Welcome to The Infatuation Hit List, 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 worth 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.
And if you’re looking for the best new places to drink in LA, we’ve got that covered, too - check out our Bar Hit List.
*New to The Hit List (as of 5/13): Kensho, Firehouse, Baroo Canteen
All restaurants featured on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team. The Hit List is presented by the American Express ® Gold Card. Click here to learn more about the benefits and rewards you get from paying with the Amex Gold Card while dining out.
A tiny new sake and wine bar on the grounds of Yamashiro in Hollywood, Kensho is one of the best new date spots in town - and the next place to come when you want to convince someone that you’re cooler than you actually are. You can order the entire menu for around $100, including dishes like a unique (and excellent) black cod with matcha and pickled mustard sauce, and burrata and tomatoes on sesame sourdough bread. But the best thing on the menu is the rice porridge, which involves egg, goat cheese, and dill, and tastes like that feeling of having a Labrador puppy in your lap. The staff will help you find the perfect sake to pair with your meal, and they aren’t stingy when it comes to pouring sample sips, either.
The first thing you notice about Firehouse is simply how impressive the space is. Located on the ground floor of an old fire station in the Arts District (the rest of the building is a fancy boutique hotel), Firehouse resides in an entirely outdoor side patio that’s easily our favorite new place to eat outside in LA. That said, this place is more than just looks - the global menu is very good as well. The Japanese sweet potato and cavatelli should definitely both be ordered, but if the house burger doesn’t make it on the table at some point, don’t even bother telling people you came here.
In the fall of 2018, the fantastic and unique Baroo closed up shop. If you still miss their hyper-modern Korean food and fermented vegetables, we have good news - they’re back and better than ever. Located inside the Union Swapmeet at Santa Monica and Vermont, Baroo Canteen is little more than a counter and a few tables, but with a brand new menu that includes things like mung bean falafel, pastrami fried rice, and some of our favorite Korean fried chicken in LA, this is easily one of the most exciting meals we’ve had this year. Unfortunately, the Swapmeet itself is set to be demolished in 2020, so go now while there’s still time.
For as small of a neighborhood as Los Feliz is, it’s home to a staggering amount of casual French sidewalk cafes. But it takes one meal at Loupiotte for you to realize that there’s always room for more. The daytime-only space on Vermont has exposed brick walls, mix-and-match wicker chairs, and tons of shelves filled with random knick-knacks. In short, it’s adorable, but not in a way that feels solely for social media. As for the food, it’s a fairly straightforward menu, featuring excellent dishes like a creamy polenta, pea and asparagus risotto, and a tomato tapenade sandwich you’ll go back for the next day.
This tiny spot on a quiet stretch of Hyperion is an excellent addition to your Eastside date night rotation. The menu is small, but features some really interesting takes on raw fish, from a more traditional striped bass ceviche with xni-pec (habanero salsa), to an experimental yellowfin tostada with habanero sorbet on top. It’s tough to go wrong - unless you don’t order the scallop shooters, which come with pomegranate and serrano, and are the kind of shots we plan on doing the most this summer.
It started as as a catering company, but now Aduke African Cuisine has a fantastic full-service restaurant at Pico and La Cienega. The menu is composed of traditional Nigerian food - jollof rice combos, yam porridge, and a whole section of African soups. The pumpkin seed-based egusi is our favorite, but no matter which soup you order, get a side of fufu to go along with it. It’s basically a giant ball of boiled yuca flour, and the ideal dipping device for the spicy and fragrant egusi. The portions are quite large here, so make sure you bring some friends and coworkers.
There are a bunch of places to eat inside The Manufactory, the big complex at The Row DTLA from SF’s Tartine Bakery, but the newest is the best. Alameda Supper Club has an atmosphere similar to its roommate, Tartine Bianco, but displays more of an Italian influence (mostly because there’s a pasta section on the menu), and the food is both more refined and more interesting. But maybe the best thing on the menu is the cheddar and smoked ham toast - two little strips of buttery toast with cheddar mornay sauce and smoked ham shaved over the top.
You probably don’t go out of your way for museum restaurants very often, but you should make an exception for Audrey at the Hammer in Westwood. It’s in the objectively beautiful courtyard of the Hammer, and serves fantastic food involving (mostly) vegetables. At lunch, you should eat celery root soup and trout roe toast in the beautiful outdoor space, and watch museum-goers roll around in chairs that are more like human-sized dreidels. The restaurant is open for dinner when the museum closes, when you’ll find meatier things like a great pork porterhouse - it’s salty, juicy, and cooked perfectly. Don’t leave without getting a cocktail (our favorite is the Audrey).
