10 Best Fried Chicken Joints in LA


There is no better comfort food than fried chicken. Crispy and unctuous on the outside and hot and juicy on the inside, it makes you forget your troubles with every bite.

However, all fried chicken is not created equal. In our sprawling metropolis, there are several blue-ribbon eateries producing truly exceptional finger-lickin’-goodness that stands out from the rest. After conducting years of extensive research on the topic, here are my top 10 favorites:

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

#1 (tie) Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken (1262 Crenshaw Blvd in Mid-City Los Angeles, 509 S Glenoaks Blvd, Burbank, and 2580 Long Beach Blvd, Long Beach). Gus’s, a small chain originating in Tennesee, serves Memphis-style spicy fried chicken which is perfect in every way. Served atop a slice of white bread, these insanely amazing drumsticks, wings, thighs and breasts are accompanied by traditional Southern sides such as mac n cheese, greens and baked beans.

Plan Check Kitchen + Bar

#1 (tie) Plan Check Kitchen + Bar (1800 Sawtelle Blvd in West LA, 351 N Fairfax Ave in Mid-City LA, 1401 Ocean Ave #104 in Santa Monica, and 1111 Wilshire Blvd in the Westlake district adjacent to Downtown). While Gus’s fried chicken is a traditional Southern type, the other top winner on my list, the Smokey Fried Chicken at Plan Check, is the opposite. It’s an elevated gourmet version of the dish marinated in buttermilk brine, fried in beef tallow and severed with Smoked Milk Gravy, Yam Preserves and Spicy Pickled Okra. It’s my favorite dish on the menu and real show-stopper.

Howlin’ Ray’s

#3 Howlin’ Ray’s (727 N Broadway #128, Los Angeles in Chinatown/Downtown). Located amid the souvenir shops and Chinese herb merchants in the Far East Plaza in Chinatown, Howlin’ Rays serves Nashville-style Hot Chicken. This place is so popular — and so incredibly good — that the wait in line can often take two hours or more. I don’t love waiting in lines, but this place is definitely worth it.

OB Bear

#4 OB Bear (3002 W 7th St, Los Angeles in Koreatown). This tavern in K-town serves the most awesome Korean fried chicken. Enjoy it with pickled radish, cabbage salad, a seafood leek pancake and a couple of nice cold Korean beers.

Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken

#5 Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken (9537 Culver Blvd, Culver City). This Culver City mainstay serves expertly cooked and super yummy Southern-style fried chicken made with high-end ingredients. I order mine with biscuits, honey, mashed potatoes and gravy.

Dave’s Hot Chicken

#5 Dave’s Hot Chicken (970 N Western Ave, Los Angeles in East Hollywood). Spice is the name of the game at Dave’s and if you love your chicken eye-tearing, lip-burning, brow-sweating spicy, then this is the place for you. But even if you wimp out and order your bird mild, you will be impressed with the deliciously seasoned Nashville-style chicken.

Golden Bird

#7 Golden Bird (8300 S Western Ave in Inglewood, 2847 Crenshaw Blvd in West Adams, and 13501 S Avalon Blvd in Gardena). This Southern fried chicken chain in South LA is a sentimental favorite of many Angelenos and has been serving delicious fried chicken and soul food sides and desserts (including Sweet Potato Pie and 7-Up Cake!) since 1953. The mouth-watering batter here reminds me of my personal childhood favorite, Pioneer Chicken.

Pikunico

#8 Pikunico (767 S Alameda St Suite 122, Los Angeles in Downtown). Newly opened in the uber-hot Row DTLA complex, Pikunico serves excellent gourmet Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) which is free range, gluten-free and made with locally sources ingredients. It’s served with house-made assorted pickles, three gourmet sauces (Daikon Ponzu Oroshi, Lemon Aioli, and Parsley Sesame Sauce) and your choice of Ginger Onigiri or Fingerling Fries.

Dinah’s Family Restaurant

#9 Dinah’s Family Restaurant (6521 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles in Westchester). This old school diner is an LA institution famous for their fried chicken (as well as their giant German pancakes). It’s perfect for a meal of fried chicken and waffles or as your first stop after landing at nearby LAX.

Anzu Japanese Gourmet

#10 Anzu Japanese Gourmet (11270 La Grange Ave in West LA) Even if you are a frequent visitor to the Japanese restaurants and shops on Sawtelle, you may not be aware of Anzu. Located just off of the main drag, it’s simply a tiny window with very limited seating outside where you can purchase some of the best Japanese fried chicken in the city.

