I've lived in L.A. for eight years (which I double-checked by counting on my fingers since it seemed way too long to be correct). In that time, I've eaten at countless restaurants and since I'm often asked for recommendations, I've decided to resurrect an old series. I've started with a list of favorites that I visit most often, which I divided into three areas (west, central, and east), and selected four restaurants from each. This doesn't come close to covering all of my go-to's, but here are twelve of my current standards.
Oscar's Cerveteca: Details: Latin American food with a low key atmosphere in the heart of Venice. It's small, so the coveted outdoor spots go fast. What to Order: Baja fish tacos, Mexican corn on the cob, ceviche, guacamole, and their house rosé.
Gjelina: Details: One of the few places where nearly everything on the menu is amazing. My favorite meal is their brunch - just make sure to show up before 10:30am to avoid a very long wait. What to Order: Gruyere pizza with caramelized onions, crispy truffled fingerling potatoes, kale salad, and always leave room for their butterscotch pot de cr?me (recipe here) - it's the best in the city.
The Tasting Kitchen: Details: A farm-to-table restaurant with complex dishes and a moody ambiance. What to Order: Any of their pasta dishes, cheese/charcuterie plates, and while they have fantastic cocktails, don't forget about their impressive wine list. Also, their chicken and waffles at brunch are worth a trip to Abbot Kinney, no matter where you're located.
Superba Snack Bar: Details: Beautiful, open air design with blankets conveniently placed next to each table on the patio. A casual spot that delivers big flavors in small dishes. What to Order: Smoked bucatini carbonara, cucumber noodles, fried chicken, short rib ravioli. Their S'mores in a jar is not only adorable, but it's also the only acceptable way to end the meal. CENTRAL
The Hart and The Hunter: Details: Located in the Palihotel, this small space serves Southern style dishes with a slight Mediterranean twist. Come on the earlier side for dinner, as their acoustics are rather loud. What to Order: Butter biscuits (life changing), chicken cracklins, smoked trout, kale salad, lemon ice box pie.
Sotto: Details: My official go-to spot. Sotto serves up Southern Italian-style dishes (and cocktails) that rotate with the seasons. A great place for meetings, romantic dinners, or to mingle with friends. What to Order: Grilled pork meatballs, little gem salad, casarecce, margherita pizza.
Son of a Gun: Details: From the same team behind Animal, this seafood-focused spot delivers unique versions of classic dishes. What to Order: Shrimp toast, fried chicken sandwich, curly kale caesar, smoked mahi fish dip, deconstructed key lime pie.
Hinoki and the Bird: Details: A hidden gem located in Century City with a sleek, minimal interior and small plates with an Asian influence. What to Order: Oysters with pear mignonette, lobster roll, black cod, pork belly. EAST
Bäco Mercat: Details: One of the more dynamic kitchens you'll find in LA, the "baco" is a signature flatbread sandwich, which comes in several versions. But the entire menu is worth the trek downtown. What to Order: The original baco, caesar brussel sprouts, hamachi crudo, pork belly soujouk, and any of their barrel-aged cocktails.
L&E Oyster Bar: Details: An oyster bar located in Silver Lake that has the relaxed feel of a beachside spot, but without the crowds. What to Order: Smoked mussels with chorizo toast, oysters (obviously), smoked trout salad, fries with aioli, clam chowder.
The Parish: Details: A twist on the English gastropub, with small dishes and a cozy space. What to Order: Deviled eggs, fried olives, shoestring fries, mussels, caramelized green beans.
Bottega Louie: Details: One of the more beautiful spaces in L.A., Bottega Louie does it all - with an expansive patisserie (their french macarons make excellent gifts), bar, and restaurant. I've only been for brunch, but the attentive service and food keeps me coming back, week after week. What to Order: New York egg sandwich, french toast, beignets, lemon ricotta pancakes, french 75