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The Best Los Angeles Restaurant Newcomers of 2016

Some of the city's best food writers talk about this year's most welcome restaurant additions

Destroyer, Culver City
Matthew Kang
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

Bill Esparza, Food Writer

Tacos El Palomas, Howlin' Ray’s, Sonoratown, Salazar, P.Y.T.

Oren Peleg, Eater LA Contributor

Kato really wowed me with one of the best new tasting menus in the city. Inventive dishes and an understated ethos are key features here. But check them out soon, because they won't stay unnoticed for long. Also, Here's Looking At You is a knock-out newbie. All-around best newcomer? I'd say yes.

Brigham Yen, DTLA Rising

Miro, Lao Tao in Chinatown ​

Lesley Balla, Zagat, Angeleno

So many — it was a great year! Erven for sure. I never thought everyone would go ga-ga over a vegan joint, but Nick Erven isn't really a "vegan chef." I liked Manuela a lot. Gwen and Kali are two I think about often. 71Above is just stunning, and my new favorite place to meet for drinks. Salazar!

Jeff Miller, Senior City Editor, Thrillist

Erven blew me away and was Thrillist's best-new-restaurant of the year in LA. It totally deserves it.

Katherine Spiers, LA Weekly Food Editor

Salazar, for the setting, and because it warms my Seattle heart to see flour tortillas get some respect around here.

Eddie Lin, Food Writer

I'm going to mention places that my fellow food writers may have missed. Lao Tao in Chinatown's Far East Plaza is the place for lovingly made and flavorful Taiwanese food, and where thousand-year old egg is a star. SpireWorks: finally, someplace that serves really great doner kebabs in various formats. Tuck Room Tavern with Sherry Yard is a sleeper that serves up an eclectic selection done well in a whimsical setting — Shrimp and Grits and Red Velvet Pavlova are standouts. Tempura Endo is an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, high end meal of mostly tempura, all exquisitely presented (but way expensive) — the truffle embedded in tempura scallop topped with caviar is a highlight.

Caroline Pardilla, Eater LA Contributor

Here's Looking at You, 71Above, Gwen, Trois Familia

Sarah Gim, The Delicious Life

​Nong La, Pollo a la Brasa, Gjelina​, Sotto

Josh Scherer, Food Writer

Baran's 2239, Erven, Howlin' Ray's (they really need to start selling Disneyland-style fast passes for that line though), Spring, Wolf, and Sonoratown. Everything coming out of Unit 120 was awesome too.

Jim Thurman, Eater LA Contributor

In a disappointingly stale year in the SGV, MIAN

Katrina Yentch, Eater LA Contributor

Destroyer in Culver City, Winsome in Echo Park

Nicole Iizuka, POPSUGAR Senior Producer

So happy Destroyer's in my life — AND within a stone's throw of work, but there have been a few other greats this year like Lost at Sea, Here's Looking at You, Erven & Norah! But I've also enjoyed some of the less-traditional offerings this year like Mr. Holmes Bakehouse (that muffaletta croissant anyone?!), Pearl's Finest Tea, and Tinfoil Liquor & Grocery.

Hadley Tomicki, UrbanDaddy

Kato, Raku, Alma, Erven, Here's Looking at You, Commerson, Baroo, Belvedere, Spartina, Salazar, Barrique

Esther Tseng, Eater LA Contributor

Here's Looking at You, Shibumi, Baroo, PYT, Erven, Gwen, Kali, Lost at Sea, Salazar, Gus's Fried Chicken

Crystal Coser, Eater LA Associate Editor

Kali, Shibumi, Here's Looking at You, Howlin' Ray's

Farley Elliott, Eater LA Senior Editor

71Above, Salazar, Here's Looking at You, Sonoratown, Kato, Howlin Rays

Matthew Kang, Eater LA Editor

Gwen, Here’s Looking at You, Kato, Norah, Lost at Sea, Kali, 71Above, Destroyer, Howlin’ Ray’s.

Even though it opened last year, I think Simbal’s work in 2016 was incredible, and it’s the restaurant I think about perhaps the most other than Baroo. Gwen is like a first round draft pick that performed well for its rookie season, but has the most upside. I had two great meals at Here’s Looking at You, and it still has upside. Kato was a dark horse that came from nowhere but serves some of the most compelling food the Westside has seen in years, especially at that price point. Lost at Sea is the best new Pasadena restaurant to open since Union. Kali is like your awesome journeyman player finally found a groove and won the Sixth Man award this year.

Destoyer is just strange and difficult to understand until you start eating the food, almost like a Terrence Mallick film. Howlin’ Ray’s was the tour de force in LA’s restaurant world, perhaps the one that garnered the most attention from top to bottom — it’s like a good Jerry Bruckheimer flick. And Norah was my strongest, easiest place to recommend that always delivered. A complete package of a restaurant in West Hollywood, a more or less overrated dining area in my opinion. I confess that I never went to Erven but I will definitely check it out in 2017.


6600 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028 (323) 946-7500


521 N LA Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048 (213) 308-9393 Visit Website


633 West 5th Street, , CA 90071 (213) 712-2683 Visit Website

Howlin' Ray's

727 North Broadway, , CA 90012 (213) 935-8399 Visit Website


514-516 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (310) 260-2255 Visit Website


3578 Hayden Avenue, , CA 90232 (310) 360-3860 Visit Website


905 east 2nd street #109, Los Angeles, CA 90012 213-221-7967 Visit Website

Far East Plaza

727 North Broadway, , CA 90012 (424) 207-4459

Trois Familia

3510 Sunset Boulevard, , CA 90026 (323) 725-7800 Visit Website


1115 Sunset Boulevard, , CA 90012 (213) 415-1818 Visit Website


The Row 777 S. Alameda St. Building 1, Suite 114, Los Angeles, CA 90021 Visit Website


319 E 2nd St #202, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 626-0244 Visit Website


7505 Melrose Avenue, , CA 90046 (323) 782-1023 Visit Website

Here's Looking At You

3901 West 6th Street, , CA 90020 (213) 568-3289 Visit Website


1819 14th Street Northwest, , DC 20009 (202) 621-6114 Visit Website


815 South Hill Street, , CA 90014 (323) 484-8915 Visit Website

Lost at Sea

57 Holly Street, , CA 91103 (626) 385-7644 Visit Website