Wondering where you should be eating in Los Angeles right now? You’re in the right place. The Infatuation Hit List is your guide to the city’s best new restaurants.
And when we say “best new restaurants,” we mean it. Because we’ve tried every single one of these places - and we’ve also left off countless spots that simply aren’t as worthy of your time and money.
The Hit List is our record of every restaurant that’s opened in the past year that we’d highly recommend you try. This guide is sorted chronologically, so at the top you’ll find our latest entries to this list (the newest spots), and as you keep scrolling you’ll find the places that are on the older side - but are great enough that we still haven’t stopped talking about them.
New to The Hit List (as of 2/13): Kismet, Tsubaki, Tinfoil: Liquor & Grocery, Farida, Kochi, and Maestro.
Tsubaki quietly opened in the former Kush space in Echo Park, and we’ll tell you right now - this place is big time. There’s plenty of good izakaya in LA, but Tsubaki already feels a grade above the rest. From the trout ceviche to the chicken meatballs to the curry soba noodles, this menu is absolutely stacked and surprisingly affordable as well. Our move is to sit at the bar and strike up a conversation with the fantastic staff who will no doubt tell you about personal trips to Japan and proceed to get you very drunk on shochu. Tsubaki might be pretty new, but our money’s on it being around for a very long time.
Hollywood Blvd. in Los Feliz already had a killer daytime game (see: Homestate and Go Get ‘Em Tiger), but things have gotten completely out of hand with the arrival of Kismet. This day-to-night spot is brought you by the teams behind Madcapra and Animal, and has a vegetable-focused, Middle Eastern-inspired menu that’s full of everything we want to eat right now. The broccoli toast will make you forget about avocado toast altogether, and if you don’t order the flaky bread you’ve made a grave mistake. While lunch is our favorite time of day to be in this light-filled spot, dinner involves a rabbit feast for two that shouldn’t be written off. You need to be eating here.
If you thought a speakeasy deli that requires a password to get into was the last thing you needed in your life right now - think again. Tinfoil Liquor & Grocery in Highland Park seems like just a regular corner convenience store until you realize that white door in the back leads to a secret deli serving some absolutely excellent on-the-go sandwiches. Our move is either the roasted turkey or corned beef with a side of their mac salad, all of which are made in-house. So what’s the secret password to get the door to buzz open? We’re not usually ones to give away any surprises, but ask the guy behind the register if they sell birthday candles.
The owners of one of the most criminally overlooked restaurants in the city - Bowery Bungalow - have opened up a new spot at Sunset and Vine, and given Hollywood a dinner spot that actually isn’t a total production to get into. Much like Bowery, Farida’s menu is a modern blend of Middle Eastern, North African, and Mediterranean dishes - all of which are excellent. Think everything from chicken shawarma sandwiches to tahini toast to a baghrir crepe (spongy Moroccan bread). The space is decently sized and extremely colorful, making it a perfect choice for a midweek dinner with friends or a not-predictable first date venue.
At this point, you can walk about two blocks in any direction in LA and find a solid ramen joint. But udon? Not so much. So rejoice, West Hollywood - a brand new little udon shop opened right under our noses on La Cienega, and it’s serving some fantastic thick-noodled soup. The mentai cream with red caviar is our early favorite, but don’t pass up on the traditional broth-based bowls like the niku udon with beef and onions either. The service is quick, the space is quiet and casual, and you just got your new rainy day lunch spot.
Yes, we all know that Pasadena is no longer a complete and utter dining black hole, but it’s still a pretty big deal every time a decent new spot opens. The modern and kind of fancy Mexican restaurant Maestro, though, is the kind of place that any neighborhood would be excited to have. The space is small and cozy, the service friendly, and the food both interesting and delicious - if prone to arriving all at once. The duck carnitas put their porky cousins to shame, and come with buttery fried bread instead of tortillas, and if you’ve ever wanted to try esquites (Mexican corn) with grated crickets on top, this is the place to do it.
