The Coolest, Hottest, Newest Places to Eat in Los Angeles
LA’s best new spots include everything from tacos to tasting menus and magnificent kaiseki to South Carolina seafood.
Summer is an optimist’s season. Even when the heat dome parks right on top of your head and refuses to budge, even when your ankles are covered in so many mosquito bites that they could double as the angry red surface of Mars for a guild-approved indie movie, and even when cartoonish villains violate tree law to destroy much-needed shade, it’s hard to get too down. The sun doesn’t set until 8 pm, it’s warm well after dark, and LA feels vibrant and alive in a way that it doesn’t always under cloudy skies. All of that means it’s prime outdoor dining season, the most fun time of year to eat in this town, and the best new restaurants in LA are here to prove it.
There are excellent restaurants opening from Highland Park to Santa Monica, designed to serve big groups, quick after-work bites, and everything in between; even our bars have fantastic food these days. So rip off your sleeves like Dom Toretto, embrace the heat, and set out for the best new restaurants in LA this summer.
Bub & Grandma’s
You’d never know it now, but Bub & Grandma’s was always supposed to be a sandwich shop. Owner and baker Andy Kadin fell into the retail bread game and then ended up at the pinnacle of it, selling outstanding sourdough at farmers markets and to some of the best restaurants in town. Bub & Grandma’s has long been the go-to bread at Wax Paper, it is an essential component in Dune’s underrated pickled beet sandwich, and now—some three years after they signed their lease—Kadin and his crew are building their own sandwiches at their stylish deli in Glassell Park. The menu skews classic and options are simply labeled with a familiar word or two: Italian, Tuna, Roast Beef Au Jus. That aesthetic serves them well, minimalism executed at the highest level, such that each piece shines but none obscures the bread itself. It extends, too, to their pastry program, which puts clever twists of flavor into familiar shapes, including some of the best new donuts in town, airy little puffs with bright, contrasting frostings like passionfruit and lime.
How to book: Walk-ins only for now.
Colette is not technically a new opening; the restaurant has been around with the same name in the same location since 2016. But late last year, it flipped into a totally new concept, morphing from a breezy New American brunch spot into its current shape, a thrilling modern Cantonese restaurant. New chef Peter Lai cooked elevated Cantonese classics at Embassy Kitchen in San Gabriel, and a similar theme runs through the menu here. There are top-tier versions of Braised Tofu with Mushroom, Curry Beef, and Kung Pao Chicken. And there are also some stunners that are a little harder to come by—a Cantonese Beef Stew served with crispy fried vermicelli noodles, Lobster with Sticky Rice, and a true showstopper in Crispy Stuffed Chicken, deboned and air-dried chicken that’s filled with shrimp paste then cooked until the outside is shatteringly crisp. The space retains its light and airy feel with a lovely outdoor patio, like a perfect brunch spot, but this food is exponentially more interesting.
How to book: Walk in or call 626-510-6286 for reservations and takeout orders.
Backed by the same big-name restaurateurs that brought the classic Culver City steakhouse Dear John’s back to life, Dear Jane’s serves as its seafood-driven sister, inviting all of the glamour of Old Hollywood to a waterfront destination in Marina Del Rey, complete with tableside presentations of Shrimp Louie Salad and fileted Whole Fish. The restaurant is equally appealing during LA’s version of winter, with views of the sparkling Pacific through floor-to-ceiling windows, plus a brick fireplace and plush velvet seating to keep you warm while you tuck into the bougiest version of Fish Sticks that you’ve ever seen, topped with caviar and served alongside a luscious seven-layer dip. The Seafood Tower is also a must—stacked with oysters and clams on the half-shell, shrimp, a half lobster, a stone crab claw, and Hokkaido scallops, with all of the requisite sauces and sides. But beyond the raw bar, there’s pasta dishes like Scampi and Vongole, Clams Casino with chorizo and Meyer Lemon crumbs, Oysters Rockefeller, New England Clam Chowder, and even a handful of turf options, plus a selection of vegetables like Creamed Spinach and Whipped Potatoes. Cocktails are booze-forward with a similar attention to ingredients—start your meal with the Fonda 75 featuring Jimador tequila, grapefruit, lime, rosemary syrup, and champagne, and end it with Smokey Jane, with Old Forester, Demerara syrup, angostura, and orange and black walnut bitters.
