2022’s 101 Best Restaurants in L.A. guide is almost here

101 Best Restaurants GIF
The 2022 edition of The Times’ annual guide to the 101 best restaurants in Los Angeles goes live online on Tuesday evening.
(Brandon Ly/ Los Angeles Times)

Every July since 2019, I go for a solo lunch at Mariscos Jalisco, where Raul Ortega has been parking his white lonchera along Olympic Boulevard in Boyle Heights for more than 20 years. The meal is a ritual. It kicks off for me the task of creating The Times’ annual guide to the 101 best restaurants in Los Angeles. The 2022 edition goes live online on Tuesday evening.

For my summertime rite I tend to forgo Ortega’s excellent, limey shrimp and oyster coctel and the tostada covered with fish ceviche and textured with diced onion and tomato. I’m here solely for the defining feat: tacos dorados de camarones. The tacos — two to an order — are handed to customers through the truck’s window all but sizzling from the fryer. The corn tortillas crackles, and the chopped shrimp filling will be crisp at the fringes but also creamy in its center. Juicy salsa and sliced avocados douse the first blazing bites like liquid metal cooling a nuclear reactor.

I perch on a nearby brick ledge painted a thick shade of gray, and I let my mind wander while I eat.


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I think about having these tacos for the first time with Besha Rodell, a longtime friend who was the last full-time restaurant critic at L.A. Weekly from 2012 to 2017. She and I drove to Boyle Heights with her son in 2014, the year I started as Eater’s national critic. She wore a knowing smirk as I exclaimed over these twin quarter-moons and their perfection of contrasts. They really are an ideal introductory taste of Los Angeles. I now bring visitors (and uninitiated Angelenos) to Mariscos Jalisco often.

Tacos de camarones from Mariscos Jalisco.
Tacos dorados de camarones at Mariscos Jalisco.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Sitting there in July, I realized that this year is the 10th edition of the 101. Jonathan Gold, who died in 2018, wrote the first 101 guide in 2013 after returning to The Times, where he had previously written the Counter Intelligence column beginning in 1986. He carried the framework of the 101 over from his previous position at L.A. Weekly, where it began as the 99 Essential L.A. Restaurants in 2005. Restaurant guides weren’t a novel concept in the mid-2000s— former L.A. Times critics Ruth Reichl and S. Irene Virbila used to compile Top 40 roundups — but few in the country were written with such scope by a single authority with immersive expertise.

“There was a lot of debate at the start over whether to use the term ‘essential’ or ‘best’ in the title,” says Laurie Ochoa, Jonathan’s wife and The Times’ general manager of Food. Ochoa was editor in chief of L.A. Weekly during the guide’s inception. “Jonathan was adamant that we not use ‘best.’ It was more about presenting a list by asking, ‘What feels essential to L.A.?’”

“Essential” also feel like the better guiding philosophy to me. “Best” was adopted with the inauguration of the 101. It’s a more searchable word; I respect the way of things and hope the truest intent of the guide comes through in the reading.

The advent of the 101 also brought ranking, which is back for the first time since Patricia Escárcega and I numbered the list in 2019.

The assignment is one of immense privilege, and also an agony to deliberate and finalize. We are still in a pandemic, and yet with dining back in full swing — and snagging reservations for restaurants of all kinds feeling like something between a competition, a skirmish and blind luck — the number of slots felt more insufficient to me than ever. I was at dinner with one of my colleagues last night. He was quizzing me about the 2022 list and kept saying, “Wait you left that one off? And that one too?”


Yes. Yes, I did. It is an imperfect, subjective exercise. It is the nature of such beast that everyone has strong opinions: I’m sure you will have yours. You’ll see many of the expected greats. Also, though, over a quarter of the restaurants make their first appearance this year. I thank Food editor Daniel Hernandez, deputy Food editor Betty Hallock and Laurie (whose institutional knowledge is superhuman) for their supportive guidance.

As for Mariscos Jalisco? It’s appeared on every 101 since 2013. If you know those tacos, it isn’t much of a spoiler to tell you it scores a perfect 10 years.

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Celebrate the release of the 101 on Dec. 7

To celebrate the release of the L.A. Times 101 Best Restaurants guide, which is presented by City National Bank, The Times is hosting a tasting event at downtown’s City Market Social House from 7 to 10 p.m. on Dec. 6. Guests will be able to watch the live reveal of the 101 list as they enjoy food from more than 30 essential L.A. restaurants, including Kato, Sonoratown, Saffy’s, Pizzeria Bianco, Yangban Society, Petit Trois and Villa’s Tacos. Tickets are $200 per person. For more information go to

— For this overcast, chilly-for-L.A. weather, Jenn Harris recommends the Iranian lamb and chickpea stew called dizi at Nersses Vanak in Glendale. (I second that suggestion.)

Stephanie Breijo has details on the forthcoming return of Somni, the modernist restaurant, as mind-bending as it was delicious, founded by José Andres and helmed by chef Aitor Zabala. Somni closed during the pandemic, though Stephanie reports that Andres gave Zabala his blessing to resuscitate the restaurant on his own. It is scheduled to open in West Hollywood next year.

— Stephanie also writes about the return of indoor dining at Echo Park’s Konbi, officially rechristened as Konbi Ni, and the ambitious plans owners Akira Akuto and Nick Montgomery have for their breakfast and lunch menus and dinner pop-ups in the near future.

— And on the cooking side, it’s the season for holiday baking. “For this year’s collection of Los Angeles Times holiday cookies, I created a half-dozen of the easiest-to-make cookies there are: bar cookies,” Ben Mims writes. “You simply press some batter into a pan and let it do all the work for you.”

An assortment of six bar cookies from Ben Mims.
(Hannah Mills / For The Times)