Mar Vista is one of those neighborhoods that has a lot of cute houses, but not a whole lot else. So the opening of The Mar Vista has made a lot of Mar Vistans (Mar Vistenos?) very happy. This big, bright space on Venice Boulevard has quickly become a neighborhood hangout, with tables that work for groups, and lots of space to drop in and grab a meal at the bar. The menu seems kind of all over the place as you read it - there's everything from a fontina bacon crab melt and ceviche, to hot pots and a short rib ragu. But somehow it all works, and it turns out it's a relief to read a menu on the Westside that doesn't include the words "brussels sprouts." Get the mushroom fundido.
Silver Lake just got a brand new casual Chinese spot and it is absolutely excellent. There’s nothing special about the setup here - you order at the register, take a number, and wait for the food to come out. But this is exactly the kind of place every neighborhood in LA should have, but somehow doesn’t. And that’s what makes Fat Dragon special. The spicy wontons, dragon fried rice, and the eggplant are all musts.
There are parts of LA that seem to get all the good restaurants and parts that don’t. La Brea and Wilshire is definitely the latter. Plagued with never-ending subway construction, most LA drivers have detoured around the area for months now, but with the arrival of Commerson, it’s time to start heading back. The seafood-based restaurant has found the perfect balance between being an upscale destination restaurant and a place you can walk into for a quick bite on a Tuesday. The scallop dish and the poke appetizer are our current favorites, but we haven’t eaten anything that’s disappointed.
We didn’t know we needed a focaccia-by-the-slice spot in our lunch rotation, but Di Alba in the Arts District has shown us what we've been missing. This order at the counter place inside a Shinola store has five or so focaccias on the menu, as well as a few salads and vegetables to go with what are essentially thick slices of pizza. Toppings range from prosciutto and fior di latte to brussels sprouts, but our favorite is the breakfast focaccia with smoked salmon, hard boiled eggs, and pickled onion. The space is small, with only a handful of tables, so it's the kind of place where you can stop in and pick up lunch to go, or have a quick solo time out between meetings
Is this the fanciest restaurant in Koreatown? Yes, by a mile. The people behind Ktown’s most well-known BBQ spot (Kang Ho Baekjeong) rolled the dice in a big way and opened this massive, upscale restaurant next to a Denny’s on Wilshire. Guess what? It paid off. The Korean-American menu might not be cheap, but everything from the uni rice to the hamachi to the steak tartare is worth it. Also, the cocktail situation is strong (and there's a separate bar where you don't have to order food) in case you’re stopping by for a quick drink before a concert at the nearby Wiltern.
Silver Lake's new locals' hangout has arrived. Wolfdown is a more formal restaurant from the people behind neighborhood spot Forage - and by more formal we mostly mean you don't order at the counter here. The old bungalow space on Rowena is beautiful, and has a back patio you’ll be spending half your summer nights on. The menu is definitely eclectic - patatas bravas and Korean fried chicken are both present - but the food itself is tasty and unfussy, and the whole place feels like that one really fun friend's place you always end up at.
Attention everyone waiting in line at Tatsu on Melrose: there’s a brand new ramen spot down the street that’s just as good, with zero wait time. EAK took over the (very sadly) defunct Pingtung market, but has given the neighborhood another ramen joint it clearly needed. So what makes EAK different than the rest? It’s “lekei” style, which means much thicker noodles than you’re used to and a broth that’s noticeably saltier. Our move is the Oh So Spicy (because it’s actually spicy) and the ginger gyoza because you never don't order the gyoza.
And just like that, one of the more boring stretches of Hollywood got a new all-day spot you need to be very aware of. Located on Highland and Lexington, this neighborhood cantina is serving authentic Baja-style Mexican seafood in a cool, welcoming setting. Think shrimp ceviches, marlin tacos, and some sort of cheese-doused shrimp dish that sounds like a nightmare but is one of the best things we’ve eaten all year.
When one of LA’s great pasta spots (Angelini Osteria) opens up a new restaurant, you pay attention. When you find out it’s a casual all-day cafe, you rejoice. Located directly next to the original restaurant on Beverly, Alimentari is dishing out affordable sandwiches (get the meatball sub), salads, coffee, and Italian gelato for all your mid-afternoon needs. The excellent outdoor patio doesn’t hurt either.
