Top chefs tell us where to eat now in Los Angeles

When you spend most nights cooking for others, going out to eat can be a luxury. So you choose your restaurants carefully. And as a well-connected chef you tend to hear about some of the most interesting recent openings. This is why we asked six Los Angeles chefs — Natalie Pereira of Woodspoon, Jon Yao from Kato, Nicole Rucker from Fat + Flour, Ludo Lefebvre of Petit Trois and the currently closed Trois Mec, Grandmaster Recorders’ Monty Koludrovic and Justin Pichetrungsi from L.A. Times Restaurant of the Year Anajak Thai Cuisine — all cooking at the 2022 Food Bowl launch party — to share their favorite places to eat now.

The chefs will help us kick off our monthlong Food Bowl festival with a party on Sept. 1 at Grandmaster Recorders. You can find more details and ticket information at lafoodbowl.com.

Justin Pichetrungsi’s picks

Chef and co-owner of Anajak Thai Cuisine

Chef-owner Justin Pichetrungsi prepares transparent sea prawns in the alley next to his restaurant, Anajak Thai in Sherman Oaks.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

KINJIRO

Eight slices of meat on a black ceramic plate, with a spiky green garnish and chopsticks.

Thick-cut prime beef tongue at Kinjiro in Little Tokyo in 2015.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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“Honestly, you won’t ever be able to walk in here: [It’s] email reservations only, don’t call, and same-day is impossible — and if you want to come back, you best show Jun [Isogai], the owner, that you can eat and drink well too. If you pass the test, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best well-crafted izakaya cuisine that’s equally comforting. Try the warm mushroom spinach salad, the grilled beef tongue and the whole soy-mirin-braised Madai fish head. Also, the soba is delightful. Jun’s knowledge of great sake will get you to overstay your welcome. Trust me.”

424 E. 2nd St., Los Angeles, (213) 229-8200, kinjiro-la.com

KUYA LORD

A foil pan contains noodles, prawns, rice, greens and more on a banana leaf.

Filipino-style bounty from Kuya Lord.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

“Filipino food at its best. Hands down, the tastiest food I’ve had outside of Asia. Chef Maynard [Llera] is the ultra talented big brother of the culinary scene here. His whole family will be there too. Go with a lot of friends who like to crush food because you will want to order the whole menu. The grilled prawns are [the] move to start; break your tooth with the kawali tray — crispiest pork belly known to man. And finish with tocino, grilled sweet prime short rib, guaranteed to make you lick your lips for the following week.”

5003 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, kuyalord.com

ANTICO NUOVO

A bowl of pasta from Antico Nuovo

Antico Nuovo’s agnolotti-style pasta specialty plin dell’ alta langa.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

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“This is my secret: Walk in for a late seating, go sit at the bar — because A-listers like Meryl Streep are sitting at a table — but you actually want a front-row seat to gawk at the hearth and chef Chad [Colby] plate up beautiful pastas. I keep it modest: I go get a couple glasses of wine and order a pasta and the ribs, and I’m the happiest person ever. Go eat all of the ice creams because I can’t. (Thank you, lactose intolerance.)”

4653 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 510-3093, anticonuovo-la.com

Nicole Rucker’s picks

Co-owner and baker of Fat + Flour

A woman working on pieces of cookie dough on a tray

Pastry chef Nicole Rucker makes cookies at Fat + Flour inside Grand Central Market in Los Angeles.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

HOUSTON’S

“Always a great place for a date night. I know it’s a bit of a chef cliché to choose this, but when it works it works, and I love the reliability of the food, service and ambiance — to be honest, the best people-watching too.”

320 S. Arroyo Pkwy., Pasadena, (626) 577-6001, houstons.com

FOUND OYSTER

Scallop tostada from Found Oyster

Scallop tostada from Found Oyster.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

“For when we want to feel youthful and have fun! Best vibe in town. I don’t drink wine but [my husband], Blaine [Rucker], loves the selections and I love the tostadas. Yes, they serve Fat + Flour Key lime [pie] for dessert, which I mean, five stars just for that.”

