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.

March 27, 2023

Seaweed and mushroom porridge from Porridge + Puffs

Minh Phan’s comfort food corner restaurant Porridge + Puffs is back, and that’s good news for Los Angeles. While the rain is starting to subside (a bit) this season, there’s still a million reasons to visit the tiny Historic Filipinotown restaurant — chief among them the namesake porridges. Phan and her team prepare deeply satisfying, slightly punchy, and wildly unexpected flavors and put it all into one delicious bowl; they’re perfect for swirling and mixing and enjoying on a lazy weekend afternoon.

The miso-roasted king oyster mushrooms and pickled daikon play heavy riffs on top, but the baseline is all rice porridge, punctuated by a soft egg and some greens. Get over there this weekend to enjoy the flavorful show yourself, and you can even take home a jar of premade porridge for the midweek doldrums as well, pulled right from the cold case inside the restaurant. 2801 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90057. —Farley Elliott

Whole grilled sea bream at Angler in Beverly Grove

Angler is back and stronger than ever, with the simplest dishes shining the brightest, like this grilled whole sea bream butterflied beautifully and carrying a heavy scent of the wood-fire. Tender, white flesh carried enough juice to not require any moisture from the lemon, though the hit of acid helped keep every bite interesting. On a recent prior visit to the new Angler, a grilled fish was severely undercooked and had to be redone, but this sea bream shows that the kitchen team is firing on all cylinders right now, with a slight sear allowing for crackling skin. I still had a few bones in my mouth, but that should be expected with a smaller fish like this. Given the sort of Korean fried fish vibes (pan-fried yellow croaker in particular) this dish gave me (and the other Korean-inflected flavors on the menu), I almost wished for some kimchi and a bowl of white rice on the side. 8500 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA —Matthew Kang

Tostadas by La Guerrerense at Damian in Arts District

Los Angeles was blessed with a surprise visit from Sabina Bandera of Ensenada’s famed La Guerrerense, announced on social media pretty last minute this weekend. One of Mexico’s most prestigious street stands did a Saturday and Sunday brunch pop-up at Enrique Olvera’s Damian in the Arts District, making the airy patio or natural light-filled dining room the best place to get Mexican food in town. Bandera’s tostadas were on full display here, with her signature uni-fish ceviche tostada de erizo topped with callo de hacha slices and avocado. What makes her tostadas special is the balance between the sweetness of the shellfish, the richness of the sauce, and the earthy complexity of the salsas. With plump, generous seafood and Bandera’s signature salsas, it was a gorgeous shellfish feast for this weekend only, though expect La Guerrerense to show up in other pop-ups in LA at places like Damian. La Guerrerense is located in Ensenada. Damian is located at 2132 E. 7th Place, Los Angeles, CA —Matthew Kang

The Hot Jimmy from Little Dynamite in Mar Vista

It’s not often that a white pie works for me as well as a red-sauce pizza. On most days I prefer pepperoni, or sausage and onion, but there’s just something about the Hot Jimmy at Little Dynamite that pulls in the senses. Perhaps it’s the roasted whole garlic and the loads of black pepper that waft up from the box. Perhaps it’s the mozzarella and ricotta combo making for a savory, creamy slice that doesn’t need too much sauce. Or maybe it’s the spicy sausage and hot honey that gives the whole pizza a high note of heat — no matter the reason, it just works. It helps of course that Little Dynamite makes one of LA’s best pan-style pizzas, a tall, airy, crispy-cornered creation that feels at once both artisan and entirely of the people.

This is the kind of pizza shop for everyone, and it shows as customers from all walks of life wander in for daytime slices and evening whole pies. There are still pepperoni pizzas and sausage and pepper options for those who crave consistency, but I would say that venturing out to a Hot Jimmy once in a while is great, too. In fact, it might secretly be one of the best pizzas in the entire restaurant. 11736 Washington Place, Los Angeles, CA. 90066 —Farley Elliott

March 20, 2023

Grilled Alaskan king crab with angel hair pasta at Etta

Of late, Etta’s menu has taken a near-full transformation from a vaguely California Italian bill of fare to something that transcends any region or style. Take the Alaskan king crab served in a Dutch oven with plump shrimp and angel hair pasta in a spicy, creamy tomato sauce. The thing resembles more of a cioppino than anything from Italy, the smoky aromatic char of the shellfish filling the environs of our table. This pure luxury defies any sensibility in the best possible way. It’s really just a feast for the senses, with tender, salty crab best scooped out and eaten with big slurps of pasta. I took the leftovers home and even though I ate a second helping, the wood-grilled smell of the crab still haunts me. 8801 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232. —Matthew Kang

Onion ring burger at Vaka Burger in Westlake

Vaka Burger’s Beverly Boulevard location has been years in the making, but now the redone space is up and running. Inside, find a spare dining room with a few wooden tables and lots of dining at the rail, looking out onto the street beyond. The real action is in the kitchen, where the longtime Vaka Burgers team (who previously cooked all over LA at places like Ramirez Liquor, in addition to a shop in Tustin) is whipping up an old-meets-new menu of burger favorites. The namesake Vaka burger is a decently thick well-grilled patty with meunster cheese on top. The burger also comes with some rich bacon jam and smoky barbecue sauce, and it’s all topped with a single beer-battered onion ring, a la the famous western bacon cheeseburger. It’s a filling final concoction, and a fond re-arrival for what was, for a time, one of LA’s most heralded burger spots. Welcome to Beverly after all these years, Vaka Burger. 3107 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90057. —Farley Elliott

