dineL.A. returns for the first time in 2017 from January 13-27, featuring over 300 options for lunch and dinner. American Express is also sponsoring a deluxe Exclusive Series of restaurants featuring special menus that start at $95. You’ve only got 30 meals to work with. Discover my recommendations for every slot, not including Hall of Fame choices like Craft, Fogo de Chao and Lawry’s The Prime Rib. Make your calendar count.
Numbered establishments on the map correspond to information below for easy reference. Establishments also appear in alphabetical order instead of in order of preference.
1. Aqui Es Texcoco ($20)
Francisco “Paco” Perez cranked up operations in the City of Commerce in 2014, roasting lamb barbacoa in the style of Texcoco, a city due east of Mexico City. The space, which resides amidst industrial parks, is warm and welcoming, and they don’t just serve lamb.
2. Avec Nous ($25)
Chef Olivier Quignon, previously with Bar Boulud, presides over this modern bistro inside Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills. The menu centers on French classics with updated twists.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Nicoise Salad • Certified Angus Steak Frites
3. Border Grill ($20
Longtime culinary stars Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger keep Border Grill rolling in L.A. and Las Vegas. dineL.A. is a key time for the duo to showcase recent innovations, Winter 2017 is no exception. Sadly, Santa Monica shuttered in 2016, but DTLA remains relevant.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Three Sisters Pozole Verde • Chile Relleno • Sweet Potato Flan
4. Café Pinot ($20)
The Patina Restaurant Group’s bistro next to DTLA’s Central Library once again serves good food thanks to Megan Logan, who rolled down Bunker Hill from sister spot Nick & Stef’s.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Cauliflower Soup • Duck Leg Confit
5. Chang’an Restaurant ($15)
Minda Zhang and her husband Nick both hail from Beijing, traveled the globe, and settled in L.A. In 2016, they opened Chang’an, a modern Chinese restaurant and bar with brick, grey, and wood color scheme on the third floor of San Gabriel’s Hilton Plaza.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Shou-si Chicken • Signature Hong-Shao-Rou • Brown Rice
6. Church & State ($25)
Yasminn Sarmadi and chef/partner Tony Esnault, who also run Spring downtown, have made sure that Church & State remains a vital bistro beneath the historic Biscuit Company Lofts.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Soupe de Courge et Châtaigne • Poulet Rôti • Brioche à la Canneberge
7. Citizen ($20)
Chef Scott Howard bridged the gap between Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge and Citizen in Beverly Hills. The more open space and flavorful small plates are now more compelling.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Chopped Salad • Citizen Burger
8. The Doughroom ($15)
Kaveh Karimi has consistently great craft beer in Palms and now hopes to have achieved culinary stability. The comfort food menu he’s assembled for dineL.A. seems promising.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Baby Sweet Garnet Yams • Rare Beef Sandwich
9. Fishing With Dynamite ($25)
Chef David LeFevre and the Simms family, who own M.B. Post and The Arthur J in Manhattan Beach, also run this airy seafood spot. LeFevre divides his menu into Old School, New School, and After School. All three categories pitch in for dineL.A.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Rockfish and Shrimp Ceviche • Grilled Rare Hawaiian Ono • Seasonal Pie
10. Hanjip ($20)
Chef Chris Oh and partners Stephane Bombet and Francois Renaud planted premium Korean food on the Westside. For dineL.A., they serve AYCE meat, seafood, and vegetables.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Beef Tongue • Spicy Chicken • Garlic Pork Belly • Soy Calamari • Baby Octopus
11. Little Sister ($25)
This Blackhouse Hospitality Group restaurant from Jed Sanford and chef Tin Vuong, who have dotted SoCal with spots like Suburbia and Wildcraft, brings bold Southeast Asian flavors.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Vietnamese Drip Coffee • Bo La Lot Betel Leaf Wrapped & Grilled Beef • Pan Fried E-Fu Noodle
12. Local Kitchen & Wine Bar ($25)
Maire Byrne built on the Ocean Park success of Thyme Café & Market with this airy restaurant. The seasonal menu from Chef Stephen Murray packs plenty of comfort.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Burrata • Lamb Meatball Sandwich • Butterscotch Budino
13. Maccheroni Republic ($15)
Pasta is the specialty at Maccheroni Republic, a charming trattoria from longtime Los Angeles restaurateurs Antonio Tommasi and Jean-Louis de Mori across from Grand Central Market.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Insalata Tricolore Della Salute • Bigoli Della Nonna
14. Plan Check Kitchen + Bar ($15)
The Santa Monica outpost of Terry Heller’s progressive comfort food emporiums resides just a block from the beach. dineL.A. brings out special dishes from Plan Check at all four locations.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Spicy Crab & Crisp Shallot Deviled Egg • Carnitas Fries • Patty Melt
15. Rose Café ($25)
Chef Jason Neroni flexes continues to flex his creative muscles at the Rose, a revival that quickly became a juggernaut by Venice Beach. He’s especially strong with Italian dishes.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Straciatella of Burrata • Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe