Beverly Hills/Hollywood, CA
As much as I personally avoid going to Los Angeles as much as possible, there's no denying that it's a city full of incredible restaurants that keep me coming back over and over again. After many attempts at some of the best rated restaurants in the region, I've put together a brief, but powerful list of the spots that I crave the most.
B Sweet Dessert Bar
If you are in the mood for rich and ooey gooey desserts that are so good they could only possibly be homemade, make your way to B Sweet Dessert Bar. If you can possibly resist the temptations of warm bread pudding, fudgy brownies, icing covered cinnamon rolls and salted caramel cookie bars, then you are a better person than I am!
Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle
There are many ramen houses in LA, but Tsujita LA is the best, with super thick noodles and creamy pork broth served separately for optimal enjoyment, it's the best bowl you'll find and extremely affordable. It's cash only and you'll want to get there early if you want a chance of getting one of the coveted spots, but the line moves fast as patrons devour their dishes super fast, in true LA fashion.
In a city inundated with outrageous decor and underwhelming flavors, Ink is a much needed reprieve in the LA food scene and a must visit for anyone within a two hour radius. If you're a fan of Top Chef, you'll know that Ink is the home of not one, but two Top Chef stars - Owner and Executive Chef Michael Voltaggio who won season six and previous Sous Chef Mei Lin who won season twelve. Even though Chef Lin has moved on to work on her own restaurant, these two chefs were serious dynamite in the kitchen and created some of the most intricate and innovative dishes I've ever had.
Don't be fooled by the dim lighting and the absence of color in the decor, there is nothing boring or simple about this modern American eatery. The menu is made up of dishes to share, all served in mid-sized portions - you won't be leaving hungry. Between two people, I suggest ordering 3-4 smaller dishes to share, 1-2 main meat dishes and 2 desserts because they are damn good. Every dish was packed with flavor, creatively plated and made me wonder why food isn't this amazing all the time - what have I been doing with my life?!? My must order recommendations include the following:
- Beef Tartare - the beef is so delicate and melts in your mouth like butter. It's not over thought - the quality ingredients shine and make for a great start to the meal.
- Egg Yolk Gnocchi - sitting in a shallow pool of brown butter sauce, you'll find pillows of doughy potato pasta that have a hidden secret - when you bite down, a burst of gooey egg yolk emerges from the center.
- Salt and Charcoal Potatoes - these are the most loved potatoes ever created. They sit for some ridiculous amount of hours brining in a bath of squid ink and salt water, then are dried and dusted with salt crystals - looking just like shimmery lumps of coal. To top it off, it is served with homemade sour cream and a spray bottle of black vinegar to add as desired. My mouth is watering just writing this.
- Desserts: Mountain Yam and/or Apple - I tried to pick between the two and I just couldn't. Combine molecular gastronomy with familiar flavors and a twist of genius and you've got these blow your mind, delicious works of art. They were so good, we seriously discussed for a full ten minutes ordering one more because we couldn't get enough.
At the highest end of my list of favorite LA eateries is Providence. This 2 Michelin Star, award winning restaurant, elevates seafood to a completely new level, challenging your pallet to new heights. While I've traveled the world, eating at some of the best restaurants available today, Providence continues to be at the top of my list with dishes that have a lasting impression. To enjoy the true experience of dining at such an exquisite restaurant, you'll want to commit to one of the tasting menus, which will ultimately end up being about a 3-4 hour dinner. Every detail, from the presentation of the butter to the delicacy of the ingredients, will leave you wanting more. The dishes are equally beautiful as they are delicious, intricately plated to invoke every one of your senses. Dining at Providence is a true culinary experience and one not to be missed if you find yourself in Los Angeles.
A few spots I personally would not go back to
While I am not in the business of writing negative reviews, I think it's important to mention the following restaurants that I was not impressed by. Since the long list of restaurants is difficult to narrow down, this may help you eliminate a few spots off of your list. If you'd like more details as to why I did not enjoy my experience, feel free to contact me directly and I'd be happy to share my opinion.
This is a beverly hills hot spot, well known for their garden patio seating and celebrity sightings. I ate alone for lunch one afternoon, ordering a lemonade, appetizer, the lobster ravioli and sorbet - costing just over $100! This wouldn't have been all that frustrating if the food had been incredible, but it was completely underwhelming.
I'm a huge fan of Craft owner Tom Colicchio, who also owns one of my favorite New York restaurants - Colicchio and Sons. Based on my previous dining experiences at his establishments, I expected Craft to be a no brainer. Unfortunately, it failed in comparison. Food was heavy handed and uninspired, overpriced and service was subpar. Craft lacks the quality and care that I've seen before and despite my best efforts to order the most exciting dishes on the menu, it left me disappointed overall.
The Bazaar by Jose Andres
This is one of those restaurants that gets photographed and featured all over magazines for being creative and whimsical, but for me I left feeling like it was overly gimmicky. The menu is full of cheeky titled tapas that are more like bites than appetizer portioned and the restaurant is over the top in every aspect. It feels like there were too many ideas thrown into one place, lacking refinement and restraint. Flashy decor and various large dining rooms, all distract from the food, which has its moments of brilliance, but overall lacks luster. For the dessert course, guests are moved to a separate dessert dining room, which seems forced if you ask me. I would probably come back for dessert alone, but that's about it.