Scallop tostada at Found Oyster in East Hollywood .
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.
September 26, 2022
Duck al pastor at Damian in the Arts District
Duck al pastor at Damian in the Arts District.
The dark and stormy vibe of Damian’s outdoor patio in the Arts District is in color palette only: some of Los Angeles’s brightest cooking is happening in chef Enrique Olvera’s two-year-old restaurant, which explores contemporary coastal Mexican and Oaxacan influences (its sister taqueria and paleta haven, Ditroit, rests in the back-alley behind it). The standout from a recent visit, for me, was the duck al pastor, featuring perfectly seared duck breast, still bordered by crackly, fatty skin and flecked with razor-thin chiles, served with fresh-pressed corn tortillas and a generous pat of “pineapple butter” to dollop onto self-prepared tacos. The key element here is that pineapple butter, which has the citrusy, creamy unctuousness of a lemon budino or citrus-cream pie. (Its sweetness can be pleasantly cut with Damian’s salsa verde or macha.) Think of it this way: with something that sweet to round out dinner, you almost don’t need dessert. Almost. 2132 East 7th Place, Los Angeles —Nicole Adlman
Scallop tostada at Found Oyster in East Hollywood
Scallop tostada at Found Oyster in East Hollywood.
It took me awhile to get to this East Hollywood seafood shack because tough tables and cramped dining rooms are to be avoided when dining with kiddos, even very well behaved seven-year-olds. But on a recent Saturday when my daughter joined some friends at an amusement park, I took the opportunity to finally head to Found. While the lobster bisque roll was heartily portioned and very tasty, it was the scallop tostada that left my husband and me high-fiving and happy. The flavors and textures were thoughtful and well-executed — a crisply-fried tortilla raft layered with the silkiest slivers of scallop with bright notes of yuzu kosho, green apple, and opal basil. It was so good we should have ordered two, awe shucks. 4880 Fountain Avenue, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin
All of the pastries at Gusto Bread in Long Beach
A recent stop at Gusto Bread on my way to the Long Beach flea market resulted in a treasure trove of morning pastries; looking at the jewel box of a display case filled with naturally leavened baked goods reminded me of the slogan from the old Lay’s commercial starring Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Larry Bird (“I’ll bet you can’t eat just one”). Turns out, I couldn’t choose just one and ended up with three of Gusto’s pastries made with organic flours and heirloom ingredients: the nixtamal queen, the bakery’s take on a Kouign-Amann; a fluffy concha dusted with cacao powder; and a seasonal special, a super-flaky pastry filled with house-made mushroom mole. Of the three, it would be difficult to choose a winner, although the nixtamal queen’s chewy, caramelized layers and subtle corn flavor from heirloom masa edged it ever so slightly into the lead. The semi-sweet concha also proved difficult to stop eating, with its airy interior and ever-so-delicate notes of chocolate. So the next time a pastry craving hits, grab a couple at Gusto along with a cup of the shop’s house-made, creamy, vegan, canela-sweetened cafe de olla, settle into a chair on the sidewalk outside the shop with your buttery treasures, and watch the world go by. 2710 E. 4th Street, Long Beach. —Karen Palmer
Tandoori spaghetti at Pijja Palace in Silver Lake
Tandoori spaghetti at Pijja Palace in Silver Lake.
When you think of a sports bar, you probably don’t think of Indian food. And when you think of Indian food, you probably don’t combine it with Italian. But at Pijja Palace — they do it all. And for what its worth, the Silver Lake spot is Mindy Kaling- and Kumail Nanjiani-approved. While the malai rigatoni is the restaurant’s breakout star, my favorite is the tandoori spaghetti. I love how this dish comes together, with smokiness from the chiles, tanginess from the zap of lime, and its all topped off with a sensational crunchy crumb. Make sure to save room for dessert. The malted chai soft serve made in-house is my favorite. 2711 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. — Julia Hess
Plant-based smash burger at Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank
Earlier this year, Tony’s Darts Away switched things up by removing meat patties from the burger menu and replaced them with Impossible patties. It’s a bold move from Burbank’s beloved neighborhood beer pub, but there’s clearly a demand for it. (It’s still possible to get actual all-beef hot dogs.) The burgers are topped with vegan cheese and a number of accoutrements, including grilled onions, ketchup, mustard, and pickles. Can’t say that I missed the animal protein on Tony’s smash burger one bit, especially while downing a dry hopped apple cider. If more food is needed, try the warm Bavarian pretzel or fried garbanzo beans. And as a bonus, the pool table is open on slow weekdays for those trying to keep their skills sharp. 1710 Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. —Mona Holmes
September 19, 2022
Gary’s fried chicken at Cobi’s in Santa Monica
Fried chicken for breakfast at Cobi’s in Santa Monica.
Much has been said about dinner at Cobi’s, the Southeast Asian restaurant resurrected in a flamingo-pink building that was formerly Dhaba, but much can also be said about its weekend brunch, a charming indoor-outdoor experience that leans into comfort. On a shaded patio, diners can dig into bowls of luscious Hainan rice congee dressed with crispy sliced shallots, shredded chicken, and a yolky egg; tear apart flaky banh mi sandwiches (the restaurant is slinging chicken char siu, pork meatball, and pork belly BLT versions); or cut into its thick, rich French toast, sweetened with condensed milk and piled with kaya jam and fruit. But spice-lovers will be irrevocably drawn to Gary’s fried chicken, a chickpea-battered, habanero pepper-brined fantasy that packs finishing punches in its chopped bird’s-eye chile garnish and honey-chile glaze. Each bite contains a compelling mix of sweet heat that builds into a sweat-wicking heat-heat the more peppers you add to each bite. The chicken has that pleasing shattery crunch, but its skin is light from the chickpea batter, making for a dish you can eat fully without feeling too full. Cool off with Cobi’s crispy rice salad and another round of the punched-up house mimosa with passion fruit puree. 2104 Main Street, Santa Monica. —Nicole Adlman
Rosa pizza at Pizzeria Bianco in Downtown
Rosa pizza at Pizzeria Bianco in Downtown.
The rosa pizza — available only during Pizzeria Bianco’s newly launched and extremely hard-to-book dinner service at the Row DTLA – is a thing of understated beauty. Famed pizzaiolo Chris Bianco told me the other night that it’s a riff on a sesame-topped pie he had years ago in Italy, but upon returning to the United States and trying to make it himself for the pizzeria’s original Phoenix location, it didn’t work because the sesame seeds weren’t the same. So he turned to the high-quality pistachios he could find in Arizona, pairing them with paper-thin ribbons of red onion, Parmesan, and the occasional rosemary sprig on his signature wood-fired crust. Here in LA, he’s using Santa Barbara pistachios, and the simplicity of the ingredients shines through. A generous layer of crunchy pistachios intermingles beautifully with intensely savory notes of the wispy onion, rosemary, and a crisp layer of Parm on top of Bianco’s perfectly thin, chewy, blistered crust. Even this devout red-sauce zealot has to admit that it’s one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten, period. 1320 E. 7th Street, #100, Los Angeles. —Karen Palmer
Kerala special chicken curry with appam at Mayura in Culver City
Kerala special chicken curry with appam at Mayura in Culver City.
