2013’s Seven Best Eats

Outlaw Burger | Photo by Anthony Mair

Outlaw Burger | Photo by Anthony Mair

I ate well this year, thanks to openings such as Tom Colicchio’s Heritage Steak and Angelo Sosa’s Poppy Den. I’m compelled, though, to single out something I ate in Los Angeles as my favorite dish of 2013. That would be foccaccia di Recco, an amazing pan bread at Nancy Silverton’s Chi Spacca on Melrose Avenue. And here are seven great meals from our neck of the woods.

The Tomato Course at Twist. Pierre Gagnaire’s Twist is a French restaurant for grown-ups. Everything he creates is imaginative in the extreme. The tomato course is composed of a stuffed tomato, a gin-soaked tomato with burratta, raspberry sorbet and a slice of tomato topped with a fluffed egg and assorted shellfish. $95 three-course tasting menu, in Mandarin Oriental, 590-8888.

Lamb Chakapuli Special at Forte. Forte, Nina Manchev’s Bulgarian/Spanish tapas joint, is one of our most unique places to dine. Sometimes, she even does specialties from the Republic of Georgia, such as this delicious stew of lamb and tarragon, redolent of herbs and kissed with hot chilies. $9.50, 4180 S. Rainbow Blvd., 220-3876.

Chanclas at Las Cazuelas. What is a chancla? That’s easy. It’s a Mexican slider from the city of Puebla, served wet, like a wet burrito. Chef Manuel Avendano fills these sliders with shredded chicken and ripe avocado, but what really makes it is a smoky chorizo sauce soaked up by the bread. $7, 9711 S. Eastern Ave., 837-0204.

The Outlaw Burger at Rolling Smoke. Our best ’cue joint has terrific ribs, chicken and brisket smoked outside in metal drums. But the mammoth Outlaw Burger is the raison d’etre here, a half-pound of ground chuck, 4 ounces of chopped brisket, American cheese, fried onion straws, lettuce, tomato and relishes on a soggy, delicious bun. Bet you can’t eat just one. $9, 3185 S. Highland Dr., 836-3621.

Amma’s Homemade Tomato Soup Special at Poppy Den. Picture a demi-tasse filled with a nicely pureed tomato soup, topped with slurries of curry cream. The curry cream magically reduces the acidity in the tomatoes, making this one of the smoothest, richest takes on tomato soup in recorded history. $7, at Tivoli Village, 802-2480.

Roast Duck Rice at Fat Choy. Sheridan Su is one of our most talented chefs, and he proves it every day at Fat Choy, a modest dive in the mostly overlooked Eureka Casino. Su’s French training shows here in what is essentially a Chinese-style rice bowl, since the duck is confit. It’s a real meal in a bowl, thanks to chopped green onions, garnishes and perfect rice. $12, 595 E. Sahara Ave., 794-3464.

Mt. Fuji at Raku Sweets. In this dessert-oriented Japanese jewel box, Mitsuo Endo puts an exclamation point on his seminal izakaya, Raku, next door. First among equals here is the Mt. Fuji, a chestnut puree laced with whipped cream, inspired by the French pastry, Mount Blanc. $19 for three items, 5040 W. Spring Mountain Rd., 290-7181.

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