Grant Achatz

“Most chefs, when they come to L.A., aren’t interested in visiting fancy restaurants,” says David Gelb, creator of Netflix hit Chef’s Table. “Except for Grant. Grant Achatz wants to try everything.” When he’s not overseeing the Alinea empire in Chicago, Achatz eats extensively across the country, often checking in on alumni from his three Michelin-starred flagship. Tracking down the nation’s best pasta is one of his pastimes and he thinks he’s found a serious contender in the Californian capital.
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“If You’re Ever In L.A., You Have To Go.”

Everything about the dining experience at Vespertine is mind-blowing. I might be biased because chef Jordan Khan was on the opening team at Alinea, however that has nothing to do with how awesome it is. It’s super cool. I mean, I’ve eaten pretty much everywhere, and this place is like nothing I’ve ever seen or experienced before. When I first ate at Vespertine, I felt very similar to the way I felt when I first ate at El Bulli. Which is saying something. The entire experience screams of originality. Of hyper creativity. And of synergy. Everything from the building to the tableware and food – it’s all so harmonious. It’s very zen-like. The whole place is very calming. I guess you could even call it meditative dining. People need to see this, to experience this. If you’re ever in L.A., you have to go. Like, don’t do anything else until you go to Vespertine. You will genuinely be floored. I’m telling you, it’s really that cool. That original. It’s phenomenal.

Some Of America’s Best Pasta

I love pasta. So wherever I am, I try to seek out what people are saying is the best. I’ve never had anything better than what’s in the U.S. And the pasta at Felix is probably the best pasta in the country. Chef Evan Funke is just so passionate and knowledgeable about pasta. The last time I dined there, he brought out a special plate of pasta that’s not on the menu. It was strappatelle, a hyper regional shape. And as far as he knows, nobody else knows how to shape pasta this way. He is basically the guardian of this particular shape of pasta. When he brought it to the table – and talked about the Italian nonna that taught him how to make this shape – he literally started to tear up. When you see someone who has that fire, that kind of passion, it’s just contagious. Even the focaccia here is like the best thing you’ve ever had in your life. I don’t even know how he does it. It’s really incredible.

Middle Eastern Cooking Over A Live Fire

At Bavel, chefs Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis have definitely found the right formula. It’s nothing crazy. It’s not pretentious. It’s just delicious, chef-driven Middle Eastern food, made using amazing Californian ingredients. They’re cooking right out of a live fire. And I’ve got to tell you: the way they’re firing the breads over that fire – you could just sit down and eat the flat breads all day long. They’re cooking amazing, amazing food.

An Iconic L.A. Healthy Eating Address

Sqirl has become iconic. It just screams Los Angeles. All of the ingredients come from small farms and local purveyors. It serves super healthy food – like turmeric tonic and great rice bowls – and has creative, healthy twists on amazing pastries and jams. You know, there’s a really great avocado toast. Californian stuff. Delicious stuff.

Click here to read Grant’s guide to his home city Chicago.

Selected Works: The Aviary Cocktail Book (2018), Life, On The Line: A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat (2012), Alinea (2008).

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