We had friends in town this weekend, and after a perfect September beach day, we needed to grab dinner before one of our party left on a redeye. The answer was Mayura, one of the best Indian restaurants along a stretch of Venice Boulevard rich with them, on the border of Culver City and Palms. We ordered a full spread — crispy parippu vada, a gigantic masala dosa, and a spicy shrimp fry — but my favorite remains my Mayura go-to, the Kerala-style chicken curry served with fluffy appam, pancakes made with fermented rice. The bone-in chicken is tender and complex, and the tangy, carb-y comfort of the appam is a perfect counterpoint, especially when they’re hot and soft and shared around with friends. 10406 Venice Blvd., Culver City. —Meghan McCarron
Pizza crust at Pizzeria Sei in Pico-Robertson
Pizza crust at Pizzeria Sei in Pico-Robertson.
If your schedule allows, swing into Pizzeria Sei right when it opens at 11 a.m. for easy access to some of LA’s best pizza right now. A girlfriend and I did just that and had the dining room to ourselves before the lunchtime rush. After polishing off a perfectly composed tricolore salad, we tucked into two beautifully blistered pies. Though it’s hard to say which one was better — the chile-spiked diavolo or the thyme-kissed funghi, there’s no question that the star at Sei is the pizza’s crust. The care that William Joo takes to pinch the pizza dough before firing it in the oven yields a fantastically crisp and golden crust with an unbeatable mochi-like chew. It was so good that it left me wondering why all pizza crusts can’t be like this. P.S. the house-made tiramisu is worth the gastro real estate. 8781 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin
Salmon citrus roll at Yamashiro in Hollywood
Salmon citrus roll at Yamashiro in Hollywood.
If you’re looking for a restaurant that houses the best city views in Los Angeles, look no further than Yamashiro atop the Hollywood Hills. The Japanese palace replica serves sushi, tempura, yakitori, and more. Reading through the extensive menu can be overwhelming, so zero-in on the specialty sushi rolls that are generously sized and absolutely delicious. The salmon citrus roll stuffed with Kani crab, avocado, and cucumber comes topped with king salmon and crowned with lemon slices — its the real jewel of the menu with the butteriness of the salmon contrasting beautifully with the zesty lemon. Pro-tip: request a table overlooking the city when making reservations. 1999 North Sycamore Avenue, Los Angeles. —Julia Hess
Churros at Za Za Za pop-up in the Arts District
When the Arts District’s Cha Cha Cha decides to do a seafood pop-up to test out dishes and flavors for the forthcoming restaurant Za Za Za, it’s best to rideshare over and settle in at a table. Multiple courses were incredible, but dessert presented something that put a smile on my face: churros made in the shape of LA. Cha Cha Cha pastry chef Ellen Ramos is the inventor of this light, non-oily pastry with three sauces for dipping: Thai tea, Abasolo rompope, and jamaica jam. It was fun sipping on mezcal and dipping away to see which flavor was a favorite. It proved to be a moment: Eating an LA-shaped churro while looking at the Los Angeles skyline. 812 East 3rd Street, Arts District. —Mona Holmes
September 12, 2022
Beef tendons at Dumpling King in Temple City
Beef tendons at Dumpling King in Temple City
The server at Dumpling King was a real stickler about mixing and matching cold appetizers. Try as we might to get her to budge on a half order of tripe, she insisted that only beef tendons and shank could be served in half-and-half fashion. Rules are rules, she said. While I’ll never know how exceptional the tripe at Dumpling King is, one bite of the phenomenal tendons and I totally forgot about the fuss. Tendons are rarely worthy of praise, even among those who love the connective tissue, but Dumpling King’s preparation deserves some shine. The thinly sliced, lightly marinated tendons arrived translucent and delicate like stained glass. And while the accompanying beef shank was perfectly good, it was the tendons that our chopsticks couldn’t stay away from. 10689 Lower Azusa Road, Temple City. —Cathy Chaplin
Dirty chicken with pan-drippings at Augie’s on Main in Santa Monica
Dirty chicken with pan-drippings at Augie’s on Main in Santa Monica
The small delights of Augie’s on Main, a new chicken and burger joint on Santa Monica’s Main Street, are plenty: the open-air ordering station, where diners can select plates and sides from large touch-screens with the benefit of friendly staff behind the counter; the semi-hidden alley patio, with big potted plants and black string lights; and the simplicity of the food, which includes chef Josiah Citrin’s tamarind- and lemon-spiked “dirty chicken,” a dish served at Citrin in downtown Santa Monica and which Augie’s is centered around. You should start there, with Augie’s combo: a half-order of dirty chicken (typically crusted with panko, thyme, triple-blanched garlic, and sriracha powder, but available without panko for gluten-free eaters) and two sides (best had with homey ratatouille and hand-cut french fries, although mashed potatoes pooled with pan-drippings from the chicken can’t go wrong). Dipping the chicken in thyme-flecked drippings or the irresistible fermented green chile sauce make for a compelling fast-casual experience. For those who prefer something in sandwich form, other standouts include the house-made veggie burger (packed with lentils, shiitake mushrooms, roasted tomato, and brown rice) and fried chicken sandwich. 2428 Main Street, Santa Monica. —Nicole Adlman
Son of Sal sandwich at Cultured Slice in Hermosa Beach
Son of Sal sandwich at Cultured Slice in Hermosa Beach
When a friend requests sandwiches in lieu of a sit-down brunch for her 40th birthday, the hope is that the sandwiches will be good. The ones we had at Cultured Slice weren’t good — they were outstanding. The shop, run by Solange Comer, the proprietor of the Hermosa Beach cheese shop of the same name, is mere blocks from the beach and offers a smorgasbord of sandwich selections featuring ingredients that range from classic brie-ham-butter combinations to turkey and Havarti with hot-spice mustard. My sandwich choice, the Son of Sal, is an ode to an Italian sub, but made with restraint: Layers of wispy-thin sliced mortadella, Calabrese salami, and soppressata co-mingle with sharp provolone, super-fresh shredded lettuce, a disc of red onion, and a layer of crunchy-crisp giardiniera on a soft sub bun slicked with grainy mustard. The proportions feel exactly correct — there’s never a bite that has too much meat to chew through, or too little brightness and punch from that pickle-y giardiniera. It’s clear that every element is well-considered, so much so that Comer told us she’ll try to steer customers away from substitutions that she feels won’t uphold the integrity of the sandwich. When I’m going for something between sliced bread, that’s exactly the amount of commitment I want — and Cultured Slice has it. 136 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach. —Karen Palmer
