Each of these essential California adventures has been tried and tested by a Travel section staffer or contributor. To search the state by region, use the filter below.
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Why: The food, a spicy marriage of Korean and Mexican cuisine, tastes great. And the backstory is the stuff that contemporary California is made of: Young buddies hatch a scheme, rig up a truck, start tweeting and build an empire by fusing Korean, Mexican and web cultures. Now co-founder Roy Choi is one of the city's most famous chefs.
What: Born in 2008, the Kogi empire now includes three trucks (code names Roja, Verde and Naranja, which roam the coast, the valleys and Orange County); three taco stands; and three Chego! restaurants. The blackjack quesadilla is a potent introduction to the Kogi way: flour tortilla, pork bellies, Korean chili paste, cheddar cheese, Jalapenos and a host of supporting ingredients.
As Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold writes in his latest list of 101 favorite L.A. restaurants, Kogi "is cheap, unbelievably delicious and unmistakably from Los Angeles, food that makes you feel plugged into the rhythms of the city just by eating it." Accordingly, in October when L.A.'s Eric Garcetti made the traditional mayoral World Series wager with his Houston counterpart, he offered up Kogi BBQ and Golden Road brew if the Astros should win.
How much: $8 for a Blackjack quesadilla, $2.50 for a spicy pork taco.
Info: Kogi BBQ