Send Foodz: LA Gems
Est. January 23 | Beverly Hills
Indonesian dishes stand out on a global menu with diverse influences
The buzz: Norma Ashton hails from Jogja (Indonesia’s former capital city) and comes from a hotel management background. Once it became clear that cooking was her passion, she opened this “neighborhood gastropub with an attitude,” with a name that translates from Indonesian as “melting pot.”
The vibe: A framed patio under a rust-colored awning leads you into a dining room with brick walls and Edison bulb chandeliers that resemble molecular models. That industrial feel is nicely softened by cushioned banquettes and recurring elephant imagery, including a winged elephant flag and bar-top statuette.
The food: The menu pings across the planet, gathering disparate dishes like salade Nicoise, muffulettas, and fried cauliflower tacos. Start by ordering two dishes from Ashton’s Indonesian childhood: the laksa, a spicy coconut milk noodle soup, is made using a family recipe, while the crunchy Indonesian gado gado salad combines raw vegetables with firm tofu, denser tempeh, fried shallots, garlic peanut dressing, pepper-dusted egg, and enlightening lemon basil. In the spring, Ashton plans to add tropical salads and grilled fish to her Indo repertoire.
Cost: Breakfast ranges from $8-14. A lunch & dinner menu kicks in at 11am and carries through closing with salads, sandwiches, soups, plates and tacos that run $12-18.
Est. January 20 | Culver City
Bright acidity and late-night hours appeal to food lovers and tech crowds
The buzz: Macks Collins and Bryan Kidwell are accomplished East Coast chefs who previously ran Mad Pambazos food truck and have assembled an eclectic Asian-influenced fusion menu befitting LA. Piccalilli stays open nightly until 2am, with a reverse happy hour that starts at 11pm and includes atypical cuts to attract restaurant workers.
The vibe: This aqua-hued, patio-fronted restaurant is as much an art gallery as a eatery, with a vivid metal chandelier that resembles a tuft of peacock feathers, and a lenticular, rainbow-hued insect mural where the creatures seem to come alive.
The food: Bracing acidity pervades Piccalilli’s share-friendly menu. Our server was most enthusiastic about the pork shank, saying “I transcended my body the first time I tried it.” While this porcine play on Peking duck didn’t result in rapture, it's a fun, interactive dish that will leave your hands sticky. Massive Bangkok-inspired chicken katsu involves thin-pounded, panko coated thigh meat dressed with pickled bird’s eye chiles and served with salad garnished with crunchy chicken skin bits. Bittersweet coffee date cake helps balance brightness with sticky toffee, caramelized figs, espresso ice cream, and almond coffee Graham crumble.
Cost: Dishes are listed from smallest to largest, running $8-10 for bread or vegetable dishes to $21-34 for larger protein-focused plates. Classic cocktails cost $14 and signature drinks run $16. Only three bottles on the high value wine list top $100.
Est. January 15 | Los Feliz
A dynamic duo apply their deft Middle Eastern touch to chicken and sides
The buzz: The third member of Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson's Kismet family of restaurants already appears to be an industry favorite, drawing Bub & Grandma’s bread wizard Andy Kadin and Kuya Lord chef Lord Maynard Llera during our lunch.
The vibe: The atmosphere is loose and light, with shaded sidewalk tables opposite green stool counter seats that give a glimpse of the rotating rotisserie spits inside.
The food: Chicken is the biggest draw, as depicted by the stylized logo of a spinning bird overhead. Sustainably raised, free-range, air-chilled Petaluma chickens get rubbed with turmeric, Aleppo pepper, and other secret spices, while standout sides include a piquant muhammara dip of red peppers that subs peanuts for traditional walnuts. Don't skip the Schmaltzy Potatoes; they're literally schmaltzy, infused with rendered chicken fat. To drink, carrot gingerade combines striking color with earthy base notes. Punctuate your meal with a crispy tahini chocolate chip cookie sprinkled with sea salt.
Cost: Kismet sells birds by quarter ($8), half ($16) or whole ($32). Double that dollar amount to unlock an array of sides: hummus, wedge salad, pickles, and fluffy pita. Salads and sandwiches range from $13-$16, and most sides command $5.
