No. 1: A.O.C.

Beverly Grove

It’s fun to see a restaurant grow up. Unforced and driven by excellence, A.O.C. draws on the wellsprings of L.A. itself and renders something essential about the city in delicious form. It started as a wine bar, mining everything from the markets of Istanbul to Spanish tascas as it brought small plates to L.A. Now, following a move a few blocks west along 3rd Street, it’s the ultimate destination. Today’s A.O.C. is anchored by a glorious courtyard with sunlight and laurel trees, while larger portions allow friends and family to gather over a single dish. Caroline Styne’s wine list doesn’t shy away from the ecology of vineyards. Always generous, Suzanne Goin’s cooking has become indispensable. The tarragon burrowed in Little Gem lettuce with green goddess dressing turns salad leaves, orange suprèmes, and avocado slivers into an ideal. The darkly roasted chicken segments heaped onto a torn crouton salad with wilted radicchio is an homage to the late Judy Rodgers of San Francisco’s Zuni Café—a tip of the hat only a great restaurant can bestow.

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