Los Angeles is no stranger to splashy restaurant openings situated in iconic buildings and helmed by big-name chefs. Consider this monthly rundown a go-to guide for the newest and boldest debuts across the Southland. For more under-the-radar restaurant openings, check out this companion list.
Level 8, Downtown
It’s hard to comprehend the scale of Level 8, the new hospitality destination inside the Moxy and AC Hotels in Downtown. Spread across tens of thousands of square feet and more than half-a-dozen distinct spaces, this new project (from big players like Mark and Jonnie Houston, Lightstone Design Studio, Undisclosable, and Basile Studio) is both an indoor-outdoor hangout for travelers and tourists and a destination for locals. Some star LA culinary talents like Ray Garcia and Joshua Gil have restaurants here, and there are more pieces to the giant development puzzle still coming together next month. Mr. Wanderlust is the big opener, complete with aerialist acts, secret doorways, and cocktails from around the world. Lucky Mizu brings high-end shabu-shabu to Downtown from rising star chef Hisae Stuck, while Mírate chef Joshua Gil works up a teppanyaki menu at Maison Kasai and casual rooftop bites at Mother of Pearl. Chef Ray Garcia (Asterid, Broken Spanish) does South American grilling at Qué Bárbaro, and his Brown Sheep project is still to come in September.
Enrique Olvera is one of the most celebrated chefs in the world, and he seems to have fallen in love with Los Angeles. He and the Casamata Hospitality Group, known locally for Damian and Ditroit in the Arts District, recently opened Atla on Abbot Kinney as a more casual Mexican outpost for dishes like chilaquiles, seafood cocktails, tacos, and more. Fans are already flocking to the restaurant, making it one of the biggest new Westside openings in a while.
Broad Street Oyster Co., Huntington Beach
Not to be outdone, Malibu seafood destination Broad Street Oyster Co. opened to long lines and lots of buzz in Huntington Beach, taking over the former Ruby’s Diner right at the end of the pier. It’s an iconic space along one of Southern California’s most famous beaches, meaning locals and tourists alike now have the opportunity to score lobster rolls, burgers, and everything else from the colorful, busy Broad Street group.
Santo, Silver Lake
Mexico City is showing out in Los Angeles right now, with big names from the CDMX area coming north seemingly every month. The latest restaurant to match the trend is Santo, a sushi specialist with a penchant for also throwing parties. While this Sunset Boulevard outpost promises to be more subdued than the original, diners can still expect a fun atmosphere filled with all kinds of hand rolls, nigiri, and other delights as well as sake and wine.
Los Angeles has not seen a restaurant like Ubuntu before. Located on Melrose near Gardner, this new project from James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist Shenarri “Greens” Freeman is entirely plant-based and all about the cuisines and cultures of West Africa. “Ubuntu is something that’s been sitting with me for a long time,” Freeman told Eater, adding that in culinary school “we skipped over the entire continent of Africa.” Not here, where curried jollof rice arancini, fonio grits, and charred okra make big appearances at most tables.
Preux & Proper chef Sammy Monsour is back in Downtown, helping to change the fortunes of a neighborhood still returning from several pandemic years. Monsour’s new project Joyce features some familiar associations with the south, but this time he’s leaning into more seafood and soul along the way. The colorful, upscale casual space (formerly Red Herring) is now a home for seafood towers, Nashville-style hot catfish, caviar supplements, and a whole lot more.
The Airliner, Lincoln Heights
The Airliner is back, albeit with a different culinary direction and a tighter focus. That’s a good thing for one of LA’s oldest bars, which closed rather surprisingly in late February, meaning customers can once again enjoy the retro interiors while also now enjoying onion-y noodles, lemongrass chicken banh mi, and cocktails from Avery Millard (Bar Agricole, the Line Hotel SF). Chef Vinh Nguyen and partner Gary Wang are intent on keeping dishes affordable too, giving Lincoln Heights an approachable new hangout to love all over again.
Queen St., Eagle Rock
Queen St. is the latest project from Last Word Hospitality, the LA-based restaurant group behind Found Oyster, Barra Santos, and Nossa Caipirinha Bar — meaning it’s got great bona fides (and fans) already. The horseshoe bar, ample seafood, and bright afternoon light make this new Eagle Rock destination a prime spot for the greater Eastside to indulge in executive chef Ari Kolender’s menu, which draws inspiration from his childhood and time spent cooking in South Carolina. Reservations can be scarce since the place is so busy right now, but there’s always room for early arrivals to walk in and sit at the bar.