Est. January 9 | Culver City
Handmade bagels good enough to bring a homesick New Yorker to tears
The buzz: Entertainment industry veteran Zachary Liporace experimented with different recipes, hydration levels, and flours before settling on a knockout hand-kneaded bagels that deliver burnished crusts and satisfying chew. His signature swirl shape features a smaller hole than rolling and punching would yield.
The vibe: Residing below Platform's parking structure, the glass-fronted operation is primarily grab-and-go with white walls, wood counters, tables and benches, blackboard menus, and potted plants. Yes, that’s Hot Chip and other KCRW-approved artists piping through the speakers.
The food: For now, bagels are limited to plain, cinnamon raisin, or “everything,” though Liporace plans to rotate in flavors like egg, pumpernickel, and rye. Spread bagels with cultured butter or tangy cream cheese made in-house using residual buttermilk and cream. Open-faced preparations include silky nova lox with sliced cucumber, tomato, and red onion shavings, while classic New York-style breakfast sandwiches star crispy bacon or pork sausage patties on buttered and toasted bagels coated with melted American cheese and topped with a fried egg. Dab on Zab’s datil pepper sauce featuring fruity orange peppers from Florida. Soon enough, Pop’s will also offer bialys, pizza bagels, egg salad sandwiches and babka sundaes.
Cost: Plain bagels cost $3 apiece. Bagels with butter or flavored cream cheese runs $5-9. Open-faced bagel preparations and sandwiches range from $10-13.
Est. January 6 | West Hollywood
Lauded Italian chef expands European focus for fashionable crowd
The buzz: Michael Fiorelli previously thrilled Manhattan Beachers with modern Italian food at Love & Salt; he's is one of LA's best Italian chefs, and Olivetta lets him expand beyond "the boot" to Mediterranean neighbors like France, Greece, and Spain.
The vibe: The space has four different environments, but the owners don’t allow photographs beyond tabletops to avoid spooking their high-profile clientele. J-Lo and A-Rod stopped in the night before we ate there, and other A-listers and studio heads are becoming regulars as well.
The food: Fiorelli was best known for making pasta at Love & Salt, and extruded wonders are still very much in play, including rye macaroni tossed with fennel sausage slurry, black kale, and ricotta. Silky diced yellowtail highlights a novel tartare with whipped avocado and sweet potato chips. The roasted chicken ranks among LA’s best birds, sporting sticky, glistening skin, oversized croutons, and wilted escarole. Fiorelli also heads up the pastry program, generating sweet hits like creamy brown sugar budino topped with a crème fraiche raft, sea salt, cocoa nibs, and licorice-tinged almond anise cookies.
Cost: House-made pastas hover around $25. Fish and meat plates range from $35-64. Double down with large format dishes “for two” like whole Maine lobster spaghetti ($68) and 30-day dry-aged Prime tomahawk steak served with pommes Aligot and rib bone Milanese ($115). The priciest starter is actually the smallest: a single ounce of French caviar on a house-made English muffin for $245. Most cocktails cost $17-20, and wines by the glass keep pace in that range as well.
Est. 2019 | Hollywood
An impressive, airy fine-dining experience
Auburn’s gorgeous, light-wood-and-sunroof interior makes it one of LA’s most jaw-dropping restaurants, especially if you’re seated near the always-bustling open kitchen, where the staff is preparing some of the city’s most meticulously-crafted food. The subtle touches are incredibly refined -- to the point that, according to the staff, enough many patrons have asked where to buy the restaurant’s custom-made chairs that the restaurant will soon offer them for purchase.
The menu’s prix-fixe, with a twist -- a choose-your-own-adventure between a four, six, or nine-course selection from 12 options, most of which touch the wood stove in the back and all of which trade themselves out based on ingredient availability and chef Eric Bost’s whims. It makes for an explosion of different flavors and an exciting "what’s-next" sort of approach, perfect for special occasions or a super-impressive date.
Est. 2019 | Larchmont
New Italian favorite powered by a wood-burning hearth
Chi Spacca alum Chad Colby charts his own path at this rustic, weeknight-only restaurant. Antico makes most pastas in-house, but don’t sleep on the capellini “al limone” co-starring dried Italian pasta strands with tangy lemon juice and zest, garlic, basil, and a one-two umami punch from Cetara anchovies and colatura. Crispy skin-on chicken thighs arrive on rafts of focaccia that soak up juicy runoff for a perfect soggy/crusty combo, which gets plated with caramelized shallots and crunchy watercress. Fresh-spun focaccia ice cream is the biggest revelation here: a creamy fior di latte base incorporates custard folded with smoky, charred focaccia crumbs. The resulting ice cream comes dressed with focaccia breadcrumbs, black pepper, olive oil, and fleur de sel. Antico serves far more than focaccia, but don’t fight it. If you can, secure the five prized stools that overlook the open kitchen and its impressive, almond wood-burning hearth.
