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Checking in on the LA Food Scene

From the Editor: Everything you missed in food news last week

Beef tartare at Nightshade
Amanda Kludt

This post originally appeared on April 27, 2019, in Amanda Kludt’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. Read the archives and subscribe now.

Last week I went out to LA and managed to fit in some good eating. Some notes from the road:

  • I would like to pretend I’m more sophisticated than this, but chef Mei Lin’s tom yum onion (a play on the Bloomin’ Onion) has haunted me ever since I saw it on Instagram. I had to try it. I did try it. And it was so much better than the original that inspired it.
  • That said, my biggest takeaway from Lin’s restaurant, Nightshade, is that Max Boonthanakit, just named an Eater Young Gun, is putting out the most innovative and delicious desserts I’ve had in a while. If you find yourself nearby, I highly recommend stopping by for his guava, cream cheese, and white chocolate trompe l’oeil (innovative!) and coconut mousse with lime coconut granita (most delicious).
  • I would eat this Sonoratown chimichanga every day of my life if I could.
  • The Row development is pretty nuts. It’s a giant collection of warehouses close to Skid Row (one of the largest encampments of homeless individuals in the U.S.) and the Arts District downtown that developers are trying to turn into a destination with restaurants, retail, gyms, spas, and office space. I visited the 45,000-square-foot (!) Tartine/Chris Bianco compound called the Manufactory, which includes a roastery, commissary, market, casual cafe, and dinner-only Italian restaurant. On the Tuesday night we went, the whole place felt like an eerie ghost town. That’s allegedly the vibe on most days and nights, with the exception of Sundays, when hundreds of people flood the complex to visit Smorgasburg there.
  • The Chris Bianco-Tartine partnership unfortunately doesn’t feature his famous pizza — it has some flatbreads in the cafe — but the food at its Alameda Supper Club is pretty solid. Get the bread and butter and his crab spaghetti if you go.
  • Spoon By H is everything that everyone hyped it up to be.
  • I got to be one of the first paying customers at the Firehouse Hotel, a stylish, new nine-room spot in the Arts District. I didn’t get the chance to try the food, but I would be down to throw an event by the backyard fire pit.
  • Get to Fiona and get a fruit pie.
  • Porridge and Puffs has this miso caramel mochi thing that just blew my mind. The porridge is also wonderful.
Porridge from Porridge + Puffs
Amanda Kludt

Not a food thing, but one stray thought: does LA make you into a worse Lyft rider? Anywhere else I would never take a meeting, listen to a podcast, or eat a scone in a ride share, and I did all of those things — constantly and sometimes all at once — in LA because I had to spend so much time in a car on this trip. Who knew LA could turn a New Yorker into an even worse person?

Opening of the Week: Dear John’s

A dimly-lit, red-tinged old school steakhouse dining room, ringed with paintings. Wonho Frank Lee

This is one of my favorite restaurant stories of the year, and I keep seeing it pop up at the top of Eater LA’s traffic reports, so I feel like Angelenos must be into it too.

Basically, two major LA players — Josiah Citrin and Hans Rockenwagner — are reviving a classic Culver City martini bar and steakhouse called Dear John’s. The twist here is a developer is going to knock down the building in April 2021, so there’s a built-in expiration date. I love that they are giving the old gal the swan song she deserves. And also, I figure it must be compelling to enter a project knowing you don’t have to sustain a long-term business.

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