Tell us how Jonathan Gold shaped your L.A. experience

Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times restaurant critic who richly chronicled the city’s vast culinary landscape, has died. He was 57.

Gold introduced countless readers to favorite dishes such as toothpick lamb, doro wot, soup dumplings and boat noodles, and single-handedly put many of L.A.’s signature restaurants on the map: Jitlada in Thai Town, the Oaxacan institution Guelaguetza, Meals by Genet in Little Ethiopia, the taco truck Mariscos Jalisco. He sought out places that felt emblematic of the city, and the resulting reviews bore a distinctly Los Angeles feel.

For many Angelenos, Jonathan Gold's columns were the best way to discover this city. We want to hear your stories and see your photos – either with Jonathan, or a meal inspired by him.

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Jonathan Gold didn't just elevate the art of food writing and restaurant criticism, he helped a fractured region understand itself

Readers respond

Andrea Senn

“I live in Alaska. Before trips to LA I spend hours reading his reviews, then plan the entire trip around where I may want to eat on any given night. His reviews gave my mini-vacations a beautiful structure.”

Ben D.

“When I worked in downtown LA many moons ago, I read Jonathan's amazing review of Lazy Ox. Enamored with his recommendation, I walked there for lunch. I sat at the bar alone, sitting next to a man enthusiastically devouring chicken livers. His appearance fit the bill but I did not have the gumption to confirm his identity. Still, to this day I imagine I shared a meal with him. My glass is raised to you, Mr. Gold. Thank you so much, for everything you taught us not just about food but about humanity. We have lost much today, but celebrate what you have shown us.”

Betsy Billard

“His 101 Best L.A. restaurants was like a bible to me for as long as I lived in L.A.”

Brian Leung

“Through humanity and meticulously curated storytelling, Jonathan is able to highlight the beauty of the food and culture around us through his lenses and forever leave an indelible impact. His life, like Anthony Bourdain's, is something one should strive for, one born out of innate curiousity and the willingness to leave one's comfort zone for greener pastures by facing one's own trepidation.”

C. Gonzalez

“I was in desperate straits: My favorite tortillaria (La Azteca) was no longer selling freshly made corn tortillas. This meant my homemade enchilada plans were up in smoke. What was worse was that my backup places were out of business. I wrote to Jonathan Gold and crossed my fingers that perhaps he would reply. You better believe he did! He comforts my loss, agreeing that it is odd La Azteca has given up the ghost. He then proceeds to give me three options to feed my tortilla fix, restoring my faith in humanity all in one missive. His down-to-earth nature and accessibility made him my culinary hero. I am bereft.”

Cary Baker

“Gold believed that diversity was and is L.A.'s greatest asset. He was our Magellan, our Lewis and Clark, our Alan Lomax. He explored locations nary a restaurant critic had been before: Bell, Bellflower, Rosemead, San Gabriel, Pacoima, Artesia. He helped us understand each other, and the city's place in the greater food community of planet Earth. In so many ways, he gave L.A. a sense of place. That sense of place was gritty mini-malls in East L.A. or food trucks in Lincoln Heights, not just West Hollywood or West L.A. Although make no mistake: He could review Spago, Mozza or Trois Mec with aplomb. ... I am grateful to Jonathan Gold for helping convert Los Angeles from La La Land into the 21st Century model for the multicultural American city. My condolences to his wife Laurie, their kids and his many friends. L.A. is forever changed, for the better, for his far-reaching contribution.”

Charles R. Stith

“I moved to LA a bit more than two years ago. My two most values guides for getting to know the city was my map and Jonathan Gold's 101 Best Restaurants. My palate was always more than satisfied by his suggestions. In treating out of town friends to food at places on his list made me appear to be much of an epicurean than my choices suggested. Gold's plate will be big one to fill. My prayers to his family. My salute to the restaurant scene for which he was the number one ambassador.”

Collin Davda

“I only discovered Mr. Gold in the last two years I lived in L.A. (for my undergraduate degree). His reviews helped me find some of the best Asian food I had ever had in my life, and all of it within a 20-minute drive from my home in SGV. My favorite restaurant in the world was something I only found because of his mentioning it, Chengdu Taste. I also got to enjoy fantastic Xiao Long Bao from Din Tai Fung, again at the recommendation of Mr. Gold.”

Conrad Heiney

“His reviews of little places in L.A. let me eat well and widely when I had nearly no money. It was a huge gift for him to find and share all that.”

Donna Myrow

“L.A. Youth, the newspaper by and about teens, frequently published stories about our potlucks. Every dish had to be white. Or blue. It was amazing how creative the teens could be creating the recipes. I sent a copy to Jonathan and he always responded with a cheerful note congratulating our teen "foodies." He also liked our holiday potluck where everyone brought their family favorite -- Korean, Indian, Persian, Mexican, Jewish.”