Best Bet, Culver City
Chef Jason Neroni’s new Best Bet completes a nearly four-year journey at the former A-Frame space in Culver City. Already known for his Italian prowess and wood-fired acumen at spots like the Rose in Venice, Neroni is leaning into not just pizza but also Cal-Italian staples including pastas like cacio e pepe to a fritto misto. Desserts come from Neroni and Rose pastry chef Jose Mariscal. The design is fun, funky, and personal to Neroni — a self-described Star Wars fanatic — making Best Bet a great all-around place for a night out in Culver City.
Đi Đi, West Hollywood
TikTok Star Tway Da Bae’s first standalone restaurant is not to be messed with. The Saigon-inspired hangout, born out of a deal with nightlife and restaurant powerhouse the H.Wood Group, lands on La Cienega with bold flavors and big Vietnamese vibes. “These are the flavors I grew up eating and I’m proud of them,” says Tuệ Nguyễn of her personal menu, which includes honey-glazed shrimp and Vietnamese coffee creme brulee. “It’s Vietnamese food, yes, but it’s also my version of Vietnamese food,” she says.
Charcoal Sunset, West Hollywood
Los Angeles loves a steakhouse, though not all red meat is created equal. At the new Charcoal Sunset, star chef Josiah Citrin is crafting dry-aged cuts of beef (as well as duck) and cooking vegetables, seafood, and more over namesake charcoal for hundreds of hungry diners a night. With 230 seats in total, this sprawling export from Venice is sure to be one of the biggest dinnertime stories on the Sunset Strip this year.
Xuntos, Santa Monica
Santa Monica is riding the Spanish dining wave with its own new entrant, a proper pintxos bar from chef Sandra Cordero. The new Xuntos restaurant brings Northern Spanish bites and wines to the Westside (in the former Heroic Italian space), meaning lots of snackable skewers, bikini sandwiches, and natural Spanish and California wines from a collection curated by sommelier Scott Baker, plus Spanish vermouth, beer, cider, and a few cocktails.
Donna’s, Echo Park
The red sauce is working wonders at Donna’s, the new Echo Park restaurant from the group behind Bar Flores and Lowboy. There are hefty meatballs to accompany spaghetti, platters of shrimp scampi to enjoy, and cocktails (from Bar Flores partner Karla Flores-Mercado) for all occasions at this Sunset Boulevard option from the Park Hospitality team. Former Felix and Union chef Sathia Sun is on to oversee the menu.
Jiou Chu Dumplings, Rowland Heights
As big, buzzy dumpling shops go, it’s hard to compete with Jiou Chu Dumplings. This latest Taiwanese export, from the 85C Bakery Cafe family, already has a very loyal following in Taiwan, and has now landed stateside in Rowland Heights, one of the most competitive areas for dining in all of greater Los Angeles. The restaurant’s pork xiao long bao and pan-fried dumplings should be able to keep up, though curious customers should expect busy days at the large 2,700-square-foot ultra-colorful new space.
Pane Bianco, Downtown
Pizza maestro Chris Bianco has brought his celebrated Phoenix-based sandwich-and-slice shop, Pane Bianco, to the Row, in the same space where he opened a restaurant with Tartine several years back and just steps from his always-bustling Pizzeria Bianco. There, he’s slinging focaccia sandwiches with fillings like burrata and mortadella, as well as roast beef with green garlic aioli on house-made baguette. There’s New York-style pizza by the slice, whole 18-inch pies on offer, and grab-and-go salumi and cheese boxes, all served in an airy space outfitted with Bianco’s signature antique aesthetic.
Levain Bakery, Larchmont Village
Folks lined up for blocks on the opening day of New York City’s beloved Levain Bakery, waiting for their chance to try one of the bakery’s gigantic cookies. At their first LA outpost in Larchmont Village, Levain is serving six signature cookie flavors, including its most popular, a chocolate chip walnut. Other crisp-on-the-outside, melty-on-the-inside options include a vegan gluten-free chocolate chip walnut cookie, as well as Levain’s seasonal Rocky Road cookie, packed with semisweet chocolate chips, almonds and marshmallows. The airy bakery, accented in Levain’s signature blue, also serves pastries and locally roasted Canyon Coffee.