How to book: Seating at the bar is first-come, first-served.
Dry-aged fish is all the rage in LA right now, but Culver City’s new sushi den is dedicated to sustainable practices and sourcing methods, so you can feel good about ordering everything on its never-frozen seafood menu. With a sleek and moody interior, and a narrow, ivy-filled patio with hanging lanterns and backlit seating, it’s one of your best date night or special occasion options in the area. The menu features your favorite sushi stalwarts like Crispy Rice topped with spicy tuna and steamed and salted Edamame plus plenty of nigiri, but also ventures into new and delicious territory with inventive Maki rolls like the Catch 22, with Kani kama, cucumber, avocado, spicy tuna, kabayaki, and rice pop. Don’t disregard the sashimi where the dry-age program is on full display and there’s even a vegan section, where vegetables are given the same attention to detail, like the Dragon roll with avocado, sweet potato, eggplant, and vegan kabayaki maki. If you’d like to try a little bit of everything, there’s also the option to order a Big Fiish or Little Fiish plate. A selection of shochu, sake, and agave wine-based cocktails are on offer, plus several wines, sake, and shochu by the glass and bottle as well as beer.
How to book: Reservations can be made online.
Chef Chris Ono didn’t start his career intending to reimagine Japanese-American restaurant classics—most of his work has been in high-end French kitchens—but he has done just that at Hansei, Ono’s stellar tasting-menu dinner series at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center. He draws on his Japanese-American heritage and his native Angeleno upbringing for his own spin on dishes like a Japanese-American ceviche, a California Roll showpiece decked out with uni, and at the heart of things, a Teriyaki Steak dinner set amped up with Wagyu beef. But a meal at Hansei is not about food alone—dinner takes you on a tour of the JACCC, starting with the gorgeous and historic Japanese garden before moving through their sushi bar-style setup and then on into the dining room.
How to book: Reservations available through Tock.
For a long time, LA’s French food scene was quiet at best. That’s changed a bit over the past few years, with the success of Petit Trois, big buzzy openings like Mes Amis, Parisian imports like Mr. T (which appears a little further down this list), and now with Juliet, the stylish modern Parisian-style restaurant with a gorgeous outdoor patio at the Platform in Culver City. The menu is seafood-focused and farmers market heavy, applying French techniques and Parisian style to local products. That means oysters, mussels, and takes on the Greek fish dip Tarama and the Tahitian raw fish dish Poisson Cru in addition to classics like Duck Confit Cigars and Cote D’Agneau, lamb chops with chickpea puree and tapenade. The wine list is focused entirely on French producers, with almost everything available by the glass and in small pours for sampling, and the cocktails are modern takes on classic drinks. Juliet is also open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, with a menu that has both luxurious hearty dishes and light bites, which makes it a spectacularly versatile choice for the neighborhood.
How to book: Reservations are available via Resy.
Chefs like to dedicate their restaurants to family, to a hometown, to a style or region. But at Kuya Lord, the new fast casual Filipino spot from Lord Maynard Llera, the style is simply Llera’s own; it even says “Filipino food done my way” on the takeout bags. Llera has earned the right to do things his way, through his training at places like Bestia and the H.Wood group and through the well-earned praise for Kuya Lord as a pop-up. And Llera’s style is powerful—when you walk in the door you are hit by a wave of wood smoke, the primal pleasure of grilled meat with a punchy little whiff of fish sauce underneath. It’s a small space, and this is genius marketing, a surefire way to get you to order one or two extra things. The primary format on the menu is silog, garlic rice bowls with a fried egg, salads, and your choice of meat, which include the muscular grilled short ribs called Tapa, roasted pork belly Lucenachon, and house-made sweet or savory versions of Longanisa sausages, along with a rotating set of specials like Hiramasa collar or blue prawns. You can also get large-format trays, a Lordly feast.
How to order: Walk-in only for now.
