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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.
Exploring the Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California over the holidays, I was on a mission to eat at as many of the incredible restaurants. On the final evening of my visit, I went to Corazon de Tierra, a restaurant located  adjacent to the Vena Cava winery. At the head of Corazon de Tierra is the young and talented chef Diego Hernandez, a leader in the modern Mexican cooking movement, who has been awarded Latin America World's 50 Best winner for the restaurant. While I was enjoying my dinner, I learned that Chef Hernandez was in the process of opening a restaurant in Los Angeles in the old Dominick's space in West Hollywood. I waited in anticipation! The anticipation was worth it and it exceeded my expectations. Located in the former Dominick's space, Verlaine is an outdoor space with a retractable roof. The front door is covered with greens and opens to a tiled walkway that was previously a parking space.