Kaitlin Orr

In 2017, Kaitlin Orr set out to become the first person to dine at all 101 of the restaurants on Jonathan Gold’s Best L.A Restaurants list in 101 days. She succeeded, and in the process, the Los Angeles-based writer and blogger laid the foundation for her new career covering the international dining scene. While her role as a Taste Hunter for World’s 50 Best Restaurants takes her around the planet – Orr and her Taste Hunter boyfriend Anders Husa share their journeys via his blog – she remains a Californian girl at heart and still finds comfort in the state’s most iconic dishes.

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The Best French Toast in L.A.

Republique is my all-time favourite for brunch. When you walk in, there’s a huge pastry counter filled with some of the best pastries in town. It has a really delicious menu, and I think the best French toast in L.A: it’s a super thick brioche, perfectly soft and fluffy. I’m getting hungry talking about it – it’s so good.

Pancakes for Breakfast (or Dinner)

Salt’s Cure makes my favourite pancakes in L.A. They’re not only served for breakfast; they’re on the dinner menu too. They come with a bourbon maple butter that is insanely addictive. You should also get the signature pork chop.  

Deliciousness Without the Guilt

Sqirl is iconic. Everybody probably knows that already but it’s definitely worth the hype. This is a place I feel is pretty defining of L.A. It’s so delicious but you don’t feel guilty when you’re eating there – it’s very green, with a lot of healthy food like rice bowls, salads and veggies. This is a place that people will drop by before going on a hike, but it also has killer pastries.

Where You Go To Network With L.A. Food People

There are plenty of weekend markets in L.A, but if you’re in the industry – or if you’re a real foodie – then you’re going to the Santa Monica Farmers Market on Wednesday. There’s a weekend market too, but Wednesday is when you’ll see all the best chefs from L.A. there, picking their produce for the week. It’s where you go to network with the L.A. food people; you’ll run into everyone. It’s amazing and the produce is just gorgeous.

The First Place I Eat When I Get Home

The number one place that I always go whenever I’m back from travelling – literally my first stop from the airport – is always In-N-Out. It’s so cliché, but if you’re from L.A, then you don’t go anywhere else. You get off the plane and you go to In-N-Out – it’s the rule. Especially if someone’s visiting L.A for the first time, this is the first place I take them to.

Burritos Made With Housemade Flour Tortillas

One of my other favourite places is Burritos La Palma. It has these small, taco-sized burritos which are great because you can try a bunch of different flavours. It uses house-made flour tortillas and they’re only like $2 or $3 depending on what filling you get. My favourites are the beans and cheese and birria (Mexican beef stew) burritos. People love L.A tacos – you can’t come here and not have tacos. They’re great, but I personally like burritos slightly more because they’re a little juicer, saucier and cheesier – that’s kind of my vibe.

A Bakery Serving Amazing Pastries

A place I love taking people when they visit L.A is Gjusta, a pretty trendy bakery that has amazing pastries. I love pastries. It also has sandwiches, salads and really good lunch dishes. It’s another one that’s healthy-ish, which is exactly how I would describe L.A.

Great Turkish (With an Off-Menu Fried Chicken Sandwich)

There’s a Turkish restaurant called Kismet that does a lot of different marinated vegetables that are really full of flavour, but my favourite dish is their malwach, an amazing flaky bread. It’s a laminated dough that’s almost like naan in terms of thickness, but it’s layered like a croissant and is super buttery. You eat it with your vegetables and it’s so, so good. Also, be sure to ask for the off-menu fried chicken sandwich on brioche bread.

An All-Time Cheeseburger

My all-time favourite cheeseburger is actually at a really cute cocktail bar called Everson Royce Bar (or ERB as the locals call it). It has a backyard with string lights, picnic tables and bocce balls. The burger is nothing too fancy; it’s pretty simple, but really well done. It’s kind of like a smashed patty, a little bit charred but not too much and it has an incredible peppery sauce. It’s just delicious. ERB also has these flaky buttermilk biscuits served with honey-butter that are to die for.

