A recent L.A. Times newsletter quoted Kristel Arabian of Kitchen Culture, a Los Angeles culinary recruiting firm, “Make a list of your top 10 restaurants that you would hate to see close and support them at this time, because 75 percent of them may eventually close.” Just stop for a moment to think about that number. Three-quarters of all restaurants may close because of COVID-19. Our team took time to list some of the restaurants we're planning on ordering from in an effort to help the restaurant industry while treating ourselves to some of our favorite meals, at home:
1. Bestia: This has long been a favorite date night spot for Geoffrey and me. They have some of the best pizza and pasta, and I recently gifted their cookbook to my dad I love it so much. G and I are planning on splurging soon on their $49 per person pick up menu.
2. Bavel: G and I have gone to Bavel several times since it opened, on date nights, with friends, and with my parents. It's just an incredible restaurant and the dishes are so inventive. Like Bestia, they have an option for pick up orders.
3. Jon + Vinny’s: If I had to pick my top restaurant in the city, this would be it. The Spicy Fusilli and L.A. Woman Pizza would be in my death row meal. Order delivery here, or make their gem lettuce salad at home if you don't live in L.A.!
4. Silverlake Ramen: There are a lot of great ramen spots in the city, but this is my favorite one and there's nothing like warm comfort food when you're stressed and stuck at home.
5. Republique: The thing that makes me want to order from Republique isn't just the fantastic food, but the idea of never being in their gorgeous space again with its cathedral ceilings and beautifully display of Paris-worthy baked goods.
From my favorite breakfast burrito, to the best whole bean coffee, these are places I'd recommend to anyone visiting Los Angeles and hope I can still do so when all this chaos calms down. Most of these places also ship across the country, so even if you're not here, you can experience their amazing food
1. Cofax: The debate about the best breakfast burrito could last until the pandemic passes, but this one tops my list. The smokey potatoes and savory chorizo (they also do a meatless version) stuffed into a griddle-pressed tortilla are a great way to start your day. They offer curbside pick-up and are now selling six packs of frozen burritos.
2. Antico: We used to live walking distance to this rustic Italian place, which just opened last year. The chef is a master of pared down, but flavorful dishes and their spun ice cream is arguably the best in the city. They made a major pivot over the past weeks and have changed their entire operation to serving two things: focaccia pizza and ice cream. We ordered two of each last week and it was fantastic.
3. Go Get 'Em Tiger: I've written about, talked, tagged and drank the coffee from this chain for the past six years. Nothing more needs to be said, but if you're not local, consider joining their coffee club and receive shipments every two weeks. If you are local, they are also selling items from their pantry, in limited quantities.
4. APL Restaurant: Another master chef that has made a huge pivot and is doing amazing charity work as well. This modern steakhouse just opened about two years ago, but they've adjusted their menu to more of a "comfort food" option, with items like matzoh ball soup, fried chicken sandwiches, and bbq brisket. The chef has partnered with Jimmy Kimmel to donate one meal/order to the St. Joseph Center to feed homeless families.
5. Tacos1986: These guys burst on to the scene a few years back and have expanded to several locations in the past year. Their asada is mouthwatering, the adobada is tangy and tender, but do yourself a favor, stop reading and go get some for lunch. (P.S. Here's a two-for-one: Tacos1986 just opened a new location on Beverly near La Brea, right across the street from Spoon by H, which serves some of the city's best Korean food and is one of David Chang's favorite spots.)
I've visited every single one of these restaurants enough times to know the waiters and their owners by name. I've celebrated birthdays, made a Sunday ritual based around their cookies, taco-crawled between them, and cried because their curry was too spicy (lookin' at you Sapp Coffee Shop).
1. Sonoratown: The chivichangas at Sonoratown, a Northern Mexican restaurant based in DTLA, are some of the best things I've ever tasted, but earlier this week Jonah and I ordered the chicken, salsa, and tortillas from their take-away menu which we've been mixing and matching into dishes for the past three days! It was enough for two meals of tacos, then to turn the meat into our very favorite pasta last night. 10/10 will be doing again (and again).
2. Sapp Coffee Shop: When Jonah and I traveled to Thailand two years ago, Pad Thai was a revelation. What I'd known as dry noodles with crushed peanuts on top in the States revealed itself as an unbelievably flavorful dish, wrapped in a thin layer of egg. As soon as we got back from our trip, we set out for Thai noodles that were as delicious as the ones we'd eaten in Thailand and found them at Sapp Coffee Shop. Call the restaurant to order pick up—their full menu is available!
