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F&W's Los Angeles Food Obsessions

Food & Wine · Guide to Los Angeles · created almost 3 years ago

Our editors reveal 25 not-so-guilty pleasures.

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    Animal Style Burger at In-N-Out Burger in Los Angeles, CA

    Even superstar chef Thomas Keller is a fan of the West Coast chain—and with good reason. The cooked-to-order burgers are made from Harris Ranch beef and served with hand-cut fries. For a messier, more indulgent experience, order your burger "animal style" for extra sauce and chopped grilled onions.

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    Baby Back Ribs at A-Frame in Culver City, CA

    “Roy Choi's air-dried Chinese-style ribs were sticky-great with hoisin-chile glaze.”—Editor in Chief Dana Cowin.

  • Baco Flatbreads at Lazy Ox Canteen in Los Angeles, CA

    Chef Josef Centeno’s eclectic culinary training informs his offal-centric cooking for food that is fun, adventurous and satisfying. His signature Bäco are house-made flatbreads with various toppings like crispy pork, scallions and romesco sauce.

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    Caramel Ice Cream at Carmela Ice Cream in Pasadena, CA

    Jessica Mortarotti and Zachary Cox expanded their farmer’s market-based business with a dainty Pasadena storefront. Ultra-creamy ice creams include a beloved salted caramel flavor, and herb-inflected sorbets like lemon basil.

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    Ceviche at Mo-Chica in Los Angeles, Ca.

    F&W Best New Chef 2011 Ricardo Zarate elevates Japanese-inflected Peruvian cuisine to such heights that he's drawing high-minded foodies to the restaurant’s food-court setting. The ceviche is fantastic, like tuna with vinegar emulsion, red onion and corn.

  • Cheese bar at AOC in Los Angeles, CA

    Chef and co-owner Suzanne Goin (of Lucques fame) has conceived a menu of small plates along with a fantastic cheese bar: The selection regularly includes such obscurities as Estrella la Peral, a blue from Asturias, and Hooligan, from Colchester, Connecticut.

  • Coconut Cupcake at SusieCakes in Los Angeles, CA

    The patrons have Madeline and Mildred to thank for the bakery's treats: owner Susan Sarich's grandmothers carefully recorded recipes on index cards. Even an ancestral Pyrex bowl supplied the minty-green apron color for SusieCakes' retro smiling hostess logo. Classic flavors include fluffy coconut and red velvet.

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    Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna at Katsuya in Brentwood, CA

    You may have seen Chef Katsuya Uechi's signature dish—crispy rice topped with minced spicy tuna—on other menus around town, but he did it first, and still does it best.

  • enchiladas at El Carmen Restaurant in Los Angeles, CA

    This Mexican-themed bar, decorated with paintings of Mexican wrestlers, pours over 300 different tequilas. But there’s also amazingly fresh and simple Mexican food like melty cheesy enchiladas with thick corn tortillas.

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    Foie Gras Cotton Candy at The Bazaar by Jose Andres in Los Angeles, CA

    “The food at this restaurant in the stylish, chaotic SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills—foie gras lollipops, cauliflower “couscous,” liquid olives—showcases José’s ecstatic creativity.”—Editor in Chief Dana Cowin

  • Frank Gehry Ice Cream Sandwich at Coolhaus Ice Cream Truck in Los Angeles, CA

    From a fleet of trucks (and an imminent Culver City storefront), come an unequaled variety of ice cream sandwiches. Rotating flavors like Guinness chip and Meyer lemon mix and match with a range of cookies, like chocolate chip and ginger molasses. Recommended combinations are named after architects—order a Frank Gehry for strawberry with Snickerdoodle cookies.

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    Fried Chicken Sandwich at Son Of A Gun in Los Angeles, CA

    At their buzzy sequel to Animal, chefs Vinny Dotola and Jon Shook serve a perfect, crunchy fried chicken sandwich inspired by Chick-fil-A and Bakesale Betty, an Oakland institution. Piled with spicy pickle slaw, shredded lettuce and Sriracha aioli in a brioche bun, this version is decidedly higher brow.

