It’s no surprise that Los Angeles is considered one of the best food cities in the world, with a vibrant and exciting mosaic of cultures and cuisines. Just take it from Zagat. Known as the Oscars of the food world, James Beard awards celebrates and recognizes all aspects of the restaurant industry — and if you’re a chef, it means you’re making waves in the food world.
Here’s what you’re probably thinking: the lines at James Beard-recognized restaurants will be long, overrun with tourists and you won’t be able to afford it, right? Well, the first two might be true—and sure, there are James Beard recognized chefs with Michelin-starred tasting meals for $200—but there are also plenty of affordable restaurants in the James Beard universe. Here are 7 of the best James Beard recognized chefs and their budget-friendly concepts.
1. Chef Suzanne Goin of The Larder at Burton Way
(Photo taken by Suzanne Goin)
Dish Price Range: $3.75-$24
Chef and restaurateur, Suzanne Goin has built an empire in Los Angeles. She runs 3 fine dining restaurants in the L.A. area: A.O.C, Lucques, and Tavern—as well as the glorious Larder Baking Company. Goin has established quite the reputation. From working at prestigious restaurants like Chez Panisse, to writing award-winning cookbooks, spearheading the food and beverage program at Hollywood Bowl, and her charitable efforts in L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade. To give you an idea, Goin has been nominated 11 times for a James Beard Award for “Outstanding Chef’ and won 4 times. Her work demonstrates that female chefs are changing the future in such a male-dominated business such as the restaurant industry.
The Larder at Burton Way uses only local, organic produce and meats so they truly embrace the concept of farm-to-table. From house-baked goods, loaves of bread, salads, sandwiches, coffees—they are perfect for any time of the day.
Address: 8500 Burton Way, Los Angeles, CA 90048
2. Chefs Jon Shook & Vinny Dotolo of Jon & Vinny’s
(Photo taken by @wonhophoto)
Dish Price Range: $4.25 – $23.25
Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo are the restaurant duo behind the culinary hot spot Jon & Vinny’s. They also are the masterminds behind Son of a Gun, Petit Trois, and Trois Famila—so basically this epicurean duo (and best friends) don’t mess around when it comes to food. This iconic Los Angeles duo has won “Best Chef” and nominated 3 times in the past few years.
(Photo taken by @jonandvinnydelivery)
Jon & Vinny’s is a relaxed, modern diner for all-day, Italian-American fare. Come for breakfast, lunch, dinner or their amazing wine program—you won’t disappointed. The Italian-inspired food includes hand-tossed pizzas and pasta that’s all made in house. If brunch is more of your jam, head over to Jon & Vinny’s for their soft scrambled eggs, buttermilk pancakes, and nutella toast on pain de mie (soft french bread).
Address: 412 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
3. Chefs Daniel Patterson & Roy Choi of LocoL
(Photo taken by Caydie McCumber)
Dish Price Range: $2- $10
Both Daniel Patterson and Roy Choi has made a name for themselves in the restaurant industry and impacted the way people see and approach food in two different ways. Daniel Patterson is an American chef, restaurateur, food writer, and considered a leading connoisseur in Californian-cuisine. He’s opened Coi, which focuses on local ingredients and modern aesthetics, in 2006, which earned 2-Michelin stars. Daniel Patterson has won 2 James Beard Awards for “Best Chef” in 2009 and 2010.
Roy Choi is a Korean-American chef that has revolutionized the way people see food trucks. He is the co-founder of Kogi BBQ, Chego, POT, Commissary, and LocoL. He is known as one of the founders of the gourmet food truck movement. Anthony Bourdain says, “Roy Choi first changed the world when he elevated the food-truck concept from “roach coach” to highly sought-after, ultra-hot-yet-democratic rolling restaurant.” Choi was a semifinalist for “Outstanding Restaurateur” in 2016. His mini-empire across Los Angeles shows his dedication to serving the best possible food for everyone.
LocoL serves high-quality meals made with nutritionally-dense ingredients and incorporates umami flavors, acidity and lots of herbs. They are competing against large chains without turning to processed foods and artificial flavors. You can snag a chef-driven burger at LocoL for under $6. Yes please.
