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How we came up with the 101 Restaurants We Love list

How we came up with the 101 Restaurants We Love list
Young lettuces, buttermilk, pistachio, and radish served at Destroyer in Culver City. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

A hundred and one. It’s a smaller number than you might think. Especially when you’re attempting to take in this city’s enormous culinary scene, a city full of nooks and crannies, highways to everywhere and a seemingly endless number of places to eat along the way.

It’s a task our late restaurant critic Jonathan Gold took on every year for his 101 Best Restaurants list. Writing a list without him was incredibly difficult, but we felt it was important to continue to celebrate the incredible chefs and restaurants in Los Angeles, and to give readers some direction as they explore the city’s dining scene. I, along with food writers Andrea Chang and Amy Scattergood, started with Jonathan’s most recent list, ensuring that at least two of us had dined at each restaurant on the 2017 list in the last year. (Andrea has actually eaten at every single restaurant on Jonathan’s 2017 101!)

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We scoured the city, eating at old favorites and trying countless new restaurants, trucks and tasting menus. We did our best to honor Jonathan’s legacy and keep the ideas he championed in our minds, thinking about diversity, equality, deliciousness and the stories behind the plates of food before us. The resulting list is a representation of the restaurants we love to visit over and over again for food we crave.

We voted on each restaurant that came off the list and each new one to come on, with all three of us winning and losing multiple hard-fought battles. Because we are not restaurant critics, we didn’t feel it was right to rank the list, so instead, it’s presented in alphabetical order, with new blurbs written by us accompanying each restaurant.

We worked closely with Jonathan’s wife, Laurie Ochoa, who shared more meals with him than anyone, to choose 15 Jonathan favorites for the list. Look out for the Jonathan Gold silhouette on those first-time entrants. These are restaurants he reviewed in the past 15 months or so that we believe he would have wanted on this year’s list.

And finally, we introduced a new Classics list this year. These are 10 restaurants we find to be essential to Los Angeles, the types of places that have stood the test of time and that you’d take out-of-towners to for a taste of L.A.

It’s impossible to please everyone with any list, but we put our hearts (and stomachs) into this one, and we hope it encourages you to go out and find something delicious.

You can view the list here.

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