“Jonathan Gold seduced me out of my Brentwood bubble to discover incredible morsels of food all over this city. I tried foods I would have never imagined eating before reading his enticing descriptions. I will be forever grateful to him and will miss his writing in the years to come.”

Ella Cross

“He made me feel like I had a friend out there, frankly. You could just tell from his writing. You could hear his voice. He definitely changed my life. I went everywhere. Ate things from all over the planet. Freshwater snail broth (delicious), sheep's intestines (not delicious) and so many other things prepared by people who also cared like he did. I will miss him even though I never had the pleasure of meeting him. He was a wonderful teacher. Peace to his ashes.”

Evan M. Lovett

“Mr. Gold would always return my emails thoroughly and thoughtfully, and I feel fortunate to consider him something of a 'pen pal.' This news is extremely unfortunate as L.A. has finally earned its seat at the table as 'most exciting food city in the world.' It is because of Jonathan Gold that Los Angeles achieved that accolade, and it is due to Mr. Gold that L.A. discovered more of itself - diverse, forever curious, passionate, and exquisite.”

Gary Shafner

“I remember so often thinking to myself, how the hell did he find this place? There are hundreds of Mexican places and he knows the best Oaxacan, the best Korean for hangovers, etc. ... I always found that whatever place he'd mention was always worthwhile, even if I didn't like the place. I understood what he was trying to teach me. ”

Hershy Petty

“I was a restaurant manager for many years on the west side of L.A. I had the pleasure of managing at Leona restaurant in Venice when I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Gold.”


“I had the pleasure to meet him at the food conference in L.A. last year with his wife. They gave us a talk on different breads and bakeries in town. It was amazing to discover the cultural flavors of the countries and their contradictions when made here in the states. I had a chance to chat with him afterwards about Basque restaurants in the area, and he gave me some advice, with a good dose of his citric sarcasm of course.”

Joel Laarman

“I chose to move to L.A. after reading the New Yorker profile of him 8 or 9 years ago. His writing and his life opened up L.A.'s incredible diversity for me. Johnathon Gold's L.A. was a place I wanted to live. I had the chance to tell him that at Skylight Books one day. I'm not sure if he believed that he had such an impact, but he graciously accepted my thank you. I'm really shocked and saddened by the news. Los Angeles lost a great champion today. ”

Joshua Fried

“I am a culinary student. I have been reading Jonathan Gold's works since high school, he inspired me to write for my school paper and even go to culinary school. A memory I will never forget is reading the newly released 2015 101 list in history class and the teacher gave me detention, so naturally I continued to read the list in detention. I didn't care. his words were too magnetic and inspiring to not read. He will always be my first inspiration into the food world of Los Angeles and beyond. Thank you for everything.”

Judi Bloom

“I have been reading Jonathan Gold's reviews for years, and every year savored his list of the top 101. He brought me L.A. in a phrase and expanded my view of my adopted city as no one else ever did. I went to areas I only knew about through his words, felt risky, and looked forward to Sunday mornings just so I could catch up with Jonathan.”

Kari Tervo

“When I moved to gigantic, sprawling L.A. in 2007, one of the first things I did to get to know the city was to sit down with a highlighter and Jonathan Gold's "Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat In the Real Los Angeles." His reviews gave me a sense of the diversity of food in Los Angeles and a sense of place of the neighborhoods he found his favorite dishes in. He is an L.A. icon. Long live Jonathan Gold.”

Kathrin King

“Jonathan Gold drew my attention because....he went to the Valley! After years of L.A. Times food critics rarely venturing beyond a small slice of the West Side, Gold explored the whole city, discovering unlikely and unprepossessing gems in all the corners of L.A. county.”

Kelly G. Richardson

“Jonathan's annual list was an event for us. We were never led astray. Some of our most memorable dining experiences were at places we would never have known. What a loss for Los Angeles.”

Linda Saslow

“Our two favorite Jonathan Gold restaurant finds are Colonia Publica in Whittier, where we've enjoyed sublime choose-your-own-adventure fideo. Dim sum at Earthen in Rowland Heights is fantastic family fun. We family of Bruins will miss one of our own. Hugs to Laurie and the kids. Please let Gustavo do a lot more food reviews in the future.”

Luci Marzola

“I cannot even count the number of restaurants I discovered based on Jonathan Gold's recommendation. Once, a friend asked him for a suggestion on Twitter and I chimed in. When he liked my recommendation (Son of a Gun), I was irrationally excited. Getting his approval felt like an honor.”

Lynne Arnold

“Because of JG, I dragged my friends all over LA to restaurants that we had never heard of in neighborhoods we didn't know existed. The best was getting a friend and I to Guelaguetza which I think was way back around 1990 or so. I came for the mole and until then I had no idea there was more than one kind of mole. I've been reading Counter Intelligence since the 80s and kept reading long after we moved from SoCal. I will dearly miss reading JG's reviews.”

