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Leather bar seats and lots of bottles at a tall new bar with high ceilings.
The Grant in Glassell Park.
Jakob Layman

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The Prettiest New Restaurants and Bars to Open in Los Angeles in 2021

Feast the eyes on stunning dining rooms and cocktail destinations in Los Angeles that opened this past year

Los Angeles has always been an industry leader in restaurant and bar design, and 2021 was no exception. With the difficulties of the past nearly two years stunting openings and setting back debuts across the city, the past 12 months have still yielded a number of well-designed spaces that showcase the breadth and depth of Los Angeles’s restaurant interior architecture.

Some highlights include a return to midcentury modern design but with unexpected touches. Throwbacks to the 1970s and 1960s have gone into everything from sweeping breweries in Mid-Wilshire to a fantastic homage to recording studios of decades past. Outdoor spaces thrived as well, with places like Soulmate, LA Cha Cha Chá, De La Nonna, and Belles Beach House embracing the new reality of al fresco dining. And finally, the grand dining rooms of places like Merois, Intercrew, and the Girl and the Goat, each encompassing classical, blended, and modern design styles that feel fresh and compelling. Here now, these are the prettiest restaurant and bar openings of the past year in Los Angeles.

All Season Brewing.
All Season Brewing.
Wonho Frank Lee
Patio at All Season Brewing.
Patio at All Season Brewing.
Wonho Frank Lee
All Season Brewing.
All Season Brewing.
Wonho Frank Lee

All Season Brewing

This fantastic retrofit of a former Firestone tire shop along La Brea was one of the best historic projects of the year in Los Angeles from Matt Winter, creating a wide-open space with moving air to give an al fresco feeling and help ease imbibers into the spring 2021’s restaurant and bar reopenings.

Cha Cha Chá patio in the Arts District, Los Angeles, California.
LA Cha Cha Chá
Wonho Frank Lee

LA Cha Cha Chá

One of the city’s most lush outdoor spaces, this second-floor mostly al fresco restaurant embraced the vibes of Mexico City and Los Angeles to a tee, with excellent views of Downtown’s main skyscrapers. The modern Mexican cuisine by Alejandro Guzman and the stellar cocktails made it the hottest Arts District restaurant of the first half of the year.

Merois’s dining room at Pendry West Hollywood.
Merois at the Pendry West Hollywood.
Wonho Frank Lee
Outside patio at Merois.
Outside patio at Merois.
Wonho Frank Lee
Dining room at Merois with pink ceiling accent and hanging lights.
Merois’s main dining room.
Wonho Frank Lee

Merois

Wolfgang Puck hadn’t opened a big new LA restaurant since his Downtown establishment WP24, which closed this year. While the ensuing decade produced incredible change in the dining scene in Los Angeles, Puck remains as solid as ever. Merois’s fantastic unfettered views from its Sunset Strip perch at the Pendry West Hollywood are arguably the best in the city right now, with the modern Asian cuisine providing an ideal accompaniment to the vistas.

An angled look at a new art deco bar with pendant lights and a long bar and blue seats.
The Grant.
Jakob Layman

The Grant

Mixing sleek midcentury modern vibes with Art Deco accents, this lowkey Glassell Park bar from Michael Lippman and Joshua Weinstein of Bar Bandini was a lovely little neighborhood cocktail destination. It’s the kind of easygoing place to wander in, have a drink, and experience a relaxed Northeast LA bar with the style to match.

A long restaurant with orange booths at left and bulbous lights overhead.
Dining area inside Soulmate, West Hollywood
Wonho Frank Lee
A pitched roof inside of a dark restaurant at night with pitched wooden beams.
Soulmate’s inside cocktail bar.
Wonho Frank Lee
A square room with an open ceiling and a bar along one wall, at night.
Outdoor-ish patio at Soulmate
Wonho Frank Lee

Soulmate

Sporting a terrific mix of various design influences by Kelly Architects sprawled across numerous rooms, Soulmate serves a California version of Spanish fare with a towering semi-outdoor patio and a sleek indoor area with an arresting cocktail bar. It’s one of the most fun spaces to wander around in while looking for the restroom.

