Ricardo Diaz

The East L.A. Emperor, Chef Of The Year, 2012

Why We Picked Him: In the past few years Diaz and his business partner, Armanda De La Torre, have been behind some of the city’s most exciting Mexican restaurants, including Guisados, their small taquería in Boyle Heights, and their latest, the ambitious Bizarra Capital. The settings are unpretentious, but the flavors are complex, whether in the chiles toreados taco—with its quartet of heat bombs—or in a stew of olives, potatoes, and bell peppers that rounds out the dried salted cod in a bacalao torta. Border Guard: “A lot of Mexican chefs have started to take chances and not fall into the authenticity trap. Some of us are able to do it at a food-shack level, some at a fine-dining level, and then there’s me, in the middle. I shoot for authenticity, but that’s a bit of a misnomer because I’m sure if you go to Mexico, each region or neighborhood does it their own way.” 

Where to Find Him: Bizarra Capital, Dorados Ceviche Bar, Guisados, Cook’s Tortas