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The Saddest Los Angeles Restaurant Closures of 2017

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Even as LA thrives, some gems have failed to survive

Simbal, a Southeast Asian Restaurant in Little Tokyo
Simbal in Little Tokyo
Wonho Frank Lee

The pace at which Los Angeles’s restaurant scene has grown in 2017 is simply staggering. There are more places to dine on fantastic food at all price points and spaceship levels than perhaps ever before, but that doesn’t come without at least some level of contraction as well. Just like last year, 2017 saw the demise of some of the city’s proudest restaurants, from longstanding diner icons to at least one fine dining mainstay.

Below is a selection of some of the hardest closures to deal with in 2017. It’s an unfortunate compilation of neighborhood gems, historic anchors, and gorgeous modern spaces, and each comes with its own tale of personal woe. For a more complete list of what has gone away, here’s a handy list.

As for 2018, expect a stampede of newcomers competing for diners. Those places include a David Chang meaty Korean restaurant, a Downtown star from the folks behind the world’s best restaurant, and a Valley expansion of Petit Trois, perhaps the city’s most illustrious French bistro. It’s still, as always, a fantastic time to be dining in Los Angeles.

Simbal

Simbal, a Southeast Asian Restaurant in Little Tokyo
Simbal, Little Tokyo
Wonho Frank Lee

Simbal’s closure in Little Tokyo made for an early front-runner for saddest shutter of the year. Chef Shawn Pham’s visionary modern Southeast Asian cooking had a gorgeous home and plenty of critical love, but tough street frontage and a lot of seats meant the place could feel cavernous at times. In some ways Simbal could be seen as a cautionary tale for other restaurateurs in Los Angeles, but regardless of the overarching themes surrounding its demise, this one stings.

Pok Pok

Pok Pok LA Opens Today in Chinatown Wonho Frank Lee

Despite amazing success in Portland and New York City, Andy Ricker couldn’t make Pok Pok work in Los Angeles. In a city filled with fantastic Thai food already, Ricker’s large restaurant couldn’t hold on in Chinatown, a neighborhood still undergoing massive changes and, in some cases, looking for enough foot traffic to justify all the openings.

Canele

Canele
Former signage for Canele
Linden Goh

Atwater Village lost perhaps its best restaurant in 2017 with the shutter of Canele. Owner Corina Weibel had overseen the day-to-day for more than a decade, before ceding the location to newcomers Journeymen. Locals will continue to miss the brunch most of all.

Bouchon

Bouchon
Inside Bouchon
Yelp

While there’s technically still time to enjoy Bouchon in Beverly Hills, Thomas Keller will be pulling the plug at the stroke of midnight on December 31. The fine dining standard-bearer in Beverly Hills cited a bad business relationship with the city in its reasons for closure, but regardless of the finger-pointing fans are going to be missing out on that fried chicken soon.

BLD

Yelp

After ten years of serving along Beverly Boulevard, Amy Knoll Fraser and Neal Fraser decided to pull the plug on BLD. The brunch-heavy corner location is still up for lease, while the Frasers have migrated some of that restaurant’s most beloved dishes to their other restaurant Redbird in Downtown.

Picca

Picca on Pico
Yelp

Despite the turnover from the once-robust Ricardo Zarate empire, it felt like Picca might persist. The Pico Boulevard option above Sotto was the last of Zarate’s original restaurants to make it, shuttering in early April and taking its fantastic Peruvian fare with it.

Gill’s Ice Cream

YouTube

With more than eight decades of service under its belt, many felt that Gill’s Ice Cream at the Original Farmers Market might indeed survive forever. Turnover at the property put an end to that in January of this year though, with the stall being taken out to make way for a more modern ice cream emporium. Some have taken it harder than others.

Ariana

Ariana Exterior
Ariana
Joshua Lurie

One of the year’s most surprising reveals was Ariana, a nondescript strip mall Afghan restaurant in Tarzana with a ton of heart. Sadly an electrical fire in October knocked the place out, with no formal plans to return just yet.

Birch

Inside Birch, Brendan Collins' Big Hollywood Premiere
Birch in Hollywood
Wonho Frank Lee

Chef Brendan Collins held out for years on Cahuenga with Birch, his modern pub concept with a killer British weekend roast. Now he’s been forced to shutter the place permanently, and is moving on to the long-running Westside staple Wilshire.

Auntie Em’s

Auntie Em’s
Yelp

After 15 years of dutifully serving the greater Eagle Rock community, owner Terri Wahl has stepped down from her perch inside the big red building. It was a sad day for fans of brunch, pie, and all things pastry, and leaves a hole in the greater daytime scene on the Eastside.

Tacos Punta Cabras

Tacos Punta Cabras
Yelp

Santa Monica Mexican food hit Tacos Punta Cabras was reportedly pushed out of their building in early April, and has been busy working on a new location closer to the beach ever since. Co-founder Joshua Gil has also moved on, while the remaining team angles for an updated look and experience sometime mid-2018.

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