City of Gold

4 Stars

It doesn’t take much more than a Yelp account these days for someone to share their opinion about a restaurant. Now, sure, there’s nothing wrong with using social media to find out about a restaurant from friends, acquaintances, or even complete strangers, but these reviews – even by those who actively seek out new restaurants regularly – can lack the weight of the word of a full-fledged food critic. For the city of Los Angeles, that critic is Jonathan Gold, the only food critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for his work.

City of Gold is a fascinating documentary that is, on the surface, about Gold’s work as a food critic for the Los Angeles Times. Gold explores the breadth of Los Angeles regularly, bringing particular attention to small, family-owned restaurants in areas of the city that may be less desirable. He also is more than willing to dig into menu items that will seem strange to many American viewers. But there’s a passion to his work that’s palpable on screen.

Beyond that surface level view of Gold’s work, though, is the reality of its impact on Los Angeles. Gold’s profile is high enough to make locals and tourists alike go to him as a source for a good meal. By shifting away from restaurants that are more conventionally “critic-worthy” in favor of ethnic and cultural diversity, he’s helped make plenty of restaurants thrive in Los Angeles. For anyone who claims to love food, or for anyone who wants to get into criticism of any cultural topic, City of Gold is worth watching.

City of Gold • Rating: R (for some language) • Runtime: 91 minutes • Genre: Documentary • Director: Laura Gabbert • Writer: Laura Gabbert • Distributor: IFC
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