Chef Jordan Kahn’s otherworldly restaurant Meteora has been open for almost a year, so it’s a little strange to include it here. But in recent months, they have switched the format to tasting menus: a five-course dinner with lots of optional add-ons or a 16+-course ‘omakase.’ Kahn and the team seem particularly suited to this menu style, and the procession of courses has focused the chef’s wild instincts without caging his imagination. Make no mistake; this is still a far-out, utterly unique experience. Influences come from across the globe, both backward and forward in time, and ingredients are transformed using elemental techniques like hot rocks and lots of live fire. A “ceviche” of compressed melon is topped with a melon seed leche de tigre, then served with an aged spruce tip which is meant to be torn and added by hand; the combination is unusual and alchemical, sharp, and creamy with a hit of high-toned spruce resin that lingers on your fingertips. A scallop topped with longanisa-spiced oil, pineapple, habanero ash, and lime hits almost like al pastor, but a burnt yam topped with smoked trout roe, grilled hazelnuts, papaya, and a butter emulsion is like nothing else. Wine pairings are clever and fun, focusing on natural wine from volcanic soil, and cocktails are complex and unfamiliar in the best way. In the early days, the menu was expansive and beguiling—for better and for worse—but now it feels curated, directed. It is a guided walk through an alien garden instead of bushwacking through primitive forest.
Two years after Hollywood insiders first spotted neon pink signage announcing the imminent arrival of buzzy Parisian bistro Mr. T along a trendy stretch of Sycamore Avenue in Hollywood, the globally inspired restaurant has finally opened. Translating beloved street fare through expert French techniques and California-fresh ingredients is chef Alisa Vannah (Chi Spacca, Tsubaki, and République), who trained with head chef Tsuyoshi Miyazaki in Paris prior to the opening and lent her expertise to a few dishes that only appear on the LA menu, including a Thai-inspired take on Tuna Crudo with Nam Jim vinaigrette, red flame grapes, and jalapeno oil. Whether you choose to cozy up in one of the maroon leather circle booths inside or on the string-lit patio where a row of blooming olive trees provide privacy from sidewalk traffic, you’ll be treated to an unforgettable meal where highlights include vegetarian Croquettes Monsieur with a crunchy, falafel-like exterior, and the Mr. T Mac and Cheese with truffle oil and comte cheese that gets a tableside flambé. The beverage program is just as worldly, with mezcal making its way into the eponymous Mr. T cocktail alongside prickly pear, Cointreau, lime juice, agave, and candied hibiscus, and Japanese gin making an appearance in the Tupac Shakur-inspired Dear Mama, with matcha, almond milk Baileys, vanilla cinnamon syrup, and a pistachio crumble.
There were a couple of false starts for chef Chris Bianco at ROW DTLA, the massive mixed office, retail, and dining complex in the Arts District. But almost three years after the closure of Tartine Bianco, he and his team are back in a different corner of the ROW, doing what they do best—kicking out incredible wood-fired pizzas and winning prestigiousawards. The dinner menu is short and ingredient-focused in an earnest way, with a few appetizers, a couple of salads, and a handful of pizzas topped simply but cleverly with just a few ingredients each. Take the Wiseguy, with wood-roasted onion, smoked mozzarella, and fennel sausage; the celebrated Rosa is equally simple, with a blanket of pistachios, a fistful of slivered red onion, and a scattering of rosemary over a bed of parmigiano-reggiano on that wood-fired crust. Salads and appetizers are market-dependent, from roasted vegetables to the seasonal salad, and the farinata and focaccia are under-the-radar treasures. Reservations are tough to come by, but sometimes you can sneak in if you show up right around opening. And if that doesn’t work, they’re doing New York-style pies at lunch, which is worth a visit in its own right.
If you’ve been following the LA pop-up food scene over the last couple of years, odds are you’ve heard of Estrano, the far-out pasta pop-up from chef Diego Argoti. Estrano events trend toward chaos in the best way, with long lines that wind down barely-lit alleyways, thumping music, last-minute surprises, and a menu of inspired insanity centered on handmade noodles with a feral edge. For his next project, the new Poltergeist, Argoti has stepped indoors to the fun and boldly experimental retro-style bar arcadeButton Mash. Armed with a real kitchen instead of a couple of burners on the street, Argoti already has Poltergeist feeling tight even in its very early days, maybe not focused, per se, but cohesive in its eccentricity. There is a Parker House Roll with Miso Honey, Furikake Duqqa, and Fresno Chile Butter that pulls apart just so; the noodles in the Green Curry Bucatino are as good as you’ll find anywhere and come coated in a slick curry that zips with scallion and herbs; and the Coconut Curry Chochoyotes turn out to be a wild flip on fondue, complete with mushrooms three ways and a fondue fork for dipping. Argoti has a penchant for unusual cuts of meat, which dot the menu, but this is also a place where vegetarians and the squeamish can happily eat. And you can always put a beer in their hand and send them over to play Virtua Tennis at the arcade when the Lamb Neck hits the table.
