On the Road Eats: Los Angeles City Guide
Credited in 2007 as introducing Vietnamese cuisine to America by the Smithsonian Institute, Crustacean has become an icon in California's Vietnamese dining scene. Duff can't get enough of Chef Helene An's famous garlic noodles, and thousands flock every year for her equally famed roasted crabs.
2. Hamasaku Restaurant
Since the first sushi bars in the country opened in LA, it seems LA has a sushi bar on every corner. But Hamasaku's modern sushi has been an instant crowd-pleaser. Giada customized her roll with ponzu sauce but for newcomers, try the crowd favorite: Charlize tacos made with fried wonton skin.
3. Zelda's Corner
On $24 in 24, Jeff Mauro snags a crazy good deal with Zelda's mini donuts, offered for the insanely low price of $6 for 30. Located on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, Zelda's makes perfect beach food with nearly two dozen sandwich options, including the Vermonster panini made with apple and bacon.
4. Patrick's Roadhouse
As a Santa Monica institution with an unmistakable neon green exterior, Patrick's Roadhouse has been specializing in eclectic burgers for more than 35 years. On Triple D, Guy becomes a fan of The Governator egg dish but for something more upscale, try the Rockefeller burger with caviar spread.
5. Seoul Sausage
Winners of The Great Food Truck Race season three, Seoul Sausage owners Yong Kim, Ted Kim and Chis Oh followed their passion and opened Seoul Sausage against their parents' wishes. You can find them around Southern California, happily feeding hungry Korean barbecue fans.
6. Gloria's Café
Since 1981 Gloria Flores has been sharing her traditional El Salvadoran cooking to adoring LA locals. Guy's visit on Triple D left him scraping his plate of Adobada, a pork stew with a rich tomato sauce. But Guy says "You will go nuts" for the Seven Seas soup brimming with crab legs and shrimp.
7. Papa Cristo's
For years, Los Angelinos have flocked to the five-course Big Fat Greek feast at Papa Cristo's. Rahm Fama visited on Meat & Potatoes and celebrated the succulent lamb with a dance. In LA, Cristo's is the place for Greek with prized feta-lamb sandwiches and enormous beef gyros with tzatziki sauce.
Few would guess cupcake guru Candace Nelson grew up in the spicy rim of Southeast Asia. So finding Lukshon's spicy Southeast Asian chicken pops was a welcome surprise. The pops quickly became her favorite. Meanwhile, locals still obsess over Chef Sang Yoon's super-spicy Dandan noodles.
A-Frame's motto is "Leave Pretentious at the Door" so Chef Roy Choi's dishes, a fusion of Korean and Latin flavors, are anything but. Susan Feniger's Best Thing I Ever Ate was the "killer" Cracklin Beer Can Chicken. But don't stop there. Try the Furikake Kettle Corn or the Chu-Don't-Know-Mang cake.
10. The Gorbals
Chef Ilan Hall grew up kosher, meaning pork was a no-no. But as an adult, his bacon-wrapped matzoh balls have become the definition of delicious and sacrilegious, as verified by Rahm Fama. But Ilan doesn't stop there. How about roasted pig? Or popcorn gizzards? Or the fave: banh mi poutine.
11. Osteria Mozza
With a team of star-studded Italian chefs (Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich) Osteria Mozza was a quick-win with LA's Italian fanaticos. Feast on the silky burratas from the mozzarella bar or with the choice antipasti of grilled octopus. For bigger fans, the pasta tasting menu is a must.
12. Bulgarini Gelato
For years, Aarti Sequieria stood with Team Ice Cream. But on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Leo Bulgarini's Torte de Gelato made with pistachio and salty chocolate gelato made her a believer. Who could blame her, as Bulgarini's gelatos are made from true Sicilian pistachios and cocoa from Santo Domingo.
13. Cha Cha Chicken
Santa Monica's not known for great fried chicken, but on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Michael Symon guarantees that it could be — for Cha Cha Chicken's coconut fried chicken. The sweet and spicy flavor, crunchy exterior and sweet mango sauce, truly exemplifies Cha Cha's bold Caribbean flavors.
14. Wilshire Restaurant
With bar, patio, library and an office for private meetings, Wilshire restaurant redefines the upscale dining experience -- and office lunch meeting, too. Up-and-coming chef Nyesha Arrington, as seen on Chef Hunter, captures new urban cuisine with addictive mashed potatoes and sticky toffee pudding.
15. Tofu Ya
Tofu Ya is a great find for vegetarians and the carnivores who love them. Most dishes are prepared with tofu rather than meat, but there's also an all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue menu featuring bulgogi, short ribs and brisket. Jeff Mauro stopped in for the Tofu-Seafood Soup.
16. A.O.C. Wine Bar and Restaurant
Like a moth to a flame, Alex Guarnaschelli is drawn to A.O.C.'s lamb skewers. That's why she named them on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. A.O.C's dishes are served small (grilled albacore, lamb burgers, curried cauliflower) but they ooze big, luscious flavors. Like Alex, you'll be craving A.O.C., too.
17. The Oaks Gourmet
As owner of a gourmet market with artisan breads and cheeses, Greg Morris wanted to make sure his burger lived up to the competition. The 28-day dry-aged steakburger succeeded with great flavor, and when paired with taleggio and smoky jalapeno compote, Rahm Fama calls it a "beautiful burger."
18. The Lime Truck
The Lime Truck's concept is simple: create fresh, healthy and accessible food. Proof of concept? Try the slow-roasted pulled-pork fries drizzled with chipotle honey or the refreshing raspberry lychee limeades. Want more proof? TLT drove straight to No. 1 on Season 2 of the Great Food Truck Race.