dineL.A. Restaurant Week returns for Winter 2015 from January 19-February 1 with 360+ options. This time, dineLA encouraged participating restaurants to create an exclusive dish. You’ve only got 28 meals. Make your calendar count.
Establishments appear in alphabetical order instead of in order of preference.
1. Aqui es Texcoco ($15)
SUMMARY: Second generation restaurateur Francisco “Paco” Perez recently 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, with communal seating, rarely seen pulque, and massive lamb meals that come complete with consommé, tortillas and fixins.
STANDOUT DISHES (aka, what I’d order): Chicharron de Queso • Plato de Barbacoa • Agua Fresca
2. Chinois on Main ($25)
SUMMARY: Wolfgang Puck has featured Asian fusion cuisine in Santa Monica since 1983, and some dishes are still quite relevant. His Chinese chicken salad remains one of the city’s best, and Szechuan flavors, which are suddenly in vogue, continue to star in his classic grilled beef dish. Chinois is on the high end of the price spectrum, but lunch feels like a relative value, especially since they include bonus dessert.
STANDOUT DISHES (aka, what I’d order): Chinois Chicken Salad • Medallions of Grilled Szechuan Beef in Cilantro Shallot Chili Sauce • Trio of Crème Brulee
3. The Dal Rae ($25)
SUMMARY: 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 tableside service is a frequent accompaniment. Their pepper steak may one day hold a place in the L.A. steak hall of fame, and at lunch, their “poor man’s” version is still powerful, featuring ground sirloin.
STANDOUT DISHES (aka, what I’d order): Heart of Romaine • Poor Man’s Pepper Steak
4. Farsi Cafe ($15)
SUMMARY: It’s been fun to watch Farsi Cafe ascend to the upper echelon of Persian restaurants in Los Angeles. The owners started with a counter at Westwood’s Super Sun market, where they’d fill a refrigerated case with an array of dips, soups and rice dishes while grilling a small menu of kebabs in the open kitchen. The owners stockpiled enough resources to take over the fashionable restaurant next door. Their saffron-stained chicken drumsticks are good as ever.
STANDOUT DISHES (aka, what I’d order): Kash O Bademjan • Chicken Drumsticks Kabob
5. Pez Cantina ($20)
SUMMARY: Bret Thompson, previously an executive chef with Patina Restaurant Group and co-founder of MILK ice cream shop, turned his attention to Mexico with the Bunker Hill restaurant he opened with wife Lucy. Considering the oceanic design flourishes and the name Pez, fish should be a focus when ordering. So should dessert, given Thompson’s last endeavor.
STANDOUT DISHES (aka, what I’d order): Habanero “Mustard” • Posole Verde • El Pez Pambazo • Vanilla Bean Tres Leches Flan Cake ($8 supplement)
6. Plan Check Kitchen + Bar – Downtown ($20)
SUMMARY: Chef Ernesto Uchimura is in beast mode for Restaurant Week at the latest Plan Check outpost. Sure, you can snag a Plan Check Burger or Smoked Fried Chicken Sandwich, but since Restaurant Week is at least partly about adventure, grab a Goat Meatloaf with harissa ketchup glaze, rutabaga mash and goat creamed greens. No matter which plate you choose, there are also Deviled Eggs, Donut Sundaes and a choice of soft drink, for all!
STANDOUT DISHES (aka, what I’d order): Deviled Egg • Goat Meatloaf • Donut Sundae • Plum Infused Iced Tea