You may already be familiar with Maury’s, a bagel pop-up that used to always sell out at Dinosaur Coffee and the Hollywood Farmer’s Market. Now it’s gone permanent in Silver Lake, and it’s better than ever. The fresh bagels are very good, but the real star is the fish they cure in-house. We like the whitefish salad and traditional Nova lox, but our absolute favorite is the ikura (red caviar), served open-face with cucumbers and dill. Despite lines out the door, things move quickly, so even if you’re hungover and grumpy, you’ll still be very happy. Seating options are limited, so make sure you grab a seat at one of the picnic tables outside if you can.
The small, minimalist interior at Woon in Filipinotown is a nice place to hang out, but the main event is the fantastic Shanghainese-influenced food. The order-at-the-counter spot is known for noodles, which come out chewy and near perfect, especially once you use the garlic chili sauce and white vinegar to make them what the staff call “Mama’s Way.” The rest of the relatively small menu is just as good - especially the preposterously crunchy fried tofu fishcakes.
With Trois Mec, Petit Trois, and the entire Mozza empire, the intersection of Melrose and Highland has no shortage of great upscale restaurants. And now it has another. The sprawling, minimalist space at Auburn looks like a Scandavian furniture store for people who don’t look at price tags. The menu here is a build-your-own prix fixe situation, ranging from $75-$150 per person depending on how many courses (four, six, or nine) you end up choosing. Given how big the portions are, our recommendation would be to go for the six-course option, and stick to most of the main courses (duck, ribeye, scallop) as those are the heftiest and tastiest dishes anyway.
A new sandwich spot connected to Bar Clacson in DTLA, E Stretto makes big, flavorful sandwiches. The Ill Papa is their version of Bay Cities’ Godmother. It comes on ciabatta with manchego, chorizo, and mortadella, and we recommend adding some calabrian chili spread. The roast beef is another great bet, pressed with pepper jack cheese, and accompanied by a fondue-like cheese dip that you’ll want to scrape every last drop of out of the jar. E Stretto is a open until 11pm daily, so if you’re drinking Downtown and want a mid-bar night snack, this is where to go.
The first Westside location of Teddy’s Red Tacos is just as good as the original in Boyle Heights (which made our list of the Best Tacos In LA). And while the atmosphere in a shop off the boardwalk in Venice doesn’t quite live up to the original truck parked on train tracks, the rich, spicy beef birria is exactly the same. It’s the only thing on the menu, and the way to order it is in deluxe platter form, which comes with a quesadilla, mulita, tostada, taco, and pozole. You’ll be extremely full and happy.
Ask anyone who has spent time in San Francisco about that city’s restaurants, and inevitably they’ll mention Tartine. It started out as a bakery with very long lines and eventually expanded to a giant, full-service operation called Tartine Manufactory. Now, The Manufactory has opened in LA as a massive multi-part complex at the Row, with a pastry window, a bar where you can eat pizza and drink wine, a soon-to-open market, and the current main event, Tartine Bianco. The many bread-based dishes here are unsurprisingly fantastic, but it’s entrees like the crispy whole “hot” fish that will convince you that this isn’t just another transplant blowing into LA to make money.
Los Balcones in Studio City is the second location of the long-standing Peruvian restaurant of the same name in Hollywood, but it’s hardly a carbon copy of the original. The new Los Balcones specializes in mestizo cuisine, which in this case means the menu has both Peruvian and Spanish influence and has completely different dishes than the original location. All of the ceviches and meat dishes are fantastic, but it’s the locro pappardelle we’re still thinking about - pumpkin ragu topped with goat cheese and pepitas with hummus smeared on the side of the bowl. Just let that sink in. The space is objectively upscale as well, making it an excellent Valley date spot.
Dan is a low-key dumpling and fried rice spot in Pasadena. The dungeness crab fried rice will occupy your headspace until you go to sleep, and then fill your thoughts a couple hours before lunch the next day. The xiaolongbao are soupier than some other soup dumplings in town, which is a good thing when the broth is so tasty. The ones with blue crab and pork should be your first order of business. Tack on some super garlicky sauteed green beans, and call it a meal. Be prepared for a line if you go at peak times, but things do move pretty quickly here.
