The Best Things I Ate in 2015

Branzino, Maré

Los Angeles has been a phenomenal place to eat for the duration of 2015. In fact, it’s been really hard to keep up with everything going on in all parts of the city, but what a great problem to have. Better food is available in more neighborhoods, helping raise the standard of dining out in all parts. Hopefully all parts, anyway. We do have our native Roy Choi, doing what he can to make sure such positive change reaches otherwise forgotten neighborhoods, with his and Daniel Patterson’s project, LocaL.

But for all the Fig & Olives of the see-and-be-seen L.A. dining scene, there have been some indisputable favorites of mine to rise to the top. I see 2015 as the year we’ve surpassed the huffing and puffing about authenticity and what that even means for all the history and diversity we have in this city. It’s been exciting to taste how we’ve moved beyond all that to a place and time where chefs can confidently make their mark using flavors from all over the world as their paintbrushes.

So read on, and get to it. 2016 is just around the corner:

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Links: e*starLA Elsewhere in 2015

Catch & Release, Marina del Rey

Apologies for not updating the blog, but here’s a post to push its revival into the New Year. Here I come, 2016! This week, I’ll be posting a round-up of sorts on 2015 and noteworthy dishes at noteworthy restaurants.

In any case, feel free to catch up with a few of my freelance articles, and my comments forthwith, that I wrote for other online publications the latter half of 2015 here. Also, a plug to follow me on other social media channels, which I’ve been updating pretty regularly: Instagram, Twitter, and eventually Snapchat (@estar_la)!

Happy reading. I’ll catch you guys with another 2015 update tomorrow.

Bánh Mì My-Tho
304 W Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91801

Phorage
3300 Overland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Catch & Release
13488 Maxella Ave
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

Langer’s Delicatessen
704 S Alvarado St
Los Angeles, CA 90057

Wexler’s Deli, GCM
317 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Old Country Cafe
2 E Valley Blvd #1e
Alhambra, CA 91801

Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village
250 W Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776

Zankou Chicken
5065 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Lexus Culinary Classic: Q&A With Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy

Youngest Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy

A couple months back, I was able to spend a weekend in Sausalito at the phenomenal Cavallo Point while attending the inaugural Lexus Culinary Classic. To say there was some of the best food prepared by some of the best chefs in the country being served in view of the Golden Gate Bridge would be mostly accurate – and I’m so honored I got to be a part.

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Bolthouse Farms’ #ThirstyThursdays Bartender Series on Periscope and Meerkat

Alex Straus – Photo by Joshua Lurie of foodgps.com

There’s been a #ThirstyThursday weekly broadcast that’s been happening for the past month, but the good news is that we’ve still got the remainder of July left – including today. It’s a great way to tune in live to learn some cocktails as well as overall tips to use at your home bar. We’ve had Josh Goldman, Joseph Brooke, and Vincenzo Marianella so far, and today we’ve got Alex Straus of the Bon Vivants and the brand new Southeast Asian hotspot E.P. & L.P.

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Los Angeles Veteran Barsmith Joe Brooke Lands at The 86 Co.

Joe Brooke’s Shaker Face. Photo by Caroline on Crack

When I first met Joe Brooke at The Edison, it was a whole seven, maybe even eight, years ago. And though I steer more towards food than cocktails on this blog, I hadn’t so much as written about a Vodka-Red Bull by then. My perception of cocktails, as well as as the entire cocktail scene in Los Angeles, was about to get turned upside down. Joe was one of the first craft bartenders I ever met and is one of the most hospitable.

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Jazz Up Your Fridays at LACMA With Patina’s Picnic Baskets

The Louis Picnic Basket (minus one serving of chicken)

The sun is out – when June Gloom isn’t in, that is. But when the high of summer arrives, you’ll bet it’ll be time for that picnic. Whether at The Hollywood Bowl, Cinespia or Barnsdall Art Park, picnicking in Los Angeles has become more than a rite of passage. It’s now an act of communal expression, with everyone in the party bringing their own contribution to the portable, potable feast.

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Happy Hour is Restocking Hour at Stir Market

Porchetta Chili Cheese Fries

There are happy hours where get enticed into what might seem like a great deal but, once you’ve arrived and start ordering, the specials don’t seem as attractive now that you see the menu up close. But the great thing about Restocking Hour at Stir Market is that there are specials on both food and wine, and the prices are at pretty big discounts on really tasty offerings.

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Revisiting The Hungry Cat in Santa Monica

Seafood Platter, Siberian Osetra Caviar

There are always plenty fo reasons to visit Hungry Cat, but the location in Santa Monica has put a new focus on their wood-fired menu, thanks to their brand new wood-burning grill and rotisserie. The result is an amazing array of seafood and other menu items that take on a whole new dimension of flavor.

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Highlights of the Inaugural Lexus Culinary Classic at Cavallo Point

Our arrival in the Lexus NX 300h at Sunset – Cavallo Point, Fort Baker

Apologies for the lack of updates, but I can only blame an excellent month of March spent traveling and seeing more of North America. The first of the trips was a week-long culinary extravaganza, complete with a trip to Northern California followed by nights and days packed back-to-back with multi-course meals, wine education, a cooking class, and a grand tasting. It was the very first Lexus Culinary Classic, which they plan to hold yearly at Lexus partnership properties around the country.

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Jeni’s Ice Creams Opens First West Coast Outpost in Los Feliz

Jeni’s Ice Creams Opening Party

There’s some fantastic ice cream now on Hillhurst Avenue in Los Feliz and it comes by way of Ohio. It’s Jeni’s Ice Creams first West Coast outpost, and Los Angeles is all the better for it. What I love about Jeni’s is that the flavor combinations are quirky and the ingredients are top-notch, and while they glean ingredient inspiration at every new location they open, there’s still that special Midwest touch to everything they do.

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