MajorDomo | Andrew Bezek
Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants in LA Right Now

Updated On 02/06/2018 at 05:11PM EST
Courtesy of NoMad Los Angeles

The NoMad Los Angeles

Downtown

New York's renowned hotelstaurant finally touches down in LA
The most-acclaimed restaurant in the whole damn country has finally (FINALLY) opened in LA. It’s split up into sections: the Mezzanine’s the reservation-only spot serving up the trademark black truffle-smoked roast chicken, but there’s also a coffee bar (simply called “The Coffee Bar,” and modeled after a 300-year-old Venetian cafe), a booze spot (Giannini Bar, helmed by the same guy who got the NY bar its rank as the No. 1 bar in North America from Tales of the Cocktail) and a lobby for brunch and burgers from, uh, the top chefs in the US. In any other month, this would be by far the biggest opening around, but…

Andrew Bezek

MajorDomo

Chinatown

The first LA spot from Momofuku's David Chang
... then David Chang decided to open a new spot, too. The celebrated Momofuku restaurateur’s first-ever LA concept is already booked a month-out, which is no surprise: the dude’s food, which draws from Asian cuisine as well as US traditions, is practically made for LA. Early favorites include Benton's sausage-stuffed, fried Korean peppers, and a short rib made a la BBQ master Adam Perry Lang, with kitchen duties from exec chef Jude Parra-Sickels (who was Roy Choi’s No. 2 man for years). Nowhere to be found, though, are Chang’s signature pork bao -- maybe we’ll get those next time?

Courtesy of The Modern Times Dankness Dojo

The Modern Times' Dankness Dojo

Downtown

An acclaimed San Diego brewery lands in LA
The most-lauded beer brand in San Diego has finally opened its long-anticipated, massive, gorgeous LA brewery. House beers are on tap, of course (including an exclusive brew called Finally Open in LA), but there’s also a crazy-sounding, all-vegan menu featuring smoked seitan and cashew cheese-stuffed dates with bourbon-barrel aged maple syrup, a double beyond meat burger with American coconut cheese, and more, with brunch coming soon.

Crawfords Pass

Burbank

A second location for a hot chicken-slinging dive bar
Yep, the valley just got a new Southern hot chicken restaurant. This sibling to Crawfords Westlake has a small menu with a fried chicken basket that’s either mild, hot, or “Uncle Mitch,” who makes a best-of-the-year compilation every year and also likes things really, really spicy, as well as a black-eyed peas salad that should be the first thing you order when you get there.

Courtesy of Chef's Not Here

Chef's Not Here

Melrose

Spanish and Italian small bites on a scenic rooftop
This new tapas spot from the chef behind Sea Salt Poke (so the chef is, in fact, there!) has a varied menu that ranges from sauteed shrimp with caramelized onions and yuzu dressing to lamb osso bucco in red wine with tomatoes, but the major selling point is that you can eat it all on an intimate rooftop overlooking some of the best shopping real estate in the city.

Jakob Layman

Maude

Beverly Hills

Curtis Stone reimagines his flagship restaurant
Less a new opening than a re-imagining, Curtis Stone’s crazy-lauded fine-dining restaurant is doing a full-on concept switch, going from a one-ingredient-featured-per-month tasting menu to quarterly menus based on the world’s most famous wine regions. Opa! (Greece hasn’t actually been announced yet, actually).

Rinjani
Dec 31
Another much-needed quality Indonesian spot in LA
LA doesn’t have a ton of Indonesian restaurants, so this new spot in Glendale’s a welcome addition: the decorations are imported from Indonesia, and so are the flavors, with traditional dishes including oxtail soup and nasi goreng (aka fried rice).

The Hearth and the Hound

Hollywood

New American food from a famous (and now, infamous) NY restaurateur
It was supposed to be one of the biggest openings of the year: the old, beloved Cat & Fiddle space, now aired-out and taken over by Spotted Pig’s April Bloomfield and her chef-partner Ken Friedman, one of the most lauded restaurant teams in NY. But within days of the opening, The New York Times ran a bombshell piece on sexual harassment allegations against Friedman, who subsequently left the post of managing the restaurant. The Hearth and the Hound is still open, though, with Bloomfield alone at the helm, and the kitchen is still serving remarkable dishes like black cod with orange sauce and cabbage with oyster emulsion.