Sushi at Asanebo in Studio City
Sushi at Asanebo in Studio City
On Ventura Boulevard — also known as Sushi Row — ample Japanese options are available. While some restaurants have the distinction of being excellent, others are the masters. Asanebo Restaurant is clearly the latter. It’s on a very busy corridor with an impossibly small valet parking lot, but quite peaceful and minimal decor inside. Asanebo held down this fort for more than two decades; the menu runs beyond sliced fish with grilled miso black cod, wagyu beef with miso sauce, daikon, carrot, and butter lettuce, along with reasonable and multiple omakase options. It’s impossible to order something disappointing here, as long as you utilize the staff’s expertise. So opt for the sushi, which is fresh and masterfully cut and displayed. Everything — whether its sashimi, perfectly spicy tuna, or a crab hand roll — is made with care, while table service is quietly attentive. As soon as a platter is finished, it’s removed within seconds. To prove how old-school this classic joint is, you have to call to make reservations: (818) 760-3348. 11941 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City. —Mona Holmes
September 6, 2022
Shrimp-stuffed peppers at El Mexicali Cafe in Indio
Much of my quick trip to Palm Springs this past unbelievably scorching weekend was spent either in air conditioning or in the pool. But I also embarked on a dining adventure on Saturday night, which involved a drive out to Indio and dinner under the florescent lighting of 42 year-old El Mexicali Cafe. The no-frills spot, which shakes gently as nearby trains rumble by, is known for its shrimp-stuffed yellow peppers: a half dozen small-ish yellow chile peppers come bursting with a chopped shrimp filling, along with a few lemon wedges, cucumber slices, and a little plastic serving cup of mayonnaise. There’s clearly a reason why the dish is the cafe’s best-seller (with owner Monica Murguia telling Palm Springs Life the restaurant sells “about two million a year”). There’s the pleasant chew and sweetness of the roasted pepper, as well as the savory shrimp filling, further enhanced by a generous slick of mayo — but the real game-changer is adding a few drops of soy sauce. The Mexican town of Mexicali is known for having excellent Chinese cuisine, so soy sauce is a staple at the restaurant. Absolutely request a bottle if one’s not already on the table, because it turns an already delicious combination into an absolute umami bomb. I will definitely be making another drive out to El Mexicali the next time I’m in the desert. 82720 Indio Boulevard, Indio. —Karen Palmer
Mascarpone coffee at Loquat in Cypress Park
Mascarpone coffee at Loquat.
Sunday was rough in Southern California. I woke up early with the humidity and heat bearing down, and knew I had limited time to enjoy the cooler outdoor air. That 8 a.m. trek led me to Cypress Park’s Loquat to try the creation called “mascarpone.” Loquat is the stylish brainchild of Kumquat Coffee in Highland Park. Owners Scott Sohn and AJ Kim, who built something completely different for their sister cafe, and all of Los Angeles. Kumquat is casual and cheery, decked out in light woods. Loquat, meanwhile, is a sleek, slightly dark, beautifully modern space with a unique menu. There’s a high emphasis on South Korean coffee culture, and a massive amount of detail that goes into each cup. With four types of espressos, there’s a chance to try unique beans, many that are roasted on-site. Or, just go in to try an iced caffeinated drink called the mascarpone. Large chunks of ice are placed in a highball glass with an espresso shot, cold milk, and a layer of silky, rich mascarpone foam. A stir blends it all together along with cocoa nibs, minimal sweetness, and enough caffeine to power through a very hot late summer day. 1201 Cypress Avenue, Cypress Park. —Mona Holmes
Icy grass jelly at Meet Fresh in Temple City
Icy grass jelly at Meet Fresh in Temple City.
When the weather is unbearably hot like it is right now, the surest move is to cool down from the inside. Cold noodles for lunch and dinner are a must, as well as frozen treats for dessert. And while ice cream and paletas certainly have their appeal, it’s Taiwanese grass jelly that hits the mark for me. The grass jelly at Meet Fresh in Temple City comes with chewy taro balls and grass jelly shaved ice. Aside from being a textural powerhouse — chewy, jiggly, icy — the dessert is equal parts light and refreshing. 9055 East Las Tunas Drive #100, Temple City. —Cathy Chaplin
Camphor burger at Camphor in the Arts District
The Camphor burger.
Who knew that this fancy evening Arts District French restaurant could turn out one of the city’s more stunning bar burgers? At Camphor, the meals never feel fussy, but they have always carried a bit of precision and fine-dining craft on the plate; that’s still true of the decadent bar burger, but the richness and pure overwhelming flavor makes the dish feel fun, playful even, instead of fancy. Here, dry-aged beef is cut through equally with slowly cooked duck leg meat, and the patty is then topped with caramelized onions that have been cooked down in beef fat. There are bracing pickled chilis to help cut through it all, but with a wash of duck fat on the brioche bun itself to finish things off — good luck. Not feeling a burger? There’s an equally wild wagyu croque monsieur as well. 923 E. 3rd Street, Arts District. —Farley Elliott
August 29, 2022
Combo grill from Skaf’s Lebanese Cuisine in Glendale
The combo grill at Skaf’s.
Los Angeles is lucky to have so many new Middle Eastern joints. They are a popular genre, with options lining streets from the San Fernando Valley, all the way to View Park/Windsor Hills. But it’s always a good idea to revisit the classic spots that know how to put together a platter, and that includes Skaf’s Lebanese Cuisine in Glendale. It’s here where the Skaf family — the younger brothers own Rockbird — continues to make excellent labneh, kibbeh, fattoush, and falafel, plus an ideal combination grill platter. The platter is a hearty meal loaded up with three types of meat: Lebanese-style tawook (chicken) on a skewer, kafta (ground beef and lamb) kebab, and shish kebab. There’s more than enough rice for two, pita, cabbage salad, and toum, but one should order extra of this magical condiment. The shish is perfectly cooked to slightly over medium so it’s beautifully tender. Add on the hummus, and every pita scoop is dreamy. And if the Glendale spot is too far, go to the original location in North Hollywood. There’s even a new location on York in Highland Park expected this year. 367 N. Chevy Chase Drive, Glendale. —Mona Holmes
Roasted summer squash at Eclair pop-up
Roasted summer squash with savory granola.
