It’s been a busy, complicated summer for LA’s food scene, marked by tons of new openings like Enrique Olvera’s new Atla in Venice — and big-deal closures from Downtown to Santa Monica. In just a few short months Los Angeles has said goodbye to some of its most well-known dining establishments, including the genre-defining Animal that helped to push Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo into the national spotlight for good. Here are some of the biggest closures from the summer so far.
Fairfax staple Animal closed its doors in early June after a 15-year run, though some of that was marked by a prolonged temporary shutter as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. At its height, Animal was one of America’s best restaurants, a fine dining home with a rockstar attitude. The restaurant was among the first in LA to “politely decline” substations to its menu, and to blast loud music into the dining room while pouring unique wines that paired perfectly to the offal-forward dishes Shook and Dotolo put out. Animal singularly reshaped LA’s food scene, and the former cooks, managers, and waitstaff that passed through its doors have gone on to make LA the thriving, modern culinary city we see today.
While technically a closure, chef-owner Carlos Salgado says that his Michelin-starred Orange County restaurant Taco María will be back — someday, some way. After 10 years, Salgado said on social media back in July, it was time to move on from the original space that has served as the backbone to one of Southern California’s most well-known restaurants. What Taco María looks like in the future is still up in the air, but there is no doubt that the Taco María of the past decade has helped to define modern Mexican and Alta California cuisine for much of America.
Despite its big promise as a Bay Area finer dining transplant with lots of seafood served from the hearth, it seems that Angler just never really caught on with Angelenos. The Beverly Center restaurant even underwent a full remodel and menu overhaul before reopening in January 2023, only to close quietly again in July. While critically celebrated, the restaurant ultimately only lasted four challenging years in LA — most of that during the pandemic, too.
Lisa Vanderpump’s namesake West Hollywood restaurant Pump closed in July after a respectable 10 years of operation, putting an end to nearly a year of back and forth about whether or not the reality TV-famous address would stay open. Vanderpump says that she loved running Pump but could not find common ground on a lease renewal with the landlord, though the restaurant was plagued with issues in recent years like unpaid vendor debts and the suspension of its liquor license for a time.
Brazilian-born chef and owner Natalia Pereira made magic when she first opened her Downtown LA restaurant Woodspoon 17 years ago. Pereira was part of the DTLA vanguard, helping to re-center the neighborhood as a place for fantastic restaurants of all price points and sizes. In the years since that first opening, Pereira would go on to become a staple of Downtown, turning out her signature pot pies alongside feijoada and other Brazilian delights. Pereira only closed Woodspoon in late May after suffering a fall on a sidewalk near the restaurant, leaving her with injuries that required her to walk away from the restaurant.
Much like Woodspoon, Nickel Diner was a paragon of mid-2000s dining in Downtown Los Angeles. The modern diner kept its retro aesthetic while catering to an emerging clientele of daytime diners along Main Street. The restaurant was perhaps most famous for its maple bacon doughnut — a big deal, given the popularity of more-is-more cooking at the time — and staple diner fare. Owners Kristen Trattner and Monica May said goodbye to the restaurant on May 28.
While not nearly as dominant in the LA dining discourse as places like Taco María and Animal, Westsiders were still shocked to learn of the quiet closure of Overland Cafe a few weeks back. The Palms-area hangout was for years a destination for jazzy dinners and (more recently) big, laid-back brunches, but the death of owner Mark Sands led to a For-Sale sign going up in the window after 50 good years.
Santa Monica Mexican restaurant Tallula’s closed for good on Sunday, August 20, with ownership saying that the six-year-old project simply wasn’t financially viable any long. “Ultimately it just didn’t work and never found its footing,” the Rustic Canyon group noted in a goodbye post on social media ahead of the final day of service.