Est. 2019 | Downtown
Top Chef winner Mei Lin singlehandedly changes the game
If Nightshade had opened a month earlier, it would have easily been one of LA's best new restaurants of 2018. Since it actually opened right at the top of the year, consider this a message to any other chefs getting into it this year: The bar has been set. Top Chef winner Mei Lin is behind the stoves here (working alongside owner team Francis Miranda and Cyrus Batchan of Lock & Key), turning out insanely inventive dishes like a Mapo Tofu lasagna (yes, those three words go together somehow) and an incredibly delicious shrimp toast that sits on a bed of perhaps the best curry sauce in the city. The hidden gems are the vegetables (although the giveaway should be in the restaurant name): The carrots sing with sweetness and depth, and the sunchokes are rich and crunchy and soft all at once. Get a reservation now, before you can’t.
Est. 2019 | Mid-Wilshire
Wood-fire seafood from a Michelin recipient
This jaw-droppingly beautiful, seafood-centric San Francisco import is gonna dent your wallet but taste great while it’s happening: chef Joshua Skenes’ old restaurant, Saison, was once on the World’s 50 Best restaurant list. At Angler, expect whole-smoked trout and an 88-day aged ribeye as well as daily market ultra-freshness, all cooked over an in-house fire.
Est. 2019 | Santa Monica
Jeremy Fox finally opens his dream restaurant
“Birdie G’s is not a hot spot,” Jeremy Fox recently declared on his Facebook page. “We have a kids menu.” The charm in this statement can’t be overstated, since Birdie G’s is both the hottest opening of the month and a place you’d totally want to take your kids to. Fox is a super-acclaimed chef finally making his dream dishes, which here include takes on family classics like noodle kugel (with black pepper fusilli and ricotta, not exactly Grandma’s recipe), and blue plate specials like Thursday’s grass-fed meatloaf. By the way, the kids’ menu includes matzo pizza with organic mozzarella and basil… for $6. Winner, winner, winner.
Est. 2019 | West Adams
Modern, localized take on soul food helps boost evolving area
Restaurants have the power to help transform neighborhoods, and Alta Adams has played a key role in West Adams' redevelopment. Bay Area-based chef Daniel Patterson and Alta Restaurant Group have done it in an organic way at daytime community hub Adams Coffee Shop and this adjacent restaurant, where Keith Corbin serves “California soul food” in a setting that calls for design magazine coverage. The airy space houses rounded wood booths beneath art-lined walls, an L-shaped bar and big back patio that’s great in warmer weather (aka year-round). Alta Adams also has an inspiring redemption story, since Corbin overcame prison time to help lead LocoL near where he grew up in Watts, and made such a big impression that LocoL co-founder Daniel Patterson hired him to be Alta Adam’s executive chef. He’s certainly proven to be up to the task, serving some of L.A.’s best fried chicken, crisped in a skillet and great with house hot sauce. He also made miso and soy braised oxtails buzzworthy and serves pillow-soft black-eyed pea fritters, Senegalese-style accara served with herbaceous green sauce. Weekend brunch is also a great time to visit Alta Adams, particularly for judiciously sweet cornmeal pancakes with crisp, lacy edges, brown butter-maple caramel, and butter.
