For anyone wondering which sit-down restaurants are currently hot in LA right this second, you have arrived at the right figurative Internet place. What does “hot” mean, you ask? Well it’s safe to say that we put on relatively cute outfits to dine at each restaurant below (possibly even that pair of shoes that make our ankles bleed a little). A night out at one of these places - whether it’s for a casual catch-up with a friend or an impressive date night - feels overwhelmingly of the current moment. Many of them are brand spanking new, but we’ve also listed a couple of old spots that are either doing something new or have finally reopened for the first time in a while.
And, as always, we wouldn’t be recommending any of these restaurants simply for having a memorable scene. We’ve been to each and every spot and loved the food they serve - so you can plan your dinner confidently.
As you walk through Agnes’s massive barn doors on Green St. in Pasadena, don’t be alarmed if you’re hit with a bucolic-type nostalgia you didn’t even know existed within you. There’s a wine and cheese market up front, a giant hearth roaring in the back, and giant wooden beams soaring across the dining room. The whole place feels like an upscale dairy farm in the Midwest and that’s very much on purpose. Agnes is an homage to the head chef’s Iowa upbringing, with a tremendous menu filled with giant cuts of meat, pasta, and of course, lots and lots of incredible cheese. For native Midwesterners (like myself), seeing things like cheese curds with buttermilk ranch and puppy chow on the menu might make you immediately text a high school friend, “I’m at a restaurant in Pasadena that serves puppy chow.” Don’t feel bad about it. This place is designed to rehash all sorts of childhood comforts - and that’s about as exciting as it gets.
This tiny Israeli cafe in Lincoln Heights has quickly become one of our favorite casual dinner spots on the Eastside, and it’s wrap-around patio is a big reason. With patterned walls, red canopies, and a basketball hoop that looks like a pivotal prop from a 90s feel-good sports movie, Mazal works just as well as a casual midweek date spot as it does a big friend hangout on the weekends. We recommend going all-in on the spreads (hummus, madbuka, babaganoush) and rounding out your meal with a fresh Israeli salad and a Jerusalem bagel toast that comes with melted provolone, spicy schug, kale, and pesto. Plus, everything is under $20, meaning even with a few glasses of wine (or an entire bottle), you and your table can walk out having spent around $40 a person.
Located in the Malibu Country Mart, Lucky’s is an upscale steakhouse that originated in the A-Lister commune known as Montecito. Though this location lacks Oprah and Maghan Markle sightings, the crowd milling around the dining room will keep you entertained from start to finish. You’ll spot locals sipping martinis and intentionally placing their hands so everyone can see their jewelry and surfers who didn’t even bother changing out of their board shorts. That said, Lucky’s is more than just a people-watching sideshow - the food is good too. We recommend doing your best to not to fill up on their excellent table rolls, starting with the shrimp and prosciutto-filled chopped salad, and going for whatever big piece of meat is catching your eye.
It’s not often we get excited about hotel lobby restaurants, but The Barish is an exception. Located inside Hollywood Roosevelt, this Nancy Silverton spot has massive Old Hollywood energy (it helps being inside one of the most historic hotels in LA), plus a menu that’s stacked with standout dishes like goat cheese-filled rigatoni and one of our favorite steak tartares in town. It’s the kind of place that begs you to sip a fancy cocktail while you toast to a new client or build a buzz before seeing a show at Pantages. If you’re looking for a fancy dinner spot in Hollywood, snag a table at The Barish.
We’re well aware ERB is not a new restaurant, but this seminal Arts District spot recently reopened after a six-month hiatus and we’re happy to report it’s better than ever. The sprawling, string-lit back patio is the kind of place where one round turns into three rounds in the blink of an eye, and if there’s a better bar food menu in town, we don’t know it. From flaky buttermilk biscuits to shrimp buns to a single patty burger that will change how you think about burgers, this is simple, straightforward snacking food that we endorse crossing town to eat. Whether you’re a regular or have never been in your life, the time is now to be hanging out at Everson Royce Bar.
Unfortunately for Damian, they opened only a few weeks before LA’s second shutdown last December, meaning the debut of this Enrique Olvera’s first LA restaurant opening flew pretty under-the-radar. But rest assured, the upscale Mexican spot in the Arts District is now back up and running with a beautiful back patio ideal if you’re in the market for a big night out. The menu is filled with inventive dishes like a shrimp tlayuda and albacore carnitas, plus excellent cocktails like the brine-y kimchi martini that’ll get the celebration started in no time. Be sure to make a reservation ASAP, they fill up quickly.
Gigi’s is one of the toughest reservations to get in town right now, but if you’re able to snag a table at this French bistro in Hollywood, you’ll be treated to a night filled with oysters, burgers, and delicious steak-frites. We recommend showing up a little thirsty, too. Trust us - a night of lounging around on their string lit patio or intimate dining room with plushy green booths, sipping gin martinis, and listening to the table of agents next to you scheming how to get ayahuasca to Tulum next week is far more entertaining than another night of Pooch Perfect and pajama pants.
Even if you only casually read The Infatuation, it’s likely you’ve caught on to the fact that we’re pretty into Cha Cha Cha right now. Can you blame us? This Mexican rooftop in the Arts District has so much going for it - good food, strong drinks, incredible views, and one of the best new patios of the year. It’s the kind of place that works for everything, whether you’re on a date, trying impressing out of towners, and simply looking to get back into the swing of things after spending a year on your couch.
Soulmate is a new Spanish/Mediterranean restaurant on Robertson Blvd., right in the heart of all the West Hollywood action. This place is a scene, but with an airy, sun-lit patio and strong drinks, it’s the perfect summer hangout spot when you and your friends are feeling hot and want other people to know it. The menu is full of delicious, shareable tapas-style plates like chicken croquettes, tomate toast, and paella bites, but whatever you do, save room for the Basque cheesecake at the end. It’s light, fluffy, and the perfect way to wrap up a meal before heading out on the town.
Ospi opened pretty quietly last September, but has since grown to become one of the hardest tables to snag in town. It’s not difficult to see why though - this casual Italian spot in Venice is dishing out some of the best new pasta and pizza in LA right now. We love the Hapa, which is co-owner Melissa Saka’s tribute to the ground-pepperoni pies she grew up eating at Long Beach’s iconic Domenico’s. It comes topped with pineapple, pickled and raw jalapeños, and piles of spicy ground pepperoni, creating something that’s both nostalgic and pretty novel: An actually good Hawaiian pizza. There’s a nice dining room, but we prefer sitting out on the front sidewalk patio where you can take in the neighborhood while making your way through their excellent cocktail list.