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Mar 6, 2014 01:22 PM

LA Weekly's 99 essential restaurants released today...what did they miss?

I just glanced at it. I see Corazon y Miel is not on there, which is a travesty of food criticism.

What else did they miss, or pointlessly add on?

I suppose it's nice to see the SGV getting more attention than usual, but the whole list feels like a pointless exercise without C & Y on it. Especially when places like Bucato, and Allumette made it on.

I truly don't see how C & Y can be left off.

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    1. re: A5 KOBE

      Agreed. The layout makes almost no sense for a list of restaurants... utterly horrific. Pretentious as fuck.

      I hope they release an easier to view version later.

      1. re: BacoMan

        First time I agree with Baco.

        [Handle which, by the way, I can't avoid associating with the dictum "Bacco, tabacco e venere, riducono l'uomo in cenere"]

        1. re: OscarFox

          About the layout, or not including C & Y on their list, or both?

    2. I really like lists like this. Allows me to try lots of places that otherwise would not have been on my radar. With that being said, there are quite a few spots that I would not deem essential--but it must be said essential is different than best.

      I think that is why places like Daikokuya and Oinkster are on it. Not knocking either of those places, but certainly there are better options.

      Anybody been to Spicy BBQ? or Surati Farsan Mart? Or Yai? It seems they have tried to unearth as many random spots as possible--which is fine by me.

      39 Replies
      1. re: set0312

        SFM is legit; well done Indian chaat. Not too many like it in SoCal

        1. re: ns1

          SFM sounds a little like the now defunct Madhus Dasparakash.

          Is SFM all vegetarian ?????


          1. re: kevin

            I did not see any meat product when I was there; can't say for certain though.

            1. re: ns1

              Now I'm even more intrigued. Is this a well-known spot? I'll definitely try it soon.

              1. re: set0312

                Yes it's a well known spot along with jay Bharat - both are the most common chaat recommendations in SoCal

                SFM has the best pani puri I've had in SoCal.

                1. re: ns1

                  Damn, do i ever miss Madhu's Dasparakash.

                  1. re: ns1

                    +1 The pani puri at SFM is quite memorable and I order it every time I visit.

                  2. re: set0312

                    Well known? I just came from there. At 2pm, the room was humming. On the weekends... shiiiet. They recently completed their outdoor seating "expansion", so that helps a bit.

                    Yes, Surati Farsan is all-veg, as is Jay B.

                    The essentials unearths nearly nothing. many Hounds have "essential scores" deep into the 80s or higher. it is, however, a great guide for out-of-towner foodie tourists, a better alternative to the other "B"est of "listicles", and a perfect basis for a food festival. (FWIW, Erik M translated Spicy BBQ's Thai menu on March 2, 2007)

                    now, if they start including the creole corridor, the belizean blvd, the southeast mariscos oddities, pinata row, ad nausea, I'd have to get into my car right away.

                    1. re: TonyC

                      "now, if they start including the creole corridor, the belizean blvd, the southeast mariscos oddities, pinata row, ad nausea, I'd have to get into my car right away."

                      You need to like, tell us where these streets are instead of just listing out the ethnic identifiers.

                      1. re: TonyC

                        Where is the creole corridor? Or the Belizean Blvd for that matter?

                          1. re: Servorg

                            have to check this out. thanks TonyC for bringing it up

                2. re: ns1

                  Love me some Yai. Cam the Man loves him some Yai. (First stop on the way in from the airport when he visits.) Spicy BBQ is pretty wonderful, too, except for the total lack of ambiance...

                3. re: set0312

                  Yeah...seems like they've put some seriously random places on there, kind of odd.

                  I guess I'll go try out Spicy BBQ. I usually frequent Ruen Pair, Sapp, & Sanamluang in Thai Town. Or Night + Market in WeHo.

                  Daikokuya does seem redundant if you're putting Tsjuita on the list.

                  I guess if you maintain that essential/best distinction...well... ok, how are places like Allumette really essential to LA?

                  Is Bucato? (A much as I love it...) Or Bestia? Or Superba Snack Bar? Or Ramen Iroha? Or Connie & Ted's? Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong? Lum Ka Naad? Yai? Lunasia? Rivera? Summer Rolls? Corner Place? Sushi Iki? Sinbala?

