When it comes to food culture, Los Angeles can be tough to define.
New Orleans has Creole. Kansas City has barbecue. Charleston has Lowcountry. But there’s really no easy shorthand for Los Angeles cuisine.
It’s a great place to eat, of course, with its ocean-side location making it an easy access point for fresh ingredients. And as a major international cultural center – including high Korean, Mexican, and Pacific Island populations – some of the world’s greatest chefs call Los Angeles home.
In this year’s ranking of the 101 Best Restaurants in America, we surveyed hundreds of the nation’s leading culinary authorities, and 10 Los Angeles restaurants made it into our final ranking. Here are the top five best restaurants in Los Angeles.
#5 Hinoki and the Bird
It’s not easy to open an immensely successful restaurant from scratch in Los Angeles, but that’s exactly what chefs David Myers and Kuniko Yagi did when they opened this Century City hotspot in January 2013. The Silk Road-inspired restaurant is not only a great place to sip a craft cocktail and nosh on snacks like fried oysters and chili crab toast, it’s a treat for all your senses. Myers (who rose to fame with Comme Ça and the Michelin-starred Sona) traveled Japan extensively before opening the restaurant where he fused the finest attributes of Japanese dining (the room is scented with hinoki, a Japanese cedar, and the patio resembles a Japanese garden) with the most fun aspects of American dining. Several of the dishes, including the hinoki-scented black cod with sweet potato and pistachio, coconut-curried mussels with sausage and cauliflower, and lobster roll with green curry and Thai basil, are already signature menu items.
Chef Suzanne Goin was nominated for the James Beard Outstanding Chef of the Year Award every year from 2008 to 2013 for her first endeavor, Lucques, which opened in 1998 and remains as good as ever. The restaurant shines with a warm dining room, an enchanting patio, and a menu of bright, full-flavored food like beluga lentil salad with avocado, shaved beets, watercress, cumin and garlic labneh; pork scaloppini with sweet potato, dandelion, crushed pepitas, dates, and mascarpone; and other dishes based on raw materials from sources "guided by principles of sustainability."
#3 Osteria Mozza
Nancy Silverton, whose La Brea Bakery changed the game for artisanal bread in America, teams up here with New York-based Italian-food moguls Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich in this lively urban restaurant, complete with a mozzarella bar, unusual pasta (calf’s brain ravioli, spaghetti with marinated white anchovies), and main dishes ranging from grilled quail wrapped in pancetta to duck al mattone.
Under the direction of the ceaselessly inventive José Andrés, The Bazaar takes visitors on a wild culinary adventure, presenting old-world delicacies in a bold new way. Spanish food, either traditional or avant-garde, has no more fervent and eloquent champion in America than Andrés, proprietor of this multi-part restaurant and culinary theme park. Whether you choose the tasting menu at the semi-hidden SAAM, Ottoman carrot fritters or sea urchin and avocado steamed buns at Bar Centro, or the best jamón Ibérico in America at Rojo y Blanca — or, best of all, a combination of the traditional and the completely mad that is easily achieved here — you’ll have a memorable, one-of-a-kind experience.
At this ultimate haven for adventurous carnivores, chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo have won a host of awards for their hearty, straightforward, and innovative cooking. Dishes like crispy pig head with short-grain rice, bulldog sauce, and soy egg; marrow bone with chimichurri and caramelized onions; and crispy sweetbreads with black sriracha and finger lime keep chefs and civilians alike coming back for more. Animal may be small, loud, and perpetually crowded, but it sets the standard for uncompromising all-American (which of course means multi-accented) straightforward cooking in the 2010s.