LA

Happening Right Now: New LA Restaurant Intel

PHOTO: Jakob Layman

You already have the Hit List, our regularly updated guide to the best new spots in LA. But based off Team Infatuation’s recent restaurant experiences, here’s our newest intel. Scroll down to get all the info on the places we’re adding to our Hit Lists, the spots where we’ve been eating recently, and the next round of restaurants that we’ll be checking out.

11/13/2017 update

NEW TO THE HIT LIST:

  • You probably didn’t think you wanted to spend your next birthday or anniversary eating in a food court on the Third Street Promenade, but Dialogue is here to change that. This tiny, 21-course tasting menu spot is like nothing else in town. The meal itself is wild - you’ll eat crab with buttered popcorn and a chocolate bar at the halfway point - but the relaxed atmosphere takes away any potential stuffiness. That said, you will be dropping at least $300 for your meal if you do the wine pairing. And you should do the wine pairing.
Dialogue / Mariah Tauger
  • All-day hotel restaurants aren’t usually something to get too excited about, but Best Girl - from the chef behind Providence - is an exception to that rule. This place took over the old ground floor LA Chapter space at the downtown Ace Hotel, and though they didn’t really change much of the interior, the new menu is excellent. The daily crudo is fresh and fantastic, as is the burger. This place is ideal for a client lunch or a quick dinner before seeing a show.
Best Girl / Jakob Layman

OTHER SPOTS WE’VE RECENTLY CHECKED OUT:

  • Eataly finally opened in the Westfield Century City mall last week, so we went to investigate the many offerings at this giant Italian market and food hall. There are three sit-down restaurants, as well as a bunch of stalls specializing in one type of food. We checked out Il Pesce Cucina, the restaurant that’s run by the Providence chef, and had some very good Italian seafood. La Piazza seems like the most useful of the restaurants - it’s a counter-service one serving salumi plates, lasagna, meatballs, and various Italian comfort foods. The last sit-down option is La Pizza & La Pasta, which had the longest wait on our visit. At the counters throughout the market you can get Roman-style pizza by the slice, roast meats, salads, pastries, and some of the best bombolone we’ve ever had. We’d advise coming with a plan of what you want to hit, heading here during the week if you can to avoid the lines, and definitely saving room for those bombolone.

  • STRFSH is a fish sandwich joint from two Top Chef people who happen to be brothers, one of whom also owns Ink.well. It’s in the same food court as Dialogue, and the setup is pretty simple: salmon or swordfish, roll or tostada, add toppings and spreads. The roll is better than the tostada (which comes out like an awkward taco sandwich), but this is overall a solid new Santa Monica lunch option.

  • We headed over to the SGV to check back in at Sea Harbour, one of the best-known dim sum restaurants in Los Angeles. Update: It’s still delicious. Wait times are counted by the hour on weekends, but if you can get there on a weekday, you should be able to sit down right away. The faster you get those truffle shu mai and salty egg yolk buns in your life, the better.

  • Testa is a recently-opened modern Italian spot in the middle of all the construction in the South Park area of DTLA. It’s a big, modern space with a large front patio, ready for your after-work drinking needs. The cocktails are excellent (try the Oh Dear), and while the food isn’t especially exciting (there are the usual crudos, vegetable small plates, plus housemade pastas), it’s a good place for pre-show dinner and drinks.

OPENINGS:

189 BY DOMINIQUE ANSEL: The guy who brought the cronut (and around-the-block lines) to New York City has arrived in LA. His giant restaurant/bakery at the Grove opens today. Add that to the iPhone X crowds and the imminent Giant Christmas Tree, you’ll either be running towards or very far away from this place.

LITTLE RUBY: We’re pretty sure that LA will eventually be entirely Australian cafes. The latest one is Little Ruby, and they’re doing all-day breakfast-y foods like Great White. And Bondi Harvest. And Little Ripper. You get the point.

MINISTRY OF COFFEE: Wait, we’re not done talking about Australia. Ministry of Coffee is a new Australian coffee spot near UCLA with some Turkish food thrown in. Something to check out if you’re tired of the campus Starbucks.

MI CORAZON: The casual Glendale Mexican restaurant has opened up a new location in the old Mare space on Hyperion. It looks like it might be good for a weeknight dinner.

TACO WINDOW: A taco stand operated by two French people being run out of a laundromat: real thing or Wes Anderson plotline? In this case, it’s real, and it’s in Jefferson Park.

ANATRA: An upscale French/Italian spot has opened in the Fashion District. They serve things like steak and sous vide duck, so it might be a good choice for a date you want to impress.

10/30/2017 update

NEW TO THE HIT LIST:

  • Located in a quiet part of Highland Park, Partido is a pop-up that happens every Thursday through Sunday inside El Arco Iris, a neighborhood Mexican restaurant on York Blvd. This is a no-frills space serving some of the best Filipino comfort food we’ve tried in LA. There’s a longanisa (sweet sausage) poutine we would get on a plane for.
Partido / Jakob Layman
  • Our new favorite spot for a low-key but kind of special dinner is Oriel, a wine bar from the same people as Bar Covell. This place serves delicious French bistro food and reasonably-priced wine in a low-lit, casual corner space on Alameda in Chinatown. Come here for a quiet date, or a solo dinner at the bar. Either way get the bavette steak.

