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2005 Ultimate Los Angeles Restaurants Poll

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In just three short years, A.O.C. has emerged as Los Angeles’s destination restaurant of choice among food-obsessed LA chowhounds. With 123 points accumulated on 32 ballots including 11 first-choice votes, Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne’s nouveau wine and tapas bar easily outpolled the champion from the prior two years, Spago Beverly Hills.

Participation by hounds was up dramatically this year, with 104 ballots submitted compared to 49 last year and 23 the first year. In addition, virtually every ballot was acceptable, as is. Thank you from the bottom of the Grubman’s OCD heart.

A whopping 214 different restaurants received votes, with enough “undiscovered” real-deal treasures to keep even the most obsessed hound happy for years. Well, maybe months.

Some Grubly observations:
1. The far wider participation wrought a far-ranging and wildly diverse list of recommendations. The estimable Jonathan Gold began his restaurant critiquing career by attempting to eat at every restaurant on Pico Boulevard. Perhaps some erstwhile chowhound will attempt to eat through the Ultimate list.
2. 2005 Awards:
Best in Show: A.O.C. Clearly no longer trendy, but an established success in LA’s highly competitive marketplace.
Rookie of the Year: Providence. Barely started up, Cimarusti’s showcase dazzles into third place.
Most Improved: La Buca and Sona. Well, La Buca’s food hasn’t really improved, hounds have simply found it. Great, great Top 20 showing for a 20-top storefront with no parking. In about three years, Sona seems to have hit its stride, reflected by six first-choice votes on 14 ballots. Clearly will be a top-end destination restaurant for years to come.
Comeback of the Year: Langer’s Deli. Same pastrami sandwich for almost 59 years, yet huge jump into Top Ten this year. Westsiders more comfy with MacArthur Park?
3. Many fourth- and fifth-place votes seem to have been based on a single dish rather than a complete dining experience. Perhaps therefore not really destinations for multi-person parties.
4. Japanese is the cuisine of choice for LA chowhounds, with 35 restaurants included in the list. Chinese, Mexican, and Italian follow with about 20 each. By far the largest category is, um, I-don’t-know-and-my-head-hurts-too-much-to-figure-it-out.
5. The Patina Group restaurants amassed a princely total of 13 votes on four ballots for Patina at Disney Concert Hall. None for any Pinots, Nick & Stef’s, Kendall’s, or even the new, favorably received Zucca. Perhaps Splichal – and the mother corporation – needs to become a bit more involved in his kitchens.
6. Zero votes for foodie favs Beechwood, Ciudad, Belvedere, Michael’s, Meson G, Yong Su San, Chinois on Main, Yamashiro, Café Bizou, and Shiro (!) for instance. As if that’s not enough humiliation, Dodger Stadium, The Red Onion, and Leda’s Bake Shop received more votes.
7. Steakhouses may be the current rage for new restaurants, but fared pathetically among chowhounds. Only Mastro’s (22), Pacific Dining Car (7), and Taylor’s (1) received votes. Receiving nary a vote were: The Palm, Ruth’s Chris, Morton’s, Arnie Morton’s, Fleming’s, Boa, Dan Tana, Windows, and Nick & Stef’s, among others.
8. The geographic axis of Los Angeles deliciousness seems to run between Third & Melrose. Poll wastelands include the entire San Fernando Valley and, even more surprisingly, Chinatown, which was shut out until extra innings.

Chowhounds were asked to list, in rank order, their top five restaurants in LA County where they would take houndly out-of-town visitors or would recommend 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.) Restaurants with the same number of points are listed below 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.

