Food & Drink

The Thrillist Awards: LA's Best New Food & Drink of 2015

Jeff Miller Published On 01/05/2016 Published On 01/05/2016
Courtesy of Dan Collopy (edited)

We've already told you about the best new restaurants in LA this year and the best new bars in LA. But now that we're in the first week of 2016, it's time to get specific so that you can start game-planning your eating and drinking escapades for the new year. Want to only drink at the best new brewery? We've got you covered. Craving a diet of the best new burgers? Well, you're going to stay well fed this year. These are the best of everything that happened last year in Los Angeles.

Jeff Miller/Thrillist

Best new restaurant

Baroo

Address and Info

East Hollywood

There were plenty of higher-profile openings this year, and far more approachable-and-great restaurants as well. But no one challenged Angelenos' palates -- and succeeded -- like this tiny mini-mall no-frills grain-and-fermented-vegetables-and-what-the-hell-am-I-eating-oh-my-God-it's-delicious spot. In any other food city, it'd have been overrun minutes after the first review (if not opening day), but in LA, in a bizarre neighborhood, it's been able to maintain its underdog status, not only guaranteeing quality, but that it still seems like a hidden treasure, even after being well-discovered.

Best new late-night restaurant

Aburiya Raku

Address and Info

Mid-Wilshire

If you're someone who, say, wants to catch an 8pm movie at the Grove and doesn't want to eat at 6 like a senior citizen, up until this year you'd be sort of SOL, unless you loved matzo ball soup from Canter's or the grilled cheese at Swingers (and, y'know, both of those are pretty good choices). Then Raku opened up, and suddenly the choices seemed far more interesting, since it's got insanely great izakaya-style Japanese food like skewers of pork cheeks and a bubbling, soup-like tofu topped with salmon eggs that's unbelievable, at any time of day.

Courtesy of Dan Collopy

Best sequel

Little Sister DTLA

Address and Info

Downtown

Look, say what you will about The Force Awakens, but unlike the second outpost of this Manhattan Beach upscale-Vietnamese favorite, Rey and Finn didn't serve you up spring rolls filled with all the ingredients used for pho, or breakfast-ready congee dishes. And they didn't save you an hour-long drive, either. Set your phasers on stunning*.

*And all nerds, freak out in the comments section.

Courtesy of Pistola 

Best new burger

Pistola

Address and Info

Mid-Wilshire

We ate lots (and lots) (and lots) of burgers this year, but the off-menu Gold Label Burger -- a rich meatwich topped with fontina, bacon, arugula, onion, and black truffle ketchup -- had everything: meat-to-veggies-to-bun ratio, umami flavor, unique bite, everything. It ain't cheap, but it's totally worth it.

Best new pizza

Pizza Romana

Address and Info

Mid-Wilshire

It was a sad day for Italian-loving Angelenos when Cube closed, but the owners of that beloved restaurant did one better with their new Neapolitan pizza concept, keeping the beloved fried chicken from Cube and replacing their good-not-great pastas with superlative pizzas -- the best of which is this spicy broccolini and sausage pie, a perfectly balanced carne and veggie extravaganza. Benisimo! Is that a thing?

Timothy Norris/Thrillist

Best new brewery

Arts District Brewing

Address and Info

Downtown

Juuuuust barely making the best-of-the-year cutoff, this new DTLA brewery from the guys who brought you classics like Seven Grand and Broadway Bar maintains their reputation for excellence, thanks to killer drafts, a wide-open floor plan, a massive patio... and Skee-Ball. Yep. Skee-Ball.

Best new first-date spot

Maré

Address and Info

Melrose

It's got all the perfect elements: a secret entrance. A huge patio. Romantic lighting. Seafood. And a price point that that won't bankrupt you. Bingo.

Jeff Miller/Thrillist

Best new sandwiches (named after NPR hosts)

Wax Paper

Address and Info

Frogtown

OK, these sandwiches -- in a teensy-tiny little Frogtown shack -- would be killer even if they weren't named after public radio hosts. But seriously, don't you think ordering the Kai Ryssdal (pole-caught tuna, celery, green onion vinaigrette, lettuce, black olive aioli) or the Audie Cornish (country ham, sharp cheese, honey butter, sea salt, cornichon vinaigrette) makes 'em just a teensie bit better?

Courtesy of Birch

Best new spot to hit before da club

Birch

Address and Info

Hollywood

Previously a soggy-wings-and-soggier-pizza wasteland, Cahuenga's been single-handedly next-leveled by this New American restaurant from the former Waterloo and City guy, who's got a bar bringing you get-the-night-started fresh-ingredient-driven drinks and get-the-night-going dishes like this pork shank. And then you can dance it off and feel all better.

Best new tacos

B.S. Taqueria

Address and Info

Downtown

Sure, you've heard the hype behind Ray Garcia's casual-modern Mexican spot, but believe it: it's got the flavors of everything from unusual choices like clams and lardo to classics like carnitas.

Jeff Miller/Thrillist

Best new brunch

Animal

Address and Info

Mid-Wilshire

Wait. Animal has brunch? Yep, and it's crushing it. The guys behind the restaurant famously have opened Trois Familia for brunch-only on the westside, but at their OG location they're breaking out classic bodega breakfast sandwiches (pictured above), their beloved "Boner Burger," and a pastrami Reuben Benedict. Boom.

