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Thai-style gelato is served in a hot dog bun lined with sticky rice, coconut jelly, corn, palm seeds, and grass jelly at Kanomwaan.
Kanomwaan.
Wonho Frank Lee

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The Biggest LA Restaurant Openings to Know in 2023

Dessert shops, Italian pasta specialists, vibey Parisian bistros, and more from Los Angeles

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.


December

Uchi, West Hollywood

Austin’s famed sushi restaurant Uchi from chef Tyson Cole joins the crowded Japanese ultra-lounges populating the neighborhoods of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills (think Nobu, Catch, and Koi) with pristine sashimi plates, hand rolls, and enough A5 wagyu to satisfy anyone. With a set of prepared dishes that appear in any of Uchi’s numerous restaurants across the country, plus seasonal selections that change regularly, expect Uchi to develop as passionate a following as it has in Texas. The early word is that Uchi is very, very good, especially the omakase option.

Bar bites at Uchi restaurant: A5 temaki, small hama chile, and scallion pancake taiyaki.
Bar bites at Uchi: A5 temaki, small hama chile, and scallion pancake taiyaki.
Shelby Moore

Spina, Atwater Village

Pasta is always a reliable place to start for a new LA restaurant, and Spina embraces this reality. Chef Pablo Cruz, who spent time at L’Antica da Michele and Terra at Eataly, creates a tight array of Italian dishes focused on pasta. Think plates of rigatoni scarpariello, spaghetti cacio e pepe, and pappardelle with lamb ragu. Five bigger entrees include dishes like grilled branzino filet or grilled pork tomahawk with rapini. Spina joins a budding set of new eateries along Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village, which could signal a dining renaissance for the oft-quiet neighborhood.

Spina is now open in Atwater Village in the former Blossom restaurant space.
Spina.
Spina

Étra, Melrose Hill

Early reports from this hip new Melrose Hill restaurant indicate that this could be the most dimly lit dining room of the year. Either way, two industry vets who grew up in LA but spent time in New York City bring an Italian sensibility to the wood-paneled, well-tiled space. On the plate, expect the same kind of restraint as with the design, including crudo with winter citrus, Caesar salad with anchovies, and a basil-tinted spaghetti Nerano with mussels and zucchini. Entrees veer toward grilled proteins such as pork ribeye with fennel salad and New York strip with dried porcini and cabbage.

The dining room at Ètra in Melrose Hill.
Etra.
Wonho Frank Lee

Fat + Flour, Culver City

Pie queen Nicole Rucker, who’s operated a successful dessert stand and pie shop at Grand Central Market for a few years, has expanded to a handy standalone bakery and cafe in Culver City serving an expanded menu of baked treats. Rucker had dreamed of opening in this exact location for a long time, well before she had opened her own business, so it’s a homecoming of sorts here on the Westside. Fat + Flour’s top-flight pies will likely be the draw but expect more savory things to round out the sweets.

Fat + Flour storefront in Culver City, California.
Fat + Flour storefront in Culver City, California.
Mona Holmes

Kanomwaan, Thai Town

Longtime Thai restaurant Ruen Pair brings some competition to the venerable Bhan Kanom Thai, a standalone dessert shop in the crowded plaza along Hollywood Boulevard in Thai Town. Kanonwaan specializes in Thai-style gelato, including iced tea, smoked salted egg, and tropical fruits served alongside mango sticky rice shaved ice, purple yam custard toast, and colorful drinks. The brightly lit space offers seating inside, making it a superb post-dinner hangout, its icy, cold, sweet treats taming what was likely a spicy Thai meal from the neighborhood.

Exterior of Kanomwaan.
Kanomwaan.
Wonho Frank Lee

Little Fish, Echo Park

Popular Smorgasburg and roving pop-up Little Fish takes over a prime Echo Park space with outdoor seating and a counter-only operation with one of the best homages to McDonald’s iconic Filet-O-Fish. Sporting enormous, crispy breaded filets on plush buns with pickles, tartare sauce, and American cheese, Little Fish is anything but small. Rounding out the menu at this permanent space are mushroom congee, cured trout tartines, and cottage cheese pancakes.

Fried fish sandwich with beer-battered Pacific striped bass, American cheese, Kewpie mayo, dill pickles, and potato bun at Little Fish.
Little Fish’s fish sandwich.
Wonho Frank Lee

Amour, West Hollywood

The gorgeous former Dominick’s and Verlaine space has been replaced by a sexy Parisian bistro with salon vibes called Amour. Coming from budding nightlife impresario Thomas Fuks, who has been successful with Members nightclub in Hollywood, Amour brings on a talented El Bullí trained chef in Dany Chavez-Bello to assemble polished, elegant French dishes sprinkled with a dose of Japanese flavors. The stunning patio space remains lined with greenery and plush seating that ought to bring in influencers and A-listers alike.

