The Top 10 Best New Restaurants of 2013 - Digest - Los Angeles magazine

The Top 10 Best New Restaurants of 2013

Cooks County

Bar Amá

118 West 4th Street


In this rowdy room where customers on multicolored metal chairs shoot reposado and añejo flights, Josef Centeno is doing the most personal cooking of his L.A. career. A tribute to his San Antonio upbringing, it’s unapologetically Tex-Mex but executed with signature finesse. Grilled prickly pear slivers gain remarkable amplitude with the sweet herbal notes of epazote and quesillo cheese. Smoky hunks of kielbasa anchor borracho beans spiked with Negra Modelo. The son of a butcher, Centeno is intent on reaching a meaty absolute, simmering beef tongue for Frito pie and draping melt-in-the-mouth chicharrónes with poblano chile cream. Going to the childhood well doesn’t always lead to the best work for chefs (matters can get a little cloying), but here—a place where Jack cheese bubbles across chicken enchiladas and a puffy taco cradles braised pork cheek—what’s captured is oh so real.

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