3. Proof Bakery: Proof makes my favorite chocolate chip cookie in the world, hands down, in addition to unbelievable baked goods, and they're still open for walk-in orders.
4. Meals by Genet: This Ethiopian gem is my favorite restaurant in L.A. and the waiters know Jonah and me well enough to have our order memorized—the vegetarian combination with tofu tibs and chicken dorowat, with two glasses of sickly sweet honey wine that cuts down the spice. We often order more than we can eat in one sitting because it also happens to make the best leftovers: Just sauté everything in a ton of butter until the injera crisps up, then make small pockets for eggs (as you would in a shakshuka), and cook over low until the whites are opaque, but the yolks are still runny. Perfection!
5. Kismet Rotisserie: An off-shoot of Kismet, the Rotisserie serves just (you guessed it) rotisserie chicken and sides. A few weeks ago, Jonah and I ordered a whole chicken with several sides that we were able to mix and match into additional dishes.
Food is one of my greatest sources of joy, and it breaks my heart that the restaurant industry is suffering throughout this already difficult time. Below are just a few of the spots that make living in Los Angeles so much sweeter, and I'll be supporting them as best I can.
1. Bub and Grandma's: My sister is one of the managers at the best bakery in the city, Bub and Grandma's. They supply the bread for countless restaurants, who, without their product, likely wouldn't be able to remain open. Beyond donating to their GoFundMe, I'm hitting up a few of the spots that and keeping up-to-date with where they're selling their loaves. Right now you can buy their loaves on Friday/Sundays at Belle's Bagels in Highland Park and on Tuesdays at Proof Bakery (plus, you might get a t-shirt thrown in). And since I have the inside scoop, they're also trying to sell pastries starting this weekend.
2. Little Fatty: Justin and I are, for the most part, trying to order takeout and delivery from local spots that serve a dish we'd be unlikely to try to make in our kitchen. Little Fatty, our favorite Taiwanese restaurant, has the tastiest walnut shrimp, crab fried rice, and General Tso cauliflower that we would never be able to emulate. We've already ordered from here once, and it lasted us for two meals each, so we'll absolutely be getting it again in the next few weeks.
3. Felix: Felix was the last restaurant Justin and I dined at before starting to shelter-in-place, as it's our favorite date night spot (it's also where we ate the night we got engaged!). They're providing pasta and cocktail kits, as well as a takeaway menu filled with some of their star items (the focaccia is life-changing).
4. Sidecar Doughnuts: Corona can take away my freedom, but it can't take away my ability to pick up and continue to eat the best doughnuts in California. I'm passionate about Sidecar Doughnuts, and their April flavors (Salted Malted Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Samoa, and Thin Mint) will be arriving at my house before the end of the weekend.
5. Roberta's: Roberta's was one of my favorite pizza spots in Brooklyn that happened to open their second outpost in Culver City a few months after we moved across the country (...coincidence? I THINK NOT). They're offering a Make-At-Home Pizza Kit for my favorite, the Bee Sting, so I'm sensing a pizza night in our near future. We may also be picking up a box of produce from Kong Family Farms tomorrow (it comes with a variety of veggies that can feed two people for 6-10 days!).
I wouldn't necessarily call myself a "foodie", but I absolutely love the experience of trying new and exciting foods or grabbing dinner with a friend and ordering the same dish for the 27th time. I can't imagine how different L.A. will be if 75% of our restaurants close (truly an insane number) and I plan on doing what I can to help the restaurants I want to still be there when we get through this!
1. Sweetfin Poke: If I could see a list of my “most frequently ordered from” restaurants on Postmates, my money’s on Sweetfin being right at the top. Poke bowls are one of my absolute favorite things to eat / order, and Sweetfin has never disappointed me. I usually make my own salmon bowl with seaweed salad, mango, cilantro, ginger, avocado, and BRB while I go place my order.
2. The Waterfront: I’ve been going to The Waterfront for years (before the remodel, when it was “On The Waterfront”) and it’s one of my favorite places to take Alexa, since she’s actually allowed inside the main dining area. I ordered from them the other day, and they took the time to write me a really thoughtful handwritten note, which made me love them even more. The delivery menu right now is limited, but I love the fish tacos and nachos.
