While most change happens gradually, there are times when life pulls a Metamorphosis and flips your world upside down overnight. An example: one evening, you may find yourself dining in your hotel’s restaurant, enjoying a few gems found amidst an overall unremarkable menu. It’s not worth writing home about but it’s nothing to complain about either, and the place certainly delivers on the “cooler than thou” vibe that you were promised upon booking your room at the Ace. You go to sleep (maybe you dream about too-tough octopus, what do I know?), and you wake up to a note slipped under your door. It’s announces that the restaurant from last night now has an entirely different name, and an entirely different chef. Oh, and that chef is quite possibly the best in the city. When you wander down for breakfast, the place looks the same and sounds the same, but it now smells of bacon and possibility - and of that rare satisfaction of knowing you got to experience a cool new thing before anyone else did.
For the record, the above example is not at all what happened to us; your faithful Brunchographers were not on the premises the day Michael Cimarusti pulled a Lemonade and transformed the Ace Hotel’s L.A. Chapter into Best Girl overnight. But we are fairly accomplished when it comes to visualization, and we can identify with how exciting that moment might have felt for those who were there. In reality, we rolled up to the Ace about a month after the deed had already been done, fashionably late under the guise of giving the restaurant some time to “get its bearings” (sure, that’s it - our delay had nothing at all to do with the fact that schlepping downtown is such a process). Inside, the restaurant is as hip as you’d expect the Ace’s restaurant to be: cozy without sacrificing design, vintage with just the right amount of modern, and quirky without going over the top. Sure, the pencil-drawn caricatures on the walls may leer at you as you walk to the bathroom, but a pump of the high-end perfumed soap will bring you right back down to earth.
The menu at Best Girl is a departure from what Angelenos might expect from Cimarusti - rather than the elegant seafood-focused dishes he’s known for at Providence and Connie & Ted’s, the fare here reflects the more casual meals that the chef and his family prepare at home. Each item has ties to either Cimarusti or his wife (pastry chef Crisi Echiverri, who oversaw Best Girl’s dessert program) in some way, be it flavors borrowed from their families’ ancestral heritage or a riff on a dish they love to prepare for their son. In some ways, a perusal of Best Girl’s menu is like taking a look into what a great culinary mind’s day off might look like, whether it’s a quick and simple breakfast, a satisfying midday meal, or a relaxed dinner shared with friends.
At brunch, a wide array of Best Girl’s favorites can be enjoyed, with options from both the breakfast and the lunch menus at your fingertips. You may want to begin with a cocktail, like the Lucky Girl, a tart and floral option that arrives with a paper fortune to help you plan your future. If something from a bottle’s more your thing, there are plenty of tempting options on the eclectic wine and beer lists. Or, if it’s one of those days (and it was for me), you may choose to stick with a classic cup of coffee, because it’s Stumptown, and its deliciousness will warm your heart.
As for food, the Buckwheat Pancakes both confounded our palates and satisfied that persistent craving for something soft, fluffy, and a little bit sweet. While these run a little thinner than the average pancake, their warm nutty flavor and light texture is as pleasant as it gets. On top, the blueberry compote tastes homemade and lends a tart, satisfying punch, while a drizzle of maple syrup offers mellow sweetness. But what truly sets these cakes apart is a mound of creamy butter that’s been smoked, offering a hint of campfire to every bite. It’s at first confusing, and then it becomes a little bit funny, and it finally settles in as charming, warm, and comforting. Hey, if your brunch isn’t sending you on a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster, you’re missing out.
Now, listen very carefully: you will be cheating yourself if you walk away from Best Girl without trying the Tonkatsu Chicken Sandwich. Please trust us on this. Between the two halves of a light and spongy sesame bun lies a flavor combination that is absolutely divine: a crunchy-yet-delicate crust envelops juicy and tender chicken, a swirl of yuzu koshu mayo offers tang and umami all at once, and a heap of miso cabbage is both creamy and tender. If we were doing a top-ten-things-we-ate-this-year list (and after this dish, we thought about it), this sandwich would be on it, and it would be very near the top. So just order it.
It is amazing to consider that a restaurant with a pedigree like Best Girl’s could open without an ounce of fanfare, and that one of L.A.’s most esteemed fine dining chefs could suddenly shift focus to create down-to-earth, comforting, everyday meals — but perhaps it’s this restaurant's sense of rebelliousness and willingness to challenge the status quo that makes the entire Best Girl experience so alluring.
927 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90015