The 2023 edition of L.A.’s 101 Best Restaurants is here

Four covers of the 101 Best Restaurants print magazine
(Brandon Ly / Los Angeles Times)

Our annual super-project is live!

Every year for a decade now, The Times has published an annual guide to the 101 best restaurants in Los Angeles, though in the five years I’ve disappeared into the task for months I’ve always felt more kinship with the word “essential” as a governing principle. The digital sphere is a continual churn of lists, especially this time of year, but I hope readers — you — might view the collection as much a narrative of our ever-evolving region as a collage of ranked recommendations.

Print subscribers will receive their copy of the magazine version, handsomely designed by Brandon Ly, senior art director for the Food section, in their Sunday papers this week. You can also buy copies at The Times’ online store.


A look back before charging ahead

Plenty about compiling the 101 is daunting (and a privilege I never take for granted), but the saddest part comes at the beginning of the process. I sit down in late summer and flip through the previous edition to mark which restaurants have closed, either permanently or temporarily. This year the losses started right at the top with Taco María, ranked sixth on the 101 in 2022. After 10 years Carlos Salgado decided not to renew the lease of his brilliant restaurant housed in a fancy Costa Mesa mall. The final menu from the end of July remains on Taco María’s website; I’m trusting that we’ll taste things from Salgado and his team like white corn memela with cranberry beans, crescenza, cherry tomatoes and herbs before too much time passes.

Kim Prince, part of the family that first began selling Nashville-style hot chicken in the 1940s, announced the closing of her wonderful restaurant Hotville Chicken at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw mall on the day last year’s 101 was released. Her secret recipe still shows up on the menu of DulanVille, the food truck she established with Greg Dulan. He’s part of the Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen dynasty whose restaurants are perennials on the 101 (including again this year).

Two other favorites from last year that will hopefully reappear soon: Bridgetown Roti, the established pop-up that serves some of the city’s finest Caribbean cuisine, suspended its regular weekend pickups in June so chef and owner Rashida Holmes can focus on opening a restaurant. Flavors From Afar, which highlights a monthly rotation of chefs who are refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants from disparate parts of the world, is transitioning this year from its space in Little Ethiopia to a new location in East Hollywood.

Losing places like these on the 101 challenges me to look more deeply into communities, to ask myself what I might have overlooked and cross-examine my own notions of excellence. One example of a happy result: I remember loving Alisa Reynolds’ oxtail tacos during the grimmest months of 2020. She simmered the meat for six hours until it pulled apart into filigree and gathered it into a corn tortilla with roasted tomato, a bit of whiskey-laced reduction and kale chopped to a fine, soft texture. They were the standout dish Reynolds had devised as part of her Tacos Negros takeout subproject while her Mid-City restaurant, My 2 Cents, struggled for business.

Oxtail tacos with roasted tomato, shreded kale and whiskey reduction from chef Alisa Reynolds, the owner of My 2 Cents.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

What a pleasure to return in early fall to see the dining room bustling, and to sit at a table enjoying not just the tacos, as compelling as ever, but fried catfish over braised greens, a winningly unorthodox shrimp po’ boy accented with bacon and shaved okra, and incredible towering cakes made by Reynolds’ sister Teresa Fountain. I can’t tell you which to try first between the triple strawberry and the brown sugar caramel, so I’ll encourage you to order both.


An annual plea

May the guide lead you to similarly joyful meals for the next year. By the way, I see occasional comments on social media griping that the 101 exists as a subscriber-only exclusive behind a paywall. Googling a new subscription to The Times tells me it costs $1 for the first six months. My employer pays not only for every meal I write about in the guide, but also for many others that don’t make the cut. Consider this my annual plea to support journalists with a payment that sets you back a buck.

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