Rakkan Miso Izakaya, Downtown
Rakkan Ramen continues its SoCal expansion with Rakkan Miso Izakaya, which opened next to Downtown’s popular Bottega Louie on June 12. The focus at the group’s latest spot is on skewered grilled vegetables, with standards like cucumber salad, karaage chicken, seared salmon sushi, and more. There’s ramen, too, made with a plant-based broth and offered with a choice of choice of miso, spicy miso, curry miso, and various meats. Sake options abound, as do natural wines, sake-based cocktails, and Japanese beer on tap.
Casaléna, Woodland Hills
This 8,000 square-foot space is Woodland Hills’s splashiest opening in some time. The brainchild of siblings Brandon, Chloe, and Tyler Makhani, Casaléna has five separate dining areas, both indoor and outdoor, each with their own aesthetic. The Mediterranean-leaning menu is equally sweeping, pulling inspiration from Italy and Spain with dishes like whipped eggplant with toasted baguette, charred octopus, shrimp scampi, and sweet-corn agnolotti. The restaurant itself is a space that holds a special place for the Makhani siblings, whose parents built it in 1982 and later married there in 1990.
Szechuan Mountain House, Rowland Heights
This cult-favorite Sichuan restaurant from New York City quietly opened in the San Gabriel Valley, more specifically at Pearl Plaza in Rowland Heights. The 5,000 square-foot space sports accents similar to its always-busy New York outposts, including koi ponds, cascading waterfalls, and bamboo groves. The menu offers popular Sichuan standards like mapo tofu and kung pao shrimp, as well as hard-to-find dishes like Qian Jiang-style chicken giblets with pickled pepper and mala chicken stew. Angelenos can also get their hands on the restaurant’s signature dish: liang yi pork belly, featuring paper-thin slices of pork belly and cucumber on a miniature wooden rack above a minced garlic and chile oil dipping sauce.
Capri, Century City
After operating as a pop-up from Naples-born chef Giuseppe Manco for a year at Eataly in the Westfield Century City, this coastal Italian destination became a permanent fixture as of this month. Capri’s menu leans heavily into crudos, featuring several fish tartares, as well as house-made pastas (think: fresh tonarelli with a half lobster). Larger plates include swordfish with capers and lemons, and baked branzino with cherry tomatoes and olives. The space channels Amalfi Coast vibes, with lots of tasteful greenery, cool green tones, and a lovely patio that overlooks Santa Monica Boulevard.
Durango Cantina, Fairfax
A few days before May began, Durango Cantina opened on April 28 blocks away from Fairfax High School. It’s the work of former Bee Taqueria alum, chef Alex Currasco. His menu takes cues from the Mexican state of Durango between Sinaloa and Monterrey. Think guacamole, fundido, and albondigas to share, along with taquitos, flautas, salads, and cocteles, and aguachiles. Currasco also prepares chipotle-glazed beef ribs, grilled carne asada, and a six-hour braised lamb shank that’s traditionally shared during a Durango wedding feast. Cocktails include some classics with margaritas, micheladas, palomas, and a revolving menu of new cocktails in Durango Cantina’s rustic dining room.
Baar Baar, Downtown
By way of Manhattan’s East Village is Downtown LA’s Indian newcomer, Baar Baar. Open on May 2, it’s known as a hangout that prepares contemporary Indian cuisine under chef Sujan Sarkar. Sakar’s restaurant settled into the former Faith & Flower space, adjacent to L.A. Live with the menu that includes modern fare such as a dahi puri with avocado, tamarind, and mint; cauliflower with carrot pachadi, peanut thecha, and pickled kumquat; and a stewed Kashmiri duck taco. There are also tufted banquettes, booths, and large bar with a vibrant mural.
Funke, Beverly Hills
Funke, chef Evan Funke’s three-story, 10,000-square-foot wonder opened on May 5. Funke’s partner Kurt Rappaport purchased the Art Deco building in 2018 to create the space that represents the culmination of Funke’s 25-year career. The team brought in designer Dan Brunn and interior specialist Clint Nicholas to put together one dining room on the ground floor, another on the mezzanine level, a private dining room, three kitchens, and three bars, including Bar Funke perched on the rooftop. Of course, Funke’s menu centers around pasta, but he’ll also serve dishes from the forno (oven), antipasti, and seconds that feature a whole-roasted fish or a large steak, while pastry chef Shannon Swindle handles the Neapolitan-style pizzas, breads, and Sicilian desserts.
