Fork & the Road // LA’s New Classic Restaurants
By Andrew Zimmern, Delta Sky Contributing Editor
In the latest issue of Sky, I look at three Los Angeles eateries poised to be icons for years to come.
For 15 years, Suzanne Goin’s Lucques has beckoned food lovers craving a homey but special dining experience. There’s something magical about the space itself, housed in an old carriage house that once belonged to silent film star Harold Lloyd. And, of course, there’s Goin’s simple, sophisticated food. Inspired by local ingredients and classic technique, the global farmhouse vibe is in its DNA. The menu moves in step with the seasons, and few things sound cozier on cool LA nights than Goin’s warm salad of duck confit, wild mushrooms, squash, wildspitz cheese and hazelnuts or her beloved braised beef short ribs with potato purée, Swiss chard and horseradish cream.
2. Border Grill
As with Goin, chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken were driven to flesh out LA’s culinary landscape when they opened the first Border Grill in 1985. “We loved soft carnitas tacos but had to drive to the east end of Melrose to get good ones,” Milliken explains. “We decided, selfishly, to open a taco joint.” Calling Border Grill just a taco joint is like calling Frida Kahlo just a painter; the food is groovy-modern but rooted deeply in authentic flavors and honest technique. Don’t skip the lamb adobo tacos cradled in hand-pressed corn tortillas. Dulce de leche churro tots make for a sweet punctuation mark.
Something that certainly sets the newest generation of iconic restaurants apart from the previous one is an openness to change. In the beginning, chef Michael Cimarusti created complex modernist dishes at Providence. Almost a decade later, he’s learned to edit. The spot prawns baked in salt epitomize Cimarusti’s culinary restraint. Housed in the kitchen’s live tank, the prawns are cleaned, then buried in hot salt with rosemary in an ultra-hot oven. Minutes later, they’re wheeled into the elegant, warmly lit dining room. It’s a simple dish, delivered with a confident, understated flourish that allows the ingredients to speak for themselves—a classic approach in every way.
Zimmern is the James Beard Award-winning host of Bizarre Foods America on the Travel Channel and a Delta Medallion traveler.
Photo: Freshwater eel, foie gras, buckwheat and eel jus at Providence. Photo by Vanessa Stump.