Marcel was kind enough to carve out a few minutes with us to share his favorite things to eat around the city.
Cabeza Tacos and Avocado from El Chato
It’s the best place for late-night tacos and consistent every time – super juicy and delicious. I get the Cabeza Tacos and Avocado. Avocado is only 25 cents extra. Where can you add extra avocado for only 25 cents? The tacos are only $1.25. Always ask for onions and jalapenos at the end and they give you a bowl full. Very authentic and delicious. El Pastor is phenomenal too, and the Mulitas – mini quesadillas with corn tortillas, which is great for me because normally they are made with wheat tortillas. The chef is my spirit animal. She’s amazing. It was difficult to find the truck for a while. You never know where it’s going to be. You have to be in tune with the El Chato gods. It’s a hidden gem as a late-night spot for people in the industry. We leave work late and go straight there. It’s open until 3AM.
I love the Baked Crab hand roll at IZAKA-YA. Super good. Light and refreshing and I like it because the rice is still warm and crab is buttery. Has great texture.
The JINYA Tonkotsu Black from JINYA Ramen Bar
JINYA Ramen Bar is near W 3rd. I used to live right behind there, so I would always go there. Last time I was there, David Chang was there sitting having ramen. My favorite dish is the JINYA Tonkotsu Black – pork broth: pork chashu, kikurage, green onion, nori dried seaweed, seasoned egg, garlic chips, garlic oil, fried onion, spicy sauce and served with thin noodles. Broth has a nice feel. Meat isn’t too fatty and just enough. Great texture on the noodles. Service is great. They’ve always been really nice to me.
My go-to is a double-double animal style with fries well done also animal style with a Neapolitan milkshake – a blend of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. The trick is that the well done fries are almost like eating chilaquiles so it’s saucy and crispy. When I drink the shake, I like to move the straw around to get a little bit of everything. They use great west coast products, they use root potatoes and support their staff. It’s a good company and they have good food.
Matt’s Special from Canter’s Deli
Matt’s Special is made with oven-roasted turkey, Muenster cheese, coleslaw, and Canter’s Russian dressing on grilled challah egg bread, but the secret is to get it with pastrami instead of turkey. A waiter recommended this to me, and I haven’t looked back. All of our cooks order it. The sandwich seriously gets better every time. It’s the bomb. Oh, and get the sweet potato fries over the regular ones. And if you’re feeling spicy, get a side of ranch.
Beef Tartare from Republique
Walter Manzke serves his beef tartare with potato chips. I really like the contrast and textures with crispy and raw and fleshy beef tartare. The pickled onions on top give it a nice kick of acidity and tarragon aioli ties it all together nicely.
Salt and Charcoal Potatoes from Ink
Chef Michael Voltaggio does the salty potatoes technique that we learned from Jose Andres and made it his own. It’s difficult to do, but he nails it. It’s basically sour cream and potatoes but reimagined in a really creative way. He ‘inkified’ it.
Mussels and Lemongrass from Jitladala
This place feels like home. Jazz, the owner, is the nicest, sweetest lady and has become my thai grandmother. She would come over and sit down and bless me before I opened up WOLF. So many of the dishes are inspired by her. That explosive flavorful cooking. The mussels and lemongrass is spicy but not too spicy. They do a really nice job with it. I’m a big fan of lemongrass and the broth is delicious and packed with explosive flavors. I also like the Crispy Morning Glory Salad.
Potato (Papas) Tacos from El Carmen
I get the potato (papas) tacos, and if I’m feeling a little omnivorous, I’ll add chorizo. Their nachos are also awesome with a spicy margarita. I used to live behind it, and it’s always been good. They are open late too.
The Toron from Bäco Mercat
The Toron baco with oxtail hash, cheddar tater, horseradish yogurt. The oxtail is ground in a patty which is a great way to do oxtail because it’s normally a tough cut of meat since it’s the tail which has a high activity muscle. Grinding it makes it nice and tender and it sits on a cheddar tater, which is super crispy. It’s a saucy affair! It drips down your elbows and gets all over your beard. The baco soaks up all the juices but doesn’t fall apart. It’s delicious.
Audie Metcalf Ruyle is the Head of Digital Strategy at Los Angeles magazine and LAMag.com. Follow her here on Facebook and Instagram. She wrote “Chef Dakota Weiss Tells Us Her 10 Favorite Dishes In L.A.”