Mon Ami, Santa Monica
Stationed in the former 41 Ocean venue is lounge/restaurant Mon Ami, Santa Monica’s hangout that debuted on May 5. The Pacific Coast Hospitality team — also known for Canary — found a similar lushness with tiles, stucco, and plush seating while providing French, Moroccan, Italian, Greek, and Spanish-flavored cocktails and bites. Dishes include prosciutto-wrapped tomatoes, chicken tagine with pickled carrots, and seared branzino with olive tapenade. A handful of creative cocktails adorn the menu, including the gondola with tequila blanco, Aperol, elderflower liqueur, and grapefruit, plus a respectable wine list.
Amiga Amore, Highland Park
Danielle Duran-Zecca introduced Amiga Amore to Highland Park on May 10. The chef came into her own in recent years while working in partnership with her husband Alessandro Zecca to meld Mexican and Italian flavors with chorizo-crusted cod, confit chicken with mole blanco, and cavatelli with chile de arbol and a guajillo-braised beef shank. It’s a cozy transformation of a former shop that’s delicately lit with a patio for overflow.
Esplette, Beverly Hills
Esplette took over the shuttered Jean-Georges space at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills on May 12. At the helm is chef Steve Benjamin, whose resume includes L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas before joining the Waldorf Astoria team in 2017. The restaurant is fully European-focused with a name that reflects that emphasis (the espelette pepper hails from Southwest France). Benjamin’s menu has a raw bar, caviar options, a langoustine papillote, and salads. The team also makes use of the wood grill for branzino, chicken, and wagyu. Drinks include craft cocktails with ingredients tied to the European coast, as well as an extensive wine list.
Za Za Zá, Frogtown
Loreto restaurant’s casual daytime sibling Za Za Zá opened on May 9, completing a longtime wait for the Frogtown restaurant from the LA Cha Cha Chá crew. Winter rains proved to be challenge in completing the project, but now Paco Moran’s daytime menu is ready. Za Za Zá offers shrimp rolls with serrano aioli, tostilocos with Colima-style ceviche, swordfish al pastor seared tacos, loaded fries with shrimp and lobster, and the calamari-chorizo torta. Loreto’s ABC license allows Za Za Zá to serve boozy slushies, canned cocktails, beer, and wine in addition to desserts like soft serve and churros.
On May 17, longtime business partners chef Suzanne Goin and restaurateur Caroline Styne — also of A.O.C. fame — opened the 18-seat cocktail lounge Dahlia inside the Proper Hotel. It’ll be the third space inside the DTLA hotel, along with Caldo Verde and Cara Cara. Their latest introduction is a venue where classic cocktails are prepared using rare and small-batch liquors, like an Old Fashioned made of barrel-strength Japanese whisky and house-smoked cherries. A stylish, roving cocktail cart makes lounging easy with tableside service. If hungry, order tartines topped with jamón Ibérico, crisp salt cod fritters with saffron aioli, tinned mussels, and grilled prawns that are ideal for sharing. For dessert, order the blood orange and pineapple baked Alaska, along with cheesecake bites with berries.
Planta, Marina del Rey
LA’s plant-based landscape expanded on May 25 with newcomer Planta Cocina. The Canadian chain — which has locations throughout the US — opened a Planta Cocina at the Boardwalk Marina del Rey shopping center. There’s also a Brentwood location of Planta coming in July with a slightly different plant-based menu, as all locations have unique offerings. In the Marina, diners will notice the pan-Latin flavors and dishes with croquetas, tostadas, tacos, queso fundido, and more. They’ve also got sushi, pasta dishes, salads, and other vegetable plates.
Rose Garden Tea Room, San Marino
It took nearly $11.2 million and three years to restore and renovate the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Garden’s historic Rose Garden Tea Room. It opened on May 24 and now seats 164. The timing is ideal as the wet winter and spring brought massive blooms to extensive gardens. Chef Jeff Thurston and pastry chef Luis Perez from Bon Appétit Management Co. updated the afternoon tea menu with dishes that range from $65 to $75. Take a sip of black tea or sparkling wine while eating lobster salad with shaved black truffles, or gluten-free pastries.
Hart House, Hollywood
Actor Kevin Hart opened his plant-based restaurant Hart House Hollywood on one of LA’s busiest fast-food stretches. Hart House’s flagship drive-thru location is on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Highland Avenue, directly across the street from Chick-fil-A and less than a block away from In-N-Out. The Hart House team converted a shuttered McDonald’s into a modern fast-food den with white and green colors, a drive-thru, a 24-seat dining room, and a 16-seat patio. Hart House Hollywood’s menu serves plant-based chicken sandwiches, nuggets, and burgers.
