December 6, 2023

Food City

The Best Darn Food City Uou Can Get

What makes Los Angeles the ‘best’ food city

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Saturday, Sept. 23. Here’s what you need to know to start your weekend:

  • Why Los Angeles is the “best” food city
  • Another wet winter could be headed for California (Thanks, El Niño)
  • Could a three-way proposal end a relationship for good?
  • And here’s today’s e-newspaper

How L.A.’s culinary greatness makes it the ‘best’ food city

After living in Los Angeles for four years, I’ve learned to accept a few things. Horrible traffic will always exist, parking spots will be scarce and food options will be plentiful. If you don’t like one restaurant, there’s always another to try.

From rectangular Detroit-style pies to wide triangular New York slices, it’s possible to find nearly every regional American variation of pizza in L.A. The city is in the midst of a golden pizza moment. And there’s nothing mediocre about it — just ask Times restaurant critic Bill Addison.

While nothing can compare to my hometown of New Orleans’ beloved po’boy, L.A.’s sandwich scene also is something to brag about. There’s no shortage of excellent versions of the Italian sub, as The Times’ Jenn Harris writes. She also wrote about a Santa Monica restaurant that makes the best grilled cheese in the universe. That might sound like hyperbole, but if Jenn is throwing her weight behind that statement, it’s definitely worth a try.

California’s most populous city also has an abundance of vegetarian and vegan eateries — from a seasonally minded restaurant in Fairfax where veggies are front and center to a vegan fast-food spot in Venice.

Of course, Mexican food will always be at the top of the list. It’s an essential part of L.A.’s cultural landscape. Longtime L.A. institutions like Guelaguetza emphasize a single region — Oaxaca — with its variation of moles. Say what you want about “Cal-Mex” restaurants — “heavy on tomatoes and meat and light on spice” — but they’re an important part of the city’s culinary identity too, so much so that The Times’ food team gave them their due last fall.

With so much culinary greatness, it’s no wonder Bill considers Los Angeles the best food city. As a biased native New Orleanian, I’d argue that title belongs to New Orleans. (Sorry, not sorry.)

But I want to hear from you: What do you think is the best restaurant in L.A.? We might feature some of your responses in a future newsletter.

The week’s biggest stories

Fire crews enter a house engulfed in flames

(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

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The week’s great reads

A mural depicting two women smiling while one of them holds a picture frame

(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

Facing eviction, a beloved Little Tokyo cafe charts its survival in a gentrifying city. After more than half a century serving Little Tokyo — and more than 35 years in its iconic location — family-run Japanese restaurant Suehiro Cafe has moved to downtown’s Historic Core as it faces an eviction lawsuit. The suit and the cafe’s relocation are spurring community discussions over the future of legacy businesses in the historic Japanese American neighborhood.

More great reads

How can we make this newsletter more useful? Send comments to [email protected].

For your weekend

Illustration of Jeff Probst surrounded by a tennis court, sushi, dog, cup of coffee, remote control and hiking trail.

(Samuel Rodriguez / For The Times)

Going out

  • 🎾 Spend your Sunday like Jeff Probst: Hike through the canyon, play doubles tennis with friends or peruse the vinyl at a local record shop.
  • 📽️ Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month tonight with a special screening of the 1997 biopic “Selena” at the Ford amphitheater.
  • ☕ A pop-up coffee omakase from Blue Bottle’s founder? Here’s the secret location.
  • 🎸Two of Argentina’s most popular and long-running Latin rock bands are hitting the stage at the Hollywood Bowl tonight.

Staying in

L.A. Affairs

A ghost-like figure whispers into the ear of a man.

(Sam Alden / For The Times)

Our relationship was broken. Would a three-way proposal end it for good? Trey knew the relationship was over the night he and his boyfriend met. His boyfriend was charming and attentive but intensely motivated by the possibility of scoring sex. “My voice told me everything I needed to know, but I ignored it,” Trey said. After a three-way proposition, he finally got the courage to leave.

Have a great weekend, from the Essential California team

Kevinisha Walker, multiplatform editor
Elvia Limón, multiplatform editor
Laura Blasey, assistant editor

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