Yes, you can eat onion rings for dinner. Three to try now

A stack of onion rings served with two sauces.
The onion rings from the Golden Bull in Santa Monica.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)
Share via

I treat onion rings as their own food group. The right basket of golden-crispy-hot deliciousness can be eaten as a meal. Preferably with a nice glass of Champagne or your favorite carbonated drink.

I recently shared an Instagram photo of a plate of onion rings from the Rainbow Bar and Grill on Sunset Boulevard, enjoyed before a concert at the Whisky. Chef Dave Beran responded with an onion ring recommendation of his own.

“Golden Bull has the shoestring ones, a little greasy but get them with a burger and put half on the burger,” he wrote. “What a treat.”


Where to find the best new sandwiches in Los Angeles, including a new tiny sandwich shop in Beverly Hills and a cheese counter in Santa Monica.

June 5, 2023

Beran is the chef at Pasjoli in Santa Monica, No. 12 on our critic Bill Addison’s 101 Best Restaurants list. He makes some of my favorite food in the city. His foie de poulet à la Strasbourgeoise is a masterpiece. The canard à la Rouennaise à la presse is the type of thing you use to impress the parents of your significant other or the king of England.

When Beran says the onion rings at the Golden Bull, the nearly 75-year-old steakhouse in Santa Monica, are “a treat,” you listen.

Onion rings from the Golden Bull

As with French fries, my preference leans toward the shoestring variety when it comes to onion rings. I want to taste the onions, not just batter.

The Golden Bull onion rings are, as mentioned, the shoestring kind.

“The iteration is my personal favorite onion ring,” said Greg Daniels, executive chef and partner at the restaurant since 2018. “The thinner slices may not maintain the ring shape as well but allow for maximum surface area for crispy breading.”

Daniels soaks the onions in a buttermilk marinade for at least four hours. The acid helps soften the onions and gives them a slight tang. They’re tossed in seasoned flour, then immediately dropped into the fryer.

Looking for dan tat? These two new restaurants are serving some of the best egg tarts in Los Angeles

June 26, 2023

They’re wonderful and yes, a little greasy. The coating, though delicate, keeps a good grip on the onion underneath. The craggy surface reminds me of good fried chicken.


During happy hour, you can get a full order for $5.

The onion rings are served with small ramekins of ketchup, chipotle mayo and garlic aioli. And yes, you can happily shove them into a burger. But I suggest you eat them straight up, like a higher power surely intended.

Onion rings from Ardor at the West Hollywood Edition

A thick stack of onion rings on a plate.
The onion rings from Ardor at the West Hollywood Edition hotel.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Chef John Fraser’s onion rings might be the fanciest onion rings in the city. And like most fancy things and people, they’re incredibly high-maintenance.

The Vidalia onions are cut into thick bands from the middle. They’re soaked in buttermilk for at least three hours, then dredged in flour seasoned with what Fraser likes to call sausage seasoning: cumin, coriander, fennel seed, cayenne pepper and sugar. Then the rings hang out in the walk-in cooler for at least 24 hours.

“The onion rings are like a person’s full-time job,” Fraser said on a recent call. “It takes up a ton of space because the rings have to live separate from one another while they are drying. They are not touching anything or each other.”

The rings are fried to order and dusted in a black powder that looks like it belongs on the moon. It’s a combination of seaweed, tomato, citric acid and mushroom seasoning that at certain angles seems to shimmer.

He serves the rings stacked on top of one another, like a small mountain that narrows as you reach the top.

“The Benihana onion volcano was our inspiration,” he said. “It’s a luxury hotel with a kind of farm-to-table point of view, so there needs to be a sense of humor.”


Quick, affordable and convenient, conservas are the perfect summertime snack. Here are the best restaurants and bars for tinned fish and other sustainable canned seafood options in Los Angeles.

June 29, 2023

It’s the flaming onion volcano, minus the flames, and with a lot more crunch.

The slices of onion are substantial, each one at least an inch thick. The coating is firmly attached, ultra crunchy but barely there — a thin sheath that fractures, then disappears.

Fraser’s umami powder, or what I’m now dubbing magic black moon dust, is unctuous and meaty with an addictive zip of acid. If he used this stuff to season potato chips, he might put Frito-Lay out of business.

Onion rings from Tony Roma’s

A half onion ring loaf sits on a white plate.
A half onion ring loaf from Tony Roma’s in Carson.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

If you grew up in Pasadena in the ’90s, you might have frequented the Tony Roma’s restaurant on Lake Avenue. It’s long since closed, but it was part of the Harris household’s regular dinner rotation. The platters of ribs, always a little too sweet, never failed to feel like a treat.

It was started in the 1970s by a man named Tony Roma. Originally a burger and steak restaurant, the focus switched to ribs after the weekend rib special grew to immense popularity.

But anyone who’s been will tell you that the real star isn’t the ribs. It’s the onion loaf.


I remember it as a glorious golden mass in the middle of the table. A tangle of battered onions that were fried in a basket, then dislodged as a single brick.

This week’s recommendations include Bar Chelou and Le Chateau de Tien Tao, my two new favorite restaurants in Pasadena.

Feb. 27, 2023

My sister and I went at it with our fingers. Our mother cut away slices like she was dissecting a cake. It was hot, incredibly crisp and a little greasy.

Years later, I think of them as some of the best onion rings I’ve ever tried.

When I decided to revisit my childhood favorite chain, I was dismayed to learn that there was a single remaining location in Los Angeles County. I drove to Carson, parked in the shopping center opposite the Big 5 Sporting Goods store and ordered a half loaf of onion rings for lunch.

The brick was now a cylinder, but the onions were still fried well, hot and fused together.

According to Mithun Chowdhury, manager at the Carson location and a nearly 25-year Tony Roma’s veteran, corporate made the switch from a square basket to a circular basket about 15 to 16 years ago.

“I don’t know the story behind why it’s a loaf,” he said. “But it’s been around since Tony Roma’s opened in 1972.”


He estimates the restaurant sells at least 200 orders a week.

“We make it fresh, never frozen,” he said with pride.

‘The Bear’ star Lionel Boyce takes us on a food crawl through Inglewood for breakfast, soul food, doughnuts and chicken wings.

June 21, 2023

Although the exact seasoning blend is a secret, he did share that the restaurant uses what he calls “Colossal 1 onions” that are sliced, battered and cooled down to at least 40 degrees for a minimum of six hours before they are dredged in flour and fried.

The central flavor is onion, and the rings take on an almost grilled quality in the fryer, both toasty and sweet. I still use my fingers. I fold the rings into halves I can easily dip into the barbecue sauce that’s still a little too sweet.

As a kid, it didn’t get much better than an onion loaf and a Shirley Temple with my family. Not a bad way to spend an evening.

Where to eat onion rings

The Golden Bull, 170 W. Channel Road, Santa Monica, (310) 230-0402,
Ardor, 9040 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (424) 310-1572,
Tony Roma’s, 20720 Avalon Blvd., Carson, (310) 329-5723,