Dimly lit dining area of a restaurant with sconces at Amour in West Hollywood.
Amour.
Amour

November

Ladyhawk, West Hollywood

On November 2, Ladyhawk opened inside the Kimpton La Peer hotel in West Hollywood. The restaurant is Top Chef Middle East winner Charbel Hayek’s first ever, cooking upscale Mediterranean food in the heart of West Hollywood. The young chef brought an intimate approach to his Lebanese cooking with childhood dishes making an appearance along with familiar Mediterranean favorites, plus Hayek’s Top Chef-winning dish: ahi tuna crudo.

A combination of Middle Eastern dishes at Ladyhawk in West Hollywood.
Ladyhawk.
Neetu Laddha Photography

Moonlark’s Dinette, Downtown

While Moonlark’s Dinette’s daytime menu is chock-full of classic diner food, its nighttime dishes are all about the Wisconsin supper club aesthetic. The dimly lit Downtown restaurant debuted on November 8 with knotty pine wood paneling and casual design touches. Expect relish trays, prime rib, and brandy Old Fashioneds. Stationed on the Hoxton hotel’s ground floor, Moonlark’s opened on November 1 with sweet and savory Monte Cristo sandwiches, grilled spareribs, or crispy fried shrimp by Chicago-based chef Chris Pandel.

Latke with smoked salmon at Moonlark’s Dinette in Downtown Los Angeles.
Latke with smoked salmon at Moonlark’s Dinette.
Wonho Frank Lee

Suá Superette, Larchmont Village

Co-founders Jing Gao and Stephanie Liu Hjelmeseth opened Suá Superette in Larchmont Village on November 9. If the name Jing sounds familiar, it’s because Gao is behind the massive condiment Fly by Jing chiles and seasoned oils. In Larchmont Village, Gao and Hjelmeseth’s beautifully appointed Zen teahouse-inspired grab-and-go market also includes Asian American-owned brands of snacks, cookware, and more. Try the prepared salads, noodles, and roasted chicken flavored with the aforementioned sauce. As for drinks, Suá has a green tea and lemonade “Jing Palmer,” Chinese loose-leaf teas, coffee, and ceremonial single-origin matcha.

Suá Superette in Larchmont with an indoor tree, bench seating, and retail shelves.
Suá Superette.
Matthew Kang

Rita’s Deluxe, Downtown

A love of fast food and his grandmother is what fuels chef Luke Reyes's tiny diner Rita’s Deluxe. He opened the restaurant with partner Collier Ulrich in Downtown’s former Petite Peso on November 14. It’s a modest menu that showcases a single, double, or triple-layered grass-fed burgers with a tangy sauce. It can also be made “deluxe” with chopped cherry peppers, bacon, and caramelized onions. The fried chicken sandwich is pounded flat, brined in buttermilk and pickle juice for 24 hours, coated in panko breadcrumbs, and then deep-fried. Rita’s is designed for visitors to sit on one of the charming counter stools and order fries or a milkshake made with Clover Organic dairy and McConnell’s Ice Cream.

Milkshakes, fried cheese curds, and a vanilla milkshake with potato chips at Rita’s Deluxe restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles.
Rita’s Deluxe.
Stan Lee

Mercado González, Orange County

On November 17, the ambitious Mercado González opened in Costa Mesa. This is not just a supermarket; it’s a mercado-style experience where grocery runs are right next to food stalls and a full-service restaurant and bar by two of LA’s most successful operators: Maizano and Entre Nos. Some local stars are also present in the food stalls like Chivas Tortas and Sushi El Sinaloense. It’s the boldest project from the Mexican supermarket chain founded by Don Miguel and Doña Teresa González, which spans 43 markets across four Southern California counties.

Mexican sushi at Mercado González on a tray.
Mexican sushi at Mercado González on a tray.
Wonho Frank Lee

Highly Likely, Highland Park

The owners of West Adams’ Highly Likely launched a second location in Highland Park on November 17. Though the new 5,000-square-foot space mirrors its original sister restaurant with coffee and a daytime menu, this Northeast LA space also boasts a sprawling outdoor patio and a new menu developed by co-owner and chef Kat Turner with sous chef helming the kitchen Christian Sanchez in the later hours. Dinner includes yuzu deviled eggs, steak tartare, and chicken liver mousse to start, with Midwest comforts from Turner’s childhood like a fettuccine Alfredo, fried chicken schnitzel, and steak au poivre later in the meal. The patio will be the spot for cocktail hour and dinner with beer, wine, on-tap Palomas and Negronis, plus Pina Colada and Daiquiri slushies on weekends.

