LA Times critic Jonathan Gold has named Locol, the socially conscious fast-food restaurant from Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson, the best restaurant of the year, in what is possibly an intentional counterpoint to Pete Wells’ January 2017 New York Times review that outraged the internet. In an announcement of the inaugural award, Gold writes that “the choice was inevitable — no restaurant in years may have made more of a difference.”
Street food stalwart Choi and Michelin-starred chef Patterson teamed up to open up the first Locol in Watts in January 2016. The Locol brand, which aims to bring healthy, sustainable, and affordable food to neighborhoods without those options, has since grown to include a truck, a bakery, and coffee company Yes Plz, which supplies Locol with one-dollar cups of quality brew.
But Locol faced challenges from the start. Patterson revealed in a California Sunday profile in March that the Watts location is losing money, and Pete Wells’s zero-star review of the Oakland location was a blow to the team: Choi noted in a statement that Wells knew the review “would hurt a community that is already born from a lot of pain and struggle.”
Gold has a notably different take on Locol’s efforts. According to the celebrated critic, Locol has “a sense of purpose, a place within its community, and the ability to drive the conversation forward, not just in Los Angeles but around the world.”
On Instagram, the Locol team wrote:
Los Angeles Times Inaugural Restaurant of the Year. The sweat, the tears, the lows, the highs, the pain, the joy. This is for Watts, this is for the people, this is for the world. Spread the word, the revolution has only begun and WE NEED you. Your support, your business, your voice, your grace, and your love. WE ARE HERE.
What they don’t mention is how good it must feel to have Gold’s endorsement drop the mic after the Wells review.
• Restaurant of the Year: Locol [LAT]
• What Does the Future of Locol Look Like? [E]
• Why Locol’s $1 Coffee Brand Matters [E]
• The Internet Is Pissed at a New York Times Zero-Star Restaurant Review [E]