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A recipe for sweetbreads in Marcella Hazan’s Classic Italian Cookbook.

Tripe Alla Parmigiana ($10)
Osteria Mozza

6602 Melrose Avenue, 90038

Tripe has enjoyed quite the rags to riches story over the last fifty years, especially for a cut I’ve heard likened to a wet rag. When my grandmother took my mom to a taping of Julia Child in the late 1960s wherein she prepared tripe, my grandmother reportedly declined to try the dish because it was considered such a throwaway. Today, it can be found on the menus of some of the best restaurants in the country. Case in point: Osteria Mozza.

In Nancy Silverton’s dish, soft pieces of tripe luxuriate in a fresh, chunky, garlicky tomato sauce, its wetness concealing that of the tripe. Crispy grilled homemade bread generously doused with olive oil is served alongside it, offering the perfect textural complement and a pleasant smokiness for contrast. I love the tripe in its bright parmigiana sauce on its own, but the bread really completes it.

The dish is only $10, and I like to add it a la carte to the $42 three course fixed price dinner available at their Amaro Bar from Sunday through Thursday evenings, but if this is still too expensive (and that’s understandable), you can enjoy Silverton’s masterful treatment of organ meat by ordering the chicken liver crostinis with a pizza from Pizzeria Mozza or Mozza2Go. (And you should!)

Drink: I’m normally really opinionated about food and drink pairings, but here, let your server recommend a wine.

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The grilled miso heart at b.o.s.

Grilled Miso Heart ($14)
b.o.s.

424 East 2nd Street, 90012

I love a good heart. Most of the hearts I’ve eaten once belonged to ducks (I especially love a duck heart), so I was eager to try the miso heart at the nose to tail restaurant b.o.s. in Little Tokyo. Beef heart is generally served cooked through, but b.o.s. serves it rare, sliced, drizzled with a creamy miso sauce, and topped with micro greens for texture and color contrast.

For me, it’s a perfection of the form. The quick sear infuses it with a pleasant smokiness without overwhelming it, and the miso sauce adds a sweet contrast. If I hadn’t known it was heart, I might have guessed it was cut from a really good steak, but even then, it doesn’t have that chew to it. It’s perfectly soft and tender.

b.o.s. is dedicated to whole-animal cuisine and also offers curried calf brain, sweetbread tacos, and roasted marrow — all of it excellent.

Drink: A glass of red Zinfandel.

Nana’s Frito Pie ($13)
Bar Amá

118 West 4th Street, 90013

I discovered the Frito pie living in Austin, Texas after college, and I felt it was so inevitable a food it was a wonder it ever had to be invented. Open a bag of Fritos, put chili in it. Unfortunately, like a lot of other inevitable junk food mashups — fried Twinkies, Doritos tacos, McGriddles — it is the merely the sum of its parts and no greater.

Not so at Josef Centeno’s Bar Amá, where an expertly cooked chili concealing expertly braised tongue gets spooned over crispy Fritos, only to do the Texas two-step in your mouth. It almost might be easier to say what it’s not than what it is. The chili doesn’t taste burnt. The tongue isn’t chewy. The Fritos don’t arrive soggy. These things shouldn’t be hard — but order a Frito pie in a Texas bar, then try cooking tongue at home, and get back to me.

If you have friends who don’t think they’d like tongue, this is the ultimate gateway dish. The menu description simply says “lengua chile con carne, crema, mulato,” so I say, don’t bother translating.

For more of Centeno’s perfect tongue, go around the corner to Bäco Mercat for the tongue schnitzel Bäco. Oh my GOD.

Drink: A spicy margarita.

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The Boot Knocker at POT.

The Boot Knocker ($11/$23/$44/$55)
POT

3515 Wilshire Boulevard, 90010

POT, Roy Choi’s new restaurant inside the Line Hotel in Koreatown, features ten face-melting hot pots and two dozen fun sides, and it’s a thrilling place to eat. Not because of the furnishings (pretty standard tables, white walls with faint dried flowers), or because of any special entertainment (you can watch the cooks if you sit at the bar, but they’re pretty focused on what they’re doing), or because it’s dark and sexy (it’s neither), but because the food is innovative, delicious, and fun to eat. And, okay, the 90s music rocks.

The Boot Knocker hot pot promises Spam, corned beef hash, spicy pork sausage, rice cakes, fish cakes, herbs, and instant ramen in a red chili infused pork and seafood broth. It’s a party in a pot and everyone’s invited — it’s salty and spicy and meaty and herbal and umami as f*.

I’m assuming there’s sidemeat in the canned meats (I mean, obviously) but I realize this isn’t as much of an offal hot pot as, say, the Inside Story hot pot, which features tripe, intestines, and an unidentified animal’s blood in it. (Probably pig.)

Trust me, I’ll get around to it.

Drink: The curry soju cocktail.

Som Tam with Raw Blue Crab
LAcha Somtum

5171 Hollywood Boulevard, 90027

There are few things I enjoy more than holding a halved blue crab up to my mouth like a harmonica and sucking the salty, mushy, translucent guts out of it. The sight of the legs dangling out below my nose makes me smile around the shell, and my lips tingle from stray chili skins stuck to the crab. Sex, Swedish massages, rollercoasters, wine buzzes, raw crabs with green papaya salads. In that order, or something like it.

LAcha Somtum opened only three months ago, in January, and it’s already making a name for itself among LA’s papaya salad obsessed (like me). Truth be told, their papaya salad is comparable to others in Thai Town, which is to say it’s huge and fresh and authentically prepared, but their crabs seem a little bigger and the flesh a little more intact. They also offer the option of having the salad with raw crab and salted crab, for the yet more crab obsessed (like me). It’s worth noting that the rest of their food is great, too. Try the om curry.

Drink: Thai iced tea (no booze here).

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Green papaya salad with raw crab from LAcha Somtum.

Where else you can find good offal:

Providence usually has veal sweetbreads on the menu and changes the preparation fairly frequently. No matter how they’re serving them, they’ll probably become your favorite.

Road to Soeul is one of Los Angeles’ most beloved Korean BBQ restaurants. They offer intestines, stomach, and tripe in their reasonably priced all-you-can-eat packages, and I like their tongue the best. Walk-ins only, and no matter how long the wait is, it’s worth it. And heads up, it’s a party.

ink. continues to be my go-to restaurant for special occasions and milestones more than two years after it opened. A wonderful lamb belly dish has been on the menu for a while and I definitely recommend it. Always order the beef tartare here. Every time.

Ludo Lefebvre sometimes offers a delicious spoon-swipe of chicken livers in his tasting menu at Trois Mec. Savor that bite.

Silver Lake’s Black Hogg used to have an incredible chicken liver crostini appetizer, and it was topped with crispy chicken skin. Should there be chicken livers on the menu again, order them — and lobby for them to stay.

The tan shio (grilled beef tongue) appetizer at En Sushi is some of the best tongue I’ve ever had. I love the soy-vinegar sauce it’s served with, and it’s really tender.

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The chicken liver crostinis from Pizzeria Mozza.

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