99 Essential Restaurants 2014

El Parian

photo by Anne Fishbein

If you have yet to have a bowl of goat stew in Los Angeles, and especially if you need to take a moment to contemplate your state of being, you would benefit greatly from a visit to El Parian, an unassuming restaurant on Pico Boulevard near downtown, which is home to the best birria in the city. The stew will arrive piping hot, tinted red from the consommé, with generous, meaty slabs of long-simmered goat; the server also will set down a plate of cilantro and diced onions and a stack of terrific homemade tortillas. You’ll shower the stew with the cilantro and onions, take a spoon in one hand and a piece of tortilla in the other, and slurp the broth and gnaw on the meat and chew on the tortilla — and repeat for however long it takes until you’ve reached the bottom of the bowl. Whether it’s your first time here or your umpteenth, this will be, if not the best meal of your day, then surely the most replenishing. Take all the time you need.

-- Tien Nguyen