Stories / Awards, Guides and Tips

How to Eat Like a Rising Star Chef in Los Angeles

2018 Nominee Miles Thompson's Can't-Miss Spots

Maggie Borden

April 09, 2018


James Beard Rising Star Chef Award Nominee Miles Thompson
Photo: Rachel Jacobson

You know that cool friend who's always brimming with great restaurant recs and insider tips? We've got 'em beat: enter the 2018 James Beard Award nominees for Rising Star Chef of the Year, the best of the country's up-and-coming toques. These young innovators are changing the national dining landscape, and also happen to have a lot to say about the best places to chow down. Read on to hear from Miles Thompson, of Santa Monica hot spot Michael's Santa Monica, for his must-try stops for the best cocktails al fresco, pickles, pastries, and beyond.

Date Night

Alimento in Silverlake is a perfect spot for a date: it’s the perfect size, with excellent lighting and even better food and wine. Chef Zach does a wonderful job of cooking soul-warming and delicious food with very refined, fun, and sensible touches.

Cheap Eats

Ruen Pair in Thai Town will always be my number one in this category. Unbelievable Thai food in a strip mall is not uncommon in Los Angeles, however food at the level that they're putting out, paired with the utter consistency that they attain, is rare nearly everywhere.


Gjusta in Venice is the place for me. Everything from the breads to the coffee to the pastries, pickles, and charcuterie—they are firing on all cylinders, all of the time. It is not only delicious, but you can do some top-notch people watching that only bolsters the experience as a top pick.


Sitting on the patio at Bar Stella in Silverlake on a Sunday afternoon is simply perfect. The drinks are 100 percent dialed-in and the spirit selection is not only thoughtful and well-curated, but fun and very alive.


Porto’s Bakery is the best. With amazing Cuban roots they are pulling straight from their own history and heart, and it is absolutely apparent in everything that they produce. There is always a line, any time of day. It is always worth the wait!

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Maggie Borden is associate editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.