Just when you think Downtown Los Angeles can't get any more attention - besides opening a new cool restaurant virtually ever week - we now can boast the best new restaurant in the entire country for the year 2013. Yes - the number one new restaurant in the entire country. Here is the opening of the article:
Best New Restaurant in America in 2013
And to read the rest of the review - go to Bon Appetit.Ari Taymor has a knack for knocking on doors, and a talent for showing up unannounced at a restaurant’s service entrance. He’s not afraid to call a chef every day for a month to ask if he can come work for free.In other words, he can be a royal pain in the butt. But it’s that won’t-take-no-for-an-answer attitude that led him, at just 26 years old, to open Alma. The story of how this unassuming, 39-seat restaurant in Los Angeles became the restaurant of the year is, to put it in sports terms, like that of a minor league baseball player who goes from batting .200 one year to hitting a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth with two outs to win the World Series the next. Yes, it’s that unexpected.Taymor grew up in Palo Alto, California, on a steady suburban diet of Food Network (he was partial to Good Eats and Iron Chef) and Taco Bell (his go-to order: two chalupas and a Crunchwrap Supreme). But it wasn’t until 2007, when he had a monumental, eye-opening meal of lamb leg à la ficelle at the legendary Chez Panisse, that food became more than entertainment and cheap fuel. From that point forward, Taymor wanted to cook.That’s not to say that the road to Alma was linear. Along the way, he was fired from an externship at Lucques in Los Angeles, honed basic culinary skills at a community kitchen in Berkeley, and hunkered down at San Francisco’s Flour + Water, where he spent six months only making pasta. I’ve seen better résumés on The Hot 10. It was while working as an unpaid stagiaire at La Chassagnette, a country restaurant with its own garden in Arles, France, that Taymor adopted the techniques that became the foundation of his cooking style (not to mention where he became enamored with the idea of having a farm).These varied experiences gave Taymor a vision for his own concept—and bolstered the tenacity required to pull it off. In February 2012, less than five years after that pivotal meal at Chez Panisse, he launched Alma as a pop-up in Venice, California.What would soon become his trademarks—almost no butter, lots of vegetable stocks, and selections that changed nightly—shined in the three- and five-course tasting
menus. It was an overnight success, but seeing as it was a pop-up, his success was over almost as soon. Taymor was about to take a job opening up someone else’s restaurant when he got a call about a permanent space in downtown L.A. He had 24 hours to decide his future. Taymor and his business partner, Ashleigh Parsons, signed the lease and opened Alma an unheard-of two weeks later.The restaurant nearly failed. Some nights, no one came in. “I was terrified,” says Taymor. “I kept running out of money.”To be completely honest, the first time I ate there, I had my own doubts about the place. Alma is situated in an area undergoing a cultural and culinary renaissance, but there are still pockets of seediness, like the bubble gum–stained block on which Alma’s modern, wood-paneled facade stands out. Inside, you can feel its makeshift roots. It resembles a temporary gallery space more than a bona fide eating establishment (chalkboard wall; simple wood finishes; a long open kitchen where, behind bouquets of flowering herbs and tiles doubling as plates, Taymor and his merry band of cooks work all night, barely stopping to look up).Could a restaurant stuck between a hostess bar and a former marijuana dispensary steal the top spot on this year’s list? By the time the seven-course, $90 tasting menu began, I looked at my wife and said, “This place has a chance.