Critic's Choice restaurants

For dining out, the pleasure of a singular choice beats the 'foodie pass'

Across the Table: The trend toward flying plates as diners engage in the 'foodie pass' at restaurants takes away the pleasure of ordering your own choice and not having to share.

Three restaurants in the L.A. area take smoke to seductive heights

Critic's Choice: Smoke is a versatile tool for the savvy chef. Three Los Angeles area restaurants that use it well: Hinoki & the Bird, Barney Greengrass and Horse Thief BBQ.

Pancakes, on a grand or silver-dollar scale, in L.A.

Critic's Choice: Three spots in L.A. for terrific pancakes: Cooks County, Valerie and Axe

Raise a glass to great bar food at three L.A. area restaurants

Critic's Choice: Bar food shines at three L.A. area restaurants: Spago, Lucques and Bar Bouchon

A French-style cider from Bonny Doon

Across the Table: Bonny Doon's Randall Grahm bites into the cider trend, with a French twist. His Querry cider is made with pears, apples and quince.

Corn dishes brighten menus at Tar & Roses, Gjelina and Cliff's Edge

Critic's Choice: For those who love fresh, sweet corn, creative dishes at Tar & Roses, Gjelina and Cliff's Edge let you savor a summer flavor.

Fresh tomatoes bring out the juicy best at Southern California restaurants

Critic's Choice: Southern California restaurants indulge the fresh tomato mania. Three places to try are Il Grano, Marche Moderne and Lucques.

Lobster, the West Coast way

When craving lobster, three Los Angeles area restaurants know how to do it well: Jar, Hinoki & the Bird and Chinois on Main. All offer lobster dinners that are almost as good as being oceanside in Maine.

Across the Table: Şemsa Denizsel embellishes flavors of Istanbul

Kantin chef Şemsa Denizsel embellishes with her flavors of Istanbul

Where to go clam digging among L.A. restaurants

Where to go for clams in the Los Angeles area: The Hungry Cat, Connie & Ted's, Sotto

Summer beer gardens: Three picks in downtown L.A.

Three downtown L.A. beer gardens for summer evenings: Standard Biergarten, Wurstkuche and Chaya Downtown Japanese Beer Garden

The ultimate sea urchin experience

Not everybody appreciates sea urchin, but Fishing With Dynamite, Providence and Il Grano come through for those who do.

Critic's Choice: Flavors of Spain that are anything but plain

Top Spanish restaurant choices in L.A. area

Critic's Choice: A season of sun — and mozzarella

Osteria Mozza, Obika and RivaBella are among the Los Angeles restaurants taking advantage of the varieties of mozzarella.

Critic's Choice: Brunches that can begin a civilized day

Weekend brunches that are civilized starters: A.O.C., Cooks County and the Pikey

Critic's Choice: Chicken dinners that entice you to leave the roost

Fried, wood-roasted or jidori style, these delicious chicken dishes at Bouchon, Farmshop and Pollo a la Brasa come with diverse flavors and are served in different settings.

Enjoying flatbreads from many culinary angles

Three restaurants around L.A. that serve fantastic flatbreads

Critic's Choice: Three divine chocolate creations

Critic's Choice: Three divine chocolates, from Yvan Valentin, Bouchon and Rivera

Critic's Choice: Cool, creative ceviche

Ceviche, the up-and-coming Southern California dish, and where they do it right

Critic's Choice: Carpaccio as a blank canvas

L.A. restaurants find new ways to present carpaccio

Critic's Choice: Appealing to real mussel heads

Little Fork, Marché Moderne and M.B Post serve tasty mussel dishes.

Critic's Choice: Neighborhood pizza pros

Three great places for pizza in Los Angeles: Mother Dough, All'Angolo and Olio

You're in for a treat with these top dogs in town: Critic's Choice

You're in for a treat with these top dogs in town: Critic's Choice

Critic's Choice: Forget caviar — it's time to indulge in raw oysters

Craving a giant iced platter of raw oysters? Try Cliff's Edge, where they're a bargain on Thursday nights; L&E Oyster Bar and its 'daily dozen'; or Church & State downtown.

Critic's Choice: Hearty breakfasts worth a wake-up call

Sqirl, the Parish and Cortez offer breakfasts that will get your engine started on blustery winter mornings.

Critic's Choice: A nip in the air, a sausage on the plate

When cooler weather triggers sausage cravings, three L.A. area restaurants are ready to link you up: Gorge Charcuterie, Wurstküche and BierBeisl.

Critic's Choice: Lively gastropubs for fun that can go late

Gastropubs offer a loose, lively vibe. And often the hours go late. Here are three picks for the L.A. area: Father's Office, Freddy Smalls Bar + Kitchen and Fat Cow.

Critic's Choice: Family-style meals on the menu

Brentwood's Farmshop, Eva on Beverly and Santa Monica's Huckleberry are dishing up homey and hearty three-course menus served family style.

Critic's Choice: Upscale, and accessible, happy hours

Three recommendations for happy hours in Los Angeles: Red O, Campanile and Lazy Ox Canteen.

Critic's Choice: Remedies for pasta cravings

Three places in the Los Angeles area to get that pasta fix: Gusto, Scarpetta and Angelini Osteria.

Critic's Choice: The chef as gardener

Three L.A. area restaurants get as fresh as can be with on-site gardens: Playa, the Royce and Heirloom LA.

