The Bellwether came into Studio City like Vin Diesel comes into a street race—fast as well as furious. Helmed by veteran chef Ted Hopson (formerly of Water Grill and Father’s Office) the restaurant quickly racked up positive reviews and accolades, including a spot in our top 10 new restaurants of 2015. In short: the dude can cook. But when he’s not busy searing off patty melts and tempura-ing cauliflower, where’s he eating? These are chef Ted Hopson’s 10 favorite dishes in L.A.
1. Bread and Pan Drippings at République
It takes a confident chef to serve something this simple, but it is absolute perfection. Perfect demi baguette and a rich jus on the side. It warms my heart just thinking about it.
2. Cold Sesame Noodles with Crab at Cassia
When I first tasted this dish, I realized it was the definition of perfect. I didn’t know why there were walnuts in there at first, but after eating it, it all made sense!
3. Hamachi at Fishing with Dynamite
It is a beautiful presentation of a great fish. All the flavors stand out, it works in great harmony, and the ponzu doesn’t overpower the fish.
4. Cold Mung Bean Noodles at Chengdu Taste
I take all my friends here, and I always order this dish. You really haven’t lived until you have had real Sichuan food. Your mouth is numb and on fire all at the same time. Pleasure and pain in one bowl.
5. Pork Jerky at Ruen Pair
I wasn’t sure about this dish when a friend told me to order it, but I ordered it anyways. I am so hooked! The fact that they are open late makes it even better for me, I can drop in after work.
6. Pork Jowl at Stone Grill
Instead of an open flame at your table, there is a large stone slab. The pork jowl here is one of the best things ever—snappy, unctuous, porky, and tender. It will literally dribble down your chin in the sexiest way possible.
7. Smoked Sturgeon on Everything Bagel at Wexler’s Deli
I go to the farmers market every Wednesday, and literally you can catch me every Wednesday having this before the market. It might be my most favorite breakfast in all of LA. The salmon is good, but the sturgeon is meaty, smoky, and gets my day started perfectly.
8. Carnitas Tacos at La Estrella
In the great taco wars of LA, this street-side taco place wins for me every time. The carnitas is juicy and crispy, and the salsa is spicy, but not too much. I eat here all the time, no matter where you live, it is worth the drive.
9. Eggplant Parm Sandwich at Bay Cities
Everyone goes nuts for their famous Godmother sandwich here, but if you get it, you are missing the good stuff. The eggplant parm is warm enough where it will steam the bread just a bit so it is softer. Then it is just layers of fried eggplant, cheese, and sauce; seriously, what could go wrong here?
10. Filled Croissants at Superba Food + Bread
What Carlos and team are doing there with their croissants is amazing. The first time I had the guava ones, I think I ate four of them before I had to force myself to stop.