For years, Los Angeles' food scene has been a strange balance of guilty-pleasure eating followed by uber-dieting. L.A. is the city of In-N-Out Burger, Disneyland churros, and heavy Mexican food. And for each time you eat one of those caloric dishes, you need six salads to make up for it.
But in recent years, the L.A. dining scene has begun to change—and it’s doing so along the lines of the Culinary Shifts that we are seeing across the country. Drive through Hollywood or Studio City, and you see more small plates restaurants (think Luxury Re-valued), appetizers with Spain’s Manchego cheese (Cultural Curiosity), and more old-school, rustic dishes, like roasted bone marrow (remember, Simple Refuge and More with Less).
To see what we mean, we recommend checking out a few particular spots. (Look them up on the internet, and check out their menus, even if you aren’t planning a trip to L.A. Or send your west coast clients/friends to taste test and have them report back to you.)
Father’s Office – This burger and beer spot has made a name for itself selling microbrews from across the country, and one burger—a beef patty with Gruyère, Maytag blue cheese, arugula, and applewood-bacon compote. It’s so delicious lines are common. Beyond burgers, Father’s Office dishes up Spanish-influenced small plates, like asparagus salad with Manchego cheese and hard-boiled egg. 1018 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, 310-736-2224; 3229 Helms Ave., Los Angeles, 310-736-2224
The Mercantile – Drop into this airy Hollywood spot, and either shop the cheese case (the spot is part market, part restaurant), or pull up a seat at the bar. If you do sit down, order a Spanish tempranillo, and small plates of bone marrow butter, deviled eggs, or chicken pot pie. 6600 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, 323-962-8202
The Bazaar – Acclaimed Spanish chef Jose Andres opened this highly stylized restaurant (there's modern art for sale throughout the space) as a homage to both the food of his home country and modern cooking. Which means that here, amid over-sized ceramic vases, you can try simple Spanish classics (like toast with tomatoes and Manchego) or wild appetizers, like skewered cubes of foie gras swirled in cotton candy. 465 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-246-5555