dineL.A. Restaurant Week returns for the second time in 2016 from July 18 – 31, featuring over 300 options for lunch and dinner. American Express is also sponsoring an Exclusive Series of restaurants featuring special menus that start at $95. You’ve only got 28 meals to work with. Here are my recommendations for every slot. 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 ($15)
Francisco “Paco” Perez expanded operations from Chula Vista to the City of Commerce, 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.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Chicharron de Queso • 3 Grilled Quail • Agua Fresca
2. Belcampo Meat Co. ($20)
Santa Monica is the most ambitious L.A. outpost of Belcampo Meat Co., Anya Fernald and Todd Robinson’s vertically integrated meat company. This butcher shop, restaurant, and bar makes the most of their meat, as their dineL.A. Restaurant Week menu shows.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): French Dip Éclair with bone broth jus • Belcampo Steak Frites
3. Border Grill (Santa Monica) ($20)
Longtime culinary stars Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger keep Border Grill relevant in L.A. and Las Vegas. Restaurant Week is a key time for them to showcase recent innovations, Summer 2016 is no exception, and Santa Monica’s menu is more compelling than DTLA.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Pulpo Al Pastor • Pork Cheek in California Avocado Mole
4. Bouchon ($25)
Thomas Keller is a champion for French cuisine (and consistency) and has achieved both aims at the Beverly Hills bistro branch of his Yountville original. Chef de cuisine David Hands is one of five chefs entrusted with creating California avocado dishes during dineL.A. Restaurant Week, and those menu descriptions are enticing, along with non-avocado dishes.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Remoulade d’Avocat et Petits Pois • Confit de Canard • Crème Glacee a l’Avocat
5. The Dal Rae ($25)
Brothers Kevin and Lorin Smith own this retro Pico Rivera institution, named for famed racehorse Sir Dal Rae. The food is decidedly old school and frequently comes with tableside service. Their pepper steak is an L.A. classic. At lunch, their “poor man’s” version of said steak is still powerfully flavorful, featuring ground sirloin.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Mushrooms Stuffed with Lump Crab • Poor Mans Pepper Steak
6. 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. Restaurant Week.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Rockfish and Shrimp Ceviche • Softshell Maryland Blue Crab • Key Lime Pie
7. Hanjip Korean BBQ ($15)
Chef Chris Oh and partners Stephane Bombet and Francois Renaud have figured out how to plant premium Korean food on the Westside. Really though, you won’t find Korean dishes like this in K-Town. Yes, that’s bone marrow served atop corn cheese and foie gras butter on sizzling steak. For Restaurant Week, they serve AYCE meat, which is simple and good.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): All You Can Eat Brisket • Bulgogi • Pork Belly • Marinated Pork Belly
8. The Pikey ($20)
Longtime hospitality professionals Jared Meisler and Sean MacPherson helped to revive a rough stretch of Sunset Boulevard with The Pikey, a modern pub. East London native Ralph Johnson riffs on British comfort food classics, but brings seasonal California flair.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Roasted Beets • Char-Grilled Beef Burger
9. Pizzeria Mozza ($20)
Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich make their Restaurant Week debut at the Mozza compound’s most casual outpost. The lunch deal at the pizzeria is almost too good to be true, with pizzas alone normally exceeding the dineL.A. price of admission.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Chicken Liver Bruschetta • Bacon, Salame, Fennel Sausage, Guanciale, Tomato & Mozzarella Pizza
10. Pok Pok LA ($20)
Chef Andy Ricker completed his Chinatown duo with the opening of his fiery, full-scale restaurant in Mandarin Plaza. Pok Pok is ostensibly Thai, but some of his most famous dishes have Vietnamese inspirations. Either way, you’re in good hands.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Khao Phot Ping • Midnight Special “Kai Thawt Thian Kheun” • Khao Niaw Mamuang
11. Redbird ($25)
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): Maine Scallop Aguachile • Grilled Half Chicken • Arroz con Leche
12. Running Goose ($15)
Owner Armen Hakobyan hired Chef Antonio Luna to preside over this seasonal restaurant in the heart of Hollywood. The space features a shaded patio and on-site herb garden, which contributes to share-friendly plates at dinner, and more sandwiches and salads at lunch.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Papaya • Salmon Belly
13. Spice Affair ($15)
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 often classic, just with higher end ingredients and refined presentation.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Goat Cheese and Asparagus Tikki • Lamb Bliss • Mango Mousse
14. Vincenti Ristorante ($25)
Brentwood’s San Vicente Boulevard has become a hotbed for Italian restaurants, but the restaurant that Maureen Vincenti and Chef Nicola Mastronardi have steered since 1997 still stands out in the crowded field thanks to the level of their food.
Must Order Dishes (aka what I’d order): Crispy Soft Shell Crab • House Made Tagliolini with Manila Clams and Zucchini