The 100 best dishes and drinks in Los Angeles 2015: Appetizers and small plates

Small plates, appetizers, starters—whatever you want to call them, these supporting dishes stood out despite their size
Hoe cakes at Barrel & Ashes
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman Hoe cakes at Barrel & Ashes
By Erin Kuschner and Time Out editors |
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If you thought the reign of small plates was over, think again. This year, even more of the best restaurants in Los Angeles jumped on the "everything is meant to be shared" bandwagon, so that the line between appetizer and entree seemed mighty blurry. Still, we managed to try some top-notch sides, starters and small plates—like french fries from a Hollywood bar, meatballs from a new Italian restaurant and a couple of cauliflower dishes that blew our minds. Check out our list, gather up a few friends and start sharing.

RECOMMENDED: The best dishes and drinks in Los Angeles

LA's best appetizers and small plates of 2015

Trio sausage sampler with kaesekrainer, turkey bratwurst, and Hu
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Austrian

Kaesekrainer at BierBeisl Imbiss

icon-location-pin Downtown Historic Core

It’s a pork and beef Polish sausage oozing with Swiss cheese on the inside. That’s all we should have to say to sell you on this unforgettably flavorful link—no mustard necessary. $7. - Michael Juliano

Uni steamed egg at Hanjip
Rick Poon
Restaurants, Korean

Uni steamed egg at Hanjip

icon-location-pin Culver City

Seoul Sausage Co. founder Chris Oh opened Hanjip, a KBBQ spot in Culver City, earlier this year, and while you can load up on a smorgasbord of meat here—prime ribeye, pork shoulder, baby octopus—you can also indulge in the creamiest uni steamed egg with salmon roe that you'll be dreaming about for days to come. $19. - Erin Kuschner

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English muffins at Love & Salt
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Italian

English muffins at Love & Salt

icon-location-pin Manhattan Beach

These English muffins just might be the best bread starters in the South Bay. The warm, airy discs of dough come with a butter topped with fried rosemary and sea salt, and we'd like to have these every morning, thank you very much.
$7. - Erin Kuschner

Restaurants, Spanish

Bruléed caña de cabra cheese at Ración

icon-location-pin Pasadena

Pretty much everything on Ración's menu is a home run, starting with the appetizers. This wheel of bruléed caña de cabra cheese is topped with slivers of grapefruit and orange, and results in an explosion of citrus that pairs perfectly with the heavenly goat cheese. $12. - Erin Kuschner

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Marinara braised meatballs with ricotta and garlic bread at Jon
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Italian

Marinara braised meatballs at Jon & Vinny's

icon-location-pin Fairfax District

There's plenty of talk about the pizza, the pancakes and even the soft serve at Jon & Vinny's, but our favorite thing here is the marinara braised meatballs. Three exceptionally seasoned meatballs are flanked by ricotta and some fantastic slices of garlic bread, and smothered in the Fairfax eatery's homemade marinara sauce. $15.25. - Erin Kuschner

Cashew poblano queso at Bar Amá
Photograph: Courtesy Bar Amá
Restaurants, Mexican

Cashew poblano queso at Bar Amá

icon-location-pin Downtown Historic Core

Through some miracle of pureed cashews and poblanos, this “I can’t believe it’s vegan" alternative to Bar Amá’s traditional queso tastes just as good as actual cheese, if not better. But it’s a disservice to say this dip is tasty "for a vegan dish"; it’s indulgently delicious completely on its own. $10. - Michael Juliano

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Hoe cakes at Barrel & Ashes
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Barbecue

Hoe cake at Barrel & Ashes

icon-location-pin Studio City

Despite the eatery being open for just over a year, the hoe cake at Barrel & Ashes has already reached cult status in LA. Why? Butter (lots of it); more specifically, maple butter. This side dish is thick and rich and sticks to your bones the way cornbread should, and on weekends you can get breakfast versions made with eggs and bacon or banana and chocolate. $6. - Erin Kuschner

Shrimp beignets at Preux & Proper
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Cajun

Shrimp beignets at Preux & Proper

icon-location-pin Downtown Historic Core

Good luck stopping yourself from eating the entire half-dozen serving of these pillowy, battered shrimp bites in one go. Expect to have nothing left but a bit of remoulade within minutes. $12. - Michael Juliano

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Rabbit boulettes at Cadet
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants

Rabbit boulettes at Cadet

icon-location-pin Santa Monica

There is butter (oh, there is butter). There is cream. And yes, it’s sweet, too. Everything you could love about French cuisine is represented in this dish, and yet it’s not too much. Technically, the boulettes is an appetizer, but as a bowl full of hearty rabbit meatballs and dumplings speckled with herbs, it is filling enough to stand on its own. $16. - Erin Kuschner

English pea soup at Maude
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Contemporary European

English pea soup at Maude

icon-location-pin Beverly Hills

Maude changes its menu each month to revolve around a single, highlighted ingredient, and during an almond-themed meal this past year, the English pea soup stole our hearts. Poured into a delightful vintage piece of china, the soup was made with almond foam and pickled ramps, swirls of buttermilk and Aleppo pepper. Whole peas delicately popped with each bite, and we'd slurp it up all over again if we had the chance. Part of a prix-fixe meal. - Erin Kuschner

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Creamy cauliflower at Odys + Penelope
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Brazilian

Creamy cauliflower at Odys + Penelope

icon-location-pin La Brea

Odys + Penelope's creamy cauliflower, with its dreamy, silken texture and dollops of walnut pesto plopped in the middle, is one of the best ways to start a meal at this La Brea restaurant from Karen and Quinn Hatfield. $7. - Erin Kuschner

Garlic Fries at Lost Property
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Bars, Cocktail bars

Garlic parmesan fries at Lost Property

icon-location-pin Hollywood

A cocktail bar in Hollywood may not be the first place you look for fries, but Lost Property's garlic parmesan version are worth ordering, with or without cocktails. They're made with a heavy dose of crushed garlic, fresh parmesan, parsley and "a little something extra" (nope, they're not giving it up). $5. - Erin Kuschner

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Lime roll at Sushi Yuzu
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Japanese

Lime roll at Sushi Yuzu

icon-location-pin Toluca Lake

The lime roll at Sushi Yuzu is, at its core, a study in balance. A slew of flavors and components merge together to form a cohesive, truly delectable roll, solidified with a sprinkling of cracked pepper that makes the dish complete. $14. - Jakob Layman

Wild mushrooms a la plancha at Ración
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Spanish

Mushrooms a la plancha at Ración

icon-location-pin Pasadena

Yes, there's another dish from Ración on our list, but this appetizer is just as deserving. Freshly plucked mushrooms are cooked in a skillet, served atop a pureed squash and sprinkled with cheese to create a stunning—and delicious—plate. $13. - Erin Kuschner

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Kartoffelpuffers with beer cheese for Der Wolfskopf, 100 best th
Photograph: Courtesy Der Wolfskopf
Bars, Beer bars

Kartoffelpuffers with beer cheese at Der Wolfskopf

icon-location-pin Pasadena

You could opt for a sweet take on these potato pancakes (spiced sugar and apple chutney), but we’re all about the savory selection. Expect to use every last bit of these starchy, fried patties to mop up that molten beer cheese. $8. - Michael Juliano

Popovers at The Arthur J
Photograph: Marie Buck Photography
Restaurants, Steakhouse

Popovers at The Arthur J

icon-location-pin Manhattan Beach

The popovers at this Mad Men-esque steakhouse are topped with melted onions, and come with a strawberry butter that is thoroughly addicting. This is one time we advocate filling up on bread. $6. - Erin Kuschner

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Fatty tuna with wasabi at Q Sushi
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Japanese

Fatty tuna at Q Sushi

icon-location-pin Downtown Financial District

Diners at this Downtown, high-end sushi house are treated to roughly 20 courses during an omakase dinner, the first four being tsumami (small appetizers). The best tsumami we had on a recent visit was a wasabi-topped piece of fatty tuna, which melted in our mouths before making room for the next 17 courses. Part of $165 omakase dinner. - Erin Kuschner

Restaurants, Steakhouse

Cauliflower risotto at Steak & Whisky

icon-location-pin Hermosa Beach

Sheep's cheese. Hazelnut. Butter. The cauliflower risotto at Steak & Whisky barely tastes like it has cauliflower in it, which would be strange if it weren't so luxuriously smooth and delicious. Somehow, one of the most generic vegetables has been turned into the best risotto we've had in a long time. $8. - Erin Kuschner

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Restaurants, Soul and southern American

Biscuits at Willie Jane

icon-location-pin Venice

"One or two?"—you might be asked this when ordering biscuits at Willie Jane. Even if you're dining solo, opt for two. The pillowy biscuits arrive with a luxurious honey butter, surpassed only by the creamy pimento cheese and bacon jam you can order as extras—which you should definitely do. $3, $1 each for extra spread. - Erin Kuschner

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