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Dec 28, 2010 02:40 AM

RESULTS: Ultimate Los Angeles Restaurants 2010: The Top 25 [Post #1 of 2]

A combination of computer woes and travel plans resulted in a delay of my posting the results of the 2010 Chowhound Ultimate Los Angeles Restaurants Poll.

For the ninth year, Los Angeles Chowhounders have expressed their opinions about what constitutes “the ultimate Los Angeles restaurant”, following the dictum established by the poll’s founder, Mr. Grub: "The concept is simple: everyone is asked to list, in rank order, your five top restaurants in Los Angeles County that you would recommend to houndly out-of-town visitors or to Chowfriends for a special occasion. Since we worship at the altar of deliciousness, your ranking should be based 75% on food and 25% on everything else."

This is the third year the poll has been split between over-$25 restaurants and $25-and-under, and the second year of a close split between first and second place. Although Langer’s Deli increased its lead from two points to four, the difference between and Langer’s and Providence constitutes a virtual two between two very different restaurants in two very different neighborhoods, pointing to the depth and breadth of Chowhounders’ tastes.

Although the voting period was roughly the same as last year, there was a significant downturn both in total participation in this year’s polls and in the number of restaurants cited. I can’t speak as to whether there are fewer Chowhounders or is there was some other factor involved, but participation hasn’t been this low since I have been running the poll:

2010: 63 total voters, 243 restaurants

2009: 100 total voters, 343 restaurants
Part 1:
Part 2:

2008: 79 total voters, 300 restaurants

2007: 76 voters, 135 restaurants

2006: 95 voters, 147 restaurants

2005: 104 voters, 214 restaurants

It’s difficult for me to believe it was truly a major factor, but if I take on the poll duties again next year I will definitely be posting fewer rules in the opening post; perhaps I might post the rules separately online and link to them.


Voters in the Over $25 poll: 62
Voters in the $25 and Under poll: 63
Total voters: 63


Restaurants cited - Over $25 poll: 89
Restaurants cited - $25 and Under poll: 155
Total restaurants cited: 244, including the 8 that were cited in both polls


THE OVERALL TOP 25 (both polls):

For the rankings below, the number immediately after the colon is the total points assigned by voters who scaled their choices from five to one.

The first number in square brackets is the total voters, and the number after the slash is the total voters, if any, who made it their first choice with five points.

The numbers in curly brackets are the 2009 overall rankings, if any.

So for example, Providence received 85 points from 23 voters, of whom 9 gave it five points, and was rated #2 in 2009.

Drumroll, please …

1. Langer's Deli: 89 [28/8] {1
}2. Providence: 85 [23/9] {2}
3. Animal: 63 [20/5] {8}
4. Bay Cities Italian Deli: 60 [18/5] {11}
5. Pizzeria Mozza*: 58 [24/2] {4}
6. Osteria Mozza: 52 [18/3] {10}
7. Jitlada*: 49 [17/3] {9}
8. Umami Burger: 39 [12/2] {13}
9. Father's Office: 37 [13/3] {15}
10. Melisse: 34 [11/2] {12}
11. Mori Sushi: 33 [10/2]
12. Urasawa: 33 [9/5] {7}
13. Santouka Ramen: 31 [12/1] {18}
14. Gjelina: 29 [10/1] {17}
15. Jose Andres The Bazaar: 27 [10/2] {3}
16. Bistro LQ: 27 [8/2] NEW
17. Test Kitchen: 26 [11/2] NEW
18. Drago Centro: 25 [7/2]
18. Hatfield’s: 25 [7/2]
20. Ricky's Fish Tacos: 24 [8/1]
21. Mochica: 23 [6/3]
22. Din Tai Fung: 22 [7]
23. Mendocino Farms: 22 [6/3]
24. Golden State Café: 21 [8/2]
25. Lucques: 20 [6/2] {16}

The top new restaurants this year are Bistro LQ at #16, Test Kitchen at #17 and Ricky's Fish Tacos at #20.

Congratulations to Mochica, the first South American restaurant to make the Chowhound L. A. Top 25. Ricky’s Fish Tacos is the first Mexican to make since 2002, when Tito’s Tacos made #7.

A following post will contain the complete results for the over and under categories, and an attempt to analyze the data.

Din Tai Fung Restaurant
1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

Father's Office
1018 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Pizzeria Mozza
6602 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038

5955 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Urasawa Restaurant
218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Langer's Delicatessen
704 S Alvarado St, Los Angeles, CA 90057

Bay Cities Italian Deli
1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Mori Sushi
11500 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

Santouka Ramen
21515 S Western Ave, Torrance, CA 90501

Mendocino Farms
300 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA

8474 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90069

Father's Office
3229 Helms Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90034

435 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Drago Centro
525 S. Flower St., Suite 120, Los Angeles, CA 90071

Umami Burger
850 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

The Golden State
426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

Father's Office Bar
1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291, USA

3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Bistro LQ
8009 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048

Mendocino Farms
300 S Grand Ave Ste Lp40, Los Angeles, CA 90071

Umami Burger
4655 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Mendocino Farms
444 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071

Ricky's Fish Tacos
1400 N Virgil Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

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  1. Adding ...