Dining room at Afuri with white tables and elevated counters.
Afuri Arts District.
Wonho Frank Lee
Bar counter at Afuri Los Angeles with hanging lights and black stools.
Afuri Los Angeles.
Wonho Frank Lee

Afuri Ramen

Tokyo’s famed Afuri ramen made a splash in the Arts District when it opened earlier this year with housemade noodles produced in a separate lab-like space and an airy, gorgeous minimalist space that made each bowl look photo-ready. Slurping up yuzu ramen and sake cocktails shouldn’t feel this effortless.

A wide corner booth with plaid seating inside of a new restaurant with brick walls.
Agnes Pasadena
Wonho Frank Lee
An open restaurant kitchen, at right, with banquette seating and lots of round tables in the middle.
Agnes Pasadena.
Wonho Frank Lee
A long wooden table for prepping food inside a restaurant, surrounded by equipment and with a tall skylight at top.
Private dining area at Agnes.
Wonho Frank Lee

Agnes

Thomas Kalb and Vanessa Tilaka worked on this stunning Pasadena space for years, and the design by Oonagh Ryan of ORA is a triumphant use of a 1922 building. With a modern “grandma’s house” feel featuring an open kitchen, vintage photography, and compelling design details, Agnes offers a seamless outdoor experience as well. This marketplace, cheesery, and neighborhood restaurant marked a new direction for Pasadena’s dining scene.

Bicyclette Bistro dining room
Bicyclette.
Wonho Frank Lee
Bicyclette Bistro dining room
Bicyclette Bistro dining room.
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA
Bicyclette Bistro dining room
Dining room at Bicyclette.
Wonho Frank Lee

Bicyclette

Walter and Margarita Manzke opened their lower Bicyclette Bistro in the former Sotto space along Pico Boulevard, transforming the former underground New York City-style Italian restaurant design into something that felt like it was tucked away down a Parisian back alley. And the food was equally, if not more, stunning — like the onion tart.

Girl and the Goat Los Angeles.
Dining room at the Girl and the Goat Los Angeles.
Wonho Frank Lee
A new restaurant shows off an indoor-outdoor space, bar, tables, and booth seating.
Girl and the Goat LA.
Wonho Frank Lee
AN open restaurant with art on the walls, lots of warm light, and more.
Girl and the Goat LA.
Wonho Frank Lee

The Girl and the Goat

Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard’s West Coast outpost of her Chicago flagship restaurant looks nothing like the Windy City original. Instead of industrial, charred-wood panels, the Arts District version is bright, airy, lush, and a sight to behold when fully occupied. It’s no surprise that Downtowners have taken to Izard’s Asian-inflected cuisine with ease.

Esperanza’s bar in Manhattan Beach, California
Esperanza Manhattan Beach.
Wonho Frank Lee
Esperanza Cocina de la Playa restaurant in Manhattan Beach, California
Esperanza entrance in Manhattan Beach.
Wonho Frank Lee
Lounge in Esperanza, Manhattan Beach, California
Details at Esperanza
Wonho Frank Lee

Esperanza

Sonoran-inspired modern Mexican restaurant Esperanza brought Manhattan Beach one of its best-looking new establishments from designer Gulla Jónsdóttir and GAA Architects, which brought a sort of Mexican resort meets Scandinavian minimalist ambience. Jónsdóttir made excellent use of the somewhat small space just steps from the beach, capturing a seaside vibe with compelling lines and materials used across the interior.

Daedo Sikdang interior.
Dining room at Daedo.
Wonho Frank Lee
Daedo Sikdang interior.
Banquettes at Daedo.
Wonho Frank Lee
Brick-lined walls preserved at Daedo.
Brick-lined walls preserved at Daedo.
Wonho Frank Lee

Daedo

One of LA’s most celebrated new Korean barbecue restaurants might also have its best overall ambience, with sweeping lines, dramatic hanging lights, and phenomenal visibility across the space. Daedo serves mostly ribeye in three different cuts on cast iron skillets right at the table, with butchery visible near the entrance. Daedo feels like a sleek Seoul restaurant lifted and placed into Los Angeles’s K-Town.

