Neal Fraser, Scott Conant, and Curtis Stone have dominated the Los Angeles culinary scene over the past decade. The three have also won the hearts of the country, appearing on hit television shows like Top Chef,Chopped, and Around the World in 80 Plates. When they're not in front of cameras or preparing award-winning cuisine for Los Angeles’ elite, these toques enjoy a drink at some of LA’s favorite neighborhood bars. The three shared their top picks with us during the James Beard Foundation’s Taste of America event.
Curtis Stone’s Gwen on Sunset is one of the biggest restaurants to open this year. Launching a new restaurant is no small feat so after a long night in the kitchen, Curtis likes to unwind with some Mexican fare. “El Carmen has a Mexican wrestling theme—and I love that,” Stone shares. “I am always a bit under the weather when I get there because we work until midnight.” His dish of choice is the pork tacos while he describes his drink selection as “a bit boring.” “We drink margaritas and I love Mexican beer. Sol is my beer of choice,” says Stone.
Neal Fraser began his culinary career in his hometown of Los Angeles many years ago. He started as a line cook at Wolgang Puck’s Eureka Brewery and now has a long list of his own dining hot spots, including the renowned Redbird in Downtown Los Angeles. When asked for his favorite Los Angeles neighborhood bar, Fraser struggles to remember the name of a spot he recently visited. His wife and co-owner of Redbird, Amy Knoll Fraser chimes in and says The Good Luck Bar. "They have a mai tai that is delicious,” he says.
Chopped judge Scott Conant has a rather unusual reason why The Varnish, tucked inside Cole's restaurant, is his favorite Los Angeles neighborhood bar. “In the bathroom, they have a plaque with Charles Bukowski’s name on it and I am a big Charles Bukowski fan,” Conant says with a laugh. Besides the fact that “all the cool people have been there,” Conant also loves a particular cocktail at The Varnish. “The mescal negroni is fantastic. It has a nice balance of smoke with gin and Campari.”