Top reviewed restaurants of the L.A. Times

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ELEGANT: Lights and glass panels adorn the bar at The Bazaar by Jose Andres. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

It takes a very special restaurant to earn a high ranking from the Los Angeles Times. There must be an almost magical combination of cooking, service and ambience. But there is no single template to follow. The places can be as varied as Joel Robuchon at the Mansion in Las Vegas — the ultimate in luxury by one of the finest French chefs of his generation — and Triumphal Palace — a Chinese restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley that served what may have been the perfect roast suckling pig.

In fact, in the last five years, only about 35 places in Southern California and Las Vegas have been awarded three stars or more by Los Angeles Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila and others. These stars are not bestowed lightly. Our critics make reservations and pay their bills under other names, to remain as anonymous as possible. They generally dine at each place three times over a period of two or three months before writing a full review.

Please keep in mind that restaurants change over time and that any single review is just a snapshot. When a restaurant’s staff changes significantly and/or the quality has gone up or down, the restaurant might get another review — and another rating.

Rating is based on food, service and ambience, with price taken into account in relation to quality. ****: Outstanding on every level. ***: Excellent. **: Very good. *: Good. No star: Poor to satisfactory.

— Russ Parsons, Times Food editor