Counter: The return of Alma, pho from a truck

In the lull between the start of the year and the next big distractions — the Iowa Caucus, the Super Bowl, Valentine's Day — we've been thinking about new ways to eat out, which should come as no surprise at all. In Los Angeles, there are myriad forms of dining, whether via pop-ups, food trucks, food festivals, street vendors or food residencies, which are kind of like art installations you can eat.

Thus this week, Jonathan Gold considers the return of Alma, Ari Taymor's late, lamented downtown restaurant, which has reappeared as a temporary restaurant inside the Standard's extant dining space. Jenn Harris goes out on the street to order pho from a truck, and I check out Bruce Kalman's new pasta bar, which is a full restaurant jigsawed into a stall or two in downtown's Grand Central Market. There are also stories about beer and Bernie Sanders, or more specifically the ice cream that Ben Cohen is making on the campaign trail in Iowa. Because why eat bad diner food if you don't have to, even (especially) for a good cause?

Amy Scattergood

The return of Alma

When chef Ari Taymor closed his downtown restaurant Alma in October, there was much lamentation. But the wait wasn't too long for his highly lauded seaweed beignets, as Taymor did not go start a new restaurant but, rather, started a temporary one in the Standard, the Sunset Boulevard hotel. Jonathan considers the blend of classic Alma dishes and what's new on the menu, as well as how the chef has adapted to his relocation.

Your spirit noodle

If you love Bruce Kalman's Pasadena restaurant Union, you probably spend a lot of time eating that exceedingly pretty plate of wound spaghetti. And you've also probably been waiting impatiently for Kalman to open Knead & Co., his highly anticipated pasta place in downtown's Grand Central Market. It has finally opened, serving many pasta dishes — you can buy pasta here too — and something the chefs calls a porchetta dip sandwich. If you needed another reason to go eat a plate of spaghetti and meatballs and pick up some squid ink garganelli for dinner later.

Pho in a truck

Good pho, the classic Vietnamese noodle soup, can be hard to find, even when you wander around brick-and-mortar restaurants. Jenn Harris finds some creditable pho ladled out from a food truck at Pho King Awesome (yes, say the name of the truck with great enunciation). The so-called fusion menu has not only pho but also "Spamusushi" — a variation of Spam musubi — plus OG fried rice and not a few other reasons to find the take-out window.

Ice cream for Bernie

If you think the campaign trail is all bad diners and fast food, then maybe you should be spending more time with Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry's, who's been in Iowa stumping for Bernie Sanders — by making ice cream. Samantha Bonar talks to Cohen about his new mint ice cream flavor, Bernie's Yearning, and why he's put his political beliefs where his scoops are, as it were.

More beer for you

Our beer correspondent John Verive checks out six new brewpubs, taprooms and breweries in the area, from the Antelope Valley to the South Bay, where you can experience our lively craft beer scene. Among them? Two anticipated new breweries in downtown L.A., which opened just weeks apart from each other and cement the Arts District as the city’s de facto brewery district. And a reminder, if you needed it, that Super Bowl 50 is next weekend.

Jonathan Gold's 101

Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants, the authoritative annual guide to local dining, is online for subscribers.

Check us out on Instagram @latimesfood

In the Kitchen: Sign up for our weekly cooking newsletter

Check out the thousands of recipes in our Recipe Database


We’d love to hear from you. Email us at

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World