Clam toast at Bar Chelou in Pasadena

Nothing sets the tone for a meal quite like the first sip of a cocktail, along with the initial bite of a starter. Bar Chelou in Pasadena nailed both at a recent dinner. On the cocktail front, a well-crafted Sazerac was made with ideal proportions of rye, cognac, and absinthe. Classics never go out of style and this spirit-forward sipper was just what the occasion called for. And then came the clam toast. Airy rafts of pan de cristal arrived teetering with delicate clams and leeks. The toast soaked up the briny broth without veering into spongey territory — an impressive feat. Following the solid start, chef Doug Rankin continued to dazzle us with a trio of unexpected but delightful vegetable preparations and an unbeatable pork chop that managing partner and wine man Taylor Parsons paired beautifully with both red and white pours. 37 S. El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101. —Cathy Chaplin

Kkanpung saeu at Full House Plus in Torrance

When it comes to Korean Chinese fusion, my favorite dishes are always kkanpung saeu, a sweet-spicy-sour fried shrimp, and gan jajangmyeon, a drier version of classic black bean noodles. We’ve been getting a lot of takeout from Full House Plus — hidden away in a Torrance strip mall — these past few months and finally ate on the premises recently. The shrimp, sporting a thin layer of sweet glaze, retained a hint of crispness from the wok. They’re best eaten quickly, and maybe with a bowl of steamed white rice. At $27, it’s not cheap, but there’s enough shrimp here to share among a table of four. 21209 Hawthorne Boulevard, Torrance, CA 90503. —Matthew Kang

March 13, 2023

Focaccia at Antico Nuevo in Koreatown

There might not be a better starter in town than the focaccia at chef Chad Colby’s Antico Nuevo. Flecked with coarse salt and glugged with olive oil, the freshly baked pane arrives crisp-golden and divided into quarters. Going in, hands first, unleashes a waft of fragrant steam. While the bread is fantastic on its own — full of airy bubbles and plush texture — it makes for an even better vehicle for full-flavored things like meaty anchovies and duck liver pate. A nice pour of a big, bold red is just the thing to really get the meal started. 4653 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90004. —Cathy Chaplin

Butter chicken at Quality of Bombay in Lawndale

I’ve been on the hunt for the area’s best Indian food, and I think after six-plus years of searching in the South Bay (and eating through a dozen spots), I’ve found my favorite. Quality of Bombay lives in a sleepy Lawndale strip mall along bustling Hawthorne Boulevard, lost among fast-food restaurants and some very good pho shops. Quality of Bombay looks unremarkable, but the flavors coming from its pots are anything but. I’ve ordered takeout twice from here now (they have a smattering of seats inside), and almost everything is top-notch including the creamy, tomato-y butter chicken with tender but flavorful strips of dark meat and the hefty palak paneer. This time we ordered creamy daal mahkani, soft black lentils stewed long with spices. This is the Indian food that I dream about — rich but not unctuous and imbued with enough spice and complexity to make every bite interesting. 15333 Hawthorne Boulevard, Lawndale, CA 90260 —Matthew Kang

Biscuits and gravy at Atrium’s The Last of Us brunch in Los Feliz

I admit to binge-watching HBO’s The Last of Us in a few days and it destroyed me [I do not recommend binge-watching it]. It’s also got me obsessing about mushrooms. Atrium chef Emmanuel “Manny” Cadengo is also thinking about fungi since he prepared an entire brunch menu dedicated to the TV show. (If you’re following actor Pedro Pascal’s quest to save the planet, then you know how mushrooms play a key role). Cadengo played with seven dishes like a mushroom Benedict, a blue oyster frittata, and fried oyster mushrooms with waffles. I found something particularly special in the biscuit with mushroom gravy with hints of sage and maple. Poured over a buttermilk biscuit, it’s the kind of dish made for a cool weather weekend, and for the season finale of a popular show. 1816 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90027. —Mona Holmes

Mozzarella sticks and wine at Cosa Buona in Echo Park

Is there anything better than fried cheese and red wine on a rainy weekend evening? Perhaps, but the mozz sticks would be a close second, then. At Cosa Buona, maker of what may be LA’s best version of the signature Italian American fried cheese stick, there’s always a seat at the bar for a quick evening snack and sip — it’s part of the very fabric of the corner neighborhood restaurant. Even with a back turned to the main dining room, it’s easy to spot all of the blistered pizzas and meatballs pouring out from the kitchen (and that’s to say nothing of the restaurant’s incredible Italian sandwich), landing at the family-friendly tables fast and hot. There’s warmth in the mozzarella sticks and red wine, but there’s also warmth in the glassy, boisterous weekend dining room, making Cosa Buona one of LA’s best places to escape the rain for a little while. 2100 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026. —Farley Elliott

March 6, 2023

Spinach bucatini at Otium in Downtown

Last week for my mom’s birthday we celebrated with a blowout dinner at Otium, one of the most fun places for a special occasion dinner Downtown. With blustery winds and near-freezing winter temperatures (at least for this lifelong Angeleno), creamy, rich pasta felt like the perfect source of comforting warmth. This plate of spinach bucatini sports fresh extruded noodles with a zip of earthiness, while the carbonara sauce stuck to each strand like it was magnetized. Nuggets of bacon and cheesy clam helped round out each chowder-like bite. 222 S. Hope Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. —Matthew Kang