Critic's Choice: L.A. area restaurants with prix-fixe menus hit the spot

Recommended: Josie restaurant, Papilles, A.O.C.

Critic's Choice: Stock up the picnic basket

Three L.A. restaurants are prime choices for picnic baskets: Tavern, Bouchon and Clementine.

Critics Choice: Seriously good neighborhood bakery-cafes

The seriously good neighborhood spots Proof Bakery in Atwater Village, Sycamore Kitchen on La Brea Avenue and Sweet Butter in Sherman Oaks are destinations unto themselves.

Critic's Choice: Theme nights at Jar, Mozza Scuola and A.O.C.

The idea is catching on with restaurants. Here are three to sample: lobster Mondays at Jar, salumi bar Thursdays at Mozza Scuola and focaccia Thursdays at A.O.C.

Critic's Choice: Where to find great smoked salmon

Pétrossian, Spago and Huckleberry are among the best places in the Los Angeles area to enjoy smoked salmon. But for Spago's smoked salmon pizza, better go soon.

Critic's Choice: Sandwiches that are a slice above

Summer is a great time for sandwiches, and three Los Angeles restaurants serve great ones: ink.sack's

Critic's Choice: Where to go for duck in L.A.

For duck in the L.A. area, try Dha Rae Oak on Western Avenue, the downtown Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles or Next Door by Josie in Santa Monica.

Critic's Choice: Linger over lunch at these restaurants

Reviewed: Valentino in Santa Monica, Providence on Melrose Avenue, Tierra Sur in Oxnard

Critic's Choice: Good deals for early diners

Fig, Smoke House and Chaya Downtown offer good deals on early dinners in the Los Angeles area.

Critic's Choice: Three great starts to any day

Short Cake, Clementine and Bouchon Bakery can make any day begin right.

Critic's Choice: Barbecue in Los Angeles

Gish Bac, Feng Mao and Buenos Aires Grill are good, lesser-known barbecue spots in Los Angeles: Critic's Choice.

Critic's Choice: Charting the daily specials

If it's Friday, it's

Critic's Choice: Where to go for dumplings

The varieties of dumplings available in the L.A. area, with myriad fillings, textures and ethnic origins, boggle the mind and tempt the taste buds. Here are some favorites.

Critic's Choice: Fresh lunch ideas

Fresh ideas for lunch in Los Angeles and Orange counties include Café Livre, Cooks County, Milo & Olive, the Playground and Maison Giraud: Critic's Choice

Critic's Choice: Southeast Asian noodle restaurants

Southern California's Southeast Asian restaurants for noodles include Huong Giang, Ngu Binh, Little La Lune, Lum-Ka-Naad and Bistro Orient

Critic's Choice: Restaurants with wood-burning ovens

Reviewed: Ammo, A.O.C., Mezze, Marché Moderne, Tierra Sur

Critic's Choice: Where to eat the heat

Thai, Korean, Chinese and Indian delicacies in L.A., Northridge, San Gabriel, Canoga Park and Inglewood.

Critic's Choice: Where to find great steaks

Los Angeles Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila recommends Cut, Park's BBQ, the Old Place, Carlitos Gardel and Jocko's for steaks

Critic's Choice: A holiday hankering for tamales

Tamales of all varieties and national origins can be found in the Southland, and demand always picks up around the holidays.

Critic's Choice: Fromage fanciers, rejoice!

Cheese lovers: Here are several Los Angeles-area restaurants where the cheese course isn't an afterthought, it's a priority.

Critics' choice: Soup comfort on chilly nights

Crab stew, odon or hot pots.

Great places for holiday brunch

Brunches for the holiday season: Playa, A.O.C., Eva Restaurant, Tasting Kitchen, Pétrossian, Palihouse Courtyard Brasserie and Short Order.

Critics' Choice: Breakfasts from around the globe in L.A. area

Stamp your breakfast passport at Little La Lune, Huge Tree Pastry, Flavors of Belize, Uyen Thy, Eatalian Café, Mama Fina, Rollie's Bakery Café, Puro Sabor.

Critic's Choice: Restaurants that help make every occasion special

Hatfield's, Mélisse, Patina, Providence, the Royce at the Langham Huntington, Saam at the Bazaar by José Andres and WP24 by Wolfgang Puck for special occasions.

Critic's Choice: Offbeat burgers

Bruxie, Toni's Soul Burger, Sattdown, Red Chili Express and King's Burgers/Got Sushi? offer offbeat burgers in unexpected places

Critic's Choice: Restaurants to mark the fall season

Hearty dishes and full-bodied wines are on the menu as autumn descends on Southern California, and these eateries make the most of it.

Critic's Choice: Koreatown

Koreatown critic's choices: Mapo, Flaming Clam Grill, On Dal 2, Moobongri Soondae and Gamja-Gol.

Critic's Choice: Tapas in L.A.

Los Angeles tapas destinations include the Bazaar by José Andrés, La Cachette Bistro, Bar Pintxo, Tasca Wine Bar and L'Epicerie Market.

Critic's Choice: Ramen restaurants

Yamadaya, Mottainai, Shin-Sen-Gumi and Ikemen are among the best places for Japanese ramen noodles

Fried chicken: Who rules the roost in L.A.?

A list of some of the best fried chicken spots in Southern California.

Critics' choice

Los Angeles' Chinese restaurants provide tastes of Beijing and beyond.