Outdoor patio at Highly Likely in Highland Park, California.
Outdoor patio at Highly Likely.
Evan Robinson

October

B’ivrit, Cypress Park

After countless pop-ups and a solid stint at Smorgasburg, B’ivrit opened in Cypress Park from former film production worker Amit Sidi. Sidi set up a cozy outdoor patio lined with wood planks that resemble a Tel Aviv street food stall. It’s here where she prepares meatless shawarma, vegetable-stuffed pitas or arayes, falafel, and more.

Falafel sandwiches from B’ivrit in Cypress Park on a metal tray.
B’ivrit’s falafel sandwiches.
B’ivrit

Lei’d Cookies, Culver City

Another Smorgasburg operator opened permanent digs in Culver City. Lei’d Cookies’ Leilani Terris and James Lewis took over the Coolhaus shop and converted it into a cookie factory baking up the couple’s favorite flavors from around the globe including a mango sticky rice cookie, one with guava and goat cheese, plus a Mayan-inspired creation with dark chocolate, cinnamon, and cayenne. Also on the menu is a gelatinous, coconut-filled take on the Filipino dessert buko pandan sapin sapin.

The Lei’d Cookies store with high windows and neon sign in Culver City.
Lei’d Cookies.
Mona Holmes

Goat Mafia Saucy Chick, Pasadena

Saucy Chick Goat Mafia made its debut on October 18 in the former Tacocita space in East Pasadena. Rhea Patel Michel and Marcel Michel launched Saucy Chick in 2020 and met Goat Mafia chefs Ivan Flores and Juan Garcia while both were operating at Smorgasburg. On the menu are plenty of only-in-LA mashups, like Goat Mafia’s birria de chivo bowl that contains cumin (jeera) rice, Peruvian Mayocoba beans, and house-made corn tortillas, and Saucy Chick’s 24-hour brined rotisserie chicken comes with a choice of Mexican pibil or Indian jeera sauces.

The sign for Saucy Chick Goat Mafia restaurant in Pasadena.
Saucy Chick Goat Mafia.
Saucy Chick Goat Mafia

PleasureMed, West Hollywood

PleasureMed, West Hollywood’s most ambitious cannabis consumption lounge since the Original Cannabis Cafe debuted in 2019, opened on October 24. The massive structure holds a dispensary plus two restaurants called Irie and Hind. Though Hind remains cannabis-free, Irie is a safe space to smoke and dine in Southern California’s historically queer center. The food menu was developed by Hatchet Hall’s former chef Wes Whitsell and is available at both Hind and Irie.

A pink-themed cannabis smoking room at PleasureMed’s Irie restaurant in West Hollywood.
Lounge at PleasureMed.
Wonho Frank Lee

Cold Shoulder, Fairfax

Cold Shoulder opened a half-block away from the Writers Guild West building on Fairfax and Third Street, and is accessible via a hidden bookcase from inside the decade-old Blue Collar bar. To enter the speakeasy, guests require a special invitation and a secret password.

Le Champ, Arts District

Le Champ, the sprawling outdoor wine bar from industry veterans Matt Bronfeld and Justin Hilbert, opened in the Arts District on October 25. It’s an expansive space previously inhabited by Lost Spirits Distillery and the Chairman restaurant. The lobby sits in a nearly century-old building, but the 3,000-square-foot, open-air section that seats 100 people is where to hang out. Hilbert was executive chef at Curtis Stone’s Michelin-starred Maude before his tenure at Matthew Kenney Cuisine, so there are plenty of bites to go with wines including charcuterie, oysters, and burgers.

Open-air seating area at Le Champ in Los Angeles.
Le Champ.
Luis Mendoza

Jemma Hollywood, Hollywood

Chef Jackson Kalb just added one more restaurant to his burgeoning LA restaurant empire. Jemma Hollywood joins Jame in El Segundo, Venice’s Ospi, and Jemma di Mare in Brentwood. Kalb prepares fresh pasta every day, thin-crust pizzas, shareable entrees like pork osso buco, and hefty sandwiches on the ground floor of the Aster Hotel.

Dishes from Jemma restaurant in Hollywood.
Jemma Hollywood.
Wonho Frank Lee

September

Shim Sham, Historic Filipinotown

Historic Filipinotown’s neighborhood bar Shim Sham started serving drinks on September 28 in the former Genever space. It’s a full transformation of the former Art Deco cocktail bar wedged between Koreatown, Silver Lake, Echo Park, Westlake, and Rampart. It’s currently a casual neighborhood hangout by the L&E Oyster Bar and El Condor crew Dustin Lancaster and Tyler Bell.