  • Broken Mouth, in the heart of the Fashion District, is a simple Filipino/Hawaiian spot with downright fantastic food. The place is only open from 10am-4pm and everything on the menu is under $10, so if you’ve been waiting for your next DTLA lunch spot to brag to your co-workers about finding first, this is it. Get the shrimp fritter plate and the spicy chicken sandwich.

Broken Mouth / Jakob Layman
  • If you’ve conquered the highest level of hot at Howlin’ Rays and are looking for another challenge, Killer Noodle should be your next stop. It’s the latest spot on Sawtelle from the Tsujita team, and they’re serving tantanmen - the Japanese version of dan dan noodles. There are six levels of spice, bibs available on request, and a friendly reminder on the menu to “take care of your bottom when you complete your meal.”

OTHER SPOTS WE’VE RECENTLY CHECKED OUT:

  • Sapor is a new Italian-ish restaurant along Wilshire Blvd. in Koreatown, and while the modern space will get the job done for a client lunch or post-work dinner with your boss, the food itself is largely unremarkable - there’s a daily pizza and pasta, a salumi plate, and some vegetables. Nothing is terrible, but there are plenty of other better options in the area.

  • It’s rare we come across a place so terrible that we can’t come up with a reason for anyone to go there. Petite Taqueria is that brand of terrible. This overpriced, sceney Mexican spot on La Cienega is serving truly foul food for drunk club rats and lost tourists, and you should want zero part in it.

  • We’re fans of the fried chicken sandwich at Plan Check, so we were excited to investigate Wild + Free, a new rotisserie chicken place in Sherman Oaks from the same people. The chicken comes in four different flavors, and it’s fine - but the more interesting salads, bowls, and sandwiches are the way to go here. If you work in the area, add this one into your lunch rotation.

  • Little Ripper, a new-ish coffee shop in Glassell Park, seems like a regular spot for locals to pick up their lattes and maybe do some work. Which it is. But it’s also an Australian cafe, which means they have smashed avo (a.k.a avocado toast), jaffles with vegemite (a.k.a. Australian grilled cheese), Tim Tams (legendary Australian cookies), and lamingtons (just Google that one). It’s a great spot for a very casual breakfast or lunch, whether you’re a homesick Aussie or not.

Little Ripper / Jakob Layman

OPENINGS:

DOUBLE BARREL AT SADDLE PEAK LODGE: Where better to drink whiskey than in a century-old restaurant in the mountains, next to a taxidermied deer head? Saddle Peak Lodge just opened a whiskey bar in their hunting-lodge-style restaurant, so now you can eat your elk with some aged scotch and pretend you’re a side character in The Great Gatsby.

CROFT ALLEY AT THE ROOSEVELT: The Melrose Place spot that does an excellent banh mi has taken over the poolside restaurant at the Roosevelt Hotel. This is a great place to line your stomach before drinks and bowling at the Spare Room.

UMI BY HAMASAKU: Hamasaku is a great, moderately-priced sushi spot in West LA. They’ve opened up an izakaya and sushi place in El Segundo, so we’ll probably be stopping by to see if it’s as good as the original.

FUNDAMENTAL DTLA: Next in the list of new versions of existing restaurants, Fundamental LA (the excellent neighborhood spot in Westwood) has opened Fundamental DTLA. Right now they’re doing casual breakfast and lunch, with dinner and alcohol service to come.

SUNSET & VINYL: This is a secret ’70s themed bar that you can only get to through 800 Degrees (the pizza place) on Sunset and Vine. We have some problems with the whole secret bar trend (namely, it’s not a secret), but if you’re into themes, this might be somewhere to check out.

10/02/2017 update

SPOTS WE’VE RECENTLY CHECKED OUT:

  • The Mighty is a new all-day operation in DTLA from the people behind The Sycamore Kitchen and Odys + Penelope. In a big, bistro-like space next to Badmaash, they’re serving sandwiches, salads, house-made pastas, and of course, some excellent desserts. Here, you order at the counter first, then move to a table where you get full service, and the setup feels a bit strange at dinner. As for the food, the pastas are good - not great. We’ll be back for lunch (when we plan to order the fennel sausage and porchetta sandwich), which we suspect will be when this place works best.
The Mighty / Jakob Layman
  • If you’re roaming around Glendale at lunch, but have already eaten at Zankou twice this week, Yardbird is a new solid option. This order-at-the-counter, fast casual joint serves solid rotisserie cornish hen (or in other words, small chickens) at affordable prices ($12 for half a bird) with efficient service that’ll get you in and out of the door in under a half hour. Order the green beans and Mediterranean salad as your sides.

  • There’s now another place to get your weekly (daily?) noodle fix on Sawtelle - Japanese spot Marugame Udon. Confusingly not from the same people as Marugame Monzo in Little Tokyo, this cafeteria-style place is already busy. Here, you stand in line, order your udon (the cold beef-tsuke is our favorite), and work your way along the line, picking up some tempura (try and get a piece straight out of the fryer) or maybe a rice bowl on your way to the register. There’s a lot going on here but the udon is solid and the place works for a weekday lunch away from your desk.

  • Culver City might be the only part of Los Angeles without a Sugarfish, but Uzumaki more than fills the affordable, quality sushi hole. This six-month-old spot on Washington is sleek and quiet, with a small sushi bar and dining room, and no hour-long waits. There are a couple of omakase options (maxing out at $34), or you can order some of the quality nigiri and sashimi a la carte. In a neighborhood with essentially no sushi options, this is by far your best bet.

