9 Wild DineLA Dishes We Need To Sink Our Teeth Into

Photo Courtesy of Ma’m Sir

We’re smack in the middle of Los Angeles’ acclaimed restaurant week, and for those of you in Southern California through January 25, a bevy of eateries are participating in dineLA. This is an event where participating restaurants craft an exclusive menu, lunch or dinner, that best represents them — just at a fraction of their regular prices.

For those who participate in dineLA for the adventure, and want to venture away from the more traditional dishes you can find at most restaurants, you’re in luck. We discovered nine innovative dishes that have piqued our interests this season.

Check them out below. As with most cases during dineLA week, reservations are highly recommended.

Cracklin’ Beer Can Chicken


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Found at A Frame, this Cracklin’ Chicken combines the moistness that comes from beer can chicken with the rich, bold flavors that can only be found at this Hawaiian Soul Food spot. With a beauty like this, it’s no wonder this chicken item has become one of A Frame’s signature dishes.

Croissant Bread Pudding


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Made with dulce de leche and vanilla bean gelato, Art’s Table is serving up this sweet rendition of bread pudding made from croissants as part of their dineLA menu. Croissant Bread Pudding checks off a lot of the boxes for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Ribeye Dry Aged In An Environmental Chamber


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A dry-aged steak is an experience that beef lover should have once in their life. APL Restaurant is serving a ribeye that’s been dry-aged in the restaurant’s famous 1,000 square foot chamber. Man, imagine the flavor waiting to be unlocked within that steak.

Duck Confit Poutine


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The duck confit fries from Belcampo are one of the best fries I’ve had the privilege of trying in Southern California. Belcampo takes them to a new level by throwing in crispy duck leg confit, duck gravy, and white cheddar.

Lobster Tacos


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Fans of hard shell tacos can find Blue Plate Oysterette’s Lobster tacos stuffed with Maine lobster, shredded lettuce, jalapeños, and drizzles of a “cheesie” sauce and truffle oil. A huge departure from the hard shell tacos I enjoyed in college, but a welcome one.

Lobster Pizza


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There was a time when throwing lobster on a pizza was unheard of, but Cattle and Claw’s took their shot and it looks delicious. This may be the first pizza I wouldn’t dunk in ranch dressing.

Butter Lobster Ramen


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The key to a solid bowl of ramen is a rich broth, and Hinoki + The Bird’s Lobster Ramen does not shy away from that. This decadent dish features butter poached lobster swimming in a seafood broth and hand-made ramen noodles.

Longanisa Burger


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I haven’t been a fan of longanisa sausage for long, but since trying it, the Filipino ingredient has become too delicious to quit. Ma’am Sir’s Longanisa Burger serves up an entire patty filled with those juicy Filipino flavors. Wonder if I can request a double patty here?

Big Mohawk


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Fans of the Impossible Burger will want to check out Mohawk Bend’s Big Mohawk, a meatless play on McDonald’s prolific Big Mac Sandwich. It features two vegan Impossible Meat burger patties, shredded lettuce, vegan American cheese, pickles, onions, and special sauce on a sesame seed bun.

Culture Features

How L.A. Became A Top Food Destination Over The Last 10 Years

K-BBQ Burger from Plan Check DTLA/Peter Pham, Foodbeast

I’ve lived in the Los Angeles area all my life, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to truly appreciate how lucky I was to grow up in a city where I could walk down a few blocks to get the best tacos of my life, and the next day, enjoy really good Thai food just a couple miles down. And it’s like that, in every region and pocket of the city.

L.A. is a melting pot of delicious food, and while the city is known more for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, the food scene is finally getting the respect it deserves.

In 2016, Anthony Bourdain named L.A. as one of the most underrated food cities in the U.S., saying, “I think Los Angeles is wildly underrated… man, some of the restaurants that have been opening in the last 10 years are really, really good.”

There have been world-renowned chefs, such as Nobu Matsuhisa, Jose Andres, and Wolfgang Puck, who have all made their way to L.A., opening up celebrated restaurants in the heart of the city. On the flip side, you can go to a taco truck in the sketchy-looking parking lot of a tire shop and still have an enjoyable meal.

A lot can change in ten years, and someone who can attest to that change in the food scene is Stacey Sun, who has served as director of the dineL.A. restaurant week since 2011.

If you’re not familiar with dineL.A., for the past decade they’ve put together a massive initiative where twice a year, you can experience pre-set menus from hundreds of Los Angeles restaurants. They’re often at a more affordable price point, allowing diners to enjoy many of the restaurants that are normally out of their budgets.

Sun and dineL.A. have had their finger on the pulse of the Los Angeles food scene over the last decade, so if there is anyone who can describe how it has changed and evolved over the years, it’s her.

