Because only a crass heathen would give you a list of the 10 best restaurant openings of 2014 in LA, here are... 11! And they're all totally awesome, and filled with 24oz oyster jus-grilled ribeyes, carnitas pizzas, and more.
For all of the hype given to Ludovic Lefebvre for his ultra-creative LudoBites pop-ups, the Frenchie's always been at his actual best making food that's... well... French. So it's no surprise that his teenie-tiny French bistro is superlative: the steak frites is perfect, the chicken leg is, uh, perfect, and the omelette (yes, the omelette -- you will regret not ordering it) is -- you guessed it -- perfect.
Not only does Curtis Stone drink a mean margarita, but he also runs an intimate Beverly Hills restaurant that's the f'real-deal: Stone chooses one ingredient to focus on each month, and then twists it in the most unique and delicious ways you can imagine, creating a singular experience every time you go in. Pro-tip: sit at the bar to watch the dude in action -- many may write him off as a TV chef, but when you watch him slice tiny slivers of citrus to enhance your duck breast, you realize that's straight BS.
This stunning Downtown bistro straight-up killed it from day one: every single thing on the small plates-leaning menu is totally delicious (bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin! 24oz oyster jus-grilled ribeye! Carnitas pizza!), the drinks are insane (The Stormy Phosphate? Go-to.), and the vibe is beautiful but not pretentious. Also: it's about three blocks from Staples Center, and (pro-tip!) you can valet there cheaper than parking at the lots. Basically, uh, go.
This under-the-radar, blink-and-you'll-miss-it Main St barstaurant has its seafood game on lock: one of the best lobster rolls in the city, for sure, and braised octopus that's crazy good. But it's also got killer chicken & waffles and a seared skirt steak with a celery root and raisin puree that's both as classic and interesting as it sounds.
This Taiwanese fast-casual spot in Silverlake is one of those restaurants you eat at once and crave forever: it knocks out beef rolls and pork dumplings with the care of their San Gabriel Valley brethren, and do up noodle and vegetable dishes that truly approach transcendent.
Is it cheating to name-check Downtown's GCM -- which has been there since before you were born even if you're a certain Thrillist editor's Grandma Connie -- rather than just one of the many killer stalls that opened there this year? Yes, yes it is. Do we care? No! No we don't! A few favorites though: the smoked fish platter and insanely good pastrami at Wexler's, the bivalves at Oyster Gourmet, and the burger at Belcampo Meat Co... and we're missing, like, eight other equally good stalls, but that should get you started.
Superstar Chef Roy Choi opened both this traditional-leaning Korean restaurant and the just-upstairs, forward-thinking Commissary this year, and frankly either one deserves to be on the list, but we're giving the spot to Pot for a few reasons: 1) everything BUT the hot pots (BBQ pork! Cold noodles!) is insanely great, 2) the hot pots are still super good, 3) it's named Pot, and 4) our buddy from high school is now running the kitchen there. Eat first, scream nepotism later. Trust us.
After crushing the neighborhood Italian-pasta game his first go-out with Gusto, chefstaurateur Vic Casanova knew the pressure was on with Pistola, his massive Italian steakhouse concept in one of LA's most beloved spaces -- which used to house small-plates phenom A.O.C. Thankfully, he delivers: it'll set your wallet back a chunk, but the juicy-exactly-where-it-counts Tomahawk is absolutely worth it, as are (no surprise) his squid ink- and lamb ragout-laced pastas.
It's just a stand, with basically no seating, and only a few things on the menu: insanely great donuts, absurdly good coffee, and, oh yeah, the best breakfast burrito in the city, stuffed with crispy chips and perfectly spicy chorizo, with an excellent ratio of eggs-to-avocado(you have to get the avocado)-to-smoked-potatoes-to-meat. Yep, we're saying it: the best.
It's such a simple concept: take Sugarfish's crazy-good hand rolls, and make ONLY THEM in a super-simple menu, for under $20. There's only one location now, but our guess is that -- by this time next year -- there'll be, like, 10, because it's basically the perfect lunch.
This list would be incomplete without mentioning the Valley at least once: the crazy scene in Studio City and North Hollywood seems to have one fantastic opening a week, but Tipple & Brine stands above the competition by offering what none of the other myriad gastropubs do: an actual, honest-to-goodness raw bar, with oysters, crudos, and other sea-based deliciousness, raising it above its competition while it deep-dives below.
1. Petit Trois718 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles
2. Maude212 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills
3. Faith & Flower705 West 9th Street, Los Angeles
4. The Anchor235 Main St, Los Angeles
5. Pine & Crane1521 Griffith Park Blvd, Los Angeles
6. Pistola8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles
7. Cofax Coffee Shop440 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles
8. KazuNori | The Original Handroll Bar421 South Main Street, Los Angeles
9. Tipple & Brine14633 Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles
10. POT3515 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
This Hollywood bistro from Ludo Lefebvre and the Animal dudes has no phone number, no reservations, only 21 seats, and one of LA's most acclaimed chefs making French classics like steak frites and confit chicken, as well as lunch -- with only 20 servings of two sandwiches offered.
This intimate and stylish resto by Curtis Stone features a different monthly ingredient that is used in nine tasting plates for a truly unique culinary experience.
A beautiful Downtown restaurant -- from a Michelin-award winning chef and the guys who founded the Pebble Beach Food & Wine fest -- Faith and Flower serves up a menu of seasonal dishes, classic staples, and a raw bar. The aphrodisiac seafood, vintage touches, and romantic décor, including hand mirrors and candles throughout the eating area, establish this as a prime date night spot.
The Anchor is a cozy, Main St eatery where you can satisfy your cravings for East Coast-style seafood favorites (their lobster roll, with barely-there mayo on toasted King's Hawaiian rolls, may be the best in the city) along with an intensely curated beer list.
This ultra-casual, ultra-affordable Taiwanese cafe in Silverlake is the kind of restaurant you eat at once and crave forever. A solid player in LA's fast-casual scene, P&C offers up airy wontons, beef rolls, and noodle and vegetable dishes in a homey and modern space. The counter-service restaurant also features a wide variety of teas sourced from Taiwan, and a rotating list of craft beers and wine.
Vic Casanova's massive Italian steakhouse on 3rd St is a sleeper hit that consistently serves up juicy-in-all-the-right-places steaks and chops. Though prime steaks (shout out to the 40oz Bisteca Fiorontina) are undeniably the highlights of the menu, the pasta dishes and speciality veal parmesan are must-orders as well. Pistola will set your wallet back a chunk but, hey, doesn't everyone deserve a solid steak?
Although Cofax began as a coffee shop, it quickly became a big name in the donut game when it hired a next-level pastry chef, who's churning out creative flavors like honey sea salt, lemon pistachio, and spiced crumb.
The Sugarfish guys bring you this insanely casual handroll-only spot, which's great for quick lunches or drive-by dinners.
This Sherman Oaks seafoodery not only doles out quality fare from the sea (oyster bar!), but they also mix up tasty 'tails in a sophisticated and comfy ambiance.
POT is a group-meal spot for sure. Try as many of the pots as you can but the dirty secret of Roy Choi's excellent Korean menu is that the best stuff is actually NOT in the pots -- rather its side dishes like this gooey, savory, creamy uni-and-rice dish.