The most exciting thing to happen in LA this month? Definitely the first NFL game played here in, like, FOREVER (even if it was just a preseason game). The second most exciting thing? These new openings, for sure.
All of the restaurants on this list are part of our ongoing quest to find this year's best new restaurants in America, and we're combing through every opening in every Thrillist city. Get involved on Instagram -- #BestRest2016 -- to let us know your picks and your favorite dishes at each of these new spots.
This tiny little poke & ceviche shop has vaulted to the top of LA's poke-trend queue, thanks to food from chefs who formerly worked at Hamasaku and Plan Check, which means the fish (including super-fresh salmon and albacore) is actually marinated and cured, and that the ceviches have a perfect spicy bite.
The chef at this new Westside bistro was most recently sous chef at Republique -- one of our perennial Eat Seeker picks -- which means his small, seasonal California cuisine menu includes simple-sounding but surely delicious dishes like whole grain risotto with sunchoke and Parmesan and loup de mer with heirloom tomato panzanella; they've also got an impressive wine list.
Just when you think everything in Silver Lake has gone to pot comes Kettle Black, a gorgeous new Italian restaurant from the team that opened recent favorite Sawyer. Dish highlights include Pizza de Parma with arugula, lemon vinaigrette, prosciutto di parma, and Parmesano-Reggiano and garganelli with wood-fired bolognese, all in a room that's sure to become a regular pre-show neighborhood date spot.
You're rightfully incredulous for thinking we're crazy to be recommending a restaurant on Citywalk, but here's the thing: at some point, your niece is going to want to go to the Harry Potter world at Universal, and afterwards you're going to go to a movie, and then you're going to want dinner. And THEN you should go to Dongpo Kitchen, which is an actual Chinese export, and as such has fantastic dumplings and spicy dan dan noodles that will allow you to feel like you didn't get trapped in mall-food hell.
Alvin Cailan from Eggslut and Jeremy Fall from the recently relocated Nighthawk Breakfast Bar (more on that in a minute) got together for the menu of this new burger place in Far East Plaza, where they'll join the line-making ranks of Howlin' Ray's and Chego! in what's become one of the city's best places to gorge with a group. They've got a small menu with just a few burgers and milkshakes, but the MVP is definitely the Hiro burger, with caramelized onions, avocado puree, provolone, and yuzu kosho mayo.
So: imagine you open a restaurant with a can't miss concept -- a late-night bar that serves breakfast food. And imagine that it becomes critically acclaimed virtually overnight. And then imagine you lose your lease. And then imagine you just say, "Hey, let's make it even better and put it by the beach." Yep, that's exactly what you're imagining -- and that's exactly what happened with Nighthawk.
When you think "West LA" it's probably unlikely that you also think "a place to go drink 50 kinds of whiskey and eat some pizza and watch sporting events," which is why we're telling you about the Nickel Bar: now, you know where to go in West LA to do these exact things.
Papilles has been a hidden-treasure restaurant for years, so the fact that its owner, Santos Uy, and executive chef, Tim Carey, have opened a seafood-centric restaurant in Pasadena should come as welcome news to anyone who's ever stopped by their original better-than-it-should-be strip-mall shop. Uy's background is as a wine guy, so they've got global vino options from Spain, France, and Italy, as well as dishes like butter-poached lobster and charred Spanish octopus.
Forgive us for missing this opening in July -- it's just, you know, vegan restaurants are a hard sell sometimes. But they're much easier when the chef is the namesake and used to be behind the stoves at Saint Martha, and when he's calling the food "accidentally vegan" -- which means his saffron risotto and green onion noodles are bursting with flavor that will guarantee you won't be missing meat when you leave.
