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101 Best Restaurants Los Angeles Event
The Detroit Post
Sunday, 05 December, 2021

101 Best Restaurants Los Angeles Event

Earl Hamilton
• Sunday, 05 December, 2021
• 7 min read

This year, Times restaurant critics Bill Addison and Patricia Scarce have done away with the rankings and created an edition to reflect the uncertainty, resourcefulness and compassion within the food and dining community. Addison and Scarce’s introduction notes that our food culture has been reshaped by tragedy: “Chefs fed pandemic first-responders and bent their business models toward takeout and delivery.

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Limited dining capacity imperiled a conjoined bio-network of businesses: farms, meat and seafood suppliers, architects, linen services, wine and spirits makers and distributors. To celebrate the 101 launch, Addison and Scarce have curated a unique takeout menu from four different vendors at downtown L.A.’s iconic Grand Central Market.

As survivalist responses to an ongoing catastrophe, pop-ups can be ephemeral, but it also felt right to acknowledge their contributions to the community in this year’s 101restaurants, dishes, people and ideas” project. From his front yard in City Terrace, Alan Cruz makes some of the most distinctive and exciting barbecue in Los Angeles.

There is 14-hour smoked brisket that disappears before you have memory of eating it, but also dishes cooked from the point of view of a young Chicano barbecue chef shaped by central Texas traditions: citrus, chile-stained pulled pork modeled on Cochin CIBIL; cubed pork belly rubbed in all pastor rub and finished with pineapple chunks (Cruz calls it “all pastor burnt ends”); and excellent mac ’n’ cheese made even more soulful with smoky green Chile Rojas. Brandon Gray is a veteran in two senses of the word: A former cook in the Navy, he has chalked up chef experience over the last decade in LosAngelesrestaurants that include Providence, Trios MEC and Best Girl in the Ace Hotel.

She raved about the pie on her KCRW-FM (89.9) show “Good Food,” and Gray asked himself, “Am I about to start making pizzas for a living?” With a sweet, dense sauce made from Bianca Dipole tomatoes and produce from the Santa Monica Farmers Market, Gray makes creations such as Nothing but a GT hang, with a combination of shrimp, chicken, sausage, pickled okra and roasted peppers that brings to mind gumbo.

After years on the line at restaurants such as Botanical, the Exchange at the Freehand L.A. and Rustic Canyon, Rashida Holmes is headlining the dishes of her Bajaj heritage with her Arts District-based pop-up. Her specialty is flaky ROTC, filled with her mom’s recipe for chicken curry, a vegan-friendly tumble of seasonal vegetables or, best of all, soft, ropy hunks of goat meat she buys from Jimenez Family Farms.

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The crust of her savory patties remains improbably delicate even when bulging with green curry shrimp or shredded oxtail meat with peppers. Start a meal with smashed cucumber salad jolted by jerk seasonings or two-bite cod cakes you’ll want to scarf by hand.

For much of the last decade, Danielle Bell and Pablo Osorio have hosted a regular dinner series, first in New York and then in Los Angeles. Their meals mingled the specialties of Osorio’s native Peru with desserts and baking that often hearken to Bell’s Kentucky upbringing.

Her biscuits and gravy and his creamy, gently spicy AJI DE galling had developed followings at the Hollywood and Altadena farmers markets. A mid-October menu perfectly summarized their synergies: loco DE Apollo, a spicy winter squash stew set over quinoa; Parisian gnocchi with an autumnal mix of mushrooms and chicories, served with an AJI Amarillo butter sauce; end-of-season peach cobbler scented with cardamom and speckled with Nigeria seeds; and homey lemon pound cake that paired gorgeously with chestnut-rum ice cream.

As part of the formative Celina Group team, at her short-lived Fairfax restaurant Fiona last year and in the approachable wisdom of her fruit-focused cookbook “Dappled,” Nicole Tucker has secured her reputation as the brightest star in the L.A. pie universe. You can flip the calendar by her rotating selection; the brilliance of the ever-changing lineup stems from her commitment to gathering fruit from the region’s finest orchards (and her own creative restlessness).

This is Farah Pars’s variation on the traditional Iranian dish machine, saturated with the flavor of saffron, cumulus-light from the addition of yogurt and with a dome of Mahdi, the crisp layer of rice formed on the bottom of the pot. A giant version of the machine was a staple centerpiece; in the shutdown, Farah downsized the recipe, and the family began to offer weekly pickups on Sundays out of Boots Bellows in West Hollywood.

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Complete the meal with mast-o-khiar (herded yogurt with cucumber, so perfect with the rice that I’d suggest a double order), hummus, chopped salad and perhaps baklava or homemade orange blossom ice cream for dessert. Persian restaurants tend to be kebab houses; it’s rare to experience food that tastes like Iranian home cooking out in the world.

