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LA's Most Anticipated Spring Restaurant Openings of 2015

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Get excited, because the newest crop of great restaurants is getting ready to drop on the city of Angels.

While the year's started off strong with some solid spots like Knuckle & Claw, Mexicano, Ramen Champ, and Pok Pok Phat Thai, there's still plenty in the way of compelling places to eat that are just about to open in Los Angeles. With all the complex city permitting and licensing that's taking place, a lot of long-expected eateries are taking much longer to open. That's alright, because it allows Angelenos to catch up on all the new spots that have opened up recently. Here now, the most anticipated spring openings in Los Angeles.

Cousins Maine Lobster

Location: 8593 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood; website.

Key Players: Jim Tselikis, Sabin Lomac

The Situation: Lobster rolls are hot right now in Los Angeles, and Cousins Maine Lobster, which picked an ideal brick & mortar spot in West Hollywood. The Shark Tank favorite had a short-lived situation inside the Live Mixx night club in Pasadena, but they're going for the gold inside a former banh mi sandwich shop along Santa Monica Blvd.

Projected Opening: Late spring

Vespaio

Vespaio

Location: Bunker Hill, Downtown

Key Player: Agostino Sciandri

The Situation: Bunker Hill's always been the kind of place where a lunchtime restaurant could flourish, thanks to robust office business and plenty of daytime foot traffic. But the all-day affair usually had some trouble staying busy when the sun went down. While that likely won't change when Vespaio opens later this spring inside The Emerson, it'll be a key element that'll round out the offerings that currently include Pez Cantina, Patina, and Nick & Stef's, all of which serve a good purpose to the rather isolated part of Downtown, but don't offer the kind of usability that the Italian eatery plans.

Slated as an answer to Bottega Louie, which probably never had a slow moment in its lifetime, this spot will offer brunch, dinner, happy hour, a bread and pastry counter, rotisserie, wood-burning oven, and pretty much every other kitchen gadget that'll allow its busy cooks to prepare anything a local denizen could ever want. The design will be even more striking, with clean lines and bright blue furniture to give it a modern feel.

Projected Opening: Mid-April, at least according to The Emerson's Instagram.

Le Relais De l'Entrecôte

le Relais

Location: 8755 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood

Key Players: Unknown

The Situation: Just a hop-skip away from West Hollywood power houses Craig's and Gracias Madre, this Parisian import will bring a second steak frites establishment to Los Angeles (L'Assiette set the tone first). With an impressive French interior in the works, the prolific chain is known for its insanely delicious buttery herb sauce, which covers its tender grilled steaks.

Projected Opening: Late spring

Bierbeisl Imbiss

Location: Spring Arcade Building, Downtown

Key Player: Bernhard Mairinger

The Situation: Bernhard Mairinger is a talented chef that's just been chomping (or champing) at the bit to get back into the kitchen again, working various pop-ups around town and honing his unique Austrian style ahead of this debut in Downtown. After pleasing both regulars and critics at Bierbeisl in Beverly Hills, the super-tall chef (like, literally very tall) has been building out what might be Historic Core's more grown up new restaurant for what seems like years. Recent Instagram action shows that his latest production is just a few weeks away.

Projected Opening: April

BS Taqueria


Location: 514 W. 7th St., Downtown

Key Player: Ray Garcia

The Situation: Westside chef Ray Garcia is taking over downtown, with the help of Bill Chait and his Sprout Restaurant Group. The casual Mexican eatery sits in the former Mo-Chica space, and will feature the popular chef's takes on the sort of eats generally served during staff meals in restaurants all over the city.

Projected Opening: Early April

Genesis & Nomad Kitchen

Location: 6356 Hollywood Blvd

Key Player: Jeremy Fall

The Situation: Jeremy Fall is planting his successful nightlife pop-up into a permanent spot inside the old Paul & Andre spot in the middle of Hollywood Blvd. Currently in the thick of construction, the raw space, which will reveal everything from original brickwork to reclaimed woodwork will also feature antique visual appointments and chandeliers for a sweet vintage look. Nomad Kitchen is the perfect drunk food spot that'll tout a menu from Chris Oh, so expect that open nearly in tandem with Genesis.

