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Ultimate Restaurants 2003 Results

  • m

Here are the results of the 2003 Ultimate Los Angeles Restaurants survey. Respondents were asked to list, in rank order, their top five restaurants in LA County to take houndly out-of-town visitors or for a special occasion. Evaluations were based 75% on food and 25% on everything else.

The votes were tabulated as follows. Restaurants were given 5 – 1 points (5 for top ranked, etc.) Where posters listed 5 restaurants in no particular order, each choice was given 3 points. Restaurants with the same number of points are listed by number of votes, then alphabetically.

After each restaurant’s name are total points, followed by (# votes/ # “1st choice” votes) for restaurants receiving multiple votes or one “1st choice” vote.

Spago Beverly Hills 74 (19/9)
Water Grill 46 (14/1)
AOC 41 (11/6)
Lucques 38 (10/3)
Angelina Osteria 36 (11/3)
Campanile 29 (9/2)
Nouveau Café Blanc 24 (8/1)
Valentino 23 (6/1)
Josie 21 (7/1)
Sushi Nozawa 19 (7/1)
Zankou 16 (6/0)
Melisse 16 (4/1)
Parkway Grill 13 (3/1)
Matsuhisa 10 (3/1)
Grace 10 (5/0)
Sona 10 (3/1)
R-23 8 (3/0)
Sushi Ryo 8 (2/0)
Beverly Soon Tofu 7 (2/0)
Chung King 7 (2/0)
Lawry’s 7 (2/1)
Guelaguetza 6 (4/0)
Dan Tana 6 (2/0)
Georgio Baldi 6 (2/0)
YongSusan 6 (2/1)
5 Dudley 5 (2/0)
Mori Sushi 5 (2/0)
Pizzacotto 5 (2/0)
Angeli Caffe 5 (1/1)
Cora’s 5 (1/1)
The Grill 5 (1/1)
Nishimura 5 (1/1)
Saladang Song 5 (1/1)
Uncle Bill’s 5 (1/1)
Ambala Dhaba 4 (2/0)
Carnival 4 (2/0)
Versailles 4 (2/0)
Bastide 4
Chez Jay 4
El Taurino 4
Frenchy’s Bistro 4
Grand Central Market 4
Kruang Tedd 4
La Cabanita 4
Loteria Grill 4
Patina 4
Provence 4
Ta-Ke Sushi 4
Zax 4
Arroyo Chop House 3 (2/0)
Din Tai Fung 3 (2/0)
Hump 3 (2/0)
Ruen Pair 3 (2/0)
Alto Palato 3
Asenabo 3
Bistro 21 3
Bistro 45 3
Bric 3
Café Hiro 3
Chosun Galbi 3
Hirozen 3
Il Grano 3
Langer’s 3
La Paella 3
Maple Drive 3
Mastro’s 3
Nobu Malibu 3
Pastina 3
Peppone 3
Sasabune 3
Sushi 4 on 6 3
Traktir 3
Yunan Garden 3
Alex 2
Echigo 2
Empress Pavilion 2
Green Village 2
In-n-Out 2
Lunaria 2
Ocean Star 2
Pie & Burger 2
Rosti 2
Xiomara 2
Brent’s 1
Ciudad 1
Chinois on Main 1
Clementine 1
Furaibo/Sumiya 1
Jiraffe 1
La Cachette 1
L’Orangerie 1
Mandarin Deli 1
Mimosa 1
Orso 1
Rockenwagner 1
Roscoe’s 1
Saca’s 1
Saddle Peak Lodge 1
Sushi Gen 1
Tacos Baja Ensenada 1
U-Zen 1
Vert 1
Wat Thai 1

Great participation (49 responses v. 23 last year) & much appreciated cooperation from all posters this year. Despite many more responses, everyone’s following of instructions made the math-impaired Grubber’s job so much easier. Thx all.