Elizabeth Daniels

Eataly

Century City

The massive, Italian-themed market/food hall Eataly has been one of the most-anticipated openings in LA in recent memory, and it delivers, with pizza from world-renowned pizza chefs, seafood from Michael Cimarusti, imported market items from Italy, and incredible gelato and coffee. It’s basically three stories of boot-themed bliss: good luck leaving hungry. And all that above? That’s really just a scratch of the surface: find out about Italian tacos, fresh cheese, charcuterie, and more right here.

Cal Mare

Mid-Wilshire

That construction that's been going on at the Beverly Center for years is finally coming to a head, with the longtime mall monstrosity gearing up for a full-blown onslaught of new restaurant openings in 2018, all the better to compete with newbies like Eataly and Din Tai Fung at the mall in Century City just a few miles away. The first to open is this gorgeous take on coastal Italian cuisine from the renowned Michael Mina Group, with a focus on seafood, including a tableside turbot that's subtly, perfectly seasoned, and fried blowfish tails that are worth it for the bragging rights. Elsewhere on the menu are thin-crust pizzas, massive steaks, and house-made pastas, all of which can be washed down with an expertly curated wine from the (Italian-leaning, naturally) wine list.

Alex Bisarello

Uovo

Santa Monica

There may be no better "for-the-money" restaurant in LA right now than Uovo, a handmade pasta restaurant from the Sugarfish people that manages to get all the flavors of much-fancier spots packed into healthy servings on plates that run $16 or less. One of them will fill you up and two will stuff you, and the whole system -- with boiling pots and pasta prep happening at a bar in the middle of the restaurant -- sort of has a dinner-and-a-show feel. Expect a wait, but it’s well worth it.

Wonho Lee / Thrillist

Felix Trattoria

Venice

When Evan Funke was at the now-defunct Bucato in Culver City, his handmade pasta was considered some of the best in LA -- and since closing that restaurant, he’s spent time in Italy and made it even better. It’s not hyperbole to say that the pastas at Felix are among the best we’ve ever eaten, anywhere, and they’re made even more delicious somehow by the open-kitchen vibe in the restaurant: The best seats are by the pasta-making window, where Funke and his staff hypnotically knead and roll dough. Come hungry.

Anne Fishbein

Vespertine

Culver City

This mysterious, much-hyped project from former Red Medicine/current Destroyer chef Jordan Kahn’s not for the weak-walleted: a set menu for dinner costs $250. But, when it’s been described by the team behind it as “a dimension of cuisine that is neither rooted in tradition nor culture -- it is from a time that is yet to be, and a place that does not exist,” it’s impossible to not be intrigued. Essentially, it’s like the OK Computer of restaurants: moody, unique, and boldly futuristic.

Cathy Chaplin

Animal

Mid-Wilshire

Sure, these guys' newer Italian restaurant Jon & Vinny's is hot right now, too, and their seafood restaurant Son of a Gun is also a stone-cold classic at this point. But the OG from these dudes still stands out for its delicious creativity; years in, they haven't let the menu get stale at all, which means you're gonna be ordering the classics -- and then whatever insanity they've put on the menu today, since it may not be there again tomorrow.

Baroo Los Angeles

Baroo

Hollywood

This tiny James Beard-nominated restaurant, hidden in a strip mall in a no-man’s-land section of East Hollywood, would be voted least likely to succeed on looks alone. Once you glance at the tiny, challenging-to-understand menu, you may be even more tempted to bounce. Don’t. The food is from guys who did time at Noma and Daniel -- two of the world’s best restaurants -- and the $15-or-less grain bowls and pastas they’re serving burst with the flavor and love of those 10-times-as-expensive world-class restaurants. Just check the website/give them a call and make sure they’re open before you head there -- they leave for months at a time for “inspiration trips,” but when they come back, the food’s somehow even better than before.

Bestia DTLA

Bestia

Downtown

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Since its opening in 2012, Bestia's sort of become the definitive LA restaurant, offering a menu that appeals to both eat-anything foodies (pan-roasted chicken gizzards!) and eat-carefully dieters (tomato & plum salad!) in a setting that feels both industrial and homey, with prices that won't make you feel wallet regret when you wake up in the morning. It's no surprise it's still one of the few tough reservations in the city; despite its size, everyone who leaves immediately wants to go back.

Zen Sekizawa

n/naka

Culver City

Before she was on the wildly popular Netflix show Chef's Table, Niki Nakayama's hole-in-the-wall Culver City spot -- where she makes impossibly meticulous Japanese food that seems to hit all your taste buds at once -- was already one of the most buzzy restaurants among foodie-type people in LA. But now that the cat's out of the bag, it's become nationally famous as well, which means getting in is a struggle -- a totally worth-it struggle.