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Filed under Burbank, Chinatown, Culver City, Downtown, East Hollywood, Gardena, Inglewood, Koreatown, Long Beach, Mid-City, Santa Monica, West Adams, West LA, Westchester, Westlake

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2018


It’s that time of year for blogs to make predictions, present year-end wrap-ups and bestow awards. In keeping with the custom, here’s my annual list of the ten best things I ate and wrote about during the past year.

Deep Fried Fluffer Nutter with Fresh Bananas from Black Market Liquor Bar


10. Deep Fried Fluffer Nutter with Fresh Bananas from Black Market Liquor Bar. More chefs need to find ways to incorporate marshmallow fluff into their food.

Hamachi in Monochrome, Sweet Pea in Pastel from Dialogue


9. Hamachi in Monochrome, Sweet Pea in Pastel from Dialouge. Three words: Off. The. Hook.

Pappardelle with Ragu Bolognese “Vecchia Scuola” and Parmigiano Reggiano from Felix


8. Pappardelle with Ragu Bolognese “Vecchia Scuola” and Parmigiano Reggiano from Felix. Q: What do you call a fake noodle? A: An impasta. The Pappardelle at Felix is incredible and deserves better than that joke.

Black Barley “Risotto” with Fermented Black Garlic Tea, Wheat Grass and Fiscalini Cheese Crisp from Kali


7. Black Barley “Risotto” with Fermented Black Garlic Tea, Wheat Grass and Fiscalini Cheese Crisp from Kali. Fermented garlic tea and wheat grass aren’t ingredients that usually come to mind when reminiscing about the best things you’ve eaten during the past year. Surprise!

Butterscotch Budino with Sea Salt and Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies from Pizzeria Mozza/Chi Spacca


6. Butterscotch Budino with Sea Salt and Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies from Pizzeria Mozza/Chi Spacca. Fun fact: the word “Budino” originally referred to a type of medieval sausage. Now it’s just the Italian word for what we Americans call pudding.

Grilled Heritage Pork in Koji, Pickled Daikon and Leek from Shibumi


5. Grilled Heritage Pork in Koji, Pickled Daikon and Leek from Shibumi. Those familiar with this blog knew there was going to be something Japanese on this list and also something on this list which is primarily pork. The exciting news this year is that these two things are combined!

Beef & Bone Marrow Pie from Chi Spacca


4. Beef & Bone Marrow Pie from Chi Spacca. Think about the best pot pie you’ve ever eaten and how much you enjoyed it. Now multiply that feeling by ten.

Momotaro Tomato with Bagna Cauda, Lap Xuong and Creme Fraiche from Here’s Looking at You


3. Momotaro Tomato with Bagna Cauda, Lap Xuong and Creme Fraiche from Here’s Looking at You. A lot of people don’t know that a tomato is actually not a vegetable, but a fruit. This is the best fruit dish in LA.

Peanut Butter Meringue Pie from Pie ‘n Burger


2. Peanut Butter Meringue Pie from Pie ‘n Burger. I have nothing against apple, cherry or pumpkin, but it’s amazing to me that peanut butter is not the most popular pie flavor.

Foie Gras Halva with Creamy Pâté, Date Paste, Black Sesame and Buckwheat Loaf from Bavel


1. Foie Gras Halva with Creamy Pâté, Date Paste, Black Sesame and Buckwheat Loaf from Bavel. This dish combines the flavors of two of my favorite things: fatty goose liver and the the candy you buy at the cashier counter when you leave a Jewish deli. It’s the best thing I consumed and wrote about in 2018.

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Filed under Downtown, Hollywood, Koreatown, Mid-City, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Studio City, Venice

The Post Where I Use a Jewish Holiday Song to Describe a Pork Chop


Every Passover, we Jews sing a thousand-year-old song called “Dayenu,” which roughly translates to “It Would Have Been Enough.” It’s a song of appreciation for all the many gifts granted to us by God, and we sing that just one of such gifts alone would have been enough. Sorry Rabbi, but whenever I dine at Chi Spacca, I think of this song.

Chi Spacca is an upscale Italian steakhouse and their charcuterie plate (called Affettati Misti) is the best in town. All the meats (often including coppa, salami, speck, pancetta and/or lardo) are cured in-house and served with butcher’s pâté and trotter fritti. I recommend dining at Chi Spacca for this salumi board alone. However, my love for the Affettati Misti is nothing compared to my obsessive passion for the Focaccia di Recco. This cripy-edged flatbread is stuffed with salted and fermented mozzarella and baked and served in a special pan imported from Piedmont, Italy. It’s unbelievably amazing.

