13 Exciting New Restaurant Openings in LA to Try This Weekend

From the brick-and-mortar debut of a beloved Filipino pop-up to immaculate Korean-inspired pastries, LA’s restaurant scene is better than ever.

Photo by Wonho Frank Lee, courtesy of Lulu

It’s summertime in the city, the days are long and full of mosquitos, and cold brew season is in full effect. Exciting new restaurants are bringing the heat—as if we needed more of it—all across the city, with a killer Filipino BBQ pop-up going permanent in Hollywood, Alice Waters’ place becoming fully operational in Westwood, and carnitas and carne asada tacos reaching new neighborhoods.

There is more dressed-up fun to be had too, with a glitzy new rooftop lounge in West Hollywood, modern Spanish tapas in Santa Monica, and pioneering dude food returning to Fairfax. Here are 13 of the most exciting new restaurants you need to try in LA:

Patrick Manalo

It is always thrilling to see a pop-up go brick-and-mortar, like a celestial thing joining the material world. And it is particularly exciting when that pop-up-gone-stationary is as excellent as Kuya Lord, Lord Maynard Llera’s muscular, fun fast-casual Southern Tagalog-style Filipino operation. Kuya Lord’s new space is a bright orange room on Melrose just West of the 101, an easy detour off that sloggy stretch of freeway. The menu is pretty straightforward, with a couple salads, pancit, and a selection of silog—rice bowls with fried egg, tomato salad, and your choice of sweet or savory longganisa, grilled tapa short ribs, beef tocino, or Llera’s signature rolled and roasted pork belly lucenachon. There are always interesting specials, other meats a la carte, and a killer calamansi pie for dessert.
How to order: Walk-ins only for now.

Wonho Frank Lee for Lulu

It’s been more than a decade since David Chang poked incisive fun at rustic, market-focused California cuisine by calling it “figs on a plate,” and though his joshing may have resonated, it hasn’t changed the prevailing philosophical winds. We still see plenty of crudite, salads of just lettuce, and even Chang himself fell into the West Coast fruit trap at Majordomo. Further proof of the style’s hold on our hearts: two titans of the genre, Alice Waters and David Tanis, teamed up to open Lulu last fall, the mostly outdoors courtyard restaurant at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, and they are now adding dinner service. Dishes hew to that produce-driven ethos, letting seasonal vegetables shine without overcomplicating things. That means the menu is always changing, but early highlights include a Curly Endive Salad, Smoked Salmon Carpaccio, and rotating house-made pastas with summer vegetables. Even the cocktails come from the markets, like a Rhubarb Gin Fizz and a Mint Julep with peaches.
How to book: Reservations available via Resy.

Stand-Up Burgers

Culver City
Summertime is burger season, and that is no less true for plant-based eaters. There isn’t a shortage of options in LA, exactly, but there are still few enough than new entries are more than welcome—particularly when they have a pedigree like the new Stand-Up Burgers, a plant-based burger joint from the folks behind Veggie Grill, which opens this week in Culver City. They’ve gone for a classic menu of burgers and fries, with straight-forward vegan takes like the Steakhouse burger, an Impossible patty with blue cheese crumbles, caramelized onions, and horseradish aioli. You can get your fries “Save The Animals-Style,” with a Thousand Island-esque special sauce and caramelized onions, and for dessert they have a selection of shakes in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, or mocha.
How to order: Walk-ins accepted, and online orders will begin soon.

Arts District
It was sometime around the end of 2016 that we first heard that Chris Bianco, one of the best pizzaiolos in the US and a newly-minted James Beard  Outstanding Restaurateur winner, would be opening a restaurant in LA. In the intervening six years there have been twists and turns, starts and stops, but this week it finally happened—Pizzeria Bianco LA is open, serving New York-ish pizza, focaccia sandwiches, and salads from a counter in the former Paramount Coffee Project at the massive Arts District-ish development ROW DTLA. For now, Pizzeria Bianco LA will only be doing lunch, with a focus on those NY style pies from a classic deck oven. When dinner opens in July they will serve Bianco’s signature pizzas from a separate wood-burning oven, as well as a host of wood-fired apps and entrees.
How to order: Walk-ins only for now, online ordering to come.