Projected Opening: mid to late April

Sweetfin

Location: 829 Broadway, Santa Monica

Key Players: Alan Nathan, Dakota Weiss

The Situation: A hip poké spot in Santa Monica? Would've been unthinkable a year ago, but with so many other Hawaiian poké restaurants opening around town, it seems almost timely that Dakota Weiss is launching this fast-casual eatery in a bustling part of town. Though originally slated to open in December, the place is shaping up nicely and should be ready to serve within a few weeks. Who thought healthy and delicious could ever be prepared so nicely together in one bowl?

Projected Opening: Late April

Broken spanish

Location: 1050 S. Flower #102

Key Players: Ray Garcia

The Situation: Another Ray Garcia gem is landing downtown in spring, this time in the former Rivera space. Expect a more refined experience here, but without alienating the non-fine dining crowd. Add in the proximity to Staples Center, and Broken Spanish could become a great new downtown dining option.

Projected Opening: May

Vernetti

Location: 225 N. Larchmont Ave, Larchmont Village

Key Players: Steve and Joanna Vernetti

The Situation: The nearly two-decades old Girasole is getting a full revamp thanks to longtime customers Steve and Joanna Vernetti, who will be renaming the place. Incorporating Italian-American classics on the menu, think dishes like linguine vongole and whole roasted branzino to supply the burgeoning neighborhood with some predictable crowd favorites. The opening was slated for earlier this year but with some delays, should be ready for the spring.

Projected Opening: Early April

Trejo's Tacos

Trejos Tacos From Film Legend Danny Trejo Shaping Up in Mid-City

Location: 1048 La Brea Avenue

Key Players: Spacecraft, Danny Trejo

The Situation: Danny Trejo of bad-ass Hollywood fame is ready to debut his namesake taco joint, which takes over an old Taco Bell along La Brea in Mid City. The Spacecraft design touts an expansive inside-outside feel with plenty of dark lines to accentuate the leather seats and ashwood interior. Oh, and the environmentally-friendly landscaping reflects a sort of desert feel. Details aren't out regarding the fare, but at this point, who cares? It's Danny-freaking Trejo.

Projected Opening: Late spring

Catch & release

Location: 13488 Maxella Ave., Marina del Rey

Key Players: Jason Neroni

The Situation: Chef Jason Neroni broke with Paul Hibler's American Gonzo Corp. restaurant group last year, choosing instead to partner up with Bill Chait and the folks at Sprout. The resulting collaboration has led to the forthcoming Catch & Release, an all-day seafood eatery with a casual vibe. Housed in the former Paiche space, the Maine-focused menu will provide a little something for everyone, all in a beachy, well-lit atmosphere.

Projected Opening: April

Mainland Poke

Location: 8318 West Third Street

Key Players: Ari Kahan, Kayson Chong

The Situation: Placed right smack in West Third, this stylish poke shop aims to be the Chipotle of Hawaiian fish, with a slew of sauces and various accoutrements to finish bowls off. With a marquee location and a healthful concept, except this shop to be a hit from day one.

Projected Opening: Mid April

Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee

Sidecar

Location: 7th and Wilshire, Santa Monica

Key Players: Sumter and Chi-Lin Pendergrast, Brooke Desprez

The Situation: Arguably the best donuts in the Southland, and perhaps even the country, according to some pundits, Sidecar Doughnuts will take the Westside by storm. Yes, even massive chains like Dunkin' will have no choice but to bow before the supremacy that is Sidecar. Costa Mesans have had the luxury of getting their Sidecar fix whenever they want, but when this Santa Monica outlet opens later this year, there'll be no reason by donut-hungry fiends to travel that far south ever again (well, except maybe for some great Vietnamese cuisine in Little Saigon). Oh, and don't forget about the stellar Stumptown coffee program headed here.

Projected Opening: Late May

E.P. & L.P.

EP/LP

Location: 603 N. La Cienega, West Hollywood

Key Players: David Combes, Grant Smillie, Axwell (Swedish House Mafia), chef Louis Tikaram

The Situation: With a multi-faceted eatery and lounge in the works, expect this place to be jam packed from the moment it opens along La Cienega. The expansive rooftop looks out to nearly all parts of the city, with pristine views of the Hollywood Hills, while the main dining room has all the makings of see-and-be-seen kind of place. Louis Tikaram is planning approachable Southeast Asian fare that should appeal to most diners. Who doesn't want a softshell crab sandwich, right?