Cassoulet de Castelnaudary at Pasjoli in Santa Monica

When the sky’s overcast and the air’s slightly chilled, it’s hard to think of a more satisfying meal than cassoulet. Chef Dave Beran recently added the southern French specialty onto the menu at Pasjoli — just in time for this unusually cold winter storm. Intended to feed two diners, the cassoulet is served with a fennel, beet, and radicchio salad, pickles with Dijonnaise, and a warm loaf of country bread with duck-fat-infused butter. Every element of the spread is well-considered to balance the hearty cassoulet’s intrinsic richness. While all the accouterments are truly delicious, especially the butter topped with duck skin cracklings, it’s the blue Dutch oven brimming with confit duck legs, house-made Toulouse sausage, and creamy Tarbais beans that our forks could not resist. Make a reservation for two and let Beran and his expert team take care of the rest. 2732 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405. —Cathy Chaplin

Abalone pasta at N/Naka in Palms

I count my food blessings regularly, especially when I get to sit down at N/Naka for chef Niki Nakayama’s 13-course dinner. The 26-seat room included a well-dressed group celebrating a birthday, a couple bringing first-date vibes, along with a stylish woman who sat down solo. Following a course of gorgeous and creative sliced seafood and broths, the pasta arrived. This dish never changes on N/Naka’s menu. The spaghettini with abalone, truffles, and pickled cod roe is salty, rich, and stunning all at once, a recurring tribute to Nakayama’s dedication to kaiseki tradition. Paired beautifully with sparkling wine, the dish also represents the best of Los Angeles in wonderful small bites. 3445 Overland Avenue, Palms, CA, 90034. —Mona Holmes

Serranito sandwich at the Serrano Experience pop-up

The Spanish food movement is officially here in Los Angeles, and there are lots of new voices in the room to hear from. That includes lots of big-name international chefs and restaurateurs, of course, as well as small pop-ups like the Serrano Experience, run by Spaniard and longtime chef Jorge Serrano. The roving setup can be most commonly found on weekends at Melody in Virgil Village, turning out staples like pan tomate, jamón, and paella — but the dish to really raise eyebrows might be the small but mighty serranito sandwich, served inside sliced Bub and Grandma’s bread.

A stack of thin-sliced Angus beef, Iberico ham, and a quail egg meets with garlic aioli and a small charred pepper for a bite that feels like the flavor of the moment. It will be interesting to see how far chef Serrano takes his Spanish food menu when he (inevitably, eventually) branches out into something more formal; for now, just enjoy bites like the serranito sandwich while sipping natural wine on one of LA’s coolest patios. 751 N. Virgil Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029. —Farley Elliott

February 28, 2023

Carne asada “larb” salad at Majordomo in Chinatown

Ever since tasting Evan Funke’s take on a meatless chicken Parm sandwich at Felix using a product called Meati, which uses mycelium to provide protein, texture, and flavor, I was excited to see where other chefs would take the ingredient. Majordomo recently offered a carne asada ‘larb’ using Meati diced into flavorful chunks and packed with fresh herbs and ginger. The results were tangy, chewy, and balanced bites amplified by perfectly crisp lettuce greens and crudites, with an acidic punch of lime. I’ve mostly been a fan of alternative meats, but Meati could be my favorite for its ability to stand on its own instead of trying to resemble actual animal protein. My dining companion remarked: “It tastes good without trying to be meat.” It’s hard to beat that endorsement. 1725 Naud Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. —Matthew Kang

Fennel sausage pizza at Folks Pizzeria in Costa Mesa

Despite its international ubiquity, pizza is still a very personal experience. Everyone has their own style and toppings preference, their own favorite slice (corners preferred for pan-style pies), their own favorite pizza makers, and their own barometer for what makes a good pizza in the first place — but that’s all just one part of the equation. Pizza makers and restaurant owners have their own perspective, adding personal touches to doughs and dining rooms, to oven temperatures, cook times, and techniques. As Joey Booterbaugh, owner of Folks Pizzeria in Costa Mesa says, his artisan-style pizza is essentially one of one. Each pizza, in its way, will never exist as exactly the same repeatable artifact again, because everything from the environment to the kitchen staff is working to weave in subtle changes and differences with every single cook. That’s an important part of Folks, arguably Orange County’s most impressive pizzeria, but (even still) it’s not the whole story, because beneath all of that intricacy and theory, there is some really good, dead-simple delicious pizza to be had, like the fennel sausage with pecorino Romano, Parmesan, basil, and garlic oil. Some folks prefer pepperoni, while others judge a pizzeria by its margherita. For pure flavor (and a peek behind the complicated artisan curtain) give the fennel sausage a try the next time you’re out in Costa Mesa. 2937 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. —Farley Elliott

Papa’s Plate at TenSevenRolls in San Gabriel

LA’s food hall scene is heating up as of late. At Blossom Market Hall in San Gabriel, two new vendors recently opened up shop — the raw bar Oy, Oysters, and the Vietnamese spot TenSevenRolls. A recent lunch on a drizzly afternoon had me seeking comfort at TenSevenRolls. The family-owned stall, which is run by chef Lan Klaude and her children and grandchildren, prepares all manner of “rolls” including bánh cuốn, chả giò, and fresh spring rolls. While all dishes can be ordered a la carte, I opted for the robust Papa’s Plate that included four bánh cuốn, two chả giò, a fresh spring roll, and a drink for $20. The signature bánh cuốn was made to order and wonderfully tender, while the chả giò boasted blistery skins and serious crunch. A cool cup of pickled plum soda was just the thing to wash it all down. 264 S. Mission Drive, Unit D, San Gabriel, CA 91776. —Cathy Chaplin