Photo by Wonho Frank Lee, courtesy of MainRo

The Vinyl District earns another stunner with MainRo, a buzzy newcomer that takes over the former Beso space. The 7,500-square-foot supper club is outfitted with 16 triangular chandeliers that blaze with ultra 4K digital-mapped screens that move throughout the evening, plus a stage with a dual ornate staircase and walls that are also adorned with ultra 4K screens to simulate a fully immersive lighting and sound experience that blends dining, cocktails, and theater. The food program doesn’t cut corners, blending French, Japanese, and Vietnamese flavors in shareable plates like Seabass den Miso and Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, in addition to caviar, sushi, and prime steak options. Leaning into a modern Roaring ‘20s theme, the cocktail menu is over-the-top without sacrificing strength, featuring craft creations like MainRo (Hennessy XO, Clase Azul Reposado, passion fruit, pernod, dulce de coco leche, and lime) and B. Bardot (Empress Gin, clarified lemon, crème de violette, sage, and champagne). Make a reservation between 6:30–10:30 pm for dinner, or stop by afterwards, until 2 am, for dancing and fun.
How to book: via OpenTable.

Photo courtesy of MIL

Ktown is best known as a late-night dining and drinking neighborhood, a place to share a big table and some grilled meat with friends and friends of friends. Pastry chef Jiyoon Jang and In Hospitality Group are hoping to make the neighborhood a morning destination too, with their new pastry shop MIL, a tiny bakery tucked into fancy neighborhood liquor store All Good Things. Jang, who dove into home baking during the pandemic and then went pro at Clark Street, has created a menu of unique pastries inspired by her Korean heritage with a modern twist and elevated presentation. Her signature pastries on the opening menu include a Marbled Pound Cake infused with the earthy Korean herb Ssuk, Miso and Honey Cinnamon Rolls with white sesame seeds, and a Miso-Garu Cookie, which combines miso with the Korean grain powder misugaru.
How to order: Walk-ins only.

Photo by Wonho Frank Lee, courtesy of Dono

Santa Monica
Depending on how you measure it, per capita or per kilometer, the Basque beach town Donostia-San Sebastian has either the highest or second-highest concentration of Michelin stars in the world, 19 of them spread across 11 restaurants—and that doesn’t take into account the city’s uniquely spectacular pintxos and txakoli culture. So Chef Brendan Collins has set a lofty goal by naming his new Santa Monica modern tapas restaurant Dono, after the Basque Donostia. The menu doesn’t stick exclusively to Basque classics, skipping across Iberia from Catalan Chickpeas to the Portuguese colonial Piri Piri Chicken, up to Galicia for Padrón Peppers and then back to Valencia for a gorgeous Seafood Paella. The wine list is full of Spanish grapes grown on both sides of the Atlantic, and Gabriella Mlynarcyzk’s cocktail program features several sangrias, riffs on gin & tonic, and plenty of sherry.
How to book: via Resy.

Carnitas El Momo
Carnitas El Momo Boyle Heights

Monterey Park
Romulo “El Momo” Acosta himself may be retired, but the carnitas joints that bear his name undeniably carry on his legacy, serving tacos double-stuffed with rich bits of pork that are alternatingly slippery and sticky, a huge porcine bite. They still do things just the way Acosta taught the family members who have taken over for him, using the technique he brought with him from Guanajuato and then perfected over decades in LA. The El Momo empire started with a stand, then added a truck, and now the family’s opened their first brick-and-mortar restaurant on an industrial stretch in Monterey Park. You can order by the pound, but tacos are really the thing, and you can specify your cut of pork to be either maciza (pork butt/shoulder), buche (belly/stomach), cueritos (skin), migajas (burnt ends from the bottom of the cazo), or the mixed-meat mashup they call the Aporkalypse.
How to order: Walk in, or order over the phone at 323-627-8540.