How to book: Reservations are available via Resy.
The seafood cuisine of Charleston, South Carolina is the inspiration for the new Queen Street, and executive chef Ari Kolender and the booming Last Word Hospitality group have leaned all the way into the motif. There are photographs of Atlantic seascapes on the wall, a wood-paneled U-shaped bar that feels like an old boat, and custom stained-glass windows overhead. The menu is full of lovely takes on Low Country dishes like a bright and herbaceous Pickled Shrimp Salad or a rich She Crab Soup smoothed with a tableside pour of sherry right into the bowl; the Anchovy & Tomato Bread Pudding is an early highlight, a smushy delight of caramelized tomato with little mines of fishy umami laid over the top. The smell of wood smoke drifts from the kitchen to settle gently into your hair, and you sip something from the clever wine list or maybe a glass of brisk Spanish vermouth over ice. You look around the dining room, full from the moment they open with happy, stylish folks from all over town, and it’s suddenly clear—Queen Street may be a Charleston-themed restaurant, but this is precisely how Angelenos want to eat right now.
José Andrés returned to LA in dramatic fashion, helming the food and beverage program at the newly opened, Frank Gehry-designed Conrad LA hotel. While the renowned Bazaar Meat has yet to finalize its launch, San Laurel immediately wowed diners, already earning itself Michelin recognition in the brief time that it’s been open. The menu highlights Iberian cuisine through California-fresh ingredients, showcasing the chemistry between the two coasts in shareable plates like a Grilled Romaine salad with manchego espuma, and Gambas Al Aillo, or head-on shrimp that arrive in a rich bath of garlic and olive oil. With an expansive patio that overlooks the stunning Walt Disney Concert Hall, San Laurel positions itself as a tempting pre-theater destination, even offering a two- or three-course dinner option that highlights favorite dishes like the Fennel Soup with crab and manchego foam, and a Rack of Lamb with cumin-carrot puree, plus the option to add a supplement of acorn-fed Jamón Ibérico, before finishing with a Pistachio Cake. Classic and creative cocktails abound on the drink menu, including the Saints G&T with aloe vera liqueur, a Pisco Sour, and a Foggy Hill with Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Yzaguirre 1884 Gran Reserva vermouth, Cynar, Aperol, and topped with an orange-thyme aromatic cloud. A selection of wines by the glass (including some sherry options), beer, and sake are also available.
How to book: Reservations can be made online.
Saucy Chick x The Goat Mafia
In the internet age, no single word generates more hype than “collab.” Some collaborations don’t live up to the excitement they generate, but the Saucy Chick x The Goat Mafia restaurant one absolutely does. The new spot is a brick-and-mortar collaboration between two former pop-ups, both Smorgasburg veterans who’ve teamed up to bring their collective talents west to the ritzy and sometimes bland stretch of 3rd Street between the Beverly Center and the Grove. That means you can get Rhea and Marcel Michel’s Indian-Mexican rotisserie chicken, Juan Garcia and Ivan Flores’ Jalisco-style birria from a century-old family recipe, and a crisp local craft beer all in the same place. The Pollo Pibil and Charred Haldi Cauliflower are particularly lovely, and they make an incredible pair with a couple of those resplendent birria tacos. The space is bright and airy, and they’ve just launched app-based delivery, which means the perfectly balanced rotisserie chicken bowls are available for a quick weekday lunch.
How to book: Walk in, order pickup via Toast, or delivery via GrubHub.