                  Any of these places could pretty much close up shop right now, and the LA dining scene wouldn't take that big of a hit.

                  Well, maybe a case could be made for Bucato and Bestia being essential now, but the others? I don't think it would change much of anything.

                  1. re: BacoMan

                    Hmm I consider Rivera somewhat essential--more so than some other spots. It was one of the first spots to do really upscale Latin-American. I may be in the minority, but I was wowed by last visit.

                    Some of them though are remarkably not essential. Connie & Teds (although I liked it) cannot be considered essential. Especially when there are so many places on the east coast doing this type of food as well.

                    I think it would be really interesting to make a list of restaurants that are doing whatever their respective cuisine is better than most other spots in the country. (Granted, that would leave us with a list very Mexican and Asian skewed, but still it would be fun.

                    What "nicer" LA places would be on that list? I actually think Rivera would be a contender for upscale Latin-American. Same with Trois Mec and maybe Ink. What else? Would Alma get a nod?

                    1. re: set0312

                      Was Shunji's on the list ?

                      I didn't read the list yet.

                      1. re: set0312

                        Well, yeah, Rivera maybe. But is it a good restaurant, or is it essential?

                        How would LA dining really change if it closed tomorrow?

                        Connie & Ted's is, as you say, certainly remarkably inessential, and it says nothing about how good it is, or not hah.

                        "(Granted, that would leave us with a list very Mexican and Asian skewed, but still it would be fun."

                        I wonder, would we not have some places in the Californian category (kind of cheating, but still...)? Or perhaps Italian? It seems like we have a very good Italian places. Maybe I am wrong about that though.

                        Alma can stay on the list because they are transforming the LA dining scene in a very unique way. They made tasting menus even more acceptable, and are the frontrunners in their category. They are essential not in preserving LA dining as it has been, but in changing it to make it truly world-class.

                        So I would say Alma is essential in that sense. The places it has helped spawn (Orsa & Winston, Allumette, Trois Mec) are a little bit less essential I guess by comparison, but still represent an important segment of LA dining.

                        The funny thing is that if we're talking about these things, it feels like some dinner series should be there, like Wolvesmouth and CR8.

                        I have to look again, but looks like Starry Kitchen isn't on the list, which is ridiculous. That's like the epitome of an essentially "LA" restaurant. It completely invalidates the list of "essentials" not to have it on there. I would argue it is the same with C & Y at this point as well.

                        1. re: BacoMan

                          It seems you really like debating subjective lists.

                          1. re: ns1

                            Yes. I don't believe they are subjective, not in the sense other people do anyway.

                            From that perspective, everything is subjective.

                            The existence of these very forums says otherwise though. By creating an account here, you are assuming that some food is better than others, and by extension, that some restaurants are better than others.

                            Lists like LA Weekly's are given cultural credence, and attain objective status, and ought to be vigorously debated by other critical modalities such as these forums in order to create a counter/cross-cultural dialogue to balance out the weigh that such lists have.

                            I see this as an essential component of food culture, and more broadly, culture in general.

                            I honestly don't know why so many people come on these forums and say they hate to discuss food.

                            I sort of prefer the SF forums where people never say that. I guess it's a weird by product of the laid-back nature of LA or something, but the fact is, these lists are not just subjective bullshit cobbled together by chimpanzee's on typewriters with no cultural significance.

                            Whether we wish to acknowledge it, or not, our actions speak louder than our words.

                            If people truly believed there was no point in talking about food, they wouldn't bother to use Chowhound, or eat anywhere but McDonald's (cheapest priced meals around).

                          2. re: BacoMan

                            Lol we are completely off on Rivera.

                            I think Rivera is essential because it is arguably LA's best high-end Latin American food which is saying something in arguably the most Latin-American city in the US. Who cares whether it is good (and I think it is) but how many other cities could really support a Rivera? And have a menu that includes Salvadorean and Guatemalan and Peruvian and Mexican. That is why I deem it essential for LA.

                            Starry Kitchen is a surprise exclusion, but I'm sure gold will praise it highly in a few months.

