Top 10 Chowhound Finds in Los Angeles in 2012

In an area as vast and dense as LA, it’s no surprise that many talented kitchens fly under the radar for weeks, even months. Thanks to observant and adventurous Chowhounds, though, great hidden restaurants get the attention they deserve. Here in alphabetical order are 10 great local finds Chowhounds logged in 2012.

1. ANEPALCO'S CAFE
[Orange County]
415 S. Main Street, Orange
714-771-2333
We came for the fantastic chilaquiles (pictured above), with its complex, spicy sauce.

2. EL ABUELO
[San Fernando Valley - West]
451 N. Maclay Avenue, San Fernando
818-365-8283
Wonderful house-made tortillas at this family-run restaurant had us buzzing. So did the delightful huevos a la mexicana.

See also: Chowhound LA’s Top New Restaurants for 2012

3. EL OJO DE AGUA
[Inland Empire]
830 E. Foothill Boulevard, Rialto
909-877-0876
Must-haves at this tiny stand include barbacoa, squash blossom quesadillas, and huaraches. Naturally, we had to have them all.

4. GREEN ONION
[Conejo Valley]
30651 Thousand Oaks Boulevard, Agoura Hills
818-707-6789
Chowhounds who knew to ask for the Chinese specials menu were rewarded with authentic, high-quality dishes—without the drive to the San Gabriel Valley.

5. LANCE'S FILIPINO CUISINE
[South LA]
12807 Crenshaw Boulevard, Hawthorne
310-675-0583
Traditional dishes like adobo, pancit, and fresh lumpia were delightful surprises at this out-of-the-way Filipino spot.

6. LE PAIN DE JOUR
[South LA]
13528 S. Inglewood Avenue, Hawthorne
800-800-1539
This turned out to be a great stop for delicious French patisserie items. We couldn’t get enough of the macarons and croissants.

7. RANCHO TO GO BBQ
[Orange County]
665 N. Tustin Avenue, Suite J, Orange
714-502-4053
We melted for the pulled pork, ribs, and chicken here, where some of the meats are slow-cooked 14 hours or longer.

8. ROMERO AND DAVE'S TEXAS BEST BBQ
[San Fernando Valley - East]
12903 Moorpark Avenue, Studio City
818-850-8297
Chowhounds stumbled on these pro grillers, who set up shop in a parking lot five days a week and produce killer tri-tip, ribs, and sausage.

9. WORLD EMPANADAS
[San Fernando Valley East]
529 S. Victory Boulevard, Burbank
818-934-1820
The handmade empanadas—stuffed with chicken, beef, and ham and cheese—totally won us over.

10. ZAM ZAM MARKET
[Westside – Inland]
11028 W. Washington Boulevard, Culver City
310-331-2504
We've always loved this Pakistani and Indian café. Its expansion this year made us love the spicy dishes and delicious naan that much more.

Photo of chilaquiles at Anepalco’s Cafe by Flickr member KayOne73 under Creative Commons