I don’t often review things for Amazon, but I felt compelled to write up something about my friend Cathy Chaplin‘s new book, Food Lovers’ Guide To Los Angeles because I loved it so much (and I’m not just saying that because Cathy is a friend). Anyway, I figured rather than write a whole new entry here on the blog, I might as well just share my review.

After the jump, check out my thoughts on Cathy’s book. Spoiler alert: I approve.

Let’s just cut to the chase: “Food Lovers’ Guide to Los Angeles” is awesome. It truly does live up to its name.

LA is a city with a wide breadth of cuisines — high and low, refined and rustic — and all too often, dining guides tend to focus on only a sliver of what the region has to offer. Cathy Chaplin delves deeper — way deeper — with her comprehensive list of restaurants that span so many ethnicities and price points that you’ll be amazed they can even all fit in one city. I’m honestly shocked that Cathy (full disclosure — she is a friend of mine) has been able to dig up so many eateries.

Of course, this isn’t a guide that’s only full of obscure taco stands and Filipino skewer shops hidden away in the hinterlands of LA. The book is sure to highlight bright new stars on the LA landscape such as “Trois Mec” and “Connie and Ted’s.” Old standbys like “Mélisse” and “Spago” are present too, as are a variety of marketplaces and bakeries — truly rounding out the scope of this book. And, for an added bonus, “Food Lovers Guide to Los Angeles” features a handful of recipes from around town — a neat perk, even if it’s not totally necessary.

As for the reviews themselves, Cathy writes about each and every place with care and thoughtfulness. This is where the book truly shines. No vague, Frankenstein-esque reviews à la Zagat. Cathy devotes serious real estate on her pages to each entry, describing not only noteworthy dishes but how to eat them too. It’s an important distinction, especially at the more culturally foreign restaurants.

I’ve been lucky enough to eat several meals with Cathy, and I’m telling you all right now, this woman knows her stuff. I’m not giving her five stars out of bias. I’m giving her the stars because this book is worth it. Sure, there are some omissions, but no city guide will ever be truly perfect. I might have liked more background about the neighborhoods, not to mention some images of the highlighted dishes (I suppose for that one can always go to Cathy’s blog, — and no, Cathy did not pay me to link that!), but again, the usefulness of this book far outweighs any minor quibbles.

I’ve been living in LA for twelve years. I’ve eaten at, read about, and driven by more restaurants than I can count. However, it’s nothing compared to what’s in this book. Without a doubt, “Food Lovers Guide to Los Angeles” is a must-have guide for any tourist or local looking to deepen their knowledge of the city’s culinary offerings.

Get your copy of Food Lovers’ Guide to Los Angeles here.