Serious Eats City Guide: Los Angeles
We've updated our Serious Eats City Guide Los Angeles to include even more delicious bites in the City of Angels, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times' S. Irene Virbila.
Best Bargain Lunch
Loteria Grill is a retro Mexico City-style taco stand with zesty soft tacos, chilaquiles, huevos rancheros and aquas frescas in the Los Angeles Farmers' Market at Fairfax and Third Street. For a down-home taco truck experience, check El Matador, which stays open past midnight.
Best Beer Selection
The owner of Father's Office, Sang Yoon, is fanatic about pairing beer with food. Famous for its burger lavished with blue cheese and caramelized onions, the gastropub has a more ambitious menu at its new Los Angeles location, plus artisanal spirits and a huge list of beers from around the world.
Best Late-Night Eats
The bar at Lucques, where you can get steak frites with made-to-order Bearnaise sauce, a platter of perfectly à point cheeses, or a few other delicious bites. Bar Pintxo in Santa Monica stays open until midnight daily. Head to this miniscule Spanish wine bar from Joe Miller of Joe's Restaurant in Venice for hand-cut jamon serrano, and the ultimate Iberico, along with tapas and specials.
Best Wine Bar
A.O.C., the second restaurant from Suzanne Goin and Caroline Style (the first being Lucques), and still the best small plates restaurant on the scene. It's notable for the wide ranging wine list put together by Styne. Also Lou on Vine, tucked away in a strip mall in Hollywood. It features an ever-interesting array of wines from owner Lou Amdur, along with small bites and a braised dish of the night. Mondays, there's a prix-fixe wine pairing supper for $55.
Nancy Silverton (ex-Campanile and La Brea Bakery) spent months working out the recipe for her dough at everyone's favorite, Pizzeria Mozza, which she owns (along with Osteria Mozza nextdoor) with Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. Fabulous pies with inventive toppings—egg, guanciale, escarole and bagna cauda; Ipswich clams with oregano, garlic, pecorino, and parmigiano; or wild spinach, nettles, cacio di Roma, and salami. Go early or go late for a spot at the bar where you can watch the cooks stretch and garnish the pizza dough. Check out Nancy's chopped salad, too, and her Meyer lemon ice cream pie.
Travis Lett at Gjelina in Venice makes some excellent pizzas at this rustic Mediterranean where the motto is "eat local." Sit at the communal tables next to the bar, or in the airy back garden to feast on pies topped with wild mushrooms, taleggio and pea shoots or bitter greens, lardons, tomato confit and fontina. Baby beets roasted in the wood oven with sheep's milk ricotta are a good bet, too. In Santa Monica, the new Riva from Jason Travi of Fraiche in Culver City, turns out thin-crusted pies from a wood-burning oven (definitely the best thing on the menu). Also, if you're in Monterey Park, stop in at Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana where the space is funky, but the pizzas are real (owner Christiano Bollini, who grew up in the neighborhood, went to Naples to learn to make pizza).
Pizzeria Mozza: 641 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90036 (map); 323-297-0101. Gjelina: 1429 Abbott Kinney Road, Venice CA 90291 (map); 310-450-1429. Riva: 312 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica CA 90401 (map); 310-451-7482. Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana: 2315 South Garfield Avenue, Monterey Park CA 91754 (map); 323-722-7600.
The country's first drive-in burger, In-N-Out (with twenty or so locations across the Southland) still makes the best fast food burger (with hand-peeled Idaho potato fries). But when you want something more serious, head to the stylish, late-night burger bar 25 Degrees in the hip Hollywood Roosevelt hotel got yhr black leather booths, tattooed servers, and build-your-own burger options. Start with a 9-ounce sirloin patty, then add artisanal cheeses, thick-cut bacon, avocado, and other embellishments. Fries come with tarragon remoulade or smoky hot chipotle sauce.
Next on my list is the lunch-only burger at Comme Ca, David Myers' (Sona) twist on a French brasserie. The aged, juicy beef is left to speak for itself. No elaborate fixings, just a veil of great Cheddar and a classic bun from Boule Bakery.
In-N-Out Burger: Several Southland locations. 25 Degrees in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel: 7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood CA 90028 (map); 323-785-7244. Comme Ca: 8479 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90069 (map); 323-782-1104.
Best Chinese Restaurant
This is a tough one since they change all the time. Lake Spring is beloved for its comforting Shanghai dishes—soup dumplings, jade shrimp, and braised pork "pump." You can't go wrong at Wolfgang Puck's long running French-Chinese place Chinois on Main either, though a meal here is considerably more expensive than anything in the San Gabriel Valley. Don't miss the Shanghai lobster with crispy spinach, tea-smoked squab or Mongolian lamb chops. Everything is served family-style.
Best Ice Cream
Hands down the best in town is Bulgarini Gelato. Leo Bulgarini and his wife Elizabeth Foldi started selling from a cart, but now have a little shop in Altadena (just next to Pasadena). This is true Italian gelato made with exquisite ingredients—look for his toasted Sicilian pistachio, zabaglione, or cantaloupe sorbetto laced with Tanqueray. Worth a trip. Pazzo Gelato in Silver Lake started out strong, but has lost its way with too many flavors and toppings. Stick with classic flavors like the crema or pistachio, or farmers' market strawberries. For silky French-style ice cream and sorbet, head to Boule.
Bulgarini Gelato: 749 East Altadena Drive, Altadena CA 91001 (map); 626-791-6174. Pazzo Gelato: 3827 West Sunset Boulevard, Silver Lake CA 90026 (map); 323-662-1410. Boule: 408 North La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles CA 90048 (map); 310-289-9977 and 413 North Bedford Drive, Beverly Hills CA 90210 (map); 310-273-4488.