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The Most Anticipated Los Angeles Restaurant Openings, Winter 2016

Howlin' Ray's hot chicken to Knead Pasta Bar to Au Fudge.

The Cannibal Culver City Rendering
The Cannibal Culver City Rendering

Los Angeles has some amazing restaurants in store for the first quarter of 2016. Roy Choi is opening two restaurants (one with SF's Daniel Patterson), we're finally getting a brick & mortar of Howlin' Ray's hot chicken, Brentwood gets a Mexican seafood escape while Downtown's Officine Brera should bring a strong Italian meat menu to Arts District. And finally Michael Voltaggio is slated to open his second restaurant in West Hollywood's Sunset Strip. Here now, the most anticipated LA restaurant openings in winter, presented without any particular order.

Howlin' Rays

Location: Far East Plaza, Chinatown

Howlin' Ray's Truck

Key Players: Johnny Ray Zone

The Situation: Zone's penchant for Nashville hot chicken took him from the kitchen at La Poubelle to the streets of the city, where his Howlin' Rays truck became one of 2015's biggest food truck hits. After an early deal to move out of his truck lease and into a brick and mortar in Hollywood went south, Zone decided to scout for another location. He's ultimately landed on bustling Far East Plaza in Chinatown, with a build-out that's already well underway. Look for an expanded menu and longer hours when the space finally gets up and running.

Projected Opening: Late February

LocoL

Location: 1950 E. 103rd St., Watts

Locol Coffee

Key Players: Roy Choi, Daniel Patterson

The Situation: L.A.'s native culinary son Choi has partnered up with SF behemoth Patterson in an attempt to change the fast food game as we know it. The result is LocoL, a rethought brand aimed at providing healthful meals in (mostly) underserved areas, at price points that match the fast food competition. This first location in Watts is seen as a proof-of-concept testing ground, meaning all eyes will be on its unveiling when the doors open mid-January.

Projected Opening: January 18

Salazar

Location: 2490 N. Fletcher Drive, Frogtown

Key Players: Esdras Ochoa, Billy Silverman

The Situation: Ochoa earned his stripes creating Mexicali Taco, and now will focus on mostly Sonoran-style barbecued meats. To start, he and co-owner Silverman will be doing focused cocktails and evening tacos, but after a slow roll-out spring should see the pair expanding their cooking repertoire to include traditional carne asada and more — all in a beautiful mostly outdoor setting just off the LA River.

Projected Opening: February

The Cannibal

Location: 8850 Washington Blvd, Culver City

[The Cannibal rendering]

Key Players: Christian Pappanicholas, Cory Lane, Francis Derby

The Situation: Popular New York City beer and butcher shop The Cannibal is opening a massive space in the Platform Culver City with the idea of bringing craft brews and a full scale restaurant to the new development. With an adjacent butcher shop opening first, diners can grab quick dishes and sandwiches to go or grab some house-butchered meat to cook up at home. Later on, the restaurant will debut with an inside-outside feel and a full kitchen — something the original Cannibal in Manhattan has never really had.

Projected Opening: Late February/Early March

Kogi

Location: 3500 Overland Avenue

Kogi BBQ Palms

Key Player: Roy Choi

The Situation: Roy Choi returns in a big way to Palms after vacating the original Chego space to open in Chinatown. But this is Kogi's first official standalone brick and mortar after running food trucks around Southern California since 2008. So it's a big commitment to the Kogi brand and menu, which fuses Korean and Mexican flavors via tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and more. Replacing the former Sushi Central in Palms, it's a signal that perhaps the neighborhood is ready for even more creative food destinations.

Projected Opening: Late February

Maradentro

Location: 1168 S. Barrington, Brentwood

Key Players: Jesse Gomez, Jose Acevedo

The Situation: In expanding the Maradentro concept (there is already a location in Studio City, though another in Eagle Rock is on hold), Gomez and Acevedo plan to bring mid-scale Mexican seafood to Brentwood of all places. Housed in the former Rockenwagner Cafe space, the airy new digs will provide guests with a casual opportunity to dine on everything from sandwiches to tacos to whole salmon enchilada platters — offered alongside a full bar menu, of course.

Projected Opening: February

Recess

Location: 5022 York Blvd., Highland Park

Key Players: Sevan Abdessian

The Situation: Built on casual eats in an easygoing environment, Recess on York will look to compete with options like gastropub The York and The Hermosillo for that all-important young money demographic. The key here will be the (eventual) all-day hours and the Mediterranean lean of the menu, which includes flatbreads, falafel, and soujouk egg scrambles.

Projected Opening: January 18

Norah

Location: 8277 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood

Key Players: Mike Williams, Rohan Talwar, John Snowden, Hamish McShane

The Situation: Former Tipple & Brine chef Mike Williams is collaborating with international restaurateur Talwar for a rustic New American spot in the former Don't Tell Mama space on Santa Monica Boulevard. Snowden departs Goldie's to serve as general manager, while the Aussie McShane acts as overall barman.

