Despite all the uncertainty that still surrounds Los Angeles’s restaurant scene, there is still plenty to look forward to this fall. As one of the historically busiest restaurant opening seasons bears down on the city, some of LA’s biggest names — from Caroline Styne and Suzanne Goin to Evan Funke and Lincoln Carson — look to spread their wings with new concepts from Santa Monica to Downtown and beyond. There are newcomers too, like the Vazquez family behind Austin’s vaunted Veracruz All Natural, hoping to make a splash in a new city. It’s all adding up to this, a cooling fall season where restaurant openings are suddenly as hot as ever.
Location: 718 S. Hill Street, Downtown LA
Major Players: Janet Zuccarini, Gusto 54 Restaurant Group
The Situation: The busy Canadian restaurant group Gusto 54, known locally for bringing Evan Funke’s Felix to life in Venice, is close to putting the final touches on their long-awaited Downtown LA project. Part of a full building of health, wellness, and cannabis companies, this anchor tenant will bring a mostly plant-based menu (and yes, some hemp) to Hill Street in Downtown soon.
Ghisallo/Jyan Isaac Bread
Location: 1622 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica
Major Players: David Rodriguez, the Tasting Kitchen
The Situation: Don’t be fooled; despite a brief attempted opening late last year, city issues shut down Ghisallo and attached restaurant Jyan Isaac Bread before they had a chance to begin. Now chef David Rodriguez, formerly of Pizzana and elsewhere, is back with a revamped menu (and the same backing as the ownership team from the Tasting Kitchen in Venice), with plans for pizza, Italian starters, and a whole lot more. Meanwhile, upstart baker Jyan Isaac (an emerging Westside baker all of 20 years old) will harness the same Matt Winter-designed space for morning service, with breads, bagels, and other carby delights.
Superba Food + Bread Hollywood
Location: 6530 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood
Major Players: American Gonzo Food Corporation
The Situation: The historic former Cat + Fiddle Hollywood space on Sunset Boulevard is finally ready for its anticipated return, as the team behind Superba Food + Bread, Pitfire Pizza, and American Beauty (which was involved in a worker tip dispute earlier this year) turn the lights back on following more than two years of it being dark. Expect the same moody, stone- and wood-infused look (and that gorgeous patio), with the usual array of California produce-forward salads, roasted meat mains, pastries, and more.
Caldo Verde/Cara Cara
Location: 1106 Broadway, Downtown LA
Major Players: Caroline Styne, Suzanne Goin, Proper hotels
The Situation: Caldo Verde is really, truly almost here. The long-time-coming project from two of LA’s biggest names is set to open wide inside the Proper Hotel in Downtown’s South Park neighborhood in just a couple of months (if not sooner), marrying rooftop cocktail bar decadence with Portuguese, Spanish, and California flavors from across a lifetime of cooking. These AOC and Lucques vets certainly know what they’re doing.
Location: 1541 Wilcox Avenue, Hollywood
The Situation: Star pastry chef Lincoln Carson has embraced his savory side more and more over the past several years, earning national acclaim at Downtown’s Bon Temps along the way. Now he’s back, this time in Hollywood, with plans for a French-California bistro inside of Hollywood’s Thompson hotel. Expect a relaxed but upscale kind of elegance from one of LA’s most thoughtful chefs and operators.
Location: 712 S. Santa Fe, Arts District
Major Players: Katianna Hong, John Hong
The Situation: Hopes are high for the incoming Yangban Society, landing with a modern American flair and lots of Korean influence. Co-owners and chefs Katianna Hong and John Hong hail from fine dining backgrounds at places like the three Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood, and now they’ll be running a more personal project in the middle of the Arts District, just around the corner from Bestia. Expect big flavors and lots of heart from some of California’s most technically savvy chefs.
Location: 6067 Wilshire Boulevard, Miracle Mile
Major Players: Bill Chait, Raphael Francois, Julian Cox, Wolfgang Puck Catering
The Situation: A trio of known commodities have joined forces with the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures to bring a bit of old Hollywood decadence back to the city. Expect timeless service — complete with captains in jackets and lots of white tablecloths — plus throwback American dishes and drinks from one of LA’s best bartenders, plus catering from Puck’s team. This big all-day opening will happen in phases, so the full dinner show may not come until later in the fall.
Location: 10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood
Major Players: Alice Waters, David Tanis, Jesse McBride, Christina Kim
The Situation: California legend and Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters is heading to Los Angeles, taking up inside of Westwood’s Hammer Museum with a new project to be called Lulu that promises all the richness of California on a plate. She’s entering the market with old friends and big plans, and is certain to be embraced by a Westside dining community that has been eating the way that Alice eats for a generation now, thanks to her incalculable influence on food and hospitality.
Alma at the Grove
Location: 189 The Grove Drive, Mid-City West
Major Players: Grupo Hunan
The Situation: One of Mexico’s most renowned restaurant groups, Grupo Hunan, has landed in LA. The team takes over the former Dominique Ansel two-story space at the Grove, with plans to open a modern but uncomplicated Mexican restaurant that spans from brunch to dinner and drinks. Expect a lush, multi-story experience with all-day appeal and big flavors — and don’t think for a second that Grupo Hunan is only going to open one restaurant in Los Angeles.
Location: 3515 Wilshire Boulevard, Koreatown
Major Players: Veracruz All Natural’s Reyna and Maritza Vazquez
The Situation: Some of Texas’s most famous tacos are coming to Los Angeles. The team behind breakfast sensation Veracruz All Natural is opening a food truck called Hot Tacos that will roam the city streets soon while keeping Koreatown’s Line Hotel as a primary base. From morning staples like migas tacos to late-night bites, this is one of the most anticipated options to hit LA in a minute.
Bagel + Slice
Location: 4751 York Boulevard, Highland Park
Major Players: Bradford Kent
The Situation: Chef Bradford Kent may not be a household name, but the Olio and Blaze Pizza co-founder is certainly eager to make a statement. His newest project in Highland Park marries yet more gluten (this time in the form of bagels and pizza) with Kent’s personal ethos to run a sustainable, good-for-the-world company that also takes care of its employees. If it works, and there are high hopes, Kent’s restaurant could become a model for other operators looking to move past profits as a sole motivator for business and life.
Location: 1545 Wilcox Avenue, Hollywood
The Situation: Star chef Evan Funke, known for his prowess with all things Italian (particularly pasta) is back with another new idea for Hollywood. The upcoming Mother Wolf takes on the eclectic and historic world of Roman cuisine, complete with antipasti, pizza, and yes pasta as well. This is a big deal for suddenly flourishing Hollywood, particularly because Mother Wolf is set to anchor the newly revamped Citizen News Building in the heart of the action.