Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants in LA Right Now

Updated On 01/31/2019 at 10:48AM EST Updated On 01/31/2019 at 10:48AM EST
nightshade
Nightshade | Wonho Frank Lee

BEST NEW OPENINGS

Wonho Frank Lee

Nightshade

Downtown

Top Chef winner Mei Lin singlehandedly changes the game
If Nightshade had opened a month earlier, it would have easily been one of LA's best new restaurants of 2018. Since it actually opened right at the top of the year, consider this a message to any other chefs getting into it this year: The bar has been set. Top Chef winner Mei Lin is behind the stoves here (working alongside owner team Francis Miranda and Cyrus Batchan of Lock & Key), turning out insanely inventive dishes like a Ma Po Tofu lasagna (yes, those four 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.

The Shelby

The Shelby

Mid-City

Another acclaimed NY chef touches down in LA
This new barstaurant right in the heart of the city has a staff populated by some heavy hitters. Chef Sascha Lyon (of NY’s beloved Balthazar) and barman Josh Goldman (of Melrose Umbrella Co, and pretty much every great bar in LA) are teaming up for what amounts to a bistro-slash-clubhouse. Drinks include the hilariously named “Myrtle Was The Case” (essentially a great whiskey-coke), and food ranges from steamed mussels and fries to a 30-day dry-aged wagyu steak.

Umbrella Los Angeles

Margot

Culver City

The team behind Norah opens LA’s most exciting new rooftop
Given that our weather is the absolute best, it’s sort of a surprise that LA doesn’t have more great rooftop restaurants. Margot -- the new spot from the team behind the beloved WeHo neighborhood restaurant Norah -- is out to change that, with a great view, plush seating, and mediterranean food including the potato-stuffed pasta Culurgiones, and a whole grilled sea bream with tarragon aioli, as well as a 180-bottle strong wine list.

Smosh Town

Smosh Town

Pasadena

LA’s newest underground burger sensation
Now that Burgers Never Say Die is on its way to be an actual brick & mortar restaurant, the time is right for a new best-underground-burger-in-LA, and Smosh is the latest contender. In a parking lot at Gabriel’s Auto Body in Pasadena, Smosh is serving up smashed, griddled burgers that are crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, and totally craveable everywhere. They only serve till they sell out, and there’s always a line, so you’ll probably want to order two -- or three, at least.

Courtesy of The Red Chickz

The Red Chickz

Downtown

Line too long at Howlin’ Ray's? Head here for hot chicken instead.
Yes, Howlin’ Ray's is amazing (which is why it's one of our best-of-the-best picks below), but who really has four hours to wait in line for chicken? Not you, which is why you’re gonna head to The Red Chickz -- they’ve got tenders, wings, and sandwiches ranging from "cool" to "inferno" on their heat scale.

H.O.M Italian Eatery

HOM Italian Eatery

Woodland Hills

A veteran LA restaurant family heads to the valley
The family behind longtime Beverly Hills favorite Da Pasquale have decided to go over the hill: HOM is their new, uh, homebase in Woodland Hills. Expect the same sorts of high-quality Italian goodness as their other spot: family-recipe meatballs, pappardelle with braised short rib, and much more.

Jon and Vinny’s Brentwood

Brentwood

LA’s favorite duo head west
The Animal guys have built a veritable empire east of La Cienega (Son of a Gun! Trois Familia! Kismet, sort of!!) but the new Brentwood location of their crowd-favorite Italian spot’s their first foray west. The menu’s the same: BLD, including soft scrambled eggs with burrata in the morning, and pastas like ricotta ravioli with marinara and parmesan for lunch and dinner.

Best of the Best Los Angeles Restaurants

Hayato

Hayato

Downtown

An intimate, beautiful Japanese experience
You may have first heard of Hayato -- a tiny, seven-seat restaurant in The Row downtown -- when you heard about their lunch bento box, a beautiful, limited-edition collection of tiny bites that quickly became an Instagram darling. But dinner here is magic, too: over the course of a dozen or so courses, you’ll eat scallops and mackerel and uni gorgeously plated, expertly prepared, and incredibly selected. Eating at Hayato is a special event, for sure, but one that’s completely worth it.

Slab

Mid-Wilshire

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.

Alta West Adams

Alta Adams

West Adams

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.

Simone

Downtown

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.

Milkbar

Milk Bar

Melrose

The new west coast flagship of NYC’s dessert institution
Rumors of Milk Bar -- Christina Tosi’s Momofuku-associated wonderland for dessert lovers -- dropping in LA have been rampant for years, and the rumors are finally true. Not only is the new location massive, including a commissary kitchen and classroom, but it’s also serving up only-in-LA goodness (Pistachio-Lemon Brioche! Inspired-by-Disneyland Pineapple Fo-Sho Whip!) as well as the sweets that made it a full on NY classic (Crack Pie!!).

Courtesy of Deidre Schoo

Roberta’s

Culver City

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.

Petit Trois

Petit Trois

Sherman Oaks

The Valley finally gets a taste of chef Ludo Lefebvre
Ludo Lefebvre’s Petit Trois has been a long-standing favorite in Hollywood thanks to absolutely perfect French omelets and a burger that many people rave about, but the second location in the Valley is larger and more ornate -- a testament to the new excitement around food in a part of LA long considered a culinary wasteland. The menu here is expanded from the original, so expect breakfast tartines and crabcakes at dinner, as well as the old favorites.

Bavel DTLA

Bavel

Downtown

Middle Eastern follow-up from the team behind Bestia
Bestia has been on our best-of Eat Seeker list since its inception, so it’s no surprise that the opening of the Middle Eastern sequel to that iconic Italian spot has also garnered a spot on the list. The menu’s full of cross-regional specialties like lamb flatbreads and confit turmeric chicken legs, as well as duck hummus (aka the one thing you never want to hear at a food fight).

Andrew Bezek

MajorDomo

Chinatown

The first LA spot from Momofuku's David Chang
Celebrated Momofuku restaurateur/Ugly Delicious star David Chang’s first-ever LA concept is a tough reservation, which is no surprise: the dude’s food, which draws from Asian cuisine as well as US traditions, is practically made for LA. Early favorites include Benton's sausage-stuffed, fried Korean peppers, and a short rib made a la BBQ master Adam Perry Lang, with kitchen duties from exec chef Jude Parra-Sickels (who was Roy Choi’s No. 2 man for years).

Wonho Lee / Thrillist

Felix Trattoria

Venice

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.

Anne Fishbein

Vespertine

Culver City

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.

Cathy Chaplin

Animal

Mid-Wilshire

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.

Bestia DTLA

Bestia

Downtown

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.

Zen Sekizawa

n/naka

Culver City

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.

Courtesy of Grand Central Market

Grand Central Market

Downtown

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.

Providence

Providence

Hollywood

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.

Flickr/T.Tseng

Howlin' Ray's

Downtown

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.

Jeff Miller/Thrillist

Q Sushi

Downtown

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).

Courtesy of PIzzana

Pizzana

Brentwood

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.