This new outpost of Wax Paper is in a Chinatown arcade, and it’s as good as the tiny original in Frogtown. You’ll see some repeat classics, like the too-big-to-usually-finish Italian sub and the panzanella salad - but there’s also a whole bunch of new stuff highly worth checking out. Like a turkey sandwich with an insane slaw that involves clementines and serrano peppers, a roast beef sandwich with pickled beets and French onion sauce, and a ham sandwich topped with walnuts. The space is significantly bigger than the sedan-sized first version, so you can go with a group and grab one of the tables in the hallway outside, or go alone and sit at the bar.
The guy behind Slab started out as a secret pop-up in his Studio City driveway (that he called Trudy’s Underground BBQ) and is now operating inside a shiny space on 3rd Street in Beverly Grove. The order-at-the-counter space is casual and straightforward, and the BBQ is some of the best you’ll find in LA city limits. Most people are here for the brisket, but it’s the spare ribs that we’re still thinking about. Be sure to throw in a side order of mac and cheese, and leave yourself some extra time - lines get long during peak lunch hours.
This Korean bowl spot is in the old Baroo space, which might be a lot to live up to, but BBQ + Rice serves fantastic and affordable Korean food that’s a nice change of pace from your usual salad/sandwich/poke lunch routine. The bowls come with excellent things like bulgogi or short ribs, pickled cabbage, and sweet and salty vegetables. Nothing on the menu is more than $13, and even though one bowl is more than enough food to fill you up, you should still add a side order of pickles and spicy fried chicken.
At first glance, Fiona looks like a pretty straightforward bakery. It’s an order-at-the-counter set-up with pies and biscuits in a pastry case and a wall of bread. And while the rich, but somehow light chocolate chess pie and the perfect baguettes are fantastic, there’s also a whole slew of savory Asian dishes that deserve your attention. For lunch, we like the chicken and cabbage salad, or the celery root pancake, but you should also come back at night when they transform into a table-service restaurant that serves bigger dishes like hangar steak and grilled pork shoulder.
This is a very good Southern spot in West Adams that serves cornbread you’ll want to take home by the loaf. The dishes are simple - the cornbread comes with a plate of very good homemade butter - and the portion sizes are gigantic, so you could easily split the fantastic and surprisingly light oxtails and rice between two people as an entree. Sit on the back patio, and you’ll most likely be surrounded by family dinners or casual dates having cocktails and black-eyed pea fritters, which are delicious and taste like hushpuppies that grew up to be falafels. Service can be a bit slow, but the food more than makes up for it.
If you live on the Westside, having a meal in the San Gabriel Valley is pretty much a day trip. And while day trips are fun, sometimes you want excellent Chinese food without sacrificing half of your Saturday. The third location of Szechuan Impression is here to change that. The popular SGV restaurant on Santa Monica Blvd. in West LA is Szechuan-style, so expect flavors to be spicy, intense, and worth every bit of the hour-long wait you just endured to get in. The two-story restaurant is massive with a party-like atmosphere and that can accommodate however many friends you roll in with tonight. Order the tea-rubbed ribs, mapo tofu, and wontons in chili sauce.
On a corner in Historic Filipinotown, Porridge & Puffs might look like any other daytime spot with minimalist decoration and lots of natural light. But you won’t find eggs on toast or kale salad here - just bowls of rice porridge, chewy bread puffs, and a few vegetable dishes. The porridges are fantastic, especially the one topped with five-spice braised short rib and another with Chinese sausage and black-eyed pea miso. It’s simple, confident food that you’ll want to keep coming back for, so we’re glad to hear they’ll be serving brunch and dinner soon.
Journeymen in Atwater Village was open for less than a year and never figured out what it wanted to be, but the same people have re-jiggered things and opened a very appropriately named pizza place called Hail Mary in the same spot. They’re focused on pizza, serving five-or-so pies a night, alongside salads, a few appetizers, and a small wine list. While the pizza is great, there are still some weird touches that don’t sit right (we don’t like raising our hands at the call of our name when the food is ready). But with families dropping in for early dinner, and younger locals lingering with bottles of gamay later in the night, Hail Mary seems to be a strong fit for the neighborhood.
If you’re anything like us, one of the highlights of your week used to be when the Guerrilla Tacos truck was even remotely close to your neighborhood. But the truck has recently retired, and now Guerrilla has a permanent restaurant in the Arts District where you can sit at a table (instead of the curb) while eating your sweet potato tacos. It’s an order-at-the-counter setup, with a way bigger menu (get the open-faced mushroom quesadilla), but the tacos are just like they’ve always been: impossible not to eat in under a minute. There’s also alcohol.