Six great places to eat in Los Angelesby Catherine McGregor
Putting some stuff in a bowl and throwing a poached egg on top might not sound all that revolutionary – but when you're talking about the rice and grain bowls at Sqirl, that's exactly what they are. Taking inspiration both from Japanese donburi dishes and Southern California's spectacular fresh produce, chef Jessica Koslow added the first rice bowl to the menu at her Silver Lake cafe a few years ago, and promptly set off a global health-eating trend. The sorrel pesto bowl with brown rice, sheep feta, preserved lemon and egg is their iconic, oft-imitated dish, but make sure to also try anything topped with one of Sqirl's incredible housemade jams: the blackberry and lemon verbena is out of this world.
720 Virgil Ave. sqirlla.com
Los Angeles neighbourhoods don't come any cooler than the Arts District, the warehouse and factory-strewn district just east of downtown. You could spend a day here on a craft beer or gourmet coffee crawl, but come on – you're in the Arts District, you should probably see some art first, then eat. For that, Manuela ticks all the boxes. Tucked into the courtyard of the Hauser Wirth contemporary art gallery – itself housed inside a massive converted flour mill – the rustic-chic Manuela serves food inspired by the Texas background of chef Wes Whitsall. This is southern cooking with a light, LA-inspired touch: you'll find it hard to stop eating the deep-fried cornmeal balls known as hushpuppies (served with drool-worthy molasses butter), but just as good are the house-pickled vegetables, many of them grown in the on-site garden.
Considering Los Angeles – along with the rest of California – was once part of Mexico, it's hardly surprising that Mexican culture, and its food, looms large here. You can grab a taco or burrito everywhere, but for a real taste of Mexico, head to Guelaguetza (“Gela-getza”). This family-run joint celebrates the food of Oaxaca, Mexico's culinary capital, and does it so well it's been called the best Oaxacan restaurant in the country by food critic Jonathan Gold. Guelaguetza is famous for its six varieties of mole, that unctuous, rich and spicy sauce for chicken or pork: for my money, the star is the tar-black, cinnamon and chocolate-infused mole negro – good enough to eat with a spoon. Lucky for me, they also sell it in take-home jars.
Son of a Gun
I've brought up seafood dining in Los Angeles to numerous friends, and am almost always met with a doubtful look. But this is an excellent city in which to eat fish and crustaceans of all sorts, and Son of a Gun is a great place to do so. Part of chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo's mini restaurant empire, Son of Gun does truly all-American seafood, from Hawaiian amberjack – sliced raw and served with white soy and shiso – to Maine lobster, stuffed inside a BLT sandwich made with applewood-smoked bacon from Wisconsin. But the star dish here isn't piscine at all: the fried chicken sandwich, with spicy coleslaw, slivers of sweet pickle and hot sauce-spiked mayo is a bonafide cult classic. And talking of stars, you've a decent chance of spotting a celebrity here, if that's your thing.
8370 W 3rd St. sonofagunrestaurant.com
G & B Coffee
The downtown district is getting hipper by the minute – which means no shortage of good coffee. But if DTLA, as it's known to locals, has one don’t-miss cafe, it’s this open-air joint on the edge of the historic Grand Central Market. Owners Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski are, respectively, a United States Barista Champion and a runner-up three years running; these guys know coffee. Try their coffee milkshake – a powerful caffeine-bomb featuring four shots of espresso and vanilla ice cream – or the Business and Pleasure, a three-part drink order consisting of a fizzy tea made with cold-brewed oolong and hops, an espresso shot, and a cold almond-macadamia latte sprinkled with espresso.
3717 S Broadway. gandb.coffee
POT at The Line Hotel
When it comes to celebrity chefs, they don't come much more famous than Roy Choi – we're talking “cameo in the latest Katy Perry video” famous. Back in the day he made his name with Kogi, a mobile eatery serving Korean-Mexican mash-ups like kimchi quesadillas and short rib tacos, and now he's widely acknowledged as the godfather of the modern food truck movement. The Kogi trucks are still out there doing the business (check out kogibbq.com for locations), but if you prefer your meals sitting down try one of his restaurants, like POT in the lobby of Koreatown's hip boutique hotel The Line. Here the focus is rice bowls... yes, them again, but these couldn't be more different than the delicately constructed ones at Sqirl. Come to POT for big flavours: BBQ pork, yookaejang-style beef, and spicy tofu.
3515 Wilshire Boulevard. eatatpot.com
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