Teeny-tiny West Hollywood measures just under 2 square miles, but every inch of the city is packed with amazing restaurants, from long-running establishments (like old-timey burger joints that served Jimi Hendrix back in the day) to newer spots (like sushi joints patronized by Jessica Alba). You’ll also find a healthy number of top-notch Japanese restaurants here, running the gamut from cozy izakayas to rustic robatayaki. With that in mind, here’s our guide to must-visit eateries in the WeHo area -- plus a few more that technically fall right outside its borders in Beverly Grove or Fairfax, just for good measure.
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8279 Santa Monica Boulevard New American food has been done to death, but two years after opening, Norah still manages to impress with its eclectic take on the category -- beets beautifully roasted with coffee and earthy Urfa peppers from South Africa and a market salad flavorful enough to shine without dressing (just a sprinkle of dashi). Customers also heap well-deserved praise on the famous cast-iron cornbread, served piping hot with a dense crumb and moist cake-like texture that will certainly compel you to order one more. The space, which is somehow both industrial and warm, is just right for date night -- even more so now that connecting French-inspired cocktail lounge La Fête has opened, where you can continue scintillating conversation over matcha coconut creme-infused absinthe without missing a beat.
623 N La Peer Drive Located inside the La Peer Hotel in what’s being dubbed West Hollywood’s Design District, Viale dei Romani has all the charm of an Italian trattoria combined with this neighborhood’s trend-setting appeal -- so expect a stunning bar, open kitchen, plush chartreuse seating, and the kind of dishware that we imagine the House of Medici might have used back in the day. Chef Casey Lane’s fluffy chickpea crepes, yuzu-drizzled snapper crudo, and saffron rice are all standouts, but whatever you do, save room for the Moroccan-influenced, wood-roasted chicken tagine: a masterpiece of juicy sous vide meat served with a bit of mint yogurt and, for more contrast, spicy pear slices that have been cured with mustard seed and oil.
9043 Sunset Boulevard When Night + Market opened its colorful restaurant in the neighborhood, it was a huge win to Thai food lovers on the Westside who no longer had to drive over to Thai Town for their fix of excellent nam khao tod and pad see ew (and who were pleasantly surprised by Chef Kris Yenbamroong’s fusion-inspired dishes, like a now-beloved fried chicken sandwich with papaya slaw). Since then, he’s opened restaurants in Silver Lake and Venice, but this original outpost remains the only one with a full bar and serves exclusives like fried pig tails (a crunchy marriage of salt and fat), golden triangles (a thin shrimp and whipped pork fat pancake), spicy duck rolls, and vegan jackfruit salad.
8479 Melrose Avenue Named after his mother, Rosaliné is considered chef Ricardo Zarate’s wildly successful comeback to the LA dining scene after closing Mo-Chica, Paiche, and other projects. Like its predecessors, this sleek space serves up Peruvian eats with a modern, forward-thinking twist, which makes Zarate’s brunch menu especially outstanding for the area. Traditional brunch foods are upgraded -- avocado toast on crisp quinoa bread and a version of eggs Benedict that arrives with a cauliflower pancake and amarillo hollandaise -- but go for the truly unique offerings, like sweet potato pumpkin beignets, a lobster roll served on purple corn brioche, and a meat lover’s dream of serrano ham, chorizo, and Spanish blood sausage called salchipapa.
7511 Santa Monica Boulevard Barbette is SoCal meets Southern France: a marriage of California’s farmers market-fresh produce (many dishes are gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan) with French-inspired cooking. To that end, executive chef Robert Flaherty whips up crab fried rice, white wine-drenched mussels, and a legitimately spicy chicken diablo using olive oil instead of butter. He’s also added his signature sourdough bread to the menu -- and while it doesn’t come free in a bread basket, it is a whole-grain masterpiece that’s been perfected over many years of trial and error. As for libations, go for the sparkling cocktails: white peach bellinis, an absinthe and champagne concoction aptly named Death in the Afternoon, and a kumquat- and lemon-infused French 76. It’s all perfect for sipping on Barbette’s covered patio with French greenhouse vibes.
8490 Sunset Boulevard The 1 Hotel’s brand-new rooftop bar Harriet’s combines a cool ’20s-inspired vibe with glittering, expansive city views. Since it’s owned by the prolific The H.Wood Group (the same dudes behind The Nice Guy, Delilah, Poppy, and Bootsy Bellows), we’re betting it’s about to become the next big thing. Thankfully, they’ve crafted a menu to back up the hype: hibiscus punch made with ginger beer and rum, bourbon complemented by apricot cordial and orange blossom honey, a Fresno chile-spiced reposado with a healthy kick, and a handful of other delicious cocktails. They’ve also got substantial bites -- like parmesan-dusted baked mussels, smoked salmon flatbread, and ribeye carpaccio -- available until 11pm.
