Dine If You Dare: Downtown LA’s Culinary Renaissance

In recent years, a group of talented and daring chefs have flipped the culinary landscape of the City of Angels. How so? Well first off, the fine dining experience that was usually associated with snooty French restaurants and foodies with discriminating tastes is no more. Today, the fine dining experience isn’t so much about keeping up appearances, it is more of a culinary journey where diners are welcomed into a relaxed environment and chefs are encouraged to push the envelope with their creativity sans the hesitating remarks like, “what is that?”

It is a new era in fine dining and one that has critics and chefs excited for the possibilities. The best part about it is that it is happening within the confines of the growing downtown Los Angeles that in recent years has seen an influx of bars, galleries, and entertainment venues for the young and trendy crowd. Richard Guzman of Los Angeles Downtown News, reveals the top eight restaurants that have contributed to the gastronomical growth of this area.

Lazy Ox Canteen: Headed by Chef Josef Centeno serves up new American fare with a flare of global influence. Among the dishes he serves are beef neck, steamed whelks, and veal tongue. His dishes have made Lazy Ox one of the toughest places to get a reservation.

The Gorbals: Chef Ilan Hall, serves his creations in his restaurant located inside the Alexandria Hotel. This Top Chef winner cooks up interesting dishes such as the haggis burger with turnip pickles and Highland Park aioli (flavored with Highland Park whiskey). Let’s not forget his version of a BLT consisting of tomatoes, lettuce and Gribenes (a crispy, oven-roasted chicken skin) on rye. Genius!

Church and State: Did you ever think you could have a good meal on a loading dock? That’s is exactly what you will get at Church and State. Specializing in French comfort food, on the menu you will find roasted marrowbone and succulent snails baked in garlic and parsley butter. Although Chef Walter Manzke recently left the restaurant, he can be credited for the success of the fried pig’s ears.

Rivera: If a Latino experience is more your style Rivera serves up dishes such as: poblano chile relleno stuffed with smoked chicken, corn and pimentón aioli, and duck enfrijolada served with poached egg, rioja wine and cascabel chile sauce. Owned by Chef John Rivera Sedlar and Bill Chait, the restaurant also includes a political message along with your food. Plates are “decorated” with messages created from spices that resemble signs warning drivers about immigrants crossing the freeways, or gas masks symbolizing the awareness for the environment.

Drago Centro: This Italian establishment focuses on a fine dining experience that is “revisited” for the local customers. Chef Celestino Drago serves such traditional dishes as l’anatra, a duck confit with potatoes, frisee and pomegranate. The risotto “vialone nano” ai gamberi features saffron risotto, seafood ragout, and spot prawns.

Bottega Louie: Chef Sam Marvin offers menu items such as the chicken Milanese and house made ravioli and salmon served in parchment paper, very exotic.

Wurstkuche: If your carnivorous appetite fares on the adventurous side you might consider visiting Wurstkuche. The menu features exotic sausages that are among favorites for local food connoisseurs, some of the selections include rattlesnake and alligator.

Mo-Chica: OK, so this isn’t really a restaurant per se, but this food stand nestled inside the Mercado La Paloma (near USC) serves a scrumptious menu of Peruvian cuisine. Among the favorites is it daily ceviches and Peruvian paella.

So if you are tired of the run of the mill menu options consider taking a gander at downtown LA’s flourishing restaurants. Granted you might want to be prepared for some exotic options but judging from the rave reviews we suspect you’ll be yearning for more fried pig ears and lengua (that’s cow’s tongue).

Source LA Downtown News