P.Y.T.400 S Main Street
When all-day modern diner Ledlow decided to cut itself in half and turn into two separate restaurants, we were kind of bummed But then we actually ate at the new half, a mostly-vegetarian spot called P.Y.T., and now we’re happy again. The food is interesting, the service is so friendly you’ll wonder if they’re being condescending (they’re not), and even the cocktails have vegetables in them. Don’t miss the ricotta cavatelli with mushroom dashi, nori, pecorino, and yogurt. It's weird. But also excellent.
Destroyer is here from the future, to show you what a cafe looks like in 2050. Interiors are as minimal as it gets (bright white walls, the menu projected onto a wall), until you reach the built-in coffee machine that could possibly be launch control for a nuclear arsenal. The biggest surprise though is the food - it looks modern and interesting and tastes delicious. The raw oatmeal sounds like something a righteous vegan would eat, but it's way better than what a righteous vegan would eat.
For all the development reigning down on Highland Park right now, the northeast neighborhood still lacked that big signature restaurant you could force someone to drive across town for - but they just got one in Cafe Birdie. This is the kind of upscale, but laid-back restaurant that fits perfectly in the area. The service is excellent, the food is great (get the pork cheek ragu), and there's a secret detached bar in the back for more revelry afterwards.
Instagram-famous bakery Mr. Holmes has come down south from San Francisco, bringing its cruffins, churro croissants, and strawberry jalapeño bear claws with it. The stark white shop in Highland Park is social-media ready (you can't miss the “I got baked in Los Angeles” neon sign), and very busy - those cruffins can sell out within a couple of hours. More importantly, everything is actually really tasty.
Down in Chinatown's East China Plaza, Lao Tao brings modern Taiwanese street food to the lunch crowd masses and it's phenomenal. The order-at-the-counter spot is affordable, quick, and just the right amount of gluttony to leave you feeling satisfied but still able to get work done afterwards. The move is the beef ban mian (flat noodles in a bone marrow broth) and the best goddamn popcorn chicken we’ve had in LA.
You probably have never said the words “Let’s go have lunch on Cahuenga,” but now that Andare has appeared there's actually a reason to do so. It’s a bare-bones operation that takes over the dining room at Birch for weekday lunches, and they’re putting out some impressive Italian food. Definitely start with the chicken liver toast and then go straight for the pastas. The ricotta gnocchi with ‘nduja is a must.
Sure, you’ve been to strip malls for sushi, but for high-end tasting menus? Not so much (other than Trois Mec). Kato is here to change that, with a five-course Japanese and Taiwanese-inspired menu (a steal at $49). Expect things like hamachi with a charred scallion sauce or a sukiyaki-inspired soup. Whatever you do, definitely go for the pork belly rice add-on. They're still working on their liquor license, but you won't even notice the lack of booze when the food is this good.
Something big is happening, and it’s going down in Frogtown. No, that’s not the name of a section in Disneyland, it’s an actual LA neighborhood, and home to an extremely exciting new spot: Salazar. The massive space is almost entirely outdoors, with a menu featuring everything from a mesquite-grilled trout to carne asada quesadillas - but you're going to want to go heavy on the tacos, because they're incredible.
Tacos on the Westside can be a pretty hit-or-miss proposition. Loqui, the casual order-at-the-counter taco spot in the Culver City’s Platform development, is here to change that. The menu is limited - it’s either tacos (with house-made tortillas) or snazzy burrito bowls they call molcajetes, and you can’t go wrong with either. Scratch that - if you don’t sprinkle the dry salsa and chile on top of everything, you are wrong.
With several excellent DTLA taco spots now open, it’s not easy to pick just one, but our favorite is definitely Sonoratown. This tiny, order-at-the-counter taco spot is a bit removed from the main downtown hustle, but it’s worth the extra few blocks walk. All the tortillas are made in-house and the carne asada is phenomenal. And it’s just nice to know $2 tacos still exist.
Nashville hot chicken food truck turned LA food cult Howlin Ray’s brick and mortar is open in Chinatown’s Far East Plaza and it’s an all-out blockbuster. But you’ve been warned: open only from 11pm-4pm daily, you’ll be greeted with an hour-long wait no matter when you go. That said, we would wait two. Everything about this place works, and despite the wait, it’s exceptionally well-run. As for the chicken? Incredible. Order it dark or white (or in a sandwich), pick your heat level, and enter into fried chicken nirvana.