Where to find L.A.'s best steak frites
Thomas Keller has proven to be one of America’s most cutting-edge chefs at his fine dining restaurants, The French Laundry and Per Se. He can also excel in lower gears, as he proves at the more casual Bouchon Bistro. The Beverly Hills branch is a 17,000-square-foot behemoth, including a second floor dining room with magazine-ready tiles, a patio overlooking a European-style plaza, and a menu of French classics. A luxurious lunch could easily star steak frites ($37), a pan-seared, 9-ounce flat iron steak blanketed with sweet caramelized shallots and topped with a generous pat of herbaceous maître d’hotel butter. The seared steak comes with crispy, skin-on frites, which beautifully soak up beef jus and melted butter, if you can show patience.
This stunning Downtown Arts District restaurant from Yassmin Sarmadi resides at the base of the Biscuit Company Lofts, in a building that used to house NABISCO’s offices. The space looks like a design blog come to life, with a brick front, planter-lined patio with mismatched wood tables, and dining room strung with bulbs sporting exposed filaments. Tony Esnault now helms the kitchen and features French classics like his steak frites ($32), which focuses on a pasture-raised hanger steak from SunFed Ranch near Sacramento. The lean, tender cut sports a winning sear and comes in a red wine reduction made with shallots, chervil, tarragon, pepper mignonette, bay leaf and thyme. Crispy frites with soft cores are cooked with Canola oil and finished with parsley and La Baleine, fine crystals of French sea salt. The finishing touch is a ramekin of Béarnaise sauce, a yellow blend of butter, salt and a flurry of fresh herbs—tarragon, parsley and chervil—which brighten up the steak and are great for fry dipping.
Sang Yoon’s cutting-edge gastropub is about more than just burgers. Case in point: Prime Hanger Steak ($22) showcases a juicy beef rectangle cooked on a gas grill until seared liberally on all sides. The steak comes topped with twin pats of bacon butter, an ultra savory compound butter folded with bacon, garlic, shallots and Aleppo pepper. Crisp shoestring fries and powerful garlic parsley aioli complete the plate. Tip: While the steak frites is available at both locations, The Helms Bakery outpost has more seats and style than the Santa Monica original. Retreat to a modern wood picnic table on the Helms' patio and pair your steak frites with a "forgotten cocktail" like the Rob Roy or Hemingway, 36 craft beers on tap or a glass of wine.
Jacques Fiorentino specializes in steak frites in a Melrose space that houses a hit for the first time in years. L’Assiette sports a red awning, features a long zinc bar and wood panel walls. Steak frites ($25) centers on silky Nebraska-raised culotte, which is cooked sous vide, finished on the grill and slathered in a French butter sauce with wine and herbs. Crispy frites are Kennebec potatoes prepared using an eight-step, 24-hour process that culminates with a bath in beef tallow. L’Assiette serves the first half of the steak and frites, but waits for your signal to serve the second half in order to keep both elements hot. For special occasions, the restaurant provides the option to order Rossini steak frites, named for Italian composer Gioacchino Antonio Rossini; this adds foie gras and shaved black truffles to the equation for an extra $30. No matter the meal, they start customers with complimentary bowls of sorrel soup seasoned with cream, crème fraîche and citrus.
Trois Mec front man Ludo Lefebvre’s mustachioed protégée Sydney Hunter holds down the counter at the more casual French restaurant Lefebvre owns with Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook. Petit Trois’ Hollywood strip mall space still displays the Tasty Thai sign, a souvenir from the previous tenant. Only 20 seats are available at a marble bar facing the open kitchen, or at a wood counter facing mirrors and tarragon wallpaper. Steak frites maison ($33) stars a 10-ounce entrecôte, a center-cut ribeye butchered from between the ribs. The grass-fed, 28-day grain-finished meat from Nebraska is pan-seared and preferably served medium rare with aux poivres, a sauce crafted with black peppercorns, Madagascar green peppercorns, Cognac, shallots and heavy cream. They also provide an option for Béarnaise sauce folded with tarragon. Either way, expect thin-cut, skin-on Kennebec potatoes fried in beef tallow for the sake of crispness.
This legendary Beverly Hills hotel has thrived for over 100 years. Their marquee restaurant, The Polo Lounge, is where polo players used to retreat to celebrate after matches at Will Rogers Park; now, it’s earned a reputation for entertainment industry power lunches and as a safe haven for celebrities. Tropical decor includes pink walls and mushroom-like coverings that shield booths from the sun. Executive chef Kaleo Adams serves a sumptuous steak frites ($39), a well-seared hanger steak dressed with red wine and black pepper reduction, and a generous pat of lemon parsley butter. Skin-on skinny fries dusted with parsley and Parmesan join the plate, as does a small baby lettuce salad.
One of LA’s grandest restaurants, which Charlie Chaplin originally constructed for his offices, now features a multi-faceted bakery, café and restaurant from savory master Walter Manzke, pastry chef Margarita Manzke and restaurateur Bill Chait. Walter Manzke has played with different takes on steak and fries since opening in 2013, and has now settled on a ribeye, which starts at $42 for seven-ounces of well-marbled, 42-day dry-aged meat, which is oak-grilled for a touch of smoke, sliced and served in a cast iron platter with peppercorn sauce crafted with veal stock, red wine, Cognac and black Tellicherry pepper. A ramekin of Béarnaise sauce is fairly classic, with browned, clarified butter, tarragon, vinegar, shallots and peppercorns. French fries take shape in a pint glass holding a paper cone of Kennebec potatoes seasoned with sea salt. To balance all the richness, Manzke serves his steak frites with butter lettuce salad with shallots, green goddess dressing and four different fine herbs: tarragon, chervil, parsley and chives.
Chris Phelps and Zak Walters are two of the most sustainably minded chefs in LA, sourcing seasonally, of course, but also butchering whole animals in-house and rarely looking beyond California’s borders for ingredients. A neon-framed blackboard menu changes nightly based on what's peaking on farms or in the sea. Salt’s Cure gets half a grass-fed Stemple Creek Ranch steer each Tuesday, which comes in 500-pound increments. Staffers fabricate various cuts until they're gone, but generally run flat iron, sirloin or flank for their steak and fries with either a brown butter or Cabernet reduction, depending on what stock is available and what sauce best serves the steak. Most recently, their steak & fries ($28) starred a boneless ribeye cut from the eighth rib, and seared over a gas grill. The slices pair beautifully with flat skin-on fries that are blanched and cooked in vegetable oil, seasoned and tossed with rosemary.
The westernmost restaurant from chef Suzanne Goin and wine-focused business partner Caroline Styne is multifaceted, with a bakery-café called The Larder up front, a bar and dining room in the middle, and an airy atrium with a barn shape and skylights in back. In the restaurant, one of your best bets is steak frites with béarnaise ($25), a saucy, hickory-grilled hanger steak served with arugula salad. Herbed fries are graced with fried rosemary and sage and come with both ketchup and tangy aioli for dipping—not that anything on the plate needs much embellishment.