Local haunts land on Mr. Gold’s short list of 99 essential L.A. restaurants

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This week, L.A. Weekly unleashes food critic Jonathan Gold’s round-up of 99 essential L.A. restaurants. We advise a slow scan of the whole thing — with note-taking — but here’s what JGold had to say about some of the local eateries that made the quintessential cut:

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  • Babita

1823 S. San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel
(626) 288-7265
Lunch: Tues.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Dinner: Sun., Tues.-Thurs., 5:30-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5:30-10 p.m.

“A few of the classic-seeming dishes may have been invented by (owner Roberto) Berrelleza himself: his fish-stuffed gueritos chiles in strawberry salsa, his seared halibut with huitlacoche vinaigrette, and his habanero-inflected shrimp Topolobampo, a singularly fiery dish that can take over its victims’ bodies like the plague.”

That’s Berrelleza at right. (File photo)

749 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena
(626) 441-2319
Tues.-Thurs., noon-10 p.m.; Fri., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

“… the gelateria, the love child of Roman ex-pat (Leo) Bulgarini and his Altadena-raised wife, Elizabeth Foldi, is a singular, perfect blossom: gelato powerfully flavored with the pistachios he hand-carries back from Bronte, vibrant peach sorbetto, yogurt gelato scented with Tuscan olive oil, and dark, smoky chocolate gelati flavored with orange peel, with fresh hazelnuts or with rum.”

  • Chang’s Garden

627 W. Duarte Road, Arcadia
(626) 445-0606
Daily, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

“(Chef Henry Chang’s) dish of pork ribs steamed in lotus leaves figures so prominently in Nicole Mones’ novel The Last Chinese Chef that it is practically a character of its own.”

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  • Chung King

1000 S. San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel
(626) 286-0298
Daily, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

“… the best source among many for Chinese bacon fried with leeks, for the cold, hacked chicken with chile, for the great, multiflavored beef casseroles that are so spicy they attack the nervous system like a phaser set to ‘stun.’”

At right, in 2007, Chung King owner Linda Huang serves peanuts with small fish. (File photos)

700 S. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park
(626) 282-9998
Dim sum: Mon.-Fri., 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner, nightly, 5-11 p.m.

“There are enough unsustainable choices on the seafood menu to make a Heal the Bay member weep salty, salty tears.”

  • Euro Pane Bakery

950 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 577-1828
Mon.-Sat., 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Sun. until 3 p.m.

“On a good day, Euro Pane’s magnificent croissants could in a police lineup be mistaken for France’s best, and, the natural-starter sourdough is superb.”

815 W. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel
(626) 308-0803
Mon., Tues., Thurs., 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri., 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Closed August.

“… Golden Deli has the best cha gio — fried Vietnamese spring rolls — in the observable universe, and the owners know it. After a bite or two, so will you.”

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328 E. Foothill Blvd., Arcadia
(626) 358-8298

“This may be the great, undiscovered L.A. pizza restaurant.”

At right, Zelo owner Mike Freeman holds a specialty pizza served with fresh corn, balsamic-marinated roasted red onions and smoked mozzarella, served on a cornmeal crust. (File photos)

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