Welcome to the Year in Eater 2022 — an annual tradition that looks back at the highs, lows, and in-betweens of Los Angeles’s restaurant scene. Today, Eater LA’s own in-house photographer Wonho Frank Lee discusses his picks for the most beautiful new places to eat in 2022.
I love that Evan Funke found a restaurant space for Mother Wolf that is as grand as Hollywood itself. The old Hollywood News building’s exterior beige and blue may not have made its way into the interior of the restaurant, but I think it still works very well. Stepping into the reception area, with its lovely host table, you get to peek into the grand space that is Mother Wolf itself, from the almost perfectly symmetrical bar to the comfortable chairs with soft arms that make seated diners want to linger a bit longer. Red leather booths and warmly-toned tables really work nicely for the tall space, but my real favorite detail is the kitchen: it’s the most open kitchen ever. On one end, a hot stone pizza oven swallows raw dough and spits out beautiful pies, while on the other end cooks pump out sweet, delicate desserts. In the center is chef Evan Funke himself, standing and looking out over the whole operation.
Perhaps the coolest part is the long dining room that puts all of this restaurant magic just a few feet from your table. A big space like this could get very boring very quickly, but with well-defined sections, comfortable seats, and a lovely open kitchen, Mother Wolf both looks and feels awesome.
This is another large space that’s filled with different dining sections that just keep on surprising you. The highlight is definitely the main dining room, where you can spot expensive cars driving bay on Sunset Boulevard during the warmer months. If Mother Wolf works as a hot date night spot, then Lavo is definitely the ideal girls’ night out vibe, with its breezy, tall ceiling, lush greenery, and memorable circular bar up front.
This place just screams money, like many multiple dollar signs on all the apps. The beautiful and long bar is a treat, but the ample booths and high-backed chairs really make the dining area feel cozy despite the size of the space. It’s rare, too, to find a fully-stocked wine room right in the middle of the action, separating the bar from the main dining room (and looking like its own jewel box), with bottles calling out directly to the diners beyond. A tree anchors the center of the main dining room while wide-leafed plants stick out through the fake windows of a side room and walls of green pop out here and there. It really makes for such a warm space. Meanwhile, the red room upstairs feels like a completely different restaurant, but I love that a place like Catch Steak can offer different vibes without invading each other’s space.
Dunsmoor is the kind of space that pulled me in immediately with its cozy, comfortable feel. The long tables feel inviting and perfect for a brunch or other meal with friends, while the heat and sound from the open-fire cooking setup allow for lots of sizzling sounds and incredible smells — despite the heat it puts out. Here for a date? Sit at the bar for some of that firelight. Coming to Dunsmoor for a party? Take advantage of the long tables, and don’t be afraid to make new friends with neighboring eaters. In fact, I’ve already suggested to the owners that they should have special nights on occasion where the entire place is only lit by candle spread across each of those old tables, plus the flickering fire from the kitchen of course.
Workshop Kitchen and Bar
Workshop Kitchen and Bar is definitely not like the other restaurants on this list. In fact, there’s very little in the way of traditional warmth inside, at least in terms of colors and mood. However, I just love those tall vertical booths; they’re not quite private, but they just wrap around you so well when you’re sitting inside. You don’t have to speak loudly to have a conversation with someone else at the table, and you don’t have to worry about being seen by other diners while eating. Interestingly it’s the kitchen that is the most open, so diners who want a view of the action should grab a seat at the bar to catch it all throughout the night. If I’m honest, though, my favorite seat at Workshop would have to be the private dining room that sits on top of the open kitchen. Compared to the rest of the restaurant, here you’re much closer to the room which gives you that cozy feeling. On one side there’s a wall filled with bottles of wine, and on the other is the full expanse of the restaurant below. Just like those booths, the PDR is private but not “closed,” and I really like that.