Projected Opening: Late April

Madcapra Falafel

Photo: Elizabeth Daniels

Location: Grand Central Market

Key Players: Sara Kramer, Sarah Hymansan

The Situation: After descending upon the city of Angels by way of New York, this impending falafel shack inside Grand Central Market will provide some of the freshest balls of ground chickpeas the West Coast has seen, plus some salads, because of course, this is Los Angeles we're talking about. This will likely be the first of a few locations, because if anything, LA is more than ready for a falafel invasion. The Sara(h)s are also planning a more grown-up eatery somewhere on the Eastside after this debut.

Projected Opening: April

Little Sister Downtown

Location: 523 West 7th, Downtown LA

Key Players: Tin Vuong, Jed Sanford

The Situation: After a successful debut of this Asian concept in Manhattan Beach, Tin Vuong and Co are dropping Little Sister right off on the corner of 7th and Grand, in the former spot that was very briefly Gaji. Though the digs won't have as much frontage as the South Bay original, the digs might actually afford some more space for diners.

Projected Opening: Late spring

Pok Pok

Location: Mandarin Plaza, Chinatown

Key Player: Andy Ricker

The Situation: After debut Pok Pok Phat Thai in the Far East Plaza, adjacent to Chego and Ramen Champ, Andy Ricker is planning a full-concept Pok Pok just a few blocks away. Think full bar, and most of the components that comprise Ricker's celebrated Thai restaurants in Portland and New York City.

Projected Opening: Early May

Le Petit Paris

Location: Spring Street and 4th, Downtown

Key Players: David and Fanny Rolland, Beth Holden of New Theme

The Situation: Arguably the grandest, most compelling restaurant to open in Downtown this year, this seasoned Cannes restaurateur has been working on this massive former hotel lobby for years. Touting hundreds of seats and an all-day vibe, it'll also be one of the most beautiful interiors to hit the city of Angels in a long time. The fare will likely be the kind of French and European food that's both timeless and approachable.

Projected Opening: Late spring

Hatchet Hall

Location: 12517 Washington Blvd, Culver City

Key Players: Brian Dunsmoor, Jonathan Strader, Louie and Netty Ryan

The Situation: Originally slated to be a Southern restaurant, Dunsmoor is venturing into a more traditional New American concept that'll take over the former Waterloo & City space in Culver City. Currently in the thick of construction, the restaurant is scheduled to open in early May after a complete interior transformation (thankfully much of the exterior seems to be staying in place at this point).

Projected Opening: May 1

The Arthur J

Key Players: David LeFevre, Chris and Mike Simms

David LeFevre has proven that the South Bay, and Manhattan Beach specifically, is more than ready for a culinary revolution. With M.B. Post and Fishing With Dynamite already in place, LeFevre is going for a timeless steakhouse concept in the former Circa space named after his two partners' grandfather: Arthur. Currently testing recipes (check out the tomahawk), the steakhouse should be ready within a few weeks, after all the equipment goes into the kitchen and all the interiors are finished off.

Projected Opening: Late April

Cassia and Esters

Location: 7th and Arizona, Santa Monica

Key Players: Bryant Ng, Zoe Nathan, Josh Loeb

The Situation: The anticipation for Bryant Ng's second restaurant (The Spice Table for forced to close after the Metro took over the building to make way for the Regional Connector), is palpable. Over a year in development, the Rustic Canyon group's production is still in construction mode, though things seem to be tidying up. Esters, a wine bar, will also side adjacent to Ng's restaurant, with Kathryn Weil helming that part of the operation.

Projected Opening: Early June

Jon & Vinny's

Location: Fairfax District

Key Players: Jon Shook, Vinny Dotolo, Helen Johannessen

The Situation: An Italian-American restaurant through and through, this latest production from the Animal/Son of a Gun crew will serve from breakfast to dinner, and will include a handy wine shop from Helen Johannessen. Other than that, they're being pretty darn tight-lipped about what they'll actually be serving, but expect plenty of red sauce.

Projected Opening: Late April

Further out: The CannibalCraftsman & WolvesThoroughbred

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