  • As part of our on-going quest to check back in on all the great Old Hollywood joints, we stopped by Yamashiro and found the same beautiful space, unparalleled views of the city, and a Japanese/American menu that isn’t exactly going to knock your socks off. That said, this endearingly cheesy experience is out-of-towner gold.

Yamashiro / Facebook
  • San Vicente Blvd. in Brentwood is home to a lot of places where you can avoid cooking by picking up fancy prepared things to eat, and Winston Pies is the newest of the bunch. They do a rotating selection of pies in various sizes, as well as ice cream and coffee to go with them. We’d stick to the non-fruit versions - the chocolate was rich and pudding-like, while the crust on the apple pie was disappointing. The white space can also feel a bit soul-less, so do as the locals do and take your pie to-go.

OPENINGS:

LA TOSTADERIA VENICE: Westsiders have one less reason to venture east of the 405. La Tostaderia, the seafood-focused tostada spot in Grand Central Market, has opened a new location on Abbot Kinney. We’re excited to eat the same excellent ceviche in a space we can actually move around in.

WEXLER’S CENTURY CITY: Alongside La Tostaderia, another GCM empire is slowly taking shape in the form of bagels and pastrami sandwiches. Wexler’s Deli, home to some of the best cured meats in the city, has arrived in the Century City Westfield, a place not exactly well acquainted with good delis.

SAPOR: In a move that could be described as Peak Fusion, Sapor serves tapas/Korean/Italian/prix-fixe/whatever-it-wants-we-guess in Koreatown. But the space looks open and not at all stuffy, and nothing is too expensive - we might try it out when we’re not exactly sure what we’re in the mood for.

TESTA: Testa kind of looks like every other modern restaurant opening up in LA - bare space, exposed bulbs, and lots of shared plates on the menu. But it has a prime location near the Staples Center, an area of town that could actually use a few more modern, shared-plate restaurants.

9/18/2017 update

SPOTS WE’VE RECENTLY CHECKED OUT:

  • We Have Noodles is a new Silver Lake lunch option right in the middle of Sunset Junction. They do, in fact, have everything from pho to khao soi to ramen, as well as a few non-noodle plates for sharing. While the actual noodles are good, the dishes themselves could use a little more flavor. Still, if you work around here it’s a good place for your lunch rotation - grab a spot on the little patio or stop in for a to-go order.
We Have Noodles / Sina Araghi
  • The corporate studio lot hellscape that is Toluca Lake will never run out of middling lunch options, and they just got another one in Hungry Crowd. This is a Korean fusion spot serving stuff like spicy pork tacos and a white kimchi clam pasta that’s actually better than you’d think. The one big perk is that the modern space is calm and quiet - a perfect setup for your decompression lunch.

  • We recently stopped into Cinco, the neighborhood Mexican bar/restaurant in Westchester by LAX, and walked out thinking one thing - this place is underrated. There’s a great craft beer list and even better mezcal cocktails, and the Oaxacan-style menu is extremely tasty. If you’re coming back from the beach or killing time before a flight, keep Cinco in mind.

  • Venice people tend to stay as far away from the Boardwalk as possible, but the new Australian cafe Great White gives you a reason to head towards the crowds. It’s a light and bright daytime spot with excellent coffee and a great breakfast burrito. It’s also super fast, so you can be in and out for a pre-office breakfast in thirty minutes.

Great White / Jakob Layman
  • Providence has been one of LA’s most legendary restaurants for over a decade, and after a recent meal there we can say this experimental seafood restaurant is still as excellent as ever. You’re definitely going to drop some serious money ($400 a person), but their pre-fixe menu is unlike anything else you can get in LA. The cheese cart alone is reason enough for you to come here.

  • Atwater Village just got a brand new wine bar in Good Measure, and if you live in the area, you should be drinking there right now. It’s operated by the Bar Covell people, so expect a massive wine list, tons of free pours, and bartenders who’ll probably teach you a thing or two. The food menu is also solid. Get the pork rillettes.

  • Pasadena might be nowhere near the ocean, but Fishwives is hoping you’ll still be in the mood for seafood. They serve a lot of it - everything from raw bar to hand rolls to fish and chips. The crab and lobster rolls are good, but they don’t pull the rest of the menu off as well. The fish in the fish and chips was undercooked, and the grilled octopus didn’t taste like much. Head in for a crab roll if you’re in the area, but otherwise, no need to bother.

OPENINGS:

PARTIDO: A new Filipino-French restaurant has opened in Highland Park permanently after a months-long pop-up stint. It looks like a place that could be a neighborhood go-to.

MARUGAME UDON: Sawtelle just got another new noodle spot in Marugame, serving udon in a casual, order-at-the-counter setting. We’ll be checking in soon.

DIALOGUE: Remember that food court halfway down the Third Street Promenade with the McDonald’s and the random sushi place? It’s now also home to Dialogue, an 18-seat tasting menu spot that focuses on Southern California produce, a.k.a. what every restaurant in LA is doing. If your meal is disappointing, you can always fill up on some cheap falafel next door.

THE MIGHTY: A new all-day spot opens today in DTLA, from the people behind Sycamore Kitchen. Being people who spend too much money at Sycamore Kitchen, we’re excited to see what The Mighty has going on.

