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Our 101 favorite restaurants, plus more culinary explorations

Good morning. As you may have noticed, especially if you spend much time on Instagram, our annual restaurant list came out a few days ago, with the booklet itself out tomorrow. The 2018 list differs from previous lists in myriad ways, and for myriad reasons. It is our first list without the late Jonathan Gold, though his presence looms large in the publication.

We also have stories that further reflect the vibrant Southern California food scene: one about a miso specialist, another featuring Egyptian comfort food, and pieces about Iraqi restaurants in San Diego and rotisserie chicken in Koreatown. Finally, if you need a break from all that food — and some help with holiday shopping, we have a handy interactive gift guide to check out. Enjoy your weekend.

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101, 2018 EDITION

The hummus at Bavel, the downtown Middle Eastern restaurant from Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis.
The hummus at Bavel, the downtown Middle Eastern restaurant from Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis. (Maria Alejandra Cardona / Los Angeles Times)

This year’s list of the 101 Restaurants We Love dropped online on Monday, and will drop a bit more loudly on your doorstep tomorrow as part of Sunday’s paper. Here’s a cheat sheet, a list of the 31 places that are new to this year’s list — nearly a third of the total.

CLASSICS ROCK

A bone-in rib-eye steak with a martini at the Musso & Frank Grill.
A bone-in rib-eye steak with a martini at the Musso & Frank Grill. (Calvin B. Alagot / Los Angeles Times)

As a kind of bonus coverage this year, in addition to the 101 restaurants we love, we considered 10 classic L.A. restaurants that have stood the test of time. Which made the list? If you haven’t read it yet, maybe guess first and see how yours matches up with ours. And if you have suggestions for more to add, do let us know — any excuse for another dinner out.

JOYS OF MISO

Ai Fujimoto mashes soybeans for miso at Crafted Kitchen.
Ai Fujimoto mashes soybeans for miso at Crafted Kitchen. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Food writer Betty Hallock brings us the story of Ai Fujimoto, the miso vendor at the Hollywood farmers market, who started her miso company Omiso Co. earlier this year. “It used to be that each Japanese family had their own miso recipe,” says Fujimoto, “and every family would say theirs is the best.”

LITTLE BAGHDAD, CA

Nael Alnajjar keeps photos of his old dessert shops in Iraq in a scrapbook in the Al Hamdani Sweets kitchen.
Nael Alnajjar keeps photos of his old dessert shops in Iraq in a scrapbook in the Al Hamdani Sweets kitchen. (Laura Zablit)

Refugee restaurant owners are bringing Iraqi cuisine to San Diego County, reports food writer Laura Zablit in a story about the vibrant immigrant food culture in what’s become known as Little Baghdad. What this means for food lovers? Veal shawarma, ground, skewers of chicken shish tawook, custard-filled znoud el-sitand Iraqi delight.

THE POLLO LOUNGE

A selection of items from the Pollo LA, including rotisserie chicken, beans and rice.
A selection of items from the Pollo LA, including rotisserie chicken, beans and rice. (The Pollo LA)

Is the best chicken in this town found near the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue in Koreatown? Could be, given that you’ll find Pollo a la Brasa, Dino’s, Pollo Campero, Crawford’s and Gus’s in the vicinity. Also, lately, the new Pollo LA, writes Hadley Tomicki, where you order one thing: rotisserie chicken.

MOLOKHIA? MOLOKHIA

The dish molokhia, also known as jute leaf stew, features the vitamin-rich jute leaf.
The dish molokhia, also known as jute leaf stew, features the vitamin-rich jute leaf. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

In which food writer Margy Rochlin considers a bowl of molokhia, the Egyptian dish of braised greens that features jute leaf, a superfood that you can find, if not fresh then in dried form. As for bowls, they can be found at certain L.A.-area restaurants. But if you prefer your soup made at home, we have the recipe from Reem Kassis’ excellent cookbook “The Palestinian Table.”

Check us out on Instagram at @latimesfood.

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And don’t forget the thousands of recipes in our California Cookbook recipe database.

Feedback? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at food@latimes.com.

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