Everywhere You Need to Eat in LA Right Now
Spanning Silver Lake to the beach, LA’s best new restaurants encompass Peruvian Nikkei, Middle Eastern, and Spanish cuisine, an Indian sports bar, and more.
Just like bumper-to-bumper traffic, LA’s dining scene is back in full force. The industry has been through hell and back over the last two years, deftly working around staffing shortages, shipping delays, and other pandemic chaos. Now free from (some of) those restrictions, local chefs and restaurateurs are eager to show diners what they’ve been experimenting with and where they’ve been finding inspiration.
No doubt influenced by our recent inability to travel, many of LA’s newcomers feature a global influence, highlighting flavors from everywhere from the Iberian Peninsula to Peru, Japan, and the Middle East, with extravagant dining rooms capable of transporting you to the furthest corners of the world. Fresh California produce continues to be an award-winning supporting actor, fostering new cuisine types inspired by seasonality and sustainable sourcing. Tasting menus and tapas-style meals have also risen in popularity, reflecting a dining populace that’s eager to embrace decadence by ordering everything in sight.
From Santa Monica to Downtown to Hollywood and beyond, spanning fresh seafood, weekend brunch, and classic pizza parlors, here are some of the most exciting restaurants in LA that have opened this year:
Seaside Santa Monica is a haven for fresh and sustainable seafood, but Savida stands out as an Israeli concept that lands courtesy of chef Dan Smulovitz, who marries flavors from the California and Mediterranean coast in dishes like a crispy Octopus Tostada that’s smeared with zesty tzatziki and harissa sauces, and a Squid and Sea Asparagus salad that’s dotted with pine nuts. The intimate space offers a small selection of seating on the interior where you can watch as chef Smulovitz lends his final innovations to dishes before they’re sent out to guests, as well as sidewalk seating with a pleasant view of pedestrian-friendly Montana Ave. Savida just launched dinner service, with a wine menu to follow soon.
Los Angeles is head over heels in its current love affair with the Iberian peninsula—home to Spain and Portugal, with plenty of North African and Mediterranean influence. Landing next to Fia Steak and Fia, chef Brendan Collins is also behind Dono, which serves as a celebration of all things Spanish, with a sun-washed dining room that features a custom stained glass window in honor of St. Sebastian and a partitioned patio deck with heaters to stave off the evening wind. The menu is heavy on tapas like Sweet and Spicy Marcona Almonds, Spanish Olives, Croquetas Jamon, and plenty of conservas, plus large-format dishes like Spatchcock Piri Piri Chicken and Whole Grilled Sea Bass, in addition to a sizzling seafood paella, as well as a vegan version. Don’t disregard the dessert menu either, which presents Churros, Pastel de Nata, and Burnt Basque Cheesecake as worthwhile options. The cocktail menu is gin- and sherry-driven, with a trio of specialty sangrias on order. With a subtly smiling mural of Anthony Bourdain on its outside wall, Dono is definitely the sort of place that the late chef would have appreciated.
From husband and wife chef duo Ray Hayashi and Cynthia Hetlinger, Ryla offers a menu inspired by Hayashi’s background growing up in his parent’s Japanese restaurants in the South Bay and Hetlinger’s upbringing in Taipei, featuring fresh California ingredients sourced from the nearby Santa Monica Farmers Market. Highlights include a New Zealand Tai Snapper that floats in an effervescent lime coconut broth with mussels, daikon, and Fresno chile, but don’t skip the plush Hokkaido Milkbread with tobiko nori spread at the start of your meal. Sake and wine are offered by the glass, along with a selection of craft cocktails, like the Sichuan Opera, a sour with Sichuan peppercorn-infused mezcal, Falernum bitters, Grenadine, and pomegranate. The interior is lush with stone and dark wood details, plus a Japanese-inspired mural that dominates the back wall and private dining area. With a menu that runs the gamut from Hot Chicken Karaage to Tonkotsu Miso Ramen—plus weekend brunch!—Ryla is the sort of place you’ll find yourself returning to again and again.