Chef Alex Bolar has been bringing his Eclair pop-up to spots like Highly Likely and downtown’s Garçons de Cafe in recent months. Bolar, an Atlanta native who’s worked extensively with Flamingo Estate, often roams the Santa Monica farmers’ market on Wednesdays, letting the produce dictate his menus that deftly interweave New American techniques with Southern influences (in beautiful presentations, no less). This past weekend, a pop-up at Garçons de Cafe saw a squash dish that showcased the best of summer: It started with a layer of thick, slow-cooked garlic cream topped with roasted, hasselback-cut sweet summer squash, a layer of savory onion granola, and ribbons of thinly peeled squash and squash blossoms. There was the option to add braised pork belly, which we did, and since the dish already gave off some breakfast vibes (Bolar said one diner likened it to a savory bowl of cereal), the pork belly added a naturally bacon-adjacent meaty element. That said, the onion granola, made with toasted sunflower and hemp seeds, oats, crispy fried shallots, sugar, salt, and a pinch of garlic powder, may have been the menu’s all-star player, also making an appearance on a chicken roulade dish. It made me think that more dishes could use savory granola for an unexpected hit of crunch — and hopefully Bolar will keep it around on future menus. He’s already showing that he knows his way around textures and flavors, so keep an eye out for his upcoming pop-ups. Eclair will be at Garçons de Cafe September 15 to 17 and 22 to 24; 541 S. Spring Street, Unit 114, Los Angeles. —Karen Palmer
Crispy fried potatoes at Market in Venice
Crispy fried potatoes at Market.
Planted under white brick arches on a surprisingly quiet boardwalk alley in Venice Beach, Market, an Italian restaurant that opened in March, has been quietly delighting locals and visitors with its unfussy, aperitivo-influenced menu, bold wines, and indoor-outdoor layout (the glass walls to the inside open completely and the front patio has ample seating). On a menu that focuses heavily on what’s seasonal in the — surprise — market, it’s hard to pinpoint one dish to be most enamored with. But following our trio of starting vegetable and fruit dishes (a peach plate studded with hazelnuts; arugula salad tossed with Jimmy Nardello peppers and ricotta salata; meaty late-August heirlooms suspended on hunks of buffalo mozzarella), our starchiest plate stood out: the crispy fried potatoes, positioned on the menu as a side but a dish that could itself be the centerpiece of any meal. These are the craggiest, crunchiest potatoes you’ll find on the Westside, lobbed into uneven hunks, deep-fried, and tossed with a creamy “Italian dressing” that adds a perfect layer of acid and fat to the mix. Finished with a flurry of chopped chives, these linger in memory long after you pluck the last errant crumbs from the bowl. 72 Market Street, Venice. —Nicole Adlman
Beers at Trustworthy Brewing in Burbank
Deep in the wilds of Burbank, beneath the looming IKEA sign, there is Trustworthy Brewing. As the name intends, this is the kind of place where it’s best to be left in the hands of the experts, where the beer is made on-site, the staff is friendly, and the frills are few. Unlike so many other craft beer spots across Southern California, where substance has been subverted for big, complicated hospitality spaces (think lawn games, big weekend blowout parties, and extensive food menus), at Trustworthy it’s all about scoring delicious and straightforward beers right from the source. Swing through for a cooling rice pilsner (the Gigil) or a hoppy, medium-dark amber with a blast of summertime hopes (the Brass Jar). Trust is in the name, and that’s on purpose. 156 W. Verdugo Avenue, Burbank. —Farley Elliott
August 22, 2022
Any kind of diner delight from Brolly Hut in Inglewood
Classic diner seating at Brolly Hut.
Inglewood’s Brolly Hut is more than a half-century old. That’s eons in the restaurant world, particularly for the kind of all-American drive-up restaurant that Brolly Hut still embodies. This is the kind of place where the sprawling parking lot is just steps from the door, where customers step into a quirkily built umbrella building to score onion rings, burritos, tacos, takeaway breakfast plates, pastrami burgers, and beyond. Increasingly, Brolly Hut’s age has become a focus in fast-changing Inglewood, where billion-dollar stadiums and big new developments are pushing out old-school players and displacing residents. It’s nice that a place as simple, as classic, and pulled-through-time can still exist here on Crenshaw, an ode to an LA that is still very much holding on here, if perhaps a bit tenuously. And while other spots rightfully earn a ton of shine elsewhere — think the original locations of Tommy’s and Norms and the Hat — Brolly Hut deserves to be considered as a very unique kind of LA staple. 11205 Crenshaw Boulevard, Inglewood. —Farley Elliott
Chirashi bowl at Yama Seafood in West LA
Yama Seafood’s chirashi bowl.
Although it soft-opened a few weeks ago, treasured San Gabriel Japanese marketplace and fish market Yama Seafood held its grand opening this past weekend at its new West LA location on the corner of National and Barrington. The place was packed with shoppers stocking up on snacks and condiments from the market, and pulling pre-made sushi rolls, salads, spam musubi, and chicken katsu platters from a row of refrigerators. But the real action was happening at the fish counter, where fresh selections ranging from toro to yellowtail to Scottish salmon can be hand-selected by customers and sliced into sashimi to order. To experience a little bit of everything, and make a visit a little speedier, opt for an exceptionally fresh chirashi bowl, with raw fish, a generous dollop of salmon roe, wasabi, and pickled ginger, all piled high atop expertly seasoned sushi rice and a thin layer of shredded tamagoyaki. 11709 National Boulevard, West LA. —Karen Palmer
The asada huarache from El Flamin’ Taco Truck in Atwater Village
Asada huarache from El Flamin’ Taco Truck.
It’s hard to get out of a rut at a taco truck. When stopping by (and almost always on the fly), there just isn’t time to consider anything other than those consistent items that bring joy. But a stranger encouraged me to try the huarache at El Flamin’ Taco truck. It’s a gorgeous piece of masa turned crispy and oblong and layered with refried beans, then carne asada and the works — the “works” being queso fresco, salsa verde, onion, cilantro, and crema. The consistency was a refreshing break from traditional tortillas. After tasting this magic, huaraches are officially my current obsession, but I admit to having a hard time finishing an entire one. Because the El Flamin’ fleet is stationed at various outposts throughout the city, they’re available in Koreatown, Echo Park, and Atwater Village most nights. Prepare for hefty wait times during weekend hours, but prepare to eat it while hot. 3050 Los Feliz Boulevard, Atwater Village. —Mona Holmes
Corn dog at Meea’s in Eagle Rock
There is a timeless nostalgia for fried foods served in the summertime, particularly those with a real walkability (think “stuff on a stick” or “stuff wrapped in paper for easy handling”). The corn dog is a personal favorite, and a must-eat at least once per summer — ideally with loads of ketchup and mustard, devoured in the sunshine during a hot day. The corn dog is classic Americana, perfected in LA generations ago at places like Hot Dog on a Stick and Wienerschnitzel. Thankfully this city has no shortage of great local hot dog spots, including plenty with a corn dog option somewhere on the menu. At Meea’s in Eagle Rock, there are options galore, ranging from split and grilled dogs to Chicago-style creations and just about everything in between (including Seattle’s famed cream-cheese street dogs), but the best bite at the place may well be the long, crunchy corn dog. Stop by for a taste of summertime on a stick. 1740 Colorado Boulevard, Eagle Rock. —Farley Elliott
August 15, 2022
Iceberg wedge at Dear John’s in Culver City
Iceberg wedge at Dear John’s.
