There are many factors to consider in choosing a Los Angeles Times Restaurant of the Year. An ideal candidate has delicious food – that’s a given – but also a sense of purpose, a place within its community, and the ability to drive the conversation forward, not just in Los Angeles but around the world. Its chefs should honor diversity, but not at the expense of focus; health, but not at the expense of flavor; and sustainability, but not at the expense of complexity. It should feel like L.A.
One might not expect the first Restaurant of the Year award to be won by a burger stand, but the choice was inevitable – no restaurant in years may have made more of a difference than Locol, Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson’s skater-themed fast-food spot in Watts.
Choi is known as the godfather of the food-truck movement, a chef who used skills honed in haute-cuisine kitchens to create a brand of cooking irresistible enough to draw huge crowds to parking lots in the middle of the night. Patterson won two Michelin stars for his abstracted vegetable-intensive cooking at San Francisco’s Coi.