4880 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 522-6239, foundoyster.com

SUN NONG DAN

A large round dish of galbi jjim surrounded by five smaller banchan dishes.

Galbi jjim with banchan at Sun Nong Dan restaurant in Koreatown.

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

“For breakfast especially, they have a great deal. I’ll probably be here all winter long because the rich broth soothes my achy joints.”

3470 W. 6th St., Ste. 7, Los Angeles, (213) 365-0303; 710 S. Western Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 365-0303; 18902-A E. Gale Ave., Rowland Heights, (626) 581-2233; 927 E. Las Tunas Drive, Ste. J&K, San Gabriel, (626) 286-1234; sunnongdan.net

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Jon Yao’s picks

Chef/founder of Kato

A person dressed in black shirt and chef's apron leans against a black wall.

Kato’s Jon Yao at Kato in 2019.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

LU’S GARDEN

The sweet potato porridge with other specialties from Lu's Garden.

The sweet potato porridge from Lu’s Garden, surrounded by, clockwise from bottom left, simmered roast pork, eggplant with chef sauce, Taiwanese sausage, braised string beans, braised bamboo shoot, pan-fried squid, tofu, a dish of pepper called spicy with spicy and fried belt fish.

(Kate Kuo / Los Angeles Times)

“Lu’s garden reminds me of my mom’s cooking and it’s super convenient so I always have it.”

Lu’s Garden, 534E Valley Blvd., #12, San Gabriel, (626) 280-5883, lusgardensg.com

WAGYU HOUSE BY X POT

“I often have hot pot at Haidilao so I wanted to try something else and X Pot was the best I’ve had so far. “

Wagyu House by X Pot, 18558 Gale Ave., Ste. 122-128, Rowland Heights, (866) 610-0609, thexpot.com/los-angeles-location

AVENUE 26

Adults and children wait to be served at an outdoor taco stand at night.

Avenue 26 Tacos in Lincoln Heights always draws a crowd.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

“Avenue 26 is right next to the restaurant so you’ll see me and a lot of the staff there often.”

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Avenue 26 Tacos, 353 S. Alameda St., Los Angeles, (213) 375-3300, avenue26tacos.com

Natalia Pereira’s picks

Chef-owner of Woodspoon

A smiling woman in a restaurant kitchen holds up a chicken pot pie on a plate.

Woodspoon owner-chef Natalia Pereira in 2015 with the restaurant’s popular chicken pot pie.

(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

PONCHO’S TLAYUDAS

A flat Mixta tlayuda with three meats, cabbage and cheese on the grill.

The Mixta (three meats) tlayuda is grilled over fire at Poncho’s Tlayudas.

(Paul Argumedo / For The Times)

“I love to see our friends at Poncho’s Tlayudas southeast of Exposition Park for a perfect meal that feels like home for everyone.”

4318 S. Main St, Los Angeles, (213) 359-0264, ponchostlayudas.com

OTOMISAN and PINE & CRANE

Savory soy milk, center, and other Taiwanese breakfast dishes

Savory soy milk, center, and other Taiwanese breakfast dishes at the new downtown L.A. location of Pine & Crane.

(Bill Addison / Los Angeles Times)

"Otomisan in Boyle Heights for the lovely owners and the new beautiful Pine & Crane space in downtown L.A.”

Pork katsu, tempura vegetables and salad on a combination plate.

Pork katsu and tempura combination plate from Otomisan in Boyle Heights.

(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Otomisan, 2506½ E. 1st St., Los Angeles, (323) 526-1150

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Pine & Crane, 1120 S. Grand Ave., Unit 101, Los Angeles, (213) 536-5292, pineandcrane.com/dtla

Ludo Lefebvre’s picks

Chef-owner at Petit Trois and Trois Mec

A smiling man in chef's whites and a blue apron leans on a marble counter.

Petit Trois and Trois Mec chef-owner Ludo Lefebvre.

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

CAPRI CLUB

A cocktail with a napkin and matchbooks from the Capri Club.

The Capri, which opened in 1963, is now Capri Club, a retro-inspired aperitivo bar specializing in Italian bar bites and amari.