Barbara's at the Brewery
Barbara's at the Brewery

Lincoln Heights
There may not be an actual brewery at The Brewery Artist Lofts anymore, but the Lincoln Heights compound once again has a great place to get craft beer—Barbara’s at the Brewery just reopened after an extended pandemic closure. The pub first opened in 1999 and it’s been one of the area’s longstanding hidden gems, a mellow spot with a killer tap list, solid bar food, tons of parking, and a funky ambiance that’s a little like an industrial punk artist took over a ski resort’s mid-mountain cafeteria. They’re back with abbreviated hours for now, running until 11 pm on weeknights and brunch-only on Saturdays, with a new coffee service on weekday mornings for artists, dancers, and anyone else in the neighborhood who happens to need a caffeine fix in the morning and a punchy IPA in the evening.
How to order: Walk-ins accepted, or order takeout over the phone at 323-612-6200.

The titles “best” and “most popular” do not always go hand in hand, but when you’re talking about Northern Mexico-style flour tortillas in LA, it’s hard to reach any conclusion other than Sonoratown in either category. Now the restaurant from Jennifer Feltham and Teo Diaz-Rodriguez has expanded from its downtown roots and into Mid-City, bringing their mesquite-grilled carne asada and immaculate flour tortillas to San Vicente, just a few blocks east of Fairfax. The area is not hard up for tacos—Leo’s famous trompo spins just a stone’s throw away, among others—but this new Sonoratown will likely serve as a welcome introduction to San Luis Río Colorado-style chivichangas for many residents of Mid-City and points west.
How to order: Walk-ins accepted, or order for pickup or delivery via Postmates.

Photo by Sacha Cosentino, courtesy of Animal

If you asked for a fancy LA meal recommendation in the late aughts or early 2010s, Animal would have been at the top of the list. Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s stunning debut restaurant brought a sort of elevated dude food to prominence, inspiring legions of shaggy chefs to go for it with the rustic and rich offal-intensive cooking of their dreams. The restaurant matured over the years, refined itself and kept up with the times, staying relevant in the upper echelon of local restaurants until it closed in March 2020 for a pandemic pause that ran long. Now, more than two years later, the doors are open again, with just the sort of interesting cuts you remember—pig’s ear, chicken liver, bone marrow, pancreas and more, like a veterinary school final exam in the best possible way.
How to book: via Resy.

Bagel + Slice
Photo by Jeff Minton, courtesy of Bagel + Slice

Highland Park
There was a bit of a tempest in a teapot when chef Brad Kent of York Boulevard’s new Bagel + Slice described his precise beliefs about bagel baking last winter, as it sounded like he was throwing shade at some of the already established shops in the neighborhood. But Kent is just a bagel traditionalist, making them to the standard set by the New York Bagel Bakers Union almost 100 years ago. That doesn’t mean, though, that everything in the shop is old fashioned—in fact, it’s much the opposite. Kent, who co-founded Blaze Pizza and owns Olio downtown, is committed to offering quality vegan options on both pizza and bagels, and providing plenty of low-gluten options for those with sensitivities. He is also focused on regenerative agriculture practices, paying above minimum wage, and being a good neighbor in a still-gentrifying part of LA.
How to book: Walk-ins only for now, third-party delivery to come.

Melrose Place
Photo by Wonho Frank Lee, courtesy of Melrose Place

West Hollywood
As scene-y hot spots go, it’s hard to beat a rooftop with a view in early summer, and new West Hollywood restaurant Melrose Place has all that going for it and more. Chef David Lespron has created a luxurious menu to match the setting, drawing on his experience at Katsuya for some intricate raw seafood preparations, in addition to elevated, California-influenced large format proteins and interesting cocktails.
How to book: via the website.

Photo courtesy of Pijja Palace

Silver Lake
By the end of its run, the rotating Happy Foot/Sad Foot Sign had pushed beyond charming local landmark and into pop culture cringe, so its eventual removal in 2019 when Dr. Thomas Lim relocated his clinic was more mercy killing than tragedy. Into those auspicious former offices comes something totally different: Pijja Palace, a bright and stylish Indian sports bar with a unique and expansive menu of Indian-Italian bar food. There are pastas with tomato masala and coriander, Kashmiri Red Chili Chicken Wings, and pizzas with vindaloo, tandoori onions, and house-made Goan sausage.
How to book: via Resy.

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Ben Mesirow is an Echo Park native who writes TV, fiction, food, and sports. At one time or another, his writing has appeared in The LA TimesLitroMcSweeney’s Internet TendencyLos Angeles Magazine, and scratched into dozens of desks at Walter Reed Middle School.