Karaoke nights in Koreatown are always tricky, dinner-wise. You've got to make two plans, you lose people along the way, and the spots that do have food generally don't have a place to eat that's not surrounded by other people singing Journey songs poorly. That's why The Venue's important: It's one-stop dining, singing, and shopping, with over a dozen interestingly decorated karaoke rooms (there are chairs dangling from the ceiling in one; another looks like a mini-library) attached to an underground restaurant serving craft cocktails, as well as short ribs from one of the chefs behind BOA. Basically, it's a one-stop KTown night-out spot.
OK, it's early to say that there's already a contender for 2017's best new restaurant, but the hype around Kismet -- a cozy, very clean-looking Mediterranean spot that's a collaboration between the Madcapra and Animal guys -- isn't just hyperbole. The two lunchtime "flaky bread" dishes are the belles of the ball (as it were): flatbread with yogurt and honey, or an optionally spicy tomato dip, both of which have near-perfect flavor profiles. Dinner's got a for-two rabbit dish that's one of the few large items on the menu, but do yourself a favor and go with friends so you can get a bunch of stuff. You won't leave sorry -- or hungry.
It's been a long time since LA got a proper new hidden bar/cocktail lounge, so if you've been looking for a change of pace from the Davey Wayne's of the world, Birds & Bees couldn't have come at a better time. The entrance to this '50s-themed bar is through a parking lot, along a fence, down a flight of stairs, and through an unmarked door; once inside, the whole thing looks like a '50s cocktail den, with drinks from an all-star team who've done time at 1886, The Corner Door, and The Edison, among many others.
Is Coachella becoming an important restaurant incubator? It certainly seems that way: KazuNori and Beefsteak both got their starts in booths out in the desert (and are now successful brick & mortars), and Sumo Dog -- a gourmet hot dog spot in Ktown -- is next on the list, with Asian flavors like furikake and miso as toppings on a slew of doggie styles. Added bonus: open after bars close on weekends.
Now you no longer have to make two stops for your dessert-and-coffee fix: The brains behind Crème Caramel LA and Found Coffee have merged forces for this Eastside sweets-and-caffeine shop. Highlights include crème brûlée and s'mores bars, as well as rotating beans from California roasters.
The resume of some of the people behind the new live-music venue Peppermint Club is basically a list of hot clubby LA properties from the last decade, including Bootsy Bellows, Blind Dragon, and the Nice Guy; the other people run Interscope Records -- so you know that the quality of talent here is going to be great. They're doing everything from pop to covers, so check the calendar before committing, but thanks to the pedigree of the owners it's safe to assume that everyone who plays will be legit.
Down a private stairwell off of Wilshire Blvd lies The Venue, a subterranean karaoke bar and restaurant that's decidedly more high-end than run-of-the-mill karaoke spots. An open dining room complete with bar is the focal point of the space, where Korean-inspired dishes like beef tongue and chimichurri are served to diners on their way to or from one of the private karaoke rooms. Each room has up to a 50-person capacity (hello, birthday party!) and serves a smaller bar food menu for those who bypass the restaurant altogether.
Deriving from the Arabic word for destiny (kismat), this Los Feliz restaurant from the teams behind Madcapra and Animal reinterprets Middle Eastern cuisine with a modern, Californian slant (read: lots of toast). The all-day concept pulls inspiration from across the Middle East in compositions like whole-wheat brioche toast with halva spread or date butter, or the more savory broccoli toast with labneh and pumpkin seeds. Bread-based dishes aside, Kismet's menu also features fish, vegetable, and meat small plates seasoned with tahini, za'atar, saffron, and more Mediterranean flavors.
I cannot disclose any information about this secret speakeasy, other than the fact that it’s a 120-seat, industrial-chic drinking hole (literally, it’s underground!) in Downtown LA with a '50s flair. If you find the alleyway that leads to the hidden entrance, you're one step closer to enjoying mid-century, forgotten classics like the Cloak & Dagger and Smuggler’s Eye Opener. Rotating seasonal cocktails are named after icons like Ella Fitzgerald and Doris Day, bringing the divas back to life via the presumed style of cocktail they'd have drunk. But that’s it, that’s all I can say.
Remember that fancy hot dog you had at Coachella that one time? Same. Festival pop-up Sumo Dog brought its Palm Springs vibes permanently to Koreatown with the opening of this small storefront in early 2017. Hot dogs with a Japanese bent are the focus, like the namesake Sumo Dog, a sensory overload topped with pickled peppers, wasabi relish, spicy mayo, teriyaki sauce, furikake, and seaweed. Get it with a side of sushi rice tater tots and top it off with soy milk soft-serve.
From the one-time forces behind Found Coffee and Crème Caramel, FrankieLucy Bakeshop is a Filipino-inspired coffee and custard collaboration in Silver Lake. The display case is stocked with signature sweets like upside down pie -- a purple-tinted ube custard concealed by graham cracker crumble -- and large servings of coffee cake, scones, and muffins. Those on a health kick can order gluten-free chia seed pudding (yum!) while those looking for a savory lunch can opt for large cuts of quiche and Spanish tortillas.
In the space that was formerly home to Hooray Henry's-cum-Henry's, Peppermint Club is a 1960s-esque music venue collaboration between h. wood Group and Interscope Records. In contrast to the flashy big-name spaces in LA, Peppermint Club offers an intimate setting for up-and-coming artists to test out their material and well-known headliners to go back to their roots with an up-close-and-personal crowd.