Isla, Santa Monica
Santa Monica’s wood-fired, seafood-focused Isla — the creation of Shane Murphy with Crudo e Nudo creators chef Brian Bornemann and designer and partner Leena Culhane — opened April 5. It’s a fresh addition to Main Street at Murphy’s former Little Prince, where a quick flip of the space now includes pink and orange hues, woods, and new light fixtures. As for the food, Bornemann and chef de cuisine Houston Stock lean on Spanish influences with North African spices, plus charcoal skewers. The restaurant eschews red meat and offers some fowl, vegetables, a classic Californian citrus salad, and whole roasted cauliflower. Kent Thompson (Here’s Looking at You) selected the Italian, Californian, and French wine list.
Bar Monette, Santa Monica
Toronto star chef Sean MacDonald opened Bar Monette within walking distance from the Pacific Ocean on April 7. It’s got laid-back vibes for a wine bar and pizza destination, with deep greens and wood fixtures throughout. The food takes cues from the Mediterranean, with jamón and manchego cheese or a citrus salad with charred romesco and shaved fennel starters. MacDonald also ventures into a truffle creamed corn with sea urchin along with an A5 wagyu rib cap served with shishito peppers and an anchovy agrodolce. Peruse the pizza menu, on which blistered wood-fired pizzas are certainly the star.
Del Mar Ostioneria food truck, Mid-Wilshire
Mexican American entrepreneur Roberto Pérez formed a partnership with former street vendor Francisco Leal to open Del Mar Ostioneria. (The food truck opened in February, but Eater LA’s Bill Esparza took notice in April.) The story behind the notable truck is worth reading, but what’s most important is the following: Del Mar Ostioneria is a game-changing food truck in Los Angeles that serves high-end Sinaloa-style seafood with a Japanese touch. Pérez prepares seven different ceviches along with an aguachile negro that comes with a black umami sauce dusted with chiltepín powder. Kumamoto oysters are served with drops of housemade ponzu sauce, finely diced cucumber, tomato, red onion, and flying fish roe. It’s stationed in Mid-Wilshire, but check the truck’s Instagram page to confirm the location.
Gram Cafe and Pancakes, Monterey Park
Gram Cafe and Pancakes — one of Japan’s most popular souffle pancake chains — opened on April 5 in Monterey Park’s Atlantic Times Square Plaza. Given that SoCal already has a strong hold on the delightfully wobbly, custardy pancakes, which take 24 hours to prepare, Gram Cafe is likely to be very popular. This is Gram Cafe’s second California location, following the San Francisco opening in 2017. Gram Cafe also serves American traditional pancakes as well as takeaway desserts.
Foxhall Steakhouse, Beverlywood
Kia and Kathryne Illulian — the brother-sister restaurant team behind Carrera Cafe — debuted Foxhall Steakhouse right on the border of Beverly Hills and Pico Robertson. The two partnered with chef Marni Sandico, who prepared a massive menu with beef carpaccio, wedge salads, flatbread pizzas, pan-roasted salmon, $28 brick-cooked half-chicken, filets, ribeyes, dry-aged chops, and 32-ounce porterhouses. There’s even a Grand Marnier souffle for a final taste. The dining room has pure steakhouse vibes with an excellent wine list and cocktails.
The Georgian, Santa Monica
The Georgian Hotel’s revamp is complete and now has a restaurant to match the historic Art Deco building. Naturally, the restaurant bears the same name and overlooks the Pacific. Osteria Mozza alum chef David Almany is overseeing the Georgian menu as well as those in adjacent lobby-level spaces. The primary dining room feels both upscale and casual with all-day dining available. Early hours feature challah french toast or omelets, with dry-aged burgers and housemade pastas for lunchtime. Dinner has a crudo section with filet mignon, pork chops, and more. Sitting in a historic Art Deco space with a tin of caviar while sipping champagne is entirely possible as well. Head into the Sunset Bar for a cocktail, and hope to nab an invitation to the speakeasy-style bar downstairs.
La Dolce Vita, Beverly Hills
The meatballs are back at La Dolce Vita, the Beverly Hills staple that has been cooking up classic red sauce Italian dishes and pouring wine since 1966. The Call Mom hospitality group (Genghis Cohen, the Spare Room) has done a lot of work under the hood at this LA institution since taking over last year, starting with a new chef and focused menu that highlights the best of LA today while maintaining the comforting foods of 50-plus years ago.
