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.
Best new restaurant
BarooAddress and Info
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 RakuAddress and Info
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.
Little Sister DTLAAddress and Info
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.
Best new burger
PistolaAddress and Info
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 RomanaAddress and Info
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?
Best new brewery
Arts District BrewingAddress and Info
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
MaréAddress and Info
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.
Best new sandwiches (named after NPR hosts)
Wax PaperAddress and Info
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?
Best new spot to hit before da club
BirchAddress and Info
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. TaqueriaAddress and Info
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.
Best new brunch
AnimalAddress and Info
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.
Best new fancy bar
The Walker InnAddress and Info
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.
Best new party bar
Break Room 86Address and Info
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.
Best new cultural activity
The Broad MuseumAddress and Info
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.
1. Baroo5706 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles
2. Aburiya Raku521 N LA Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood
3. Little Sister523 W 7th St, Los Angeles
4. Pistola8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles
5. Pizza Romana615 N LA Brea Ave, Los Angeles
6. Arts District Brewing828 Traction Ave, Los Angeles
7. Mare7465 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles
8. Wax Paper2902 Knox Ave, Los Angeles
9. Birch1634 N Cahuenga Blvd, Hollywood
10. B.S. Taqueria514 W 7th St, Los Angeles
11. Animal435 N Fairfax, Los Angeles
12. Walker Inn3612 W 6th St, Los Angeles
13. Break Room 863515 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Named after public radio hosts, these sandwiches pile on the meat and toppings and will leave you completely satisfied.
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.
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.
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.
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.