7. Dan Tana's

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9071 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 275-9444
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As old school as it gets. It's all about regulars and not-cheap traditional Italian offerings.

8. Sushi Park

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8539 Sunset Blvd #20
Los Angeles, CA
(310) 652-0523
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A giant in the traditional Japanese sushi category; melts-in-you-mouth-type fish, though it doesn't come cheap.

9. Patina

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141 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 972-3331
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The namesake eatery within Joachim Splichal's Patina Restaurant Group, come for meticulously prepared seasonal, modern French fine dining.

10. Wurstküche

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800 E. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 687-4444
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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.

11. Melisse Restaurant

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1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 395-0881
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It's all about the tasting menus at Josiah Citrin's consistent high quality French eatery.

12. Jitlada Thai Restaurant

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5233 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 667-9809
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Are there sweeter words than "Strip Mall" when used in conjunction with "Powerful Thai flavors?" Ansewr: No.

13. Gjelina

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1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 450-1429
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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.

14. Park's Barbeque

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955 S Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(213) 380-1717
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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.

15. Dean Sin World

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306 N Garfield Ave #2
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 571-0636
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!

16. Urasawa

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218 N Rodeo Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 247-8939
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.

17. Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery

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1517 Lincoln Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 395-8279
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Bay Cities Deli - Since 1925, best sandwich in LA.

18. Picca

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9575 W Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
(310) 277-0133
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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.

19. Angelini Osteria

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7313 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 297-0070
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High quality rustic Northern Italian fare served within a small, minimalist space.

20. Langer's Delicatessen

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704 South Alvarado Street
Los Angeles, CA 90057
(213) 483-8050
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LA's most famous old school deli, do not miss the pastrami sandwich!

21. SUGARFISH | Downtown LA

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600 W 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 627-3000
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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.

22. The Water Grill

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544 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 891-0900
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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.

23. Spice Table

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114 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 620-1801
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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.

24. Bäco Mercat

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408 S Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 687-8808
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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.

25. Manhattan Beach Post (M.B. Post)

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1142 Manhattan Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 545-5405
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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.

26. Son of a Gun Restaurant

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8370 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 782-9033
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This sophomore effort from Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Animal features seafood-centric fare inside a nautical-inspired space.

27. ink.

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8360 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(323) 651-5866
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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.

28. Tsujita LA

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2057 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 231-7373
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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.

29. Superba Snack Bar

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533 Rose Ave.
Venice, CA 90291
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.

30. L&E Oyster Bar

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1637 Silver Lake Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(323) 660-2255
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.

31. Milo and Olive

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2723 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(310) 453-6776
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.

32. Spago

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176 N Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 385-0880
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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.

33. Din Tai Fung Dumpling House #1

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1108 S Baldwin Ave
Arcadia, CA 91007
(626) 574-7068
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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.

34. Bestia

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2121 E 7th Pl
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(213) 514-5724
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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.

35. Rustic Canyon Wine Bar

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1119 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 393-7050
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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.

36. AOC

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8700 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 653-6359
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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.

37. Trois Mec

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716 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 468-8915
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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.

38. The Hart + The Hunter

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7950 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 424-3055
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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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1. La Casita Mexicana

4030 Gage Avenue, Bell, CA 90201
Some of LA's most authentic Mexican food can be found here. Inexpensive, located in Bell, more than worth the drive.
4030 Gage Avenue
Bell, CA 90201

2. Father's Office

3229 Helms Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Despite one too many rules, Sang Yoon's burger joint is straight-up killer, and serves a vast selection of craft beers.
3229 Helms Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034

3. Animal

435 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90048
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.
435 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90048

4. Restaurante Guelaguetza

3014 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006
Traditional Oaxacan bites, all reasonably-priced, served in simple Mexican digs.
3014 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90006

5. Matsuhisa

129 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211
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.
129 N La Cienega Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

6. Pizzeria Mozza

641 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
In a handsomely rustic storefront, Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, and Joe Bastianich what is, on its best days, LA's top pizza.
641 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036

7. Dan Tana's

9071 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
As old school as it gets. It's all about regulars and not-cheap traditional Italian offerings.
9071 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069

8. Sushi Park

8539 Sunset Blvd #20, Los Angeles, CA