Korean cuisine is only getting bigger in America, and LA is one of its headquarters. The city’s sprawling Koreatown has everything from braised short rib stews and crackling rice cooked in stone bowls to 4 a.m. platters of fatty barbecue after all-night karaoke, and it all rarely disappoints.
But all those options can get a little dizzying, especially when dozens of restaurants often compete to make the same dish. But there’s always a winner in battles like this, and the difference tends to come down to quality. The trick to navigating Koreatown? Know that no one restaurant does everything well.
Jason Eisner likes to pour big — and often. The Gracias Madre bar manager pushes out north of 1,000 margaritas a night sometimes, and is always ready to put on a show for waiting customers. Not that anyone waits long at the all-organic bar. Eisner’s batch cocktail program is among the most progressive in the city, ensuring that quick drinks can make their way to thirsty customers out on that beautiful patio.
Still, there’s a lot of craft that goes into Eisner’s work. From rigorous staff training to teaching the inevitable crowds about the beauty of mescal, he’s always doing something.
Los Angeles is a city that has run on steak for decades. From Beverly Hills business lunches to thick late night slabs of prime rib, grilled meat has been a prime motivator for the L.A. restaurant scene for the better part of a century. And thankfully, many of the city’s great old school steakhouses are still standing. From Torrance dive bars that double as prime rib joints to Glendale tiki spots, this is a special The Five Days of Meat edition of are ten of the city’s best long-in-the tooth steak joints.
Tacos are the heartbeat of Los Angeles’ culinary scene. Upscale chefs sling braised meats and fresh tortillas alongside uni and imported mezcal, while daily loncheros keep the city fed with $1 late-night tacos from the same trusty location. From hand-patted tortillas to all manner of ingredients — stews, moles, seafood, slow-cooked pork and plenty of carnitas — there are endless iterations of possible taco greatness. Here, in no particular order, are twenty tacos to try before you die in LA.
Attention, archeologists of the future: If you find yourself sorting through the rubble of post-America, trying to figure out what led to our downfall, here’s a tip — check Burbank.
While not exactly a cultural touchpoint on its own, Burbank has of late become ground zero for a very particular sort of warfare: the box versus the bowl. And it’s exactly this high-level, shape-specific fighting that’s going to tear this society apart at the seams. Or, at the very least, make choosing a quick service midweek lunch option that much harder.
Even to locals, the transformation of Downtown Los Angeles is hard to believe. Less than a decade ago, there were really two Downtowns: the high rises and upscale lunch spots of the Financial District and… everything else. Cheap eats ruled the day, taco carts crawled the late night streets, and the occasional ramen joint or yakitori spot could be found among the warehouses and shuttered storefronts. But for the most part Downtown was dead.
These days, revitalization is so rampant that it’s hard to recognize the same boulevards that used to be near-empty ten years ago. Young, urban crowds flock to bars, restaurants, art galleries and entertainment venues nightly, and it’s no longer a surprise to see someone on the streets at all hours of the night. Of course, with the influx of people and money comes competition, and Downtown is quickly becoming one of the most contested core neighborhoods for food and drink in this otherwise decentralized city.
It’s easy to get excited about brunch when Jason Travi is involved. Though most often found at the newish Superba Food & Bread these days, Travi’s Hollywood introduction into the weekend late-morning eating scene initially came by way of Littlefork, his neighborhood hearty eating outpost just south of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Saturdays and Sundays on the patio at Littlefork are a meaty affair, though of the briny oyster, Monteal-style brisket and eggs (lots of eggs) variety, rather than bacon and tough links of breakfast sausage.
We’ve traveled far from the days of the effortlessly hip spokespenguin who graced the frosty covers of everyone’s frozen Kid Cuisine dinners. Farmers markets abound with fresh produce, the locavore movement has the whole neighborhood raising chickens and foraging for herbs, and anyone caught eating a stone fruit out of season gets impaled on a reclaimed wooden stake in front of the West Hollywood Whole Foods.
That’s all really great for the food chain and our bodies and the environment. But sometimes, all you want is a cool penguin person to tell you what you should be eating, and why. Bonus points if they’ll deliver said foodstuff right to your door, and if it’s still got all that healthy-local-small-batch-organic stuff going on, too. That’s, more or less, the notion behind The Fare Trade.
You’ve probably seen it by now: a chef meticulously preparing tiny burritos for a tiny hamster’s perfect dining experience. The video, which is set to classical music and runs less than 90 seconds, was uploaded to YouTube recently and has since racked up more than 6.5 million views and Twitter endorsements from the likes of Jimmy Kimmel and Katy Perry. While the burrito-eating hamster has become something of an Internet celebrity, so too has its masterful “chef,” who isn’t actually a chef at all.
That enviable burrito maker is Farley Elliott, a comedy and food writer who regularly writes for this blog. You may know him as our resident strip mall rat, who’s been known to travel as far and wide as Reseda, Compton and Diamond Bar to explore L.A.’s fiercest strip mall pupuserias, carnicerias, Indian bistros, boba cafes and late night sushi bars.
We reached out to Elliott via email to ask about how he became the Internet’s most celebrated hamster chef, and he set the record straight on the questions you’ve all been asking in the Youtube comments: No, he’s not a chef. Yes, he worked with a hamster trainer to make sure the hamsters (there were several) were all well fed, and no, he will not cater your next dollhouse party – so don’t even ask.