But I’m just getting started here folks. Chi Spacca serves a Beef and Bone Marrow Pie that is to die for. It’s a rich, golden-crusted beef pot pie with a baked marrow bone coming out of the top. If you go to Chi Spacca and just have the charcuterie, focaccia and pot pie, it would be one your best meals ever. But you would be sorely missing out if you didn’t also get the Tomahawk Pork Chop. This giant chop is rubbed with fennel pollen and then grilled to perfection. It’s easily one of the best pieces of meat I have ever consumed.

And even if you ordered none of the above, a trip to Chi Spacca would be well worth it if you just ordered the Butterscotch Budino with Sea Salt and Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies, a dessert which Chi SPACCA shares with its sister restaurants Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza. This pudding is one of my favorite desserts in the City. Thank you Chi Spacca. DAYENU!

Chi Spacca is located at 6610 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles (on the border between Hollywood and Hancock Park).

Toasted Pane Bianco with Beillevaire Butter

Warm Medjool Dates

Affettati Misti

Razor Clams

Focaccia di Recco

Insalata Primavera with Artichokes, Fennel, Asparagus, Hearts of Palm, Olio Nuovo and Pecorino Toscano

Tomahawk Pork Chop

Butterscotch Budino with Sea Salt and Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies

It’s an intimate restaurant with an open kitchen.

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Filed under Hancock Park, Hollywood, Mid-City

Consuming Chicago


Chicago is known for horrible weather, a population of friendly, unpretentious sports-loving folks and some of the best restaurants in the country. I recently spent five glorious, gluttonous days there. Together with my good pal Sandy, who directs TV shows in the Windy City and is a regular on the local foodie circuit, we went on an epic food adventure. Thankfully, I had gone on a diet for a month as preparation for the damage I would do on this short trip. Here are the rapacious details:

Chicago Mix at Nuts on Clark


Welcome to The Second City: Nuts on Clark Upon arriving at O’Hare Airport, I smell something amazing. My nose led me to an airport shop right outside my arrival gate that sells gourmet popcorn, a Chicago favorite, including this “Chicago Mix” of incredible savory Cheese Corn and sweet Caramel Corn (the latter of which is hidden below the Cheese Corn in the photo). It was the perfect way to kick off my food trip.

Mentaiko Kimchi Udon with Spicy Cod Roe, Kimchi and Seaweed from Mott Street


Meal #1: Mott Street This is Sandy’s favorite restaurant in Chicago and I could see why. The restaurant has awesome Asian-influenced cuisine, super-tasty cocktails and the coolest vibe in town.

“The Fat Rice” at Fat Rice


Meal #2: Fat Rice I loved the global-inspired Macanese cuisine at this uber cool eatery in Chi-town’s Logan Square Neighborhood. It has its own bakery next door for Portuguese Egg Tarts and Taro Morning Buns.

Hearts of Palm in Five Sections (Vanilla Pudding, Fava Beans, Bulgur Salad, Prune Purée and Black Truffle) at Next


Meal #3: Next I have been wanting to go to Chef Grant Achutz’s restaurant Next since it opened seven years ago and I finally go the chance on this trip. The menu, cuisine and dining experience at Next completely changes every four months. The menu while I was there was a retrospective on the first five years of Alinea, Achutz’s ever evolving and groundbreaking restaurant which I dined at the next night, providing an interesting contrast.

Do-Rite Donuts


Snack Time: Do-Rite Donuts After having viewed chef and owner Jeff Mahin’s mouthwatering donut porn on instagram for many years, I knew I had to include Do-Rite Donuts in my itinerary. I was not disappointed.

Cheeseburger from Au Cheval


Meal #4: Au Cheval This small hipster diner has been touted frequently for having the best cheeseburger in America. Of course I ordered one and added the optional thick-cut bacon and a fried egg. I was massively impressed.

Molecular Gastronomy Magic at Alinea


Meal #5: Alinea Grant Achutz’s renowned restaurant is one of the best in the world and the first place I made a reservation at when I booked my trip. It’s molecular gastronomy mixed with magic, insanely fun and creative, and a once in a lifetime experience. I was blown away.

