[RESTAURANT REVIEW] Analyzing Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants

Marouch restaurant in East Hollywood was among Jonathan Gold's picks this year.

Marouch restaurant in East Hollywood was among Jonathan Gold’s picks this year.

How does Jonathan Gold come up with his 101 Best Restaurants list? He likely keeps the methodology a close secret, but every year the Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times restaurant critic throws a bunch of new entries onto the list, and every year a few old quirky favorites remain.

The refreshing thing about the much-discussed list is its lack of pretension—despite high-flying entries like Providence, Spago and Trois Mec. Downtown’s Guerilla Tacos is still a truck, though an actual restaurant is in the works, and a meal at Attari Sandwich Shop in Westwood or Roy Choi’s Locol will only set you back a few bucks.

Here are a few of Gold’s new and old picks near the Los Feliz and Mid-City areas.

EAST HOLLYWOOD

Many of us, including Gold, have been eating at Marouch in East Hollywood for 20 years or more. The prices inch up gradually, but it’s still one of the better full-service Middle Eastern options in the Hollywood area. Is it better than Carousel? The meat dishes may be better at Marouch, while some of the salads and sides seem brighter-tasting at Carousel. You can’t go wrong with either one.

Gold and this reviewer have both been huge Jitlada supporters ever since Jazz Singsanong, and her brother, Tui Sungkamee, took over. With a huge menu of fiery Southern Thai dishes, it’s still one of the best places to impress a guest with the vast range of Thai cooking.

It’s hard to quarrel with the inclusion of Sqirl, even if the deceptively simple Virgil Avenue cafe sometimes seems too hip to bear. But Jessica Koslow’s dedication to flavor and technique put the simple breakfast and lunch spot up there with the big guns.

Sapp Coffee Shop and its signature dish of boat noodles is beloved by other famous foodies too, including Anthony Bourdain. It’s a little grungy, still cash-only, and at this point seems to be hanging on the list out of sheer nostalgia.

Baroo is the next logical step after Sqirl — its grain bowls filled with carefully fermented vegetables are almost more art than cuisine.

SILVER LAKE AREA

The greater Silver Lake area tends to be known for restaurants that are a little more scene than cuisine. But Kris Yenbamroong’s Northern Thai Night + Market Song and Alimento, with subtle Italian flavors from the owners of Sotto, make the cut.

New to the list is Salazar in Atwater, the uber-popular outdoor Mexican restaurant from the Mexicali Taco folks.

And in the western reaches of Glendale, Adana is a hidden treasure that famously impressed the New York Times.

The cozy Middle Eastern restaurant is an exceedingly good value for platters of kebabs and mezze in every configuration.

MID-CITY

Providence, Republique, Angelini Osteria and the Mozzaplex, as Gold calls Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza, Chi Spacca and Mozza2Go, are mainstays in Gold’s book.

Ludo Lefebvre’s haute tasting laboratory Trois Mec and tiny bistro Le Petit Trois get separate entries.

Newer entries include two meat-centric restaurants: the new Highland Ave. location of Salt’s Cure and Odys & Penelope, the grill-focused spot from Karen and Quinn Hatfield.

Also on the meaty side of the spectrum is Bludso’s BBQ on La Brea Avenue, an even more casual temple to all things smoked.

101 Best Restaurants 2016 is a highly personal list that adroitly combines the city’s finest tables, old favorites of every ethnicity and bold new experiments.

It wouldn’t be your list or my list—spare a thought for Luv 2 Eat Thai—but giving the eater something to debate while noshing is part of the fun.

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