  • Fried Tofu Sliders at Flying Pig Truck

    From his Pepto-pink truck, Joe Kim of the Flying Pig sells French-Asian tacos and sliders, playfully combining ingredients like fried tofu and peanuts.

  • Ginger Lemon Cupcake at Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills, CA

    Making cupcakes at this Los Angeles-based phenomenon is an art. The creative varieties on offer include Ginger Lemon, Vanilla Milk Chocolate and Chai Latte.

  • Glazed Doughnuts at Primo's Donuts in , California

    This mom-and-pop shop, run by Celia and Ralph Primo since 1956, still sells fantastic cake and yeast-raised doughnuts for under $1 a piece. The soft, glazed rings are super-classic.

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    Korean Short Rib Tacos at Kogi BBQ Truck in Los Angeles, CA

    When Kogi’s food truck first Tweeted its stops in 2008, no one had heard of Korean short rib tacos. 2010 F&W Best New Chef Roy Choi, who cooked at NYC’s Le Bernardin, changed that. Now hundreds of people line up for them, and for kimchi hot dogs.

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    Loco Moco at Animal Restaurant in Los Angeles, CA

    F&W Best New Chefs 2009 Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo bring a ravenous, carnivorous appetite to classic California cuisine. Their insanely rich Foie Gras Loco Moco combines foie, Spam, a burger patty and a quail egg over rice.

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    Lord Of The Rings Dog at Pinks Hot Dogs in Los Angeles, CA

    Customers have been lining up at the legendary Hollywood hot dog shack since 1939, but the menu evolves with pop culture. Current editions include The Lord of the Rings dog (topped with barbecue sauce and onion rings) and the Martha Stewart dog (topped with relish, onions, bacon, chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut and sour cream).

  • Peking Duck at WP24 in Los Angeles, CA

    “Second only to my fried-chicken obsession is my fascination with Peking duck. The version at Wolfgang Puck's new restaurant on top of the Ritz-Carlton is exceptional, with crisp skin and drippingly juicy meat.”—Editor in Chief Dana Cowin

  • Pig Candy at Bigmista's Barbecue in Los Angeles, CA

    With a tattooed, flexing cartoon pig as a mascot, Bigmista’s beckons pork lovers to its stand at the Atwater Village farmers’ market. A fitting signature: Pig Candy, slabs of smoked maple bacon sweetened by brown sugar and spiced with cayenne pepper.

  • Reuben Sandwich at Greenblatt's Deli-Restaurant in Hollywood, CA

    This old-school deli from the 1920s is attached to an outrageously good wine store, and diners can open their finds for a $6 corkage. The Reuben's crunchy, buttery crust goes beautifully with Pol Roger Champagne.

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    roasted cauliflower at Gjelina in Venice, CA

    “This place is rightfully known for both pizza and pizzazz, but I loved its many vegetable dishes, especially the wood-roasted cauliflower with garlic, parsley, chile and vinegar.”—Editor in Chief Dana Cowin.

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    Squash Blossom Pizza at Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, CA

    Powerhouse team Mario Batali, Joseph Bastianich and Nancy Silverton create some of L.A.'s best pies by combining top California ingredients (squash blossoms and trumpet mushrooms) with Italian tradition (big wood-burning ovens and house-made mozzarella).

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    Steakburger at Apple Pan in Los Angeles, CA

    Since 1947, this unassuming diner has had crowds lining up for one of the 26 stools at its long counter (there are no tables). The draw: the signature “steakburger”—a juicy, flavorful beef patty topped with mayo, sweet relish, pickles, iceberg lettuce and Tillamook cheddar.

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    The Office Burger at Father's Office in Santa Monica, CA

    Chef Sang Yoon first made his name here with dry-aged beef burgers topped with Gruyère cheese, Maytag blue cheese, arugula and applewood-bacon compote. Among the finest in the country, they justify his strict no-ketchup policy.