Helmed by Los Angeles native Avish Naran, who wanted to create a local Indian food scene to rival San Francisco and NYC, Pijja Palace took over a former podiatrist’s office on Sunset Blvd and transformed it into an inviting, terracotta- and jade-hued den that slings Indian-inflected pizzas, pastas, and wings, with flat screens blaring LA sports teams in the background. Somehow this amalgamation of vibes works, in no small part because of the attention given to flavors and ingredients—the Tandoori Spaghetti belies your usual definition with smoked chili, garlic, charred lime, and breadcrumbs, while the Green Chutney Pijja features a spotted, cracker-thin crust doused with a vibrant green chile chutney, mozzarella, and crunchy masala. The drink menu is worth its own separate visit, with Indian whiskey, gin, and rum featured heavily throughout, though the natty wine selection also pairs well with the aromatic dishes. Go with a group so you can order a bit of everything and definitely save room for the Cookies and Cardamom and Malted Chai soft serves for dessert.
Landing in the former Farmer’s Daughter space is this worldly bistro from chef Ricardo Zarate (Rosaline, Picca, Paiche) that’s set in a stunning hotel courtyard and gives way to an open-air bar and dining room with hanging disco ball plant fixtures, navy banquettes, and Barbie pink walls.The Lomo Saltado is a must-order, with skirt steak and marble potatoes that are drenched in a Peruvian soy glaze and topped with a sunny egg, as are the Moroccan-spiced lamb chops with saffron Israeli couscous and cinnamon yogurt, plus plenty of shareables like Ceviche Clasico, Baby Artichokes, and Spanish Octopus. Cocktails skew refreshing and bright, with a Pisco Sour and White Sangria on offer, plus a Cantaloupe Basil Margarita with mezcal, and a few beers and wines by the glass.
How to book: Reservations can be made online. Walk-ins welcome.
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On the heels of Short Stories, chef Ricardo Zarate opened this Peruvian Nikkei restaurant along a popular stretch of Sunset Blvd. The dining room is dim, moody, and date-appropriate, while the verdant outdoor patio is lively and perfect for hanging with a group of friends. Standouts include rich Chocolatas Clams smothered in leche de tigre and an apple criolla sauce; a quartet of nikkei-style nigiri paired with potatoes instead of rice; a Sea Bass Tamal with coffee jus; and a seared Steak Tartare that’s prepared tableside with crispy rice, egg, and a gooey parmesan sauce. Drinks are similarly inventive, with the Peruvian spirit pisco given plenty of attention in cocktails like Apricot (pisco, apple brandy, apricot cordial, hoja santa, tarragon), plus sake, wines by the glass, and beer by the can and on draft.
Next door to Causita, but worlds apart in terms of ambience and offerings, is Bar Moruno, which first opened from chef Chris Feldmeier as a Spanish-influenced concept in the Original Farmers Market in 2016 and finally earned a brick-and-mortar location in Silver Lake this spring. The brick exterior reveals a dusky and intimate dining room with Spanish music posters framed on the wall and olive accents throughout—perfect for wasting an evening away with a Negroni and conservas. Bar Moruno offers everything from sardines in tomato sauce to spicy tuna pate, plus some tinned fish standouts like octopus in paprika sauce and sea urchin roes in brine. Regardless of the time of day, you’ll want to indulge in the eggs section of the menu with either the Chorizo Scotch Egg or Tortilla Española, before moving onto wood-fired proteins like Whole Grilled Orata or Beef Morunos, where flank steak is presented in a spread with rye flatbread, garlic yogurt, pickled onions, and lemon. The cocktail menu puts a focus on vermouth, gin, and sherry—get out of your comfort zone with the Salmon Martini, with salmon-infused tanqueray gin, atxa dry and blanco vermuts, and caperberry.
Brothers Dario and Alessio Vullo are building on a family restaurant legacy that dates back to 1954, when their grandfather founded the bakery Bar Esperia in Sicily. They’ve since opened Nando, a Michelin-recommended Sicilian trattoria in Chicago in 2011, with addition locations in Champaign, Illinois, and now Manhattan Beach, just blocks from the Manhattan Beach pier. Here you’ll find freshly imported delights like 24-month-aged DOP Parmigiano Reggiano that’s dusted over thin-sliced Wagyu Beef Carpaccio with artichoke heart and kumquat, and a Misto Fritto with fried calamari, scallops, and prawns served with house-made potato chips. For mains, you’ll find yourself stumped over notable options like Crab and Lobster Ravioli, Truffle Gnocchi, and Pan-Seared Swordfish. A lengthy wine list filled with Italian and European labels is on offer, and there’s plenty of al fresco dining as well as dining room seating.
