Eat: Los Angeles, which had a good run until 2011 as a yearly-updated, compact guide that covered hundreds of standbys and lesser-known spots. And that's pretty much it -- everything else is either way older or woefully incomplete.
So Cathy Chaplin's Food Lover's Guide to Los Angeles, from Globe Pequot's Food Lovers series, is a welcome snapshot of the area's best fine dining, bakeries, ethnic spots and specialty markets. It covers the trendy places, of course, from Picca to Trois Mec. But Chaplin, a respected L.A. food blogger (GastronomyBlog), crisscrossed just about every corner of the L.A. area to research this guide, and she includes finds in places like Rowland Heights and Huntington Park that may be on local foodbloggers' radar but will be new to many readers.
Chaplin (née Danh) has lived in Vietnam and traveled widely, and the book is particularly strong in Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean entries and in its coverage of the San Gabriel Valley. Mexican entries are also solid (no doubt due to some consultation with Bill Esparza), and if you'd like to try out food from Nicaragua, Cambodia or Jamaica, you'll find those too. As a bonus, a few recipes at the end include ones for A-Frame's Sriracha ganache, Huckleberry Cafe's salted caramel bars and Kogi's kimchi quesadilla.
With Chaplin as a guide, there's no excuse for not venturing to Bell, Carson or Inglewood to taste some of L.A.'s staggering diversity of flavors.