9/5/2017 update

SPOTS WE’VE RECENTLY CHECKED OUT:

  • Venice loves a good neighborhood hangout, and the newest one has just opened on Abbot Kinney and is appropriately called Neighbor. It’s in the old Willie Jane space, and feels a little like the living room of that one friend who got a little too excited that they have their own house to decorate and just copied what they saw on social media. The food is good - we tried a pea salad that was mostly just burrata, and some solid lamb - but Neighbor is best used as a spot for drinks and a bite while you discuss whether you will one day actually be able to afford a house near the beach.
Neighbor
  • Uovo opened in downtown Santa Monica last week and is already packed simply because it’s a pasta bar opened by the Sugarfish people. So, what are the results of a sushi empire starting their own Italian restaurant? It’s fine. None of the pasta is bad, but nothing is particularly memorable either. The small and very modern space is cool though, and if you’re roaming around Santa Monica by yourself and looking for a place to eat that’s not a chain (yet), Uovo is a solid move.

  • If you’ve driven down Fairfax lately, you might’ve noticed that Pitfire Pizza in Weho is gone and in its place is a very industrial looking new spot. That’s Gesso, a new Italian restaurant by the Pitfire people that’s yet another casual pizza and pasta joint in a neighborhood that doesn’t need one. Is it an upgrade from Pitfire? Absolutely. But outside of the arancini, which are a must order, we aren’t running to go back and try anything else here.

Gesso
  • The Polo Lounge is one of those classic places where we imagine big time Hollywood producers go to make deals and movie stars go to move their food around their plates. Turns out, the movie stars have the right idea. The food is not only downright awful (the McCarthy salad seems like it’s been pre-chewed), but is also offensively expensive, and being here feels like a chore. If you’re looking for an Old Hollywood-like scene, the Chateau is a way better bet.

  • Wolf opened a little over a year ago on Melrose and is one of those places that, for no particular reason, got a bit lost in the shuffle. But after stopping back in for dinner last week, it’s clear that that’s a mistake. The space feels like a futuristic hunter’s lodge and the food, while very straightforward, is excellent. Also, its prime Melrose location makes it a great pre-dinner option before a show or a concert or whatever you have going on this Saturday night.

Wolf / Benji Dell
  • The Sunset Strip is one of those areas that should be full of amazing restaurants, but is just comedy clubs and sex stores. So we were pretty sad when Estrella, one of the few decent spots, closed in July. Luckily, it very quickly reopened with a new chef and a totally different menu - if you stick to the pastas and appetizers, you will be very happy with your choices. The only thing that hasn’t changed much is the space, which still feels like you’re in a New Mexico home whose owner is currently at Burning Man.
Estrella / Holly Liss
  • Mar Vista is that rare Westside neighborhood that still feels like real people live in it, not just extras from a TV show. And at lunchtime on a weekday, you’re likely to find them at The MV Grab & Go, which opened a couple months ago. Owned by the same people as The Mar Vista across the street, it’s a good option for an easy meal of tacos or sandwiches. Get a seat on the shaded back patio.

OPENINGS:

DUNE VENICE: Westsiders rejoice - you no longer have to travel for good falafel. Dune makes some of the best in LA, and this Mediterranean restaurant from Atwater Village is opening up another location in Venice.

THE YARDBIRD: This new, casual Glendale spot serves one thing, and that is grilled cornish hen. Whether that’s just a fancy way of serving grilled chickens remains to be seen.

WE HAVE NOODLES: Remember that kid in elementary school who named their pet dog Dog? Well, that kid grew up, and they opened a ramen restaurant in Silver Lake. We just hope the food is a little more creative.

STALKING HORSE: This British pub-style brewery and restaurant opens near Cheviot Hills today. We are never opposed to beer and meat pies.

8/21/2017 update

NEW TO THE HIT LIST:

  • It seems Silver Lake has another restaurant opening every day, but its more low-key neighbor to the East, Atwater Village, has been far slower to get onboard. But that just changed with the opening of Journeymen. They’ve taken over the old Canele space, and the setup here is definitely a bit bizarre: you order everything at the counter when you walk in and then get full service at your table. But the food is flat-out some of the best we’ve had all year. It’s Spanish/California seasonal whatever food, but in a small plate/pintxo style. Think eggplant relish with goat cheese, heirloom corn and leeks, and Spanish mackerel with pimento salsa. Go now before lines are out the door.

OTHER SPOTS WE’VE RECENTLY CHECKED OUT:

  • The first time we checked out Tintorera, the new seafood-based Mexican joint in Silver Lake, we fell completely in love. Good food, cool people, and one of the best patios we’ve seen in awhile. It went immediately to The Hit List. But unfortunately, in our few meals there since, things have soured. Service has become a complete mess, the quality of the food has gone down, and there’s attitude coming from almost every person inside this place. Something has clearly happened at Tintorera, and we hope they get it fixed quickly.
Jakob Layman
  • There are a lot of breakfast options in the Mid-Wilshire/La Brea area, and Met Her At A Bar is a new spot in the mix. Unfortunately, when you have The Sycamore Kitchen and Republique as near-neighbors, you should probably be doing something pretty special to keep up. This corner spot is a perfectly fine place for a coffee and waffle while you do some work and has a bit of a local hangout vibe, but isn’t worth seeking out if you’re not in the area.

