Because every Angeleno loves to eat, even if he has to valet, we bring you Table Stakes: a series that answers man’s eternally recurring question (“Uh, what’s new?”), and recurs once every lunar cycle or so. Bon appétit.
Photo credit: ForkedUp
The Chef: Ricardo Zarate, formerly of Mo Chica and Pica
You’re here for: A first dinner date or a rowdy night with friends. Ask the hostess if you can sit in the glassed-in patio.
You’re dining on: Ceviche a la the Ceviche Project and a paella loaded with salty flavor and seafoods. Sugary drinks and cold beers will wash all of this down.
Photo credit: Rossoblu
Chef: Steve Samson, of Sotto
You’re here for: A convivial dinner with friends and family or a date. For a capacious room set in an industrial building (main image), it’s surprisingly easy to hear your company.
You’re dining on: If you dig on swine, these guys do their butchering in-house, with a full salumi menu. Pastas are also made in-house, and the rich tagliatelle (pictured) and funky maltagliati are among the many notables. The cold eggplant is a great starter, and the vegetable salad with farro reminded us of a dish we had in Tuscany. We devoured the crispy fingerling potatoes, too.
Chef: Raphael Lunetta, formerly of JiRaffe
You’re here for: Casual café dining. This is the neighborhood joint that’s worth visiting from other neighborhoods. It’s very simple, with marble countertops and a quaint patio in the back.
You’re dining on: A surprisingly juicy grass-fed burger with a rich flavor and a glass of IPA. Save room for the buttery-soft blond brownie with dark chocolate.
Photo credit: Jakob Layman
Frankland’s Crab Co.
Chef: Phillip Frankland Lee, of Scratch Bar and Woodley Proper
You’re here for: Any time you need a good time with friends and family
You’re dining on: Lobster rolls, fried crabs and pitchers of ice cold beer — this is what summer is all about. Go next door for drinks at Woodley Proper afterwards.
Photo by Dylan + Jeni
Chef: Zack Pollack, of Alimento
You’re here for: Fluffy, greasy pizzas and bottles of vino. You'll have to put your name in and wait a few minutes, so not the best place for a first date, but a great place for friends and family.
You’re dining on: The pepperoni pie is something we’ll be going back for soon. Pair with a bottle of something red and some charred broccolini and you can’t lose. They brought their oven from Italy, and it reaches north of 800 degrees.
Chef: Gilberto Cetina Jr, of Chichen Itza Restaurant
You’re here for: Lunch
You’re dining on: The octopus taco is one of the best of its kind, served with a squid-ink rice. The octopus is pan fried so it’s really crispy, but not so much so you can’t taste the meat. If you’re dining with one other person, split the cocteles: it’s like a shrimp cocktail meets a michelada.
Main image credit: Ed Anderson