Address: 1950 E. 103rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90002
4. Chef Dominique Ansel of Dominique Ansel Bakery
(Photo taken by @meetjakob)
Dish Price Range: $4-$16
Dominique Ansel is a French-born and New York-based pastry chef. He is globally famous for his genius (and delicious) invention of the Cronut. This iconic dessert has made waves in the pastry world and has pushed pastry chefs to think outside of the box. He started as a dishwasher at 16, moved to Paris by 20, worked his way up at a luxury Parisian food purveyor Fauchon, and had fallen in love with the art of baking. Ansel’s is a James Beard Award-winning Pastry Chef and has received various accolades within the U.S. and internationally.
(Photo taken by @dominiqueansella)
The cronut, frozen s’mores, and cookie shot is here. In Los Angeles. Finally. This whimsical bakery specializes in both classic and inventive pastries in a modern space. The indoor and outdoor seating with the crisp white paint and pops of gold will make all your fancy dining dreams come true. The location, right in the middle of The Grove, is ideal for people-watching and admiring the fountain.
Address: 189 The Grove Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90036
5. Chef Nancy Silverton of Triple Beam Pizza
(Photo taken by Pizzeria Mozza)
Dish Price Range: $5-$11
Nancy Silverton is an American chef, baker, and cookbook author. She founded the world-renowned La Brea Bakery as well as Campanile Restaurant—both considered L.A. institutions. She is also the co-owner of Pizzeria Mozza, Mozza2Go, and chi SPACCA. Silverton has shaped the way people eat in Los Angeles. She is as loved as the artisanal bread and pizza she’s helped popularize. She has made an impact on the male-dominated restaurant industry with her more mindful, local approach of eating in Los Angeles. Silverton has accumulated 6 James Beard nominations and 4 well-deserved wins for “Outstanding Chef.”
(Photo taken by @triplebeampizza)
Nancy Silverton teamed up with Matt Molina to open up Triple Beam Pizza in Highland Park. This fast-casual concept is offering Roman-style pizza that is ordered by length and paid for by weight. This unique concept hopes to satisfy young neighbors, the late-night crowd, families, and everyone in-between. Let the pizza party begin.
Address: 5918 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90042
6. Chef Kris Yenbamroong of NIGHT + MARKET Song
(Photo taken by Laure Joilet)
Dish Price Range: $8-$28
Kris Ynebamroong is the chef and owner of NIGHT + MARKET restaurants (Song, West Hollywood, and Sahm). He was born and raised in Los Angeles and has no formal culinary training. He grew up in his family-owned restaurant, Talesai in West Hollywood. Ynebamroong has changed the way people view Thai food beyond Pad Thai and Green Curries. He has created this bold version of Thai street food—in particular the North Thai dishes of his family’s homeland—into one of the most vibrant cuisines in Los Angeles. Think street food that would probably seem completely natural at a market stall in Thailand with the roar of motorbikes in the background. He has earned 4 semifinalist nods for both “Rising Chef” and “Best Chef—Ynebamroong means business.
(Photo taken by @ntmrkt)
“We aim to make the most delicious and authentic Thai food to facilitate drinking and fun-having amongst friends,” says Ynebamroong. There is a term for this in Thai: “aharn glam lao.” NIGHT + MARKET has three locations (West Hollywood, Silverlake, and Venice), across Los Angeles, which means an excuse to eat Thai food 3 days in a row, right?
Address: 3322 West Sunset Boulevard. Los Angeles, CA. 90026
7. Chef Wes Avila Of Guerilla Tacos
(Photo taken by @guerillatacos)
Dish Price Range: $4-$11
Wes Avila went to culinary school in California and France. He spent his time refining his fine dining skills in Michelin-starred restaurants in both Los Angeles and Paris. Eventually, Avilla realized his true calling—combining his classical training with local produce, premium proteins to create the ultimate taco foodtruck experience in Los Angeles. Avila is also a cookbooth author of Guerilla Tacos: Recipes From The Streets of L.A., which is a bright snapshot of his cooking in the foodtruck. Avila has earned himself a semifinalist title for a James Beard for “Best Chef.”
(Photo taken by @beaubray)
In Avila’s cookbook, he says “this is not ‘authentic’ Mexican food. It’s personal. I couldn’t give a shit about authenticity, especially when it comes to tacos. A taco isn’t just asada, pastor, and carnitas, with chopped onions and cilantro and your choice of salsa. The truth is there is no such thing as an authentic taco. Taco makers have always known this.”
Address: Downtown, Silverlake, Culver City, Venice, Melrose
Having trouble deciding on a date night restaurant? Read this post about date night restaurants in Los Angeles for meat-eating and veggie-lovers alike. Discover delicious eats in your area, ready to be ordered online.