Alma Restaurant By Ari Taylor | Los Angeles

Dining with the most exciting chef in town

We realized instantly when we ate Ari Taymor's seaweed beignets that L.A.'s dining scene was set to benefit greatly from his move from San Francisco.

That was in 2011. In 2012, Taymor's post-Saluté pop-up, Alma, drifted from Venice to Silver Lake, and has finally settled into a nondescript Downtown space on South Broadway. There, he has surpassed his promise: Taymor is cooking some of the best food you'll find in Los Angeles.

In the higher echelons of Southland contemporary dining, chefs tend to either worship at the altars of Ferran Adrià (El Bulli) and René Redzepi (Noma), or, conversely, subscribe to what Momofuku's David Chang once derided as the "figs on a plate" school of cooking. At Alma, Taymor borrows the aesthetics and a few of the toys from the former crowd, but he employs that style and those tools to explore the greatness of California produce in a manner that Suzanne Goin would appreciate.

We tried nearly every dish on the menu, and barring one mild tomato-and-tofu misstep, we were consistently thrilled. A sampling: corn soup with nasturtium-flower ice cream ($11), rosy lavender-smoked duck breast with punchy pickled melon and green beans ($12), and a poached-egg-topped shelling-bean stew dotted with purslane and roasted Italian peppers (pictured; $16).

Bottom line? You need to try Alma.

Alma, 952 S. Broadway Ave., Downtown; 213-444-0984 or