Lounge area at Intercrew.
Lounge area at Intercrew.
Wonho Frank Lee
Intercrew bar area in Koreatown, Los Angeles
Bar at Intercrew.
Wonho Frank Lee
Intercrew dining area in Koreatown, Los Angeles
Dining room at Intercrew.
Wonho Frank Lee
Intercrew restaurant in Koreatown, Los Angeles
Bar at Intercrew.
Wonho Frank Lee

Intercrew

Koreatown’s grand dining room and cocktail destination Intercrew properly captured the glamour of the midcentury in this part of Los Angeles, back when the former nearby Ambassador Hotel and its Cocoanut Grove were the poshest places in the city to see and be seen. Now in the 21st century, Intercrew’s mix of arresting cocktail bar, midcentury touches, and dynamic lighting make it one of the best new designs in LA. It’s a look that captures evening allure without veering into tackiness in this genre.

An old dining room with lots of colorful paintings of horses and deep blue walls with wooden ball at the back.
Back dining room at Horses.
Wonho Frank Lee
A retro look at red, tall booths and white tablecloths and wood panels in an old bar.
Horses Hollywood.
Wonho Frank Lee
A long look down the middle of an old school room with yellow booths, green seats, tile, and sunshine at the end.
Horses Hollywood.
Wonho Frank Lee

Horses

Taking over the historic Ye Coach and Horses space that was most recently the Pikey, Horses is the hottest new place in this part of Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard stretch, with stellar cooking from Liz Johnson and Will Aghajanian. With a robust British bistro-inspired look and California fare, Horses has had a promising start that should last for a long time.

Belles Beach House main dining area with tropical trees and matching sofa decor.
Belles Beach House main dining area.
Wonho Frank Lee
Belle’s dining room with chairs, tables, and tropical plants.
Belles Beach House
Wonho Frank Lee
Tiki-style bar at Belle’s Beach House in Venice with wood chairs.
Belles Beach House Venice.
Wonho Frank Lee

Belles Beach House

The comparisons to popular HBO series White Lotus came fast and furious when Belles Beach House opened in Venice, but thankfully this new Tiki-inspired restaurant doesn’t have to live with the kind of drama that permeates the show. The tropical vibe is one-of-a-kind in LA, with open wood slats that allow air to flow through 24/7. Belles Beach House has to have a lot of heaters through colder months, but once endless summer arrives in LA (sometime in early April), this will continue to be one of the city’s busiest beachside spots. The solid cooking from Thomas Lim includes everything from fresh sushi to an amazing cheeseburger.

A corner look of a tiled room with green plants in the corner and leafy patterned seats at night.
De La Nonna in LA’s Arts District.
Wonho Frank Lee
A long look down a new pizza restaurant with red and white tiles and candles.
De La Nonna’s bar area.
Wonho Frank Lee
Evening seating around a planted tree with string lights at a new restaurant.
De La Nonna
Wonho Frank Lee

De La Nonna

A place that conjures grandma’s home shouldn’t look this good. With mismatched furniture, hanging lights, and so much greenery, it’s hard to imagine an Italian grandmother having this much style. But De La Nonna provides it in spades, with a visually pleasing red checkered tile and throwback details all around the indoor and outdoor spaces of this square pizza specialist.

Grandmaster Recorders restaurant interior in Hollywood, California.
Grandmaster Recorders.
Wonho Frank Lee
71 Studio & Bar at Grandmaster Recorders in Hollywood, California.
Grandmaster Recorders.
Wonho Frank Lee
A hallway lined with records and recording equipment at Grandmaster Recorders in Hollywood, California.
Grandmaster Recorders.
Wonho Frank Lee
Lounge seating area at 71 Studio & Bar at Grandmaster Recorders
Lounge seating area at 71 Studio & Bar at Grandmaster Recorders.
Wonho Frank Lee

Grandmaster Recorders

There might not be a more arresting space that opened in LA this past year. Taking over a former Hollywood recording studio that now occupies three floors, the place boasts a rooftop outdoor area and enough lounge space to let the party go on for hours. Grandmaster Recorders is a compelling sequel from E.P. and L.P.’s team (let’s say S.O.L. was a daytime spot and not quite this ambitious), a place destined to be in the center of Hollywood’s white-hot nightlife scene.

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