Get us in your inbox

Search
The duck confit with tangerine and cilantro oil and a side of aji amarillo.
Photograph: Courtesy Brooke OlsenThe duck confit at Here's Looking at You.

The 25 best dishes in Los Angeles of 2022

From Michelin-starred milk bread to silky molé, our favorites from this year will inspire how you dine out in 2023.

Patricia Kelly Yeo
Written by
Patricia Kelly Yeo
Advertising

Over the course of this year, I’ve dined at over 250 restaurants as Time Out’s L.A. food and drink editor—and that’s not counting a couple takeout orders and other off-the-clock meals thrown in for good measure. Along the way, I tried what would end up becoming Michelin-starred restaurants, plenty of hidden gems and many places long considered among the city’s very best. From the hundreds of dishes I’ve sampled, here are my 25 favorites from New Year’s Day through mid-December.

While not every item on this list is available on a regular basis, I’ve only included dishes you could reasonably expect to find tomorrow, next week or next month—whether at a traditional restaurant or a regular pop-up. Many were simply new to me, while others came from entirely brand-new restaurants; either way, I hope you’ll take the time to seek out at least a few that spoke to you. One of the greatest joys of living in Los Angeles is the access to some of the country’s most amazing food, and it’d be a shame not to try something—or somewhere—new in 2023. These are Time Out L.A.’s best dishes of the year.

The best dishes we had in 2022, ranked

  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • Westside
  • price 2 of 4

You'll find way more decadent white pies at William Joo and Jennifer So's Pico-Robertson pizzeria, but this year I couldn't tear myself away from their anchovy- and caper-laden Napoletana topped with a heavy dose of green olives. Sans cheese, the chewy, mochi-like texture of the crust takes center stage alongside the high-quality DOP tomatoes. In 2022, I ordered this pizza off the clock no less than three times—alongside the two dozen pizzas I sampled while doing research for Time Out's best pizza guide. It's that good.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Downtown Arts District
  • price 4 of 4

Most courses tend to wow at one of the city's toughest reservations, but Brandon Go's signature end-of-meal nabe remains the most delicious in my mind. Each night, diners get multiple refills of the blend of soft white grains and high-quality seafood, served carefully into each individual's bowl. The time I visited, it was nodoguro, or blackthroat seaperch: an expensive, imported ocean bass favored at sushi bars like Shunji and Sushi Kaneyoshi. The delicate fish was first presented to all seven diners for inspection and photography. (Hayato, after all, is the kind of place where the phone eats first.) The real pleasure came after Go demolished it into my carefully chosen ceramic bowl—a buttery yet light creation worth refreshing Tock on the first of each month for.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • Beverly Hills
  • price 4 of 4

Though the $265 tasting menu at Walter and Margarita Manzke's eponymous fine-dining destination offer many different delights, this playful, bite-sized tuna cracker atop a cup of clear pico de gallo essence was the course that literally almost brought tears to my eyes. The tiny cup of soup truly distilled the flavors of the fresh Mexican salsa, while the tuna cracker reminded me of the various fusion-style tuna dishes with corn chips or other crunchy/crispy accoutrements that you'll find at many L.A. sushi restaurants.

  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • San Gabriel Valley

Fragrant and deceptively simple, the clean-tasting bowls of chicken pho at this Rosemead specialist are what get people in the door, but the Hainan chicken has made me reconsider my allegiance to the chef-driven version offered by Chinatown's Pearl River Deli. Wonderfully tender, with a mild aroma of ginger and green onions emanating from the plate, one bite of the Hainan chicken at Pho Ga District made me immediately text my partner, “We need to go here soon at 10am on a Saturday morning.” In short: The trek to Rosemead for Angelenos living outside the San Gabriel Valley is worth it just to sample the platonic ideal of Hainan chicken.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Downtown Arts District
  • price 3 of 4

Saucy, smoky and impossibly tender, this large-format dish slathered in mole riffs playfully on traditional Korean ssam—and its unforgettable tenderness is one of many reasons Enrique Olvera's Arts District restaurant got a five-star review back in March. Each order comes with housemade tortillas, kimchi fried rice, vegetable escabeche and a bowl of lettuce, perilla leaves and limes. The tang of the kimchi and escabeche cut perfectly through the richness of the pork ribs, whether wrapped in a warm piece of tortilla or a buttery lettuce leaf. Don't let Damian's bevy of seafood offerings distract you from this satisfying bone-in meat dish that lets you get your hands dirty at one of the city's most stylish restaurants.

