City Guide: Los Angeles

Leaving the Beloved Animal to Create a Critic’s Darling in Koreatown

Read about Lien ›

Getting the Dirt with Abbott Kinney Up-and-Comer Scott Winegard

Read about Scott ›

Reinventing Chicken Wings in Culver City

Read about Akasha ›

Vegan Mexican Food Was This Chef’s Lifelong Dream—Now It’s an A-List Hotspot

Read about Chandra ›

Dining in an 1876 Cathedral with Neal Fraser

Read about Neal ›

Waking Up A Tired Stretch of Melrose with New Wave Riviera Cuisine

Read about Stephen ›

Seating the Stars at an Old-School Hollywood Institution

Read about Christian ›
Turning Mealtime Into a Career
A seasoned food writer dishes on where L.A. chefs come from, and how those journeys come home on the plate

Gillian Ferguson's current food obsession is regional Mexican cuisine. The food writer for Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine and Lucky Peach is taken with Oaxacan flavors, specifically Guelaguetza in Koreatown. She goes for the tlayudas, a toasted corn tortilla spread with the drippings of pork skin and topped with mashed black beans, shredded vegetables, cheeses and meats. “Then you have Coni’Seafood, in Inglewood,” she gushes. “Coni is a Nayarit-style restaurant, where you order pescado zarandeado by the kilo, and it comes to your table with tortillas and these onions and you make these little tacos with it”. Ferguson, like any true Los Angeles foodie, is hip to the fact that there are 31 states in Mexico, and each has its regional specialties. She points to acclaimed chefs Ray Garcia, Wes Avila, and Carlos Salgado, who were all raised in Southern California in Mexican-American households. “Imagine their palettes. They’ve just been exposed to so many different types of food that they don't even notice when they’re switching genres almost. Imagine Ray Garcia as a kid - you look at what's in your fridge and it's the America bologna but then the tortillas. You put them together and it's a delicious after-school snack.” Garcia, chef-owner of Broken Spanish and BS Taqueria, indeed once gave the food on which he was raised an elevated makeover: the bologna was made in-house, seared and topped with escabeche and avocado. Today, his menu is just as playful and filled with Mexican-American amusement: think cauliflower al Pastor and chorizo cheeseburgers. “Many of these chefs were actually trained in a lot of French kitchens, but are now riffing on the food that they were raised on,” Ferguson says. And she’s right: this is the city with a gourmet version of anything. Take Fritzi Dog, where Neal Fraser does a hot dog that starts out as a whole, organic carrot that is whittled down into a hot dog shape and cooked sous-vide for 18 hours in a blend of 26 spices. Our chefs know how to pair nostalgia with the nouveau, they know how to have fun, and the result couldn’t be more delicious.

"Los Angeles is the city with a gourmet version of anything."