Tasting L.A., IMG Cred: Katrina Woznicki

A Dish From the Animal!


Viscera flies at the two restaurants of Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, the creative geniuses behind Los Angeles’ Animal , specializing in various cuts of meat, and Son of a Gun, which focuses on seafood. Even on weeknights, the tables are filled and sommeliers try to keep up as plates of tandoori octopus, veal  or smoked mahi stream from the steaming kitchens. Animal and Son of a Gun are two such examples, which have become so popular that reservations are strongly encouraged.

Los Angeles may be known as the epicenter of drive-ins and burger joints, like the California-based chain In -N- Out Burger. But the City of Angels is also home to a fascinating mix of creative culinary pursuits and ethnic cuisines that allow you to sample a range of entrees in very comfortable, casual environments without tearing a hole through your wallet. You can truly taste the melting pot that is L.A.

Sticking with the Los Angeles suburbs, the funky Echo Park neighborhood has a relatively new restaurant called Mohawk Bend that focuses on locally-sourced foods that make California, California. Pair delicious crafted beer or wine with deliciously crafted food, including Spanish-stuffed dates, Buffalo Style Cauliflower, and a variety of flatbreads and brick-oven pizzas such as PB&J or the pineapple, bacon and jalapeno pizza. Kids are welcome and the place fills up fast, even on a school night. Most of the wait staff were covered in tattoos when we were there, and had an incredible knowledge of the menu offerings. Come hungry and thirsty.

Within historic downtown Los Angeles, two great restaurants worth exploring are The Gorbals, and The Spice Table, both which opened in the last few years. The Gorbals’ menu is organized by categories like “Pig,” “Cow,” and “Herbivore” featuring dishes such as bacon-wrapped matzoh balls (which we thoroughly enjoyed).  Another favorite of ours that is still on the menu is latkes with applesauce and sage. The cooking is very personal , influenced by the owner Ilan Hall’s Scottish and Israeli family, is wrought with thoughtfulness and intense flavor, yet the atmosphere is very casual with long benched tables and room for live musical performances. Prices are very reasonable and several large tables encourage group dining.

Nearby is The Spice Table, a Southeast Asian restaurant serving Singaporean “carrot cake” with turnips and bean sprouts, lamb belly satay for the more adventurous carnivores, and noodle dishes including salted duck egg crab bee hoon made of thin rice noodles, Dungeness and blue crab, pea sprouts and chilies. The menu is influenced by the founders’ Singaporean and Vietnamese heritage. Our group ordered several different dishes to pass around the table, which is a fun and fantastic way to sample everything Chef Bryant Ng has to offer.

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photo: Katrina Woznicki

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