Whole grilled sea bass at Cassia in Santa Monica

The energy at Santa Monica’s Cassia always roars with eager diners, with no regard to the pouring rain coming down at the tail end of last week. The wood-fired hearth turns out some of the finest grilled dishes in Los Angeles, and this butterflied sea bream left the strongest impression. With white, delicate flesh hidden under charred skin, the bites were lifted with the crunch of fresh dill, mint, and cilantro. The fish, dusted with turmeric, reminded me of one of my favorite traditional Vietnamese dishes, chả cá Lã Vọng, which is traditionally served with rice noodles, shrimp paste, and fish sauce. The version at Cassia didn’t come with the accompaniments, but I was happy enough with this presentation, slurping up thick noodles from a bowl of laksa as a kind of replacement. 1314 7th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401 —Matthew Kang

American breakfast at Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura in Beverly Hills

Let’s be real, tasting menus can sometimes be a bit stuffy. They’re an adventure, but fun isn’t always the experience with six courses at $450 per person. That is until Chef Kwame Onwuachi collaborated with Gucci Osteria Beverly Hills chef Mattia Agazzi last week. Though the stunning second-floor space remained intact, other touches transformed the space like the 70s and 80s R&B playlist. Or, Onwuachi loudly reminding everyone to turn up the vibe, which was easy to do while tasting dishes that took cues from both the Caribbean and Italy. There was a lot to love while Luther Vandross serenaded me over the speakers, but the American breakfast ruled them all. Throughout the dining room, I heard spoons loudly clink against the ceramic filled with layers of saltfish, ackee, Imperial Ossetra caviar, and the smoothest whipped potatoes to date. This was both wonderfully salty and decadent, and here’s to hoping the collaboration continues in 2023 and beyond. 347 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA, 90210. —Mona Holmes

February 21, 2023

Gambas al ajillo at San Laurel in Downtown

Leave it to José Andrés and the kitchen team led by executive chef Jeffrey Chen 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. We asked for a side of airy pan de cristal, which helped mop up the last bits of flavor. 100 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012. —Matthew Kang

Lobster with sticky rice at Colette in Pasadena

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 recent 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. (Don’t forget to pre-order the lobster in advance.) 975 N. Michillinda Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91107. —Cathy Chaplin

Dry-aged vermillion crudo at Angler in Beverly Grove

It makes sense that the staff at Angler LA asks every diner if they’ve been to the previous version of the restaurant, as everything on the menu has been changed after a brief closure and redesign. The new dining room feels more compact and filled with visual interest, leading to more energy and banter from diners (except my seat was so close to the aisle that servers kept bumping into it). The prices are also a bit more approachable, with shareable plates ranging from $14 to $25 and check totals averaging $100 a person before drinks. The priciest starter was the dry-aged vermillion snapper, hidden among a nest of shredded greens, herbs, and edible flowers. A smoked bone vinegar adds a punch that gave the dish vaguely Southeast Asian flavors. The fish featured a light texture like sea bream but was imbued with an extra layer of deliciousness from the dry aging. Culinary director Paul Chung and chef Brian Limoges give Angler’s updated menu a more whimsical, fun attitude, and it shows. 8500 Beverly Boulevard, Suite 117, Los Angeles, CA 90048. —Matthew Kang

Laksa at Cassia in Santa Monica

Cassia remains one of Santa Monica’s best restaurants, for a variety of reasons. There seems to be something for all diners on the robust Southeast Asian restaurant’s menu, from grilled steak to kaya toast and wontons. It should come as no surprise that the restaurant remains perennially packed inside and on its sheltered side patio; LA just can’t get enough of chef Bryant Ng’s cooking, Kim Luu-Ng’s vision, and general manager/sommelier Marianna Caldwell’s hospitality. For a beautiful peek into the heart of the restaurant give the laksa a try. It’s warming and soulful, rich without being overly weighty, and spicy without being overwhelming. Like the menu, and like the place, the laksa welcomes all for a fantastic night out — especially with another bout of cold and rainy Westside weather on the way. 1314 7th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401. —Farley Elliott

February 13, 2023

Spicy shredded beef chilaquiles at Los Chilaquiles Mexican Grill in Torrance

Hidden in a strip mall and overshadowed by the large car wash on the other end of the parking lot, Los Chilaquiles Mexican Grill stands as a reasonably priced lunch in the industrial section of Torrance. Los Chilaquiles serves a spot-on version of its namesake dish with full customizability. Choose a sauce, from roja to verde and all the way up to spicy (which is what I got) and pick a protein. Then let the cook know if you’re okay with ample crema Mexicana, red onions, cilantro, and cotija cheese. Chilaquiles are often breakfast food, but Los Chilaquiles treats the half-crunchy, soaked tortilla chips like a vehicle, much like tortas, quesadillas, and burritos are vehicles for proteins. I opted out of the beans and rice, which are served atop the chips, and chose the shredded beef, tender and tinted with chiles. The whole thing was spicy enough to make me sweat a little, with the texture of the chips toeing the satisfying line of ‘formerly crispy’ after simmering in salsa for a few minutes. I ended up eating more than I wanted to and felt my stomach expanding for an hour after. 20531 S. Western Avenue #4, Torrance, CA 90501. —Matthew Kang

Central Coast abalone at the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, Auberge Resorts Collection in Los Olivos

The historic tavern inside the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, Auberge Resorts Collection reopened last fall with chef Rhoda Magbitang behind the wood-fired stoves. Locals and visitors alike are taking to the latest iteration as evidenced by the boisterous dining room and packed bar from early evening through late night. Whether seated in the elevated booths with views of the open kitchen or in the calmer main dining room, everyone’s here for the Tavern’s take on familiar, seasonal, and well-executed fare. A recent dinner included fantastic sweetbreads with sunchokes and roasted grapes, along with an inky paella with octopus, piquillo pepper, and smoked paprika aioli. The highlight was an understated dish of abalone served with an abalone liver mousse, mushroom confit, and white miso butter. The mushrooms’ earthy heft complemented the abalone’s gentle profile — less is more when the ingredients are this good. 2350 Railway Avenue, Los Olivos, CA 93441. —Cathy Chaplin