Having dinner inside at Dear John’s is akin to being in a Vegas casino: Even when it’s still light outside, the windowless dining room stays close to pitch-black. That said, it’s the perfect place for feeling like you’re being transported back in time, thanks to the old-school portraits on the wall and the well-stocked dark wood bar. Whether your main course is going to be a hefty steak or chicken parm, start with the wedge salad, a head of iceberg lettuce split lengthwise and topped with blue cheese, cherry tomatoes, scallions, and thick slab-like pieces of bacon. The ingenious presentation makes it feel like slicing through a steak, so it’s the ideal primer for your meaty main course. 11208 Culver Boulevard, Culver City. —Karen Palmer
Key lime tart at République in La Brea
Assorted sweets at République.
I’m often asked how I plan my meals when I’m traveling, and the truth is, like anyone else, I start by reading our Eater city site. I was in Los Angeles for work last week, and my first steps were to review Eater LA’s 38 essential restaurants, followed by the hottest new openings. After I booked my hotel in Koreatown, I browsed the recent posts about the neighborhood, in case there were any conveniently located spots to put on my list. This intel formed the basis of my planning, though when I’m lucky enough to be dining with a local, I’ll always still take their lead. I love getting a glimpse of a city’s restaurant scene, popping into places both new and classic, even if I’m only visiting for a short amount of time. I shouldn’t have been surprised at the line snaking out the door of République when we wrapped our breakfast at 10 a.m. on a weekday. The classic dishes, like the shakshuka and ricotta toast, are menu standbys for a good reason, but the pastry I can’t stop thinking about is the Key lime bar — well-balanced sweet and tart notes, with a dollop of fresh cream to keep things interesting. I wish I could have packed a couple of these for the flight home. Check out where else I ate in LA. 624 S. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles. —Stephanie Wu
Oysters Rockefeller at Sea Chest in Cambria
Oysters Rockefeller at Sea Chest.
Located about four hours north of Los Angeles, the Central Coast seaside town of Cambria is at an inflection point similar to Los Alamos of four or five years ago. There are suddenly a couple of modern boutique hotels (aka, the sort where a developer takes an old motel and freshens it up with Palm Springs vibes). But what makes Cambria special is that it hasn’t yet lost the charm of its classic spots, including worthy seafood destination Sea Chest. It’s the sort of place that can only exist in a small coastal town: cash only, with no-fuss-but-friendly service and a wait list that starts right when the place opens at 5:30 p.m. Sitting at the “oyster bar” is the true meaning of dinner and a show, with cooks frenetically shucking oysters, tossing seafood pasta, and sliding skillets into large salamanders to cook oysters casino and the like. The restaurant’s oysters Rockefeller come out of those salamanders hot, crisp, and browned, each one slathered with a mixture of green onion, celery, garlic, Parmesan, lemon juice, and, of course, breadcrumbs and a whole lot of butter. There’s a surprising freshness and brightness to them — but you’ll find that everything here is kicked up a notch by the restaurant’s charm and Pacific Ocean views. 6216 Moonstone Beach Drive, Cambria. —Karen Palmer
Bar burger at Oy Bar in Studio City
The Valley has never lacked for great corner bars, low-key and dimly lit hangouts where people go to either be left alone, or to make friends. It’s a tricky balance for places like this, offering just enough to attract most folks without alienating the rest or ‘throwing off the vibe.’ That delicate effort is particularly what makes the newer Oy Bar in Studio City so unique; it’s got charm, substance, a laid-back sort of effortless cool, and it’s already pulling in a very wide swath of Valley diners and drinkers. It helps, of course, that the place also has one of the more appealing new bar burgers in Los Angeles. The seeded bun, thinly shaved red onions, the crunch from cucumbers and fresh cilantro (yep), and the sizable patty also make it one of LA’s most particular new burgers, topped off with a housemade hoisin ketchup and served (this being an offshoot project from the Jeff’s Table team) with a deli pickle spear. Some bars are about going to a place where everybody knows your name; other bars are just about turning the lights down low and amping the flavors up. At Oy Bar, both doors work just fine. 12446 Moorpark St., Studio City. —Farley Elliott
August 8, 2022
Bluefin tuna crudo at Dudley Market in Venice
Bluefin tuna crudo at Dudley Market in Venice.
Venice’s Dudley Market hosted a series of pop-ups this summer, then closed momentarily to prepare for the arrival of Mexico-born chef Diego Hernandez, who started overseeing the kitchen last week. A visit the other night showcased some of Hernandez’s new dishes, like a shrimp quesadilla and tuna tostada — but a favorite bite of the evening, the bluefin tuna crudo, proved to be impeccably simple. To make the dish, thick slices of tuna were served with a dab of yuzu kosho and dressed with a drizzle of housemade ponzu and olive oil. One of Dudley Market’s great selling points is that it sources its own fish — and when the product is so fresh, all it needs is a light touch. As someone who lives close by, I’m looking forward to seeing how else Hernandez puts his own imprint on the menu, while hopefully keeping some of the no-fuss seafood Dudley Market is known for. 9 Dudley Avenue, Venice. —Karen Palmer
Txule burger at Agua Viva in Downtown
Txule burger at Agua Viva in Downtown.
It’s easy to feast on the views at Agua Viva, the rooftop hangout recently opened at the Conrad Hotel in Downtown, part of José Andrés’ massive return to LA. The open-air project is meant to serve as a breezy accent to coastal Spanish living, where olive trees sway and sunshine dapples in from light coverings above. The place is all of that, yes, but it’s also a heck of a place to enjoy that most Angeleno of traditions: eating a burger. Here the beefy bar-style burger is composed of ribeye and given a nice slice of American cheese. Peppers add a zip, a garlicky aioli amps up the richness, and the views bring the whole thing home. There are more important, more composed, and more thoughtful dishes to be had around Andrés’ new Downtown food compound — but few as simple and satisfying as Agua Viva’s txule burger. 100 S. Grand Avenue, Downtown. —Farley Elliott
Slab cake at Quarter Sheets in Echo Park
Slab cake at Quarter Sheets in Echo Park.
