The Humble Potato Goes Gourmet

From high-end potato chips for bar snacks to elevated baked potatoes, refined spuds are showing up in tacos, fritters, pizza, and dumplings.

While we’ve reported on the cheesy delights of Old Pasadena newcomer Agnes, chef-owner Thomas Kalb has also put an interesting twist on the potato gnocchi—in the form of loaded baked potato dumplings.

“The dish is one of the best examples of our approach to food,” says Kalb. “It checks all the boxes for what we hope our food represents.” The team had two goals with this dish: to make a baked potato cool again and showcase it in its best form. “It has evolved from gnocchi to agnolotti to ravioli and to its current form, a dumpling. It’s dolled up yet approachable, nostalgic and comforting.”

Kalb notes that his favorite baked potato toppings have always been bacon, broccoli, sour cream, chives, and cheddar, and wanted these to be the dumplings’ main components. “The true inspiration for this dish was how my mother would put together a baked potato bar on those nights when everyone was just a little too busy,” he says. “A clever way to use what we had and still find a way to get the family to sit for at least a moment and have dinner together.”

At Fanny’s in the Academy Museum, the Cote de Boeuf is served with a roasted russet potato served with soft European butter, crème fraiche, chives, fennel fronds, and potato chips jutting out from the top stegosaurus style for a dramatic presentation.

Co-owned by Highland Park native Gabriel Paredes, many of the recopies at Nativo on York Blvd. are fifth generation from his family, but the crispy potato tacos, which he grew up eating after school, are extra special. On modern-day Taco Tuesday, you can find a veggie version with deep-fried rolled corn tortillas stuffed with soyrizo and potato, topped with cilantro aioli cream, queso fresco, and shredded cabbage.

At chef Wes Avila’s latest venture, Ka’teen in Hollywood, the prawn and potato taco is a menu highlight. “We’re showcasing the best of SoCal produce and the potatoes for our main-course sides come from Weiser Family Farms,” says Avila. “We like to take the humble potato and make it shine in both our potato taquitos and tacos fritos, which are made with shrimp and deep fried with handmade tortillas.”

 

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At Echo Park newcomer Barcetti, chef Joel Stovall uses Yukon Gold potatoes simmered until just tender then sautéed in brown butter before being crumbled on pizza with mozzarella, parmesan, and sage or rosemary. This pie was inspired by a classic variety of Roman pizza al taglio, but this version adds seasoned chickpeas for additional texture and heartiness. Another potato pizza not to be missed, downtown L.A.’s De La Nonna’s square white pizza features a crispy focaccia crust topped with shaved Japanese sweet potatoes, fennel, pesto, and mozzarella.

Shrimp and sweet potato fritters, a quintessential street food of northern Vietnam, can now be found at newly opened Tay Ho in San Gabriel, fried to golden perfection and paired with fresh herbs and dipping sauce.

For the best gourmet potato chips from Hollywood to Westwood, doused in truffle oil and sprinkle with parmesan and herbs, check out the “where to dine now” section with our favorites, including Horses, Issima, Lulu, and Only the Wild Ones.