Crispy lobster roll at Bistro 1968 in San Gabriel

Because I have little patience for standing in line, I like arriving right when a famed dim sum house opens its doors. Bistro 1968 is downright busy, with people already lined up to try one of the San Gabriel Valley’s busiest spots. I made sure to tick the box on the order sheet for the house-special crispy lobster roll. It’s a twist on the traditional almond shrimp dish, nicely deep-fried and insanely hot when it arrives at the table. The exterior is a gorgeous golden brown and filled with lobster. A swipe of mayonnaise is extra-rich and wonderful, though the dish stands on its own. The gorgeous chrysanthemum tea from Hangzhou is equally worthwhile. 402 S. San Gabriel Boulevard, San Gabriel, CA 91776. —Mona Holmes

Orecchiette al pesto at Bari on West Third

West Third Street’s Bari is about as simple a restaurant as there is — notwithstanding single-serving takeout shops like Glendale’s herby wrap spot Zhengyalov Hatz. The cozy Italian Bari is a distillation of a theme, serving four kinds of pasta, four wood-grilled mains, and a handful of opening salvo dishes like whipped ricotta and grilled focaccia or fried squash blossoms. It’s the kind of place where even the walls feel spare, purposefully pulled back to a rosy off-tan color that feels like a world away from the haughty jewel tones and big ceilings of some other notable restaurants nearby. That’s the beauty of Bari: Nothing is more than it should be and everything feels like it belongs. Take the orecchiette al pesto, a glowing green homage to an herb that is punched up with pine nuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s delicious, deceptively robust, and available on the (relatively) cheap with a Negroni or a glass of wine at the bar. There are lots of reasons to seek out excess and wide-eyed wonder at other restaurants. At Bari, it’s about keeping things as simple as can be. 8422 W. Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048. —Farley Elliott

February 6, 2023

“The Uni” at Mr. T in Hollywood

For a menu that’s supposed to reflect street food, I didn’t find too many dishes at Mr. T that felt like they would ever be served on the street. Not that we cared after getting this stunning plate of plump, fresh, and briny uni placed over fluffy confit egg imbued with even more uni flavor. A gentle mound of white stellar koshihikari rice brings in an extra layer of comfort. This was a dish worth savoring, like it was part of the appetizers in a high-end omakase restaurant, but served instead inside the boisterous, energetic dining room of this Paris transplant. What I appreciated most about this dish was how substantial it was. Often with uni dishes, there’s just a little less than you really want. Chef Alisa Vannah, who trained at Mozza and most recently at République, knows the power of really good uni with eggs, and this play on République’s signature starter is a real winner. 953 N. Sycamore Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038 —Matthew Kang

Rack of lamb at Pardis in Glendale

Dinner at Pardis in Glendale turned out to be the perfect call for a casual but lovely night out with family on a Sunday evening. The dining room, with wood-paneled walls, modern lighting fixtures, and framed art, was lively when we arrived on the early side. A cocktail to start would’ve made for a festive time, but alas Monday was only a few short hours away. We started with a duo of strong appetizers, including the fried eggplant with caramelized onions (kashk bademjan) and the crispy tahdig ladled with two stews. While the koobideh and barg (thinly sliced filet mignon) were both delightful, the tenderness of the lamb, charred and caramelized just so, had us floored. Never say no to lamb ribs. 738 N. Glendale Avenue, Glendale, CA 91206. —Cathy Chaplin

Lobster and waffles at Saltie Girl in West Hollywood

Once settled into West Hollywood’s Saltie Girl, prepare your meal carefully. Always start with the cocktails, the seafood tower or the overwhelming number of tinned fish options, but be sure to leave room for the lobster and waffles. It’s a bold menu item in a town dedicated to chicken and waffles, but this dish could possibly be one for the ages. The base is well executed, a fluffy and slightly crispy waffle with sweet corn butter and maple syrup with a hint of heat. The deep-fried lobster is an ideal salty contrast. As someone who dug into the first bite with skepticism, this is something to return to Saltie Girl for, as is the free parking in the back of Sunset Plaza. 8615 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069. —Mona Holmes

Pork shoulder breakfast burrito at Friends & Family in East Hollywood

The greatness of Friends & Family’s pastry case is not in question here. The East Hollywood/Thai Town corner restaurant is a James Beard Foundation Award semi-finalist in the Outstanding Bakery category, and its beautifully diverse array of morning treats is the stuff of Instagram envy — it’s just that there’s a lot of other really great stuff to eat at the restaurant, too. Among the many savory options is a slow-cooked pork breakfast burrito, tinged red from chiles and buoyed by both hominy and potatoes for heft. The whole wheat tortilla is griddled without shattering, and the soft scrambled eggs are just sturdy enough to pull it all together (thanks to some cheddar cheese) making this one of LA’s most unique breakfast options. Frankly, it eats more like a lunch dish than a traditional breakfast burrito, and perhaps that’s precisely the point. It could be argued that Friends & Family’s best breakfast options are still found in the pastry case — but the breakfast burrito isn’t far behind. 5150 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90027. —Farley Elliott