[Reservations - by Open Table]
Est. 2018 | Chinatown
The first LA spot from Momofuku's David Chang
Celebrated Momofuku restaurateur/Ugly Delicious star David Chang’s first-ever LA concept is a tough reservation, 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). [Reservations - by Open Table]
Est. 2018 | Sherman Oaks
The Valley finally gets a taste of chef Ludo Lefebvre
Ludo Lefebvre’s Petit Trois has been a long-standing favorite in Hollywood thanks to absolutely perfect French omelets and a burger that many people rave about, but the second location in the Valley is larger and more ornate -- a testament to the new excitement around food in a part of LA long considered a culinary wasteland. The menu here is expanded from the original, so expect breakfast tartines and crabcakes at dinner, as well as the old favorites. [Reservations - by Open Table]
Est. 2018 | Hollywood
LA's best steak and barbecue reside under one roof
Hollywood meat maven Adam Perry Lang signaled his LA arrival with triumphant pop-ups on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! backlot. His massive outdoor smoker couldn’t join the line-up at APL Restaurant, but his commitment to beef remains unparalleled in the city. Perry Lang dry-ages most steaks for around 100 days in an environmentally controlled chamber, although some cuts exceed 400 days to further dial up the funk. He broils ribeyes, bone-in New York strips, and tomahawk chops, and sears them all with butter right below the flame before serving. APL also prepares exquisite sides that often buck steakhouse traditions, such as brown butter chanterelle mushrooms with nectarines, mushroom fondue and crispy puffed beef tendons.
You'll also find fast-casual lunchtime BBQ in the same space courtesy of Marcus Lewis, Perry Lang's longtime 'cue-tenant. Lewis, an LA-born chef who grew up in Mississippi, turns out brisket and pulled pork by the quarter pound, pork ribs by the half-slab or full slab, and Saturday-only beef ribs, all of which come with sweet cornbread cubes. Lewis uses a dry rub, cranks up the pepper for the beef rib, and finishes the pork ribs with simple syrup and brown sugar for sweetness.
Est. 2018 | Downtown
Middle Eastern follow-up from the team behind Bestia
Bestia has been on our best-of Eat Seeker list since its inception, so it’s no surprise that the opening of the Middle Eastern sequel to that iconic Italian spot has also garnered a spot on the list. The menu’s full of cross-regional specialties like lamb flatbreads and confit turmeric chicken legs, as well as duck hummus (aka the one thing you never want to hear at a food fight). [Reservations - by Open Table]
Est. 2018 | Downtown
Freewheeling Mexican food that goes way beyond tacos
Wes Avila transitioned from a street cart to a stylish truck, and now runs a fully-realized take on his anything-goes Mexican restaurant; this is a place where a substantial lobster quesadilla with Oaxacan cheese and fried egg qualifies as a “snack.” While there’s more to Guerrilla than cutting-edge tacos, it would be foolish to skip the ones starring roasted sweet potato slabs or flaky tempura-battered wild cod. Avila recently rolled out a seven-course omakase menu that he personally prepares from Wednesday through Saturday nights, and captures his current read on essential flavors from LA and his frequent travels. A recent tasting menu included hamachi belly crudo, hanger steak puffy taco, a cheese course and strawberry donuts. Tile letters fronting the kitchen read “LA Don’t Play,” and Avila constantly proves his dynamic food is no joke.
Est. 2018 | Hollywood
Family-run spot serving creative pizzas and great seasonal plates
If their first child had been a boy, manager Caitlin Cutler and chef/husband Daniel would have named him Ronan; instead, the name went to their highly personal Italian restaurant next to The Groundlings Theatre on Melrose. Ronan specializes in pizza, which cooks in a white dome oven that sports a figurine of Jesus on the cross. The pliable, fire-pocked pies here include standouts like the Sweet Cheeks: an indulgent play on a pizza that Daniel Cutler baked at Sotto, draped with house-cured guanciale, potent Apulian ricotta forte, and cacio e pepe honey. There's even a riff on Philippe’s French dip sandwich in calzone form, with roast beef and Provolone filling, French onion soup for dipping, and sinus-clearing hot mustard. The artichoke crostini is one of LA’s top toast orders, touting crusty browned bread with whipped ricotta, diced crispy ham, basil, and tomato. For dessert there's a cheesecake inspired by La Viña in San Sebastian -- a jiggly slab made with Philadelphia cream cheese, finished in the wood oven, and served with seasonal fruit.