  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • El Monte
  • price 2 of 4

Though I've lived in L.A. my entire life, 2022 was the year I finally sought out the city's Vietnamese cuisine—and discovered these tiny, saucer-sized rice cakes made with tapioca flour and served with nuoc cham. Though you'll find wonderful versions at many spots in the San Gabriel Valley (Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa and Summer Rolls, to name just two) the version at 5 Stars Hue especially hit the spot with crunchy toasted shrimp and scallions. At either the El Monte or South El Monte location, you'll find an expansive assortment of Central Vietnamese specialties, including banh beo. Slurped up like an oyster, the miniature cakes are a savory exercise in the delight of QQ.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Californian
  • West Hollywood
  • price 4 of 4

This year, I've eaten milk bread from Kato, Ryla, Konbi, CUT and even, courtesy of Santa Monica's Interstellar, the famed shokupan from Ginza Nishikawa. Short of ordering Kato's entire tasting menu, my favorite in town is still the version from this West Hollywood hotel restaurant, which I awarded five stars in February. Topped with caramelized beefsteak tomatoes and served slightly warm, the slightly unorthodox version melts in your mouth—and is impossible to stop eating, even when you're on a mission like I was to try everything on the menu.

  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • Glendale
  • price 2 of 4

Earlier this year, I spent a good chunk of my time—and editorial budget—checking out the city's best restaurants and bars as grandfathered in from Stephanie Breijo, Time Out's previous L.A. food and drink editor. The most impressive of the lot (thank you, Breij) was Mini Kabob, a family-run Glendale takeout shop that has forever changed my definition of spiced, marinated meat cooked on a skewer. Tender, flavorful pieces of beef and chicken lule (a type of Armenian ground chicken kabob) on a bed of pillowy, well-oiled rice was pure heaven on a plate, even while eaten off the curb in the middle of boiling hot July. Though not essential, the eggplant caviar and shirazi salad also add refreshingly cool components to the meal.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Alhambra
  • price 2 of 4

This build-your-own cuon affair—whose menu name literally translates to "special order"—helped kick off my three month Vietnamese restaurant journey across L.A. County to publish Time Out's first guide to the cuisine. While available for takeout, the family-style summer roll spread is best enjoyed while dining in at this no-frills Alhambra eatery. Lush lettuce and herbs, plus a bowl of water for wetting the circles of rice paper, add a bit of levity to the three to four kinds of meat available for wrapping. The crispy shrimp wonton rolls imbue each cuon with seafood flavor and crunch. Paired with nuoc cham spiced to taste with Sriracha or Thai chilies, the dac biet cho is the perfect, hands-on way to get acquainted with Vietnamese food beyond a bowl of pho.

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • West Hollywood

The seasonal flavors are half the fun at this West Hollywood takeout window, and while I've tried many of Awan's flavors this year, I look forward to the late-winter crop of bright-orange fruits from the Mandarin Man—if only because I know chef-owner Zen Ong will definitely turn them into ice cream again. You'll find mainstays like Balinese vanilla and Valrhona chocolate year-round at Awan, but the Kishu flavor retains the unbeatable quality of being our first introduction to one of the best new ice cream shops in Los Angeles. Like an Orange Julius but even better, the coconut-based frozen base imparts a citrus-y, creamy flavor capable of chasing off the winter blues.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Torrance
  • price 4 of 4

The city's omakase scene is better than ever, and while not everyone can readily afford sushi that costs $200 per person and above, Yasuhiro Hirano's Torrance sushiya makes the money spent worth your while with flawless edomae-style bites like this traditional roll made with cured sardines, ginger and chives. Even bigger spenders than that will find him in Little Tokyo on Tuesday nights, where Yasu-san and Yoshiyuki Inoue of Sushi Kaneyoshi collaborate on a $400 spread incorporating the best of both Michelin-starred sushi counters. Of the nine high-end omakases I tried this year, Sushi Inaba's selection snags the title of overall most satisfying—even if I had to drive 40 minutes (without traffic!) to get there.