    3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

      1. re: maxzook

        Thanks for all your hard work, Max. I find it rather ironic that the 12th most popular under $25 place in town (Bite Bar & Bakery) just closed their doors as a restaurant. I'm also glad to note that I was not the only chili dog obsessed hound to vote for Carney's! ;-D>

        1. re: wienermobile

          Second year in a row HuffPo's linked. I should charge them royalties or something.

          1. re: wienermobile

            Think about it - the results of a poll with 63 voters!
            Huh, wtf gets a new definition.
            With so few voters, these results do not represent anything but the opinions of 63 people, period!
            And Huffpost cares - must be a slow news day!

            1. re: carter

              Personally, I find the results of 63 informed (or at least marginally informed) voters more informative and interesting than the results of 63,000 uninformed (or less informed) voters, which is what I'm getting if I look at Zagat or Citysearch.

              And, it's certainly more informative and interesting than the poll of 1, which is what JGold's 99 Essential Restaurant List is.

              1. re: carter

                Yeah, but considering that we 'Hounds (supposedly) live to eat, our palates are quite experienced (e.g. I try to eat out 26+ times a month on the average). So, despite the relatively low sample size, the study is "powered" by some real genuine homegrown gastronomes who know what they're talking about!

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    At the same time, I wonder how places like Metro Diner don't even get a mention. I personally have never participated in this poll for the very reason that I really truly have a hard time narrowing down my picks to the five best this or the five best that. It's like being forced to pick amongst your children as to who passes as the most impressionable at the moment - I just don't want to do that. So many deserve the votes and respect, yet never even get a mention. Not to slam this process, but I think the poll is heavily weighted toward what are considered to be Chow standards or what is very hot a the given moment...

                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      You gotta put an additional "Honorable Mention" category next year. Metro Diner definitely belongs in the "Under $25" conversation!

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        Not to slam this process, but I think the poll is heavily weighted toward what are considered to be Chow standards or what is very hot a the given moment...

                        And there's nothing wrong with that, right? It's why maxzook links to prior year's poll results just as a point of reference.

                        And, really, what else are we really gauging other than (1) Chow standards or (2) what is very hot at the given moment? Is there really a third category out there that we are not capturing?

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Stop hitting 'REPLY' the same time as me, ipse! :-)

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            I think places tend to fall under the Chowdar for a lot of reasons, and I know we can go back and forth on what "essential," means to us or you or me, but I just feel that by me personally picking my top five, that I'm throwing the other thirty or forty under the bus for no good reason other than for the sake of a list. But that's just me. At the same time, I applaud those who have the discerning tastes to actually pick their over/under $25 top five. How can a place like Torihei fall so far so fast? They're still at least as excellent as they were when they first opened. Enquiring minds want to know...

                            1757 W. Carson Street, Torrance, CA 90501

                            1. re: bulavinaka

                              My take on this yearly poll is different. I look through it for places NOT on my radar and then make a concerted effort to visit them. If someone is forced to pick just 5 places I figure they have scrolled through their list of all the places they go, and ended up with a concentrated list. That sort of winnowing makes me curious to find out what I've been missing.

                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                How can a place like Torihei fall so far so fast? They're still at least as excellent as they were when they first opened. Enquiring minds want to know...

                                How? Perhaps it has less to do with Torihei, and more to do with other places -- either existing restaurants improving or new restaurants opening up that are better than Torihei.

                                Remember this is a relative list. If, for example, Torihei was No. 10 last year, it only meant that it was the tenth best restaurant vis-a-vis all other restaurants in that particular year. If it is, for example, No. 100 this year, it just means that there are no 99 other restaurants that Chowhounds consider better than Torihei, not that Torihei necessarily is worse than in 2009.

                  2. I know that I personally have been feeling less excited about the LA dining scene lately than I have in the past - I wonder if others have too, leading to fewer responses to the poll this year?

                    16 Replies
                    1. re: aching

                      I definitely fall in this category. While many, many places have opened up, and of course equally many have closed, the nature of those that opened did not create the same level of excitement that I felt in previous years.
                      Seems like lots of very focused concepts, including trucks, etc., which in essence are fast food places, or just slower fast food, yet hardly the dining operations. Yet if fast food is what you want, if it is 20 miles away, it is no longer as fast.
                      And I most surely have no need for any more places highlighting charcuterie and that family of items, for example. Way too many as it is.

                      1. re: carter

                        I'm glad I'm not the only one - I wasn't sure if I was just in a food funk, or what! I think it's definitely true that things that seemed special and/or new and/or rare several years ago have now entered the mainstream, so perhaps the excitement bar is set higher. It does also seem that there are fewer new restaurants (which probably is a function of the economy), or at least fewer that I'm interested in. Here's hoping for 2011!

