The West's best food towns

Whose food scene reigns supreme? Check out the winners of our 4 regional food town smackdowns

San Francisco vs. Los Angeles food fight

Two West Coast titans duke it out for the title of best food city

NorCal vs. SoCal
Photo by Annabelle Breakey

NorCal vs. SoCal

Arguing for S.F.: Josh Sens (San Francisco magazine’s restaurant critic since 2002). Comparing the food scenes in San Francisco and Los Angeles isn’t like comparing apples and oranges. It’s like pitting handpicked Fujis against plastic fruit. A really, really big bowl of plastic fruit. Give L.A. some credit. A good ethnic joint is rarely farther than a 2-hour drive through traffic. We’ve heard the tired knocks against us, that we’re snobs, smugly celebrating our seasonal supremacy. But consider this: When asked their reasons for visiting San Francisco, 94 percent of domestic travelers choose “dining out.” And what’s our largest feeder market? You guessed it: Los Angeles. So when you tire of your TMZ-stalked celebrity dens (where, think about it, no one really eats), come north. A revolution began here, and we remain in the vanguard, led by the ranks of the country’s most imaginative chefs. We’ll hook you up.

Arguing for L.A.: Jonathan Gold (restaurant critic for L.A. Weekly and a Pulitzer Prize winner). The Bay Area thinks we’re the black hole of civilization. We think San Francisco is a nice place to spend a weekend. But as the Bay Area restaurant scene, sputtering along on the fumes of Chez Panisse’s glory days, shudders through its mannerist phase, nourishing its populace on beet boudin noir, bicycle-delivered coppa from a woolly pig named Al (he was a Virgo), and pizzas topped with nettles gathered by Carthusian monks under a waxing gibbous moon, Los Angeles cooking roars through its own glory days; the vitality of its great agricultural region expressed through the great multicultural mosaic.

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