dineL.A. continues celebrating their 10th anniversary from July 13–27, featuring over 400 lunch and dinner options for the Summer 2018 event. American Express again sponsors an Exclusive Series with restaurants offering deluxe menus starting at $95. Read my recommendations for 8 lunches and all 15 dinners, not including Hall of Fame choices like Craft, Fogo de Chao and Lawry’s The Prime Rib that are still vital. You’ve only got 30 possible meals. Make your calendar count.
Numbers on the map correspond to listings below and appear in alphabetical order instead of order of preference.
The colorful retro restaurant at The Standard in DTLA has been off my radar for awhile, but their high-value dineL.A. lunch menu caught my attention. All three salads sound tantalizing, though I’d give the slight edge to charred snap peas with pea tendrils, confit shallot, garlic, ginger, mint, and lemon. All three entrées are read strong, particularly wood-smoked lamb T-bones with parsnip puree, fiddlehead ferns, confit spring onions, morel mushrooms, summer corn, and pickled ramps.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Charred Snap Peas • Wood Smoked Lamb T-Bones
2. 2nd Floor Restaurant Bar & Grill ($20)
2nd Floor Restaurant Bar & Grill is another example of Koreatown’s increased culinary diversification. Upstairs in a K-Town strip mall, the kitchen typically turns out reasonably priced Italian food, and takes the value up a notch for dineL.A. For their four-course lunch menu. I’d recommend classics (some from Italy, others better known in North America) like Caesar salad, pappardelle Bolognese, and chicken Parmesan. Dessert brings polenta pudding, a cornmeal cake with Meyer lemon curd and whipped cream.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Caesar Salad • Pappardelle Bolognese • Chicken Parmesan • Polenta Pudding
3. Lao Tao Taiwanese Street Food ($15)
Upstairs at Chinatown’s Far East Plaza, David Wang named his Taiwanese restaurant for a mythical creature with an enormous appetite. His multifaceted dineL.A. lunch combos will probably satisfy most ravenous beasts. I’d suggest Lao Tao’s sweet Taiwanese sausage bowl paired with sunny-side-up egg, popcorn fried chicken, and a cup of signature iced tea.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Sausage Party with Rice + Popcorn Chicken + Iced Tea
4. Running Goose ($15)
Owner Armen Hakobyan hired Chef Antonio Luna to preside over The Running Goose, a seasonal restaurant in the heart of Hollywood. The restaurant’s shaded patio and on-site herb garden helps fuel share-friendly plates at dinner, and more sandwiches and salads at lunch.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Kale • Salmon Belly Sandwich
5. The Tower Bar ($25)
Indulge in some serious comfort food with a side of history at The Sunset Tower Hotel, an Art Deco institution that dates to 1929. Angelenos are starting to rumble about a Sunset Strip revival, though places like The Tower bar show the street wasn’t completely bereft of existing culinary merit.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Spicy Tomato Burrata Pizza • Tower Burger
6. Spice Affair ($20)
Dr. Puneet Chandak and wife Sonia Batra created L.A.’s fanciest Indian restaurant by opening Spice Affair on La Cienega’s Restaurant Row in 2014. Despite flashy design flourishes, the food is pretty classic, often incorporating higher end ingredients and refined presentation.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Coco-li-flower • Northie Lamb Bliss • Mango Mousse
7. Uovo ($15)
Rome native Lele Massimini, brother Carlo, Lowell Sharon, and Jerry Greenberg teamed on this contemporary Italian counter that serves classic pastas near Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade. The partners produce pasta in Bologna using vivid Italian eggs, resulting in dishes like tagliatelle al ragú made using a classic Bolognese recipe. The one-two punch from Uovo’s dineL.A. lunch menu also includes roasted artichokes.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Tagliatelle al Ragú • Cavolfiori al Forno
8. Winsome ($20)
Marc Rose and Med Abrous are better known for their destination Hollywood bar, The Spare Room. The long-time partners created an all-day hit with Winsome, a nouveau diner with a relaxing patio at the base of The Elysian condo tower in Echo Park. The menu’s concha egg sandwich may be an Instagrammer’s dream, but give me pork Milanese any day. In this case, the pounded pig comes with fried egg, shaved fennel & asparagus salad, and grilled lemon. Summery chia seed pudding with peaches and cream may not be a natural pairing, but still sounds good.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Peaches & Crème Chia Pudding • Pork Milanese