Shim Sham’s horseshoe-shaped bar in Los Angeles.
Shim Sham, Historic Filipinotown.
Bradley Basham

Baroo, Arts District

It’s been a long journey for chef Kwang Uh and Mina Park. After closing their lauded East Hollywood restaurant in 2018, the two reopened Baroo in the Arts District. The husband-wife team introduced the 2.0 Baroo on September 5 which is a departure from the former strip mall restaurant. The sleek new dining room serves a $110 eight-course tasting menu with a beautifully curated wine and sake list. It’s adjacent to top Arts District spots like Camphor, Manuela, and LA Cha Cha Chá but with a unique menu inspired by Korean philosophical principles that reflect passages through life. The current first course starts with tae, a period well before birth, with a corn puree, apple, and celery with red yeast makgeolli, nduja, and pichuberry. The second course reflects the time when one is waiting to be born, which is a seared Hokkaido scallop with minari and rice puffs.

Fried gaejang-marinated softshell crab at Baroo in Los Angeles.
Fried gaejang-marinated softshell crab at Baroo.
Wonho Frank Lee

Thicc Burger, Fairfax District

Longtime pop-up Thicc Burger moved into a new stall at the Original Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax the first week of September. It’s a new direction for the historic market next to the Grove, which brought in queer Black operator and LA native Jay Wolfe. Wolfe applied to the Original Farmers Market’s New Originals contest, where hundreds of applicants could apply for a coveted space. For years, the anti-smash burger pop-up bounced between LA and Atlanta where Wolfe went to college and still maintains deep connections. Wolfe sources from vendors like Huntington Meats and Kaylin + Kaylin Pickles for the menu, which includes burgers as well as sandwiches, breakfast items, fries, and more.

Straight on photo of a burger from Thicc Burger.
Thicc Burger.
Farley Elliott

Sushi Note Omakase, Beverly Hills

Sushi Note Omakase’s veteran crew includes Melanie Wine Bar’s Andy Paxson, Sushi Note and Mirabelle’s Dave Gibbs, chef Kiminobu Saito, and his mentee chef Earl Aguilar. They introduced an intimate omakase restaurant with four counter seats and a handful of tables in the Golden Triangle area of Beverly Hills. Though surrounded by world-class omakase operators, Sushi Note opts for the slightly more approachable price of $200 per person. Sushi Note Omakase is slightly hidden from the glamorous Beverly Hills scene while offering rare and older vintage pours like a Meursault premier cru Clos Des Boucheres monopole, or Gaston Chiquet brut champagne paired with baby shrimp that’s topped with caviar. There’s even a 12-course, $125 omakase available every day from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Toro and pickled daikon hand roll from Sushi Note.
Toro and pickled daikon hand roll from Sushi Note.
Wonho Frank Lee

Si! Mon, Venice

In mid-September, Si! Mon (which translates to “Yeah!” in Spanish) opened in the former James Beach space. Panamanian-born chef José Olmedo Carles Rojas put his personal style of his country’s cooking on display. Carles ran a duo of acclaimed restaurants in Panama City (Fonda Lo Que Hay and the now-closed Donde José) and pulled from Panama’s foodways for the Si! Mon menu. Veteran restauranteurs Louie and Netty Ryan (Hatchet Hall, Townhouse, Menotti’s Coffee) partnered with Carles on the restaurant after meeting through mutual acquaintances in 2021. Carles sought to bring a tropical vibe and described Si! Mon as the following, “What we tried to do is make it feel like you are in a Central American garden that is close to the beach,” says Carles. Carles’s signature yuca tostadas are on the menu, which first appeared on Lo Que Hay’s menu and take three days to prepare. Carles also prepares deep-fried yuca rafts topped with paper-thin slices of raw tuna, cachucha pepper aioli, black lime, herbs, and served with a lime wedge.

Yuca tostada with pixbae hummus at Si! Mon.
Yuca tostada with pixbae hummus at Si! Mon.
Ashley Randall Photography

Trung Nguyên Legend Cafe, Westminster

Popular Vietnamese coffee shop Trung Nguyên Legend Cafe opened its first U.S. store in the heart of Little Saigon on September 21. Operating for nearly three decades, the company currently operates four factories with 110 stores in Vietnam and distributes its products to over 60 countries. At the Orange County location, the 1,300-square-foot store serves phin- and espresso-based coffee drinks using 100-percent Vietnamese-grown Robusta and Arabica beans from Buôn Ma Thuột, a city in the Central Highlands. Also on the menu are lattes, mochas, and cappuccinos, along with Vietnamese coffee drinks like cà phê trứng (Vietnamese egg coffee) and cà phê chồn (civet coffee). Consuming Trung Nguyên’s signature dine-in coffee service is highly recommended, as it is presented on a beautiful wooden tray.

