Los Angeles
2. Caboco
Arts District

The gist: Brazilian chefs and business partners Rodrigo Oliveira (Mocotó and Balaio IMS in São Paulo) and Victor Vasconcellos traversed continents to debut their first stateside restaurant in Downtown LA’s thriving Arts District. Landing in the former Church & State space, Caboco features a lively mural along its back wall, with pops of primary colors throughout, and long, communal dining tables that add to a vibrant, social atmosphere.
The food: Caboco is a term used to describe the multicultural heritage of Brazilians, and is an apt name for this creative spot that explores different approaches to Brazil’s manioc (yuca) plant, as well as Amazonian fruits and wild vegetables from southeastern Brazil, like ora-pro-nobis. Popular menu items from Oliveira’s Sao Paulo outposts are also on offer, like dadinhos de tapioca, or fried, crispy-on-the-outside tapioca fries that burst with melted cheese and are served with a sweet chili sauce (that you should definitely keep for dipping your yuca fries), but you’ll also find notable additions like moqueca de caju, a vegetarian take on the popular Brazilian stew with creamy cashew nuts, hearts of palm, plantains and vegetables in tucupi and coconut broth, with rice and farofa (a toasted cassava flour mixture) on the side. The restaurant also offers an artisanal caipirinha bar where you can sample several versions of Brazil’s signature cocktail, as well as other cachaça-spiked creations, including the Karina Bonita with passion fruit, strawberry, orange, lemon, cachaça. A selection of beer and hard kombuchas, as well as mate and the Brazilian soda brand Guarana are also on offer.
The cost: Starters are $9–15, small bites are $12–18, shareable plates $29–45, cocktails are $12–16, beers and hard kombucha $7–12, and non-alcoholic drinks are $4–9.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome. Reservations can be booked online.

3. Rumba Kitchen
Little Tokyo

The gist: The popular Triple Threat food truck made the leap to brick-and-mortar in late August, bringing Puerto Rican cuisine to a strip mall in Little Tokyo, with live bands and salsa dancing that animate the evenings.
The food: Chef and owner Omayra Dakis built up a loyal following for sizable tripleta sandwiches stuffed with chicken, pork, and steak in house-made pan sobao, but with Rumba Kitchen she solidifies the island vibes. A Puerto Rican flag graces the entrance, a mural of Old San Juan dominates a back wall that live salsa bands set up in front of, and a hanging plant wall with a neon blue Rumba Kitchen sign acts as the restaurant centerpiece, with greenery throughout. The menu spans classic Puerto Rican fare, including a selection of mofongos (lobster, fried pork, stewed chicken, and vegetarian), fried Caribbean red snapper served with tostones and a signature beurre blanc sauce, and marinated churrasco steak that sits on a sofrito carrot puree and is topped with a house-made chimichurri sauce, with Puerto Rican rice with pigeon peas served on the side. You’ll also find a Puerto Rican take on chicken and waffles, with chicharrones de pollo balanced atop fluffy waffles and bathed in a spice-infused maple syrup, on the weekend brunch menu. For the bar program, a variety of mojitos and sangrias, as well as micheladas spiked with Puerto Rican lager, are on offer.
Cost: Appetizers $8–13; sandwiches $12–16; specialties are $12–16; market salads $10–12; $3 for coffee, fountain drinks, and fresh juices; and $5–8 desserts.
How to book: online.

4. Etta
Culver City

The gist: Following in the example of Girl & the Goat, another beloved Chicago eatery makes the trip out west, courtesy of the team behind the Maple & Ash steakhouse. Arriving in a new corner location inside the just-opened Shay Hotel within Culver City’s Ivy Station development, the spacious restaurant offers 240 seats across its bar, interior, and exterior sections, with 50 different types of plants, trees, and succulents featured on its outdoor patio.
The food: Centered around a custom wood-fire pizza oven with black and white Anne Sacks tiles and a copper hood, Etta’s menu features Italian and Mediterranean staples, including starters like bubbling shrimp and rack-roasted oysters, veggie dishes such as charred eggplant and market haricot verts, and a variety of pizzas and pastas for entrees. The sweet-and-spicy pineapple and soppressata pizza will convert those who remain on the wrong side of the “Do pineapples belong on pizza?” argument, and the wild mushroom pie with goat cheese, truffle, and raclette, acts as one of the most decadent and savory dishes on the menu—though the dry-aged whole branzino with brown butter, capers, parsley, and lemon, is a close second. The cocktail program from bar manager Amanda Fewster and national beverage director Eric Simmons, features creations like the Etta’rita with Dobel Tequila, Cointreau, lime, Tajin salt rim, and a Oaxacan Mezcal Negroni with 400 Conejones Mezcal, Dos Hombres Mezcal, Bianco Vermouth, and Amaro Angeleno. Etta also sets itself apart with a Porrón and Polaroid experience, where guests are invited to drink from a communal Spanish wine pitcher and can capture the moment with a Polaroid picture. A weekend brunch menu with pastries, shakshuka, a breakfast sandwich, fried chicken picnic, and more, plus mimosa carafes for the table and other morning cocktails, is also on offer.
Cost: Starters are $17–24, salad and veggies $15–24, pastas are $26–48, pizzas are $24–28, mains $37–66, cocktails $16–19, porron and a polaroid is $65, wines by the glass are $15–28, beers are $7–10.
How to book: via Sevenrooms.

