The GP 13: Los Angeles’ Best Restaurants
Published on: January 1, 2015
Our obsession with ‘best of’ lists comes home to roost this week as we initiate our own, with more to come.
118 W. 4th St. | 213.687.8002
Photo: Dylan + Jeni
Puffy tacos, frito pie, queso, and other evolved Tex-Mex dishes are mainstays at chef Josef Centeno’s latest operation. Do not miss the perfectly caramelized sweet potatoes, the fried brussels sprouts, and the guacomole, which just might be the best in the city. The ’50s hall-like space also offers its fair share of tequila and mescal drinks, along with homemade fruit mashes and Bäco-Pops.
2121 7th Place | 213.514.5724
In an industrial-inflected, warehouse-like space in Downtown L.A.’s Arts District, you’ll find Bestia, a relative newcomer helmed by husband-and-wife duo, Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis. While the scope of the menu is ambitious (and innovative, as Ori hates to waste meat, meaning you’ll find the occasional beef and lamb heart or chicken gizzard dotting the offerings), you should really go for the pizza: Ori gives his dough a good 24-hours to rise and fall before it heads into the wood-burning oven, and you can tell. A trip here requires Uber, as this place draws huge crowds—the bar is a fun place to wait, and the cocktails are delicious.
2709 Main St. | 310.392.9025
Chinois has been around since the ’80s (it was one of Wolfgang Puck’s first restaurants), but in the intervening years, it’s lost none of its appeal. As a pioneer in the Asian-fusion space, Chinois—which marries French and Chinese cuisine—totally revolutionized the L.A. food scene. Now, the food feels wonderfully familiar in a space that looks straight out of Ruthless People. The curried oysters, duck pancakes, and spicy miso black cod are classics. A trip here always brings a real sense of nostalgia, as this was one of the first foodie destinations in California.
Canyon 114 W. Channel Rd. | 310.573.1660
Giorgio’s is like a culinary second home in Los Angeles, in no small part because this is still a family operation, and it shows. The service is warm and attentive, and the unfussy and fun vibe is the perfect backdrop for the incredible Northern Italian fare. Go for the octopus carpaccio with deep fried capers, penne langostine, sweet corn agnolotti with truffle butter, and sea bass—and stay for the white truffles, which are imported from Piedmont every fall. While it’s not exactly casual, Giorgio’s is never uptight, meaning children are always welcome at the table.
1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd. | 310.450.1429
It’s been five years, but Gjelina—a restaurant that ushered in a new sort of veggie-centric California cuisine—is as mobbed as ever. The crowds make a lot of sense: Everything is always excellent, from the aforementioned vegetable sides to the whisper-thin jalapeño and smoked mozzarella pizza. Come when they open so you can snag a table on the patio out back. (If the lines are too long, grab something to-go at GTA, their take-away spot next door.)
8897 Beverly Blvd. | 310.859.4903
An unassuming exterior, and below ground level space belie the reliably-delectable fare inside: Here, you’ll find the best eggplant parmesan in the city, and what is probably the most delicious linguini al pesto outside of Liguria. Their fish with red sauce is also crazy delicious. The emphasis is on classic Northern Italian dishes, all served in the charmingly clubby space—the bill is invariably steep, but the quality of the meal erases any sticker shock.
9041 Sunset Blvd. | 310.275.9724
30-something chef, Kris Yenbamroong, may not have any formal culinary training, but no matter: He learned how to cook in Bangkok, and in the kitchen of his parent’s long-standing Thai mainstay, Talésai, which is now the (sort of) home of Night + Market. Tucked away behind a curtain in the back, you won’t find the white tablecloths that mark the former. Instead, you’re met by a stark white space where the only décor is a handful of Christmas lights and a Singha beer sign. Here, the hype continues to mount: Maybe it’s the low-slung and crowded communal tables (this place is loud), or maybe it’s the exquisite and (very) spicy street food, like pad thai, grilled fatty pig collar, and fried chicken wings, bathed in “rooster sauce.” Below, you’ll find the recipes for two of my favorite dishes.
5955 Melrose Ave. | 323.460.4170
With two Michelin stars at its back, Michael Cimarusti’s Providence easily ranks as one of L.A.’s best. The prix-fixe menu revolves around Cimarusti’s deep love for the sea, and the provenance of the fish on the menu is clearly-defined: There’s down-home “chowda,” lobsters from Maine, coho salmon from the Olympic peninsula, and a smattering of exotics, like ikura, uni, and razor clams. Meanwhile, the quietly-fancy space feels like it could double as the dining room of an opulent ocean liner.
225 26th St. | 310.393.5238
It’s nothing more than a simple food stand in the Brentwood Country Mart, but nothing quite reminds me of my California childhood like Reddi Chick. The moist, perfectly-seasoned rotisserie chicken basket comes with plenty of barbecue dipping sauce, and fries that are absolutely worth the shot to the arteries. I’ve never heard a kid complain about the chicken tender basket, either. Don’t be deterred by the lines: They move fast.
624 S. La Brea Ave. | 310.362.6115
Photo: Ryan Tanaka
With long and star-studded resumes (Walter Manzke has worked at El Bulli, for one, while his wife, Margarita, worked at Melisse), nobody expected this ambitious duo’s newest LA venture to be anything less than extraordinary. Occupying the former home of Campanile (i.e., Charlie Chaplin’s film studio back in the ’20s), the focus here is on French-inflected staples, like duck confit, oysters, and tartes flambées. The uni toast is insane, the baguettes are absurd (Margarita is a pastry-chef), and the space has been reworked beautifully: The heavy floor tiles and mahogany tables were all imported from The Philippines, where Margarita was born. (Should you ever find yourself in Manila, the Manzkes also have a small chain of successful cafés there called Wildflour.)
8370 W. 3rd St. | 323.782.9033
Styled to look like an East Coast clam shack (buoys, taxidermied fish, and life belts line the wood-paneled walls), Son of a Gun is one of those spots that could probably routinely fill a space five times its size. While you might have to wait for a seat, the linguine and clams, peel and eat shrimp, insane sashimis, shrimp toast, smoked trout with crackers, and mini lobster rolls fully justify the time spent. (One of their biggest hits, the fried chicken sandwich, has nothing to do with the sea.) If this list were ranked, Son of a Gun would be my number one.
8539 W. Sunset Blvd. | 310.652.0523
This quintessential sushi spot (it’s one of our favorites below) is tucked away on the second floor of a nondescript strip mall on Sunset; it’s a good thing, since seats (and opening hours) are limited. It’s strictly Omakase at the sushi bar, and well worth it—should you take this option, you’ll have to cross your fingers that the blue crab hand roll (more and more ubiquitous around LA, but still superb) and skip jack sashimi are on the night’s menu.
1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd. | 310.392.6644
You’d never guess that The Tasting Kitchen sits on one of Venice’s busiest thoroughfares: It’s partly because of the fortress-like entrance, and partly because the loft-y, two-floor space revolves around a small grove of transporting olive trees. The food—modern Italian—is excellent, made even better by the comfortable, leather wrapped Eames chairs, and always kind and attentive service.