The quick-service spot in Watts is the inaugural winner of the award.
Famed Los Angeles restaurant critic Jonathan Gold has named Locol as The Los Angeles Times' Restaurant of the Year. “The choice was inevitable,” says Gold. “No restaurant in years may have made more of a difference.” This is the award's first year and Locol’s selection stands in opposition to New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells’ scorching zero star review of the restaurant from earlier this year.
Locol was founded in 2016 by chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson as part of a mission to bring affordable, sustainable and nutritious food to urban centers where fresh food was not readily available. While Locol’s first location in Watts, a neighborhood in south central Los Angeles, is still losing money, Choi and Patterson continue to expand their operation, which now includes a branch in Oakland, a food truck, a bakery and a coffee company that supplies Locol with beans to produce quality brew for only $1 per cup.
Before starting Locol, Choi and Patterson were both celebrated in the culinary world for very different reasons. Choi’s line of Kogi food trucks gets credit for launching the past decade's food truck boom. Patterson, on the other hand, created the vegetable driven, two-Michelin-star Coi in San Francisco.
According to Gold, Local has “a sense of purpose, a place within its community, and the ability to drive the conversation forward, not just in Los Angeles but around the world.”
In recent months, Patterson and Choi have tweaked the Locol menu, adding crowd-pleasing items like chili cheese fries and double cheeseburgers. Additionally, Locol's catering business has increased with the introduction of their food truck. Only time will tell what role Locol has in the future of fast food, but if nothing else, the young operation must feel vindicated by the words of one of the American food world's most trusted voices.