Food & Drink

L.A.’s Top Chefs Share Their Favorite Spots

They know good food

freddy smalls!

Whether they get there with an out-of-this-world omelet or a bomb bowl of Bolognese, these chefs know the way to our heart is through our stomach. We asked them to let us in on the local spots that make their knees weak and bellies full:

Freddy Smalls Bar + Kitchen
“Sometimes I’ll pop in for the fried Brussels sprouts dish (pictured above). It’s a very satisfying version that comes with smoked goat cheese and apple cider glaze.” — Ernesto Uchimura, chef at Plan Check Kitchen + Bar

“I’ve never had the pleasure of indulging in the omakase dinner, because it would last hours and put a large dent in my wallet. With the $40 premium lunch special, I can partake in a solid, understated sushi experience. When I first tried the Japanese barracuda, I remember thinking that it made a great case for the use of blowtorches in the kitchen (they apply a quick flame to the surface of the fish). The soy-marinated salmon must come from decades of choosing the right cut and soy sauce. The salmon roe is not extremely salty or gooey, it’s refreshing — you don’t hear that often about fish eggs.” — Kris Yenbamroong, chef at Night + Market

Harold & Belle’s
“When I’m feeling homesick or a little under the weather, I head in for a big bowl of gumbo. This place really makes me feel like I’m back home in New Orleans.” — Brandon Boudet, chef/co-owner at Dominick’s and Little Dom’s


Nong Lá Vietnamese Cafe
“It’s a Vietnamese noodle shop that serves a very L.A. style of pho (pictured above), light and perfectly flavored. My go-to is the bun bo Hue soup: a lemongrass spicy beef broth with pho noodles, pork patty, and beef shank, topped with white onions, green onions, and cilantro. They also have really good banh mi.” — Kuniko Yagi, executive chef at Hinoki & the Bird

La Cabañita
“This is where I go for a great hangover lunch. All the chile rellenos are great, but I normally stick with the chuletas de puerco.” — Brandon Boudet

Mariscos Jalisco
“It’s a food truck, but it has a permanent location at a building with some indoor tables. They serve the best shrimp taco I’ve ever eaten. I also love their cocteles, especially the campechana. If you bring beer, they’ll make your cocteles with it.” — Steve Samson, chef at Sotto

Paru’s Indian Vegetarian Restaurant
“It’s located in a dodgy part of Sunset, and you have to ring the buzzer to enter. This place feels like you’re eating in someone’s home rather than a commercial space. I always get the paper-thin masala dosa with a side of raita (not sharing!), pillowy poori for the table, and halwa with a masala chai for dessert.” — Jessica Koslow, executive chef/owner at Sqirl

cooks county!

Cooks County
“This is my go-to restaurant on nights off. I always start with a bone-dry Galicia white before I dive into the trout. You may think nobody makes good trout (pictured above), but wait until you taste this one. And just try and stop me from ordering two desserts.” — John Rivera Sedlar, chef at Rivera

“The low, wide chairs [make you] feel like you’re in an airport lounge. The specialty is a subtle Korean rice porridge (juk) paired with banchan, which makes for a wonderful everyday cure-all. I typically get the chicken and ginseng porridge, though I have craved the tuna and vegetable porridge thanks to the menu description: ‘This makes a beautiful harmony of tuna, which is rich in protein and different sorts of vegetables. It is good for the women who are interested in their beauty.’” — Jessica Koslow

“I love going to this tiny Brazilian restaurant with only six or seven tables. It’s a one-person operation: The owner/chef, Natalia, is the soul of the place. I love when she comes out of the kitchen to greet her customers; she is so warm and her personality is reflected in every detail. The food is always fresh and genuine. I love the chicken potpie and the Brazilian-style croquettes. The music is great, too.” — Andrea Cavaliere, executive chef at Cecconi’s

Photos: Courtesy of Freddy Smalls Bar + Kitchen; Courtesy of Nong Lá Vietnamese Cafe; Jason Layman / Courtesy of Cooks County

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