Jonathan Gold’s 99 Essential LA Restaurants, 2005-2011

Providence restaurant, LA : tuna

[pictured: tuna from Providence, an Essential LA Restaurant “All-Star,” listed every year since 2005]

A spreadsheet of all the restaurants by year is embedded in the bottom of this post. Scroll down!

Every year when the LA Weekly publishes The 99 (wait, which 99? there is no other 99), I schedule a Date Night.


Jonathan Gold.

A bottle – or *ahem* three – of sparkling wine, in bed for a little bit of…noneofyourbusiness.

Ok, so it’s a date night with myself, but this is my blog and I can spin my little fantasy however I want.

I settle into the giant, fluffy folds of my bed, grab my multi-color set of ultra-fine point Sharpies with ad-hoc-ly matched mini post-its and listgeek-out that are beyond inappropriate and, in some counties, might be considered suspicious or even illegal.

Jonathan Gold’s (mostly) annual list of 99 Essential Restaurants is a set of data to me. And a current list combined with previous years’ lists? It is data over time. I can hardly contain myself when I think about it. I count, I record, I double-back and marvel at the stupid things I’ve figured out that are totally irrelevant to the point of the list, but are fascinating enough to me waste my time doing it. Like, wow, there are 22 restaurants that have been listed every year since JGold started compiling these lists!

Wow, there are 28 restaurants on the list that weren’t there the year before in 2010!

Wow, five of those 28 were actually on the list in years previously, but not 2010!

Wow, Who. Fucking. Cares?

Probably no one but me. And this year (last night, in fact), I have out-listgeeked myself by consolidating everything I have into a single spreadsheet. The spreadsheet tracks every restaurant listed in any version of a “99 ___ ” by JGold, in which years, and cross-referenced with that other list, the 99 Things to Eat Before You Die. I have no idea why this would be important to anyone but me, but whatever. If I die tomorrow, at least I will have made my one big contribution to the world!

That no one will ever look at again.

Maybe I need a new hobby. Or therapy.

Jonathan Gold’s 99 Essential LA Restaurants, 2005 – 2011

Here is how to read this mess of a spreadsheet (if you’re so inclined).

Restaurants Listed down the Side

Restaurants are listed alphabetically down the side, and includes all restaurants that have appeared on any “99” list in any year, including the list of 99 Things to Eat in LA Before You Die. This means that there are some restaurants that have never been an Essential restaurant, but do have some food that you’ve got to eat, e.g. Kiyokawa has never been an essential restaurant, but it is on this spreadsheet because its sashimi is something you should eat. Soon. Because you never know when you’re going to go.

Ok! So that’s not morbid or anything. Shut up, Sarah.

Years and Other Stuff Across the Top of the Spreadsheet

Years 2005 through 2011 across the top. If the restaurant was “essential” that year, it has that year’s number in the column. Ignore the “TDL” column; that’s just a note to myself that I’ve eaten there. “EBYD” is “Eat Before You Die.” A restaurant’s dish is listed there. If you only want to see 2011’s list, use the filters at the top of the “11” column and only “show 11.”

Essential Evolution

This year, 28 restaurants fell off the list to make room for 28 more. Some, like Beacon and Bistro LQ, were due to natural causes, though I’m sure there is nothing “natural” about a restaurant’s closing, and others were just straight up booted off (and made me laugh because I kind of had to wonder: “What took so long?”).

Of the 28 restaurants added, five of the restaurants had actually made previous appearances, but not in 2010, so they were considered “new” from the prior year. Lots of the newly listed restaurants are also actually new, doors open for the first time in 2011. I haven’t counted those yet.

If you scroll all the way down the spreadsheet, there are numbers across the bottom, which are totals. There are 293 restaurants listed over the seven years period, but the numbers don’t always add up to 99 each year. This irreconciliation makes me itch like you wouldn’t believe, but I guess I just have to deal with it or something.

28 LA Restaurants ADDED to JGold’s Essential List

Antojitos Carmen
Attari (prev: 06, 07)
Bottega Louie (prev: 09)
Church & State (prev 09)
Dae Bok
Din Tai Fung
Fab Dogs (prev: 09)
Le Comptoir at Tiara
Mother Dough
Night + Market
Pollo alla Brasa (prev:
Red Medicine
Sea Harbour
Son of a Gun
Spice Table

28 LA Restaurants DROPPED from JGold’s Essential List

Big Mista’s BBQ
Bistro LQ
Chaya Downtown
Flame Persian
Giang Nan
Golden Triangle
Grill on the Alley
Kogi Tacos
Krua Thai
LA Mill
Pho Minh
Square One
Test Kitchen
Tirupathi Bimas
Zelo Gourmet Pizzeria

Essential Restaurant All-Stars

Like I noted above, 22 restaurants have made JGold’s list every year since the list came into existence in 2005. I wonder about some of these, but I will wonder them to myself because my Mama always told me if I have nothing nice to say, don’t say it anything but a private message.

Ok, so I will take this ONE and ONLY opportunity to delicately express my opinion about Campanile, whose food, the last few times I’ve gone, has, for lack of a more fitting word, sucked. (What? That wasn’t delicate?) However, I am not saying it sucked just because it sucked. I am saying “it sucked” in the most loving, constructively critical way possible to a restaurant that I love and have associated with LA since the first time I dined there, which might have been within the first month of my moving here after college, and that was a long-ass time ago.

Campanile, please get you shit together. You’ve been doing it for like, 20 years or something. You can do this. I want to come back and sit down in the dining room courtyard and love it. I want to have a place that has an LA vibe that makes it ok for me to wear a leather halter and 6″ stilettos on a date, or a Laura Ashley on the Prairie dress for dinner with my parents. I want tablecloths and Emily Post flatware settings and big, fluffy, expensive centerpieces and personal space and 42 servers per table.

Then again, maybe I just need to get over it and move on. To community tables and taco trucks.


JGold’s Essential “All-Stars”

Angeli Caffe
Angelini Osteria
Border Grill
Casa Bianca
Chichen Itza
Euro Pane
Hungry Cat
Meals by Genet
Musso & Frank
Sapp Coffee Shop
Tacos Baja Ensenada

A few notes on this spreadsheet

  • It is public and shareable, and available for download directly from here: Feel free to share the link, download the spreadsheet and share the info. Credit to me for the tedious task of typing this all in would be nice, but you don’t have. I’ve worked in corporate before. I’m used to people’s snatching credit for work I’ve done.
  • It might have errors because I’m not perfect (despite the rumors). If you notice anything that’s missing, inaccurate, etc. just let me know. I’ll fix it. (Thanks for the help, Aaron!)
  • If you scroll to the right, other information like address, telephone, hours, are listed, but not for everything. That’s what yelp is for (!)
  • I am currently working on cross-referencing this spreadsheet with a list of LA Restaurant CORKAGE FEES, which I started a few years ago, but haven’t updated since 2009. If you have info (or want to help), hit me on email or in the comments :)

I’m not sharing my “deck” of pie and bar charts that illustrate the percentage breakdowns by cuisine, geographic location, price points, and parking situations. Graphed over time. A girl’s gotta have some dignity, you know. And thank god the LAWeekly already googlemapped it.

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