                            Yep, I think places like Rustic Canyon would probably qualify in the elusive "Californian cuisine." And our new wave of Italian certainly impresses me, but in truth I haven't eaten across the country enough to really know if it competes with the heavyweights. Although I will say Bestia and Bucato are doing a solid job of throwing us on the map.

                            1. re: set0312

                              I can agree about Rivera. Maybe I should eat there more often haha it looks like SF would support a Rivera though (just look at all the places like Nopalito, Mamacita, Comal, etc...), and maybe also Chicago.

                              I also don't know too much about Italian outside of LA I suppose (will go see how SF Italian is soon!).

                              I find that what I eat at Bestia, Bucato, & Chi Spacca is just as good as anything I had in Italy though, maybe even preferable (probably biased because of growing up here though).

                              Funnily, while Rustic Canyon is definitely essential to me, I am not so sure about Milo & Olive (another case where you wonder why they aren't all lumped together: Rustic Canyon/Milo & Olive/Huckleberry/Sweet Rose Creamery). I would take Huckleberry of Milo though.

                              1. re: BacoMan

                                Never found SF Italian that impressive; the SF raves are kinda like how some of us CHs champion McD's fish fillet.

                                1. re: VenusCafe

                                  Keep in mind this is last year's list. Which effectively makes this thread "vintage".

                          3. re: set0312

                            Disagree about your assessment of C&T's not being essential in LA. Just because the New England seafood shack is well done on the east coast, does not mean there was not a need for it here. C&T's was one of the first to start the trend, and by it's popularity, it's pretty apparent there was a desire for it and a niche to be filled. By your logic, because SF, Chicago & NY does fine dining,or farm to table so well, then there'd be no need for it here. Absurd, I say.

                            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                              "C&T's was one of the first to start the trend, "

                              What trend?

                              The point would seem to be that it doesn't add anything unique to the LA dining scene other than the availability of New England staples.

                              Compared to, say, Fishing with Dynamite, which is seafood with a distinctly California twist to it.

                              Speaking of which...another huge miss on the list. hah. I don't think MB Post even made it. Kind of a weird snub of LeFevere.

                              1. re: BacoMan

                                The east coast seafood shack trend. It is extremely unique in LA. Tell all of us east coast ex pats who miss this type of food dearly that it was easy to come by before C&T, littlefork et al. In fact, I'm pretty sure you didn't know what a CT lobster roll, clam cakes, RI chowder or Indian pudding was before Cimarusti brought it. Nobody had those.

                                We weren't looking for a fish place with a CA twist.....been there done that. We wanted unique east coast specialities and C&T's hits it out of the park.

                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                  " I'm pretty sure you didn't know what a CT lobster roll, clam cakes, RI chowder or Indian pudding was before Cimarusti brought it."

                                  Well, in LA.

                                  I was more wondering who has them now besides C&T?

                                  I forgot about Littlefork. Is that actually a seafood shack?

                                  What about Hungry Cat?

                                  I'm just not sure that C&T started a specific seafood shake trend...

                                  It still seems a little weird to me to say that a seafood shack basically producing the same stuff as seafood shacks in the East is producing cuisine essential to LA. It may be a fantastic place to have in LA...but I don't exactly see how it is essential cuisine?

                                  I guess Hollywood Pies would also have to be essential then?

                                  1. re: BacoMan

                                    Hungry Cat does not have any of the New England specialities like littlefork and C&T's......

                                    In my definition, it's essential, because there was a pent up demand for it. And they do it damn well.

                              2. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                By your logic, then a place like Boo's would be an essential LA spot because people from Philly sometimes crave a cheesesteak?

                                I'm not saying C & T isn't popular and I'm not saying it's not good--just saying that I would not qualify it as an essential LA spot. But we can certainly agree to disagree--that's why I enjoy lists like these.

                                1. re: set0312

                                  Sure, why not?

                                  LA has long been defined by its siren-like draw to people from all over the country, and ultimately, the world. So a Philly cheesesteak spot would be welcomed, and from what I've read about Boos, it's been welcomed with open arms....

                            2. re: BacoMan

                              I take the essential to have a different meaning. To me, the intent of their list is, "hey, if you're visiting or looking to explore, these are some places that represent la."

                              I don't like Allumette, but I guess the argument could be made that a certain portion of LA food culture is headed that direction (sadly, imo) and Allumette is representative of that.