A.O.C. 123 (32/11)
Spago 97 (29/7)
Providence 67 (18/7)
Sona 54 (15/7)
Angelini Osteria 49 (15/2)
Urasawa 43 (9/7)
Langer’s Deli 35 (14/2)
Melisse 33 (9/4)
Josie 32 (12/1)
Grace 30 (9/2)
Water Grill 29 (9/2)
Lucques 28 (8/3)
Kiriko 27 (7/3)
Bastide 26 (6/3)
Mastro’s 22 (7/1)
Zankou 22 (6/4)
Hungry Cat 20 (6/2)
La Buca 19 (8)
Sushi Nozawa 18 (5/1)
Campanile 17 (5/2)
JiRaffe 16 (4/2)
Mako (BH) 16 (5/1)
Babita 15 (4/2)
Tacos Baja Ensenada 15 (4/2)
Patina 13 (4)
R-23 13 (4)
Jar 12 (4)
Valentino 12 (5)
Joe’s 11 (3)
La Cachette 11 (3/1)
Maison Akira 11 (4)
Daikokuya 10 (3/1)
Matsuhisa 10 (4)
Max 10 (2/2)
Vincenti 10 (4)
Echigo 9 (3)
Ruen Pair 9 (2)
Saddle Peak Lodge 9 (3)
Giorgio Baldi 8 (3/1)
Sapp Coffee House 8 (3)
Sushi Ike 8 (3)
Angeli Caffé 7 (2/1)
Baguette Express 7 (2)
El Parian 7 (2/1)
Golden Deli 7 (4)
Katsu-Ya 7 (3)
Mori Sushi 7 (3)
Newport Seafood 7 (3)
Pacific Dining Car 7 (2/1)
Parkway Grill 7 (2)
Phillippe the Original 7 (3)
Sea Harbour 7 (3)
Carney’s 6 (2)
Celestino 6 (2)
Din Tai Fung 6 (4)
Girasole 6 (2/1)
Haru Ulala 6 (2/1)
La Playita 6 (2)
Ortolan 6 (2)
Wa Sushi 6 (2)
Bay Cities Deli 5 (3)
Christy’s 5 (1/1)
Empress Pavilion 5 (1/1)
Father’s Office 5 (2)
Julienne 5 (2)
Kagaya 5 (1/1)
La Barca 5 (1/1)
Leda’s Bake Shop 5
Mandaloun 5 (2)
Min’s Kitchen 5
Noe 5 (1/1)
Orris 5 (1/1)
Palms Thai 5
Tommy’s Original 5 (1/1)
Totoraku 5 (1/1)
Uncle Bill’s Pancake House 5
Z Sushi 5 (1/1)
888 Seafood 4 (2)
Al Gelato 4
Arroyo Chop House 4 (2)
Bistro K 4
Blair’s 4
Border Grill 4
Bu-San 4
Domenico’s Monrovia 4
Fritto Misto 4
Grill on the Alley 4
Jay Bharat 4
Krua Thai 4 (2)
La Serenata di Garabaldi 4
Lasher’s 4
L’Orangerie 4 (2)
Musso & Frank’s 4
NBC Seafood 4 (2)
Nishimura 4
Norman’s 4
Palms Thai 4
Petrillo’s 4
Pie & Burger 4
Sa Rit Gol 4
Sushi Gen 4 (2)
Sushi Sasabune 4 (2)
Table 8 4
Taiko 4
Vert 4
Yi Cuisine 4
Azami 3
Ca Brea 3
Chameau 3
Dan Sung Sa 3
Frenchy’s Bistro 3
Geoffrey’s 3
Grand Central Market 3
Harold & Belle’s 3
Hide Sushi 3
Il Grano 3 (2)
Il Pastaio 3
Inn of the Seventh Ray 3
In-n-Out 3 (2)
Johnnie’s Pastrami 3
La Casita Mexicana 3
Mei Long Village 3 (2)
Merkato 3
Mi India Bonita 3
Nanay Gloria 3
PCH Dogs 3
Piccolo 3
Pollo a la Brasa 3 (2)
Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles 3 (2)
Shabu Shabu House 3
Sushi Shibucho (LA) 3 (2)
Teresita’s 3
The Lobster 3
Triumphal Palace 3
Versailles 3 (2)
Via Veneto 3
Wat Thai Temple 3
Yamato 3
Yungui Garden 3
Angelique Café 2
Asahi Ramen 2
Balcones de Peru 2
Best Szechuan 2
Café Beaujolais 2
Café Metropol 2
Casa Bianca 2
China Islamic 2
Chosun Galbi 2
Chung King 2 (2)
Enrique’s 2
Gerlach’s 2
Giang-Nan 2
Golden Triangle 2
Indo Café 2
Marouche 2
Meals by Genet 2
Mimosa 2
Mission 261 2
Murakami 2
Oriental Pearl 2
Pann’s Coffee House 2
Park’s Barbecue 2
Pastis 2
Peppone 2
Pink’s 2
Phillip’s BBQ 2
Primo’s 2
Serenata de Garibaldi (ELA) 2
Shik Do Rak 2
Uncle Chen 2
Urth Caffe 2
Vietnam House 2
Vito 2
Abbott’s Pizza 1
Akbar 1
Birrieria Jalisco 1
Blue Fish 1
Brent’s Deli 1
Café Atlantic 1
Café 50’s 1
Clementine 1
Cobras & Matadors 1
Divino 1
Dodger Stadium 1
El Coyote 1
Firefly Bistro 1
Guelaguetza 1
Hotel Bel-Air 1
King’s Fish House (LB) 1
KP’s Deli 1
Kushiyu 1
Lares 1
La Taquiza 1
Lawry’s the Prime Rib 1
Loteria 1
Lucky Dragon 1
Mario’s Peruvian 1
My Taco 1
Northwoods Inn 1
Ocean Star 1
One Pico 1
Pizzicotta 1
Polka 1
Red Onion 1
Ritz-Carlton (Pas) Dining Room 1
Saito’s Sushi 1
Sushi Rio Izayoi 1
Taylor’s Steak House 1
Thai Paradise 1
The Counter 1
The Hump 1
Ya Jung Nak Ji 1
Yi-Mei 1
Yujean Kang 1

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  1. Thank you for doing this Mr. Grub! It's a wonderful tradition, and a great resource.

    1. Thank you Mr. Grub for taking the time to compile all the information. =) You're awesome. What a great list to have!

      1. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! :)

        I can't wait to knock off a few of these in 2006! :)

        --Dommy!

        1. Wow, thank you for compiling this information! Very, very interesting. I'm especially struck by the restaurants that only had one voter who gave 5 points; I'll have to check ou those. And all the others.

          Thank you!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Tarz

            I'm surprised The Hump didn't do better....

          2. Thanks Mr. Grub