January 30, 2023

Seaweed fried fish at Jiang Nan Spring in Alhambra

I visited Jiang Nan Spring this past weekend during Lunar New Year celebrations which meant the dining room was absolutely packed, lending a real banquet energy to the Shanghainese specialist. The best dish on the lazy susan during our meal was the seaweed fried fish, sporting a light, almost tempura-style batter and wisps of umami-rich seafood. The batter managed to stay relatively crisp for the duration of our meal, with the flakey fish showing a tender sweetness with every bite. Sprinkle on a bit of salt and white pepper to taste. 910 E. Main Street, Alhambra, CA 91801. —Matthew Kang

Mini caviar roll at Saltie Girl in West Hollywood

The newish restaurant Saltie Girl is taking to West Hollywood like a fish takes to water. The wraparound dining room, awash in pale blues and hot pinks, is already full of revelers clawing at seafood towers while sipping well-made drinks. The collection of menus — one dedicated to hot food, another to raw bar selections, and separate ones for caviar service and tinned seafood — that greets diners can be a lot to navigate on an empty stomach so the move here is to settle into the task with a mini caviar roll in hand. Served on a toasted split-top bun with the option to add warm butter-poached lobster, the two-bite wonder fires on all flavor cylinders. Rich and savory, this dish is the starter that everyone absolutely needs to settle into Saltie Girl, and yes, definitely add the lobster. 8615 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069. —Cathy Chaplin

Cheesesteak pizza at Schellz Pizza Company in South LA

Los Angeles first began falling in love with lofty, crusty pan-style pizzas during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, and since then the trend has only further solidified itself as a new kind of standalone LA style. There are plenty of places that tweak the usual Detroit moniker to fit their own needs — see the quality slices at Quarter Sheets for one example, or the pepperoni-heavy Emmy Squared in Santa Monica for another — but only one that’s using a pseudo-Japanese milk bread recipe as a base for even springier, lighter pies. Schellz, which began as a very underground pizza operation in Downtown LA in 2020, is now offering its unique “hokkaidough” pizzas and loaves every week (the weekend-only bread sells out fast) from a ghost kitchen on Crenshaw just outside of Inglewood, and fans are queueing up to score medium and large pizzas on the regular, particularly during busy weekends of TV-watching bliss. Tickets were pouring in on Sunday ahead of (and during) the NFL conference championship games, which made Schellz’s Philadelphia-esque cheesesteak pizza all the more appealing. Needless to say, adding shaved beef, peppers, mushrooms, red onions, and lots of cheese to extra light, crusty-edged pan pizzas are never a bad idea. 6732 Crenshaw Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA. 90043 —Farley Elliott

January 23, 2023

Red pepper-glazed bass collar at Cafe Basque in Downtown

Daniel Rose’s new Cafe Basque occupies the ground floor of the Hoxton like it’s been there for ages, so seamless has the transition been for Rose’s ‘sunshine cooking’ of the cuisine hugging the eastern Atlantic and its bounty of seafood. The red pepper-glazed sea bass collar was the brightest star on our table, with charred skin and a mild heat simmering through every bite. There are plenty of bones and other bits, but navigate through them to find succulent, sweet fish elevated by a tinge of lemony tang. Just don’t feel ashamed to pick out those bones, that’s just part of the experience. 1060 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90015. —Matthew Kang

New York-ish slices at Ghisallo in Santa Monica

Ocean Park Boulevard’s ascension as a true restaurant row has been shocking to many Westsiders, given the street’s enduring reputation as a sleepy afterthought compared to the heart of Santa Monica proper. Yet emerge the area has, thanks to a bunch of new restaurant openings (including high-end Japanese restaurant Shunji) and nearby staples like Lunetta up on Pico Boulevard. Among the hottest newer entrants to the area is Ghisallo, a California pizza-focused restaurant that turns out blistered and crispy pizzas all day long from a dome oven inside the glassy space. The back patio fills up fast on weekends, and after school lets out the by-the-slice options that go even faster, so plan accordingly. For simple, easy eating before the madness, get there early in the afternoon to catch a $5 margherita slice; the wide single-serve slice hangs well off the side of the plate and is best eaten fast on the street patio in the front. Los Angeles isn’t much of a town for quality, fast pizza slices, but Ghisallo is helping to change that narrative — and the narrative of the neighborhood, too. 1622 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90405. —Farley Elliott

Cardamom and Meyer lemon morning bun at Bub and Grandma’s Restaurant in Glassell Park

I swing into Bub and Grandma’s Restaurant monthly to replenish my family’s bread supply — we go through four to five loaves surprisingly fast. Try as I might to focus on the task at hand during these straightforward trips, the glorious array of pastries behind the glass takeout window never fails to call my name. It’s usually the doughnuts iced in seasonally-driven flavors that I find difficult to resist, especially the passion fruit one, but recently I picked up a crisp and swirly morning bun. Coated in coarse sugar, the flaky pastry boasted the mildest hint of cardamom and a gooey caramelized bottom of Meyer lemon. The bun’s supremely satisfying texture and superb flavors had me wishing I’d purchased more than just one. Next time. 3507 Eagle Rock Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90065. —Cathy Chaplin

Pepperoni pizza at Quarter Sheets in Echo Park

If you have friends or family with newborn children, your official duty is to deliver food, a bottle of wine, adult company, and good cheer. On Friday night, I showed up to the doorstep of new parents bearing a Quarter Sheets goodie bag which included a bottle of Fio Rose Pet Nat, a slice of co-owner Hannah Ziskin’s spongey, creamy chiffon princess cake, and two pizzas by Aaron Lindell. While the cake made for a fantastic dessert, these parents highly appreciated a whole thick, pan-style pepperoni pie. Lindell’s pizzas regularly sell out, and it’s not uncommon to see lines of people waiting for a table or navigating the challenging parking situation to pick up a to-go order. Order way ahead to secure a favorite option. 1305 Portia Street, Echo Park, CA, 90026. —Mona Holmes