  • We also checked in on two new-ish spots in Grand Central Market this week. PBJ.LA is trying to do a fancy take on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a machine that seals the sandwich and takes off the crust, but really all they’re doing is making $5 Uncrustables that are no better than what you could make at home. There’s also Prawn, a seafood-focused counter with sandwiches, salads, and stew-type things. We had a decent clam chowder and a less-than-decent lobster roll that came with very good fried potatoes. Both are skippable in favor of any of the places on our Grand Central Market guide, or other, better newcomer Sari Sari Store.

  • We always had a soft spot for Ink, the Melrose restaurant that managed to use foams and weird cooking techniques, while still being a fun place to hang out. And while we briefly mourned their closing in July, the whole team is back with Ink.well on La Cienega. A lot of the Ink favorites like the street corn with housemade ’forito and their excellent octopus are still present, but in a more casual setting, and with some new dishes like a good, if prone-to-falling-apart burger. We’ll be back.

  • Thanks to jury duty, we spent a portion of last week out in the San Gabriel Valley and stopped in to one of the best dim sum spots in LA - Elite Restaurant. Everything from the pork shui-mai to the Macau egg custard to the crispy shrimp noodle rice is incredible and the prices are as affordable as they come. Warning: Crowds can get bad even on the weekdays, but stick it out because this place is worth it.

  • Alta is a new Scandinavian restaurant in the old smoke.oil.salt space on Melrose, with a fairly traditional Swedish menu that’s very good. They just opened and are still smoothing out service and front-of-house issues, but give us fresh gravlax and Swedish meatballs and we’re happy. This is a spot we’ll definitely be getting back to soon.

  • Bar Ama was one of those places that opened early in downtown’s revitalization process, had lines out the door for years, and now no one really talks about it. But after a recent dinner there, know this modern Tex-mex spot is definitely still worth going to. The food is good (the off-menu puffy tacos are a must), the crowd is young and fun, and it’s an ideal jumping off spot for a night downtown.

Amy Opoka
  • Last week’s Old Hollywood Guide research took us to Dan Tana’s. And while this Weho classic is hardly serving the best Italian food in town, it’s simply the kind of place that makes you happy. Drinks are strong, the waitstaff actually love what they do, and no matter what day of the week you come, it’s a party.

OPENINGS:

ESTRELLA: It seems like only last week that the original Estrella closed. A new location on Sunset is now open under a different chef, with a new menu focused on pastas. Because West Hollywood really needed another pasta spot.

GOOD MEASURE LA: Another opening in Atwater Village, this one’s a wine bar/restaurant deal serving - what else - Californian food (and an abundance of wine). It has the makings of a good neighborhood date spot, so we’ll be checking it out soon.

THE HON SHABU SHABU: A new shabu shabu restaurant opened in DTLA and we are going to eat there as soon as possible.

HUNGRY CROWD: This new Korean-American fusion spot just opened up in Toluca Lake, making it a good studio lunch/dinner option. People are already talking about the clam and kimchi pasta and the fried game hen. We might tolerate the business lunch crowd to try it ourselves.

8/7/2017 update

NEW TO THE HIT LIST

  • Isaan Classic is a new Thai spot on the ground floor of a Comfort Inn in Silverlake. We checked in on the bare bones space and found Thai food as good as we’ve had all year. This is Isaan-style Thai food (from the northeastern region of the country), and while they serve some familiar classics like Pad Thai, you should focus your attention on the more unique stuff like fermented Isaan sausage and green curry with vermicelli noodles. Also: they deliver.

  • You’re not going to get a lot of choice at Hiho Cheeseburger in Santa Monica - there are exactly three burgers on the menu, and one of them is a vegetarian version. But the lack of choice is just fine when the burgers are this good. They’re simple, and kind of like In-N-Out, but in the heart of downtown Santa Monica. The office workers of the area are already all over this place, so it’s best to get here outside of peak lunch time. And also to leave room for the key lime pie.

Jakob Layman
  • Mtn is the new izakaya from the people behind Gjelina and Gjusta, but before you start rolling your eyes at that vowel-less name (it’s pronounced “Mountain”) and the general Gjelina-ness of it all, hear us out. This walk-in only spot has zero pretentiousness, and is great for a casual dinner (that might involve too many glasses of sake). The food is simple and super high quality, and you should get here now before the crowds descend.
Jakob Layman

OTHER SPOTS WE’VE RECENTLY CHECKED OUT

  • A tiny storefront in a quiet part of San Pedro is selling giant, delicious breakfast burritos stuffed with the best chorizo in LA. You’re going to want to make the drive to get one. The menu at Chori-Man is small (you basically choose from three different kinds of sausage), but you really can’t go wrong. Get your burrito to go (there are no tables in the store), head to the waterfront for a picnic, and start planning your next trip here. Which, by the way, can only be on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, because Chori-Man isn’t open Monday through Thursday.

  • For those keeping track at home, there are a lot of izakayas opening in LA right now. And Izakaya Osen in Silver Lake is another one you should know about. Unlike the more modern izakayas around town (Tsubaki, Mtn), Osen is as traditional as it gets. Between the interior covered in wood paneling and the smoke from the yakitori grills permeating your clothes as the night wears on, Osen feels like a real Japanese tavern. The food is both good and affordable, and though the place is already quite crowded, it never takes too long to get a seat.