8701 Beverly Boulevard Sure, Granville’s staggering menu options and large portions make it a great place for big group dinners and celebrations. But unlike most restaurants that fall into this category, the food is actually good. Here, you’ll find easy-to-share comfort classics, like juicy burgers sandwiched between buttery brioche buns and some of the best sweet potato fries west of the 110 (seriously, people rave about them), and tasty drinks like ginger juleps and pineapple margaritas. You’ll find plenty of bold international flavors, too, in dishes like the saucy chicken marsala, poke bowl, and ponzu pork belly with soba noodles -- so there’s no need for your party to debate between Japanese, Italian, or American cuisine.
Best sushi: Sushi Park
8539 Sunset Boulevard #20 How good is this Sunset Strip sushi joint? So good it doesn’t even have (or need) a website. Although strip-mall sushi is common (and actually, often surprisingly good in LA), this spot is in its own league. The first sign should be the, well, sign on the door that says (in all caps, among other things): NO TRENDY SUSHI. Don’t expect California or spicy tuna roll -- just simple cuts of incredibly fresh fish, from fatty toro to Chilean sea bass and sweet shrimp. You’ll cough up a decent amount of your paycheck for the omakase menu, but the celeb sightings (Charlize Theron! Jessica Alba!) just might help soften the blow.
8500 W Sunset Boulevard, Suite B Charcuterie is, understandably, the star of Tesse’s menu. The restaurant’s name is a play on the French word “delicatesse,” a colloquial term for charcuterie in France, so expect tons of made-in-house terrines, pates, rillettes, and sausages in combinations like duck and foie gras, pork and sweetbread, or pork confit with rosemary. But don’t just fill up on these fancy forcemeats and livers; the menu also includes entrees like a seven-hour lamb confit prepared with fried garlic and a range of delectable, very French desserts, such as a duck egg creme brulee and a delicate hazelnut-chocolate cake.
8030 3/4 West Third Street Newly opened Bacari has one of the neighborhood’s prettiest back patios infused with Old World Italy charm -- anchored by a gigantic tree that provides a lush, shaded canopy from which to hang lanterns. The romantic backdrop is only one-upped by the Mediterranean menu with strong Israeli influences, thanks to executive chef Lior Hillel, who was raised in a kibbutz near Tel Aviv. Some of his best creations include lamb-stuffed eggplant (originally his mother’s recipe) accompanied by lemon-garlic sauce, chopped chicken liver meant to be spread on freshly baked challah, and a nut-studded Israeli milk pudding that artfully combines delicate flavors like rosewater custard and hibiscus syrup.
8097 Selma Avenue Chateau Marmont has a reputation as a hideaway for celebrities who don’t want to hear “OMG, can I take a photo with you?” every few minutes. Naturally, Chateau Hanare -- an elegant bungalow of pale bamboo and dainty hand-painted wallpaper that’s a partnership between the hotel and restaurateur Reika Alexander -- boasts the same intimate vibe. Chef Abe Hiroki uses traditional Japanese techniques, but isn’t afraid to be creative, so dishes include raw shrimp with yuzu-soy milk foam, egg custard enhanced with truffles, a foie gras hand-roll, and gold-flecked uni ice cream. Warm, pudding-like tofu, which is made fresh at four different times throughout the evening, will change how you look at tofu forever.
521 N La Cienega Boulevard If you couldn’t already tell, fantastic Japanese food abounds in West Hollywood, and Aburiya Raku is just another win in your pocket. They’re well known for yakitori-style meat skewers that are deliciously tender, smoky, and charred. If you’re into umami flavors, however, look no further than the poached egg with briny sea urchin, silky steamed custard swirled with savory foie gras, and the out-of-this-world foie gras bowl, which is a succulent piece of fat perched on top of shredded cabbage and lightly seasoned rice.
8764 Melrose Avenue West Hollywood doesn’t want for attractive happy hour deals, but Cecconi’s wins out for its excellent small-bites selection Tuesday through Saturday from 3-6pm. For $3, you can down Peronis and fried olives; for $6, baked gnocchi and house wines; and for $9, aperol spritzes and a highly indulgent black truffle burger (OK, this one’s a not-so-small bite) -- which is a griddled patty, melted fontina, pancetta, and rich truffle aioli all nicely tucked into house-made onion brioche. And speaking of truffles (it’s the shrooms season after all), guests at Cecconi’s have the no-brainer option to add black truffles to any dish for an additional $20 or opt for one of chef Samuele Pricoco’s rotating specials, like an egg yolk and ricotta raviolo topped with generous truffle shavings.