January 17, 2023

French onion soup at Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood

It’s not easy to find the best things to eat at Musso & Frank Grill because other than the jellied consomme or martinis, not much has been written about the actual food at Hollywood’s most iconic restaurant. Yes, the service and the ambiance are damn near unbeatable in Los Angeles, but there are some good things to eat too, like this French onion soup topped with blistered cheese and chunks of crusty bread. The balance of the beefy broth was just right between the sweet, caramelized onions and all the salty elements. What I appreciated about this was the fresh thyme and other herbs that cut through that richness of everything, making me want to spoon up even the last bit of soup. Oh, and the spicy rigatoni pasta is terrific too, in case you’re looking for something else to eat. 6667 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028. —Matthew Kang

Spicy beef soup noodles at Mian in West Adams

While traveling from the Westside to Downtown last week, the sky decided to open like a violent waterfall. This was a downpour that rendered most streets unnavigable, so I pulled off the 10 and into Mian West Adams for a bowl of spicy beef noodle soup. Well-established in the San Gabriel Valley, owners Tony Xu and Sean Xie opened this Chengdu Taste spinoff in West Adams in 2021. This outlet is an ideal place for groups, or in this case, a solo diner waiting for driving conditions to improve. Order any variety of Mian’s Sichuan-style noodles, but pay special attention to the spicy beef. It’s got chunks of tender beef and chiles, plus ample broth balanced by soybean sauce. There’s plenty of baby bok choy and celery throughout, and the bowl is topped with fresh cilantro. Pick up the bowl to finish the broth and you’ll be ready for any journey afterward. 5263 W. Adams Boulevard, West Adams, CA, 90016. —Mona Holmes

Gumboyaya at Darrow’s New Orleans Grill in Carson

Affable Norwood Clark Jr. is a commanding presence at his Creole restaurant Darrow’s New Orleans Grill in Carson, which just celebrated its seventh anniversary in the South Bay this past weekend. Clark Jr. beckons newcomers and seasoned veterans alike while manning the register. Other workers exude the same joy and enthusiasm for one of LA’s top Creole restaurants. The soulful food packs a flavor punch, from the comforting shrimp po’ boy and red beans with rice to the gumboyaya, a combination of two of New Orleans’ most famous dishes. The gumbo sports a soupy, well-seasoned broth with plenty of andouille sausage while the pat of jambalaya stands in for plain white rice. Sprinkle on some Frank’s Red Hot sauce and the flavors get turned to 11, with the tangy, acidic sauce providing a necessary balance to the earthy, spicy notes of the gumbo and jambalaya. The only thing missing was a live band, which Clark Jr. said helped commemorate the restaurant’s anniversary this past weekend. 21720 Avalon Boulevard #102, Carson, CA 90745. —Matthew Kang

New Haven-style pizzas at Ozzy’s Pizza in Glendale

Underdogs is the little sports bar that could, tucked away beneath street level in Glendale near the Americana. The subterranean hangout has built a loyal following thanks to its many TVs, strong drinks list, and the emergence of pizza pop-up Ozzy’s Apizza in the space. The New Haven-style specialists are turning out some of the city’s most delicious pizzas right now (forgive the unusual location), turning up the heat for darkened, thin, and crispy pies that truly feel like eating great East Coast pizza. The project, born out of the pandemic by a pair of slice-obsessed friends with New Haven ties, is quickly catching on with greater Glendale, and the duo has plans to expand hours and menu items in the very near future. For now try any of the six or so simple pizzas —the saucy tomato pie is certainly worth its own look — either on-site with a beer or at home, but beware: right now orders are only available three nights a week. Plan ahead, DM to preorder, and get ready to be surprised by some of the tastiest new pizza in the city. 156 S. Brand Boulevard, Glendale, CA 91204. —Farley Elliott

January 3, 2023

Sichuan hot chicken sandwich at Daybird in Koreatown

Chef Mei Lin’s fried chicken shack Daybird has been on my ever-growing list of places to try since it opened in May 2021. The long lines that snaked out the storefront following the splashy opening have since subsided, which meant that only a short wait after placing my order kept me from this magnificent Sichuan hot chicken number. The heart of the sandwich is a massive hunk of Jidori chicken thigh expertly fried in rice bran oil to a golden, crunchy crisp. The chicken is as juicy as hoped with a heavy coat of seasonings that pack real heat and nuanced flavor. Coleslaw with pickled chiles brightens the entire package, while a hardworking potato bun neatly holds everything together. This sandwich delivers in every way. 240 N. Virgil Avenue, Suite 5, Los Angeles, CA 90004. —Cathy Chaplin

Chocolate starry night mousse cake at Dōmi

You’ve seen Dōmi’s gorgeous baked goods on social media or on this very website. Dōmi’s Instagram posts are indeed eye-catching, but its products are even more beautiful in person. Owners Evelyn Ling and Joe Cheng Reed expertly make a range of stunning baked goods like the profiteroles, a chocolate salted caramel black sesame cake, strawberry milk tea cookies, and the perpetually sold-out everything milk bun. Opt for the glazed mousse cake, which is the equivalent of taking a bite from a Van Gogh painting with layers of chocolate, vanilla, and hojicha or jasmine mousse. It’s the kind of cake that will be marveled over, simply because there is something unique about Ling and Cheng Reed’s outstanding creations. Dōmi only takes orders through its website, with either Locale delivery or scheduled pickups in the Arts District and Temple City. Always check Instagram for updates because this bakery is quite popular and sells out quickly. 672 South Santa Fe Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90021. —Mona Holmes