Courtesy of Walker Inn

Best new fancy bar

The Walker Inn

Address and Info

Koreatown

Hidden behind ANOTHER great new bar, The Normandie Club, The Walker Inn proved that its bartenders take their drinks more seriously than anywhere in the city, with an omakase experience that makes each sip a revelation.

Timothy Norris/Thrillist

Best new party bar

Break Room 86

Address and Info

Koreatown

The Houston brothers' latest is this '80s-themed room with karaoke, Michael Jackson impersonators, cover bands, and Cup O' Noodles. Not, like, fancy Cup O' Noodles. The real deal. They pay attention to detail.

Jeff Miller/Thrillist

Best new cultural activity

The Broad Museum

Address and Info

Downtown

The super-hyped new addition to Downtown lived up to all expectations of it being a pop-art mecca. Major art fans may scoff at the iconic prints by Warhol and sculptures by Jeff Koons, but passive fans (and those just looking for something for their Instagram) will (and should) love it. Plus, the exterior? Breathtaking.

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Jeff Miller is the editor of Thrillist LA and has, like, 10 more categories if you wanna hear 'em. He's at @jeffmillerla on Instagram and @ThrillistLA on Twitter.

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1. Baroo 5706 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038 (Hollywood)

This tiny, nondescript spot in an East Hollywood strip mall is helmed by chefs who've worked the kitchens of the world's best restaurants, Noma and Daniel. The restaurant's name comes from the bowl that Buddhist monks use for their meals, and the Asian-influenced menu features fitting grain bowls for no more than $15. You probably won't recognize much on the menu, but the out-of-this-world flavor combinations and unique ingredients will leave you beyond satisfied.

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2. Aburiya Raku 521 N LA Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048

Raku is a late-night izakaya, or pub, that's open until 3am on weekends. Alongside cocktails, this eatery—an expansion of the wildy famous Vegas location—serves house-made agadashi tofu, kobe beef tendon kushiyaki, and other authentic Japanese provisions.

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3. Little Sister 523 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014 (Downtown)

This Vietnamese-and-more restaurant has an expansive menu that includes breakfast (Portugese egg custard tarts!) as well as lunch/dinner dishes like Vietnamese stew with marrow, tendons, oxtail & rib meat.

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4. Pistola 8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048 (Mid Wilshire)

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?

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5. Pizza Romana 615 N LA Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Mid Wilshire)

This Mid-Wilshire pizza place serves up authentic Roman-style pies, which means the dough is fermented for 24 hours then baked in an Italian-imported wood-fire oven. The signature pizzas are near perfect (and since this is LA, they're available with gluten-free crust) and seriously affordable -- most hover around $10. Pizza Romana's menu also includes panini sandwiches and spicy fried chicken. Add affordable bottles of Italian wine and this under-the-radar restaurant is the perfect date spot.

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6. Arts District Brewing 828 Traction Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (Downtown)

Located in LA’s historic Arts District, this brewery hosts a 15-barrel layout that’s capable of producing 3300 barrels each year. Its sprawling main room and outdoor patio are great for large events, and an entertainment area comes equipped with bar games, ping-pong, darts, and more. It's a brewery, it's an arcade -- it's a brewcade.

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7. Mare 7465 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046 (Hollywood)

Eric Greenspan’s Melrose restaurant isn’t just coastal, it’s European coastal. Home to one of the best g-damn patios in LA, the seafood spot is cleverly tucked behind Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese and is decked out with twinkling lights, candles, and SoCal flora. Maré's focused menu appeals to surf-and-turf lovers, featuring dishes like branzino with fig-pomegranate glaze and skirt steak with oregano and sea urchin butter.

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8. Wax Paper 2902 Knox Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90039

Named after public radio hosts, these sandwiches pile on the meat and toppings and will leave you completely satisfied.

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9. Birch 1634 N Cahuenga Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028 (Hollywood)

Birch might be the most adventurous restaurant ever to hit the neighborhood, blending together influences and flavors from all over the world (think scallop sashimi and rabbit baklava). As a bonus, you'll find a collection of inspired, market-forward cocktails with ingredient combinations like black lime and white tea rum, frankincense and irish whiskey, or vodka and pinecone.

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10. B.S. Taqueria 514 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014 (Downtown)

No BS, this place is super-killer: it's the chef from Fig making amazing Mexican food, including lemon-pepper chicken chicharrones and amazing carnitas tacos. It'll probably have you calling BS on all the other Downtown Mexican spots.

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11. Animal 435 N Fairfax, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Mid Wilshire)

Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook's OG restaurant is a stone-cold classic in Los Angeles known for a constantly changing menu that's always creative and never stale. As the name suggests, Animal specializes in head-to-tail eating and meat-centric plates; past and present hits include a bacon crunch chocolate bar, a barbecue pork belly sandwich, and a short rib and bone marrow-blended burger.

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12. Walker Inn 3612 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020 (Koreatown)

Avoid the crowd at The Normandie Club, hit the buzzer at the back of the bar, and enter The Walker Inn, where your mind will be blown by its unexpected cocktails. The menu is based around an elaborate theme, such as regional climates, and it changes roughly every four to six weeks. Pro tip: accompany your cocktail with the unusual omakase-style pairings at the bar.

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13. Break Room 86 3515 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010 (Koreatown)

Break Room 86 is a blast from the '80s past that comes complete with classic arcade games, themed cocktails, and two karaoke rooms awesomely equipped with Atari.

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