                              1. re: BacoMan

                                I, too, thought some of the picks were kind of odd.

                                I did think that Rivera was a great choice as being one of the "Essential" restaurants.

                                1. re: mikester

                                  I may be off about Rivera. I like Rivera. It's very good. I'm just not sure whether it is truly essential to LA dining or not. Maybe it is.

                                2. re: BacoMan

                                  Summer Rolls?
                                  Have you ever been? It's LA's version of Brodad (imo, a better one...). Their old name was better and way more legit sounding (nem nuong ninh hoa).

                                  I send out of towners here for legit vietnamese food instead of the standard brodad/golden deli/newport seafood recs.

                                  1. re: ns1

                                    Oh...haha. I didn't realize they changed their name to that.

                                    Well, ok, maybe they can stick around then. My bad.

                                    1. re: ns1

                                      hahahah i also didn't realize Summer Rolls was Nem Nuong. That place is superb.

                                      I much prefer it to Golden Deli

                                      1. re: set0312

                                        I only know cuz another hound posted about it...If I didn't know, I probably would've drove off if I went up to the restaurant and it said "SUMMER ROLLS" outside when I expected NNNH.

                                        1. re: ns1

                                          Hilarious because it seems like they probably switched names thinning it would have the opposite effect...

                                3. Not a huge gripe, but a little surprised to see Ha Tien Quan on here and no Nha Trang. Maybe they've fallen out of the public's good graces for over-expanding, but I think Nha Trang representing on this list for their region is more essential than the very specific experience of anchovy noodle soup

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: andytseng

                                    I feel the same way, I went to ha tien quan a few times, once for the bun mam... and their food is just ok. Nha Trang should be in that spot instead.

                                    and lunasia? essential? wow..

                                    1. re: blimpbinge

                                      to be fair, it's like comparing apples & oranges; HTQ is very specific SW regional vietnamese vs. the more central vietnamese emphasis of nha trang. to me, the bun mam and the deer makes HTQ unique enough to be a worth a visit though i'd hesitate to categorize either as essential.

                                  2. Me happy. Langer's, Buldso's Compton, Parks BBQ, Pann's and Ricky's Fish Tacos…. But wait no Brent's! Wait no Sea Harbour! Wait no MB Post!

                                    21 Replies
                                    1. re: wienermobile

                                      In what sense is Brent's essential LA dining?

                                      If Brent's closed, how would it affect the LA Dining scene really?

                                      1. re: BacoMan

                                        I would be very very sad. Where would I get my Smoked BBQ Cod? Best Deli in LA (except for Langer's Pastrami). LA needs great Jewish Deli's. They are in danger and are slowly disappearing. Save the Deli.

                                        1. re: wienermobile

                                          I'm not sure, "I would be very very sad" qualifies as a description of how LA dining would change.

                                          There are many Deli's in LA doing very good stuff.

                                          The criteria for essential sort of transcend druthers.

                                          1. re: BacoMan

                                            Many delis in LA doing very good stuff? Really? There's Langer's, and, uh, Langer's [no Brent's in this scenario], and Langer's. Delicatessens are an endangered species

                                            1. re: Jack Flash

                                              Langer's, Greenblatts (easily just as good as Langer's, with better hours), Nat & Al's, Factor's, Art's, and Label's.

                                              Seems like you aren't looking too hard...

                                              1. re: BacoMan

                                                Art's is mediocre at best.

                                                But that merely proves the point. There are a half-dozen or so delis for all of the county. Literally none of them east of Langer's.

                                                1. re: Jack Flash

                                                  Well, Brent's isn't east of Langer' it?

                                                  Where is the deli situation better, besides NYC?

                                                  1. re: BacoMan

                                                    To bacoman I say --

                                                    Uh - possibly Chicago. Darn fine stuff happening there.

                                                    Parts of Ohio. Cin City and Cleveland are good for delis.

                                                    Parts of New York besides da city.

                                                    And considering how many deli folks have moved to Florida, I wouldn't count them out just yet either : )

                                                    1. re: happybaker

                                                      Ok, fine. LA sucks.

                                                      But I'll still eat my pastrami very happily at Greenblatt's.

