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A Note: Congratulations to the Kitchens and Cooks in This Year’s Rogue 99 Dining List!

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]acos, ramen, dumplings, fried chicken? Burgers, burritos, bao, carnitas, steaks? Cocktails? Cobbler? When it comes to ways of eating, contemporary Los Angeles offers a true kaleidoscope of cuisines that may be unmatched in the cultural history of this coast. It is truly a privilege to be an eater here, and we owe our luck for it to the vision and talents of the people who create and cook our food.

Today L.A. Taco is thrilled to publish Edition No. 2 of the Rogue 99, your alternative and independent restaurant guide to eating through greater Los Angeles right now. It's an honor to have returning editors Tien Nguyen and Katherine Spiers produce and edit the Rogue again. Nearly a year after the death of food critic Jonathan Gold, it is becoming clearer and clearer that L.A. eaters and restauranteurs need and deserve an up-to-date editorial list to this city's greatest eateries, one that they can trust and respect.

Well here you go.

Yes, the trope of "99" places to eat in Los Angeles is an homage to the list J. Gold developed originally at the LA Weekly, back in its heyday. I think it's safe to say at this point — given what the Weekly has devolved into in the past year — that this town can no longer rely on it for quality food coverage. Tien and Katherine (a former LA Weekly food editor, per reminder) have stepped up to the plate and delivered. As they explain, the Rogue 99 has a sound ethical foundation that is responsive to our times. "We only considered places that — to the best of our knowledge — do not tolerate hostile working environments and do not have records of pervasive labor violations," Nguyen and Spiers note in their intro.

It's all good stuff and we look forward to hearing what you think. Congrats to them.

READ: The Rogue 99 ~ L.A. Taco's 2019 Essential Restaurant Guide

Grand Central Market. Photo by Brian Feinzimer.
, CA - March 15: on March 15, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]Thank you to the L.A. Taco team of artists, photographers, and developers who came through again and pushed us to publication. Thanks to our first-time Rogue 99 photo editor Brian Feinzimer, and artist Benjie Escobar, who returned this year to design our logo. In addition, this year's guide features reviews written by a group of fine young journalists from the Boyle Heights Beat journalism project in Boyle Heights. Congratulations to them as well!

And thank you, as ever, to our published Alex Blazedale for believing in this project from start to finish.

Finally, congratulations to all the establishments who made the 2019 list, and thank you to their owners and managers who allowed our team of photographers to come shoot your outstanding plates. Congrats to the chefs, line cooks, front-of-house folks, the bussers, the taqueros, heck even the valets when applicable, and everyone who works in the grueling but ever-satisfying food industry.

Many of the names you will see in this year's list, you will already know and love — Langer's, Guelaguetza, Philippe the Original, Grand Central Market. Others are totally new (welcome to newcomers X-Tiosu!). Some I'm certain you'll be considering as "essential" for the first time, and I predict you might be finding yourself nodding in agreement after a renewed visit or first bite ...

I'm thinking in particular about the addition of the San Pedro Fish Market, one of my favorite public gathering spaces in Los Angeles. Spiers notes that although the Ports O'Call Village is in the midst of upheaval and erasure, the fish market is thriving. I love sneaking down there on a lazy weekend afternoon, surrounding myself with large mixed L.A. families of every shade and color, listening to the murmurs and conversations and strolling mariachis. We gather around steaming paper plates of shrimp or fried fish, all drawn fresh-to-order from the seafood counters — as Angelenos have been doing here since the 1950s.

"The default order is the shrimp tray, with potatoes, bell peppers, onions and tomatoes mixed with shrimp and cooked with 'seafood seasoning' and 'soybean butter',” Katherine writes.

I add on a tall, sparkling michelada from one of the beer windows, sit back to watch the barges as long as football fields float on by, and marvel at what a beautiful place we all live in. Read more here.

Mariachis and diners at the San Pedro Fish Market. Photo by Erick Galindo.

RELATED: The Rogue 99 ~ Our First Edition

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