Los Angeles is an unusual city, in that it’s less one large city and more the collection of 88 smaller ones stitched together to make up LA County. If you think LA is a sprawling mess without a core, you’d be pretty much right. This was exacerbated by not having much of a downtown to speak of. But the latter half of this decade has seen that change dramatically—DTLA’s current building boom is larger than any it has experienced in the last century, bringing hotels, businesses, residential towers, and, yes, great restaurants.
In a city where there’s no dearth of amazing Mexican food, it can be difficult to stand out. Why spend more when you can go to a great taco truck and get something pretty great? Chef Ray Garcia’s Broken Spanish is the perfect rebuttal. He takes a lifetime of growing up in Los Angeles, then combines it with training in some great kitchens and a keen eye for shopping Southern California farmer’s markets to create an extraordinary take on modern Mexican cuisine.
At Broken Spanish, you’re not going to get GMO tortillas, but rather a heritage corn version that you can slather with whipped carnitas fat. Instead of the tamale you’re used to, there’s one filled with tender lamb neck and sprinkled with Oaxacan cheese. And these aren’t just cheese enchiladas, but they’re stuffed with duck confit. It’s a beautiful testament to how rich, dynamic, and creative Mexican food can be. Besides: At the taco truck, you can’t get mezcal cocktails.
When chef Steve Samson opened Sotto in Los Angeles, he knew he was breaking his mother’s heart. The restaurant’s menu, all the way down to the wine, was devoted to the cuisine of Southern Italy, eschewing the traditions of his Northern Italian mother. But at his newest restaurant, Rossoblu, he’s brought the dishes of her native Bologna to Downtown L.A. Inside what used to be the city’s oldest produce market, Samson serves exceptional pasta dishes like Nonna’s Tagliatele al Ragu Bolognese, where he coats ribbons of fresh, house-made pasta with a sauce of beef and pork. Pair that with a board of excellent salumi, Santa Barbara spot prawns grilled over an open flame, and a glass of Lambrusco and you’d be convinced a meal this delicious would get him back in his mother’s good graces.
Known for his two-Michelin-star Providence and his affinity for seafood, chef Michael Cimarusti‘s newest restaurant strips away the trappings of fine dining for a homier affair. At Best Girl in Downtown L.A.’s Ace Hotel, he—along with his wife and chef, Crisi Echiverri—pays homage to his adopted city. The menu draws from the myriad cultures that converge in Southern California, from Mexican to Italian to Japanese and more. Start with the crudo with avocado, aonori, and jalapeno, and the chickpea socca. And you can’t really go wrong on any of the mains, the jidori chicken is perfectly seasoned and the burger has a rich umami flavor that makes it sneakily one of the better ones in this burger-obsessed town.
As for the name, it’s also a nod to Tinseltown. Located next to the original United Artists Theatre, the restaurant needed a name, so the team dug into the theater’s history. “On October 31, 1927, the first film that was shown there was Mary Pickford’s My Best Girl,” Cimarusti says. “The more we all talked about it, the more we all liked it, and we went with Best Girl. So 90 years later, to the day, the restaurant Best Girl debuted here at the Ace.”
Combining their Indian roots with a Canadian upbringing and some French culinary techniques, the brothers Mahendro—Nakul and Arjun—led by their chef father Pawan, have created Badmaash, an Indian gastropub that both embraces and subverts tradition. You can get excellent versions of classics like samosas, butter chicken, and chicken tikka masala, but they also want to show off the diversity of flavors from the Indian subcontinent and their own food preferences.
Their fish moilee expresses the more delicate flavors you can get in the southern coastal state of Kerala. And dishes like their fried chicken sandwich with paprika masala and their chicken tikka poutine shows their fun twist on Indian spices—as well as their Canadian upbringing.
SOURCE: (ROBB REPORT)