Newsletter: Countdown to the 101 Best Restaurants in Los Angeles

Guisados taco sampler plate
A taco sampler, and sides of salsas, at the original Guisados in Boyle Heights.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

Four years ago, my husband and I road-tripped to L.A. from Arizona for a long weekend planned around the 2014 edition of Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants. Our aim was to visit as many Gold-approved restaurants as we could squeeze into our budget (and stomachs).

We started at Guisados in Boyle Heights, where we ordered one (or maybe two) of every taco. Next up, a nightcap of shrimp-stuffed tacos at the Mariscos Jalisco truck on Olympic Boulevard.

There are few things that better represent the greatness of Los Angeles and our love of constant movement than the taco truck, sometimes called a lonchera (lunchbox), a name that encompasses food trucks of all kinds.

For the record:

9:01 a.m. Dec. 9, 2019A previous version of this newsletter stated that the print edition of The Times’ 101 Best Restaurants in L.A. will appear on newsstands Sunday, Dec. 15. The print edition will be in subscriber papers on Sunday, Dec. 15. It will not be available for purchase on newsstands. We regret the error.

The following morning, having overslept, we lined up for a late breakfast at Sqirl, where we covered our wobbly patio table with thick-sliced brioche toast plumped out with ricotta and jam and cups of “horchoffee.”


For lunch, there was the #19 at Langer’s. For dinner, fried pig tail, minced chicken larb and cold bottles of Beer Lao at Night + Market in West Hollywood.

We snacked on fried shrimp and jerk chicken escabeche swaddled in flatbread at Bäco Mercat, and followed that with a splurgy dinner at Rustic Canyon involving ricotta dumplings, pork chops blanketed in chimichurri sauce, and a chocolate and peanut butter dessert called “black magic cake.”

Then, our modest vacation budget maxed out, our gastrointestinal systems overworked, we stuffed ourselves into our tiny Ford and drove back into the desert.

Gold’s 101 led us to many fine meals that long, wonderful weekend. It also helped us make sense of a city whose patchwork of neighborhoods and knotty freeway interchanges confounds.

I tell you all this to convey how thrilling — and surreal — it’s been to work on the 2019 edition of the 101 list with my fellow critic Bill Addison.

The list has played a central role in how I’ve come to experience Los Angeles. I know I’m not alone.

A sneak preview of the 2019 edition of the 101 Best Restaurants in LA.
A sneak preview of the 2019 edition of the 101 Best Restaurants in LA.
(Los Angeles Times)

More than a dining guide, the 101 has become a roadmap for understanding and enjoying the city. I suspect future Angelenos will someday look back on these lists as curious time capsules that show how and what we ate in Los Angeles this decade.

What restaurants made the cut this year?

Find out on Monday when the newest edition of the 101 list becomes available online for L.A. Times subscribers.


The magazine print edition, brilliantly designed and lovingly edited, will be in subscriber newspapers on Sunday, Dec. 15.

Bill and I have spent the last year working on it — a year filled with remarkable meals cooked by our city’s greatest chefs.

Please consider becoming an L.A. Times subscriber so you can gain full access to the list as soon as it publishes.

Of course, I want to hear what you think of our picks. Please email me at with your thoughts.

Ask the critics

I am part of a marketing team tasked with promoting a new restaurant. I am looking for insight into what a restaurant can do to get more publicity? — Kevin W. via email

Most journalists receive so many press releases and marketing materials that it’s impossible to read them all in a day.


How do you cut through the noise? The practical and very boring answer is to research and be discriminating about how and who you pitch. Find out who writes about the kind of businesses you are tasked with promoting. Resist boilerplate emails. This won’t guarantee anybody will write about your restaurant, but it’s a simple step that many promoters overlook.

Also, I can tell you from personal experience that spelling people’s names correctly makes a world of difference.

Holiday cookies
All the cookies here are L.A. in spirit but timeless and easy in execution.
(Martina Ibanez-Baldor / Los Angeles Times; Leslie Grow / For The Times)

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