The 75 best dishes and drinks in Los Angeles 2017: Entrées

You’ve kicked things off with a starter and maybe a cocktail, but we all know what you’re really here for. Dig into our favorite entrées of 2017.
Photograph: Courtesy Native/Jake Ahles Photography Chestnut Spaghetti at Native
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Future historians may look upon the year 2017 as the Italian rennaissance in L.A. dining, but the year gave us much, much more than D.O.P. pizzas and hand-formed pastas. There were Peruvian platters, fresh takes on Filipino food, cumin-coated roast chickens and sushi speakeasies. Dive into our favorite entrées of the year and use them as your guide to living 2018 most deliciously.

RECOMMENDED: The best dishes and drinks in L.A. of 2017

L.A.’s best entrées of 2017

Dough Box
Photograph: Courtesy Dough Box
Restaurants, Pizza

The Soto at Dough Box

icon-location-pin East LA

Your search for L.A.’s best deep dish pizza should start and end here, at this drive-up pick-up service turned El Sereno storefront. Pile it high with meats and veggies if you must, but the Soto is worth a try for nailing the balance of its essentials: the crunch and chew of the crust, the saltiness and sweetness of the sauce, and a generous but not over-the-top helping of mozzarella. $10–$20. — Michael Juliano

Maltagliati at Rossoblu
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo
Restaurants, Italian

Maltagliati at Rossoblu

icon-location-pin Downtown Fashion District

Few dishes hit as many high notes for me as Steve Samson’s maltagliati. Something about the perfect width and slickness of the sheet pasta, the bitter bite of the dandelion greens cutting through that creamy richness of parmesan, and the gentle chew of pioppini and porcini all marry to for a perfect union of pasta that I can’t help but order on every visit. $22. — Stephanie Breijo

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Photograph: Courtesy Sushi|Bar/Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Japanese

The Tasting Menu at Sushi Bar

icon-location-pin Encino

Is it cheating to include an entire meal? Maybe so. But the truth is, it’s hard to pinpoint one standalone bite from Phillip Frankland Lee’s creative procession of nigiri. More of a tasting menu than true omakase, this sushi speakeasy serves up 17 courses of the Top Chef competitor’s own take on the sushi experience. Leave convention at the door—which just so happens to connect to Woodley Proper—because this menu is untraditional, and it’s all the better for it: hamachi topped with sweet corn pudding and freshly grated wasabi; purple scallop Peruvian ceviche in Thai fish-sauce vinaigrette; and bluefin otoro lightly scorched with pineapple are just a taste of what you can expect. Bonus: This spot now takes reservations. $110. — Stephanie Breijo

Chile Verde Pork Potatoes at KTCHN DTLA
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo
Bars, Cocktail bars

Chile Verde Potatoes at KTCHN DTLA

icon-location-pin Downtown Arts District

These potatoes could have easily been entered under our “apps and small plates” list, but the serving is so large, hulking and (ful)filling that this dish is more or less what I like to call “dinner.” The drinks at Resident go down easy—maybe a little too easy—and before you know it, you need something solid in your stomach. Jah bless KTCHN DTLA, which has a semipermanent residency in the courtyard and serves up serious eats. My favorite is the pile of sizeable hunks of fried potatoes that come smothered in chile verde pork, cheddar cheese, pico, a jalapeño aioli and serrano cream. The first time I ordered them I added even more salsa because sure, why not, but wound up hand-fanning my tongue the entirety of the meal. (Hubris!) Proceed with spice caution. $7. — Stephanie Breijo

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Vegan Fettuccine Carbonara at Crossroads Kitchen
Photograph: Courtesy Crossroads Kitchen
Restaurants, Vegan

Fettuccine Carbonara at Crossroads Kitchen

icon-location-pin Melrose

This vegan fettuccine dish is served with peas, and shiitake mushrooms that are sliced and infused with a smokiness to create the illusion of bacon. The best part? The faux egg yolk—made out of yellow tomato—that is placed on top, which adds a layer of creaminess to the pasta, much like a real carbonara. $20. — Cezara Kersting

