Today, Jonathan Gold releases his anticipated "99 Essentials," this time without the typesetting issues that plagued last year's by keeping Animal off the list. For 2010, he revels in the sustainable sourcing that's descended on L.A. like well-intentioned versions of those monsters in Skylight, and celebrates our "moveable feast" of Twitter-marketed food stands, pop-ups, and rolling restaurants. A lot of repeats for 2010, including pals like Evan Kleiman, Susan Feniger, and Nancy Silverton, along with new additions like Big Mista, Bludso's, Chego, Lazy Ox, Eva, LudoBites, Hatfield's, Forage, and Mantee. On the flip side, Los Balcones de Peru, Kagaya, Kyochon, Church & State, Nobu, and Fraiche have lost their "essential" tags. As always, the guide is an essential in of itself. [L.A. Weekly]
Post-script: While last year's issues are fixed, who laid this thing out on the web with so many restaurant names appearing on the page prior to where their reviews start? Wouldn't an index of some kind be helpful in the future?
S. Irene Virbila regrets the loss of Santa Monica's dive-bars, offering that Chez-Jay just ain't what it used to be. Ignoring the possibilities for a rowdy afternoon at Big Dean's, she finds that "The Yard fills that need for an everyday hangout not far from the beach" with the occasional "vibe of a good party." She tastes the "freshness and the spunk" of C.J. Jacobson in his "simple and direct" dishes and daily specials, an "excellent" burger, and gives some of her highest praise to sides like house slaw and collards. She deems the place "friendly and unpretentious, with honest cooking and fair prices" while parsing out one-and-a-half stars! [L.A. Times]
Despite changing menus every day, Los Angeles guarantees the following at Salt's Cure: "If theres a BLT on the menu, the bacon has been house smoked. Should you have fried chicken, the taste of the bird will shine through the crisped coating. If chorizo hash is an option at brunch, take advantage. Pâté should be mandatory." [Los Angeles]
Hermosa Beach's Watermans, which Merrill Shindler calls "the quintessential, defining, even perfect beachside eatery/bar/dive/joint/hang," is a relative newcomer but "feels as if it's been here forever." He skips Rockstar-laden cocktails for a great beer selection and food, including Hawaiian lunch plates, that "is certainly better than most. And at times... unexpectedly good." [Daily Breeze]