Est. 2018 | Downtown
An intimate, beautiful Japanese experience
You may have first heard of Hayato -- a tiny, seven-seat restaurant in The Row downtown -- when you heard about their lunch bento box, a beautiful, limited-edition collection of tiny bites that quickly became an Instagram darling. But dinner here is magic, too: over the course of a dozen or so courses, you’ll eat scallops and mackerel and uni gorgeously plated, expertly prepared, and incredibly selected. Eating at Hayato is a special event, for sure, but one that’s completely worth it. [Reservations - by Open Table]
Est. 2017 | Culver City
The Radiohead of restaurants, from a food provocateur
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. [Reservations - by Open Table]
Est. 2017 | Downtown
Steve Samson honors his mother’s Italian homeland with a Bologna-style stunner
Italian restaurants blanket LA, but not many chefs have such a clear regional focus as Steve Samson and his wife Dina, who spotlight regional Bolognese Italian cooking with help from a wood hearth in the DTLA Fashion District. Share-friendly large plates luxuriate on the kitchen’s sparking, wood-burning hearth. Chef Samson has shown particular finesse with pork over the years, and you can actually “pick your part” with Rossoblu’s roasted suckling pig, be it saddle, shoulder or leg; they also serve the pig’s head with braised tongue, or a massive pork tomahawk with house sausage and braised escarole. No Bolognese meal would be complete without pasta, and Rossoblu plays those hits with perfect pitch, including tortellini in brodo and Nonna’s tagliatelle al ragù Bolognese. Weekend brunch is also a must-try here, thanks to creations like the ragù-topped burger.
Est. 2017 | Venice
LA's best pasta, made by one of LA's best chefs
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.
Est. 2016 | Koreatown
Genre-busting collaborators turn global influences into creative dishes
One great aspect of LA dining is that chefs and restaurateurs needn't stick to specific cuisines to find success. Here’s Looking At You is one of the city’s best ambassadors for creative fusion. Co-owners Lien Ta and Jonathan Whitener work together to produce dishes that merge their cultural backgrounds; Ta is Vietnamese-American, while Chef Whitener has German/Mexican heritage and grew up in Orange County's Little Saigon. Together they showcase what makes the city’s dining scene great, with dishes like frog’s legs tossed with spicy salsa negra and a hulking al pastor pork tomahawk plated with pineapple and calamansi mojo. Brunch is also spectacular (and ever-changing), and can involve anything from an elongated Jerusalem bagel served with smoked salmon roe and lebni to a massive maple garum glazed ham steak suitable for two people.
Est. 2016 | Downtown
Nashville fried chicken that's worth the outrageous wait
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.
Est. 2015 | Downtown
Bold, modern Mexican plates from a long-time farmers market hunter
Ray Garcia has created one of LA's most ambitious Mexican restaurants to date. While the chef’s more casual restaurant -- the dearly departed B.S. Taqueria -- focused on tacos and craveable bites, Broken Spanish dives deeper into Mexico’s seemingly bottomless culinary well, changing the menu frequently to keep pace with Garcia’s inspirations and LA tastes. It would be tempting to make a meal from the colorful heirloom corn tortillas with whipped carnitas fat and refried lentils alone, but why deprive yourself of Broken Spanish’s full bounty? Tamales and tostadas showcase seasonal ingredients, esquites come bolstered with bone marrow, and the cheesecake gets garnished with chapulines. The crisp-skinned chicharron eats like a steak, with enough elephant garlic mojo to ward off a charging bull, while poultry also plays an important role on the menu, whether that means duck albondigas or chile-lime chicken necks.
Est. 2015 | Santa Monica
Vietnam meets Hong Kong and Singapore in a stylish brasserie
Chef Bryant Ng and wife Kim Luu-Ng are helping dispel the myth that no-holds-barred Asian food can’t work on the Westside. The couple draws on their joint heritage and takes dishes from their youths in exciting new directions: the whole grilled sea bass features flaky, butterflied fish dressed with turmeric, dill, and lime, in a preparation reminiscent of Hanoi’s legendary Cha Ca La Vong. Vietnamese pot au feu turns colonialism on its head, plating hearty short rib stew with bone marrow periscopes, bird’s eye chile sauce, toast, and walnut mustard. Deconstructed XO sauce dresses raw spicy scallops with dried shrimp, corn, ham, scallions, mint, and chile oil. Even the charcuterie leans Asian, offering choices like Vietnamese meatloaf and Singaporean candied pork. Cassia’s clay oven bread doesn’t connect directly to Southeast Asia, but the blistered naan still tastes delicious when paired with herbs and “spreads” like pork meatballs in fiery cashew curry or chopped escargot with lemongrass butter, bacon and herbs.
