10 Best Meatballs in Los Angeles
When trying to find the best of something, you need to set a standard -- and that can be pretty difficult when comparing meatballs to meatballs. First of all, a meatball can be made from a variety of ground meats which always seems to prove pork is tastier than chicken. Then the medium (sauced, salad, sandwich, soup, etc.) in which it's served varies widely. Plus there's the added twist that most cultures have their own version.
Rachael Narins Duplex on 3rd Meatballs
For our survey, we attempted to try a wide variety, although there are no vegetarian or turkey options on our list. The top contenders all met the basic criteria: tasting really good. Basic, but true. There are issues of density (lighter is better), sauce, accompaniments and price point as well. There's also a bit of an ethics controversy, which you'll have to read on to learn more about. What we found were some incredibly diverse and eclectic meatballs. Turn the page for our 10 top picks.
10. Sorrento Italian Market:
Rachael Narins Sorrento's Meatball Parmesan Sandwich
It's not a meatball sandwich, it's meatball parmesan. What's that? According to anyone from the East Coast, it's a very specific thing and at Sorrento's they do it right. The enormous creation starts with a mountain of mini-meatballs that have been piled into a toothsome foot-long Italian sandwich loaf that's melded together with a thin drizzle of red sauce and thick slices of cheese. The beef meatballs are made in-house, seasoned with oregano and are blissfully loose and astonishingly tender. The sandwich comes in two sizes -- 6" or 12" -- and is less than $7. Could it use a bit more sauce and some salt? Yes, but you can work that out with them. Carry-out only. 5518 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City; (310) 391-7654.
9. Bӓco Mercat:
Rachael Narins Baco Mercat Meatballs
Bӓco Mercat is the very chic home of the bӓco: those excellent hybridized flatbread sandwiches. The unorthodox meatball version takes on a Southern Italian flavor profile with the inclusion of fat raisins and whole pine nuts, adding texture to an otherwise uniform ball. It's served with strong cheese, fresh tomato sauce, tartly dressed greens and a pile of green onions. While it is supposed to be a sandwich, we really do think it is more of a knife-and-fork affair. 408 S. Main St., Los Angeles; (213) 687-8808.
Lamb Meatballs at Street
The menu at Street captured our attention because it has an entire section of meatballs: "Meatballs + Fritters" includes Swedish, Thai, a vegetarian option and an exemplary Syrian lamb dish that packs a wallop. The small plate comes with sticky and somewhat tangy molasses, feta, and a scattering of dates that add sweetness to the pungent, garlicky lamb. As with everything at Susan Feniger's restaurant, it's meant to be shared, but we admit we ate it all ourselves. 742 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 203-0500.
Turn the page for picks 7 through 5...
5518 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, CA