We caught up with Sun to pinpoint the biggest differences the city has seen over the last decade, from the role social media has played, down to the array of cultures offering their own perspectives on food.

Stacey Sun at a dineL.A. media event/Peter Pham, Foodbeast

What have been the main keys to the L.A. food scene evolving over the years?

You have a new generation of young chefs from different cultural backgrounds (think: Filipino, Thai, Mexican) who have shaped and continue to shape L.A.’s food identity. We’re a melting pot of talent that has access to the best produce with an audience willing to try their food.

How has social media affected the awareness of L.A. restaurants?

Social media in general has been great to help promote restaurants and food in L.A. Out of all of them, Instagram has had the biggest impact because it is a such a visual platform which works well for the culinary world. Some dishes photograph well and have that “wow” factor. The same goes for restaurants. Some restaurants are Instagram-friendly where the lighting, décor, and food are on point. It’s all about getting the money shot with guaranteed “likes.” This will drive people (near or far) to that restaurant just so they can get a shot of that food item to post on their Instagram. Restaurants now create dishes with Instagram in mind which shows how powerful the platform is for a restaurant. It’s also a great marketing tool for restaurant partners in our dineL.A. program, and one which we use actively to promote our own dineL.A. program every year.

What is drawing outsiders to the city’s food scene the most?

L.A.’s casual sensibility, wide range of high quality food options, and international variety is a huge draw for visitors. You can have the best waffles at a coffee shop in DTLA for breakfast, followed by tacos out of a truck by a French-trained chef in Venice for lunch, ending with dinner at a California focused fine-dining restaurant in Hollywood. There truly is something for everyone whether you’re on a tight budget or not. And the one consistent theme is that the food quality is always high.

How Has dineL.A. impacted the food scene over the years?

dineL.A. happens twice a year and it’s like the Olympics of dining out. The number one reason why people go out during dineL.A. is to use this time to try restaurants that have been on the “must try” lists and will often go to 3-5 new restaurants during each event because of the value. dineL.A. has opened up dining out at all price points accessible to everyone, foodies and non-foodies. We’ve created a lot of ambassadors for L.A. restaurants. Over the span of 30 days during the Summer and Winter events, diners spend over $50 million at L.A. restaurants. A huge driver of revenue to our city, and we’re so proud of this, seeing as L.A. proudly wears the title of the #1 food city in America (Zagat). Food tourism is becoming an increasingly big draw to Los Angeles, and the dineL.A. program is one for both local foodies and visitors/tourists alike.

What do you think has drawn chefs and restaurateurs to open and experiment in L.A.?

There are several factors. The accessibility to fresh produce and 70-degree weather year-round is very attractive. Also, it is less expensive to open up a restaurant in L.A. compared to San Francisco and New York. You have the option of opening up a restaurant in a strip mall where rent will be less expensive. And the people of Los Angeles are another reason why chefs can be more experimental. Angelenos are adventurous eaters and we give the chefs the freedom to experiment.

Just how much bigger is the food scene in L.A. than it was when you first started dineL.A.?

Ten years ago, L.A. was not hitting the top food destination lists. Fast forward to today, we’re THE place to eat. We were just named the #1 most exciting food city in America. Chefs from all over the world are opening up restaurants in L.A. now because they see th at L.A. gives them a freedom of expression that can only be found here.

Featured Photo by Michel Phiphak

Culture Features Hit-Or-Miss

Roy Choi’s Upcoming Las Vegas Restaurant Will Be A Hip-Hop Themed Ode To Los Angeles

Roy Choi

As the godfather of the food truck movement, nothing seems too adventurous or intrepid for Roy Choi when it comes to culinary expansion. The esteemed People’s Chef has been riding for Los Angeles’ food scene and Angelenos for a decade now, using different vehicles in the form of varied dining concepts along the way to drive his vision of what a true Los Angeles food experience should be along with impressing upon us the crucial role a sense of community has with food.

That decade of experience under his belt has earned him a status as one of Los Angeles’ culinary torch bearers, and as such has lent his time and expertise to speaking panels and discussions highlighting the landscape of food today. Speaking at the recent dineLA discussion panel, he reflected on the restaurant week’s ten year anniversary along with what he’s contributed to the L.A. food scene within the decade.

“I feel like I’ve laid a lot of groundwork in the past ten years, in regards to what I’ve done for the food world and the community. And it leads me to right now, where I’m focused on prosperity, not only for myself and my businesses, but also for the things I’m involved in and everything we represent.”

2018 is definitely looking like a prosperous one for Choi, what with the recent news of him working on a new restaurant at the upcoming Park MGM in Las Vegas, the recent launch of his own line of food products with Williams-Sonoma, and the opening of another Locol location within a Whole Foods in San Jose. All of such are major moves and indicate just how much Choi wants to level up in this new year.

