Sightseeing, But For Your Stomach: LOS ANGELES
Summer lasts forever if you just keep acting like you're on vacation!
September 10, 2017
By Michelle Matvey | Images iStock
We don't know how to break this to you.
Recently, your palate went behind your back and filed a complaint with us, your culinary HR department of soul and stomach. They felt bad about it, and they're super proud of you for all that grain-based meal prep you've been doing for weekday lunches and stuff, but they would like to officially request a sabbatical. Even for just a weekend—a day would do! Since palate satisfaction is the number one factor in your life not sucking, we would officially like to recommend an emergency Los Angeles-based staycation. Please see prescription attached below. — CF
In Tinseltown, embrace the shameless spattering of touristy offerings—between the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood Boulevard at large, and The Hollywood Museum, you have plenty of time to ramp up a good appetite. For quick fuel, Chef Evan Bloom recommends Yeastie Boys Bagel Truck, where you can “go with anything that's hot egg & cheese, and you won't be disappointed." And unbeknownst to most of the amateurs chowing down at the Hard Rock Café, this area is also home to some of LA’s best Thai, hiding out at Sapp Coffee Shop. Their Boat Noodle Soup with beef is "about as authentic as it gets outside of Thailand," says Chef Tom Block. "Thickened with blood and full of meaty goodies, it’s basically the entire beast in a bowl. Spicy, sour and savory at a true hole in the wall." If riifs on Korean classics are more your style, Night + Market's Chef Kris Yenbamroong swears by Baroo. "Go now, get the pickle sampler, leave a big tip,” he says. After you do that, head to Loteria for chilaquiles, Yenbamroong's cure-all of choice. It's “a healer...much like Jesus Christ and Pedialyte," he adds.
Next, head to the Museum of Contemporary Art and The Broad (gasp: Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrors is coming at the end of October), housed on the same downtown strip. Once your heart and mind are open, consider your palate primed for greatness: Take Chef Sammy Monsour's advice and go see Chef Ray Garcia at Broken Spanish. "[Garcia] has mastered the principles of Mexican cuisine, recreating dishes while still maintaining authenticity," says Monsour. "His tostada on heirloom corn tortilla with beets, hard boiled egg & pickled habanero is transcendental!” If you can snag a seat, try Bestia. The veal tartare crostino blew Chef Jeremy Fox away the first time he had it and continues to do so over and over again.
Then again, the best part about L.A. is its ability to show you the rest of the globe without boarding a plane. Spend a few hours in Japan at Shin-Sen-Gumi, which specializes in yakitori—Chef Steve Samson's favorite is the chicken hearts, and while it's typically jam-packed, he promises its well worth it—or jet to Central Europe of your mind at Wurstküche. For Chef Joseph Elevado, it's heaven, and he get's his house-made bockwurst with spicy peppers and sauerkraut.
Be it beaches, boardwalks, piers, boutiques, and Abbot Kinney, the choice is yours when it comes to taking in the sights of Venice. If you're an early bird, grab the Everything Croissant at Superba Food + Bread. "Perfect lamination and perfectly flaky, this croissant is amazing," pastry queen Rebecca Masson says. And get there early: they sell out fast. If you collect bowls of ramen like a 90s kid collects pogs, the best bowl of your life might be residing at Ramen Santouka. "It may be the best ramen in the city—maybe the best I've had," says Chef Casey Lane. "I've been to all the places in NYC for ramen, but this is simply delicious." Keep that noodle train rolling with the chitarra pasta at Scopa Italian Roots—beloved by Chef Nick Erven. "They cook this pasta in parmesan stock till it's just al dente and finish it with black pepper and parmesan," he says. "I could have this every day with a glass of rosé and life would be good." We think so too.
Over in Central L.A., home of LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and the Griffith Observatory, chefs can't stop singing the praises of Guelaguetza Restaurant. "This place is amazing. They have live mariachi every night and the biggest tequila and mezcal selection in LA, " says Chef Steven Fretz. "The Coloradito Mole is my favorite. I usually get it with braised pork, and queso and rice on the side." Also: Chef Celestino Drago wouldn't want you to miss the nopal zacoteco—grilled cactus topped with beef that's sautéed with onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and melted Oaxacan string cheese.
If you've got Champagne tastes, but a beer budget (maybe like a nice craft beer), indulge in the steak frites at Bouchon Bistro. “If you’re craving a simple meal, you want it to be done right. This is perfect every time," says Chef Greg Daniels. "Enjoy the excellence Thomas Keller brings to dining, but with a price point that won’t break the bank. Service is always spectacular and very friendly." And don't tell anyone from Lyon, but the Lyonnaise Salad here might knock the original out of the park, to hear Chef Sally Camacho tell it. "I always enjoy a good Lyonnaise salad (frisée with croutons, bacon, and a poached egg on top with a Dijon vinaigrette). This one is better than any salad I've had in France." Shots fired!
While you digest, sunbathe at Silver Lake Reservoir’s meadows and grassy knolls or scour Silverlake Flea for books, antiques, and all things vintage. Since we're betting Sqirl is already one of your main haunts, or was at the top of your bucket list, we need only say: you know what to do. (If you're Chef Philip Speer, that means Green Eggs and Jam. May as well throw in the whole rest of the menu, since you're there and all.) Of course, some of us are grease monsters not fit for the bright perfection at Sqirl—some of us quest after the Double Chili Cheeseburger at Lukshoon. "This is the messiest burger anywhere," says Chef Sang Yoon. "After a night of abusing yourself, the double chili cheese is often the only way to cure all that ails."
Of course, you could always head to Wat Dong Moon Lek Noodle to get your chili fix, like Chef Jazz Singsanong. “This noodle soup comes with rare beef, braised beef, meatballs, bean sprouts, and scallions.The chili sauce makes it perfect. "