Est. 2015 | Culver City
California meets the South with seasonal flair and wood-fired dishes
At Hatchet Hall, the wood hearth works hand-in-hand with ingredients from the farmers market to shape just about every meal on the menu. Don’t get too attached to any favorite dishes, since the lineup changes regularly; cross your fingers for pull-apart benne yeast rolls with soft butter, ultra savory mushroom-crusted pork chops with smoked lard, and indulgent chicken liver toast with onion jam and bacon. Georgia-born Chef Brian Dunsmoor has lived in LA for years, and beautifully melds both culinary influences. The Old Man Bar out back is a low-key place to drink an Old Fashioned or Bourbon neat, and also hosts Sunday brunch with Louisiana-style fried chicken with pecan waffles. In the private dining room, chef de cuisine Martin Draluck helms “Hemings & Hercules:” a Thursday tasting menu that explores bygone dishes and techniques and honors Hercules Caesar and James Hemings, enslaved people and chefs to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Est. 2014 | Mid-City
One of LA's best bakeries, with daily brunch and ambitious Cal-French dinners
A blizzard of baked goods awaits you inside Republique, ranging from donuts and tarts to cakes and croissants -- and of course, all the bread on the menu is baked in-house as well. Located in a building that once served as Charlie Chaplin's offices, this restaurant has the grandeur of a Spanish cathedral, and is presided over by chefs Walter Manzke (savory) and Margarita Manzke (bread and pastry). The couple has classic French training, but they’re also world travelers who draw inspiration from many places -- that means pupusas, shakshuka, and Austrian pancakes are all fair game at breakfast. Meanwhile, regular trips to the Santa Monica Farmers Market help to inform the even more ambitious, full-service dinner. Republique also recently launched a $250 tasting experience called Table 500, available on Thursday and Friday nights, which seats parties of 4-8 people overlooking the dining room. Walter Manzke curates each menu on the day of the feast, which can include more elaborate preparations like Duck à la presse with torte Gibier and sauce Rouennaise.
Est. 2013 | Beverly Hills
Sushi "speakeasy" delivers a more engaging SUGARFISH experience
SUGARFISH has developed a reputation for serving good sushi in an efficient way with zero chef interaction; Nozawa Bar is their higher end, ultra-personal spinoff located in the back of the Beverly Hills location. Chef Osamu Fujita works in lockstep with longtime friend Kazunori Nozawa, scouring DTLA fish markets to fuel a surprisingly fun tasting menu that focuses on nigiri, but also incorporates hand rolls and sashimi. The duo host just 10 diners per seating, for a meal that costs $175 per person and spans about two hours, which is never rushed, but moves briskly with the affable crew. Prized bites can include Japanese iwashi (sardine) and local Morro Bay albacore belly in nigiri; Santa Barbara abalone and Maine lobster make frequent menu appearances as well, and their tamago touts rich, golden-yolked Apricot Lane eggs.
Est. 2012 | Virgil Village
Modern Californian cuisine that helped transform an entire neighborhood
Chef Jessica Koslow makes food that people crave, and the perpetual lines at her Virgil Village restaurant attest to that fact. Her highly imitated menu and aesthetic are evident across the country: grain bowls and toast smeared with ricotta and jam have become far easier to find since she opened her neighborhood-changing restaurant, but the copycats can’t keep pace with the creativity emanating from her tiny-but-prolific kitchen. Check the daily specials board for the latest experiments, which might include a yuba pastrami sandwich or grilled kabocha salad with duck prosciutto and sea beans. Make sure to also raid the pastry case and fridge for finds like turmeric poppyseed cake with pink peppercorn strawberry buttercream or vanilla bean limeade. Game-changer has become a trite expression, but it definitely applies here.
Est. 2012 | Downtown
The Arts District's classic Italian spot
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: since it opened, Bestia’s sort of become the definitive LA restaurant. The menu 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.” [Reservations - by Open Table]
Est. 2011 | Manhattan Beach
South Bay hitmakers turn an old post office into a vibrant dining destination
Chef David LeFevre and his business partners have made a lasting impact on Manhattan Beach. Fishing With Dynamite is a seafood-focused jewel box, and The Arthur J serves standout steaks in a “Mad Men” era wrapper, but M.B. Post remains the group’s most approachable restaurant. Savory bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits with whipped maple butter are a great way to get things started, and usually result in a “Hungry Hungry Hippos” grabbing frenzy (in a fun, share-friendly way). The menu changes seasonally, and LeFevre sometimes hand-writes specials on existing printouts as inspiration strikes him, making choices even more difficult. Still, the skirt steak grilled over white oak and topped with smoked paprika chimichurri and pretty much any of the soft serve ice creams are always worth ordering.
