These lists are doomed from the beginning - when dealing with different cuisines (and at different price points) there’s too many factors and you have to account for how one judges the criteria for what makes a restaurant “top.” Is it how delicious the food is? Is it the restaurant’s cultural significance? What role does value play? How do you judge a sushi restaurant like Q vs. an allegedly casual bistro like Petit Trois? Mozza Group vs. Tsujita? How about service, the restaurant’s tenure in the industry, ambiance, environment, etc.? Originality of its dishes, uniqueness of the restaurant’s ethos? All these are likely to be factors, but the list’s manifesto of saying that it provides a list “straight up” for those “christened as LA’s best,” “places that shine the brightest,” “not to be missed under any circumstances” only begs the question. Such an attempt to define “best” across such a stretch of different cuisines, price-points, and aims is self-defeating.
Here, you get a smattering of what’s popular, with a democratic view of having something “luxury,” something “hip/trendy/PR darling” something “simple, fresh Californian,” something “exotic/ethnic,” and something “traditional.”
BUT, the public loves this kind of stuff so people can blabber to their less initiated friends about how much of a foodie insider they are when it comes to the hip, hot new joint in town. Of course, every one of these self-proclaiming foodies love to sound authoritative when they declare “this is the best. LA Weekly said so.” Are these lists useful to someone as a starting point about whether he/she stands a fairly good chance of getting at least a pretty good meal for the restaurant’s category (as long as he/she has the right expectations and a fair understanding of the cuisine)? Sure. Are they good for business? Absolutely. But make no mistake - these lists are by no means dispositive or authoritative on the actual question of what’s “best.” Rather, this list would be more appropriately named "20 highly regarded LA places to try". But that headline doesn’t have quite the same catchiness, does it?
The bigger the claim (“these are the best”), the more evidence one must provide, the more definitional groundwork and disclaimers one must lay, the more accurate one must be.
I don’t blame Besha; the hoi polloi eats this stuff up so as long as people want it, restaurant media will keep on feeding it to them. It’s the internet age, people love lists of “bests” and immediate gratification so they can claim to know it all even though they just peeped the wiki (or LA Weekly list on their newsfeed) 3 minutes ago.
Note: I would have absolutely no problem if this list simply declared itself to be the author’s favorites or like I said “20 highly regarded places to try.” I also would have no problem if the list were attempting to nail down “best” across restaurants in the same echelon/niche/price-point/aims.