Deep Dish Pizza with Sausage, Mushroom and Jalapeños at Pequods Pizza


Meal #6: Pequods Pizza I did a ton of research before selecting which pizza joint I would visit in a city which is famous for its thick crust pies, and I think I chose well. The individual pies at Pequods are baked to order and we waited a crazy long time to get our food, but the wait for these amazing culinary feats was worth it. The best part of the pizza was the caramelized cheese on the side of the crust.

Tomato and Onion Salad at Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse


Meal #7: Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse Sandy and I went old school at this iconic joint in the “Viagra Triangle” neighborhood. Our massive steaks did not photograph as well as they tasted so I’m posting this Tomato and Onion Salad.

Hot Dog at Portillo’s


Meal #8: Portillo’s Chicago-style hot dogs are another must-have for any visit to the Windy City. The ones at this famous and cavernous restaurant are perfect. I also consumed one of their famous Italian Beef sandwiches, as well as a vanilla frozen custard.

Wedding Rings Pasta with Pecorino, Clams, Meatballs, and Lemon at Giant


Meal #9: Giant Having dined at mostly Chicago classics during this trip, I wanted to visit one of the newer hotspots. Giant impressed me with with its fantastic New American Cuisine and amazing pasta dishes.

La Quercia Prosciutto with Multigrain Bread and Farm Butter at Publican Tavern


Meal #10: Publican Tavern My biggest regret leaving Chicago was that I could not squeeze in a dinner at The Publican. Fortuitously, on my way home, I discovered an O’Hare Airport location of the restaurant, where I enjoyed not only some damn fine charcuterie, but also the best spicy pork rinds I have ever consumed.

Wrigley Field

Airport send-off

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This Place Israeli Good


Halva is a confection made of sweetened sesame seed paste formed into a flaky block and is most often found at the cashier counter of a Jewish deli next to the chocolate covered jelly rings. At Bavel, halva is combined with foie gras and dollops of date paste to create a dip that is one of the best and most unique things I’ve tasted in a long time.

The Baba Ghanoush at Bavel is made not only with the traditional smoked eggplant, but also red walnuts and lemon chili salt. The Roasted Cauliflower is served with a green hawaij chile sauce and crème fraiche serrano dip with pistachios & edible dried flowers. In other words, this is not your mother’s Israeli restaurant (or, in my case, my mother-in-law’s Israeli restaurant since my wife’s parents are actually from Israel).

This is expertly executed Israeli fusion, presented for your enjoyment in a converted warehouse in the Downtown Arts District. It’s a buzzing hipster foodie scene with tasty craft cocktails and an open kitchen presided over by the talented couple that brought you Bestia a few block away. It’s well worth the shekels!

Bavel is located at 500 Mateo St, Los Angeles (Downtown in the Arts District).

Foie Gras Halva with Creamy Pâté, Date Paste, Black Sesame and Buckwheat Loaf

Baba Ghanoush with Smoked Eggplant Burnt Bell Pepper, Red Walnuts, Lemon Chili Salt and Fried Pita

Scallop Crudo with Pomegranate Molasses, Citrus, Burnt Serrano Chile Oil, Charred Cucumber, Mint and Black Sesame

Cucumber & Strawberry with Feta, Purslane, Tarragon, Citrus Vinaigrette and Nigella Seeds

Buttermilk Fried Quail with Cardamom Date Sauce, Pickled Celery, Smoked Yogurt and Herbs

Roasted Cauliflower with Hawaij Chile Sauce, Crème Fraiche Serrano Dip, Pistachios and Dried Flowers

Malawach with Ancient Grain Crispy Layered Bread, Grated Tomato, Dill Crème Fraiche, Aged Egg and Strawberry Zhoug

Grilled Lamb Saddle Chop with Licorice, Lime, Honey, Borage Vinaigrette, Green Almonds and Herb Salad

Wagyu Beef Cheek Tagine with Braised Cheeks, Chiles, Preserved Lemon, Turnips, Green Garbanzo and Couscous

Laffa Bread

Strawberry Sumac & Sweet Cheese Pastry

Vanilla Date Crème Brûlée with Soft Candied Orange Peel Shortbread

Rose Clove Chocolate Donuts with Bar au Chocolat Ganache and Sherry Diplomat Cream

Licorice Root Ice Cream Bonbon with Sour Licorice Caramel, Muscovado Cake, Caramelized White Chocolate and Maldon Salt

In the Downtown Arts District

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