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A corner location of a dimly lit Italian restaurant with white tablecloths.
Dining room of La Dolce Vita in Beverly Hills.
Wonho Frank Lee

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The Most Beautiful Restaurant Openings of 2023 According to Eater LA’s Photographer

Wonho Frank Lee picks his favorite restaurant designs of the past year

Welcome to the Year in Eater 2023 — an annual tradition that looks back at the past year in Los Angeles restaurants, from the highs to the lows, from the splashy openings to the saddest closures. This edition of Year in Eater continues a contribution from our staff photographer Wonho Frank Lee, who traverses the city taking photos of the newest restaurant interiors and designs. Lee explains why he thinks these are the most beautiful new places to enjoy that opened in the past year.


La Dolce Vita

Opened in March of this year, there’s one word to describe the interior of La Dolce Vita in Beverly Hills: classic. The low light, leather banquette seating, double white tablecloths, and leopard print carpet make La Dolce Vita feel as classic as an Italian American restaurant could be. It definitely looked good in 2023.

Donna’s

If La Dolce Vita was classic, then I would say Donna’s in Echo Park, which opened in July, is more of a neighborhood spot. During the day, there’s plenty of sunlight coming through into the main dining room from the windows. The bar gets lit from the skylight above. At night, both spaces become very moody yet they remain comfortable. I really enjoyed the exposed ceiling with green paint, small floor tiling, and the light fixtures. The shelves dividing the bar and main dining room offered a lot of visual interest, which made it memorable.

The bar area with dining tables at Donna’s restaurant in Echo Park. Wonho Frank Lee
Donna’s restaurant in Echo Park, California. Wonho Frank Lee
An entryway with a curtain and host stand at Donna’s restaurant in Echo Park. Wonho Frank Lee
A wine storage area at Donna’s restaurant in Echo Park, California. Wonho Frank Lee

Queen St.

Queen St., which opened in July as well, really impressed me with its custom stained glass panels above the bar, the raw bar area where you might sit in front of all the fresh oyster options. The wall full of photos and art makes this place feel very comfortable. Plus the big, wide windows allow plenty of sunlight, making it feel homey and warm.

A U-shaped bar at Queen St. Wonho Frank Lee
A gallery wall and oyster display inside Queen St. Wonho Frank Lee

Yangban

Although Yangban technically isn’t a new restaurant, it went through significant remodeling in September, along with a new concept for the food. With an abundant amount of contemporary art by Korean American artists, it mixed darker tones and upscale styling to echo the new menu.

Array 36

Array 36, which opened in October, oozes extravagance from the moment one enters. There’s a big waterfall and a projected whale. Even the reception area is a floating rock design. The main dining room feels vast with a dark ceiling but bright tables and dividers. The private dining rooms are nice and bright with plenty of gold accents to go around.

Striking stone entrance to Array 36 with indoor foliage and red-lit wall. Wonho Frank Lee
Modern designed entrance to Array 36 with projected whale. Wonho Frank Lee
The main dining room of Array 36. Wonho Frank Lee
Round dining tables with Chinese decor at Array 36. Wonho Frank Lee
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