Chilaquiles breakfast burrito at Tacos El Gringo in Anaheim

In the never-ending quest to add crunch and texture to the modern breakfast burrito, most places have opted to shortcut things by tossing in some tater tots. That’s great for fans of starchy potatoes, but Tacos El Gringo out of Anaheim knows that there is another way: lots of saucy-but-still-crisp tortilla chips. The small walk-up at the Make development loads up its chilaquiles breakfast burritos with plenty of crunch, taking a Mexican breakfast staple and wrapping it together in one warming, griddled, eggy package. There are other breakfast options on the menu as well (try the Farmhouse, with multiple types of meat including carne asada), but for fans of pure texture, it’s all about the chilaquiles iteration, best served with bacon. 500 South Anaheim Boulevard, Anaheim, CA 92805. —Farley Elliott

Cheeseburger special at Irv’s in West Hollywood

The cheeseburger special inspired by the acclaimed film The Menu doesn’t depart too significantly from Irv’s regular burger, but the little details make this something worth seeking out during the month of January while it’s available. With a smattering of paper-thin onions and copious American cheese, this juicy, gooey burger satisfies better than an entire tasting menu of fussy food. With fantastic seared patties and a plush sesame seed bun, this $9.95 special also comes with a side of fries. My tray of fries was mushy and old, unfortunately, but my dining companion’s were golden brown and crispy. Still, the burger shines through, and of course, each special comes with a pre-doodled paper plate that longtime owner Sonia Hong would’ve drawn for customers. 7998 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90046. —Matthew Kang

January 3, 2023

Milk and honey at Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura in Beverly Hills

While I generally try to keep Dead Week as non-committal as possible, the opportunity to close out 2022 in grand fashion with dinner at Gucci Osteria proved too enticing to resist. While lunchtime features an a la carte menu, dinner is a prix fixe affair with three different menus to choose from. One of the highlights from my final fancy feast of last year was a luscious milk- and honey-inspired dessert crafted by pastry chef Tamara Rigo. Honey sourced from the Santa Monica farmers market was drizzled tableside, catching the structure’s honeycombed ridges and rich custard base, and providing a sweet ending to a very lovely meal (and year). 347 North Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. —Cathy Chaplin

Yucca fries at Mírate in Los Feliz

Of all the spectacular dishes to come out of chef Joshua Gil’s kitchen in Los Feliz, I was a bit surprised by a standout that’s usually relegated to a side dish: yucca. Mírate’s menu is a casual shift from Mírame — its sister restaurant in Beverly Hills — and there’s a lot to take in. Start by exploring the stunning, multi-level, slightly outdoor restaurant, then move on to the menu that spans from kanpachi aguachile to steak tlayudas or lamb barbacoa flautas. When choosing a drink, there are two separate bars with entirely different options: one with a curated mezcal collection, and another with rare gins, rums, and agave-based spirits. Former Gracias Madre barman Max Reis concocted an incredible take on a margarita called el guero with tequila, aguachile, nopales granita, and coconut. Once done taking everything in, order the guero and the fried yucca, which can be made with or without the chorizo. This root vegetable is difficult to master (it’s often served oily, overly crunchy, or undercooked) but Gil’s have a gorgeous consistency and are even more flavorful with a sprinkling of cheese and a few aromatics that provide some heat. 1712 North Vermont Avenue, Los Feliz, CA, 90027.—Mona Holmes

Macau Pork Chop Bun at Pearl River Deli in Chinatown

It’s not every day that a sandwich arrives at your table with a pork bone hanging out one end. The bone-in sandwich look isn’t entirely new, even these days — try sorting through the endless beef rib sandwich photos that pop up on social media — but it’s still a bit of a mind-bender at first. At Chinatown’s Pearl River Deli, bending time and space to its will is basically the ethos of the entire restaurant. There are familiar-looking black and white sandwich cookies in the desert case that feel grocery store basic but are actually called L’Aureos, because they’re made by hand by baker Laura Hoang (a.k.a. @Largwa). The chow fun feels like a mall staple, but here it’s springier and impossibly delicious. And that bone-in Macau pork chop bun? It’s large but not impossibly so, with a substantial yet airy bun and just the right amount of crust on the chop itself. Leaving the bone in is actually part of the beauty of this sandwich, allowing diners to enjoy every inch of bun-sauce-pork, with room to nibble on the rounded edges at the end. Maybe the bone is there, really, as a nod to the fact that this sandwich is basically impossible to put down because it’s so good. Hold on, the bone says, because this one is going to wow you. 935 Mei Ling Way, Los Angeles, CA 90012. —Farley Elliott

Potato mille-feuille at Petrossian at Tiffany’s in Costa Mesa

I’ll say yes to a thousand layers of anything, especially a thinly-fried cube of potato topped with a solid daub of caviar. The lunch situation at Petrossian, set inside the Tiffany store at South Coast Plaza, could be the ultimate ladies-who-lunch venue in Orange County (with prices to match). This tiny but mighty bite of crispy potato has just the mildest smear of creme fraiche to help cut through the dozens of layers of the elegant fried tuber. Of course, the salty, briny pops of umami from the caviar on top amplify the feeling of luxury. Even in a place like this, with Petrossian caviar on virtually every dish, the humble potato steals the show. And it sure tastes better than a mound of sterling silver. 3333 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa, CA. —Matthew Kang

2023-01-03T19:57:38Z dg43tfdfdgfd