I’m a food writer, which breaks down to two restaurant meals per day that are often driven by a pending assignment, or by an endless hunger for variety. That said, I occasionally get a spare meal, and when that happens, I gravitate toward a favorite spot that doesn’t require a two-hour round-trip drive. Learn about 10 of my regular haunts.
Numbers on the map correspond to listings below and appear in alphabetical order instead of order of preference.
6. Mush Bakery
I’ve frequented Middle Eastern bakeries for over a decade. My bakery of choice has shifted many times. Lately, I’ve settled on Mush Bakery from Serop Agadzhanyan. This tiny strip mall spot features a mural of women baking in a tonir, a well-like oven that drops into the ground. Mush’s flatbreads are indeed traditional, including lahmajun lined with ground beef and spices, sesame flavored tahini bread, and za’atar dusted maneishe. Boerek are available in several shapes with fillings like spinach, beef, spiced potato, and cheese. If you’ve got 40 minutes, order ajarakan, a ship-shaped flatbread topped with savory white cheese, two fresh-cracked eggs, black and Aleppo peppers.
7. Oh Ma Ni [CLOSED]
This side street operation from Koo Lee and daughter Eun Mi only houses five tables, but makes for the space’s diminutive stature with powerfully flavorful Korean comfort food. Chicken soup is fantastic, featuring irregularly shaped house-made noodles submerged in murky beef broth. House-stuffed soondae (blood sausage) is a culinary tour de force when stir-fried with gochujang, onions, sesame leaves and tender pork stomach. Mandoo are also fantastic when served bobbing in soup, particularly when filled with kimchi.
The Komenkul family opened one of L.A.’s first Thai restaurants back in the 70’s, and even with Thai Town popping up around them in the past 40 years, Rodded still stands out. Their stewed duck noodle soup is consistently great, especially when you order a bowl with “everything.” Don’t ask what that means. Just do it. Stewed pork leg with mint leaves, served over rice, is spicy and sticky in all the right ways. I’m also a fan of their fried daikon cakes and deep-fried bananas. If you see Danny, the owners’ son, ask him to suggest killer off-menu specials like pan-fried stewed beef with basil.
9. Sotto [CLOSED]
This subterranean southern Italian spot has never been better, which is pretty amazing consider the restaurant that’s been around for almost five years and lost super talented chef Zach Pollack, who left to open Alimento across town. I’d bet on Sotto’s Neapolitan-style pizza over any other pizza in the city, especially the version topped with guanciale and fennel pollen. House-made pastas, pork dishes, and cocktails are also strengths. I’m also a big believer in their blistered little gem salad, which is like a supercharged Caesar.
10. Taste of Tehran
Westwood Boulevard has so many Persian restaurants that people have started calling it Tehrangeles. Chef Saghar Fanisalek isn’t from Tehran – she’s from Shiraz – but her restaurant represents a modern take on the genre. You won’t find traditional art or belly dancers on weekends. Instead, the space is simple and clean, with white walls, wood furniture, and a small map of Tehran featuring pins from regulars who still feel a connection to the Old Country. The cooking is bright and flavorful, including juicy ground beef koobideh, Cornish game hens and butterflied trout. Every plate comes with saffron stained basmati rice and a salad with tangy, tantalizing dressing. Dips are also great, including kashk bademjan, an addictive roasted eggplant dip.
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