Photograph: Courtesy Luv2Eat Thai Bistro
Restaurants, Taiwanese

Phuket-Style Crab Curry Kanomjean at Luv2Eat Thai Bistro

icon-location-pin Hollywood

Be warned: This may just be the hottest dish on this list, but it’s heaven for spice lovers and rewarding for the adventurous. The heat hits you in waves, the texture thick and dotted with poached blue crab meat that you pick from the crab’s carcass, which floats in turmeric-packed curry. Cool down with the rice noodles, hard-boiled egg and julienned papaya and pickled carrots, which sit to the side, just begging for a dip—and, ideally, wash it down with some Thai iced tea or fresh young coconut water. $17. — Stephanie Breijo

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Beef Ban Mian at Lao Tao
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Taiwanese

Beef Ban Mian at Lao Tao

icon-location-pin Chinatown

The menu says the bone marrow broth cooks for eight hours, but chef-owner David Wang says it’s closer to 12—simmering away until it reduces to an almost gravy-like coating for his Beef Ban Mian’s ribbon-like egg noodles. Wang’s Taiwanese street-food spot on the upper floor of Far East Plaza is where you’ll find this gem of a dish, a recipe it took roughly seven years for him to perfect. Topped with five-spice beef shank, Napa cabbage, diced tomatoes, scallions and pickled veggies, it’s a flavor-packed dive into a hearty pool of Sichuan peppercorn and galangal. Douse with chili oil, for best results. $12. — Stephanie Breijo

Cumin Chicken . Express at the Hollywood Farmers Market
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo
Shopping, Markets and fairs

Cumin Chicken Express at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market

icon-location-pin Hollywood

There’s a lot to take in at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market, especially when it comes to its rows of prepared-foods vendors. Most eye-catching of all is the red-and-silver Cumin Chicken Express truck, its dozens of herb-rubbed rotisserie chickens twirling in the open air. I bought one on a whim—or, I should say a whiff, because once you smell these, there’s no way you can’t pick one up—and it’s one of the smartest food decisions I made all year. The spice rub is more like a paste that covers every inch of these tender birds, and it’s impossible not to lick your fingers clean. My biggest regret? Not grabbing a side of the garlic potatoes covered in drippings. $12 per whole chicken. — Stephanie Breijo

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Photograph: Courtesy Bestia
Restaurants, Italian

Casarecce al Pomodoro at Bestia

icon-location-pin Downtown Arts District

Of all the plates that’ll grace your table at Bestia, it’s perhaps the simplest one that’s the most memorable: The red sauce is spot on as is the dollop of ricotta, but it’s perfect twists of thick, hand-rolled semolina pasta that makes this the meal’s standout dish—and, hey, its most affordable. $17. —Michael Juliano

Tortang Talong at Sari Sari Store
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo
Restaurants, Filipino

Tortang Talong at Sari Sari Store

icon-location-pin Downtown Historic Core

It’s hard to go wrong with any of the Manzkes’ garlic rice bowls at their fast-casual Grand Central Market stall, but the item I return to week after week is the Tortang Talong. The extra herbs, cherry tomatoes and seasonal vegetables surrounding charred eggplant carry a brightness unique to this bowl that its meatier menu-mates lack. Drizzle liberally with garlic vinegar and enjoy alongside a calamansi soda and you've got yourself a perfect taste of the Philippines. $11. — Stephanie Breijo

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Corbarina at Pizzana
Photograph: Courtesy Pizzana
Restaurants, Italian

Corbarina at Pizzana

icon-location-pin Brentwood

I spent a lot of time thinking about this pizza. To be fair, I’m still spending time thinking about it. To date, I don’t think I’ve ever had a pizza so bright, so lively and so comforting—and all without the usual dousing of stringy mozzarella that we Americans have come to love and ackowledge as the Gold Pizza Standard. While you’ll find a number of rich, mozz-buried pies at chef Daniele Uditi’s temple to Neapolitan-style pizza, the Corbarina is the move. Made from organic, stone-ground Italian flour, the crust is thin and crisp—and remains that way, thanks to a custom aerated ceramic dish that keeps your pizza from getting soggy. The base of San Marzano tomatoes come from the restaurant’s own plot of land in Italy; the burrata arrives fresh as can be, shipped from the motherland multiple times a week; the squash blossoms add a light fragrance; and a citrusy gremolata brightens up the whole ordeal. I think I know what I’m grabbing for dinner. $18. — Stephanie Breijo

