Meet the Tramezzino
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.
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.
The Middle Eastern favorite goes west
The original location of Jaffa on W. 3rd just was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmet award -- in the nick of time for the opening of the second location, which continues the Middle Eastern theme with a hummus trio, roasted chicken with Moroccan spices, and absolutely delicious Kubaneh bread.
One of LA’s most legendary restaurants is finally back
For generations, The Formosa was a Hollywood hotspot -- Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, and Brad Pitt all made the nearly hundred-year old spot an institution. Rumors of it closing forever have thankfully been proven false, as the 1933 group -- the same bar-and-restaurant group responsible for gorgeous spots like the Thirsty Crow and Highland Park Bowl -- have given it a complete $2.4 million redo. The overhaul maintains its classic banquette-stuffed feel and revisiting its Chinese-food menu past with an all new collection of dishes courtesy of the chef from Mar Vista’s Little Fatty; expect hot takes on Dan Dan Noodles and General Tso’s Cauliflower.
An Eat Seeker favorite makes its way across town
Basically since its opening, Brentwood’s Pizzana has been on our best-restaurants-in-LA list (scroll down to find out if it still is). So here’s the thing: you no longer need to go all the way to Brentwood for their beautiful, perfect charred Neapolitan-style pies, with a new WeHo location that has all the classics along with specials including a smoked salmon pie that’s an ode to the infamous one at Spago.
Upscale Greek food from the Eveleigh team
This vibey new 3rd St spot’s from the same team as the Eveleigh and Elephante; the menu’s packed with Greek-influenced Mediterranean goodness, including spanakopita with tzatziki and green chili sauce and grilled harissa honey chicken with charred lemon.
The most hyped taco spot in LA finally gets a brick-and-mortar
Since opening just at the end of last year, Tacos 1986 has become a phenomenon: their stand at Smorgasburg is among the most popular at the Sunday market, and they even were able to shimmy their way into Coachella this year. The new location downtown continues the delicious pastor, mushroom, and asada tacos along with other Tijuana-style favorites, served as always by Joy, the hugely charismatic taquero who’s become a huge part of Tacos 1986’s appeal.
The Chi Spacca’s chef’s new Italian spot
Definitely one of the year’s most anticipated openings is this new spot from Chad Colby -- the longtime chef at Chi Spacca, the Mozza-adjacent meat emporium with some of the best steaks in LA. At Antico, he’s focusing on Italian amazingness, including bucatini “al limone” with Cetara anchovy and colatura, and lamb with pistachio and mint.
The foodie favorite returns -- in an even more unlikely spot
When Baroo -- the hard-to-describe, critically acclaimed, fermented-veggie-and-grain-bowl spot in a tiny, signless stripmall location -- closed last year, it was a sad day for LA’s experimental eaters. Well, cry no more, J Gold acolytes: Baroo is reopened as Baroo Canteen in an even more unlikely location than before, the Union Swapmeet in East Hollywood, where they’ve reinvented their menu with takeout-friendly items like the Brother of Karma sandwich with smoked gojuchang-marinated chicken salad, and the special International Affairs Di Pastrami bowl: a fried rice dish with pastrami, Sichuan peppercorns, and fermented shrimp.
Abbot Kinney’s newest destination spot calls in some heavy hitters
Vartan Abgaryan (71 Above, Cliff’s Edge) is behind the stoves at this new Modern Californian restaurant on Abbot Kinney, where he’s bringing in Middle Eastern and Asian influences for dishes like crispy octopus with coconut harissa and a heritage pork rib chop with gojuchang and fluer de sel. But he’s not the only star there: Dave Reiss of Salt Air’s also a partner, and drinks are from Brian Butler, formerly of A-Frame and Sunny Spot. Salut!
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.
A new carb-focused paradise by the Tartine and Pizzeria Bianco team
The long-awaited collaboration between Tartine’s Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson and Pizzeria Bianco’s Chris Bianco opens in full-force at The Row in DTLA. The team’s basically created a multi-faceted one-stop-shop for all your bready cravings, with an in-house bakery, two restaurants with farm-to-table-style dishes, like braised pork shoulder and chicken-liver toasts, and a walk-up ice cream window if you’re just planning a stop-by.
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]
BBQ hero Burt Bakman finally goes legit
Look, not to brag (OK, definitely to brag), but Thrillist was the first publication to tell anyone about the now-legendary popup Trudy’s Underground BBQ: a Texas-style smoker operation run out of a nondescript Studio City driveway, serving the best brisket and beef ribs in town. The dude behind that opp, Burt Bakman, is now the pitmaster at Slab, the most exciting new BBQ opening in LA since Maple Block; expect staples like smoked chicken and spare ribs, as well as “The Trudy Special,” a brie and brisket sandwich that’s become a fast favorite.
A soul food spot from renowned restaurateur Daniel Patterson
When LA last heard from Daniel Patterson, he was partnering with Roy Choi on Locol, the burger spot in Watts that was as renowned for its politics as its food. Now, he’s taken Keith Corbin -- one of the rising-star chefs out of the Locol kitchen -- and helped him open Alta Adams, a soul food spot that bridges the gap between West African and California cuisines, with offerings like skillet fried chicken, oxtails & rice, and pig foot and vegetable salad. [Reservations - by Open Table]
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]
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]
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]
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. [Reservations - by Open Table]
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]
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]
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Since its opening in 2012, Bestia's sort of become the definitive LA restaurant, offering a menu that 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]
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]
Seriously, are they ever going to run out of stall space at GCM -- which, at this point, should just be considered a treasure of the city? Let's hope not: Not only are all the old spots great (and set up for killer mash-ups), but newer openings (like Union chef Bruce Kalman's pasta spot Knead & Co, the vegan ramen joint Ramen Hood, a Golden Road Brewing stall, and the bivalve-y Oyster Gourmet) make it a must-visit. Like, all the time.
Despite lots of competition from upstarts, Providence is still LA's best special-occasion restaurant: The service is impeccable, as is Michael Cimarusti’s seafood. Is it cheap? It is not. Is it worth it? Most definitely. [Reservations - by Open Table]
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.
This long-standing, high-priced, gorgeous sushi bar Downtown finds its way back to Eat Seeker thanks to an insane premium omakase, just added to the menu. Give the chef a few days' notice and he’ll source rare, seasonal fish from Japan and elsewhere around the world, with a 15+-course tasting of flavors you literally can’t get anywhere else in LA (and that al dente vinegar rice is outstanding, too). [Reservations - by Open Table]
If we told you that one of the best pizza spots in the city was in Brentwood, would you believe us? You should: Chef Daniele Uditi is from Naples and insists his pizza taste like home, with Italian-imported ingredients making up the bulk of the toppings. Don’t miss his on-special margherita (which is topped with a crunchy basil mixture that gives it far more texture than a traditional pie) and the fried artichoke salad, which hits you with flavor and bite. [Reservations - by Open Table]