Two years later, their barbecue had such a following that they signed on as weekly vendors at Smorgasbord L.A.; their tent dependably saw the longest lines at the Sunday event. Take it from a native Southerner who’s devoted many pounds and words to barbecue: Moo’s does the Lone Star State proud.

Lately, she’s been on a mission: expanding many people’s notion of banyan, the procession of small dishes that accompanies Korean meals. In her hands, banyan is a seasonal event : Summer squash ignited with garlic-chile oil and charred okra steeped in soy and vinegar yield to fermented cucumber with pear and gingered yams sparked with orange peel.

19 sandwiches with the kind of smoked brisket scholarship that Aaron Franklin inspires out of Austin, Texas, and you have an idea of what you’re in for with Ugly Drum’s pit-smoked pastrami Swiss stack. Between slices of Bub & Grandma’s sourdough, Erik Black layers melting bricks of spice-rubbed pastrami (brined and then smoked over oak and pecan woods) with caraway slaw, spiky Russian dressing and slices of Swiss cheese slowly bowing in the heat.

Black has been building his fan base via pop-ups around Los Angeles for more than half a decade; he was a staple at Smorgasbord L.A.; these days, he’s taking orders out of Blues’s Bar & Que on La Area Avenue. When you’re ordering the Swiss stack online and you’re prompted to add a side of “ugliest,” Black’s nickname for the pastrami burnt ends, go ahead and check the box.


To give the much-anticipated guide a proper send off, we're throwing a party with 30 top restaurants. It's your chance to meet L.A.'s culinary elite, enjoy some of L.A.'s best dishes and bask in the grandeur of historic Viviana.

Or make it a more lavish night out with Omahas, priced in three tiers, where house-made tofu with snow crab may precede plates of Nigeria and, at the higher end, Hokkaido scallops gilded with shaved truffles. On Fridays, try the braised lamb dish ab-goosht, served with a split yellow pea mash, warm flatbread, pickles and fresh herbs.

Scooping up meat with the bread, garnishing it with veggies, herbs and pickles, turns a prosaic lunch hour into ceremony. The beef Iquitos dispensed at this historic Over Street food stand are thrilling as ever: freshly rolled and immaculately fried; audibly crisp; dolloped with a silky, bright avocado sauce that was engineered to harmonize with the plump succulence of the beef (the sauce is so popular it’s now sold by the gallon).

It’s easy to forget that Credit Linda also sells bean and cheese burritos drowning in red sauce; cheese-clotted Chile relents; and meat-free soy tacos. Bring friends and order the Mercado zarandeado, crisp-edged, slow-grilled shook marinated with fresh citrus, Chile and mayonnaise.

You’re here for table side action: the Caesar salad tossed in a giant wooden bowl and steak Diane complete with a dramatic plug of brandy set ablaze. L.A. is blessed with many throwback restaurants ; DAL Rae’s savoir faire and exuberance distinguish it from the pack.

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Ham Hi Park is famously home to one of Korea town’s most enduring hangover remedies : the scarlet-red pork neck and potato stew called gamertag. Kimchi rice, seething and crackling in a black stone pot, is every shade of sweet, spicy and tangy.

Tinseltown’s landmark restaurant turned 100 years old in September, on the heels of its latest star turn in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood.” The film’s title is an apt billing for Russo’s, as everyone calls it, since time is a malleable concept within its smoke-stained walls. Immortal servers glide past rows of red leather booths, delivering shivery martinis, stirred and never shaken, to screen legends, literary giants and the rest of us.

Wendy Lam and LY Huey graft their Cambodian-Cantonese culinary roots with Vietnamese and Thai flavors for the sprawling menus at their two SG restaurants. The union is best showcased in their famous spicy lobster, flamed in a wok’s inferno with garlic, ginger, jalapeños, green onions and black pepper.

Their Beau luck lac (Vietnam’s “shaking beef”) and steamed spot prawns are flawless in their simplicity. This cash-only Thai café rewards repeat visitors with a dizzying selection of à la carte options, but the thing to get at least once is the savory boat noodle beef soup with everything: The cloudy stew, thick with offal bits and buzzing with Chile heat, is profoundly meaty.

A dish of jade noodles tossed with crab meat and slices of roasted duck and barbecued pork is layered with sweet, salty flavor. For a caffeine lift, order a frosty Mason jar of strong Thai iced coffee.


Power, celebrity, a sense of occasion, late 20th century glamour, smoked salmon pizza: Few restaurants need less of an introduction than Wolfgang Puck’s Beverly Hills flagship. The pièce de résistance is pastry chef Della Rossetti’s cardinal schnitzel, a cathedral of a dessert built on sponge cake, meringue, layers of custard strawberry-white chocolate crème and the ripest Harry’s Berries strawberries.

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