The Dan DuPraw Los Angeles Area Restaurant Awards – 2022

I’m back again to award the awards I named after myself, to another list of incredible restaurants. This time, I’m in Los Angeles, California which has such a vibrant and unique food scene compared to so many cities in this country. The Asian and Mexican influence in Los Angeles adds some exciting flavors and beautiful presentations to the mix, too! I’m always looking for those experiences that make you want to bring everyone you know back with you next time, so they can have the same experience. Now, that’s what I’m doing, I’m bringing you with me! Whether you live in Los Angeles, or are planning to visit, I hope this list of some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles serves you well. I have had the pleasure of visiting L.A. multiple times a year for the last number of years and have collected a list of top restaurants I’m very proud of. I have to give a huge shoutout to my best friend from college, and L.A. Food Advisor, who is now an actress living in Los Angeles; she has pointed me to many of the places on this list, and eaten there with me too – Thanks, Elizabeth Yamauchi!

To make the list, here is what I’m looking for:

  • INGREDIENTS: High quality ingredients, preferably locally sourced.
  • EXPERIENCE: An emotional food experience that makes you feel you have learned something or experienced something new: something that feeds your soul as well as your stomach.
  • FLAVOR: The food must offer incredible, unique, interesting and delicious flavors. You will want to tell someone about the food after eating it!
  • ATMOSPHERE: The restaurant must have a noteworthy atmosphere: This could be fine dining and elegance, or a hole in the wall spot you would never notice, as long as it makes an impact.
  • SERVICE: I am not incredibly picky about service but nothing will be on my list if the service isn’t great.
  • Note: Restaurants are listed in alphabetical order.

The rating system:

  • Double Stars: Winners: These restaurants meet all of the criteria offering high quality food, unique and interesting atmospheres and an exciting food experience with great service.
  • Single Star Winners: These restaurants have something great to offer and meet most of the criteria. They are worth taking friends and family to for an incredible experience.

Double Stars Winners

Bacari PDR

Bacari PDR: This spot feels like a dive bar when you walk inside, but then you realize they have an entire (covered, heated) outdoor seating area, “up the hill.” (It’ll make sense when you go!). This is great for groups, or a date night. Their small plates are perfect for sharing (or for eating entirely yourself). With six hungry eaters, we ordered a lot and so we tried many different dishes from the menu.

Order: Favorite recommendations – the Shawarma tacos, sea bass, green falafel, and the thing you’ll leave talking about the most is called: “The best cake you’ve ever had”… And this date, brown sugar, caramel and bacon cake is named properly. 

Price:  $8-$16 per small plate. 

Bao Dim Sum House

Bao Dim Sum House: This is your classic Dim Sum spot with reasonable prices and a large menu of delicious options. It has one of the most consistently delicious and trustworthy menus I’ve experienced in a Dim Sum restaurant. It seems as though you can’t go wrong just closing your eyes and pointing anywhere on the menu. Service here was excellent and very attentive.

Order: Dumpling Sampler. Let the Sesame Balls surprise you for dessert.

Price: Dumpling orders range from $9-$16, Entree orders range from $19-$22

Hangari Kalguksu

Korean

Hangari – Korean: You might have to wait a little bit for a table here but let me tell you, it’s worth it. You will find yourself eating things with massive amounts of flavor that explode in your mouth. Everything was so intentional, from the pickled radish to the juicy pork that melts in your mouth. This is one of those “moaning” food experiences. Where everything is so incredible and rich and the flavor combinations are endless. They bring you multiple dishes and platters that you can then just build your own “mini wraps” with any combination that you like. I tried a new combo every single bite!

Order: Hangari’s Famous Bossam (pictured above)

Price: $43 for a platter that serves two. Plus more for beverages.

Kai Ramen – Sherman Oaks

Kai Ramen: This small but mighty ramen shop is exactly what you want in a ramen shop. I’ve eaten ramen all over Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and NYC and this little shop is the place to go. You should note that there may be a wait time to dine in.

Order: Anything off the menu, specifically the Shoyu Tonkotsu Ramen.

Price: $14-$15 per bowl.

Lasita – Filipino cuisine and natural wine bar

Lasita: Tucked away in the Far East Plaza in Chinatown, this Filipino “rotisserie” and natural wine bar is a hidden gem. They have a seasonal rotating menu so everything is fresh. What you see on Google for their menu might not be what is available but you won’t be disappointed by whatever they have to offer. Very attentive service, although you may need to wait for a seat. The staff also made great recommendations as well as fun conversation. As a wine lover, I found their wine list to be adventurous and exciting with lots of fun options to try.

Order: Pork Belly Lechon is what you’ll come for, and what you’ll come back for. According to my research, it seems like this is a staple so no need to worry about seasonality for this one.

Price: Tapas style, small plates range from $16-$20, Rotisserie starts at $16 for a half and $32 for a full pound.

