The 20 Best Meals In Los Angeles v6.0

February 19, 2020
  • The 20 Best Meals In Los Angeles

After a fantastic meal this weekend at Brera Ristorante downtown, I remembered that it has been far too long since I’ve updated my list of favorite local restaurants. For those of you who don’t remember, version 5.0 of this list was published way back in June of 2018. I guess now is as good a time as any to amend it.

That’s not entirely true. I have like 5 upcoming dinner reservations that might lead to additions/subtractions from this list, so the best time to do it would be when my social schedule isn’t so busy.

For those of you who might be new to this series of posts, here’s the gist of it:

When it comes to LA there are plenty of resources one might consult while deciding where to eat a particular meal. For a time, people just instinctively trusted that-guy-with-the-Pulitzer from the Times, even though many of us knew better. He passed away shortly after I published version 5.0 of this list. Local foodies have spent the past year-plus looking elsewhere for recommendations. Kevin Eats offers great photos. EaterLA regularly updates their “heatmap,” which provides a list of the hottest restaurants in the city at a given time. They also offer a list of the 38 best restaurants in the city at a given time. There are other blogs offering other lists. Some are broken down by category (San Gabriel Valley Chinese Food! Taco Trucks! $$$$!), some are divided by meals (lunch! brunch! other meals!).

An acquaintance told me he started his own website to chart his favorite spots in town, which he called “Twenty Meals.” The concept was incredibly simple: “A list of places to eat in Los Angeles” (it has since been deleted). No pretensions, no rules, just a list of his twenty favorite places to eat in the city. I liked it so much I decided to copy it and make it a regular (as in, updated…sometimes) feature on this website. The idea is that these aren’t the hottest or newest or most expensive or exclusive destinations in town. The list includes both high-end destinations (hello, Vespertine!) as well as places I like to drop into regularly because I can expect the same brilliant service every time.

Version 1.0 of this list was limited strictly to places with “Los Angeles, CA” in their mailing address. Until somebody says otherwise I’m going to stick with my original criteria. Sure, that means some great places I’ve tried (Cassia, Felix, Sushi|Bar, etc.) are not going to appear on the list. Maybe one day I’ll change up the criteria for inclusion. Because, honestly, is MB Post that much more of a hassle to get to than Tsujita? One’s all the way in Manhattan Beach, but the other is a block or two west of the 405 (ugh).

Like in any venture, Version 6.0 is vastly different from Verison 5.0, mostly because I haven’t updated this list in a year and a half. New Additions Are Marked By An *

Restaurants that appeared on list 5.0 which have “dropped off” this list: Baroo (closed), AOC Wine Bar, Aburiya Raku, Salazar, Gwen, Pizzeria Mozza

Restaurants that appeared on list 4.0 which have “dropped off” this list: Howlin’ Rays (I can no longer in good conscience recommend anyone wait in line 2+ hours for a sandwich), Lukshon, Manuela, Odys & Penelope

Restaurants that appeared on list 3.0 which have “dropped off” this list: Hinoki And The Bird, Meals By Genet, Horse Thief BBQ, Red Medicine (closed), Pine & Crane, Plan Check Kitchen + Bar, Red O, ink., Little Beast, Cacao Mexicatessen.

Restaurants that appeared on list 2.0 which have “dropped off” this list: Allumette (sadly closed), Hungry Cat, Valerie Echo Park, The Heart + The Hunter, Dan Sung Sa.

Restaurants that appeared on list 1.0 which have “dropped off” this list: Square One, Maximiliano, Church & State, Eastside Market Italian Deli, and Yang Chow.

Without further ado, here’s volume six of my favorite places to eat in Los Angeles:

Chi Spacca
Smorgasburg LA
Guerilla Tacos
Nightshade *
Seongbukdong
Republique
Golden State

Bavel *
Northern Cafe *

Here’s Looking At You
Kanpai
Jar
Myung In Dumplings
Dave’s Hot Chicken *
Tsujita (and Killer Noodle by Tsujita)
BRERA Ristorante *
Everson Royce Bar *
Pollo a La Brasa
Vespertine
Night Market + Song

And for good measure, because I’m in a list-making mood, here are the five best meals I had anywhere in 2019. If the list seems tame compared to years past it’s because I just haven’t had that many opportunities to dine at three Michelin star restaurants recently. SORRY.

05. Summit Diner; Summit, NJ (I was really craving that pork roll, egg and cheese sandwich)
04. Nightshade; Los Angeles, CA [Swan Fungus Review]
03. Bestia; Los Angeles, CA
02. Trois Mec; Los Angeles, CA [Swan Fungus Review]
01. Sushi | Bar; Encino, CA

There’s a lot still on my list to try for 2020. It’s going to be a very fattening rest of the year.

Frank Sinatra with Antonio Carlos Jobim – Sabia [MP3] (direct transfer from the withdrawn Sinatra Jobim 8-track tape)

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