8366 W Third Street After the success of founder Brianna Abrams’s original Brentwood location, she followed up with a second shop devoted to her pies made using traditional Southern family recipes. The secret lies mostly in her freshly made, all-butter crusts, which are just the right thickness -- substantial enough to hold in rich fruit fillings without turning soggy, but thin enough to boast an irresistibly flaky texture. This season’s specials include classic pumpkin, but also a Twix-inspired shortbread crust with chocolate ganache, a cranberry orange chess pie that perfectly blends sweet and slightly tart flavors, and a mouthwatering dirty chai version with a snickerdoodle crust that boasts chai-spiced pastry cream.
412 N Fairfax Avenue Yes, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo make a mean spicy fusilli, but the pies are a must at this dynamic duo’s busy pizzerias. Pizzas are playfully named -- like Ham & Yeezy (a glorious vessel of salty meat and vodka sauce), White Lightning (a tomato-less pie filled with an enticing blend of white cheeses, garlic, and pickled jalapenos), and LA Woman (a favorite filled with creamy burrata and laced with olive oil) -- though the art of making them is downright serious. Dough is rested for 48 hours before it’s popped into a gas-powered stone hearth oven, which creates a crisp, heavily charred crust with fluffy edges.
435 N Fairfax Avenue Another partnership between Shook and Dotolo, Animal’s currently celebrating its 10th anniversary with an 18-night chef series now through December 19 (Thomas Keller’s on the agenda next month). If you can’t make it to any of these one-night-only collaborations, though, the restaurant is still serving up the meat-heavy courses that first put it on the map. Bone marrow is as rich and caramelized as ever, pig ears are still wonderfully crunchy and packed with flavor, and smooth-as-butter foie gras remains a perfect complement to biscuits and maple sausage gravy. And don’t worry: They’ve done nothing to change the savory-meets-sweet bacon chocolate crunch bar for dessert.
8935 Santa Monica Boulevard Guisados got its start in Boyle Heights, but now has several locations all over LA, including this West Hollywood outpost. The menu is straightforward and simple -- just tacos (and two quesadilla options) -- based on hearty, fresh-ground masa tortillas wrapped around flavorful braised meats, like chile verde-simmered chicharron or shredded pork cooked in a sweet, spicy achiote or a mild Mexican white cheese and chipotle sour cream.
7953 Santa Monica Boulevard Believe it or not, this buzzy speakeasy makes WeHo’s best chicken soup -- which isn’t available on the regular dinner menu, and only doled out to the last ones standing around 1:45am. Said to be a nod to Greek club traditions, the ritual started at Employees Only’s New York location (where they serve it a lot later, around 3:30am), and was so popular that co-founder Dushan Zaric and chef Sascha Lyon replicated it here. The soul-warming broth is a family recipe of chicken, celery, and a whole bunch of spices -- garlic, bay leaves, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, red pepper, cardamom -- the perfect way to soak up the superb, expertly crafted cocktails you’ve been drinking all night long.
7205 Santa Monica Boulevard When you’re out partying in West Hollywood at 1am, you won’t do better than a thin-crust mushroom pizza or classic spaghetti and meatballs from Jones: a dimly lit Italian-American institution with brick walls, red-checkered tablecloths, cozy booths, and bathrooms papered with photos of famous faces. They’ve also got a reverse happy hour going on: From 10pm-2am Sunday through Thursday, they offer specials like $4.50 beers and $8.50 cocktails (ask for the beggars banquet), as well as $7.50 pizzas that somehow taste even better after a crazy night on the town.
418 N Fairfax Avenue Badmaash strikes a tasty balance between traditional Indian flavors and very non-traditional ingredients, so you’ll get imaginative dishes on the menu: things like naan stuffed with white cheddar and serrano chiles, or poutine (the Mahendro family behind this operation hails from Canada) smothered in cheese curds, hot beef gravy, and tandoori chicken tikka. But there are classics done well too, including no-fail butter chicken, saag paneer made using a family recipe, and scrumptious samosas -- which you’ll feast on to a ’90s hip-hop soundtrack.
8509 W Third Street Pick any trendy restaurant in LA nowadays, and you’ll spot the phrase “farm to table” somewhere on its menu. That said, this magnificent restaurant in the Beverly Center -- helmed by second-generation farmer Nathan Peitso -- truly takes the philosophy to heart. The menu highlights ingredients at their peak each month (October included grapes, mushrooms, cabbage, and squash), and grain for the delicious pastas, pizzas, and breads is harvested directly from Peitso’s family farm. Meanwhile, meat, poultry, and seafood are responsibly farmed. Despite all of this, the setting is far from rustic; Farmhouse boasts a sleek, sophisticated space with five distinct dining areas, a greenhouse-inspired room with floor-to-ceiling windows, and lush plant life everywhere you turn.
