99 Essential Restaurants 2014

A.O.C.

photo by Anne Fishbein

Since moving A.O.C. to its new location, further west on the same street to the old Orso spot, owners Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne have gained a lot. They’ve gained a bustling dining room that spills out into one of the city’s loveliest gardens, all twinkling lights and warm conversation. They’ve gained some of the best cocktails available in L.A., thanks to head barman Christiaan Rollich. Yet they haven’t lost what was always wonderful about the place, namely Goin’s beautiful, seasonal menu and Styne’s outstanding wine list. It’s an incredibly flexible place to eat and drink, one where you can munch on cheese and charcuterie with a glass of Furmint from Hungary, or share a platter of suckling pig with a party of revelers and see how it pairs with a bottle of $200 Burgundy. The menu veers from high-class bar snacks to gorgeous vegetable plates to elegant pastas and back again, with burrata and baby broccoli–topped focaccia making a strong appearance along the way. However you want to parse it, the new A.O.C. has been a big win for all of us.

-- Besha Rodell