3. DK's Donuts: Like Jess, I adore Sidecar Doughnuts (don’t even talk to me about the huckleberry donut right now, I’ll cry). Another Westside donut shop I love and desperately want to save is DK’s / Donut Princess, a 24-hour family owned business started by two Cambodian refugees in 1980. The birthday cake sprinkled donuts are only $2 (even less in-store) and the best I’ve ever had.
4. Din Tai Fung: I live about two miles from a Din Tai Fung, so it’s what I order when I need a meal so good I could cry. I get pork dumplings and the Shanghai rice cakes with pork (so hungry right now!!), but if we’re quarantined long enough, I may just take a little tour of their entire menu because WHY NOT.
5. Hasiba: Hasiba is home to hands down the best eggplant hummus I’ve ever had in my life, and it just happens to be walking distance from my house. They’ve already made the tough decision to temporarily close, and I’m gutted. I’m still mentioning them in the hopes that people will flock to this Kosher paradise when COVID-19 is over.
I am one of those LA residents who actually enjoys driving for an hour in traffic across town for a meal. Well, that is if I'm not running late. The rich diversity of this city is best appreciated, in my opinion, by way of taste. In the past few weeks, my family has adopted a "takeout Tuesday and Thursday," ritual to break up the effort of cooking and to support our favorite spots as much as possible during this tough time.
1. Sunnin: Whenever one of my best friends comes back to LA for the holidays, a lunch date at Sunnin is almost always the first thing on our agenda. Lebanese food is one of my absolutely favorites and eating the Sunnin falafel plate (or insane string bean and lamb stew special!) transports me back to my junior year abroad in Jerusalem, where I consumed copious amounts of hummus like it was my damn job.
2. Northern Thai Food Club: Remember when I mentioned my pre-quarantine quest to eat at all of the best Thai restaurants in East Hollywood? Well, this one was my absolute favorite. It is a tiny restaurant serving up some really sensational food. I always order Khao Soi Gai and an order of the Sai Oua (no question, the BEST sausage I have ever had in my life) for myself. Lucky for me, they are available on Postmates, but I usually make the effort to pick it up myself to ensure that they get maximum profit.
3. Lodge Bread Company: Lodge, one of my favorite bakeries and cafes on the Westside, has lately become a standby for anything from pizza dough to halva croissants. Can we all please take a moment to emphasize halva croissants?! Also... as a former Gjusta employee, I want to be sure to give a shout out to the awesome work done by the Gjelina restaurant group to continue supporting local farmers and suppliers during this time! While Gjusta is currently closed, I look forward to picking up delicious pantry staples, cookie dough, and locally-sourced produce again soon.
4. Reddi Chick: Reddi Chick isn't exactly a restaurant per se, but this Brentwood Country Mart standby is the true taste of my childhood. I make a point of picking up one of their rotisserie chickens at the beginning of the week to shred into salads, soups, sandwiches, and my mouth, but could write serious poetry about the chicken tender basket.
5. Kang Kang Food Court: Though Kang Kang, and my other Alhambra go-tos, are far from being considered my local eateries, this is a restaurant I am really rooting for right now. It has become one of my favorite spots for Taiwanese food, namely their famous 生煎包 (sheng-jian bao), and to practice my Chinese in LA. And while the restaurant business has been on sharp decline across the San Gabriel Valley due to xenophobia, it has some of the fewest reported cases of COVID-19 in the LA area!
We eat at home often, but when we do decide to order out, we like to support our friends! We have seen our friends open restaurants and bars, with a lot of success, so we saw them switch to an alternative such as exclusively takeout business, we knew we could support them in the easiest way possible. It also doesn't hurt that these places are legitimately good; pizza and elevated American food are really exactly what we need right now. I also like to continue to patronize places we frequented before the shutdown, as business from their regulars is essential to their survival.
1. Gracie's Pizza: A good friend owns this authentic NY style pizza place that offers whole pies or by-the-slice. They offer curbside pickup along with bottles or wine or a 6-pack of beer. Order the Grandma; pesto burrato, special sauce and garlic.
2. Maru Coffee: An excellent local coffee shop offering pickup, my go-to is their iced almond milk latte. Also, their standard iced drink is 16oz, which is a lot for your money!
3. Black Market Liquor Bar: One of our favorites, this restaurant is a "glimpse into the heart of eclectic American cuisine". They offer their full menu via delivery apps, but also offer take home items such as antipasti, uncooked pasta, and their homemade pasta sauces. Try the Fried Cauliflower and Smoked Trout on ciabatta.