Sorry, New York: Los Angeles is the New Food Capital
It’s futile to argue that New York isn’t an extraordinary food town, one where you can traverse the globe through a culinary lens; where bold, young master chefs use porcelain plates as unblemished canvases; where you can dine at a Thai food cart or an haute French bistro.
The thing is, Los Angeles is better.
"What?" you say. "No way! Fuhgeddaboutit!" But, it’s true. After all this time in New York’s Michelin-starred shadow, LA’s food revolution has commenced. It’s a city in the throes of its glory days, and it has come armed with the country’s best produce, the most innovative chefs alive, and a knack for setting trends.
1. The Great Food Truck Movement
Since the 1930s, food trucks have been ingrained in the fabric of Los Angeles, from bygone days of roadside burger joints and drive-thrus to gourmet lunch trucks catering to farm-conscious foodies. Later, the trucks spread to recession-plagued young professionals looking for delicious, inexpensive food, and big-time chefs who saw opportunity and artistry in street food. The modern leg of the movement more or less started with Roy Choi, a Le Bernardin alum who revolutionized food with his Kogi BBQ trucks, selling $2 Korean barbecue tacos that had locals lining up by the hundreds, glued to their Twitter accounts waiting for the announced locations. Sure, New York has its own trucks, but it doesn’t come close.
We mentioned Kogi—and yes, Kogi is still king—but The Grilled Cheese Truck is a favorite for anyone with taste buds (if you’ve tried the classic cheese and rib meat and didn’t enjoy it, you’re not an American) and a perfect example of chefs putting haute spins on comfort food. The Coolhaus ice cream truck makes decadent cookies, then tops them with freshly made salted caramel ice cream to create the best ice-cream sandwich in L.A. (yes, better than Diddy Reise.)
2. The Celebrity Chef
L.A. invented the celebrity chef. Out here, where Wolfgang Puck became king more than a decade ago, everything happens on camera, and it was only after L.A. put chefs in the limelight did the celebrity of Jean-Georges and Gabrielle Hamilton explode with book deals and television shows. For our favorite celebrity-chef hot spots, we’d send you first to Spago, the classic Beverly Hills lunchroom that put Puck on the map, where it’s not uncommon to see Barbra Streisand or Tom Cruise dining in the corner. Before Nobu became the international empire it’s become, we had Matsuhisa, the small, eponymous sushi mecca run by Nobu Matsuhisa that redefined Japanese cooking in the country, created a legacy, and became the go-to dinner spot for Madonna and Kanye West.