Best of LA 2013: Eat
At A.O.C. Christiaan Rollich’s salad-in-a-glass comes in a vodka version but tastes just as fresh with chamomile tea, basil, arugula, jalapeño, cucumber, and lime.
At Aladin Sweets & Market, folks stop in for glasses of milky tea with honey-dipped fried pastries, though savory dishes are the main draw.
Nestled in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it suburban storefront, San Gabriel’s Babita Mexicuisine finds the gracious middle ground with such daintily presented dishes as green cilantro margarita sorbet and tequila-soaked salmon sopes.
Neighborhood: San Gabriel
Silver Lake’s candlelit grotto recently brought on James Beard-nominated chef Benjamin Bailly (Fraîche, Petrossian), whose farm-fresh menu is tasteful but doesn’t punish the pocketbook.
Neighborhood: Silver Lake
The fruitiness of an Isabel cuvée from Berkeley’s Donkey & Goat is all rosé halftones; the high-alcohol flash of a Russian River Poco a Poco zinfandel is a snapshot of one grape in one season in one dusty place.
When we need our Italian treats to go, which is when we say, “Ciao, Eagle Rock Italian Bakery!”
Neighborhood: Eagle Rock
Manhattan Beach’s intimate and wryly named Fishing with Dynamite showcases David LeFevre’s expertise with seafood, honed during his years at Water Grill downtown.
Neighborhood: Manhattan Beach
When transplants from the Crescent City hanker for gumbo and cornmeal-crusted catfish, they head home to Mama. For Creole-style food—a mélange of French, African, and Native American flavors—Harold & Belle’s is as close to the Dirty Coast as you’ll come on the West Coast.
Situated in the heart of K-Town, Kae Sung Market stocks a constellation of kimchi to go, but it’s the jar of sliced Chinese cabbage that takes top honors.
Oaxacan cuisine is the new black in what we could start calling “Oaxacalifornia,” and that’s largely due to the Mexican state’s unparalleled mole negro.
While our city makes it possible to get tastes of the world, let’s face it: There are some restaurants where a chaperon—or just a translator—would be beneficial.
One of the main watering holes for the powers that be at Paramount, this family-run restaurant has an enthusiastic following.
Our loyalty belongs to Mel’s Fish Shack, which for decades has fried up such swimmers as catfish, sand dabs, and buffalo fish—a bony, old-time favorite.
Neighborhood: Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw
This dish could be devoured beside a caravansary campfire; in reality you’re sitting beneath an awning in Glendale, drinking hot tea.