Some observations:
1. Spago smoked the competition, almost lapping the field. May in part be due to recent board activity, but wo a doubt LA hounds’ destination restaurant of choice.
2. Hound restaurant of the moment clearly & strongly is AOC, offering a concept whose time has obviously come. A dazzling response for a restaurant that a fairly low percentage of hounds have ever even visited. Attention all points east.
3. Angelina Osteria’s very strong showing proves terrific food at fair prices will draw a crowd every time.
4. Water Grill and Lucques have apparently found their legs, building a solid and growing base of admirers, w substantial leaps from last year’s poll.
5. Nouveau Café Blanc continued to quietly earn well-deserved recognition.
6. Josie suffered a huge drop from last year (#1 to #9, about half the votes from more than twice as many voters.) Maybe time to refresh the menu.
7. Tito’s not to be found this year (from #7 to oblivion). Better judgment prevails.
8. Once again, a virtual complete absence of steakhouses on the list.
9. A definite Westside bias exists in the results, due primarily to new hounds who seem to birth on the Westside & only slowly venture houndishly to points east, north or south. It is also fair to note, however, that the Westside is where the money is, so it is not surprising to find the fine (read expensive) restaurants there.
10. No ‘cue, pupusa, ramen, pho, or African restaurants, & relatively few low-end ethnic places at all. Maybe subject for another poll: Five under-$15 joints where you’d take houndly visitors on an ethnic crawl.
11. Results reveal a breathtaking range – 104 restaurants were worthy of votes – of favorites providing a variety of outstanding gustatorial choices for visitors or for a special occasion.
12. LA chow flat-out rocks.

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  1. s

    Thanks so much for your hard work on this list.

    1. great list. thx for the hard work. i hv not been to many of these restaurants, which is one reason i didn't contribute (budgetary constraints), but i wl keep it as a ref for special occasions (such as my anniversary this wk!).

      as for yr point about about not many bbq, ramen, ethnic, etc. i think it's likely b/c yr criteria specified "special occasion" and a place to take out-of-town guests. the results seem to suit these situations perfectly. i definitely think a sep list is in order for another category like ethnic, inexpensive, etc.

      1. Great job and right on time.

        1. l
          Longtime Resident

          The only side thing about the list is how few new places are on it, especially high up (except AOC, of course).

          1. Your Grubness,

            LA chow rocks, and so do you. Thanks for the effort.

            A great resource!

            1. I predict that Ciudad will rise to the top 15 of your 2004 list.

              1. Thanks for your terrific effort putting this list together!

                1. Here is a link to CitySearch and their pale imitation of Mr. Grub's fine work.

                  Link: http://www.opentable.com/promo/bestof...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: WLA

                    Citysearch's recommendations are useless, since they don't screen for ballot-box stuffing. (According to their "Audience Award," the best restaurant in So.Cal. is Papa Christo's.)

                  2. As I mentioned before, you did a great job. It is surprising that there were 49 responses. Noting your suggestion--Maybe subject for another poll: Five under-$15 joints where you’d take houndly visitors on an ethnic crawl.--I wonder if that poll would get more responses? Might be worth a try (hint, hint).

                    1. With all the restaurants surveyed, isn't it interesting that Cafe Bizou, #1 in last year's Zagat Guide, is not even given ONE vote in 5th place? Proves our survey is more chow friendly, not just a place for coupon clippers,$2 corkage freaks, and lovers of French greetings.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: carter

                        Further supporting your observation, Carter, long-time Zagat favs Chinois rec'd one 5th place vote, Patina one 2d place, & Bel Air Hotel was shut out.

                        1. re: carter

                          Well, since I live in Pasadena, I've been wanting to try Bizou, but since it was listed in Zagat, I haven't been able to get in there.

                          It's always totally packed.

                          So maybe it's a common problem.

                          1. re: carter

                            After several recent visits, there is no doubt in my mind that the original Sherman Oaks Bizou is coasting on past success. Still some decent items, but the inconsistency is breathtaking. Still, it packs 'em in.

                            1. re: carter

                              In defense of Zagat's, I believe Bizou was rated #1 in "most popular" restaurants, not "top food". And judging by the crowds they still draw I wouldn't argue with that.

                            2. Grubster,
                              Great Job! The list is very strong and I'm delighted that my favorite picks made the top 12, 2 were in the TOP TWO, keep up the great work. Like Zagat it would probably be best to have categories so ZANKOU doesn't end up with LA's finest French Restaurants, if you know what I mean? Having just been to SPAGO'S a couple of weeks ago I can safely say the CHOWHOUNDS are doing their homework.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: russkar

                                Thank you for leading the charge. You certainly have the palette as attested by the fact that you are so in-line with the popular chocies!

                              2. Interesting list - thanks for the work and effort in putting this together. I'd like to suggest that the next time a survey like this is put together that the votes be sent to a separate e-mail address instead of being posted on the board for all to see before the results are tallied. I think that a blind vote would help avoid the lemming effect and might result in an even broader range of restaurants since people will less likely be influenced by the input of others. We might also see some revealing guilty pleasures, since voters won't need to worry about being outed and chastised for their unchowworthiness. Still, this is a good start.