Est. 2011| Culver City
Artful Japanese creations you've probably seen on TV
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. [Reservations - by Open Table]
Est. 2008 | Mid-Wilshire
Jon and Vinny's trend-starting new-American classic
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. [Reservations - by Open Table]
Est. 2007 | Hollywood
Mozzarella and pasta fuel the MozzaPlex’s most versatile Italian restaurant
Nancy Silverton is an LA icon, and the Osteria remains a star among stars at this Melrose compound (which the late, great Jonathan Gold dubbed the MozzaPlex). The chef’s often visible behind the central mozzarella bar, where she constructs enticing preparations of the restaurant’s namesake ingredient. On its own, the crostini topped with creamy burrata, bacon, marinated escarole, and caramelized shallots would be reason enough to visit; so would the oversized ricotta and egg raviolo that oozes bright yolk, and arrives graced with brown butter. House-made pasta is a big draw as well, and even fills a four-course pasta tasting menu on Monday and Tuesday nights.
Est. 2005 | Hollywood
Seafood destination that proves haute cuisine doesn’t need to feel stuffy
Fine dining was in short supply when chef Michael Cimarusti and hospitality maestro Donato Poto set up shop on Melrose, but they soon set the pace for LA’s modern tasting menus by focusing on impeccable seafood. The city’s seen a revival of "special occasion" restaurants, and Providence still remains relevant. A la carte menus are verboten here, so the only questions are how much time and money you’re willing to commit to a memorable meal. The top-tier “chef’s tasting menu” incorporates prized seasonal ingredients like Japanese aori ika (bigfin reef squid) and local vermilion rockfish, as well as supplemental courses like A5 Wagyu and a legendary cheese cart with au currant accompaniments. While it's definitely high end, Providence doesn't feel too classically formal -- our last meal there included a spherified Mojito served on a spoon, and a braised Wagyu beef “cigar” served in a cigar box. [Reservations - by Open Table]
Est. 1993 | Koreatown
A powerhouse mother-son duo serves masterful Koreatown comfort food
LA has some of the best Korean food outside of Korea, and Angelenos know the cuisine goes well beyond ubiquitous barbecue. Jung Ye Jun and her son Jeff are all about comfort at Jun Won, specializing in hearty stews, braised dishes, and spicy stir-fries. Longtime favorites include savory scallion pancakes studded with plump oysters or mixed seafood, bossam -- DIY lettuce wraps starring steamed pork belly and oysters -- and flaky pan-fried sole or butterflied sea trout. Braised galbi jjim fit for a banquet is a recent addition, starring bone-in beef short ribs, potatoes, jujubes, and scallions in savory soy-based sauce. Even seemingly basic chicken bulgogi is a fan favorite, a mountain of boneless dark meat served on a sizzling platter with caramelized onions. Jung Ye Jun used to run a banchan shop, and diners still benefit from her complementary small plates that change regularly.
Est. 1978 | Hollywood
Southern Thai flamethrower that captivates food lovers and celebs alike
Jazz Singsanong continues to honor her late brother Tui Sungkamee’s legacy by offering a fierce southern Thai repertoire that dives 300+ dishes deep and draws devoted food lovers and celebrities. The “Wild” curry, a catfish dish spiked with chiles, peppercorns, and bitter sator beans, is fiery enough to bring many diners to tears; that said, the dish is actually relatively tame when compared to Jitlada’s “dynamite spicy challenge.” No amount of Thai iced tea or ice-cold raw vegetables can combat the heat in their notoriously spicy mint leaf sauce or curry. Not every dish is quite so fiery, though: steamed green-lip New Zealand mussels bathe in an intoxicating lemongrass basil broth, and coco mango salad tossed with prawns could pass as dessert in contrast. Jazz, a beloved figure in the LA food world, also lets customers pre-order dishes from her “Jazzy menu,” including a bun-free burger featuring a grilled tri-tip patty, Thai chiles, and secrets.