  • Since opening in 2012, Gusto has been one of Beverly Grove’s best neighborhood Italian joints. And after a recent move last week to the old (and much bigger) Pistola space down the street, we can confirm it’s now even better. The place is packed, their new pizzas are solid, and all the old favorites (like bucatini carbonara) are as good as ever.

  • Remember The Cat and Fiddle? Everyone’s favorite Hollywood restaurant/bar with an excellent courtyard that closed down two years ago because of rent hikes? It’s back. Located at Melrose and Highland (in the old Mud Hen Tavern space), the new spot doesn’t have quite the outdoor space as it did on Sunset, but it’s a still great place to grab a low-key beer and some bar food in Hollywood. Tip: Their Pimm’s Cup-heavy brunch currently has no wait time.

  • If you work anywhere near Platform in Culver City, you’ve probably had enough Sweetgreen and Loqui to last you a lifetime. Hayden is a new spot in the same development that should help you mix up your lunch routine. There are salads, sandwiches, and oysters, as well as sweet and savory buckwheat waffles if you skipped breakfast this morning (they don’t open until 11am). There’s a wall full of wine bottles too, ready for you and your co-workers to come for after-work drinks.

Stan Lee
  • This week our Old Hollywood Guide research led us to the Ktown classic The Prince. Even if you’ve never visited, you’ve definitely seen it before - it’s been on every TV show and movie ever. The whole place feels like the rich people floor on The Titanic, with a menu full of Korean staples that are pretty delicious. The cocktails aren’t great, but if you keep it simple or just stick to beer, you’ll be fine. If you’re looking for a first date spot that’s fun and different, consider this place.

OPENINGS:

  • TINTOREA: A Mexican restaurant in Silver Lake with what looks like one of the most beautiful patios in LA will be specializing in fresh seafood dishes on the fancier side. You had us at patio.
  • BLACKSMITHS: With a name that sounds like the new hit Britpop band, Blacksmiths opens this week in DTLA, continuing the refurbished warehouse trend that downtown loves, and serving the New American cuisine that downtown loves.
  • MET HER AT A BAR: We have some questions about this place. Why put “bar” in the name of a coffee shop? Who is “her”? Is this place trying to be the go-to for an awkward breakfast post-one night stand? Whatever the case, the waffles here are supposed to be good, so we might be checking it out.
  • SOUL: Soul was supposed to open in Hollywood back in 2008, but it’s been teasing us for almost a decade. It finally actually opened this month. It better be good.
  • JANE Q + EVERBAR: Shocker, another hotel restaurant just opened, serving, shocker, fresh California cuisine. It’ll probably be great for hotel guests, but we’ll see if it’s worth it for locals.

7/24/2017 update

NEW TO THE HIT LIST:

  • Republique is one of our favorite restaurants in all of LA, so we were excited about their next move: a Filipino rice bowl stand in Grand Central Market. Sari Sari Store has barely been open a week, but is already one of the more impressive openings of the year. Everything we’ve eaten here, from the rotisserie chicken rice bowl to the Filipino breakfast sandwich to the coconut pie, has been truly excellent. This place goes straight to the Hit List.
Jakob Layman

OTHER SPOTS WE’VE RECENTLY CHECKED OUT:

  • It’s not too often we eat at a place where after one dish we already know we’ll never come back, but that’s exactly what happened at Sora. Located on the 69th floor of the new Wilshire Grand building downtown, there’s no doubt Sora’s space and views are impressive. But when it comes to the food, this conveyor belt sushi spot is terrible. The sushi riding past is grocery-store quality, but at four times the price. The scene is your typical finance crowd, full of people too worried about themselves to realize there are bones in their mackerel. Hard pass.

  • Rbta is a new robata joint (Japanese skewers and bar food) in Highland Park and while they have a lot of potential (there’s nothing else remotely like it in the area), it needs some time to work out its service and get things running smoothly. We’ll be back.

RBTA - Jakob Layman
  • We recently stopped in at Parsnip, a little Romanian order-at-the-counter place in Highland Park that opened a few months back. The food, which includes doughy dumplings, dips, excellent cheese-stuffed flatbread, and giant bowls of stew, is all solid, and it’s a good spot to grab a lunch that isn’t the usual salad or sandwich.

  • Located in the old Mare patio space on Melrose, Barbara Jean is bringing “elevated soul food” to one of the best back patios you forgot existed. And while there’s definitely some good stuff on the menu (the Mary’s Chicken and chicken liver butter are both excellent), the rest is pretty hit-or-miss. With hip hop blasting over the loudspeakers and couches lining the back wall, it feels like deep down this place just wants to be a sceney lounge instead of a restaurant.

  • Mama Lion in Koreatown and Jean-Georges Beverly Hills inside the Waldorf Astoria hotel are two other new-ish openings we visited recently, but neither of them are really worth your time unless you’re looking for a Hollywood-style lounge/restaurant in Koreatown, or are a Beverly Hills lady who lunches (on fairly boring food).

  • As part of our research for an upcoming guide to the best Old Hollywood joints in LA, we checked back in on The Dresden and found the Los Feliz staple still firing on all cylinders. The menu has your requisite wedge salads and prime ribs and it’s all pretty good. But the move is to head to the bar, grab a Blood & Sand cocktail, and let the iconic cabaret duo, Marty and Elayne, carry you off into the night.