“I feel like I’ve been making independent films. But what if I had a studio budget, you know? What if I had a Pacific Rim or Transformers budget? Then really, what can we do? And the first piece to that is Vegas.”

This talk of big budget translates to an 8,000 square foot space where Choi promises, “It’s gonna be poppin’.” The genesis and mood board for the yet unnamed Las Vegas project comes from Koreatown and the Line Hotel, both hallmarks of his brand, ethos, and cooking. He’s honoring this connection by taking everything both are and supplanting it on the Las Vegas strip, creating an environment that’s proudly Los Angeles. He then goes into enthusiastic detail about the vibe and features of the forthcoming restaurant.

“I want people from L.A. to walk in and be like, ‘FUCK YEAH‘ and ‘OHHH SHIIIT‘, you know? I want you to roll up with all your friends and feel at home. And then I want people from elsewhere to feel like they’re getting a good glimpse into what it’s like to live in Los Angeles. We’re very aware that this is gonna be a Vegas restaurant. So we won’t shy away from the big and spectacular. If they can recreate the cities of Paris and Rome in Vegas, I want to recreate Los Angeles, too, with varied levels of nuance.”

Such nuances mean we can expect big speakers and the bombastic sounds of L.A. area hip-hop to fill the space. It means that the Beat Junkies will be deejaying some nights and rapper Dumbfoundead will be on the mic on others. It also means that Choi is eager to fill a void where hip-hop has not succeeded in Las Vegas. “I want this to be a hip-hop restaurant,” he declares. And in a city dominated by the grinding wobble and pulsing thump of EDM, having a spot dedicated to hip-hop would be a fresh and welcome addition to Sin City.

“I’m ready, man. I’m not afraid of anything. I’m not only looking to learn and grow from Vegas, but also offer everything that I can do with where I come from. I want to make an impact. I want to make a change. If I didn’t believe in this project, I would have created just a cookie cutter restaurant. But I’m here to create a feeling, an experience. I could fall flat on my face, but I’m willing to gamble on that.”

Whether or not the pun was intended, the statement is fitting. But from what we’ve seen from Roy Choi and what he can do with his passion for food and community, it’s a safe bet that his 2018 is looking to be one filled with the prosperity he’s craving.


Photos: MGM Resorts International
Culture Restaurants

How dineLA Showed Us A Restaurant Doesn’t Have To Fit A Specific Mold To Be Successful

Photo: Dylan + Jeni

Once again, my fellow Angelenos, dineLA is upon us.

The two week-long annual dining event celebrates a milestone 10th year where more than 300 participating restaurants offer unique prix fixe meals to local patrons and tourists at a fraction of the normal price.

At a press event, a panel of acclaimed chefs and restauranteurs spoke about participating in the 15 days of dineLA and what it meant to them. That panel included chefs Susan Feniger (Border Grill), Roy Choi (Kogi), David LeFevre (Manhattan Beach Post), and Steve Samson (Rossoblu).

Photo: Peter Pham

David LeFevre, the owner of the Manhattan Beach Post brought up an inspiring quote that reignited the spark inside the dreamer in me who once wished to open his own BBQ spot.

You don’t have to fit a certain mold to be successful. You don’t have to fit a certain mold to be the best restaurant.

Just scanning through the hundreds of participants and cuisines taking part in the event brings us joy, seeing food celebrated so abundantly.

Foodbeast’s managing editor and Los Angeles resident Richard Guinto had this to say:

Success isn’t made from a certain mold or archetype and dineLA is a good example of that. To elaborate, it’s because dineLA is a good indicator of just how diverse and expansive the Los Angeles dining scene is.

He added:

Whether you’re doing fancy white table cloth type of dining or you’re the local gastropub with eccentric bar bites and a good beer selection or even if you’re a Thai restaurant serving up authentic flavors, dineLA features it. All of which have nothing in common but good food and the success they share as a result of it.

Take Roy Choi’s Kogi concept, for example. Nearly a decade ago, Choi changed the food scene with his Kogi food truck. College students, businessmen and women, chefs, and doctors alike were all waiting in long lines to get their hands on his Korean and Mexican fusion.

Choi now owns multiple concepts and brick-and-mortar Kogi locations throughout California.

Of course there are a few basic guidelines that provide a good foundation when opening a restaurant.

Entrepreneur lists four keys to opening a successful restaurant: perfecting the menu, hiring a great staff, comfy and appealing decor, and market the crap out of your spot.

As my publisher once said, you just have to do what you’re passionate about and the success will follow.

If you’re interested in checking out this year’s dineL.A. event, you can see all the restaurants participating here.