Projected Opening: Late January

Donut Farm

Location: 2609 Sunset, Silver Lake

Donut Farm

Key Players: Josh Levine

The Situation: Oakland doughnut staple Pepples Donut Farm is expanding to Los Angeles, though they've left the Pepples part behind and will simply be known as Donut Farm down here. The plan is to offer a complete menu of vegan-only doughnuts in a variety of seasonal and permanent flavors. There will also be specialty coffee on offer, though at this time there are no further plans to expand into a full brunch, like the Oakland original.

Projected Opening: Late January

Knead & Co. Pasta Bar

Location: Grand Central Market, Downtown

Unions Spicy, Addictive Spaghetti Chitarra

[Photo: Wonho Frank Lee]

Key Players: Bruce Kalman

The Situation: Housemade pasta maestro Bruce Kalman is taking his prodigious noodle talent to Grand Central Market, with plans to open Knead & Co. as a tour du force on the lunch and evening scene. Quick service plates of rotating pastas will showcase Kalman's love for the stuff, while the rest of the large space will work as a market where customers can take home olive oils, sauces, cannoli, and anything else they fancy.

Projected Opening: Early February

Officine Brera

Location: 1333 E. 6th Street, Arts District

Key Players: Mirko Paderno, Matteo Ferdinandi, Angelo Auriana, Christopher Mercier

The Situation: Factory Kitchen lead Matteo Ferdinandi has pulled in meat master Mirko Paderno (of the late Oliviero) to run his new big-plate grilling operation, with recipes and guidance from longtime chef Auriana to boot. Mercier designed the open-format Arts District space, which will include easy eyelines to the wood-fired ovens in use. A variety of casual bar and traditional tabletop seating is available, along with private rooms and a small patio area.

Projected Opening: Early February

Au Fudge

Location: 9010 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles

Au Fudge

Key Players: Jessica Biel, Estee Stanley

The Situation: There's been a fair amount of controversy surrounding Jessica Biel's upcoming West Hollywood restaurant, but that's to be expected when you open a seemingly exclusive kid-friendly restaurant. While the restaurant that boasts both full liquor for parents and a play space for children isn't exactly a Soho House for kids, the association isn't fully unwarranted.
Projected Opening: January 2016

Shibumi

Location: 809 Hill St, Los Angeles

Key Players: David Schlosser

The Situation: It's a shame that chef/owner David Schlosser's Shibumi has been delayed, as Angelenos should be excited for the L'Arpege and Urasawa-trained chef's upcoming kappo-style restaurant. Here Schlosser's experience in Japan with famous kaiseki chefs Kikunoi Honten and Arashiyama Kitcho will come into play, with a dining experience that will be like a less formal, counter-style kaiseki that can enjoyed with beer, sake, and pared-down cocktails.
Projected Opening: February 2016

Moruno

Location: The Original Farmer's Market

Key Players: David Rosoff, Chris Feldmeier

The Situation: Los Angeles already had a taste of the upcoming Moruno with its temporary take-away window in the Original Farmer's Market, but still on the docket is the restaurant that will take over the former Short Order space. The bi-level eatery will showcase David Rosoff and Chris Feldmeiser's brand of simple Spanish cuisine that takes form in plenty of meaty skewers and a vermouth-centric bar. Downtown denizens can also look forward to Bar Moruno opening up in Grand Central Market later this year.
Projected Opening: Early 2016

Miro

Location: 888 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles

Key Players: Gavin Mills, Tyler Dow

The Situation: Downtown's Cucina Rustica on the corner of Wilshire and Flower has been gradually rebranding into the upcoming Miro. After going under the knife to brighten up the space, the new concept is about ready to emerge as a more pan-European spot, breaking away from Cucina Rustica's strictly Italian menu. Expect dishes like Portuguese fish stew and wood-fired pizzas that can be enjoyed with Dow's curated international whiskey program.
Projected Opening: February 1, 2016

Michael Voltaggio's Unnamed Restaurant

Location: 8917 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood

Gorge Sunset

Key Players: Michael Voltaggio

The Situation: It's been quite a while since celebrity chef Michael Voltaggio has graced LA with a new project. After focusing on his Travel Channel show Breaking Borders, the ink. chef is working on two side-by-side restaurants on Sunset: a second location of his sandwich shop ink.sak and a yet-to-be named dinner-only concept. While details are slim, we do know the restaurant will be a special occasion-type place that offers a more intimate experience than that of ink. What will undoubtedly be one of the hottest restaurants of 2016 is taking over fellow Top Chef contestant Elia Aboumrad's Gorge, which has since relocated Downtown.

Projected Opening: March 2016

Kali

Location: 5722 Melrose Ave., Larchmont

Key Players: Kevin Meehan, Drew Langley

The Situation: Meehan's long-running pop-up, Kali Dining, goes permanent at this Melrose space (and drops the Dining moniker). The plan is to bring Michelin-level food into an unfussy space, without charging an arm and a leg. Langley, previously of Providence, will run the wine program, while Meehan tackles the a la carte-only menu.

Projected Opening: Late January

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