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. Alimento ($39)
Chef-owner Zach Pollack already had a good thing going in Silver Lake with Alimento, his freewheeling northern Italian restaurant. Now he’s gearing up to open Cosa Buona in Echo Park, but he’s making sure the original restaurant stays compelling during dineL.A.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Baccala Dip • Beef Tonnato • Calabrian Lamb Shoulder
2. AR Cucina ($39)
Chef Akasha Richmond and partner Alan Schulman replaced SĀMBĀR with AR Cucina, an Italian comfort food restaurant in downtown Culver City.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Spaghetto Cacio e Pepe • Anatra (Duck) Al Forno • Lemoncello Tiramisu
3. The Bellwether ($29)
Chef Ted Hopson and Ann-Marie Verdi have turned their new Sherman Oaks restaurant into a seasonal dining destination. This is California comfort food that isn’t just good for the Valley.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Tempura Cauliflower • Olive Oil Poached Black Cod • Grilled Skirt Steak
4. Café Birdie ($39)
Wade McElroy and Russell Malixi follow up on the success of Horse Thief BBQ with Cafe Birdie, a fashionable Highland Park restaurant with seasonal salads, pastas, and desserts.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Citrus Salad • Moroccan Fried Chicken • Mascarpone Cheesecake
5. Charcoal ($49)
Melisse is still going strong after nearly two decades, and chef-owner Josiah Citrin now has a new challenge with Charcoal, a more casual restaurant where many dishes benefit from wood smoke. Charcoal delivers a wide variety of dishes to diners during dineL.A. and leaves dessert to another master: McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Cabbage Baked in the Embers • Smoky Grilled Chicken Wings • Crudo, Kissed by the Coals • Arugula and Radicchio Salad • Prime Hanger Steak • Boneless Jidori Chicken Salsa Verde • Coal Roasted Carrots • McConnell’s Ice Cream Trio
6. E.P. & L.P. ($29)
Chef Louis Tikaram channels his Fijian, Chinese, and Indian influences to make sure that E.P. & L.P., a West Hollywood hot spot, delivers more than just a scene.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Sticky Spare Ribs • Lou Dogg’s Crispy Skin Chicken • Chengdu Churros
7. Erven ($29)
Nick Erven, best known for his work with Saint Martha, joined Eric Greenspan, Jim Hustead and James Moon in Santa Monica, replacing Real Food Daily. His plant-based fare isn’t as aggressive as the painting of Mick Jagger making out with Mahatma Gandhi, but it’s close.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Savory Donut Holes • Spaghetti with baby shiitake mushrooms, brassicas and yeast broth • Chocolate Cookie and Frozen cinnamon custard “sandwich” • Sangria
8. The Hart & The Hunter ($39)
Chef Kris Tominaga returned to his previous post at The Hart & The Hunter, a Southern-influenced restaurant inside trendy Palihotel, and built on previously flavorful efforts.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Biscuits & Condiments • Smoked Trout • Bavette Steak • Collard Greens • Lemon Ice Box Pie
9. M.B. Post ($39)
David LeFevre and the Simms brothers started their culinary march through Manhattan Beach at this former post office. Share-friendly plates (and glasses) tend to pile up on tables thanks to consistent creativity and global influences.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Shrimp Arrabbiata • White Oak Grilled Skirt Steak • Potato Crusted Trout • Porchetta
10. Michael’s on Naples ($49)
Chef Eric Samaniego last cooked at Little Sparrow in Santa Ana and can now be found in Long Beach’s Belmont Shore at the first concept from restaurateur Michael Dene.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Radiatore • Coda di Rospo • Cachi Crostada
11. OTUS Thai Kitchen & Coffee ($29)
This next level revamp of the family’s Kinaree Thai Bistro has a more modern, welcoming vibe. The food leans more street than Kinaree, in a good way. Bonus: OTUS features a full Intelligentsia coffee program.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Matcha Calamari • Ms. Dang Crispy Rice on Fire • Spicy Baby Clams • Cappuccino
12. Redbird ($29)
Chef Neal Fraser and Amy Knoll Fraser have created a grand dining experience in the former Vibiana Cathedral rectory. The structure dates to 1933, but the food is modern and seasonal.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Sautéed Skate • Veal Short Ribs • Brownie Sundae
13. Same Same ($29)
Rambutan Thai owners Katy Noochlaor and Annie Daniel teamed with Angus McShane, Holly Zack and Adam Weisblatt of Last Word Hospitality on a traditional Thai restaurant in a modern Silver Lake strip mall setting.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Thai Dim Sum • Shredded Green Papaya Salad • Khao Soi • Mango Sticky Rice • Beer
14. Simbal ($39)
Chef Shawn Pham and family are showcasing Southeast Asian flavors in this tucked away Little Tokyo gem. Simbal dialed in the food over the first year and now qualifies as a destination.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): King Trumpet Mushroom Salad • Pork Ribs • Pan Roasted Scottish Salmon • Coconut Flan
15. Sotto ($39)
Steve Samson is holding down the kitchen at the subterranean southern Italian restaurant he co-founded with Zach Pollack. Samson and his veteran crew source impeccable product and utilize a deluxe wood-burning oven, which doesn’t just come in handy for pizza.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Gougere • Crispy Lamb Belly • Porchetta • Crema di espresso all’uovo