City of Gold
(2015; dir. Laura Gabbert)— I used to think Los Angeles was a smog-choked, characterless place where burnouts and sellouts spent what Faulkner described as “changeless monotonous beautiful days without end…unmarred by rain or weather.” But thanks in large part to the tireless, hyper-informed and hyper-informative efforts of Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold, L.A. is now one of my favorite cities in America and my favorite place to eat in the whole wide world. Although City of Gold is peppered with appreciate commentary from the numerous hyphen-American L.A. chefs whose reputations were made by one of Gold’s empathetic raves, its recipe is simple and easy to follow. For most of the film Gabbert plants her camera in the passenger seat of Gold’s truck while he cruises the nooks, crannies and strip malls of the Los Angeles megalopolis in search of good food and street-level cultural knowledge. Imagine a 96-minute episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives hosted by Guy Fieri’s intelligent, articulate, humble and possibly mildly autistic twin and you’ll have some idea of what it plays like. Unfortunately, it’s only popped up at film festivals and on the West Coast; hopefully it will find better distribution soon.
I haven’t eaten at all of the restaurants mentioned or profiled in City of Gold, but I’ve eaten at most of them. So I can heartily recommend whatever Ludo Lefevbre is making at Trois Mec—that is, if you can score a ticket through his hyper-competitive, every-other-Friday-at-10AM-Central-Time online reservation system. I can also vouch for the Ethiopian doro wat at Meals by Genet, any of the moles at Guelaguetza, the osh at Attari Sandwich Shop, the chicken and tamarind nahm prik at Jitlada (pronounced Jit-la-DAH—act like you know), the kimchee quesadilla from the Kogi trucks, and as much of the daily menu as you can get into your belly at Guerrilla Tacos.