LOS ANGELES - Just like the ingredients in your favorite dish, the LA Times' annual Food Bowl event series emphasized cohesion, complexity and depth.
From fresh juicy brisket and creamy Serrano sauce, to crispy grasshoppers with a salsa that bites back, the LA Food Bowl challenged taste buds and the meaning of Los Angeles cuisine.
While the event may be over, this carefully curated hit list of participating LA restaurants and vendors is one that you can keep handy all year round. While "best" is an impossibly subjective label, the below were standouts when considered by taste, texture and ingenuity.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Hungry? LA Times' 'Food Bowl' event returns this weekend, and you're invited
So, without further ado, these were the memorable, delectable and even unpredictable culinary, and sip-worthy, must-tries from the event series.
A Thai food experience that you won't soon forget. Farmhouse Kitchen is bold; in flavor, color and experience. Their LA Food Bowl booth lineup included crispy grasshoppers, silkworms and crickets, all served with a side of deeply hot Thai chili salsa.
And for the picky eaters, the beef jerky is perfectly tender and tangy.
To be honest, these freshly shucked oysters offer the perfect briny mouthful even undressed. But Broad Street Oyster Co.'s decadent yuzu sauce gives a mellow zing to the classic briny taste. You can easily knock back a handful of these.
This seafood spot has two LA locations: in Malibu and at downtown LA's Grand Central Market.
The cantina's matcha salsa with serrano pepper may be a classic, but using bluefin tuna dipped in tamari, garlic and lemon as a base was a refreshingly delicious take on tapas cuisine. Topped with avocado of course, El Barrio aims to take modern spins on traditional Mexican dishes. And this bite was packed with just the right amount of heat and crisp citrus zing.
Give their tapas menu a try at their permanent Long Beach location.
Sourdough is a California staple, so using that as their base was only natural for the LA-based pizzeria. A slice of their brick-oven vodka sauce pie will change the way you think about West Coast pizza.
What began as an underground BBQ pop-up in an East Los Angeles backyard quickly cooked into an award-winning destination restaurant. Their brisket tacos served at the LA Food Bowl featured their same legendary, melt-in-your-mouth smoked meat, topped with a decadent avocado crema.
Swing by their Lincoln Heights location to try their slow-cooked BBQ, but don't wait, they do sell out!
If you're a true Angeleno, then you've heard of Kogi BBQ. Co-founded by Chef Roy Choi, Kogi began in true LA fashion, as a single food truck serving their first dish: the Korean short rib taco. The brand has since developed into a line of food trucks that station themselves in popular areas throughout the city. But now, you can have a taste of Kogi in your very own home with the brand's very own sauces and marinades.
Los Angeles is known for its street food, so Tacos 1986's Tijuana-style taco stand is a match made in heaven. The mesquite-grilled carne asada meat is carved and sliced fresh on their handmade tortillas and topped with a dollop of creamy guacamole.
Check out any of their many locations across the city for their POTUS-approved steak, chicken, adobada or mushroom tacos.
The name translates to "from the grandmother," and takes the combination of the owners' Italian and Latin heritages to create delicious meals that "your Italian grandmother would approve of."
And their innovative "lox" pizza is just that. Topped with smoked trout, garlic cream, pickled onion, everything spice and sprinkled with fresh herbs, this lunchtime special blends the need for comfort with the craving of creativity.
Enjoy their full menu of Italian with a twist at their Arts District downtown LA location.
Big Noise Beer
Only to be enjoyed during a good time, otherwise described by their team as a "big noise," this lager was made with the diner in mind. The beer's taste was developed thoughtfully with a number of local chefs, who tasted a number of iterations before finally settling on Big Noise's "borderless beer" intended to go well with literally anything on the menu.
It's light with no aftertaste, but pairs well only with good food and good times.
This line of French wines pairs easily with any dish at the dinner table. With little to no after-bite, each bottle is refreshingly drinkable on its own or with food. Their never-fail selection takes the guessing game out of finding the perfect pairing.
Both the orange wine and the chilled red are deliciously enjoyable.
A modern take on a thousand-year-old Korean classic, Makku Makgeolli serves the classic rice-based alcohol all in the convenience of a can. The unfiltered rice beer comes in a number of flavors, including blueberry, mango, passionfruit and original. But regardless of flavor, hints of sweet, tart and velvety smooth haze can be found in every sip.
A refreshing twist on a classic lemonade, Guzzo Bento-ya's non alcoholic Matcha Yuzu Lemon Tea is the perfect antidote to the lingering summer heat. The drink's sharp citrus tang is best enjoyed while at the beach…if you can make it that long without finishing it.