I am admittedly late to the Hannah Ziskin fan club. The talented pastry chef worked at Chez Panisse and Nopa up north before landing at the now-closed M. Georgina and launching a home bakery here in LA. Currently she’s making the sickest cakes in town at Quarter Sheets, an early pandemic pop-up turned permanent brick-and-mortar in Echo Park. On a recent lunch outing, my dining companion and I sidled up to the bar that peers into the kitchen. After polishing off a melon salad and two slices of pizza, we dug into the most magnificent strawberry shortcake slab cake. The plastic fork cut through the cake’s plush layers of polenta chiffon, vanilla bean custard, fresh strawberries, and strawberry preserves with ease. The cake’s bright and balanced flavors left us speechless one moment and plotting a return visit the next. 1305 Portia Street, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin
Whole fried fish at the Exchange in Downtown
Whole fried fish at the Exchange in Downtown.
After nearly 20 months of hiatus, the Exchange quietly reopened earlier this year with longtime cook Narita Santos stepping up as the lead chef. Santos leads a small but mighty team that turns out some of Downtown’s most flavor-packed food, from sticky lamb ribs to a gorgeous melon salad studded with crisp fish skin. Her piece de resistance, a hulking platter of whole fried fish, is basically an entire meal for three people posing as a shareable large-format entree. One could conceivably walk in, order this dish, and call it a night. That’s because the deeply seasoned exterior gives way to flakey, fall-apart flesh, in this case rock cod, while the sesame noodles are difficult to stop eating. To the side, everything from brussels sprouts to broccoli come topped with fresh cilantro, scallions, and cherry tomatoes, which all work in tandem to cut through any richness. I only wish I had left more stomach room for this, which I will certainly do on the next visit. 416 West 8th Street, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang
August 1, 2022
Duck rice and melon shaved ice at Kato in Downtown
Duck rice and melon shaved ice from Kato.
My big splurge this past week in Los Angeles was a meal at Kato. I didn’t have a chance to dine at the original iteration, and I’ve been wanting to see how chef Jon Yao translates Taiwanese and Japanese flavors into a multi-course tasting menu. I thought the meal really came together toward the end, where some of the most memorable dishes were a duck ru rou fan — a side that came with the final savory course, duck breast, and stone fruit. And I absolutely loved the dessert, which celebrated melon in multiple ways — melon shaved ice, melon sorbet, melon yogurt, and melon jelly. I’m sad I just missed their new bar tasting menu, but am excited to see which of these dishes make it over — and how the Kato team transforms their offerings yet again. 777 S. Alameda Street, Building 1, Suite 114. —Stephanie Wu
Spicy chlorella dongchimi noodles at MDK Noodles in Koreatown
Ul-keun dongchimi guksu from MDK Noodles.
With this striking summer humidity in Los Angeles, the city is starting to feel more like Seoul than the LA of years past. While the lifelong Angeleno in me is annoyed by this climate change scenario, the slight silver lining might be that cold Korean noodles are just that much more satisfying in the higher humid heat. The ul-keun chlorella dongchimi noodles are hard to pick out from the English menu (ul-keun is another way to say spicy), but just look for the spicy dongchimi noodles served with crunchy raw vegetables and sporting a tangy, mildly sweet broth. Think of it like a more exciting sister to naengmyeon, with less beefiness and more vinegary tang thanks to the dongchimi, which is basically the pickling water for certain kinds of kimchi. The green chlorella noodles add more color than flavor, but they’re bouncy enough and do a nice job of lapping up the broth. I can’t think of a more cooling way to cut through the midsummer LA heat. 3630 Wilshire Boulevard. —Matthew Kang
Rice-battered king trumpet mushrooms at Birdie G’s in Santa Monica
Rice-battered king trumpet mushrooms at Birdie G’s in Santa Monica.
There are so many delicious things to eat at Birdie G’s, seeing as chef Jeremy Fox deftly weaves so many flavors and textures into his Jewish-inflected menu. At dinner the other night, I was impressed by the simplicity of the rice-battered king trumpet mushrooms. Quickly fried and served with little more than a dusting of parmesan, a smattering of fresh herbs, and a wedge of lemon, the meaty mushrooms were shatteringly crisp outside, pleasantly chewy inside, and immensely snackable, with the right amount of salt to keep one reaching for more. The only thing I’m worried about is that my next plate of fritti misti (which can too often be soggy or undersalted) will pale in comparison; these mushrooms may have ruined me. 2421 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica. — Karen Palmer
La Mortazza from Mother Wolf in Hollywood
La Mortazza pizza from Mother Wolf.
On my third visit to Mother Wolf, I made sure to order this incredible dish that chef Evan Funke had teased at his short-lived Hollywood restaurant Fingers Crossed. This epic mortadella-pizza sandwich situation stuffed with ricotta is so outrageous and so fun that it should be split from the kitchen to share with the table. Servers bring out a sharp steak knife to help in the endeavor, which may or may not be fruitful. Either way, this monstrous pizza-sandwich might be my favorite new dish here, loaded with paper-thin mortadella, fresh pistachios, and creamy ricotta, with blistered pizza dough to keep it all together. I grew up eating mortadella sandwiches, but I never thought I’d ever see carbs and mortadella upscaled in this way. 545 Wilcox Avenue. —Matthew Kang
Barbacoa flautas at Los Dorados at Smorgasburg
Barbacoa flautas from Los Dorados.
Summer might be the most ideal season for Smorgasburg in Los Angeles, when Sundays feel even longer and more languid and the food market’s ice cream alley set-up offers cool-treat relief from the afternoon sun. A recent visit brought myriad delights, but none so potent as my first stop at Los Dorados, a vendor that sells regularly from its stand in El Sereno and also every weekend at Smorgasburg’s permanent space outside The Row in Downtown LA. Most of the menu’s flautas were either sold out or unavailable — a non-concern for me because what I came for was still being slung from the colorful stand’s small takeout window. I ordered the barbacoa flautas but swapped its salsa borracha for a citrusy tomatillo-avocado salsa and queso fresco that complemented the meaty, gaminess of the goat. Even for just a first bite of many on my crawl through the stands, Dorados’s ultra-long rolled tacos stood out for their crispness, the tenderness of the barbacoa de chivo, and the relative ease with which we could eat them and keep crawling. 777 S Alameda Street, Los Angeles. — Nicole Adlman
July 25, 2022
Prawns with Brentwood corn and chile ancho at Asterid in Downtown
Prawns with brentwood corn, chile ancho, apricot, and cherry tomatoes at Asterid.
Ray Garcia’s Asterid might be the most underrated Downtown restaurant at the moment, packed to the gills before 7 p.m., and then emptying out a relaxed half-full afterward. Consider it an ideal last-minute date night reservation thanks to the pre-theater dynamic. Asterid’s gorgeous plates of seasonal produce-studded might start with chicken liver mousse, hiramasa aguachile, and fresh beets with housemade ricotta, each displaying Garcia’s adept understanding of LA’s perfect ingredients and intense flavors. The prawns placed above a luscious sauce of Brentwood corn, chile ancho, apricots, and cherry tomatoes showed the best combination of fresh summer sweetness and skillful cooking technique. The swoon-worthy prawns were plump and juicy, satisfying to suck out to the last bit of umami. I wished the dish came with a few more prawns, especially for the $27 price, but the price was understandable given the location and attentive level of service. Asterid is on my short list of places I need to which I need to return, and this prawn dish is one of the main reasons why. 141 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles. —Matthew Kang
Osetra caviar and summer corn at Maude in Beverly Hills
Osetra caviar and summer corn at Maude.
Not all tasting menus delight, but Maude’s does. This cozy dining room only seats 24, and feels very much like a European space, but right placed in the heart of Beverly Hills. Chef Osiel Gastelum has a firm grasp on making the most of summer ingredients, and even incorporates some family techniques in the seafood dishes. But the stunner is the osetra caviar dish, with creme fraiche-infused baby corn from the McGrath Farm right over the hill in Camarillo. The briny roe is wonderfully strong, making the perfect combination during peak corn harvest. It’s a classic and thoughtful fusion of salty and sweet, even better when paired with wine from Maude’s expansive collection. Savor each bite — this is a tasting menu after all. Before you know it, it’ll be gone and you’ll be wondering how you can acquire more. 212 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills. —Mona Holmes
Short rib hand pie and strawberry madeleine at Republique in Mid-Wilshire
Short rib hand pie from Republique.
Just off Miracle Mile lies my favorite French cafe in Los Angeles. Republique serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but its pastry case steals the show: It bakes up a wondrous amount of savory and sweet pastries with unique and creative twists like ube, sesame paste, and more in addition to traditional French pastries. On my most recent visit, I tried the short rib hand pie and a strawberry madeleine. The hand pie was flaky and stuffed with succulent short rib and potatoes; the Madeline had custard and jam filling inside, with strawberries on top. My other staple thing to order for breakfast is the potato pancake — a smoked salmon Benedict atop a giant crispy potato pancake. Unfortunately, Republique only allows walk-ins for breakfast, so get in early to avoid the mile-long lines, and load up on the eye-catching pastries to accompany your meal. 624 S. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles. —Julia Hess
Tomate at Jeune et Jolie in Carlsbad
Tomate from Jeune et Jolie in San Diego.
After a weekend spent at flip-book speed in San Diego that included the essentials (a bright, drippy Dungeness crab poutine from Point Loma stalwart Mitch’s Seafood; oozy bone marrow birria tacos from Tuetano Taqueria), we were ready to be back home in Los Angeles. But first, we stopped in seaside gem Carlsbad, where, on a sleepy Sunday night on State Street, we visited modern California French restaurant Jeune et Jolie, which earned its first Michelin star in 2021.
We were tired, sandy, and still a little full from the weekend’s food adventuring, but found joy in the small details on Jeune’s romantic patio: an earthy buckwheat crust encasing a silky goat’s milk filling, caramelized mushrooms, and cherries; a slightly tart plum, cherry, and lime broth bathing our cured amberjack crudo. But my favorite dish of the night was perhaps the most straightforward — a plate of peak summer tomatoes and strawberries drenched in basil oil and topped with a refreshing, near-snowfall layer of granita. These starting bites were simple but deeply memorable, which is what destination dining is all about. 2659 State Street, Suite 102, Carlsbad. —Nicole Adlman
July 18, 2022
Tres leches cake at La Guelaguetza in Koreatown
Tres leches cake at La Guelaguetza in Koreatown.
During a team dinner last month, as a parade of Koreatown icon Guelaguetza’s greatest hits landed on our floral-wrapped tables — among them a stretchy queso fundido threaded with chorizo and mushroom, a flight of moles, massive tlayudas spread with refried black beans and asiento, mounds of crispy chapulines, and tightly rolled barbacoa tacos — no one felt they had left much room for an elaborate dessert. But we had already pre-ordered a full-sized tres leches cake to share, which landed on the table ceremoniously, strewn with fresh flowers and ripe fruit. This cake had depth in size and texture, worthy on its own as a birthday or celebration centerpiece. But its flavor is what floored us — it may be the best tres leches in Los Angeles. The cake itself is soaked and sweetened by condensed milk (among others), the whipped frosting so light and creamy it could have been dessert on its own. We all finished the cake in wonder — wondering, primarily, how we had not ordered it here before. Go to Guelaguetza for everything it is known for, but don’t forget to order the tres leches (whole cakes can be ordered in advance). 3014 West Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles. —Nicole Adlman
Ribeye pad krapow at Krapow Kitchen in Culver City
Ribeye pad krapow at Krapow Kitchen in Culver City.
Culver City’s Selmaraine Drive cloud kitchen is turning out some excellent food from aspiring restaurateurs. In addition to Sexy Beans, Krapow Kitchen serves from this 405 freeway-adjacent commissary specializing in an upscale take on pad krapow. Instead of ground meat, the trio behind Krapow Kitchen (David Wu, Na Snidvongs, and Nak Suthapreda) prepare the holy basil-fried dish as a rich fried rice studded with spicy chiles and layers of umami. On top, there’s a wok-fried egg and luscious, meaty slices of seared ribeye. They’ve taken the concept of a Thai street food dish and brought it to an Instagram-ready level (not that the 50 baht plates in Bangkok aren’t worthy either). Ask for “spicy” if you can handle it for maximum flavor, but if not, lower levels of heat will suffice. Available through pickup, delivery apps, and Tock. —Matthew Kang
Pigs in a blanket at Dear John’s in Culver City
Pigs in a blanket at Dear John’s in Culver City.