Izakaya dining is a thoroughly atmosphere-based experience. You sit for a while with friends, settling in to do both your eating and your drinking in rounds, something halfway between a Basque pintxo bar and a British pub. At Kodō, the izakaya-inspired restaurant from David Wynn’s Kensho Group and Executive Chef Yoya Takahashi, the experience is elevated and quiet, distinctly less brash but with the good vibes intact. The space is stylish and fluid, with an impeccable design by gry space, and the menu is packed with fun, beverage-friendly small bites. Start with sake and Chef Yoya’s immaculate sushi, and maybe some Gobo Chips or their particularly lovely Caesar Salad. Grab a round of cocktails, maybe a Boulevardier flip with ume whiskey or a Margarita with yuzu, and move on into some grilled things like prawns laced with sansho pepper or a tsukune meatball formed into a burger patty and topped with a perfect jidori egg yolk. Then another round, perhaps some of the carb-focused Shime dishes and a glass of wine, followed by a stunningly good Miso Chocolate Brownie for dessert. And don’t forget their take on the Mexican digestif cocktail Carajillo, a final round with a little burst of caffeine for the ride home.
From the couple that brought you Bestia and Bavel comes this Middle Eastern eatery with art deco flourishes on an unassuming corner in East Hollywood. The focus here is on traditional, home-style cooking, with plenty of dips, flatbreads, and skewers that don’t require utensils. Large plates include an herbaceous Red Snapper Tagine with ginger, turmeric, serrano, and cilantro over coconut rice, and a Wood-Fire Shawarma with lamb, beef, and all the fixings. Inventive cocktails make this a drinking destination on its own, with notables like a Mezcal Sour with passionfruit, carrot, pineapple, and habanero, plus beer and wine. During the day, Saffy’s operates as a coffee shop with fresh-baked pastries, coffee, and tea.
How to book: Walk-ins accepted during the day.
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.
Mariscos trucks are not uncommon around LA; many of them are quite good. But there may be no mariscos truck—and few food trucks in general—operating on the level of Mariscos Chingones Simón, the new truck that parks at the Sunset Junction triangle most afternoons. It is painted a predictable ocean blue with a fish skeleton logo, but a quick perusal of the menu will reveal that cousins Alexis Chacon and Francisco Aguilar are doing unique things with sea creatures. There is, for example, Pescado Al Pastor, a slab of fish spiced like al pastor and served with charred pineapple; it hits exactly the right balance of the familiar flavors of adobo and acid with the novelty and lightness of flaky fish. There is also a riff on the Taco Gobernador enveloped in a tube of crispy fried cheese, octopus cooked like barbacoa, aguachile infused with the Oaxacan smoked chile paste chintextle, and they’re just getting started.
How to order: Walk-up only.
Not long after they opened in early February, the distinctive pinched-crust Neapolitan pizzas from pizzaiolo William Joo started popping up in the conversations and social feeds of what felt like every food media person in town. This was not thanks to a coordinated marketing blitz or a deluge of free samples or a nefarious mind control scheme; it was just because the pizzas are so damn good. They come with a special pedigree, too, modeled after the unique Tokyo-Neapolitan pies at Seirinkan, and informed by Joo’s work at Ronan and Pizzana and in other high-end kitchens. That skill and ambition shines through—the crust has a touch of mochi-esque squish, the olive oil and salt are punched up to the perfect level, and the toppings are thoughtful and high-quality. Even in a city with great pizza, this is destination-worthy stuff.
How to order: Reservations and wait list available through Yelp, pre-order for pickup through their website, and order delivery through ChowNow or Slice.
1919 Noodle Express
The rate of turnover at the Atlantic Times Square shopping complex in Monterey Park is high, even by SGV standards—so much so that sometimes it hardly seems worth it to change signage. The sign above new noodle specialist 1919 Noodle Express, for example, still says Nice Time Cafe, leftover from the Taiwanese restaurant that used to inhabit the space. But 1919 Noodle Express, which is an offshoot of two-year-old 1919 Lanzhou Beef Noodle in Arcadia, has the goods to stick around. Their primary focus is on beef soup, which you can get with noodles served in any of a handful of shapes from thin to thick, and from wide and flat to the triangular twisted noodles they call prisma. Those prisma are particularly fun, sturdy things with rough broth-grabbing edges and just the right amount of chew. The Chef’s Special Spicy Beef Noodle Soup is delicious and legitimately spicy, lighting up the rich base broth with pungent chiles and herbs. They also make a particularly good rendition of the Shaanxi specialty Biang Biang Noodles, with noodles that are a little lighter and bouncier than other versions around town, and come dressed with an excellent garlic-intensive chili oil topping.
