Ray Garcia debuted two modern Mexican restaurants this year -- Broken Spanish, which featured beautifully composed dishes, and BS Taqueria, which is more focused on street-style tacos -- and both have made the chef a national star, with Esquire declaring him Chef of the Year. We prefer the latter, but just a bit: both belong on this year's list of must-hits.
It's consistently called one of the best restaurants in Vegas -- and it's going to be interesting to watch whether this late-night izakaya can achieve the same level of no-questions-asked fame here in LA. It's one of the few times we'll say that slow service is worth the wait, but we promise the next-level table-made tofu and skewers of meat most certainly are. The fact that it's open 'til 1am means if you're looking for quality late-night, your choice is already made for you.
The dudes from Animal and Son of a Gun took over an overrated late-night joint (RIP, Damiano's!) and kept the Italian flavors the same -- but refined the concept so that instead of running into shady potential gangsters, you're more likely to run into families that appreciate the kind of flavor that old-school Italian gangsters would definitely like. And the fact that they're also open for breakfast is totally clutch.
You've got to enter this courtyard restaurant through the back of Greenspan's Grilled Cheese -- but once you're there you'll get inventive seafood dishes and the kind of backyard vibe that's attempted by many but achieved by few.
To call the hype around this teeny-tiny hole-in-the-wall grain-bowl restaurant in the no-man's-land area right around Hollywood Forever unexpected would be an understatement; to write it off would be a mistake. Baroo delivers the boldest concept and the boldest flavors of the year, with two former fine-dining chefs filling every affordable bite with sophisticated flavors that would, in any other city, only be accessible to those with bulging wallets; here, it's available for $15. It's a revelation.
This critically acclaimed BBQ joint sort of appeared out of thin air, and then started getting the kind of praise that usually seems like hyperbole... until a Texas BBQ writer called it Cali's best. Of course, you can decide for yourself -- and you'll be happy you did.
Neal Fraser's gorgeous New American restaurant has also become one of LA's most romantic date spots, thanks to a lovely patio and perfectly prepared dishes like Thai-spiced tiger prawns. He's doing what LA chefs do best: taking the freshest ingredients, putting them together in fresh ways, and letting them speak entirely for themselves.
Unless you've been paying very, very close attention, you probably haven't hit LA's best new pizzeria, which is run by the same people as Cube -- and is open in the same location that Cube was. Sorry if you've been sleeping on it: they do Neapolitan-style pies to perfection, at about half the price (and with none of the to-do) as the equally great Pizzeria Mozza just around the corner. And Mozza doesn't have Cube's fried chicken. Romana does.
The restaurateur behind Faith & Flower and one of the chefs from Seoul Sausage Co teamed up to bring this highish-end KBBQ joint to Culver City. It's a bold move -- and one bite of their brisket will convince you it paid off.
This game-changer is from the guy who previously ran Spice Table, which means the Westside finally gets blow-out amazing Asian food -- like sea urchin roe-abetted egg custard, and Kon Loh Mee noodles with Chinese broccoli and two types of pork.
Three words: Best. Beachside. Brunch.
OK, this three-story, jaw-dropping, retro-cool reopening may have had food problems, but Clifton's NEVER been about the food; it's about the overall experience, and that experience is still something that can't be replicated anywhere else.
1. B.S. Taqueria514 W 7th St, Los Angeles
2. Aburiya Raku521 N LA Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood
3. Jon & Vinny's412 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles
4. Mare7465 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles
5. Baroo5706 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles
6. Maple Block Meat Co.3973 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City
7. Redbird114 E 2nd St, Los Angeles
8. Pizza Romana615 N LA Brea Ave, Los Angeles
9. Hanjip3829 Main St, Culver City
10. Cassia1314 7th St, Santa Monica
11. Leona123 Washington, Venice
12. Clifton's Cafeteria648 S Broadway, Los Angeles
13. Broken Spanish1050 S Flower St, Los Angeles
No BS, this place is super-killer: it's the chef from Fig making amazing Mexican food, including lemon-pepper chicken chicharrones and amazing carnitas tacos. It'll probably have you calling BS on all the other Downtown Mexican spots.