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1. TikiFish3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles
2. Chez Tex218 Main St, Venice
3. Kettle Black3705 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
4. Dongpo Kitchen100 Universal City Plz, Ste V103, Universal City
5. Easy's Burgers727 N Broadway, Los Angeles
6. Nickel Bar11363 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles
7. Nighthawk Breakfast Bar417 Washington Blvd, Marina del Rey
8. Lost At Sea57 E Holly St, Pasadena
9. Erven514-516 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica
Chefs from Hamasaku and Plan Check are the masterminds behind this tiny Palms shop, where they fuse their backgrounds in Japanese and Latin American cuisine to create a unique menu brimming with bowls of flavorful poke and spicy ceviche. Inside the bright, casual counter-serve, you'll find a line-up of set combo bowls but we'd suggest building your own, particularly with the super-fresh salmon or albacore as the base and spicy mayo or garlic ponzu as the sauce.
Behold: your breezy wine-bar respite from Venice’s many tourists and beer joints, situated in a former art gallery space on Main Street. A young husband-and-wife team are behind chic, minimalist Chez Tex (named for co-founder Jesse Feldman’s grandfather, Tex), which boasts the former superstar sous chef of Republique in its kitchen. He’s creating delicate dishes that include whole grain risotto with sunchoke and parmesan, Loup De Mer with heirloom tomato panzanella, and kielbasa with sauerkraut, onion, and mustard. It would be a crime not to pair your plate with a glass or two from the impressive global wine list they’ve carefully curated.
From the team behind Silverlake favorite Sawyer comes Kettle Black, an Italian restaurant boasting some of the best decor in the hipster ‘hood. Below dozens of Edison bulbs dangling from the tall ceiling are tables for two, communal seating, a wall with plant life jutting out, and bottles of wine and liquor stacked seven golden shelves high behind a marble bar. The menu is full of modern pizza and pastas, like the crimini mushroom-topped funghi pie and gnocchi with braised lamb. For a front-row seat at the wood-fired oven, book a spot at the chef’s counter where you can watch pizzas emerge from the flames, crisped to perfection.
Normally, you'd be right to avoid a restaurant on the crowded, overstimulated blocks of CityWalk, but consider Dongpo Kitchen -- a sleek yet casual Chinese restaurant cooking up spicy Sichuanese cuisine -- the exception to the rule. Did you just take your friend's kids to a movie? Reward yourself with some chili-oil dumplings. Did you just brave Harry Potter World? There are hot Dan Dan noodles for that. The Meizhou restaurant group has well-known brands in China, and now, lucky for you, it’s landed in Universal City as your modern Chinese escape.
From the Eggslut guys, this take-out window in Far East Plaza serves a tiny and focused menu of burgers, fries, and milkshakes. The star selection is easily the Hiro, a juicy patty topped with caramelized onions, avocado puree, provolone, and yuzo kosho mayo. The crinkle-cut fries come in three varieties: regular, spicy, and cheesy, as do the milkshakes: seasalt vanilla, chocolate malt, and strawberry buttermilk.
A sports bar and library lounge become one at Nickel Bar, a West LA hangout with 50 kinds of whiskey and New York-style thin-crust pizza. The space is sleek with big screen TVs hanging from exposed brick walls, polished leather chairs, and an impressive collection of books and board games. The whiskey selection focuses on West Coast varieties, and the corresponding cocktail menu features house twists on classics, like the Smog Check, a smoky caramel take on a Manhattan.
After Nighthawk lost its lease in Hollywood, owner Jeremy Fall decided to set up shop in a bigger and better space near the beach. The resulting Venice location of Nighthawk delivers on the original concept -- a bar that serves late-night breakfast -- but with an expanded menu of sweet and boozy creations. Expect brandy-infused French toast, towers of candied bacon, spiked cereal milk in fruity, chocolate, and honey nut flavors, and so much more.
Chef Tim Carey and restauranteur Santos Uy -- who previously worked together at hidden-treasure Papilles -- are at the helm of this seafood-centric restaurant in Old Pasadena. Using new-school cooking techniques and minimal airs, Carey and Uy stick to their California roots with seared, poached, and charred fish entrees. Uy has a strong background in wine, so the wine list is a well-curated selection from Spain, France, and Italy.
Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Nick Erven opened this minimalist Santa Monica restaurant in 2016 after leaving Fundamental LA to create a plant-based menu of his own. His simple but sophisticated kitchen whips up entirely vegan plates like chickpea fritters, mushroom bread pudding, and saffron risotto that will make you rethink your own meat-filled diet.