Latest Stories

Critic’s Notebook: Why I’m rating restaurants for their COVID-19 response

Brad A. Johnson • Orange County Register • August 6, 2020
Last week, I started something new. I launched a COVID Comfort Rating system for restaurants. I’m mothballing the traditional star ratings until we get past this pandemic. I’ll be highlighting how restaurants comply with the safe reopening...

Review: COVID comfort ratings for Orange County restaurants

Brad A. Johnson • Orange County Register • August 6, 2020
Is that restaurant safe? Do the servers wear masks? Are the tables properly distanced? Dining out has changed. And to keep everyone safe and to slow the spread of COVID-19, our state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and...

Best thing I ate: Spicy tonkotsu ramen takeout from the mall

Brad A. Johnson • Orange County Register • August 5, 2020
The new branch of Silverlake Ramen at the Irvine Spectrum has finally opened, and it’s a welcome addition to the outdoor mall. (The original version in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles is where one of the chefs at Hiro Nori first gained...

Taco Power: L.A.'s HomeState merges music and food to make change

Patricia Escárcega • Los Angeles Times • August 1, 2020
A couple of weeks ago, I received a care package of tacos Tuxpeños from my colleague Ben Mims, who cooked them from the recipe in Esteban Castillo’s terrific new cookbook, "Chicano Eats." The chile-stained pork, steeped in a startlingly fragrant...

Artist Lauren Halsey brings produce to underserved areas

Patricia Escárcega • Los Angeles Times • July 31, 2020
On a recent Thursday morning, artist Lauren Halsey, dressed comfortably in jeans, sneakers and a straw hat, gathered a small group of volunteers inside a warehouse in South Los Angeles to help unload two refrigerated box trucks filled with some of...

Is It OK to Eat at a Restaurant During the Pandemic?

Brittany Martin • Los Angeles Magazine • July 31, 2020
After months of living with COVID-19, many of us feel like we’ve become experts in what we’re supposed to do to stay safe­. We’re washing our hands, wearing our masks, disinfecting our surfaces. But, while we may have thought a great deal about...

Josef Centeno's Orsa & Winston is The Times' Restaurant of the Year

Bill Addison • Los Angeles Times • July 30, 2020
What does it mean to be an exceptional Los Angeles restaurant? None of us could have known how complex the question would become in 2020. But Josef Centeno’s adaptive, graceful version of excellence in the maelstrom is one reassuring answer. On a...

Review: Porch & Swing takes on Southern food without the drawl

Brad A. Johnson • Orange County Register • July 30, 2020
Editor’s note: Instead of our usual star system for restaurant reviews, we have instituted a temporary COVID Comfort Rating of restaurants to accompany our traditional criticism of the food, service and ambiance. “That’s too much butter, don’t you...

How BLM and COVID-19 impact L.A.'s Black Restaurant Week 2020

Jenn Harris • Los Angeles Times • July 29, 2020
Warren Luckett likes to say that he grew up around the family dinner table. While he bounced around from St. Louis to New Jersey to South Africa and then Houston, the dinner table was always a safe space to discuss politics, religion and whatever...

Best thing I ate: Dr. Pepper braised pork, family-style takeout

Brad A. Johnson • Orange County Register • July 29, 2020
Do yourself a favor. Go to the grocery store and buy some high-quality hamburger buns. And maybe a couple of habaneros. Then go home and order the Dr. Pepper barbecue pork from Harley in Laguna Beach. The pork stars in of one of the restaurant’s...