Los Angeles 'Cause you have both a TV and a stomach, you've seen Top Chef -- the most well-known series for making you hungry, in the history of TV. And since we live in LA, where anyone who's ever been on TV also lives, there're a ton of restaurants where you can see your favorite Top Cheftestants. Here're 12:
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The Chef: Brian Malarkey
Came in: 4th
Known on the show for: Using, like, every single ingredient in the kitchen. Twice.
The Restaurant: Now open in the former Asia De Cuba space at the Mondrian on Sunset, Herringbone is a San Diego-born-and-beloved, date-friendly seafoodery.
The Move: Definitely snag an outdoor seat, then order 1) the shareable (hahahaha, right), whole-fish ceviche, and 2) pork belly w/ wood-roasted sunchokes.
The Chef: CJ Jacobson
Seasons: 3 and 10
Came in: 6th and 13th
Known on the show for: Broccolini, and being SUPER TALL.
The Restaurant: Located on an unlikely stretch of Moorpark in Studio City, Girasol has become a critically acclaimed must-visit for fans of approachable tweezer cuisine.
The Move: Jacobson -- who did a stint at internationally revered Copenhagen restaurant Noma -- is almost always around. Ask him what's good, or just go right for the Wagyu steak grilled in pine needles.
The Chef: Alex Reznik
Came in: 7th
Known on the show for: Possibly stealing pea puree (but probably not) (but maybe) (editing is everything).
The Restaurant: Ditmas is a just-opened ode to Jewish eats in West LA that's heavy on communal tables and Brooklyn-y interior details.
The Move: Grab a seat at the communal, talk to Alex, and realize there's no way he'd ever steal pea anything! Then order up duck confit matzo ball soup and salmon pastrami on an everything bagel. L'Chaim!
The Chef: Michael Voltaggio
Came in: 1st
Known on the show for: Beating his brother. HIS OWN BROTHER!
The Move: During the day, grab two sandos: The Jose Andres & The Tuna, and save half of each for later. At night, hit the bar if you don't have a res, and dig into the entire, weekly changing menu there.
The Chef: Kuniko Yagi
Came in: 17th
Known on the show for: She came in 17th. She was known for being... oh, now she's gone.
The Restaurant: Don't hold her early elimination against her: at Hinoki & The Bird, she's heading the kitchen every night, helping David Myers execute insanely great Asian-influenced dishes.
The Move: The patio's the place to sit (even in the rain -- it's covered!), and this hinoki-scented black cod -- which literally smokes right in front of you -- is the dish to not miss.
The Chef: Ilan Hall
Came in: 1st
Known on the show for: Playing Harry Potter to #2-placing-Marcel's Voldemort.
The Restaurant: Hall got Downtown just before the neighborhood's renaissance, and his ironically Jewish-influenced Gorbals is on the downstairs level of a shady, long-stay hotel.
The Move: Ironically bacon-wrapped matzo balls and Manischewitz-braised pork ribs. Also: hit their awesomely late half-off-bar-items Happy Hour from 10p-midnight on Mon/Tues/Wed.
The Chef: Antonia Lofaso
Seasons: 4 and 8
Came in: 4th and 3rd
Known on the show for: Wanting to be a REALLY GOOD example for her daughter/ being "The Black Hammer".
The Move: You can't go wrong with any of the food at either spot, but you gotta make sure to get cocktails, too. Crazy-acclaimed bar-dudes Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix are her business partners/drink-makers at both spots.
The Chef: Brooke Williamson
Came in: 2nd
Known on the show for: Straight-up killing it all season, and then freezing in the finale.
The Move: That burger. And then that burger. And then beer. And then that burger. And also that burger. Burger.
The Chef: Fabio Viviani
Seasons: 5 and 8
Came in: 4th and 5th
Known on the show for: Needing subtitles, even when he was speaking English.
The Move: Viviani's as likeable in person as he was on TV. He'll kiss your Mama on the cheek, he'll pour your date's olive oil for her, and he'll talk you into ordering extra burrata, which makes total sense because, burrata.
The Chef: Elia Aboumrad (on right)
Seasons: 2 and 8
Came in: 4th and 18th
Known on the show for: Shaving her head... and then watching Ilan/Cliff shave Marcel's head.
The Restaurant: Smack-dab in the heart of the Sunset Strip is Aboumrad and Co.'s meat-centric Gorge, which bills itself as a resto and (eyebrow-raise!) charcuterie bar.
The Move: Aboumrad went home twice for the same dish, which's why you won't find any red snapper on the menu, but will (or immediately should) find hearty plates of charcuterie.
The Chef: Betty Fraser
Came in: 7th
Known on the show for: Being super pushy. Like, awkwardly pushy. And screaming at Marcel.
The Restaurant: Hollywood's Grub is one of those great neighborhood spots, except with award-winning breakfasts, and stellar sandwiches.
The Move: Get literally any egg dish and you're good to go; for lunch, the tuna melt's ridiculous; and at dinner, they've got a drippy poutine and a secret-ingredient-filled bacon burger.
The Chef: Stefan Richter
Seasons: 5 and 10
Came in: 2nd and 6th
Known on the show for: Being ruthless. And making lots of... lollipops.
The Restaurant: There's no mistaking who's behind West LA's Stefan's at LA Farm, where both the interior & menu scream Finnish-German, which is apparently a thing that an interior/menu can scream.
The Move: If you sit outside by one of their fire pits, Richter's almost guaranteed to stop by to say hello/tell you you should order the pretzel dumplings (you should) and the smoked pork belly (yep, that too).
1. Girasol11334 Moorpark St, Studio City
2. ink.8360 Melrose, Los Angeles
3. ink.sack8360 Melrose, Los Angeles
4. Hinoki & The Bird10 W Century Dr, Los Angeles
5. Gorbals501 S Spring St, Los Angeles
6. Scopa Italian Roots2905 Washington Blvd, Los Angeles
7. Black Market Liquor Bar11915 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
8. Tripel333 Culver Blvd, Playa Del Rey
9. Firenze Osteria4212 Lankershim Blvd, Universal City
10. Gorge8917 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood
11. Herringbone7838 Herschel Ave, La Jolla
12. Ditmas Kitchen and Cocktails8731 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles
13. Stefan's At LA Farm3000 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica
14. Grub911 Seward St, Hollywood
15. Cafe Firenze563 W Los Angeles Ave, Moorpark
CJ Jacobson's (of Top Chef fame) Studio City restaurant is a tried-and-true fine dining destination. You'll be hooked on the sophisticated California menu from the moment you taste the house-baked bread, and the rest of the starters and mains will have you back in no time. It's a fancy spot though, so you might want to invite your parents to cover the bill.
Finally opening tomorrow after months of fits and starts and kind of depressing days where they'd just sit around and watch old Empty Nest episodes, ink.'s a wide-open gastrobistro from Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio, sparsely decorated with wood-slatted windowshades, Edison lightbulbs, and an art piece that looks like a smattering of cooking tools.
Ink's a hole-in-the-wall gourmet sandwich stand lined w/ graffitied blackboards and not much else, opening from Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio, who managed to pull off a somehow under-the-radar build-out despite obsessive scrutiny from media, food blogs, and Val Kilmer's stomach.
At Hinoki & The Bird, executive chef Brandon Kida spotlights travel-inspired cuisine at this modern, Californian restaurant. Cosmopolitan dishes -- such as Japanese curry arancini, Jerusalem artichoke soup, and Scottish salmon -- create a global menu with healthful sensibilities.
Gorbals is the first restaurant from the winner of Top Chef II, who's so sure his food's good he's provided few distractions: the mid-sized interior's spartanly (LOL!!) clad, with simple white-walls, brick pillars, a massive cedar common table, and a full
This Venice Beach Italian serves up a menu of inventive shareable plates that practically begs you to order one of everything. Start with some hot and cold antipasti before carbo-loading on pasta dishes like rabbit tagliatelle and vodka rigatoni. The space has a cool industrial aesthetic with exposed brick, giant mirrors, and warehouse ceilings.
Black Market's a mid-sized Studio City gastrobistro that's merged the talents of a Top Chef All-Star, the dude from Harvard & Stone, and the former GM at Bardot, with a moody interior that looks like a bar Van Helsing might pre-game at before taking on the Count, featuring intricately paneled windows, a multi-tiered mirrored bar, and a half-dome exposed brick ceiling.
This cozy, wood-filled gastropub's doling out mostly local and Belgian craft brews (Hot Rod Rye IPA, St. Feuillien Saison, Rodenbach Grand Cru, etc.) as well as foodstuffs like potato-loaded steamed mussels and a monster burger made from duck confit & pork.
Just now open in the former Barsac Brasserie space, Firenze Osteria's a classy Italian bistro w/ interior renovations coming in stages (the be-chandeliered, leather-chaired main dining room's ready now, with an upstairs lounge and private rooms on their way), all from Fabio Viviani, a Top Chef contestant who recently went through an acrimonious split on his old place with his Father-In-Law/former business partner/awkward holiday dining companion.
Gorge, a charcuterie and wine bar located on the Sunset Strip, serves inspired French cuisine using mostly organic and homemade ingredients. Decorated Chef Elia Aboumrad leads the way with traditional plates (country terrine, chicken pâté) and a master sommelier on wine duty. Say Oui to Gorge.
This Top Chef-lauded seafood joint is full of amazing dishes and sought-after 'tails.
This kosher American joint is from a Top Chef alum, and serves up deliciously authentic grub.
This new American joint hails from Top Cheffer Stefan Richter, who's serving the house and bringing it down with deliciously done mains and appetizing 'tails.
If you mention you’re heading to this super-friendly neighborhood favorite to anyone who's been, they will almost definitely say, “Crack Bacon,” followed by, “Trust me.” And you should. A killer blend of spicy, salty, and sweet with a dusting of fresh herbs, Grub’s candy bacon goes well with any of the brunch, lunch, or dinner options, including, of course, The Kevin Bacon Breakfast that will make you the opposite of a Hollow Man.