Pesto kelp noodles at Cafe Gratitude
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo
Restaurants, Vegan

Pesto Kelp Noodles at Café Gratitude

icon-location-pin Downtown Arts District

Say what you will about this vegan chain’s self-affirmation-laden menu—I am a believer. Sure, they want you to order each dish with “I am [insert menu-item-as-a-holistic-adjective here]” but at the core, they serve good food. The Brazil nut parmesan atop the “Liberated” pesto kelp noodles with hemp-and-basil pesto and cashew ricotta makes me want to break in, National Treasure-style, and steal the recipe. I’m not sure what else is in that faux cheese, but I want it on everything. $16.50. — Stephanie Breijo

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Chaufa Paella at Rosaline
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo
Restaurants, Pan-South American

Chaufa Paella at Rosaliné

icon-location-pin West Hollywood

Bring your friends, bring your parents, bring your grandma, bring a total stranger (but not, like, a creepy one) because you’re going to need some help tackling this massive family-style meal. Chef Ricardo Zarate’s Peruvian-style hybrid of paella and fried rice comes beautifully topped with an arrangement of pancetta, La Chang sausage, bagoong, prawns, egg and herb, which all get mixed table-side. I cannot not order this aromatic, comforting, lively dish, despite everything else on the menu being equally drool-worthy. $42 per “small” order, $84 per large. — Stephanie Breijo

Photograph: Courtesy Felix
Restaurants, Italian

Mezze Maniche alla Gricia at Felix Trattoria

icon-location-pin Venice

Somewhere between cacio e pepe and carbonara lies pasta alla Gricia, a simple but hearty dish laden with guanciale and pecorino. At Evan Funke’s temple to handmade pasta, he doles out his not with a long, thin variant of spaghetti as you might more commonly find here in America, but house-made mezze maniche, a stocky, rigded tube that works as a perfect vessel for the jewels of salted pork, D.O.P. pecorino romano and ample twists of cracked black pepper. On a menu of must-orders, this should be high on your plan of attack at Felix. $23. — Stephanie Breijo

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Chestnut Spaghetti at Native in Santa Monica
Photograph: Courtesy Native
Restaurants

Chestnut Spaghetti at Native

icon-location-pin Santa Monica

I know what you're thinking: “More pasta?” While this may have been the Year of Italian Food in L.A., this dish is anything but Italian. Chef Nyesha Arrington’s “progressive California cuisine” bends genres and expectations, especially in this dish.  Certainly, there is chestnut spaghetti, and there is burrata involved, but they serve more as vehicles for Arrington’s take on ramen than any sort of Italian-leaning creation. There’s a hefty hit of umami from a healthy drip of smoked soy, and when coupled with fresh snow peas and pea shoots and of course that burrata, it’s clear Arringon took a creative risk in building this continent-crossing dish—and it pays off. $19. — Stephanie Breijo

Photograph: Stephanie Breijo
Restaurants, Californian

Pork Belly Tom Kha at Wolf

icon-location-pin Melrose

Chef Marcel Vigneron’s Wolf skews rustic, with meat often taking center stage. In this dish, savory, tender and richly fatty slabs of pork belly—caramelized and sweet—share the spotlight with sizeable black tiger shrimp in a reimagination of the classic Thai soup. In lieu of a bowl full of broth, dip the surf, the turf or the bed of black kale into a fragrant coconut foam and wonder why you haven’t been spooning up soup as foam more often. $27. — Stephanie Breijo

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Garlic shrimp in pineapple from Shrimp Daddy at Smorgasburg
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo
Shopping

Shrimp Daddy at Smorgasburg

icon-location-pin Downtown

There’s going to be a huge line, but go ahead and wait in it. I can vouch from personal experience that even when it’s 100 degrees and you’re standing on asphalt, it’s still worth it for this Hawaiian garlic butter shrimp situation. Easily one of Smorgasburg’s most popular food stalls every weekend, Shrimp Daddy serves crispy, flavorful, buttery fried shrimp. Eat them tail and all, alongside mac salad, pineapple and rice sprinkled with furikake. You can order it by the plate,  but come on, you’re really not going to get the pineapple boat for a few dollars more? $13.95 per plate, $16.95 served in a pineapple. — Stephanie Breijo

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