Think the Los Angeles restaurant scene is hot? Bon Appétit magazine certainly does. Its just-released list of the 50 nominees for the best new restaurants in the United States includes five from Southern California – tied only with the New York City area. Next week the magazine will announce it’s final Top 10. [UPDATED: To include a link to the full list.]
Los Angeles restaurants honored were Allumette, Alma, Bar Amá, Chi Spacca and Hinoki & the Bird.
Surprising Austin, Texas, has three restaurants on the list, as does Chicago. Perhaps just as surprising, the San Francisco Bay area only has two: Rich Table and Saison.
Echo Park’s Allumette was praised for its “stellar experimental cuisine with heady Asian influences” put together by 25-year-old chef Miles Thompson. Restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton was particularly impressed by the Sichuan pork dumpling with cured salmon roe and squid with black truffle XO sauce.
Downtown’s Alma is run by 26-year-old Ari Taymor. “The food (sea urchin toast with burrata; sweet corn soup with nasturtium ice cream) defies categorization,” Knowlton writes. “Alma may not be easy or expected, but that’s exactly what makes it special.”
Nearby Bar Amá is run by highly regarded Josef Centeno (his Bäco Mercat, just around the corner, was one of Bon Appétit's 10 best new restaurants in 2012), who “shifts his focus to the Tex-Mex cooking of his native San Antonio." Knowlton loves the queso with chorizo, slow-roasted cabrito and chile relleno. He also singles out the off-the-menu puffy tacos, making them possibly the worst-kept secret item after the In-N-Out “animal-style” hamburger.
Chi Spacca is the meat-centric wing of the Nancy Silverton-Mario Batali-Joseph Bastianich empire centered around Mozza. Knowlton marvels, “Is it possible that L.A.’s best new Italian restaurant doesn’t serve pasta? Chef Chad Colby is a savant of pork, beef, and lamb, proudly showcasing cuts of coppa steak, lamb-shoulder chops and short ribs.”
Of Century City’s Hinoki & the Bird, Knowlton writes “Angelenos are reaping the benefits of chef David Myers’ obsession with Japan” and singles out the restaurant’s chili crab toast, lobster roll and hinoki-scented black cod.
Allumette, 1320 Echo Park Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 935-8787.
Alma, 925 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, (213) 244-1422.
Bar Amá, 118 W. Fourth St., Los Angeles, (213) 687-8002.
Chi Spacca, 6610 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 297-1133.
Hinoki & the Bird, 10 Century Drive, Los Angeles, (310) 552-1200.