There’s no denying that it has been a massive year for Los Angeles’s dining scene, at just about every level. Sure, there were some seriously sad closures, but mostly 2017 was marked by impressive openings from world-renowned chefs and local talent alike.
This year has brought an innumerable amount of names to the dining forefront in Los Angeles, from the multi-story Italian marketplace Eataly to Steve Samson’s gorgeous Sotto follow-up in Rossoblu. Pan-Middle Eastern food has all but taken over at places like Kismet and Botanica, while big-spending out-of-towners managed to build the highest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere, right in Downtown. From pizza to sushi, these are the biggest openings of 2017.
There was perhaps no more hotly-anticipated opening than Eataly, the international Italian marketplace at Westfield Century City. The three-story build is now up and running, and features pasta classes, cafes, pizza zones, and loads of room for shopping. The only thing hurting them at the moment is the company’s stateside association with minority investor-turned-frontman Mario Batali, after multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Word is, his products have already been scrubbed from all the store’s shelves.
Perhaps the most famous pastry-maker in the universe, Dominique Ansel’s opening at The Grove brought out lines of hundreds of adoring fans. Most were there for a first LA taste of the Cronut®, while others stepped upstairs to witness Ansel’s first savory dinner restaurant, 189.
The Hearth & Hound
Hollywood’s new The Hearth & Hound has been more than three years in the making. April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman’s place finally took shape inside the former Cat & Fiddle space on Sunset Boulevard last week (with reported backing from names like Jay-Z), but has in the days since become a footnote in an ongoing series of sexual assault stories surrounding owner Ken Friedman.
Legendary French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is one of the most recognized names in upscale dining, but until this year he never had a flagship restaurant in Los Angeles. That’s changed now with the airy new Jean-Georges inside the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills, a power palace for the global dining elite.
There’s no talking about this year’s openings without discussion of Vespertine, the wavy Culver City restaurant from far-out chef Jordan Kahn. The experimental property comes with sometimes head-scratching food and design from venerated architect Eric Owen Moss, and has earned plenty of praise from people like Jonathan Gold.
Less experimental is Dave Beran’s Dialogue, a compact tasting menu room off the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. The longtime Alinea vet is doing hyper-seasonal fare for just a few diners a night, and attempting to elevate the whole fine dining scene in the process.
With its spare walls, all-day dining format, built-in service charge, and vegetable-heavy menu, Kismet embodied almost every detail of 2017’s LA dining style in one cozy restaurant. Powerhouse chef duo Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson lead the charge here, with operational support from the Jon & Vinny team.
After years away from the stove (at least at his own restaurant), Evan Funke is back with Felix. The throwback Italian restaurant on Abbot Kinney in Venice is already getting piled-on with awards (including Eater LA’s own restaurant of the year), and is currently among the hardest reservations to get in town.
Situated some 73 stories above the ground, Spire 73 is an open-topped roof restaurant with unrivaled views. On an average day drinkers can spot the ocean, the mountains, and miles more beyond, while enjoying a beverage and a snack. There’s a reason this place is so popular on weekends.
The greater TAO Group didn’t just move into the Los Angeles nightlife scene, they basically took over an entire city block in Hollywood. The team now runs Beauty & Essex, Avenue, Luchini, and a few other places out of the big corner build, but the crown jewel is still the namesake TAO, a clubby spot to see and be seen, from the people who currently run the most financially successful restaurant in America.
After years of waiting patiently in the wings, Steve Samson has taken a big step forward in 2017 with Rossoblu. The stunning City Market South restaurant is already anchoring some massive development in Downtown, and Samson himself is at the helm nightly overseeing everything from pasta to suckling pig to a killer wine and cocktail list.
Daniele Uditi is a pizza maestro, and his supremacy is on full display nightly at Pizzana. The Italian native is turning out some of the most buzzy pizzas Los Angeles has had in years, to say nothing of the usually-sleepy location in Brentwood.
Mexican superstar chef Diego Hernandez came to Los Angeles to try his hand in the American restaurant market. He’s done just that at Verlaine in West Hollywood, taking over a classic space and giving it a modern Mexican feel. As one of Latin America’s most venerated chefs, Hernandez’s arrival in Los Angeles is a very big deal.
Ricardo Zarate is back. The Peruvian sensation spent time in the shadows following the loss of his entire restaurant empire, but he’s now once again working the coals at his restaurant Rosaline (named after his mother), and the city is better off for it. The place is packed nightly, the food is energetic, and — perhaps even more importantly — Zarate once again has a smile on his face.
Sushi Ginza Onodera
Ever since opening up a full year ago, Sushi Ginza Onodera has commanded respect. The burgeoning restaurant chain has racked up Michelin stars around the world, and immediately elevated the already world-class sushi scene here locally.