8500 Beverly Boulevard, Suite 115 On the ground floor of the newly redesigned Beverly Center, this coastal Italian gem is part of a wave of mall restaurants that are making everyone rethink the concept of bland, boring mall food chains. The interior design is vibrant and stunning -- bright blue banquettes, a bougainvillea trellis over the bar, an airy open kitchen -- and dishes like brick-pressed chicken and Tuscan-fried snapper are a far cry from what your local mall food court offered in the ’90s. But of course, we’d expected nothing less from a partnership between chef Adam Sobel and Michael Mina and MINA Group.
801 N Fairfax Avenue When you’re in the area and seeking a bite to eat, Gesso’s a consistently safe bet thanks to its all-day menu served from 8am to 10pm (and later on weekends). For the brunch-minded, there’s a potato leek frittata and breakfast sandwich of egg, bacon, and hash browns layered inside a chewy Kaiser roll; lunch offerings include sweet peach/burrata combo and jidori chicken nuggets; and those in the mood for dinner might find the white clam pizza (served on a chewy, cracker-like crust) deliciously appealing.
8050 W Third Street While Robata Jinya specializes in robatayaki -- the Japanese cooking method of slow-grilling meats and veggies over charcoal -- and it’s very good, the rest of the menu solidifies its spot as a go-to for well-executed Japanese eats. If it’s ramen you’re after, they’ve got you covered with a spicy tonkotsu that features supple pork chashu. And if rolls are more your thing, ask for the palate-pleasing soft shell crab blanketed in spicy mayo, or something called the Gold Experience: an almost-$50 composition of fatty toro, foie gras, truffle, and avocado. Then there’s an array of izakaya-style small plates, which include classics with an unexpected twist like tempura Brussels sprouts and caramelized cauliflower.
8338 W Third Street Inko Nito’s stunning second location boasts a central robata grill where you can watch your food sizzle over binchotan charcoal. Prepare for unexpected decadence: soft beef cheek meant to be shredded, smeared in miso, and tucked into lettuce; yellowtail collar swimming in brown butter ponzu; baked sweet potato split open and overflowing with yuzu-infused sour cream and crispy garlic bits; and spicy tuna nigaki (their cross between sushi and nigiri) topped with Pedrosian caviar. But the piece de resistance is the bone marrow, a gorgeous chute of fat splattered in smoked soy and grilled until an irresistible black char forms, which you’ll want to pry off, smear all over slices of buttered toast, and wash down with sake or one of their hard-to-find Japanese whiskies.
8171 Santa Monica Boulevard Beloved Connie & Ted’s was inspired by New England’s clam shacks and oyster bars, so seafood is understandably king here. The best seats in the house are by the raw bar, where there’s a dazzling collection of oysters, lobsters, prawns, clams, and crabs, and you can watch ’em all being prepared for your dinner plate. For cooked food, you can’t go wrong with the chowder soup, lobster roll with drawn butter, fried clams, or, if you want to keep it simple, the catch of the day grilled to total perfection.
7998 Santa Monica Boulevard Starting from the late ’50s, this burger joint has enjoyed a storied past, serving regulars like John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands and later Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. At some point over the past few decades, it changed ownership to a family who invested in the place and fought hard to keep it alive -- rallying the community to help preserve its history as a post-World War II roadside stand. Fortunately, Irv’s remains open, serving affordably priced, tasty burgers on paper plates that are always personalized with a doodle that will make you smile (almost as much as your first bite).
8474 Melrose Avenue Now in its 20th year, Lucques is the very first restaurant opened by Chef Suzanne Goin and restaurateur Caroline Styne, who have since collaborated on other eateries and won all sorts of accolades for their work together. In the notoriously tough restaurant industry, their California-meets-French-meets-Mediterranean cuisine has experienced amazing long-term success -- and while the a la carte menu is full of delights like ricotta dumplings and sherry-braised pork belly, their weekly Sunday Supper is the all-star. Priced affordably at $52 per person, this seasonal prix-fixe menu showcases the best of local produce (a recent dinner included fennel-stuffed quail with squash gratin and grapefruit meringue for dessert).
9071 Santa Monica Boulevard We’d be remiss not to include this landmark restaurant, which has been around since 1964, in a group of West Hollywood recommendations. It’s a favorite of celebs (if you’re lucky, you get a dish named after you like the chopped salad a la Nicky HIlton), and while many other Italian restaurants in LA are doing it better, more creatively, or more authentically, the nostalgia of Dan Tana’s and its warm, convivial atmosphere has kept patrons coming back for over 50 years and counting.
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Tiffany Tse is a Thrillist contributor and definitely not mad that all these amazing Japanese restaurants have congregated in WeHo. See what she’s up to at @twinksy.