                      2. re: aching

                        It could also be the economy - fewer people going to over $25 restaurants.

                        1. re: whatsfordinner

                          I think all of your points are well taken. 2010 from my view was a year of flux - lots of openings and closures, the economy (which had a lot to do with many closures), the same ol' same ol' for many of the very active Hounds, the truck and pop-up phenoms further altering the horizon...

                          carter - I'm kinda wondering though - has charcuterie already jumped the shark? I got the impression that the focus on this was relatively new to the SoCal scene, and that we were still in the shallower part of the pool on this. Waterloo and City has received lots of praise for this, and they just opened this year...

                          Waterloo and City
                          12517 W Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90066

                          1. re: bulavinaka

                            But Palate in Glendale has been doing it for going on 4 years, it is just that the others have been trying to hitch their wagons to a concept where they can take inexpensive pork items and make them relatively expensive by knowing how.
                            Nothing wrong with it, yet it is hardly something I want to eat often.
                            And Waterloo does a good job of it, yet will I go out of my way for it - no.
                            If available, fine, but......

                            1. re: carter

                              And AOC has been specializing in charcuterie for at least the past 8 years!

                              8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                              1. re: aching

                                Thanks for that reminder. Yes, though, I wish they would modify the menu. Just how many times do I want their dates or many an item on the menu that was there on opening day.
                                I think that is why they are no longer as high on the list as they used to be - customers are burned out with the same old, same old, good as it may be.

                          2. re: whatsfordinner

                            I thought of that too - but wouldn't as many people still respond to the <$25 part of the poll in that case? Especially with all the trucks?

                            1. re: aching

                              Could it be being a foodie is becoming passe?

                              1. re: burntwater

                                According to the Chowhound manifesto, 'Hounds are not foodies to begin with.

                                1. re: J.L.

                                  Yeah I know but not everyone is a perfect Chowhound. (smile)

                                  I read the manifesto a while back but it's pretty funny to me that the second paragraph and the last paragraph contradict themselves. Although in the last paragraph they change the wording to "let us guide you" or something to that effect it's still the same as being told where to go.

                                  You could poll the people who voted last year who didn't this year and find out why they didn't participate.

                          3. re: aching

                            I was curious about the reduced response rate, so I did a cursory investigation. First surprise: only 31 participants from last year appear to have voted this year. I looked at the 75 people who responded to last year's poll but didn't respond this year. Of these, 48 (65%) haven't posted on the LA board in the last 60 days. Of the remaining 26, many hadn't posted in the last 30 days. Note that "last post" is an imperfect indicator of participation -- several participants in last years poll are or were infrequent posters, so they may just be lurking. However, most appeared to be frequent-to-occasional contributors who just stopped posting, or apparently moved out of the area (they were now posting frequently to other boards).

                            This could be analyzed in greater detail, but it would take a lot more effort and I'm not sure is would yield much more useful information.

                            (NOTE: You may have noticed I counted 105 responders to last year's poll when maxzook recorded only 100. This is likely because five posters weren't counted for one reason or another, e.g. late reply or posted a comment rather than a "ballot". I only counted distinct posters -- I didn't check what they posted.)

                            1. re: Peripatetic

                              Interesting info, thanks for posting.....

                              1. re: Peripatetic

                                I'd also like to thank you for adding this additional facet of info. Has anyone noticed that over the past couple of years, as the economy started to take its toll on the general population, I started to see more and more enquiries or responses concerning budget-minded/cheap/cheaper eats around town in various forms. This seemed to coincide with fewer and fewer of the Hounds that I considered to be regulars posting responses. We are thankful that our family has been lucky so far in being spared any serious hits to our finances. However, we have a few friends here and there who haven't been so lucky, and would have never expected them to be in their current condition for such a protracted period of time. They've had to shut down cable, internet, landlines, curtail restaurant visits, etc. Parties went from many to few to budget-oriented themes to almost nothing. Some are currently in the process of considering moving to areas with lower cost of living indices, some are even in the process of potential foreclosure. I can't help but think that this type of phenomenon has probably hit members of our group.

                                1. re: Peripatetic

                                  Very interesting ... thanks for the stats. (You're right about the disparity in the voter count; there were also people who changed their minds and voted twice who were only counted for their last vote.)

                                  My experience has been that there's a great amount of turnover in any e-forum of this nature. That clearly being the case here, it remains to be asked why new Hounds don't seem to be voting.

                                  Something I had wanted to do this year, and will definitely do if I return in 2011, is to post most of the rules offline with links in the OP of the voting thread. I can't say for sure but I think the length of the rule copy may be discouraging newbies.

                                  1. re: maxzook

                                    > there were also people who changed their minds and voted twice who were
                                    > only counted for their last vote.

                                    They were counted only once. I counted unique respondents.