Chef Anne Conness’s Five Favorite Dishes in L.A.

The chef behind El Segundo’s Sausal dishes on the city’s best dishes

After cooking at Campanile, Chinois on Main, Water Grill, and Saddlepeak Lodge, chef Anne Conness left to help build what is now the South Bay’s burgeoning restaurant empire. In 2007, she partnered with Mike Simms (of the semi-eponymous Simmzy’s) to open Tin Roof Bistro in Manhattan Beach, and now she’s on her own cooking nuevo rancho cuisine at Sausal in El Segundo. But, when she’s not braising lamb in red mole or stuffing tacos with Weiser Farms potatoes in her kitchen, what’s she eating? These are chef Conness’s five favorite dishes in L.A.

1. Soup Dumplings at Din Tai Fung
“There’s dim sum–which, of course, everyone loves. And then there is SOUP DUMPLING Dim Sum! It’s kind of a trek to get to Din Tai Fung and there’s always a long line, but it’s well worth the wait. You bite through the soft dough, and then your mouth explodes with the perfect combination of broth and pork. It’s fun to see people’s expressions as they take their first bite–wide-eyed surprise then a long smile.”

2. Molletes at Taco Maria
“I am really happy that Carlos Salgado was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef. At Taco Maria he manages to pull off an awesome pre-fixe menu in a super-casual environment. With the Molletes, he takes something that is so elemental and makes it truly unforgettable.  Offered on the brunch menu, the molletes are a heavenly combination of grilled bread, refried beans, queso fresco, and salsa. For a chef, it is much easier to go bold and over the top. It’s much scarier to go simple, because, believe it or not, simple is harder to get right.”

3. Jo’s Wicked Good Chowda at Connie and Ted’s
“I like to follow raw seafood with hot soup. Like sushi with miso soup. Or oysters with clam chowder. At Connie and Teds you can order some of the best oysters in town–ice-cold & perfectly shucked. Then comes Jo’s Chowda. It’s so simple and so good. This is like Chef Michael Cimarusti’s soul food. Forget about it! And it’s always an added pleasure when Donato is there, running the dining room. Grace, charm, and chowder! What else is there?”

4. Grilled Octopus, Crispy Pig Trotter, Ricotta & Egg Raviolo, and Budino at Osteria Mozza
“My stalwart favorites! I order these 4 dishes every time I go to Mozza. And sometimes I will even share a bite with my dining companions! And of course the irony is that I love everything Nancy does, yet at Mozza I rarely try something new. Oh well what are you going to do?”

5. Labneh at Bäco Mercat
“Josef Centeno makes his own Labneh (yogurt cheese) and pairs it with different vegetables as the seasons change. My favorite iteration has been a Labneh and Chopped Red Beets with Zatar –Silky Cream. Sweet Earth. Bright Herbs. Sublime. I’m hoping he puts it back on the menu!”