99 Essential Restaurants 2014

photo by Anne Fishbein

Oinkster

With a few notable exceptions, part of the problem with Los Angeles’ abundance of pastrami and burger joints is the quality of the ingredients in the kitchen. That’s where Oinkster comes in. It’s a restaurant that takes all that history — the sloppy burgers, the towering sandwiches — and adds the care and ingredient sourcing that’s the hallmark of our new wave of chefs. Indeed, chef/owner Andre Guerrero has dubbed the cuisine served by his refurbished midcentury burger stand “slow fast food.” Lest you think this means high prices or pretension, think again. This is still a spot where cops mingle with bikers over towering sandwiches, and where a side of hand-cut Belgian fries costs only a little more than your standard fries at a chain restaurant, even though Oinkster’s are a big improvement. The Oinkster serves one of the city’s better pulled pork sandwiches, one that’s actually true to its Carolina roots, and a bunch of giant entree salads that showcase exactly why better produce is … well … better. Another bonus? There’s a great selection of craft beers on tap, many of them local.

-- Besha Rodell