Malibu Farm – Malibu

Malibu Farm: Farm to table ingredients and creative dishes in an unbeatable atmosphere. This is not a Michelin star joint but you’re going with friends for the atmosphere and to feel like a million bucks, and the food IS great. I’ve eaten their brunch menu at least three times so this is what I’m rating it on. You can make reservations for dinner but I have not done that. There is Malibu Farm Restaurant, and Malibu Farm Cafe. I’ve eaten at both and they both make me happy. You’ll most likely have to wait for brunch, but they have a coffee shop on the pier too: grab a matcha latte and enjoy the ocean breeze while you wait for your table. This is also a great spot to grab your next Instagram profile photo with amazing lighting from the white construction and the blue sea.

Order: Brunch, and the Frosé 😉

Price: $19-$45, and the caviar plate is $90.

Olive & Grill

Olive & Grill: Above and Beyond is the name of the game here. If I was giving an award for the best service, it would be here. On top of that, the food is top notch quality in a cozy, romantic, and welcoming atmosphere. This restaurant serves fun flavors of hookah with their artisan dishes. I had recently come back from the Mediterranean region of the world when visiting here, and this checks all the boxes.

Order: Cheese Fatayer Boreg, Hummus, Falafel, Dolma and Baba Ghanoush, French Napolean (pictured above on the left) for dessert… We spent about six hours here and ate until I could have rolled home.

Price: Entrees: $20-$35, Small Plates: $8-$18.

Paderia Bakehouse

Paderia: When I say, “Portuguese bakehouse” you say, “egg tart” because that’s the first thing you must try here (and I’ve eaten more Portuguese egg tarts in my life than I care to admit). It’s a small family owned and operated bakery with some of the best Portuguese treats you’ll ever taste. There are a few seats available outside but this is best to take away and enjoy somewhere else.

Order: Obviously the Portuguese Egg Tart (pictured above), but then you MUST also get the Banana Pudding and don’t forget the Mazapan Iced Coffee.

Price: $2.50-$6 per item/drink.

Rosalind’s

Rosalind’s – Ethiopian Restaurant: Walk in and you’ll see grass huts (inside) in an unpretentious dining room. This is a no frills, no nonsense spot that knows how good their food is. This moderately cultured American learned a lot about Ethiopian food here, the highlight being, you eat it with your hands! The spices and flavors are potent and inspiring. You will be absolutely stuffed when you leave so make sure you don’t have any major plans afterwards.

Order: Order the three meat combination, it comes with the Ethiopian Injera bread.

Price: $12-$22 per person, approximately.

Zzamong – Chinese

Zzamong: My LA food advisor (Elizabeth) and I came to this Chinese restaurant to check out the fat noodle vegan Jjajangmyun (the dark noodle sauce made from sweet beans) and ended up loving everything we had from the gyoza, to the noodle dishes, kimchee, and the sweet and sour pork (not what you think of when you think of your average Chinese takeout joint). We were so surprised by the food this place cranked out and the service was incredible. Our server kept us laughing and helped us navigate the menu with some great recommendations.

WARNING: Make sure to talk to your server about spice level. Some of the spicy food here had us sweating.

Order: Jjajangmyun noodles, and everything else.

Price: $12-$17 per person (with lots of leftovers, portions are HUGE).

Single Star Winners

Blue Plate Taco in the Santa Monica board walk area. Not worth going out of the way for, but if you’re in the area, check it out!

Creme Caramel LA – Filipino bakery with delicious treats.

Kang Ho Dong Baekjeon Korean BBQ – A food list of Los Angeles wouldn’t be complete without a spot to get great Korean Barbecue.

More Than Waffles – Great for a birthday breakfast with grandma’s kitchen vibes.

Oakobing Los Angeles – Korean ice cream tower of shaved ice. This was one of the coolest “ice cream” experience I have ever had and I HIGHLY recommend you prioritize this while in LA. I went here for the first time in 2022 and am mad that I didn’t know about it before, so I’m sharing it with you. See the following picture.

I was full before I started, and I finished!

Porto’s Bakery & Cafe – Lots of incredible baked goods.

Salt & Straw Ice Cream – Super fun ice cream flavors with unlimited samples from incredible servers. There are multiple locations so you are never too far away. 😉

Something Vegan – Toluca Lake, I loved the vegan chicken wings.

The following Food Halls are worth noting:

Grand Central Market – Fresh juice, ice cream, and Egg Slut, go hungry, you won’t complain about lack of options.

Smorgasburgh – eat it all! So many different countries represented in the food options from Japan to Venezuela and many more. Only open on Sundays.

The Original Farmers Market – Great for walking around, sit down spots, or places to grab a coffee and a croissant and do some shopping.

Happy eating! I hope you find this list fulFILLING! 🙂

Dan

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