Erin's Kitchen is leaving LA! Before I go, I'm asking Angelenos to share their favorite food spots--east to west, high to low. Want to share your favorites? Email me: erinskitchen [at] gmail [dot] com
LA Favorites #2: Jonathan Gold, LA Weekly restaurant critic, author of Counter Intelligence (wherein in addition to restaurant recs he describes his quest to eat at every restaurant on Pico Blvd between downtown and Santa Monica), LA food-lovers' guru, and [UPDATE 4/16] PULITIZER PRIZE WINNER!
How long have you lived in LA? My entire life, minus the few years I spent in New York as restaurant critic for Gourmet.
What neighborhood do you call home? Pasadena.
Quick--a favorite LA food memory. What's the first one that comes to mind? I was just telling somebody this afternoon about the excitement surrounding the opening of Mon Kee in the mid-'70s, and dramatic it was to taste real Cantonese seafood. I was taken by the parents of my high-school girlfriend, and had salt-baked shrimp, steamed rock cod, a hot pot with chashu and fresh oysters, and ong choy with fermented bean curd, all at the same meal and all for the first time. Godhead.
What food or drink does LA do best? And where can I find it? Do you mean a lazy three-hour lunch on the patio at Spago or a chilidog with everything at Chroni's in East L.A., a Zombie at the Tiki Ti or a glass of old California Zinfandel on the patio at Michael's, the lardo pizza at Mozza or the green chile burrito at Lupe's, the tortilla soup at the Bel Air Hotel on a perfect summer afternoon or a bowl of birria at the Calle Primera Chalio's on a Sunday morning when the hungover mariachis are just getting back into gear? I can tell you that when I come back into town after being gone a month or two, the first places I go are Golden Deli, Ciro's, and Pie n' Burger.
Top three spots (restaurants, taco stands, stores, bars, etc) I should visitbefore I leave LA? What should I order? The Alameda Swap Meet on a weekend, which is the single most Mexican place in the United States, with literally dozens of food vendors. Take your pick: it's all delicious. San Pedro Fish Market in Ports o' Call - buy a dungeness crab or three and have them steam it, then buy a couple of beers and a big plate of grilled shrimp from the vendors outside, and watch the ships in the harbor. Save up your money, call well in advance, and have Piero Selvaggio plan a customized tasting menu for you at Valentino, with wines, which will cost a week's salary but will be worth it.
palm tree photo by Eric Richardson.