OPENINGS:

HAYDEN: The newest addition to the aren’t-they-out-of-empty-storefronts-yet Platform development in Culver City. Expect casual breakfast/lunch options, some oysters, and plenty of people who want to talk about their start-up.

Hayden

GUSTO: The great Italian restaurant on 3rd St. that everybody went to in 2012 just moved into the (bigger) old Pistola space down the street, with an expanded menu.

THE CHORI-MAN: The man who supplies chorizo to some of the best Mexican restaurants in LA (Salazar, Sonoratown) just opened a taco and burrito take-out window in San Pedro. Consider us interested.

CREMERIE: Just in time for August’s permanent heatwave, Republique is now serving housemade ice cream out of their to-go coffee window. See you there.

VESPERTINE: Everything about this ticketed, 20-course, $250 tasting menu in a “place of shadows and whispers” (those are their words) from the guy behind Destroyer sounds completely ludicrous. We’ll let you know if any of that translates into actually good tasting food after we visit soon.


6/14/2017 update

  • Cosa Buona is a new spot brought to us by the Alimento crew. But unlike their very date night-y original space, Cosa Buona is a neighborhood pizzeria. The corner space at Sunset and Alvarado is casual, affordable, and very accessible. While the pizza is definitely good, the real standouts are elsewhere on the menu: the meatballs and the best mozzarella sticks we’ve had since Kevin Carlson’s 7th grade sleepover are both must-orders, and whatever you do, stick around for the dessert. The minty cookies and cream semifreddo pie is like the Dairy Queen oreo ice cream cake of our dreams, and that’s one of the highest compliments we can give.
Cosa Buona / Jakob Layman
  • Taking over the extremely short-lived Gardner Junction space, Electric Owl is the coolest restaurant on Sunset you’ve probably never been to. The mostly outdoor space looks and feels like an actual vintage train station where drinking is heavily encouraged. The cocktails are definitely the reason to come here (their spicy mezcal is a real standout), but the food is pretty solid as well. The sweet pea salad and white pizza are both ideal for washing down all those $6 happy hour cocktails after work.

  • If you were a pretty well-known Hollywood actor with a taco spot on La Brea, clearly your next logical move would be to open a tiny donut shop in Hollywood. Maybe not, but that’s what Danny Trejo has done with his new spot Trejo’s Coffee & Donuts. Apart from the consistent line and very pink paint job (for when the crowd at the Paul Smith wall gets to be too much), this is a pretty basic place for coffee and donuts - and we mean that as a compliment. The coffee is hot (and not in any way artisan), and the OG and Coco Loco donuts are very good.

  • Hot, Hot Food is an all-day spot in Silver Lake with a fun, bright space that fits in with the neighborhood. But their menu is all over the place, and not in a good way. They specialize in something they call “LA fried rice,” which is essentially regular fried rice with things like pork carnitas, jidori chicken, or chili and brisket. They have some heavier breakfast items, a few random salads, and some sides that are clearly catering to the friendly local stoner crowd (tortillas and butter anyone?). Nothing tastes bad, but outside of being intoxicated at 3am, we’re not sure anyone will want to eat chili-topped fried rice and mac and cheese with goldfish crackers. Related: they close at 10pm.

  • We have pretty specific requirements for our post-beach eating spots: casual, full of cold beer, acceptable to wear a bathing suit under our clothes, and most of the time, a great burger. Tower 12 in Hermosa Beach hits all of these things, making it a pretty great weekend hangout, even if you have an irrational fear of sand. Up a flight of stairs on the second floor of a prime spot on Hermosa Pier, this new-ish bar and restaurant gets pretty busy with the drinking crowd on weekends, and is an ideal place to post up most of the day for beers and the Tower 12 burger - a fancy version of a Big Mac that’s much better than your last drunken drive-through trip.

  • The second floor of a strip mall in Encino is the last place you’d expect to find a crab shack, but welcome to Frankland’s Crab & Co. The relatively new, casual lunch and dinner option is wedged in between sister spots Woodley Proper and Scratch Bar, and has a short menu of seafood-filled rolls and bigger entrees. Most of the dishes are surprisingly good, given that you’re very far away from the ocean - the slightly curry-flavored crab roll is excellent and the beer battered branzino is delicious, but getting served fish and chips with potato chips rather than fries is hard to accept. To be clear: the “chips” ALWAYS refers to fries. No exceptions. Hopefully Frankland’s will come to their senses, because it’s an otherwise solid lunch option, and is weirdly open until 12am for your late-night Valley lobster roll needs.

  • Delicatessen by Osawa is a new spot to add to your Pasadena lunch rotation. This modern Japanese deli is doing local office workers right with its selection of salads, hot things like pork katsu skewers, donburi rice bowls, and a grab-and-go section for when you have ten minutes to get back to your desk. Nothing here is going to blow you away, but it’s a nice change from fast casual chains and giant mediocre Italian restaurants.