The team has brought on chef Nick Russo (Ink, Nightshade) to run the tiny kitchen, turning out said spaghetti and meatballs as well as chopped salads, tuna tartare, and one seriously sturdy veal parmesan. The dining room feels just as timeless, thanks to burgundy leather booths set beneath bolted plaques that tick off the names of famous past patrons. An extensive renovation led to retro looks like a cheetah-printed carpet and refurbished Italian chairs from nearly 50 years ago.
Superfine Playa, Playa Vista
Steve and Dina Samson, longtime Playa Vista residents and co-creators of Downtown’s Rossoblu, have taken over the former Bull & Butterfly space in partnership with Alan and Heidi Jackson to open a full-fledged California Italian restaurant Superfine. With some nods to Steve Samson’s previous pan-Italian menu at the now-closed Sotto, expect easy but flavor-packed pasta, salads, and grilled meats that should cater well to the beach-adjacent neighborhood. Eventually, Samson’s New York/Neapolitan pizza hybrids will land on the menu. Only open for dinner and brunch at the moment.
Flor y Solera, Arts District
Flor y Solera serves up an array of dishes that wind through Spain’s 17 regions in a boldly designed dining room featuring a standalone sherry bar and a full view of the kitchen. Behind the project are chef Mònica Angelats and Factory Place Hospitality Group; together, they’ve transformed the former Sixth+Mill Pizzeria & Bar space into a destination for thoughtful Spanish cooking and drinking. Angelats’s menu, which draws from her Catalan heritage and travels throughout Spain, features regional specialties including migas camperas and arròs amb crosta, along with more popular Spanish hits like tortilla de patatas and fideus rossejats. To drink, beverage director Francine Diamond-Ferdinandi curated a selection that includes plenty of sherries, wines, gin and tonics, beer, and more.
The LA Cha Cha Chá team has finally opened their ode to Mexican seafood called Loreto, melding elements of the Sonoran desert with the coastal abundance of the Pacific and Sea of Cortés surrounding Baja California in Loreto, tucked into a sleepy stretch of Frogtown (and just a few steps from the also notable opening of Lingua Franca, more info below). Loreto serves stylish ceviches, tostadas, botanas, and zarandeados for a well-heeled and good-looking crowd aching for a grown-up place to have dinner in this part of town. The semi-hidden nature and the strikingly gorgeous interior designed by Lena Kohl complete the experience. Next up, the kitchen will debut an outdoor menu called Mariscos Za Za Zá that’ll serve more attainable seafood for lunch only.
Lingua Franca, Frogtown
Lingua Franca is the brand new river-adjacent restaurant from the Wax Paper team at the end of Allesandro Street. The quiet project is meant to bring even more life and vitality to a historic and changing community along the Los Angeles River. Owners Lauren and Peter Lemos first acknowledged the coming restaurant in 2017, just as their sandwich restaurant Wax Paper was beginning to take off.
Lingua Franca hovers near classic preparations like a slow-cooked beef cheek pappardelle and a blue cheese-spiked salad, while also allowing plenty of room for fun. The beef cheeks are braised in root beer, for example, and the burger comes on a thin English muffin-style bun. There’s a soup du jour and a heaping plate of matchstick french fry potatoes, served while a ceramic E.T. watches from a shelf.
Ilé Bistro, Culver City
“Billionaire Chef” Tolu Eros has opened a casual version of his popular Nigerian pop-up Ilé at the former Pizzette stall at Culver City’s Citizens Public Market serving jollof rice and pepper soup in various customizations like proteins and spice level at a more approachable, everyday price point. For dessert, there are sweet palm wine popsicles and West African doughnuts. It’s a celebration of West African food culture in the heart of Los Angeles.
Barra Santos, Cypress Park
While the new Barra Santos, the latest venture from the hit hospitality team Last Word (Found Oyster), doesn’t quite live up to actually being in Lisbon, though Portuguese-born co-owner Mike Santos wants to at least offer a somewhat similar feeling. The restaurant and bar he’s now running is perhaps LA’s only true home for piri piri chicken, bacalao fritters, and marinated pork bifana sandwiches, thanks to Santos and chef and partner Melissa López (Bestia, Barbuto) and wine director Evelyn Goreshnik. Expect a full array of sherry, port, madeira, and wine, in addition to draft beer and brews imported directly from Portugal, all to be served in a laid-back bar space that’s filled with lots of tile and just enough gauzy natural light from the large front window that looks out onto Cypress Park.