                                                      Pastrami isn't that big a part of my life though I guess.

                                                      1. re: BacoMan

                                                        I didn't say that LA sucks!

                                                        Just that deli's also exist out of LA : )

                                                        And fyi, deli's are way more than pastrami.

                                                        Mish mash soup, matzo ball soup, potato pancakes, smoked fish, smoked meats, lox and eggs, salami and eggs... Maybe we need to take you on a field trip!

                                                2. re: BacoMan

                                                  Kindly disagree with that statement. Most of the deli's you've listed have greatly gone down hill and don't come near to Langer's or Brent's quality.

                                                  1. re: wienermobile

                                                    When was the last time you were at Greenblatt's? Last time I went there versus Langer's, pastrami was much better at Greenblatt's.

                                                    Last time went to Brent's, didn't feel pastrami was anything special beyond large portion.

                                                    Have no idea how anyone can compare Brent's and Langer's. Several friends who've had both recently agree (even a diehard Brent's fan from his entire childhood).

                                                    1. re: BacoMan

                                                      Ignoring the many other items Brent's does better than anyone in the city is a disservice.

                                                      1. re: BacoMan

                                                        I do go to Greenbatt's often. I do like many of their items. Great Matzo ball soup too. But no one does pastrami better than Langer's, no one. And Brent's is the best all around deli in town including the best smoked fish platters I've had in LA, their cabbage soup is wonderful, corned beef, Sweet and Sour Short Ribs, Noodle Kugel, their black pastrami rueben is a classic and that is just for starters.

                                                        1. re: wienermobile

                                                          " But no one does pastrami better than Langer's, no one. "

                                                          People repeat this with a religious fervor but idk what it means.

                                                          I've liked every pastrami sandwich I've had at Greenblatt's more than Langer's. Always juicer, more peppery, with a better meat/fat ratio, and delicacy, never super chewy, just perfect.

                                                          Maybe I am just beyond unlucky with Langer's, idk. Greenblatt's is also open till 2 am though, while Langer's is just a lunch place.

                                                    2. re: BacoMan

                                                      baco - i love greenblatts too. reason it's been around almost a century. Could not agree more that their pastrami is incredible.

                                                3. re: wienermobile

                                                  They're disappearance is "slow" only because there are only a couple to begin with. There are literally none in the SGV already. Compare that to say, tacos, where there are literally thousands of choices.

                                                  1. re: Jack Flash

                                                    LA Magazine's ranking of LA Deli's
                                                    1. Brent’s
                                                    2. Langer’s
                                                    3. Nate n’ Al
                                                    4. Art’s
                                                    5. Pico Kosher
                                                    6. Marv’s
                                                    7. Canter’s
                                                    8. Factor’s
                                                    9. Billy’s
                                                    10. Label’s Table

                                                    1. re: wienermobile

                                                      The silliest ranking I have ever seen unless it's ranked on like...decor alone or something.

                                                      1. re: BacoMan

                                                        From LA Weekly: "There are many pretenders to the title of L.A.'s best deli, but Brent's Delicatessen & Restaurant rules over them all. The pros: a mega-menu of traditional New York deli favorites; the freshness of ingredients; and terrific customer service (no NYC attitude accompanies the blintzes). Does the house-made chicken soup with a baseball-sized matzo ball cure the common cold? There are those who would prescribe it for most ills. Could the cold roast beef be any rarer or juicier? Doubtful. The crisp, double-baked rye bread crust adds the crunch to perfectly seasoned corned beef (brined for 11 days before baking), just one of Brent's classic iterations of so-called Jewish soul food. Family-owned since 1967 (yes, there is a Brent), the question is really whether the O.G. Brent's in Northridge is the best, or if the second, newer location in Westlake Village has eclipsed the senior. The budget basic decor and close-in seating of the bland Northridge strip mall Brent's screams 1970s but has a certain urban authenticity. The second location — wildly busy on weekends — in Westlake Village has soaring ceilings, seating for 364 and more of a suburban vibe, but there's ample room to navigate the to-go deli and bakery case. Let's declare it a tie.

                                            2. Another comment:

                                              Does anyone else dislike how they cheaply bundle Osteria Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza, and Chi Spacca (AND Mozza2Go) into a single "essential institution"?

