521 W 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Dining date: 10/2/14
I first dined at Q two months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. This return visit came quicker than expected as Q was the last-minute choice for a special occasion meal in the downtown area.
Sushi Zo still gets the majority of buzz of high-end downtown sushi options, though Q is right up there and deserves strong consideration. The quality of the fish is superb and the precision is exacting, plus I think Q has one of the most beautiful sushi bars in town (I love the lightbulbs). It’s very quiet and rather tranquil, transporting one away from the busy downtown streets just outside the doors.
424 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 9/13/14
A couple of weeks ago, b.o.s. announced it would close its doors on Sept. 27th. I was very disappointed to hear the news, but knew it wasn’t exactly packing the tables despite mostly positive reviews. Its nose-to-tail concept seemed like it could be a good fit in the area, but I’m not sure it ever caught on with the local crowd. Its closure just seems way too soon. I visited almost a year ago, soon after the restaurant opened, and enjoyed my meal there. I wanted to stop in at least one more time to see what’s changed.
During my first visit, we dined at the omakase-only bar. On this subsequent one, we sat in the dining room and had the full a la carte menu to choose from. To me, the menu is just as interesting as before with a mix of “exotic” like tongue, heart, brain, and intestines but also some more typical beefy items like oxtails, short ribs, and a handful of steak options.
521 W 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Dining date: 7/30/14
Q Sushi opened in November of last year, just off downtown’s corner of 7th & Grand, home to other popular spots Bottega Louie, Sugarfish and Mo-Chica. Its opening was right on the heels of the downtown location of Zo, creating a formidable twosome in downtown’s high-end sushi scene.
Q is known for its omakase-only menu (begins at $165) and edomae-style of sushi. Chef Hiroyuki Naruke maintained a sushi bar in Tokyo’s Roppongi district for years before moving to LA with the assistance (and persuasion) of some of his loyal customers, who also happened to be LA-based attorneys.
Dining date: 6/8/14
Kali Dining is one of the more well-known of the underground dinners in Los Angeles having been around for a couple of years now. Kevin Meehan is the chef behind the concept, who spent time in the kitchens of L’Orangerie and Bastide and most recently served as Executive Chef of downtown’s Cafe Pinot.
With Kali Dining, Meehan takes his fine dining background and brings it to a much more casual atmosphere. Dinners have popped up in a number of locations around the city, primarily in downtown and on the Westside. My recent visit was to a dinner at a downtown artist’s loft; it was a gorgeous place for a pop-up dinner, where a communal table sat 20 strangers. All of the Kali Dining dinners are BYOB, ~5 courses, with a recommended minimum donation of $65pp.
826 E 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Dining dates: 7/12/13, 5/2/14, 5/3/14
Guerrilla Tacos began almost two years ago and has consistently generated positive attention for its unique approach to tacos. There are so many taquerias in Los Angeles it’s difficult to stand out, but Guerrilla Tacos has done it with its upscale, modern approach to the casual taco. Chef Wes Avila went to culinary school and is classically trained; leveraging many of those principles, he’s really upped the game for the casual taco. Avila uses tortillas as a vehicle to showcase top-notch seasonal ingredients and meats in a wide variety of ways.
The menu changes constantly; I’ve seen few taquerias with such a varied menu. One day may have octopus, Proscuitto di Parma, and fresh squash tacos; the next may have lamb shank and oxtail. Diver scallops, sashimi-grade fish and live sea urchin are commonplace on the menu. Sure the tacos are more expensive than most in LA, but the quality of ingredients are clearly a differentiating factor. A meal can still be had for under $15, maybe $20 for bigger appetites.
403 W 12th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Dining date: 5/28/14
At first, chocolate and fried chicken sounded like an odd pairing. When I thought about it some more, I was intrigued and really wanted to try it. I imagine chicken & waffles smothered in a syrup elicited the same initial response, but has become a classic pairing. Some have likened this savory chocolate-chicken application to a mole sauce, though this would be very different. Among almost 20 other spices, a cocoa powder is applied to the chicken’s batter for a unique flavor. That’s after brining the chicken in a mixture that, of course, also includes chocolate.
Adam Fleischman, who brought the Umami Burger and 800 Degrees concepts to life, is also behind Choco Chicken. I’m a pretty big fan of both of those restaurants and figured I would be in good hands during this media preview evening. The restaurant is supposed to open to the public any day now in the former Corkbar space a few blocks away from the Staples Center. Owners feel strong about the concept, with expansion already in the works for a Santa Monica location.