How to order: Walk in or order takeout over the phone at (626) 872-1120.
Led by Max Boonthanakit and Lijo George (Ducasse), two young chefs with classical French training that’s paired with influence from their respective South Asian backgrounds, Camphor is an industrial-chic bistro space with high ceilings and just 65 seats, including eight on a streetside patio. The menu blends each chef’s culinary heritage with a uniquely LA perspective, sourcing spices from George’s home state of Kerala, India, and elevating plates like Dry-Aged Dover Sole with a tableside filet and a house-made Grenobloise sauce. The cocktail program is led by Bar Director Andrew Paniagua (Lock & Key), featuring craft creations like Opéra, with Japanese Whiskey, Vermount Blanc, amaro, and peach and mole bitters, while owner Cyrus Batchan has curated an approachable wine featuring bottles from Burgundy and across Europe that are hard to find elsewhere in LA.
This 5,000-square-foot Korean-American deli and super opened at the start of the year by Katianna and John Hong (Melisse) includes a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, a deli with counter service, and a night market where you can pick up limited grab-and-go items. On the menu, you’ll find homage given to the Hongs’ respective backgrounds, California seasonality, and the American deli experience, resulting in sides and dishes like a Hot Smoked Trout Shmear, Kimchi Pozole, and Braised Beef Back Ribs. Cocktails, beer, and wine can be purchased in the adjoining market, many of which are bottled in-house, like the Left Hook, which is their version of a punch with Cimarron Blanco Tequila, Carpano Bianco, El Silencio Mezcal, passion fruit syrup, Gochujang, and lemon acid.
How to book: Walk in or order takeout and delivery online.
Quickly becoming LA’s favorite new Roman-Italian restaurant, this sexy spot from pasta aficionado Evan Funke landed in the historic Citizen News Building in Hollywood’s Vinyl District in early 2022. You’ll feel transported to a Roman banquet hall as you settle into red leather booths alongside intricate lamps and vases bursting with extravagant arrangements. Here you’ll find the handmade pasta dishes that catapulted Funke’s Felix to international acclaim, as well as blistered, wood-fired pies, and starters like ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms and blue prawns drizzled in a garlic salsa verde, though you’d do well to save room for Secondi plates like Branzino Alla Brace (for two) and 60-day Dry-Aged Prime Rib. The cocktails are strong without being overpowering, and a large selection of Italian wines are available by the glass.
After wowing Chinatown diners with his all-day cafe Angry Egret Dinette, chef Wes Avila is tackling the ancient flavors of the Yucatan peninsula and pairing them with market-sourced ingredients at this uniquely LA concept that’s adjacent to the tommie Hollywood hotel. You’ll feel transported to Tulum as you dine among hanging rattan lanterns and vibrant plant life, with shareable plates like fried prawn and potato tacos and a Striped Bass Ceviche with pickled mango, plus entrees like Cochinita Pibil with Heritage Pork that’s wrapped in a banana leaf and Lamb Neck Barbacoa with a carrot habanero salsa. The cocktail program is equally enchanting, with the specialty Ka’teen Margarita that’s served with your choice of passion fruit, guava, or mango, and Gypsy Fever with mezcal, passion fruit, guava, lime, agave, bitters, and fire water, representing some of the best options.
Owner Yonette Alleyne comes from a lineage of home cooks and bakers and has been enthusiastically cooking Guyanese and Caribbean staples since she asked her mother for a cookbook at just 11 years old. She’s been popping up at local farmers markets since 2015, and now you can dig into popular dishes like Oxtail Stew, Jerk Chicken, and Vegan Curry and Roti at the newly opened Blossom Market Hall in the former San Gabriel Masonic Lodge. The food hall is also home to worthwhile concepts like Burnt Belly, a Southern barbecue spot, and Rori’s Artisanal Creamery, which offers small-batch ice cream in vegan and non-dairy flavors.
How to order: Walk-ins only.