                                              I find it very strange for some reason.

                                              I guess it might ok, but I feel like they should be made to stand on their own.

                                              Chi Spacca could maybe...Pizzeria Mozza certainly has to I guess. But the Osteria could die without changing much about LA Dining. And Mozza2Go is kind of just overpriced sandwiches trading on the Mozza name.

                                              If they're going to do that...why not group all of Goin's places into one (Lucques, A.O.C. etc...?)

                                              12 Replies
                                              1. re: BacoMan

                                                Hmm, well Pizzeria Mozza is essential but terrible compared to all the new pizza spots popping up.

                                                1. re: set0312

                                                  Yeah. Kind of true.

                                                  Well, idk how "terrible" it is. I mean, I still enjoy the old standards, the bianca pie, and that bacon egg and potato.

                                                  I just like how they do their bianca.

                                                  I guess they may no longer be strictly relevant, but surely it would be a hit to the LA dining scene to lose it since they started the whole thing.

                                                  Eh...maybe not though. But then we're kind of blurring the lines of "essential" eh?

                                                  1. re: BacoMan

                                                    Mozza is definitely "essential" even if it's not the "best" in any sense of the word. It changed the pizza landscape in L.A.

                                                    1. re: Jack Flash

                                             I have said before, there are two senses of "being essential": 1) Essential to having made the doing scene was it is, 2) essential in shaping the dining scene into what it is becoming.

                                                      Pizzeria Mozza is assuredly essential in the 1st sense, though not the 2nd.

                                                      Better critics would differentiate, but it's pretty much the same anywhere it seems (Delfina, or Flour + Water in SF for example).

                                                2. re: BacoMan

                                                  "But the Osteria could die without changing much about LA Dining."

                                                  recently had dinner with 3 others at Mozza Osteria and it was AWESOME! We had perfect and innovative pasta dishes, some great apps, and for me at least, the best tasting steak I have had in LA, ANYWHERE.

                                                  1. re: orythedog

                                                    obviously you have not been to the stinking rose.

                                                    1. re: ns1

                                                      not true ns1...

                                                      Went to the one in Newport Beach years ago and it was unmemorable. Still, not above going back to revisit.

                                                      My sliced steak at Mozza Osteria was really something else. It was rubbed with porcini mushrooms, had a slightly smoked flavor, and was perfectly cooked and very tender. The side of arugala simply dressed was a great counter point.

                                                      So what is the deal with the steak at the stinking rose?

                                                    2. re: orythedog

                                                      Yeah, they have good food I guess, but if it died, it wouldn't change anything really. Look at various other poster's. Porthos is famous for saying that the osteria is just a poor version of NYC's Babbo.

                                                      The meat is better at Chi Spacca. The pasta is better at Bucato, or Bestia.

                                                      It's not a bad restaurant, but feels too stuffy to me, and doesn't really offer anything unique to the LA dining scene. So I don't see how it is essential to it.

                                                      1. re: BacoMan

                                                        I too, have been to other Batali restaurants like B&B Restorante in Vegas. The thing about these Batali/Bastianich places is that they share some of the same recipies/preparations periodically. Not a lot of LA places can claim that dynamic. My case for Mozza Osteria being essential to the dining scene is predicated on many factors including: the number of people they serve on a regular basis (the place is always packed), the variety and ever changing menu including the pastas,the mozz bar offerings are numerous, the fact that two offspring were birthed, namely Mozza to Go and Chi Spacca, the depth of the wine list, even the offerings by the glass impress, and finally the sheer sq footage that the Osteria and siblings occupy on the corner. Seems essential to me.

                                                        1. re: orythedog

                                                          These are the strangest criteria I have ever heard for judging a restaurant.

                                                          I never would have thought to judge a restaurant by it's square footage, or number of customers served daily.

                                                          Why isn't Riva Bella more essential than Osteria Mozza then? It has a larger square footage I believe.

                                                          And surely no one can hold a candle in terms of "customers served" to McDonald's, or, if we must be more local, In-N-Out? For that matter, In-N-Out has also birthed far more places than Osteria Mozza, right?

                                                          "the variety and ever changing menu"

                                                          Does it change much? Seems to me like it never changes. That sausage pasta has been on there for years, haha.