Sur Le Vert, Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills has a beautiful new place to drink and dine, thanks to a handful of wine-focused hospitality veterans. Zach Negin and Nicole Dougherty of East Hollywood’s Tabula Rasa are the primary faces behind the brand-new Sur Le Vert on Canon Drive. The pair were brought on in February to quickly flip the downstairs cafe, which longtime locals will recognize from its previous life as Bar Bouchon under famed chef Thomas Keller. On the food front, expect a small but mighty menu from chef Ben Stephens that uses what is essentially a finishing kitchen in the downstairs cafe to turn out surprising dishes like crudo, charcuterie boards, and salads, plus a seared chicken breast sandwich or dry-aged NY strip steak.
Negin and Dougherty are using their extensive wine know-how to pour from a global list of small, family-run producers as well, all from inside a jewel box of a space that is tinted emerald green. There’s a patio too, looking out at the manicured world of Beverly Hills beyond. It makes for a great view, that’s for sure.
Angler, Beverly Grove
On February 1, after months of retouching the dining room and overhauling its menu, Angler returned to LA. The new iteration is still the work of San Franciscos’s Saison Hospitality group, while the kitchen locally is led by culinary director Paul Chung and chef Brian Limoges. Chung utilizes live fire while preparing dishes like swordfish al pastor skewers served with barbecued pineapple, and a bluefin tuna take on ‘nduja with Calabrian chiles and buttermilk bread.
Juliet, Culver City
Expect classic French dishes like crepes Suzette and croque madames during Juliet’s breakfast hours in Culver City, before the hot new French spot moves to tuna carpaccio and a classic omelette with a side of market greens for lunch. IB Hospitality chef and culinary director Michael Williams, along with chef Jason Gonzales, have also programmed dinnertime options like a black cod with dashi butter or grilled lamb chops. This gorgeous newcomer also sports an impressive French wine list — with 50 different wines by the glass — thanks to owner Rohan Talwar, a wine fanatic who is also responsible for Norah and Margot. Open since February 1, Talwar describes Juliet as “an ode to the way Parisians are dining now.”
The Ruby Fruit, Silver Lake
After taking over the shuttered Eszett space in Silver Lake, former employees Emily Bielagus and Mara Herbkersman have revamped the restaurant and turned it into a lesbian natural wine bar called the Ruby Fruit. Open since February 21, the no-reservations bar boasts bottles from small-production wineries hailing from France, Italy, and Spain, along with a German pinot noir on tap and a white traminette from a vintner in Asheville, North Carolina. Beer, cider, house-crafted tonics, spritzes, plus sparkling and orange wines are also available, along with a non-alcoholic cocktail menu. The Mibrasa charcoal oven comes in handy for preparing light bites including the jumbo shrimp in ‘nduja butter, or bread service with honey butter or olive oil, warm marinated olives, and smoked bacalao.
Downtown’s new Sendero is open, but it has not yet reached its full form. Of the four eventual options at the restaurant, seafood-focused Corteza and Argentine-inspired steakhouse Leña are open now, having debuted on February 23. The Agave Library opens in March and the chef’s table Volante at the end of the year. No matter where one sits, Sendero boasts a striking north, east, and western view of LA, and is meant to trace chef Kevin Luzande’s travels through the Americas on its menus. Corteza’s shared plates include Peruvian and Mexican ceviches, anticuchos, and a stunning platter filled with crab claws, oysters, lobster, and large shrimp; Leña has a massive tomahawk with sides, plus tableside carving service.
An offshoot of 30-year-old Barcelona restaurant Telefèric opened in Brentwood in mid-February. The new restaurant is as traditional Spanish as it gets, with chef Oscar Cabezas preparing patatas bravas, crispy paellas, and gambas in ajillo while including a 40-ounce tomahawk steak. Sibling owners Xavi and Maria Padrosa already have a handful of locations in the greater Bay Area, and there are plenty of cocktails, wines, and the highly entertaining porróns for tableside drinking fun.