Cento Pasta Bar
Chef Avner Lavi landed in his first brick-and-mortar last winter after hosting a successful pasta pop-up by the same name in Downtown LA. You’ll find some of the Italian-meets-Middle Eastern-inspired dishes that first turned diners’ heads, like naturally dyed beet spaghetti with ricotta and brown butter, and a creamy uni spaghetti with burrata. The intimate, string-lit patio is perfect for date night, with a view into the open chef kitchen through floor-to-ceiling windows. There’s also a cozy, L-shaped bar on the interior if you prefer a front-row seat to the pasta-preparing action. A lengthy wine list is also available to choose from.
Chef Stephanie Izard made the trip out west in 2021, after gaining national recognition for her Chicago restaurant, Girl & the Goat. You can visit the LA outpost of Girl & the Goat in the nearby Arts District, but make sure you bookmark Cabra, on the newly transformed rooftop of the Hoxton hotel, as well. Choose from an al-fresco experience or opt for the enclosed section that features a view into the chef’s kitchen, plus surrounding downtown skyscrapers through 360-degree windows. The menus feature Peruvian flavors, like Swiss Chard and Kale Empanadas, thinly sliced Tuna Tiradito with passion fruit and jicama, and a fun take on Lomo Saltado that features tater tots, but you’ll also see South American influence on the beverage side in cocktails like Pisco Fever with pisco, mango, and frozen aji panca, and Sunshower Tonic with cilantro rum, Montenegro amaro, pickled green mango syrup, and tonic.
Baba’s Vegan Cafe
Co-owners Baba Wo'se Kofi and Lauren Wolley Ross like to say that they are “actively” on 63rd and Western Ave, where Baba’s Vegan Cafe is located, bringing care and support to a food desert that has not seen much change since the 1992 LA Riots. The pair offer Caribbean and soul food-inspired dishes translated for a plant-based diet, with hearty options like a Welcome Plate that comes with seasonal veggies, rice and beans, greens, kale salad, vegan mac and cheese, and fried cauliflower. For something lighter, try one of their Jamaican-style patties in flavors like Soy Beef, Curry Potato, Spinach and Kale, and Sweet Yam—and make sure you try limited-time offerings like Savory Hibiscus and Apple patties when they appear on the menu. Baba’s also features a cooperative marketplace with art, clothing, wellness products, and more, much of it sourced from current staff members.
How to book: Walk in.
Here's Looking at You
This beloved K-Town restaurant came back to life in January after a two-year closure thanks to an ongoing crowdfunding campaign by co-owner Lien Ta and crew. The festive and playful ambience is reflected in the changing menu, which currently features savory dishes like an Uni Panna Cotta with salmon roe and dill over wild rice, and a 36-ounce Cowboy Ribeye with fermented radish butter and sarsaparilla jus. Pastry chef Thessa Diadem is behind delightful creations like Roasted Chestnut Mochi and Frozen Pear Soda Espuma. The current theme of the cocktail list is “Revival,” with drinks like Folk Hero, with persimmon leaf-infused tequila, winter citrus, yuzu, honey, and Swiss violette.
Chef Nan Yimcharoen is behind this intimate Thai-Japanese concept that offers a seasonal, ten-course seafood-centric homage to her grandmother Friday through Sunday evenings, as well as a 20-course omakase sushi experience with just ten seats two to three times a week. You can also enjoy it at home with Kinkan ToGo, a beautifully packaged, multi-tiered bento box and chirashi don that’s brimming with fresh seafood like house-cured ikura, Japanese unagi, and Hokkaido scallops, though that doesn’t come with chef Yimcharoen’s in-depth explanations of the dishes and the inspiration behind each one.
How to book: via Tock.
Smorgasburg darling Tezeta “Tete” Alemayehu is behind this African-inspired vegan spot in Santa Monica, with two levels of sleek, wood interiors, plus a small astroturfed parklet and sidewalk seating. You’ll find plenty of Ethiopian ingredients and spices on the menu, but the first restaurant concept from the chef ventures far outside of traditional Ethiopian cuisine, with a modern menu that includes popular Smorgasburg items like ET Twist Tacos with potato, lentil, mushroom, cilantro, awaze, tangfaye sauce, and microgreens, plus a bevy of new additions like Eat the Rainbow, with red lentils, turmeric garbanzo, and purple cabbage with potato and sautéed greens, served with teff injera bread.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome. Order takeout and delivery via UberEats.