Tacos Los Cholos
The first thing that hits you when you walk into the new Tacos Los Cholos in Huntington Park is the smoke. The smell of mesquite and charred meat hovers in the room like it does at the very best neighborhood cookouts. Then you look around, clock the size of the space, the brash black and red color scheme, and the massive, flaming Santa Maria-style grill that pops and crackles and powers the whole operation. It is an impressive foray into LA county for the OC favorites, fresh off a thrilling win at LA Taco’s Taco Madness this year. The tacos are also impressive, and the perfect showcase for all the immaculate, smoky, and salty protein from that grill, from the sleeper hit mushrooms to USDA Prime-grade filet mignon. Salsas are good if maybe a bit of an afterthought, and if you’re feeling wild, they have a range of more extravagant creations too, like the Cholo Pizza (an overstuffed layered quesadilla with tons of salsas) and the Papa Loka (an overstuffed layered baked potato with tons of cheese).
UKA at Japan House Los Angeles
No honorable Angeleno would send a person they cared about to Hollywood and Highland without a damn good reason. It is a garish and overstimulating jumble of tourists, fast fashion, bad stores, lousy food, and worse vibes. But it is more than worth braving the madness for the special meal above it—UKA, the new restaurant at Japan House on the complex’s top floor, is an absolute marvel. The elegant kaiseki menu from chef Yoshitaka Mitsue and chef Shingo Kato covers nine thrilling courses, ranging from subtle to muscular and classic to modern. There is delicate Ainame fish sliced in the intricate honegiri style, cooked in dashi, and perfumed with sansho leaves. There is also a bright and fun Teriyaki Hamachi served with French-inspired asparagus cream. The beverage pairing includes both sake and wine, with creative choices that pair in clever and unexpected ways, and the space is absolutely pristine, with gorgeous views that stretch from downtown to the ocean. It is an extraordinary experience, and it’s easy to forget the imposter Avengers posing for pictures with sunburnt tourists, only five short stories below.
It may be tucked into the corner of a big strip mall south of the happening stretch of Figueroa, but the new brick-and-mortar location of Villa’s Tacos is still easy to find—just follow the smell of mesquite smoke. Superstar taquero Victor Villa’s voice booms joyously over the crowd of people, greeting the long line of friends, neighbors, and customers, many of whom fall into all three of those categories, and he has good reason to be enthusiastic. His new location is a hit. They’ve seamlessly jumped from a pop-up stand on York with limited hours into a stationary restaurant open every Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 9 pm. The meats are still perfumed with mesquite smoke and chopped to crumbly bits, the salsas still slap with just the right balance of salt and acid, and the cheese crust still flares out in a jagged halo around the edges of the handmade blue corn tortillas. Does the easy availability dampen the magic? For clout-chasers out there, perhaps—and so much the better for the rest of us.
How to book: Walk-ins only for now.
Frequently topping national ‘Best Fried Chicken’ lists is this Black family-owned restaurant that first opened in New Orleans in 1957, and recently launched a cozy brick-and-mortar in Venice, with Willie Mae Seaton’s granddaughter Kerry Seaton-Stewart and husband Mike Stewart at the helm to make sure those treasured Southern recipes meet their long-established standards. There is, of course, the titular fried chicken, with a perfect, crispy crust that yields to juicy and tender meat, plus gumbo (exclusive to this location), creamy mac and cheese, vegan red beans and rice and butter beans, sweet potato fries, and cornbread. Whatever you order, pair it with a bottle of their fresh-squeezed lemonade.
Like any restaurant that debuted in the second half of 2019, life at Yang’s Kitchen has been full of twists and turns. They opened with an all-day menu of modern Chinese-Angeleno food influenced by chef Chris Yang’s LA upbringing, then pivoted to takeout and pantry items before reopening for brunch last year and then, finally, re-started their dinner service in November 2022. After a few weeks of dinners, it is abundantly clear that it was worth the wait—the menu is fun and approachable, clever and creative, the perfect place for a casual, wine-friendly dinner with a small group. Start with a little bowl of Chex Mix dusted with furikake, maybe a serving of Chilled Tofu with Avocado and Roe, and some Smoked Fish Dip. Have a glass of natural wine from their tightly curated list, then add another app—a wedge of Grilled Cabbage with Bagna Cauda, maybe—before continuing to the main courses. The Campanelle pasta done in the style of Dan Dan noodles is an early hit, but it is hard to outshine the Hainan-style Fish Rice, featuring dry-aged Barramundi served with chili butter, ginger-scallion sauce, and pickles over a scoop of their luxurious chicken fat rice.
How to book: Reservations available through Yelp.