The Salty Turnip and Egg at Ruen Pair

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Jon Shook, of L.A.’s Animal and Son of a Gun, once told L.A. Weekly his favorite places to eat in L.A. One of them is one of my favorite places to eat in L.A., Ruen Pair, where I almost always get the same thing: the Prik King (see #9 on the list of my favorite places to eat in L.A.). Shook, however, goes for a different reason: “You gotta get #106,” he told L.A. Weekly. “The salty turnip and egg. It will blow your brain out coz it’s super cool.”

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Rocio’s Mole de Los Dioses

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Sometimes you have to tap into your inner Mary Poppins and remind your inner George Banks that flying a kite is a perfectly respectable way to spend an hour or two, even on a busy day. So in the middle of my mad apartment hunting, I gave myself a break by driving up on the highway to Sunland to check out a restaurant I bookmarked a few months ago after Jonathan Gold wrote about it; a Mole-specialty joint called Rocio’s Mole de Los Dioses (aka: Mole of the Gods).

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Mozza Moments: Spring Peas & Yogurt Cheese, Caramel Copetta with Marshmallow Sauce

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If California falls into the ocean some day, and I find myself living back in New York, you might think that Pizzeria Mozza would be the last place I’d miss with Franny’s and Roberta’s and all the other individual pie places (Motorino, Co., etc.) that would fill that gap. You’d be wrong, though, because Mozza is a lot more than a pizza restaurant. As Amateur Gourmet reader (and Raoul in “Phantom of the Opera”) Kyle Barisich said to me recently on Twitter, “I really think Mozza is LA’s finest restaurant.” Can’t say I disagree.

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Burnt Brioche with Homemade Ricotta and Blueberry Tarragon Jam at SQIRL

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Have you ever eaten something so strange and beguiling you can’t quite wrap your head around it? But you keep eating it and eating it because it’s such a curious phenomenon and, eventually, you decide that you love it but you’re not sure why? That’s precisely what happened to me last week when I finally visited SQIRL headquarters down on Virgil after having enjoyed their jams over the past year and a half that I’ve lived in Los Angeles. The headquarters, which is actually a cafe, may be my new favorite secret lunch spot that’s not-so-secret because lots of people know about it.

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Food Is Art At Red Medicine

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Pop quiz, hot shot: you’re at dinner, sitting at a table, celebrating your anniversary, and someone puts this glass bowl in front of you.

Do you: (a) Admire this beautiful display as a table decoration or do you (b) Eat it? The answer, it turns out, is both.

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A Trip to L.A.’s Grand Central Market

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There was a moment, driving to L.A.’s Grand Central Market, that I started to regret my decision. Downtown L.A. can be a hassle and there I was chugging along listening to “On The Town” (I’m still obsessed with it) with my windows rolled down and the street was closed due to some construction, so I had to make a difficult right, then a difficult left, all the while searching for the parking garage while Leonard Bernstein’s sailors sang about the Bronx being up and the battery down. By the time I parked I really questioned whether this journey was going to be worth it.

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4 on 6 Sushi

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Here’s what I’m starting to get about L.A.: L.A. cherishes its secret hole-in-the-wall dining destinations. People would rather eat at a restaurant that nobody knows about yet than one everyone’s clamoring to get into. In New York, things are more open. For example, the restaurant-of-the-moment in New York right now is Carbone and everyone’s Tweeting and Instagramming and talking to their therapist about going there. In L.A., there are restaurants so exclusive they don’t take reservations and you can’t go to them unless you’re invited (see: Yamakase). I think the L.A. vibe is a product of celebrity culture, one in which well-known people want to remain incognito while enjoying the best life has to offer. As a result, some of L.A.’s best dining experiences are hidden away like little buried treasures waiting for you to find them.

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Lunch at Chung King in the San Gabriel Valley

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Last we left our hero Chinese food explorer, he became so bewitched by Tasty Noodle House in the San Gabriel Valley he went not once, but twice. To refresh your memory, the San Gabriel Valley is home to some of the best Chinese food in the United States. Yours truly made a pledge to thoroughly explore this region and stopped abruptly after falling in love with noodles and dumplings, like a failed Odysseus lured away by Sirens. Luckily, New York snatched me away and now that I’m back, I’ve retaken my pledge, striking things up again last week with Zach Brooks of Midtown Lunch who joined me for a meal at Chung King.

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