  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • Koreatown
  • price 2 of 4

All in all, menu streamlining has served this newly revived Koreatown restaurant well, where chef Jonathan Whitener still dreams up inventive, only-in-L.A. creations that I can't stop thinking about. Here, a generous half-duck gets confited and plated atop a thin, shimmering pool of tangerine and cilantro oil. This alone would be sufficient delight, but Whitener throws in a side of mouth-watering aji amarillo—the creamy, tangy Peruvian green sauce that usually accompanies rotisserie chicken and saltados. Pair this with HLAY's signature frog legs with salsa negra and shishito peppers, and you've got yourself dinner for two.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4

The search for authenticity is often a losing game when it comes to evaluating cuisine you grew up on; while sampling Lord Maynard Llera's signature family-style trays—a carryover from his pandemic era garage pop-up—I tried my best not to compare it to the lechon feasts of my childhood. Within his spread of twice-cooked pork belly, garlicky yellow rice, pancit chami and atchara (pickled veggies), Llera captures the essence of Filipino cooking, even as he elevates and transforms the cuisine with flourishes like aged palm vinegar. “You haven't seen anything just yet,” the chef told me in early December, teasing his long-game Filipino fine dining concept. Based on what I've already seen, however, there's something truly special about Llera's cooking—whether you've visited his garage, fully masked, walked into Kuya Lord's brick-and-mortar or had the privilege of sampling his private tasting menus.

  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Koreatown
  • price 2 of 4

Dumpling, seafood, kimchi, beef, pork and even curry: There are no wrong orders when it comes to this new late-night spot in Koreatown with bubbling, high-quality bowls of soondubu. As of late, LA Tofu House has become my soondubu of choice, whether I'm ordering takeout (the restaurant also has a generous delivery radius) or stopping in on a late evening for their ultra-fresh banchan, including a still-warm deep-fried croaker. The gochugaru-red broth here is amazing when topped with a freshly cracked egg, but even when you're ordering to go, the subtle anchovy soup base and silken tofu hold up so well that I'm not likely to go back to another soondubu restaurant ever again.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • Beverly Hills
  • price 4 of 4

Pastry lead and co-owner Margarita Manzke spared no thought at her and her husband's Pico-Robertson tasting restaurant, where a staggering assortment of five different sweets and refreshing mint tea greeted me at the end of an already decadent meal. Delicate chocolate and kumquat butterflies, a white chocolate and black sesame profiterole, tiny orange blossom madeleines, a mango custard with passion fruit—all of it has remained the gold standard in my book for fine-dining–grade dessert. Note that Manzke's dessert offering changes on a regular, often seasonal basis, so the actual menagerie for any future meals is likely to vary.

  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Koreatown
  • price 1 of 4

In truth, even after sampling all the manner of high-end delicacies while dining for Time Out, a good, homey soup is still one of my favorite things to eat. One of the best I had this year came from this family-run noodle soup specialist in Koreatown's Brown Derby Plaza, where unbelievably fragrant broths and generous portions of brisket and seafood are ladled on top of a pile of thin, wheat-based noodles. At Mountain Noodles, every bowl of soup is all flavor and no fat. Adjusted to a medium level of spiciness, it was the ideal laidback dinner—even in the heat of July—after an especially decadent string of expensive gourmet dinners.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Virgil Village
  • price 4 of 4

Last year, I reviewed Nan Yimcharoen's original Japanese-inflected tasting menu, which she's now replaced with Sun-Moon-Shine, an ode to her late father and the four regions of Thailand. Though the self-taught chef is always improving and changing Kinkan's current prix-fixe offering, the early version I tried in March more than fit the bill. Shredded crab with ikura and a light northern-style curry, gently tempura-fried crab wrapped in shiso, a flower-shaped cracker topped with miso crab and uni, plus a little deep-fried crab nestled against a tofu skin shell stuffed with water chestnuts and herbs. Compared to fiery dishes on most takeout menus, Yimcharoen's cooking offers a subtler, more refined take on Thai cuisine—one I'll be revisiting further in 2023.

  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Koreatown
  • price 2 of 4

For many years, the late Jonathan Gold waxed poetic in the Los Angeles Times about Soban's ganjang gaejang. Today, the family-run restaurant's delicate raw crabs, marinated in a mix of soy sauce and aromatics, still dazzles, though newer places like Rich Crab now go viral on TikTok for far less refined versions of the dish. While earlier hours (the restaurant closes at 9pm, with last call for food an hour before) and a packed dining schedule prevent Soban from entering my usual rotation, the soy-marinated raw crab here makes me wish I had the ability to be a regular here. Eaten with plastic gloves provided by staff, the crab in a fragrant, dark brown sauce will sate any seafood lover and maybe even convince those turned off by raw shellfish to give the dish a try.