Am I the only one who goes to steakhouses for the starters and sides? Red meat is fine and all, but it’s the supporting dishes that really standout for me. At a recent dinner at Dear John’s in Culver City, steak played second fiddle to orders of oysters Rockefeller, caviar-heaped tater tots, and the tremendous pigs in a blanket. Served with a sweet mustard sauce, the two-bite piggies arrived hot and golden. The wagyu beef wiener was expertly snappy, while the puff pastry blanket cradled it just so. Paired with a well-made Old Fashioned and all was right with the world. 11208 Culver Boulevard, Culver City. —Cathy Chaplin
Warm buttered cockles at Kippered in Downtown
Warm buttered cockles at Kippered in Downtown.
There are few things I enjoy more than a snack dinner — especially when said snack dinner involves tinned fish and cheese. Therefore, I’m more than a little obsessed with Kippered, the cozy months-old tinned fish and sparkling wine bar from Lydia Clarke and Reed Herrick of DTLA Cheese. You can mix and match fishies from a wide selection of favorite brands like Matiz and José Gourmet, along with Clarke’s curated selection of cheeses and smart snacks from Herrick (don’t sleep on the chips and dip, which is essentially Herrick’s superlative version of onion dip). On my latest visit, my friends and I ordered Donostia cockles in brine from Galicia. Now, most tinned fish spots will simply open the can, give you some delicious accompaniments, and let you dig in. Clarke brilliantly offered to warm the cockles up with some butter, but not just any butter — fragrant, cultured Rodolphe le Meunier Beurre de Baratte. The cockles were an absolute revelation: meaty, tender, buttery, briny. We finished every last bite of them, including sopping up all of the leftover butter with pieces of warm bread. 361 S. Broadway, Downtown. —Karen Palmer
Blackberry cobbler at Cobblers Cakes & Kream in Inglewood
Summer is the perfect time of year for fruit-forward baked goods, so heading to Inglewood’s Cobblers Cakes & Kream for the berry cobbler is a solid plan. Most know the owner as the Cobbler Lady, who started her venture in 1989, but firmly established this neighborhood spot in 2011. It’s here where staff prepare tea cakes, cupcakes, cakes, sweet potato pies, oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies, and even scoops of ice cream. The Key lime pie is one of the standouts, so is the 7-Up bundt cake with beautiful icing. But the winners are the individual-sized and large cobblers, which come with apple, blackberry, or peach. The blackberry is so ripe that it’s deeply dark, and paired with a perfectly made crust, this is the type of dessert to heat up, crack open a pint of ice cream, grab two spoons, and unapologetically dive in. 2323 W. Manchester Boulevard, Ste. B, Inglewood. —Mona Holmes
July 11, 2022
Tuna sandwich at ZonZon Organic in Mar Vista
Tuna sandwich at ZonZon Organic in Mar Vista.
I’ve long been a fan of local sauce/condiment company ZonZon Organic and its Tunisian-style spicy tomato sauce, harissa spread, preserved lemons, and the like. Recently, the company launched a prepared food pop-up, offering a compact selection of sandwiches and shakshuka at farmers markets around the city. This Sunday at the Mar Vista market, I tried the Mediterranean-inflected tuna sandwich. To make it, olive oil-preserved tuna, cucumber salad, carrot spread, boiled potatoes, and ZonZon’s harissa and preserved lemons are all piled on an airy Sweet Lily Bakery baguette. The mixture of textures and bright, fresh flavors, combined with warm spice notes from the harissa, made it one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in a while. Find ZonZon Organic weekly at the Marina Del Rey Farmers’ Market. Via Marina & Panay Way, Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. —Karen Palmer
Red beet risotto at Asterid in Downtown
Red beet risotto at Asterid in Downtown.
The pre-concert crowd is lucky to have a restaurant like chef Ray Garcia’s Asterid tucked into the ground floor of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The menu is certainly approachable, but with enough chef-driven twists and touches to keep things exciting for folks swinging in just for dinner and no show. In fact, the best time to arrive at Asterid is when the pre-concert-goers have vacated the premise, leaving the dimly lit dining room wonderfully peaceful. During a recent dinner, my companion and I delighted in the beef tartare with summer truffles and the squash tamal heaped with caviar, but it was the more humble beet risotto that wowed. Served comfortingly warm, the creme fraiche-fortified porridge tasted of fresh dill with a mild hum of sweet beets. Sometimes it’s the simplest preparations that impress the most. 141 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles. —Cathy Chaplin
Grilled octopus at Elephante in Santa Monica
Grilled octopus at Elephante in Santa Monica.
Santa Monica has more tourist traps than other places in the LA area, but Elephante succeeds at weaving the line between approachable and high-quality. The menu doesn’t make any attempt to challenge diners, but instead tries to please at every phase, from the pull-apart balloon of a quick-based bread with whipped eggplant spread to crisp calamari. The star of the appetizers is the grilled octopus, featuring just a smidge of actual grilled tentacle but with plentiful slivers of tender octopus paired with tangerines, heart of palm, celery, and capers for a puttanesca-style seasoning that hits salty, briny, crunchy and sweet notes. It’s hard to think of a nicer summertime dish to enjoy over a pristine ocean view and a rooftop full of very happy diners. 1332 2nd Street, Santa Monica. —Matthew Kang
Lobster roll at Broad Street Oyster Company in Malibu
Lobster roll at Broad Street Oyster Company in Malibu.
After any good hike or surf in Malibu, I love to treat myself to LA’s finest lobster roll at Broad Street Oyster Company. My usual order is the warm lobster roll prepared with drawn butter, and served with crispy French fries and an Old Bay aioli. The lobster rolls are stuffed with melt-in-your-mouth lobster and topped with chives — everything is held together in a fluffy toasted bun. It’s so simple, yet so decadent, and has me coming back no matter how long the line looks. If you’re looking to branch out, try the sea urchin spaghetti with Aleppo pepper, lemon, and chives. The pasta has a great kick to it and I love the balance of the lemon and spice. Pro tip: order ahead so you don’t have to bother with the long weekend lines. 23359 Pacific Coast Hwy., #3874A, Malibu. —Julia Hess
Salmon tartare at Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood
Salmon tartare at Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood.
Arguably LA’s most famous restaurant, Musso & Frank Grill has the history and the chops to appeal to anyone (except the plant-based crowd). It’s open late, serves steaks, offals, stirred-only martinis, and if sitting at the bar, an entire menu designed for noshing. One of those items is the salmon tartare, a simple and wonderful handful of bites served on a tray with thinly sliced fried potatoes. The contrast between the two is perfect, the salmon is creamy and fresh, and paired with a cocktail, it becomes one of the best late-night dishes in the entire city. This dish is under the cold seafood section, where fresh oysters, crab Louie, and shrimp cocktail are rivals. They come close, but aren’t as show-stopping as the salmon tartare. Take a rideshare to and from this establishment, since the alcohol pours are very generous. 6667 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood. —Mona Holmes