Mary Bray

“I have his last three restaurant guides always next to my couch for easy reference when I want to explore a new place to eat. I loved the way he told the story of our rich ethnic community through delicious FOOD!! I will really miss him. I was so lucky to have met him at the L.A. Times Book Festival. ”


“I've worked in restaurants since I moved to Los Angeles. Jonathan Gold gave me a sense that the work I was doing mattered in the patchwork of this city. He was also able to articulate, in a way that I could not, the beauty in the diversity of cultures in this city. His love of Los Angeles vindicated and fortified my feelings about the place I chose to live. I've used his 101 list to guide my restaurant experiences for three years and I've never been lead astray. His ability to keep an open mind about people, culture and tastes was a blessing.”

Melissah Yang

“I was at Kobawoo at 1 p.m. on a Wednesday because I had just quit my job. Looking for guidance, I had invited my former journalism professor, Marc Cooper, to try bossam (steamed pork belly) for the first time at my all-time favorite restaurant in Ktown. ....Within minutes, in walked Ludo Lefebvre and Jonathan himself! They were shooting an episode of “Mind of a Chef.” Of course, Marc knew Jonathan and introduced me as one of his stellar former students even though I was totally unemployed. I'll never forget Jonathan's words of encouragement and his enthusiasm for Korean food. “Did you get the seafood pancake too?” he asked. Of course we did. He always made it a point to feature Ktown on his 101 Best lists. I'll forever be grateful for that, as I know many Koreans are. He'll be sorely missed.”

Mike G.

“Ever since reading (and re-reading, and referring to) his book "Counter Intelligence," I was hooked on J Gold. Read his reviews wherever they appeared. When he began to speak (audio! He exists!) on "Good Food" on KCRW, it was even better.”

Nathan Man

“What made Gold so special was how much he sought to understand and eat food the way the people who made it intended it to be eaten. He detected the subtleties in Cantonese food the way a Hong Kong native would. I would almost daily look up whatever region of town I was in + his name when I got hungry. The city has lost its guide.”

Peter K.

“I came to L.A. to go to college at UCLA, where I spent most of my time in the insular Westwood area. My senior year, a close friend showed me Jonathan Gold's work. His reviews not only introduced me to some of the best food I have ever eaten, but also forced me to explore and learn about the city that has been my home ever since I graduated. He was fundamental in my appreciation of this city and I will greatly miss his unique voice and exceptional recommendations.”

Ruth Mittleman

“I so enjoyed reading his descriptions of various foods in various restaurants, and even though I didn't go to these restaurants, necessarily -- I felt that I had partaken.”

Sarah Mosqueda (operations manager at Irenia restaurant)

“Many things happened during Mr. Gold's first time at Irenia. He had a transcendental experience with dilis. He dropped his iPhone between the thin space of the wall and the booth and I had to retrieve it as gracefully as possible using kitchen tongs, while suffering an acute panic attack. He also snapped a picture of his adobo rice bowl and posted it on Instagram. “Things in a bowl” it was captioned. The post was live for less than two hours, but by the time dinner service had rolled around a small crowd had gathered at our door. Gold would visit a handful more times before writing us a lovely review in 2017. He also included us in his round up 10 best things he ate in 2017 and snuck us into his 101 list at number 90. While J.Gold's recognition was certainly not the end of our restaurant troubles, his recognition gave us the boost of moral we needed to press on that first year. .... He championed for Filipino food (for immigrant food, really) in a way that reminded us why we started all this to begin with. Southern California's culinary landscape will not be the same with out him.”

Sylvia Powers

“Every Saturday morning I eagerly get my L.A. Times off my driveway and immediately go to Jonathan Gold's column in the Saturday section. Even though I didn't like a lot of the types of food he did, he made me want to eat them. Thanks to his writing, I have explored new places and new foods with much more enthusiasm. His column and Chris Erskine's are the main reasons I still am an L.A. Times subscriber. A cup of coffee and the Saturday section are my favorite ways to start the day. I have read and enjoyed his columns from his beginnings with The Times, and Saturday mornings with not be the same. My heart goes out to his family and friends -- he will surely be missed by many. ”

Vince Bertoni

“It is not a specific restaurant or meal, but how he understood that food is also about community and he would describe so vividly and lovingly the neighborhoods where these restaurants were located. Jonathan Gold helped shape my views of the city and its beautiful, diverse neighborhoods that I often call upon in my job as a city planner for the City of Los Angeles. He was one of a kind and will never be replaced.”

Warren Meislin

“We were blessed to see him present "City of Gold" at a movie theater right here in Pasadena on Easter Sunday right after it premiered. He then did a brief Q&A afterward in which you could sense his love for this city and its environs. He not only offered insight into how he found hidden gems, but gave enraptured audience members an L.A. history lesson as well. Those who felt L.A.'s culinary scene paled in comparison to New York's or Chicago's were in for a rude awakening.”

Additional credits: Development by Vanessa Martínez and Priya Krishnakumar. Lead photo by Marie Astrid Gonzalez.