Toadstool Cafe, Universal Studios Hollywood
Toadstool Cafe could have easily leaned on the popularity of the Super Mario Brothers-themed restaurant by offering pizzas, chicken fingers, and hot dogs. Instead, the team opened the massive space on February 17 with a creative menu that takes on the physical traits and personalities of its popular video games. Toadstool Cafe is quite the collaboration between Nintendo, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Universal Studios Japan, with dishes like toadstool-shaped garlic knots, a mushroom soup with power-up printed crackers, a Luigi burger full of the character’s signature green, and a question mark block tiramisu dessert.
Villas Tacos, Highland Park
Since 2018, Villa’s Tacos owner Victor Villa has steadily grown his taco business from a backyard pop-up to a street stand sensation, and now he’s got a standalone restaurant in Highland Park. The lines have been steady since Villa opened on February 6, with local eaters queueing up for Villa’s signature blue corn tortilla tacos. Villa also has fans from season three of Netflix’s Taco Chronicles, and his run as the champion of L.A. Taco’s 2021 and 2022 Taco Madness tournament.
Bar Chelou, Pasadena
For Bar Chelou, chef Doug Rankin partnered with Whole Cluster Hospitality to take over the former Saso space in Pasadena, with a new look thanks to Lovers Unite. Chelou translates to “strange” or “unexpected” in French. Here the chef is drawing on his love of Spanish, French, and Asian flavors to create an eclectic shared plates menu organized from lighter to more robust dishes. Smaller plates include marinated olives, sprouting cauliflower au poivre with Sichuan peppers, and carrots râpées with coconut dressing, lime leaf, and pommes allumettes. Heartier dishes include a dry-aged, bone-in rib-eye and an Iberico pork chop with cabbage, fennel pollen, and furikake.
Cafe Basque, Downtown
Acclaimed chef Daniel Rose of Michelin-starred Le Coucou restaurant in New York quietly opened Café Basque at the tail end of 2022 inside the Hoxton hotel Downtown. The chef settled on French Basque cooking for his West Coast debut because of the similarities between the food traditions, temperate climates, and “fun, freewheeling” lifestyles of the two regions. The menu starts with a sampling of pintxos, including traditional Basque corn cakes (talo) and raw oysters with an Espelette gelee. Larger entrees, like a braised chicken with peppers and tomatoes or grilled duck breast with cherry preserves, follow. AIME Studios/Ennismore updated the interiors to capture “an elegant but easygoing feeling,” says Rose. The chef’s culinary footprint at the Hoxton spans the entire ground floor and even stretches outside to a terrace decked out with umbrellas and globe wall sconces.
The family behind the Peruvian Chinese restaurant Chifa in Eagle Rock debuted a new concept in Arcadia called Monarch. While Chifa draws inspiration from the family’s first restaurant in Lima, Peru, Monarch takes its culinary cues from Hong Kong — but don’t expect to find standard Cantonese dishes and presentations here. Chef John Liu’s menu is designed to appeal to those familiar with (or not) the Cantonese canon. Liu’s baked pork chop rice includes a pan-seared pork cutlet served over fried rice with tomato sauce and topped with Gruyere cheese. His wok-tossed lobster tails get a crush of black pepper that’s usually reserved for steaks. The celestial dining room, awash in pale blues and scalloped edges, was designed by Humberto Leon alongside architect Michael Loverich.
Corridor 109, Chinatown
Who doesn’t love a secret restaurant, especially one that leans into unique seafood preparations done with a high-end flourish? The new Corridor 109 is precisely that — except it isn’t exactly hiding anymore. Once an in-the-know meal prepared by long-tenured fine dining chef Brian Biak and served out of his family’s Koreatown restaurant Kobawoo, the newest iteration brings the upscale menu to Chinatown’s Far East Plaza. Here, Baik is pushing into Korean and Japanese flavors heavily (but not exclusively), using his time at Michelin-starred New York City restaurants to turn out pristine dishes with quality ingredients like Hokkaido scallops, abalone, and black truffle. With only three services per week and eight diners per service, this is still one hard-to-score reservation.
Casa Madera, West Hollywood
The Sunset Strip’s Casa Madera is a breezy rooftop destination where the party is just as important as what’s on the plate. This latest project from the team behind Tocaya Organica and Toca Madera lands atop the Mondrian Hotel as a see-and-be-seen hangout for the Hollywood Hills set. Expect lots of leafy alcoves, rattan touches, and big views of the LA basin beyond, matched only by the colorful cocktails, opulent steaks, and contemporary takes on Mexican dishes like duck carnitas and chicken al pastor tacos. For an ultra-cool night out amongst some of LA’s wealthiest and prettiest people, this is the spot.