5/8/2017 update

  • If you were to tell us that we would be into a pizza place in Brentwood run by the owner of Sprinkles, we’d probably ask you what drugs you were on. Well, hand us that Adderall, because Pizzana has won us over. While San Vicente definitely didn’t need another Italian restaurant, this one has a cooler, more casual vibe and seems to have people pretty excited - so excited they’re willing to wait an hour for a table. In Brentwood. There are a handful of starters (get the chicken liver paté) and salads, but everyone is here for the pizza. Get the Carnivoro and don’t look back.
Jakob Layman
  • On paper, an all-day restaurant in Beverly Hills that specializes in flatbreads isn’t likely to be the most exciting dining experience of your life. That said, The Flats will surprise you. Despite its tough location on Wilshire (amid the aggressive subway construction), The Flats is a calm and cool space with a menu that’s more wild than you’d think. They cure all their meats in-house (get the sriracha spiced ham), there’s something called the “bagel and lox cannoli” that actually tastes good, and their ricotta and prosciutto-topped fig flatbread is excellent. Oh, and it’s open till 2am on the weekends.

  • Chicken and waffles NYC-import Sweet Chick certainly doesn’t lack any hype. But unfortunately, we were left pretty underwhelmed on our visit to its new Fairfax location. The mac and cheese didn’t really taste like much, and the Nashville hot chicken can’t hold a candle to a certain other Nashville hot chicken joint in town. Here’s the good news - the space is great and far more of a bar than a restaurant anyways. Use it to grab a few midweek cocktails with friends or a nightcap after a great date at Jon & Vinny’s.

  • In our latest Hit List update two weeks ago, we included new modern Mexican joint Verlaine. But after hitting the sceney restaurant again, we’ve decided to remove it. On our last visit, the cocktails were subpar, the service was still shakey, and the food (while pretty) was frankly boring. We’ll certainly be back in hopes to find it all figured out, because the back patio is still one of our favorites in West Hollywood.

  • The IHOP space on 20th and Santa Monica has turned into another pancake spot, Rudy & Hudson Diner, a spiffed-up neighborhood diner. Beyond pancakes, they’ve also branched out to things like a reuben and fried chicken. It’s a perfectly fine place to grab a quick meal, especially if you need to drown your sorrows in fried things, but there’s also nothing super special going on here.

  • Astro Doughnuts is a DC mainstay that’s become best known for serving fried chicken sandwiched between a donut. Sounds like a heart attack, probably is a heart attack. But they’ve just opened a new location on 6th Street downtown, so now seems as good as time as any to throw caution to the wind. The thing is, there’s a lot of competition on the fried chicken and donut fronts in LA, and Astro really only comes out ahead on one of the two. The chicken is fine, but the donuts (especially the creme brulee) are pretty great. Stop in for a dozen and the entire office will probably start doing your work for you.


4/5/2017 update

  • While you were busy opening gifts you didn’t want over the holidays, Terrine (the French restaurant on Beverly) closed suddenly. Now, after a quick turnaround, the place has been morphed into The Ponte - an Italian spot by the Scarpetta people. The space is just as beautiful, if not more so, than Terrine - but unfortunately, the food is not. In fact, it’s actually pretty bad. The yellowtail tartare came out a strange shade of brown, the squash blossom pizza was sour, and while the spaghetti pomodoro wasn’t terrible, it was also fairly undercooked. Feel free to skip this place.

  • Sticky Rice in Grand Central Market is one of our favorite Thai places around, so we were pretty excited to hear they were opening a standalone spot close by on 7th and Grand. And So Long, Hi does not disappoint. Firstly, the space is enormous - with a big dining room and a sunny, astroturfed patio out back. Secondly, the food is great. The Crying Tiger (rare steak served with a tangy, spicy dipping sauce) is addictive and the Khao Soi is fantastic. They’ve only just opened, but are slammed at lunch, and we suspect that dinner here is the same. Another notch on the belt for great Thai in LA.

So Long, Hi / Holly Liss
  • You could probably assume that a sandwich counter inside a shipping container next to the LA river would be pretty cool, but we’ll confirm: Wax Paper is cool. And very tasty. Located on a residential side street in Frogtown, Wax Paper isn’t the easiest place to get to, but if you have a few extra minutes for lunch, it’s worth the effort. The menu is small, but the sandwiches are excellent. The place closes at 4pm, but don’t wait too long - once they’re out of something, they’re out.

  • Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica can be kind of a weird place, but Lunetta All Day has arrived to try and class up the joint. This (you guessed it) all-day spot feels sleek and definitely primed for a social media feed, and does everything from eggs and salads and burgers to carnitas and half a chicken. They’re clearly still figuring things out (service was a little all over the place), and the food is solid, though not life-changing. But if you’re in the area, it’s worth checking out, and stay tuned for their more formal spot next door opening soon.

  • So you know Pace, that excellent old-school Italian place in Laurel Canyon? They just opened up a far more casual second location right at Sunset and Fairfax, Pace Joint, and you should be taking note. The menu is exactly the same as the original location, there’s an awesome little back patio, and it’s open all-day if you’re in the area looking for a quick lunch situation (you order at the front counter). Oh, and they deliver as well.

  • Montana Avenue is home to many mediocre Italian restaurants, and we suspected the new-ish Osteria Bigoli would be yet another. Turns out, Bigoli is kind of wonderful. There’s nothing on the menu you won’t have seen before (probably at a much lower price), but dishes like the handkerchief pasta with pesto, seafood risotto, and veal scallopine are better than most. While it’s not worth driving across town for, Bigoli is an ideal spot for a low-key, authentic Italian meal - even if it is at Montana prices.

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