Silver Lake/Echo Park | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Silver Lake/Echo Park

Alimento

photo by Anne Fishbein

Zach Pollack’s new Silver Lake Italian joint masquerades as a small neighborhood hangout, but really there’s more than enough ambition on Alimento’s menu to qualify it as a destination. The chef — who gained renown as one half of the culinary team at Sotto — traveled extensively in Northern Italy to prepare for his first solo venture (both as chef and restaurateur), and the research shows. Pollack veers from highly traditional dishes, such as a gorgeously decadent maccheroncini pasta with chicken livers and Marsala, to playful takes on Americana, such as his “pig in a blanket”: A fat hunk of mortadella is sandwiched between two layers of flaky spelt pastry, then brightened up with three kinds of tang: pickled mustard seeds, Italian sauerkraut and a melty cow’s milk cheese called stracchinata. The space is spare, the wine list is great, and there are some truly standout things to eat from this kitchen — would that all neighborhood hangouts were this accomplished.  —Besha Rodell

L&E Oyster Bar

photo by Anne Fishbein

Even with the exploding dining scene in Silver Lake, L&E Oyster Bar remains the mainstay for a nice (but not too expensive) dinner in the neighborhood, or a spot to grab a low-key glass of wine at the upstairs bar, where you can look out over Silver Lake Boulevard’s leafy retail stretch. That it still serves the coldest, freshest, best-cleaned oysters in town (as well as most affordable for this quality) is just a bonus. Admittedly, that’s a pretty big bonus, but even without the oysters we’d love L&E for its fun wine list and cute Parisian feel, and for chef Spencer Bezaire’s simple but inventive menu. Items such as chorizo on toast with a side of smoked mussels have stood the test of time; the entree list, which changes more often, is where you’ll find Bezaire flexing his creativity and cooking chops, with elegant seafood dishes and the occasional meaty wonder. —Besha Rodell

Multiple-location Essential restaurants also in this neighborhood: