The Best Restaurants in Los Angeles Right Now
From takeout and delivery to outdoor dining.
Talking about “the best” restaurants in LA during a pandemic seems entirely unfair, and frankly irrelevant, considering what the industry is facing at the moment. Since we last updated this list in January, so many iconic restaurants have closed (RIP Broken Spanish, Baco Mercat, Here’s Looking at You, and so many more), and the remainder are struggling to stay open while enforcing mandatory safety restrictions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Operating a restaurant right now has never been riskier -- both health wise for the staff and patrons -- and financially with so many unknowns and no government bail-out plan in place to help out with lockdown-era losses. At the same time, restaurants have never been more important. They’re an essential escape from the monotony of quarantine, and an inextricable part of what makes Los Angeles great.
We can’t tell you to visit every place that warrants support (because right now, it’s all of them), but we’re here to remind you that new places have actually opened in 2020, and many of them are worth checking out in some capacity. LA entered the COVID-19 crisis as America’s most exciting food city -- with its unparalleled mix of global dining options (both casual and high-end) and buzzier, more eclectic restaurants -- and it will hopefully exit the pandemic on the same footing.
In this turbulent moment, restaurants are limited to pickup, delivery, and if their space allows, outdoor dining. Many restaurants have streamlined or massively revamped their menus to operate with a skeleton staff and reduced capacity outdoor dining rooms. The entire restaurant business is in flux, adjusting daily. Restaurants are severely understaffed and struggling to survive, so stay understanding, patient, and kind. Here’s a look at some of the best new restaurants in LA that have opened this year (and slightly before it).
Please note that as of Wednesday, November 24, outdoor dining in LA County will close indefinitely to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Check out our takeout guides to LA for currently open options.
The gist: Chef Daniel Son helped turn his father’s Sunset Strip sushi bar, Kura Fine Japanese Cuisine, into a destination until it closed last November. Thankfully, he had this formidable back-up plan. Katsu Sando started as a popular Smorgasburg LA stall selling their take on the namesake Japanese konbini snack (more about katsu sandos here) before Son partnered with James Lee on this fast casual-sandwich spot on Broadway. Staffers wear T-shirts that read, “Krispy And Thicc Sandos, BrUh.” Happily, they’re better at making sandos than acronyms.
The food: Sandos come on soft, house-baked honey milk bread with chewy crusts. Juicy fried Berkshire pork loin is accented by a mustard miso ginger cabbage slaw and savory katsu sauce. Honey walnut shrimp makes a spectacular sandwich, with panko-crusted shrimp, crunchy cabbage and shrimp tartar emulsion. A “luxury” take on the item features rich A5 Chateaubriand steak from Kagoshima, Wagyu onion jam and frisée. Seasoned waffle fries are fun, and a Grab N’ Go case holds treats like onigiri, creamy fruit sandos, and soft drinks.
The cost: Most sandwiches top out at $12, though their A5 Wagyu sando costs $85. Rice plates and salads range from $11-$15.
Tamales Elena y Antojitos
The gist: Tamales, pozole and braised beef tongue with plantains from a drive-through? That dream is a reality thanks to Maria Elena Lorenzo and her family, whose restaurant offers a menu of “Afro-Mexican cuisines from La Costa Chica in Guerrero.” Their mobile trailer which features a fleet-footed, anthropomorphic tamale wearing a sombrero remains open near Watts Towers, selling tacos, tortas, and of course tamales.
The food: They steam savory and sweet tamales in hoja de maiz (corn husk) and hoja de platano (banana leaf), filled with everything from pork in red salsa to pineapple and chicken in green salsa amidst masa. Pozole verde – red, white or green – is a hearty stew loaded with pork and hominy, topped with chile flakes, oregano, soft white cheese, lime juice, cabbage, and chopped white onions. Tender beef tongue stewed with plantains in a tomato-based sauce also stands out between soft corn tortillas, as do juicy beef barbacoa tacos.
The cost: Tamales cost either $2 or $3.50. Guisados run $14 apiece. Pozole costs $12 for 24 ounces and $15 for 32 ounces.
How to order: Drive-through or sit on the umbrella-shaded patio.
Pearl River Deli
The gist: Accomplished chef Johnny Lee, who’s contributed to an array of local restaurants, finally focuses on his heritage at this spot next to Howlin’ Ray’s in Far East Plaza, cooking Cantonese classics with some fun, modern twists. Order from an ever-evolving pegboard menu with a waving gold lucky cat perched overhead.
The food: Roasted meats are the restaurant’s backbone, with delectable char siu pork neck, sticky char siu pork ribs, and soy sauce chicken legs available with a choice of thin egg noodles (or rice) and coiled gai lan. Crispy salt and pepper tofu and seasonal vegetable mushroom chow fun should please any vegetarian, and umami-rich mapo tofu is minimally meaty. Still, Lee’s impressive Macau pork chop bun is his signature item, featuring a soft, buttery bolo bao cradling a thin-crusted, deep-fried bone-in pork chop dressed with savory Portuguese sofrito.
The cost: Rice and noodle plates cost $11-16. Roasted meats are available a la carte for $9-11; remaining dishes and sandwiches cost the same amount.
How to order: Call 626-688-9507 to schedule pickup.
CHD (Chang Hwa Dang)
The gist: Since 2004, the Park family has turned CHD into a Seoul phenomenon, operating 30 dumpling-only department store locations and 10 brick and mortars. Jihyung Park recently committed to keeping his family’s “brightly shining house” illuminated in LA, instantly drawing crowds to popular Brown Derby Plaza.
The food: Thin-skinned dumplings (all featuring ground pork) are available steamed, grilled, or in soup. Mixed mandu plate is a great introduction to the concept, packaging five kinds of dumplings with different shapes and fillings: classic pork, shrimp, kimchi, galbi, and chili (co-hosting jalapeños in spinach-stained wrappers). Mandu soup may be the biggest star, involving six steamed pork or kimchi dumplings bobbing in a cloudy beef broth with sliced rice cakes, nori flakes and scallions.
The cost: Dumplings cost $8.99-$10.99, depending on the filling, and the five-variety combo runs $12.99. Everything else on the menu costs either $11.99 or $12.99.
The gist: Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson's latest addition to the Kismet restaurant family already appears to be an industry favorite, drawing chefs to shaded sidewalk tables and counter seats during simpler times.
The food: Chicken is the biggest draw, as the stylized logo of a spinning bird depicts. 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, red pepper dip that subs peanuts for traditional walnuts. Don't skip the schmaltzy potatoes 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.
The gist: Entertainment industry veteran Zachary Liporace experimented with different recipes, hydration levels, and flours before settling on 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. Pop-ups gave way to this fast-casual shop below Platform's parking structure.
The food: Liporace initially limited bagels to plain, cinnamon raisin, or “everything,” though he 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. “What Zach Ate For Breakfast” is the lone special during the pandemic, highlighting his ever-changing first meal; no two halves are ever the same.
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.
How to order: They accept walk-ins. Pre-order takeout or delivery by using their quarantine order form or schedule through Postmates.
The gist: Michael Fiorelli previously thrilled Manhattan Beach with modern Italian food at Love & Salt. By teaming with Marissa and Matt Hermer, one of LA's best Italian chefs managed to expand beyond the boot to Mediterranean neighbors like France, Greece, and Spain. A-listers and studio heads are already regulars. Oliveta is currently “on vacation” at nearby La Peer Hotel.
The food: Fiorelli was best known for making pasta at Love & Salt, and extruded wonders are still very much in play on their new poolside menu, including radiatore with “all day” lamb Bolognese. Bigeye tuna highlights a novel tartare with whipped avocado and sweet potato chips. Whole-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 crème fraiche, sea salt, cocoa nibs, and licorice-tinged almond anise cookies. Wood-fired pizzas with unconventional toppings from the rooftop menu include duck egg pie with pancetta, potatoes, and rosemary.
Cost: House-made pastas range from $26-$68 for whole Maine lobster spaghetti. Mains cost $29 for a vegan “double double” and rise to $85 for a 21-ounce, wood-grilled ribeye. Cocktails cost $20.
Oui Bakery and Café
The gist: Oui Bakery didn’t adequately express everything they do, so owner Armen Piskoulian changed the name to Oui Melrose. The airy space features a tantalizing counter that pastry chef Amy Taylor fills daily. Her range encompasses yeast-raised donuts with bourbon vanilla glaze, ham and cheese croissants with crispy Gruyère skirts, and assorted sandwich breads. Piskoulian cures, smokes, and roasts all meats in-house for a menu that’s become increasingly focused on foods from the Middle East and Caucasus.
The food: Soft, herbaceous falafel comes with green tahini sauce, creamy cole slaw and house-baked pita. Laffa sandwiches star springy, bright yellow flatbread. The version with filet mignon, French fries, yogurt dip and red pepper relish is especially satisfying. Near the register, grab sauces, dips, and snacks like silky hummus hosting pools of za’atar, roasted garlic cloves, or tomato with basil. Oui Melrose is also the only place to get Tony Khachapuri, a sister concept and modern take on savory, boat-shaped flatbreads with roots in Georgia (the country, not the state). The puffy version with a three-cheese blend, house-made pastrami, and an egg yolk is particularly good. Weekends bring more luxurious and large format dishes to the menu like côte de boeuf meals and lobster rolls.
The cost: Assorted sandwiches typically run $9-$14, khachapuri ranges from $11-$14 and weekend specials can cost up to $75.
How to order: Call ahead to 323-852-3944 and schedule pickup or delivery through Grubhub.
Citrin and Mélisse
The gist: Santa Monica culinary icon Josiah Citrin retooled his modern California dining destination Mélisse after 20 years, subdividing the space into more casual Citrin up front and 14-seat fine dining speakeasy Mélisse in back. Citrin, chef/partner Ken Takayama, chef de cuisine Chris Ono and crew take a more freewheeling approach in the main room, which features no tablecloths, white or otherwise.
The food: Mélisse x Citrin is a hybrid concept built for the pandemic. Citrin’s team also continues to provide a la carte selections, including a stunning bucatini pasta involving rich lamb “sugo,” currants and pine nuts. Dover sole preparations change seasonally and recently sported an almond crust lavished with corn, chanterelle mushrooms, scallions, and brown butter. Prized ingredients like Santa Barbara spot prawns, Kaluga caviar and Perigord truffles also made the cut during the crisis. Themed multi-course takeaway menus go live on Mondays and may center on mentors like Daniel Boulud or themes like “Lobster, Lobster, Lobster.” Luxury add-ons include A5 Japanese Wagyu ribeye or truffle risotto.
The cost: A la carte items Pre-pandemic, Mélisse’s nine-course tasting menu cost $295 per ticket, with $195 optional wine pairings. Now a four-course Mélisse x Citrin tasting menu costs $145 per person. Takeaway tasting menus frequently cost under $100 per person for just food. A la carte dishes run $10-$78.
How to order: Mélisse x Citrin meals are available to go through Tock. Reserve a table on the umbrella-shaded patio through Resy.
The gist: “If you’ve got plans, don’t go hot.” Kim Prince greeted customers on opening day at the family’s first outpost beyond Music City. As the story goes, a scorned woman formed an edible fireball to exact revenge on James Thornton Prince for cheating. As the menu says, “Her intentions to burn him from both ends only ignited a craving.” He turned around and created a poultry revolution with Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville, opened in 1945. LA is flooded with hot chicken, including megahit Howlin' Ray's, and now Angelenos can see how the OG version compares. This location restaurant at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall is the result of a partnership with local soul food legend, Gregory Dulan.
The food: Spice levels range from "West Coast Plain" to incendiary "Nashville Hot." Options served on white bread with speared pickles include wings, white meat quarters, and best of all, juicy leg quarters with bonus backbone attached. Hotville also serves spicy fish fillets featuring flaky swai, a hot chicken sandwich, and creative sides like spicy corn on the cob and crunchy kaleslaw.
The cost: Sandwiches cost about $11 and fried chicken runs about $10 for a leg quarter to just over $32 for a whole bird.
How to order: Call 323-792-4835 for takeout or schedule delivery and pre-order pickups through Postmates.
All Day Baby
The gist: “It didn’t come out half bad. It’s the kind of place I’d want to hang out.” Genre busting chef/co-owner Jonathan Whitener showed his typically understated confidence soon after ADB opened last fall. The all-day follow-up to Here’s Looking At You (which sadly shuttered recently) with powerhouse front of house partner Lien Ta offers plenty of craveable plates, and pastry director Thessa Diadem fills the corner restaurant’s display case with even more temptations.
The food: ADB offers a streamlined menu during the pandemic, but they still come strong. Signature breakfast sandwiches feature flaky biscuits, scrambled eggs, American cheese, strawberry jam, bacon and/or sausage patties. Fried chicken sandwiches are ubiquitous in LA, but nobody makes one remotely like Whitener, who combines crisp-coated fried chicken with salt & pepper mayo, pimento cheese, and firm green tomato on a squishy potato bun. They also play against type by serving a cayenne-spiked hot catfish sandwich with mustard aioli. The smoker also gets plenty of reps, buffeting everything from chicken to pork spare ribs and white fish with billowing oak smoke. Before leaving, raid the pastry case for prizes like Key lime pie, cookies and sticky buns with seasonal fruit.
The cost: Breakfast items cost $5-$14. “Sandwiches & more” run $13-$19.
The gist: The towering blue Church of Scientology building looms large over a residential stretch of East Hollywood, but new restaurants have risen to reinvigorate surrounding buildings. A formerly drab space is now Found Oyster, a vibrant seafood bar with a light brick façade, L-shaped wood counter, sea tones and shelves lined with oceanic memorabilia ranging from a pelican figurine to a nautilus shell. Last Word Hospitality partnered with chef Ari Kolender on Found, a Charleston native who’s proven to be one of LA’s leading seafood masters.
The food: GM Joe Laraja’s family runs an oyster farm on Cape Cod that supplies plump Little Namskakets that come with “mom’s Mignonette,” a spicy cilantro, chile and white wine concoction. Kolender fries larger Washington oysters in light buttermilk, flour, and Old Bay coats and serves them with sake lees mayo atop a soft-buttered Martin’s potato bun. He also makes a seriously unique lobster roll, showcasing sweet Maine lobster folded with Cognac-spiked lobster bisque and Serrano chiles, served on another potato bun. His silky scallop tostada is similarly spectacular, dressed with a zingy yuzu kosho and Gold rush apple slurry and basil. During the crisis, their “Overboard” concept-within-a-concept also sells crisp-skinned fried chicken seasoned with “Old Bay, cayenne and love.”
The cost: The menu changes frequently; at last check, dishes ranged from $7 for a cup of “chowdaa” to $40 for two-dozen, unshucked Little Namskaket oysters.
The gist: Ryan Wong previously cooked at higher-end restaurants like Otium and blends his LA upbringing and Hong Kong heritage into the mix at Needle, an exciting fast-casual restaurant he runs with wife Karen near Sunset Junction.
The food: In an early Instagram post, Needle put ubiquitous sandwiches on blast, saying, “Tired of fried chicken sandwiches? Our original pork chop bun with spicy salt relish, milk bread, and cucumber pickles is proving to fit the bill.” We’re not giving up on fried chicken, but their sandwich is uniquely flavorful, featuring a boneless marinated chop that’s deep-fried to a beautiful bronze and tastes ultra savory on a soft house-baked bun. The couple took a hiatus during the pandemic to make their menu more car-friendly and personalized. The Wongs designed their duck burger to imitate the roast duck experience at a Cantonese restaurant, featuring a house-ground duck leg patty seasoned with an 8-spice blend - 5-spice plus coriander seed, licorice, and ginger – crunchy cabbage slaw, pickled cucumber, shrimp chips, and hoisin sauce. Rice plates are available with proteins like sliced pork loin, fried tofu, and Jidori chicken leg “steak” smothered in black pepper sauce. Pick up orders from a table barring the front door and cleanse with a push bottle of house-made jasmine tea hand sanitizer.
The cost: Most dishes range from $8.50-$16. They also sell non-alcoholic beverages and pantry items.
The gist: Longtime Hollywood screenwriter Jeff Strauss proves he has more than one passion by opening a “modern micro deli” with anything-goes sandwiches in back of Flask Fine Wines. He makes most components in-house, including pastrami, ham, pickles, dressings and condiments. Good sandwiches are easy to find in LA, but they won’t resemble the flavors from Jeff’s Table.
The food: For summer, Strauss cooled down his kitchen, serving no hot sandwiches and shelving his nouveau matzo ball ramen. Sandwiches remain in full effect. “Ham n jam n cheese” stacks house-smoked ham, salted plum jam mustard, aioli, Manchego, spicy arugula on a soft, sesame seed baguette from nearby Delicias Bakery. His turkey-fied play on Hainan chicken pairs turkey salad with crunchy Persian cucumbers, crispy shallots, arugula, garlic-chile crisp on a baguette. The Featherweight is a cool, thin-sliced pastrami sandwich with soy & chili-marinated cucumbers, iceberg lettuce, “not-really Russian” dressing, and chopped peanuts on soft seeded rye from Fairfax Village’s historic Diamond Bakery. In warmer weather, Jeff’s Special features thicker cut pastrami with tart kraut, “Russian” dressing, melted Comté and a Piavé Vecchio cheese crisp.
The cost: Sandwiches run from $11.95-$12.95. Pickles & Snacks cost $5.95-$9.95. $8.50 for burnt ends to $18 for a full pound. Sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs cost $9.50-$15.50. Substantial sides cost $4.50-$11.
The gist: Decorated Alinea Group alum Dave Beran turned Dialogue into an avant garde dining destination within The Gallery food hall and now brings visually arresting French culinary fare to his Main Street bistro. The name of this fashionable restaurant translates to English as “not pretty,” a cleverly ironic stroke considering the easy-on-the-eyes brick and blue-framed façade and interior space.
The food: Dramatic tableside presentations for dishes like pressed duck are still available with advanced notice on the patio, and even their takeout plating displays plenty of flair. Crab et chou-fleur is a molded blue crab cake topped with crunchy sorrel leaves, plated atop cauliflower cream and punchy pickled cauliflower. Pasjoli also plays the hits, serving French classics like steak au poivre starring 30-day dry-aged ribeye. Diners who truly want to indulge will have chances to experience fresh-shaved truffle and caviar. People swear by Pasjoli’s bitter chocolate soufflé, and their cheesecake is certainly one of L.A.’s best versions, made Basque-style with a singed exterior and runny, tangy core.
The cost: Appetizers all hover right around $25. Entrées span from $18-$46. Since Pasjoli is a no tipping restaurant, prices include service charges.
The gist: Childhood friends Jay Tugas and Ray Yaptinchay grew up in Manila and are now formidable members of LA’s Filipino Food Movement. The duo started with a food truck in 2017 before going brick and mortar. The 1,300 sq. ft. space seats 36 in the dining room and 28 on the covered, dog-friendly patio.
The food: Don’t expect “mama’s Filipino food.” Instead, Spoon & Pork serves modern interpretations that call for additional utensils. Adobo pork belly doesn’t just grace rice bowls; slabs also factor into banh mi and “nigiri” garnished with fried garlic and furikake. Fried chicken is another standout adobo, featuring organic Mary’s thighs marinated in garlic, vinegar and bay leaves. Coco jack doesn’t have any meat, but packs just as much flavor, starring green jackfruit bathing in coconut milk with ginger, garlic, onions, fermented black beans, and chile oil, plated with rice berries. Patita is a slow-cooked, deep-fried, crisp-crusted pork shank graced with chile garlic sauce. Sauces include vinegar swimming with chiles and Sriracha brightened with calamansi. During the COVID-19 crisis, they’ve also served weekend-only family meals that feed 3-4 people and center on meals like inihaw na isda -- whole grilled pompano with crab-fat rice -- and fried chicken served with “party spaghetti.”
The cost: Plates run $11-$24. Share-friendly starters/sides range from $5-$12. Weekend family meals cost $40-$60.
The gist: Copa d’Oro was a forerunner for LA’s modern bar wave, but after a decade in business, they ceded their prime Third Street Promenade location to Lanea. The name translates from Hawaiian as “heavenly flower,” an apt description for this airy bar that serves some of the best tacos to ever hit Santa Monica thanks to Barba Kush chef, Petra Zavaleta, who’s built a strong reputation for barbacoa on the Eastside.
The food: Zavaleta first garnered attention for pit-roasting Chino Hills lamb at weekend pop-ups in the style of her hometown: Tepeaca, Puebla. She still hosts Sunday morning barbacoa pop-ups in Baldwin Park, and that same luscious lamb is available here, minus bones and organ meats. Barbacoa is available in hand-pressed corn tortillas with guac, chopped onions, cucumber slices and flowering delfino cilantro. A cup of lamb consommé with chipotle and chickpeas only heightens the experience. Other highlights include thin-sliced cecina (pounded beef) and a vegetarian taco with cremini mushrooms and spinach. The menu has only become more ambitious over time, adding seafood fillings and breakfast quesadillas available deep into the afternoon. John Neumueller and Connor McRaith collaborated on the creative cocktail program and even started canning and carbonating drinks during the pandemic.
The cost: Tacos cost $2-$2.50 apiece and quesadillas run $4-$4.75. Combo plates cost $12.50 and come with three tacos, rice and beans. Burritos cost $6.75. Meal packages range from $27-$79.
The gist: Chi Spacca alum Chad Colby charts his own path with business partner Kevin Caravelli on this rustic Italian-ish restaurant that debuted in a strip mall near K-Town in 2019 featuring an open kitchen starring an impressive, almond wood-burning hearth.
The food: Before the pandemic hit, Antico earned accolades for house-made pastas and beautifully seared meats, including crispy chicken thighs that arrived on a focaccia raft. Fresh-spun ice cream is the biggest revelation, with a creamy fior di latte base and rotating flavors like harvest plum and horchata crunch. We still long for Antico’s focaccia ice cream featuring custard folded with smoky charred bread that’s dressed with focaccia breadcrumbs, black pepper, olive oil, and fleur de sel. During the pandemic, the menu has almost entirely focused on focaccia pizza and hand-churned ice cream.
The cost: Pizzas start at $20 for basic tomato pies and rise to $35 for meaty options like the rectangle with sausage, peppers, and spicy Calabrian chiles. Ice cream costs $14-$20 per pint.
The gist: High-end Italian chef Stefano De Lorenzo teamed with compatriot Lazzaro Marco Ferrari on this modern, fast-casual restaurant near the Third Street Promenade. They make pasta in-house and rely on market finds to ensure their creative dishes are ultra seasonal.
The food: De Lorenzo just may make LA’s definitive lasagna, featuring thin pasta sheets, grass-fed beef ragù made vibrant with tomatoes and vegetables, and Béchamel starring organic dairy. In the Before Times, they also tossed bouncy bucatini-like bigoli with garlic, oil and anchovies, a preparation befitting Campania; and served chewier, tubular calamarata pasta from Napoli designed to resemble calamari rings plated with zesty tomato sauce and creamy stracciatella. For the pandemic, individual portions are on hold. Instead, pasta dinners feed four people and package a pound a piece of spaghetti, rigatoni, tomato sauce, and beef Bolognese.
The cost: Limited offerings require basic home cooking. Pasta dinners cost $24. Oven-ready lasagna trays feed 6-8 people and cost $59.
The gist: Chef Jeremy Fox, who built on his successful stint at Rustic Canyon, once again partnered with RC Family on this modern, wood-fired restaurant near Bergamot Station where anything goes on his team’s perpetually evolving nostalgia-inspired menu.The concept is inspired by Fox’s Jewish Midwestern roots and the dishes he grew up eating in suburban Ohio.
The food: Matzo ball soup is a collaboration between Fox and wife Rachael Sheridan, that utilizes her chicken broth recipe with carrots, carrot miso, and dill. Fox and his team display particular finesse with market-driven dishes and meats. Their relish tray is a seasonal tour de force with fresh, pickled, cured, and marinated vegetables and five-onion dip. Tamai Farms beet “charoset” is a fanciful play on a Seder staple, a salad made with Andy’s Orchard peach, feta, horseradish, and pecans. Juicy summer tomatoes and fluffy ricotta bathe in umami thanks to smoked tomato vinaigrette, basil, capers, garlic, and Cantabrian anchovies. A memorable Persian meal inspired Fox to make rosy lamb loin marinated in beet molasses and rose water, seasoned with dried lime and fenugreek leaves, grilled over almond wood and served with crispy dill rice and tangy saffron yogurt. Pie is the sweet piece de resistance. Jiggly rose petal pie with berries, hibiscus and pretzel crust is reminiscent of 1950s-era Jell-o molds, but torched crème brûlée pie is more satisfying. As with any Birdie G’s menu choice, pie makes you think.
The cost: Cold dishes cost $17-$19. Hot plates run $9-$22. Wood-grilled California meat & fish selections range from $33 for a half-chicken to $49 for Lamb à la Saless.
The gist: You won’t miss meat at this fast-casual Israeli restaurant near Los Angeles Valley College. Haifa native Tony Weiner graduated from a food truck and celebrates the humble chickpea by crafting exquisite hummus with a choice of toppings. He’s earned the fierce moniker that headlines his website: “the beast from the Middle East.”
The food: Any meal must start with creamy, textbook hummus. From there, toppings come down to personal preference. We’re partial to mach'lutta, a mix of stewed chickpeas and fava beans garnished with tahini, paprika, and parsley. Falafel is another great choice, featuring soft, herb-flecked chickpea orbs seasoned with garlic and cumin. Other must-orders include shakshuka, sabich, and pan-fried mushrooms. For dessert, malabi is a milk pudding featuring shredded coconut, crushed pistachio, and fragrant strawberry syrup scented with rose water.
The cost: Appetizers cost $4-$11. Hummus plates range from $11-$15. Pita sandwiches cost $9-$15. They also sell dips like hummus and baba ghanouj by the pound for $5-$7.
Northern Thai Food Club
The gist: Amphai Kanyawong, who grew up in northern Thailand’s Chiang Rai province, generated excitement for her regional Thai cooking after opening in an East Hollywood strip mall. The tiny, family-run restaurant is geared toward grab-and-go. Northern Thai Food Club has a printed menu, but most people just scour steam trays by the register that rotate daily.
The food: Point-and-pick meals vary depending on the day, but highlights might include fried spare ribs with garlic; pork larb with liver, basil, and chile spice that hits the back of the throat; chicken livers and gizzards in spicy Thai basil sauce with fragrant lemon leaf; and bamboo shoots with pungent crab paste in green likker with mushrooms. Some dishes are made to order and worth the short wait, including khao soi with beautifully spicy broth, two drumsticks, both soft and crispy egg noodles, and pickled greens. If you’re lucky, they’ll also have kanom krok on the side counter, creamy coconut cakes with caramelized edges topped with six different ingredients: scallions, taro, purple yam, mango, corn, and mung bean.
The cost: Steam table and countertop dishes cost $7 a piece. So do most printed menu items.
The gist: Tel Aviv Grill is one of LA’s leading shawarma practitioners, with three locations across the San Fernando Valley, but spit-shaved meat wasn’t enough. The founders refocused their original Tarzana location to fish in late 2018.
The food: Choose from seven different fish, which each has a prescribed preparation and sauce. Flaky, crisp-crusted white fish schnitzel is a great first choice, garnished with thyme sprigs, caramelized garlic cloves and served with lemon, garlic, parsley and olive oil. Diners willing to invest more time and effort will appreciate barbounia, a deep-fried red mullet trio dressed with similar slurry and served with tangy yogurt cilantro sauce. Each seafood item comes with creamy hummus musabaha topped with stewed chickpeas, soft pita, and assorted small plates that might include roasted Moroccan-style carrots, piquant marinated olives and pickles, and smoky baba ghanouj. Fish-averse diners should steer clear, but they do serve Israeli breakfast items all day.
The cost: Plates “from the sea” cost $19-$30. Pita sandwiches cost $12-$16. Family meals feed 5-10 people, depending on the package, and cost $129-$205.
The gist: Bay Area-based chef Daniel Patterson and Alta Restaurant Group created a daytime community hub in Adams Coffee Shop and the adjacent restaurant where he teamed with Keith Corbin, who serves “California soul food” in a setting that calls for design magazine coverage. 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.
The food: Corbin crisps some of LA’’s best fried chicken in a skillet and amps up the flavor with housemade hot sauce. His miso- and soy-braised oxtails are craveworthy and he offers a masterful version of Senegalese-style accara (pillow-soft black-eyed pea fritters) 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.
The cost: Dinner starters range from $4 for cornbread with honey butter to $18 for more substantial shrimp & grits. Entrées cost $21 for California gumbo to $32 for oxtails and rice. Weekend brunch dishes top out at $14.
The gist: When Ludo Lefebvre, wife Krissy and their high-profile partners first opened in Hollywood, they didn’t even have a sign, but people still swarmed their shoebox-sized French bistro. Petit Trois Le Valley is larger and more visible, with a snail logo ushering diners to a space that now serves lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.
The food: Brunch is the biggest revelation. Mec Muffin riffs on an Egg McMuffin with a sunny-side-up egg, Parisian ham, American cheese, aioli and sage on a crispy house-baked English muffin. Naturally their signature runny omelette filled with an absurd dose of Boursin pepper cheese made the cut. House-baked patisserie is another bonus, particularly flaky chocolate croissants crafted with melting Valrhona chocolate batons and rich Isigny butter from France. Later in the day, Ludo plays Hollywood hits like Burgundy escargots swimming in sizzling garlic parsley butter, a crab cake plated in tarragon beurre blanc, steak aux poivre served with skin-on frites, and a hulking Big Mec doubdle cheeseburger coated with cascading, sticky Bordelaise sauce. A larger kitchen also allows for Sherman Oaks exclusives like the crispy pork chop plated in lemon-caper-sage sauce and desserts such as chocolate soufflé and apple tart for two a la mode.
The cost: Appetizers start at $8 for marinated olives and rise to $25 for a crab cake. Entrées range from $18 for Niçoise pasta to $89 for Brittany wild sole Meunière. Lunch specials (aka sandwiches) range from $14-$20.
The gist: Expectations soared given the success of DTLA hit Bestia, but chef Ori Menashe and pastry chef/wife Genevieve Gergis may have topped their modern Italian efforts by opening this more personal Arts District restaurant. The former industrial space now touts plenty of natural light and the food benefits from wood fire. The name is a reference to the time before Tower of Babel, the Bible story of a time when all people shared a universal language, and Bavel’s food certainly speaks to a wide audience.
The food: Impossibly creamy hummus is particularly memorable here, dressed with herb tahini, serrano, sumac, and the Yemeni spice mixture hawaij, served with fluffy house-made pita. Spicy grilled harissa-marinated prawns come plated with cooling cured zucchini and cucumber tzatziki. An impressive grill burns oak and cherry wood and produces smoky skewers, including oyster mushroom kebab seasoned with tart sumac and served atop bright green lovage and cardamom puree. Tender slow-roasted lamb neck shawarma falls to pieces on supple laffa (a type of flatbread), with herbs, amba and punchy pickled vegetables tempering the richness. Gergis’ enlightening desserts linger on the palate, especially the leaf-shaped sweet cream pastry co-starring seasonal fruits like plum or strawberry, served with mascarpone Tahitian vanilla bean soft whipped cream.
The cost: Appetizers range from $8 for marinated olives to $24 for Middle Eastern cured meats. Entrées cost $37 for chicken tagine to $140 for 32-ounce grilled Wagyu ribeye.
Porridge and Puffs
The gist: Minh Phan actually made porridge cool at the airy corner restaurant that has reopened after an extended hiatus. The eco-friendly, eminently thoughtful chef captures the seasons in her creative, soul-warming rice soups starring Koda Farms organic Kokuho Rose grains.
The food: She pairs key ingredients like spicy braised pork sausage, sweet soy- braised chicken and Malabar spinach with pickled, crunchy, punchy, and floral elements. During the pandemic, three different porridges are available in quart jars, including a deluxe Pickles + Jam version made with scallion confit, dashi stock, makrut lime jam and three pickles: apricot-jicama, okra, and ume-daikon. Mochiko rice flour beignets, aka “puffs,” are currently on hold, but you can still indulge in their grilled brown butter mocha slabs with miso caramel. Five-course dinners center on themes like “Pork! Pork! Pork!” and “Late Summer Plant Feast.” The Gold Set meal honors late supporter Jonathan Gold and their minimally wasteful PINCH dinners benefit Food Forward, a location organization that rescues produce destined for the garbage and helps it reach people in need.
The cost: Five-course meals cost $50 per person. The Gold dinner costs $25-$28 per person. Provisions + Treats range from $3 for a miso chocolate chip cookie to $18 for an 8-ounce prickly ash oil. Non-alcoholic libations cost $12-$15.
The gist: If their first child was a boy, consummate front-of-house pro Caitlin Cutler and chef/husband Daniel would have named him Ronan. Instead, the couple has two daughters, but the name stuck at their highly personal Italian restaurant next to The Groundlings Theatre on Melrose. Ronan specializes in pizza that cooks in a white dome oven, which burns white oak and sports a figurine of Jesus on the cross.
The food: Pliable, fire-pocked pizzas include 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. They even riff on Philippe’s French dip sandwich in calzone form, with roast beef and Provolone filling, French onion soup for dipping, and nose-clearing hot mustard. Crisp-skinned, brick-pressed half-chicken comes plated with olive pistachio pesto, roasted zucchini, wild arugula, and fennel pollen. For dessert, they offer an egg-rich cheesecake inspired by La Viña restaurant in San Sebastian made with Philadelphia cream cheese, finished in the wood oven, and served with seasonal fruit.
The cost: Pizzas cost $17-$24. Plates range from $9-$32.
How to order: Ronan allows delivery through Chownow and Postmates, but they prefer curbside pickup, which is available with a 10% discount by calling 323-917-5100.
The gist: Longtime friends Akira Akuto and Nick Montgomery, who met while working in New York City before heading west, manage to feature Japanese-style sandos, seasonal sides, French patisserie and an impressive coffee program behind a small counter. Konbi translates to English as "duo,” symbolic of their fruitful, focused collaboration, which started with their Noto pop-up series. Now lines outside their (presciently COVID friendly) walk-up window are de rigueur.
The food: Start with the multi-layered omelette folded with dashi (a take on tamago) enriched with mayo and Dijon served between soft-toasted Bub and Grandma’s shokupan (milk bread). They recently added a more deluxe version featuring Jonah Crab served in a nori pocket. But you most likely know Konbi for its pork katsu or egg salad sandos, which gained fame via Instagram for their photogenic layers. Their most luxurious sandwich to date is a cross between a lobster roll and sando starring Maine Lobster, brown butter mayo, pickled fennel, and lemon. Seasonal sides, which they call “mostly vegetables,” have fun Japanese flourishes. For instance, tomato salad comes with sake lees vinaigrette, pistachio nori granola, and cucumber. House-made pastries include buttery croissants with chocolate batons, canelés with beautiful crusts and creamy centers, and hazelnut financiers with a sticky, chewy texture. Their coffee program, complete with an under-counter Mavem espresso machine, also delivers.
The cost: Sandwiches cost $10-$23. Individual sides cost $3-$13.
The gist: Bring reinforcements to David Chang’s first LA restaurant, which hides in an industrial area down by the LA River. It’s possible to just grab a few small plates and be happy, but Majordomo was built for groups, especially on warm nights on their light-strung patio. It’s unclear when people will be able to eat again on-site at Majordomo, though they’re certainly going big with family-friendly takeout.
The food: We certainly miss their bing, supple griddled flatbread that pairs just as well with Benton’s ham as more luxurious combos like cave-aged butter and Kaluga caviar; tempura-battered peppers stuffed with Benton’s sack sausage; and herbaceous whole grilled striped bass served with spicy Sichuan black bean sauce and fragrant ginger scallion sauce. In the meantime, diners can still take comfort by picking up slabs of pork spare ribs, buttermilk fried chicken and interactive salmon temaki. “Whole plate” short rib has been on the menu from the start and honors meat meister Adam Perry Lang with a three-bone serving with fun rice paper wraps, condiments, and fried rice that makes the most of scraps.
The cost: Meals range from $58 for buttermilk fried chicken to $190 for “whole plate,” short rib. Their macaroni & chickpea pasta kit costs $30 and bo ssäm runs $92 and comes with lettuce wraps and condiments.
How to order: Pre-order meals are available for pickup from Friday through Sunday from 3-6 p.m. by ordering with at least 24 hours notice on their website.
The gist: 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, which opened near the iconic corner of Hollywood & Vine in 2018, 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.
The food: Lang broils steaks and sears with butter right below the flame before serving. APL also prepares exquisite sides that often buck steakhouse traditions. Perry Lang’s longtime ‘cue-tenant Marcus Lewis, an LA-born chef who grew up in Mississippi, tends to smoldering post oak by day in the kitchen’s J&R smoker, selling brisket and pulled pork by the quarter pound, pork ribs by the half-slab or full slab, and BBQ sandwiches. They also serve signature beef ribs on Saturday. In each case, the meat’s natural flavor shines, meaning no sauce. 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. During the pandemic, Lang’s team has really leaned into comfort food, adding family meals that center on proteins like fried chicken and brisket that feed four people. TV dinners are a nouveau retro treat teaming steak frites and hot-smoked salmon with “fixins” like creamy corn with spicy sofrito, molasses baked beans, and bourbon peaches.
The cost: Food “on a bun” costs $7-$13. A La Carte Meats, Grilled Steak, and Smoked Fish range from $7 for ¼ lb. pulled pork with Texas toast to $105 for Prime bone-in ribeye for two dry-aged 165 days. Family meals feed four people and cost $63-$125.