(Torre Catalano / Capri Club)

“We love it because the design of the restaurant is ’60s and you feel like you’re in Italy. I love a good spritz and they have a lot of them. My favorite drink is the Negroni and they have an amazing frozen Negroni. The food is small plates, arancini, pâtés. It’s casual, easy, and I love it. You’re really transported to another country there.”

4604 Eagle Rock Blvd., Los Angeles, (707) 337-0170, capriclublosangeles.com

PIZZANA

Two pizzas side by side

Pizzana’s cacio e pepe pizza, left, and pignatiello pizza.

(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

“My kids love Pizzana. They just opened a location across the street from Petit Trois in Sherman Oaks. I go and buy food for the staff sometimes. I love their pizza and especially their concept of precooked pizza. You buy the pizza and warm it up at home. It’s so good.”

13826 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 698-1009, pizzana.com

THE BROTHERS SUSHI

“They are not far from our house. I love sushi and I’ve known Mark [Okuda] for a long time, even before when he was at Asanebo. He opened this beautiful restaurant. If you order his chef’s menu, you eat some unusual things and the flavors are amazing. He is really creative and the combinations are very good. I love their sake list too. I like to go with my kids because I want them to learn about real Japanese food.”

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21418 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, (818) 456-4509, thebrotherssushi.com

Monty Koludrovic’s picks

Culinary director for Botanical Hospitality Group (Grandmaster Recorders)

Several men in dark chef's clothing stand at a metal counter discussing a list.

Head chef Nick Russo, center, and culinary director Monty Koludrovic, right, talk in the kitchen of West Hollywood’s E.P. & L.P. in 2021.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

ANAJAK THAI CUISINE

An overhead photo of whole dry-aged fish on a plate, with a set of hands holding a dish of fish curry "custard."

Anajak’s whole dry-aged fish and Haw Mok, a fish curry “custard.”

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

"[After moving to Los Angeles from Australia] I was lucky enough to meet Liwei [Liao, owner of] the Joint [seafood market]; it was through Liwei and his team I heard about Justin and Anajak. As a Valley local I was so pumped to hear of some exciting Thai restaurant energy around the corner. I wasn’t expecting all the goodness that Anajak is; to this day Anajak and the Joint are the benchmark of how good getting through the COVID years can be. The food is great — it isn’t the same as Sydney Thai that I love, but nor should it be. It is a product of a time, in this place. But, most of all, the people of Anajak are the real treasure; I go to have a good time but when people are so f— beautiful it leaves a mark.”

14704 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 501-4201, anajakthai.com

FOUND OYSTER

“In a way, this is also a COVID story, but in this case I met and connected with Ari [Kolender] pre-COVID on a trip in 2019 before I moved here, just after they opened. I came and had dinner here; it was such a good time and the first place in L.A. that really made me feel that I had [made] the right decision in moving here. I want to live in a place that has Found/Ari/his team. The raw seafood doesn’t get overworked; it’s just really f— good, served with confidence. We see Ari’s journey in his food. I love these guys and their energy.”

4880 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 522-6239, foundoyster.com

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AWAN

Two cups of vanilla gelato topped with shaved sugar at the ledge of an ordering window at Awan.

Inda chef Zen Ong and Dayglow Coffee owner Tohm Ifergan teamed up for Awan, an Indonesia-inspired gelato company that operates out of a walk-up window attached to Dayglow West Hollywood.

(Ja Tecson)

“You might be seeing a theme here: I like food people. It’s why I do what I do, really. Zen [Ong] at Awan is someone I knew long before moving here — Zen and I connected immediately and there are not enough good words in the dictionary to describe him. Even if the gelato and the venue were terrible I would still love it, but it isn’t. As is expected from him, it is incredible. Zen is at the start of a journey, [of] which I feel I [have a] front seat right now. I reckon I will be telling the story down the track [about] how I used to hang out with this guy Zen, slinging scoops, tackling this wild food city way before he was a household name.”

866 Huntley Drive, West Hollywood, (424) 283-1053, enjoyawan.com