Chef Nancy Silverton needs no introduction. While you might not live on that side of the world, you’d probably recognise the Los Angeles culinary icon from her episode on Chef’s Table on Netflix.
She founded the world-renowned La Brea Bakery back in 1989, and it soon became one of the most popular bakeries in town. Since she sold the bakery in 2001, her time has been invested in other projects like Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza, of which she co-owns and manages with restaurateur Joe Bastianich.
On what makes LA’s food scene so special, she shared: “The sheer diversity of the dining scene! I would like to single out someone who helped promote this — not a chef but food writer — Jonathan Gold, my late friend who was and is the only restaurant critic ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for criticism. The reason I bring Jonathan up is that he relished going to – and writing brilliantly about – little ethnic restaurants, some of them so-called “holes in the wall”. He loved a hidden away El Salvadoran place as much as a Michelin-starred restaurant, and that type of diversity is what embodies the best of the LA dining scene.”
While Los Angeles remains a largely popular tourist destination, chef Nancy has a couple special places she likes to head to: “Alhambra and the whole San Gabriel Valley is special. Especially for Chinese food. Los Angeles is not a great walking city, but slowly driving through this valley is fun. Same goes for East L.A. I’m talking about the “real East LA” not the so called “East Side” that hipsters talk about. Also, I love to go to the Watts Towers — they are a national treasure.”
“Los Angeles has it all, from the beaches to the mountains. Plus don’t you wanna go to Hollywood? Yes, we have our problems here, and it’s kinda like family in that I love it AND it drives me crazy, but LA is my home. Always has been and always will be.”
While she swung by to Singapore for the opening of Osteria Mozza at Hilton Singapore Orchard last week, we managed to catch her for a couple of food recommendations in the City of Angels you’d best be bookmarking for your next trip there.
Chef Nancy Silverton’s favourite places to dine at in Los Angeles:
“The modern American chop house from Suzanne Tracht. I enjoy eating at the warm, classic old school bar.”
At Jar (which is short for Just Another Restaurant), you’ll find classic American dishes that are elevated for a great dining experience. Crowd favourites here include The Pot Roast, as well as the skirt steak with a side of purple yams.
(Image credit: @jarrestaurant)
“This is the Middle Eastern place of Menashe and Genevieve Gergis. It’s downtown in the arts district and I always get the braised lamb neck.”
This trendy and chic locale is opened by the husband and wife team, who also owns Bestia, one of LA’s most popular Italian restaurants. The Middle Eastern menu was inspired by both their backgrounds from Israel, Turkey, Morocco, and Egypt, and apart from its food also sees a drinks menu that’s armed with a bevy of interesting Middle Eastern-flavoured cocktails that’ll pair well with your dishes.
(Image credit: @baveldtla)
“This is Jennifer Feltham’s homage to the Sonora state of Mexico, and what makes it stand out are the tortillas. They are a signature item here. I usually get the beef and a chicken “Chivi”, which is not to be confused with a chimichanga.”
The straightforward menu here is easy navigate, and decent on the pocket too. The chewy, handmade tortillas are delicious to say the least, and the “Chivi” that Chef Nancy usually orders are generously packed with flavourful and juicy meats — be sure to keep your stomach empty before heading over.
(Image credit: @sonoratownla)
“While I’m in a Mexican food groove, I have to include another place with extraordinary tortillas, Burritos La Palma. The one on Peck Road in Arcadia is my favourite. Let me tell you one thing about this place. The day before my youngest son Oliver was to be married, we were having a party. I called Alberto, the owner of Burrito La Palma, and he agreed to cater for the party!”
The slim, egg-roll shaped burritos are on the smaller side if you’re used to American-sized portions, but the flavours it packs makes up for it. Think soft handmade tortillas and a superb birria de res that’ll have you coming back for another serving (or two) during your trip.
(Image credit: @slamb_eating)
“Now I get this Peruvian chicken to go, and to go with the chicken I get take out from the Armenian restaurant Carousel on Hollywood Blvd at Normandie Ave. Here I get a variety of mezze such as hummus and baba ghanouj and Santa (stuffed grape leaves). I almost forgot one of the stars, muhamarra, a Beirut-style red pepper dip.”
A wood burning fire and lines of rotisserie chicken sweltering under the heat: what could be better? If you’re one for a more “balanced” meal, you can also get the chicken with rice, salad and/or fries.
(Image credit: @wanderlustgene_eats)