Raku is a late-night izakaya, or pub, that's open until 3am on weekends. Alongside cocktails, this eatery—an expansion of the wildy famous Vegas location—serves house-made agadashi tofu, kobe beef tendon kushiyaki, and other authentic Japanese provisions.
From Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (Animal, Son of a Gun), this Fairfax restaurant specializes in all-day Italian, by which we mean all-day pizza. Aside from the signature breakfast pizza, Jon & Vinny's breakfast offerings include pastries (nutella toast!) and hot plates like burrata scrambled eggs and buttermilk pancakes. The lunch and dinner menu emphasizes house-made pastas and pizzas, and your meal should definitely start with bruschetta served on Gjusta bread. The airy and casual neighborhood spot houses a wine shop helmed by Helen Johannesen, the wine director for all of Shook and Dotolo's restaurants.
Eric Greenspan’s Melrose restaurant isn’t just coastal, it’s European coastal. Home to one of the best g-damn patios in LA, the seafood spot is cleverly tucked behind Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese and is decked out with twinkling lights, candles, and SoCal flora. Maré's focused menu appeals to surf-and-turf lovers, featuring dishes like branzino with fig-pomegranate glaze and skirt steak with oregano and sea urchin butter.
This tiny, nondescript spot in an East Hollywood strip mall is helmed by chefs who've worked the kitchens of the world's best restaurants, Noma and Daniel. The restaurant's name comes from the bowl that Buddhist monks use for their meals, and the Asian-influenced menu features fitting grain bowls for no more than $15. You probably won't recognize much on the menu, but the out-of-this-world flavor combinations and unique ingredients will leave you beyond satisfied.
This Culver City BBQ spot is lead by a Southern-born chef who seriously knows how to work a grill and smoker. The seasonal menu at Maple Block Meat Co. serves traditional American BBQ dedicated to brisket and pork ribs, craft beers, and house-made soda. For lunch, you can order a sandwich and BBQ combo plate while dinner gets a bit fancier with small plates and Scottish ocean trout.
Located in a refurbished church, Neal Fraser's Downtown LA restaurant is the ultimate high-end date spot. Redbird's food is next-level creative, like the signature Rabbitchetta dish, aka rabbit wrapped in porchetta. Aside from the gorgeous open-air dining room, there's also a beautiful outdoor patio for those SoCal nights.
This Mid-Wilshire pizza place serves up authentic Roman-style pies, which means the dough is fermented for 24 hours then baked in an Italian-imported wood-fire oven. The signature pizzas are near perfect (and since this is LA, they're available with gluten-free crust) and seriously affordable -- most hover around $10. Pizza Romana's menu also includes panini sandwiches and spicy fried chicken. Add affordable bottles of Italian wine and this under-the-radar restaurant is the perfect date spot.
From celebrity chef Chris Oh and restauranteur Stephane Bombet (Terrine, Faith & Flower, Paiche), Hanjip is a modern Korean barbecue restaurant that's made for groups, especially those without vegetarians. Hanjip's menu resembles a how-to guide for barbecue: you choose your meat (sliced brisket, pork belly, bulgogi) and sides (kimchi fried rice, seafood pancake, beef poutine), and a server grills your meat table-side. The Culver City space is trendy with sleek wooden booths and black-and-white wall art.
From the team behind the now-shuttered Spice Table, in collaboration with the team behind Rustic Canyon, Cassia is a Vietnamese-French bistro in Santa Monica. Cassia is housed in an open and lofty space, with sleek wooden tables and communal dining areas, an open hearth, and an outdoor patio. French tradition is expressed through the chilled seafood bar, and fused dishes include the pot au feu — a hybrid French stew and Vietnamese pho — with a chile-laden bone marrow broth, charcuterie fried rice, or any of the numerous cocktails crafted with a tropical bent, bearing in mind the heat of Vietnamese cuisine.
This hip, California-style restaurant is hitting all the spots. Come by at dinner for lamb belly wontons and meatballs de Corazon, or on the weekends for Korean latkes with creme fraiche and brown-butter pancakes with whipped coconut & sea-salt vanilla butter.
This five-story, upscale cafeteria is the love child of the Rainforest Cafe and the Museum of Natural History. With stuffed animals, constructed ecosystems, and winding caves throughout the restaurant, Clifton's is a truly magical dining experience.