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This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
Editor’s note: Until my son moved to Los Angeles to go to medical school and then decided to stay there for his residency, I’d never thought of L.A. as a culinary destination. But since then, every time we visit him, he takes us to a new and fascinating place: a hole in the wall that serves fabulous ramen, or a seemingly ramshackle place on the beach the cooks up spicy wonderful Caribbean food, or the place that is reported to have the best burger in L.A., located down a hallway behind a butcher shop in Santa Monica. Who knew that an intern has so much time to eat? But it is turning out that L.A. has one of the most vibrant and diverse food scenes I’ve ever visited. With this in mind I asked our wine columnist Allison Levine, who lives in L.A., for a list of her favorites. —Sasha Paulsen
For years, when one thought of food, restaurants and must-eat-at destinations, Los Angeles was not a city that came to mind. But the city of 14 million has been gaining recognition for its food scene over the last five or so years.
Los Angeles Times Food Critic Jonathan Gold called Los Angeles the “food city of the moment” and restaurant critics from New York and San Francisco have agreed. In fact, Zagat named Los Angeles number one in their list of “30 Most Exciting Food Cities in America 2017.”
I spend much of my time traveling around the country and the world. It is always exciting to explore the food scene in a given city and enjoy wonderful meals. But every time I come home to Los Angeles, I am really blown away by the quality and diversity of the food scene, where chef-driven restaurants, exotic cuisine and innovative cooking are all celebrated. There is also the sheer quantity of restaurants.
New restaurants are opening on a weekly basis. Local celebrity chefs have opened additional locations, new young chefs have realized their visions and a handful of well-known out-of-town high-profile chefs have descended upon Los Angeles for their newest outposts. At times, it seems almost impossible to keep up, but I do my best. Here are some of my favorite restaurants where I had some of my more memorable meals of 2017.
Ever since Chef Bruce Kalman opened Union in Old Town Pasadena in 2014, it had been at the top of my list of restaurants to visit. I had tried his fresh, home made, delicate pasta dishes at various food and wine events around town but just could not seem to get myself across town to Pasadena. But finally I did and it was everything I anticipated and more. Union is a 50-seat restaurant and bar located in a stripped-down storefront on Union Street. Brick walls, large windows looking out at the street and minimalist decor create an intimate and casual atmosphere similar to restaurants in San Francisco, Brooklyn and beyond.