Courtesy of Grand Central Market

Grand Central Market

Downtown

Seriously, are they ever going to run out of stall space at GCM -- which, at this point, should just be considered a treasure of the city? Let's hope not: Not only are all the old spots great (and set up for killer mash-ups), but newer openings (like Union chef Bruce Kalman's pasta spot Knead & Co, the vegan ramen joint Ramen Hood, a Golden Road Brewing stall, and the bivalve-y Oyster Gourmet) make it a must-visit. Like, all the time.

Providence

Providence

Hollywood

Despite lots of competition from upstarts, Providence is still LA's best special-occasion restaurant: The service is impeccable, as is Michael Cimarusti’s seafood. Is it cheap? It is not. Is it worth it? Most definitely.

Flickr/T.Tseng

Howlin' Ray's

Downtown

This fried chicken spot’s had lines from day one, but that’s no surprise: The now-defunct truck of the same name, which specialized in the same Nashville hot chicken as the brick & mortar, was absolutely exceptional. Add to that the fact that neighbors in the Chinatown mini-mall include Roy Choi’s Chego! and the revolving test-kitchen Unit 120, and you may want to hit them all with a large group for a sharing-friendly feast.

DYLAN + JENI

Here's Looking At You

Koreatown

This stylish and booming K-Town outfit from chef Jonathan Whitener and Lien Ta -- who previously worked at Animal -- packs the house with internationally minded dishes that feature seared and smoked proteins like dry-aged duck and hamachi collar, which is balanced by unexpected vegetable preps, plus house pickles and vinegars. You’ll also want to check out the seasonal cocktails, each of which features its own origin story like the Morrissey-inspired Tender Hooligan with rye, rhum, buckwheat honey, and house “breakfast” bitters.

Jeff Miller/Thrillist

Q Sushi

Downtown

This long-standing, high-priced, gorgeous sushi bar Downtown finds its way back to Eat Seeker thanks to an insane premium omakase, just added to the menu. Give the chef a few days' notice and he’ll source rare, seasonal fish from Japan and elsewhere around the world, with a 15+-course tasting of flavors you literally can’t get anywhere else in LA (and that al dente vinegar rice is outstanding, too).

Jake Lindeman

Kismet

Los Feliz

The team behind Grand Central Market’s insanely great Madcapra falafel has knocked it out of the park again with this Mediterranean sit-down spot (a collab with Jon and Vinny from Animal), which packs amazing flavor into lamb belly with turnips, carob, Meyer lemon and crispy quinoa, and kuka, a sort of Middle Eastern frittata.

Kato Restaurant

Kato

Sawtelle

This teeny-tiny strip mall restaurant is a prix-fixe-only, no-booze gem, serving ultra-modern Japanese-inspired fare that changes at the chef’s whim. One recent dinner’s blow-away dish was a chawanmushi-style custard with salmon eggs and creamy crab, but each bite (and each course) was revelatory, and at $55 for a five-course menu, not too wallet-busting either.

Courtesy of Rossoblu

Rossoblu

Downtown

Chef Steve Samson’s ode to Bologna is as notable for its food as it is for its location -- the Sotto chef is serving up handmade pasta, milk-braised pork, and more in a new development that’s the rumored future home of the Spotted Pig’s LA branch, meaning you should get over there before it becomes an absolute madhouse.

DUSTIN DOWNING / THRILLIST

Mh Zh

Silver Lake

LA Weekly’s Besha Rodell unexpectedly crowed about this unpronounceable Israeli spot, and now food fans in LA are racing to get there for dishes like Lamb Ragooooo (yes, the extra os are on purpose) and Instagram-ready presentation, with piles of meat and veggies atop heaps of labneh.

Courtesy of PIzzana

Pizzana

Brentwood

If we told you that one of the best pizza spots in the city was in Brentwood, would you believe us? You should: Chef Daniele Uditi is from Naples and insists his pizza taste like home, with Italian-imported ingredients making up the bulk of the toppings. Don’t miss his on-special margherita (which is topped with a crunchy basil mixture that gives it far more texture than a traditional pie) and the fried artichoke salad, which hits you with flavor and bite.

Jakob Layman

Sushi|Bar

Encino

Chef Phillip Frankland Lee’s basically proclaimed himself the food king of Encino by opening restaurant after restaurant in the Valley enclave. His latest, though, may be his boldest: an eight-seat sushi bar serving up a 16-course, first-come, first-serve dinner at three seating times, with interesting takes on traditional presentations, including dishes like yellowtail brushed with sweet corn pudding.

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