An American-Italian Pizzeria

My favourite pizza in L.A is at Pizzana, a place that I discovered from Jonathan Gold’s list. I met the chef, Daniele Uditi, through that project and he and I became super great friends. He’s originally from Naples and is the kindest, most passionate pizza guy in the world. He grew up making pizza in Naples, but Pizzana is more of an ode to America. It’s traditional in the sense that it’s one of the closest things we have to Italian pizza in L.A, but it’s also American in how creative and modern it is, so you really get the best of both worlds. He has a pizza called the Neo Margherita which he tops with a basil powder instead of adding basil leaves. He sprinkles it all over the pizza so you can taste basil in every bite. The desserts there are amazing as well. He partnered with Candace Nelson, an awesome pastry chef and the founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes, to do all the desserts at the restaurant. It’s also one of the few places in L.A that’s open from lunch till the end of night, so if you go at 4pm or a weird off-time, you can always get a table.

“The Best Ceviche I’ve Ever Tasted”

I hadn’t had a lot of Peruvian food before eating at Rosaliné and the flavours just totally blew me away. It has the best ceviche I’ve ever tasted. There are a lot of really cute, trendy restaurants in L.A and those aren’t always the places with the best food, but this place has the best of both worlds. The interior, the ambience, the food: it’s all so good. 

Two Vital Koreatown Addresses

L.A is known for having the biggest Koreatown, so we have authentic Korean cuisine here. Sun Nong Dan is a 24-hour Korean hole-in-the-wall with no ambiance at all. But if you’re a foodie, then this place is definitely your spot. You can wait for hours to get in because it’s so popular and so good. It’s famous for its braised beef short-rib stew called “galbi jjim”, this huge, bubbling cauldron that they bring out to your table. The pro move is to add cheese on top, which gets flame-torched and then it’s this gooey, cheesy, bubbling, beefy bowl of deliciousness. Park’s BBQ is by far the best Korean barbecue in L.A. The quality of meat is top-notch, so it’s more expensive than the $20 all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue spots, but it’s like eating good sushi – you pay more for better quality.

Great Thai Food and Natural Wine

There are places in L.A where you don’t feel cool enough – places that are stuffy and pretentious. Night + Market is a place for anyone. It’s cool while still being welcoming. It’s so chill and has a really fun vibe. It’s got great Thai food and one of the best natural wine lists in L.A. It also has my favourite fried chicken sandwich in the world. There’s another great, more traditional Thai hole-in-the-wall called Jitladala that’s quite well-known. Be prepared for some heat: the food there is hot.

The San Gabriel Valley: L.A’s Home of Great Chinese Food

About 30 minutes outside L.A is the San Gabriel Valley, which is home to some of the best Chinese food outside of China. This is one example of an area that not a lot of people would have even thought of going to before Jonathan Gold came along. In general, if you go to this part of town, you’re going to find amazing dumplings and noodles. One of my favourites – and one of Jonathan Gold’s favourites – is Chengdu Taste, which has really delicious Sichuan food. It has this amazing “toothpick lamb” that’s pretty famous. It also has all of these amazing dishes with Sichuan peppers. By the end of the meal your tongue and mouth are so numb, but you can’t stop eating because the food is just so good.

The City’s Most Revolutionary Restaurant

To me, Vespertine is the most revolutionary restaurant that we have in L.A and should definitely be on the international map. Every time I travel, I tell everyone, “You have to come here, even if it’s only to eat at Vespertine.” It’s so unique and game-changing. The restaurant is a huge architectural structure that looks like a piece of art in itself. It’s such a fun and interactive dining experience. You move around. You sit in, see and experience different spaces throughout the building. It’s definitely polarised. It had mixed reviews when it first opened – some people hated it – but then Jonathan Gold loved it and named it the number one restaurant in L.A. The chef, Jordan Kahn is so talented. If you want to experience his food without spending $300 on a tasting menu, then go to his casual restaurant Destroyer. It has the same quality of cooking and is a great breakfast or lunch spot.

My Favourite Ice Cream Shop in L.A.

Salt & Straw is my favourite ice cream shop in L.A. It’s actually a pretty big chain from Portland, but it has really fun ice cream flavours like avocado, strawberry and – my favourite – honey lavender. For Thanksgiving, it had an entire Thanksgiving menu as the seasonal ice cream flavours like candied turkey and mashed potato.

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