5. Caldo Verde
Downtown LA

The gist: Gracing the lobby floor of the newly opened Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel, Caldo Verde offers a reprieve from the bustle of Broadway, with a colorful, avian-inspired mural and stained glass installation that welcomes diners before they’re met with a chic yet comfortable dining room featuring warm, neutral tones and checkered tiles on the walls.
The food: James Beard award winners chef Suzanne Goin and restaurateur Caroline Styne joined forces on a vibrant menu that fuses Portuguese and Spanish flavors with a California approach, including boutique wines and an extensive craft cocktail program. In typical Mediterranean fashion, plates are meant to be shared, with standouts that include a sampling of “salty things” (well-sourced charcuterie meats, cheeses, and anchovies); tender beef cheeks perched on a bed of creamy avocado and topped with green chile, crema, and radish; and the eponymous caldo verde, a hearty seafood stew with local rock crab, grilled linguiça sausage, kale, mussels, and potato. Small producers from Spain, Portugal, and California dominate the wine list—save room for a glass of port or madeira alongside dessert—and the cocktail program manages to add creativity and flair without compromising the spirit of the drinks. The passion fruit caipirinha with mezcal, cachaca, passion fruit, and citrus offers a complex sip that hits smoky, sweet, and sour notes.
Cost: Starters are $16–24, salads are $14–18, vegetable sides are $14–20, small plates are $26–34, large plates are $42 for piri piri chicken up to $110 for a 32-ounce bone-in ribeye. Desserts are $13–24, sweet wines and ports are $12–21 by the glass, cocktails are $14–19, non-alcoholic drinks are $10–12, and a three-ounce pour of sherry runs $13–36.
How to book: Call 1-800-806-1947, email
caldoverde@properhotel.com, or book online.

6. Sparrow
Downtown LA

The gist: The century-old Hotel Figueroa has been rolling out new culinary concepts since the summer (see: Cafe Fig, Casita, and Bar Magnolia), and Sparrow, which takes over the lobby level dining room and partially covered patio that overlooks the coffin-shaped pool, is a welcome addition. Courtesy of Noble 33 Hospitality, the new downtown dining destination offers modern coastal cuisine against a whimsical backdrop of European and Mediterranean-inspired design elements, including arched, cathedral-like entryways, vintage chandeliers, and hanging light fixtures.
The food: Culinary director AJ McCloud and executive chef Jan Claudio spent time in Italy in preparation for this opening, studying local ingredients and food preparation techniques. This attention-to-detail is on display on a menu that features classic, comforting Italian and Mediterranean dishes, with creative twists throughout and plenty of options for all diets. Worthwhile starters include crispy arancini with wild mushroom risotto and truffle aioli and bluefin tuna tartare with a truffle ponzu sauce. All of the pastas and pizzas shine, but start with the rich and herbaceous pistachio pesto with radiatore, grana padano, mascarpone crema, and arugula, and Wagyu alla vodka pizza with Wagyu beef sausage and Calabrian peppers. The eggplant parmigiana, grilled branzino, and lamb shank osso buco are notable main courses—or go all out with a market-priced lobster al forno with fennel sofrito, herb breadcrumbs, and bisque. Don’t sleep on desserts like tiramisu with chocolate espresso sauce and ladyfingers, or a craft cocktail list that features drinks named after Mediterranean destinations, with dramatic tableside presentations.
Cost: Starters $18–42, sides $12–25, salads $18–22, pastas $18–32, pizzas $16–32, main courses are $36–140 for the Wagyu ribeye, desserts $12-16. The lobster al forno and truffle reggiano pasta are market price. Cocktails are $18–20, draft beer $10–12, wine by the glass $15–23.
How to book: via
Sevenrooms.