The Best Things to Eat in Puerto Rico
A Michelin-starred chef makes a new home on La Brea
LA’s not especially known for French cuisine, so Michelin-starred chef Christopher Eme’s new small bistro is entering a not-quite-saturated market, with takes on classic dishes like a farro risotto and chicken cooked in clay with mushroom sauce and green asparagus. His wine list is curated by Taylor Parsons, whose work at Republique garnered accolades for that restaurant’s wine program; here, he’s likewise got dozens of hard-to-find bottles and varietals.
Yes, Shaq opened a restaurant.
Lakers legend/cruise salesman Shaquille O’Neal is trying to three-peat his fame card at his new LA Live restaurant, which serves southern comfort food, like corn fritters, brisket sliders, and his “famous” fried chicken, which is brined for 48 hours and served with house-made hot sauce. There’s also a pretty legit cocktail menu and whiskey list, though it’s unlikely that the big man himself will be there to party with you.
An insanely over-the-top steakhouse serving over-the-top meat
This massive NY import has finally landed at the Century City mall -- it’s a two-story behemoth with dangling chandeliers, a $2 million dollar wine list, and a 15,000+ sq ft interior loaded with old-school banquettes and semi-circular bars. Oh, and the menu is monstrous as well: seared wagyu beef carpaccio, 45-day dry-aged double-bone ribeye, and a slew of veggie options for LA’s population of nomnivores (that’s people who want to nom that aren’t carnivores. Patent pending.)
A new carb-focused paradise by the Tartine and Pizzeria Bianco team
The long-awaited collaboration between Tartine’s Elizabeth Pruett and Chad Robinson and Pizzeria Bianco’s Chris Bianco finally opened at The Row at the very tail-end of January. 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.
LA’s most notorious underground burger comes up for air
Started two years ago by entrepreneurial dude Shawn Nee as an Instagram feed/backyard-ish flattop-grill BBQ, Burgers Never Say Die has become an unqualified LA phenomenon, thanks to the patties Nee makes that are thin, crispy and totally delectable. His first brick & mortar storefront, like his home operation, sells burgers and fries and that’s about it; the counter says “Always Order Two,” which may be the best advice you’ve ever gotten.
A westside legend goes mid-city... with Eastern influences
Longtime Westside restaurateur Joe Miller has partnered with NYC chef Danielle Sobel on a new date-friendly joint that merges French and Japanese influences -- and utilizes Cali produce to do it, naturally. Menu highlights include scallops and Santa Barbara uni with smoked daikon, and hanger steak with turnip and shiro miso in a dashi jus.
Ricardo Zarate’s new all-day cafe
Picca/Rosaline chef Ricardo Zarate nearly single-handedly brought Peruvian food to the masses in LA; his new spot in West LA goes a bit broader with the influences that shape its menu, which includes a chorizo & lamb ragu over pappardelle and gnocchi with bay scallops. There’s also a brunch menu with mains like the activated charcoal bowl with popped quinoa, and a prawn-laden shakshuka.
The founders of an LA institution are back with cheeseburger dumplings
If, like me, you grew up in the San Fernando Valley, it’s possible that (like me) you grew up on a very specific subsect of Chinese food: the sort-of gentrified kind served at the once-ubiquitous Chin Chin chain, with its ginger-laden Chinese Chicken Salads and make-your-own-meal Dim Sum and Then Sum. Though there are only a couple of outposts left, the same family behind the double Chin has just opened My Little Dumpling: a similarly gentrified Chinese spot with traditional fare like crab & pork soup dumplings alongside more “modern” dishes like a meatless cheeseburger dumpling and cream-cheese wontons with lox.
Another new dumpling spot, this time from the Phorage guy
Remember way back in, like, 2017, when you had to go all the way to the SGV to get soup dumplings if you lived in the middle of the city? No more: there are a slew of xiao long bao shops, with the most recent being this just-dropped ultra-casual dumpling cafe from Perry Cheung, who gave Palms some very slurpable goodness with Phorage and some of the best poke in town with TikiFish. Here, you’ll get soup dumplings (of course), as well as mainstays like scallion pancakes and dan dan noodles.
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.
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.
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.
A James Beard Rising Star touches down in DTLA
Located right in the heart of the Arts District, Simone’s a beautiful, brick-laden, fresh-ingredient-forward spot from James Beard Rising Star Jessica Largey, who -- thanks to some industry mover-and-shaker partners -- has already been serving up Hollywood royalty (we were at the opening party… and so was ScarJo. No big whoop). The menu’s got all the Cali-friendly goodness you’d expect: pork collar with baby bok choy and charred peanuts, ricotta gnudi with grated tomato, and a ton of veggie dishes for the non-meat eaters of the world.
One of the country’s most renowned pizza spots lands in Culver
It’s been called one of the best pizza spots in the country by… well, just about everyone (including us), and after years of underground pop-ups Roberta’s has finally dropped in the Platform development in Culver City. Toppings include speck and gorgonzola as well as more traditional options, and they’ve also got pastas, veggies, and more; thankfully what they don’t have (yet) is NYC’s notorious waits.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.