Advertising

19. Jollof rice at Ilé

Over the summer, Tolu "Eros" Erogbogbo and David Olusoga's West African tasting series took the city by storm after Eater billed it as L.A.'s most exciting pop-up. While the almost four-hour length of the $250 experience made it difficult for me to unilaterally recommend (they now offer $120 seatings with a shorter course list), the lively approach to storytelling and delicious cuisine at Ilé made for one of the most interesting dinners of my summer. The jollof rice course, in particular, stood out as one of Erogbogbo's more interesting vignettes; the Lagos native recounted the story of the friendly competition among West African nations, including Ghana and Nigeria, for the title of world's best jollof rice, before presenting an utterly delicious version of the dish integrating elements from multiple culinary traditions. 

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Historic Filipinotown
  • price 1 of 4

Available only on weekends (and always likely to sell out early), these specialty croissants at Zack Hall's artisan bakery add an edge of subtle sweetness to your standard breakfast croissant. Unlike Clark Street's seasonal saffron buns available only during the holidays, you can find these year-round. Their bright green hue delivers the pizzazz of matcha with a much nuttier flavor, and the pistachios add extra texture to the bakery's already superb croissants.

Advertising

21. Uni and caviar mille crepe at Bell's Los Alamos

At the start of a nonstop weekend of eating in Solvang this past spring, I stopped for lunch at Bell's, the Michelin-starred Los Alamos bistro that's helped stoke nationwide interest in the region's culinary scene. Inside the relaxed dining room and outdoor dining area, I got a chance to sample what is likely Bell's most photographed dish: a delicate slice of mille crepe cake slathered with creme fraiche and topped with fresh Santa Barbara sea urchin and sustainably farmed sturgeon caviar. As light as any of Lady M's iconic creations, the cake offered a briny, delightful bite to start off an otherwise buttery and decadent French-inspired meal.

  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Silver Lake
  • price 2 of 4

Everyone loves the rich, vodka sauce-like malai rigatoni at this buzzy Silver Lake eatery, where owner Avish Naran and chef Miles Shorey are forging a brave new path forward for America's South Asian cuisine. My favorite, however, is the tandoori spaghetti. Every delicate noodle strand contains an explosion of spices, garlic and citrus, and the bread crumbs provide ample heft to an oil-based pasta dish that doesn't rely on cream as a vehicle for flavor. As more of a pasta-over-pizza person, I'm liable to recommend any of the pastas at Pijja Palace, but the tandoori spaghetti is an underrated dish that diners would do well to add to their family-style spread in 2023.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • West African
  • Downtown Historic Core
  • price 2 of 4

Made of salted peanuts, powder alliums and other spices, this traditional Nigerian street food seasoning brings the heat to a meat of your choice. Though I've long wanted to try suya, the first place I've found in L.A. to actually serve this skewer-cooked meat is Vuuka, one of the few West African restaurants in the city. Nutty, spicy and flavorful, the suya pairs beautifully with the slivers of warm beef and freshly sliced red onions. Though the Downtown eatery is temporarily closed as of writing (and is scheduled to reopen on December 29), this delicious Nigerian dish is worth seeking out in the year to come.

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Glassell Park
  • price 3 of 4

Since I first visited Brian Dunsmoor's eponymous eatery in June, the accoutrements for the rainbow trout have changed from bacon and grits with hot pepper vinegar to chanterelles, pine nuts, brown butter and chives. No matter: The usually middling white fish, dressed according to the seasons, comes out beautifully when cooked in the restaurant's open hearth and anointed with plenty of butter. With few exceptions, whole cooked pieces of finned fish usually bore me, but this mushroom-stuffed trout proved to be a sensuous delight. The summer tomatoes and creamy grits were ample foils to the trout, the vinegar cutting through the fat with each flaky forkful.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Taiwanese
  • Downtown Arts District
  • price 4 of 4

L.A. has come a long way from the early days of Konbi, when the Echo Park eatery's milk bread—then courtesy of Bub and Grandma's—sent Angelenos into a frenzy. These days, the pillow-soft bread can be found all over town, but none offer as luxurious an accoutrement as Jon Yao's Kato. Though I found my experience at the restaurant's new location at ROW DTLA lacking in overall wow factor, the caviar course was one of the brightest, most memorable renditions of the dessert-like bread I've had all year. Technically speaking, Yao's version is flawless—and while I wouldn't wholeheartedly recommend Kato above all others, this unforgettable milk bread just might help seal the deal for those trying to decide on a particular fine dining spot.

Recommended
    You may also like
    You may also like
    Advertising