Budonoki, Virgil Village

A trio of LA restaurant veterans opened Budonoki in Virgil Village on September 28. Situated inside the Cha Cha Cha condominium development on the corner of Melrose and Virgil Avenue, Budnoki combines Japanese food, Thai flavors, and French techniques into the menu, izakaya-style. The menu includes chicken skewers, a crispy rice and Thai pork sausage dish, Peads & Barnetts pork jowl char siu, seafood pancake, and shrimp and scallop katsu with habanero chili sauce. Budonoki is a three-way partnership between friends Eric Bedroussian (Hillstone restaurant group and Majordomo), former Urasawa, Bouchon, and Hayato chef Dan Rabilwongse, Josh Hartley via Chicago’s Alinea Group and Helen Wines, and Justin Vu who is a seasoned chef de cuisine with a CV from the Joint and Morihiro in Atwater Village.

Pressed sushi pressed with chopped and sliced Ora King salmon and soy-marinated serrano chiles at Budonoki.
Pressed sushi pressed with chopped and sliced Ora King salmon and soy-marinated serrano chiles at Budonoki.
Budonoki

Liu’s Cafe, Koreatown

Koreatown secured a daytime option in September with Liu’s Cafe. The Tokki crew put together a Hong Kong and Taiwanese-style cafe where former Maude pastry chef Isabell Manibusan created pineapple buns, cream buns, egg tarts, cookies, and bread to accompany the savory dishes. Chef Lareine Ko also contributed items like the chiayi chicken rice, braised pork belly rice, or beef curry with coconut cream while sandwiches are distinctly non-traditional with a tea egg salad with pickled cucumbers, a bacon-egg-and-cheese option, and a spicy fried chicken with cabbage slaw. Keep an eye out in mid-October when Liu’s Cafe launches its grand slam brunch dish with Hong Kong-style French toast, eggs, Chinese sausage, and tater tots, with milk tea or coffee.

Egg tart, honey butter, pineapple bun, and cookies on a table at Liu’s Cafe.
Egg tart, honey butter, pineapple bun, and cookies on a table at Liu’s Cafe.

August

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.

A high-res look at a dinnertime restaurant on a rooftop near a pool with hanging greenery and wooden booths at LA’s new Que Barbaro.
The grill at the center of the room at Qué Bárbaro.
Michael Kleinberg

Atla, Venice

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.

Avocado toast at Atla.
Avocado toast at Atla.
Frank Wonho Lee

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.

Salmon, uni, and other sushi bites over rice served on a long wooden tray at new LA restaurant Santo.
A platter of sushi from Santo.
Jakob Layman

Ubuntu, Melrose

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.

A dining room with bright yellow chairs and green banquettes at Ubuntu in Los Angeles.
Inside Ubuntu.
Wonho Frank Lee

Joyce, Downtown

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.

A top-down look at an icey platter of seafood and shellfish, with caviar, from a new restaurant named Joyce in Los Angeles.
A seafood tower from Joyce.
Wonho Frank Lee

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.

Chong qing chicken wings at the Airliner.
Wings from the Airliner.
Wonho Frank Lee

July

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.

A top-down view of several iced trays of seafood at Queen St in Los Angeles.
A tower of oysters and other snacks at Queen St.
Wonho Frank Lee

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.

The Ode to Pepe, with mozzarella, scamorza, tomato confit, and pesto powder on a red-lined plate at Best Bet.
The Ode to Pepe pizza.
Wonho Frank Lee

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.

A bowl of braised red meat in a white bowl on a wooden table with a blue lip.
Vietnamese Beef Braise (bò kho)
Wonho Frank Lee

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.

A grilled fish in a wire basket over live fire at a restaurant.
Grilled loup de mer at Charcoal Sunset.
Dylan + Jeni

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.

Tall scallops, served on red shell in a yellow sauce, sit in a foursome on a white plate.
Scallops at Xuntos.
Wonho Frank Lee

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.

A table full of dishes at Donna’s restaurant in Echo Park, California.
A full table of Italian staples at the new Donna’s.
Wonho Frank Lee

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.

Steamed dumplings from Jiou Chu Dumplings.
Steamed dumplings.
Jiou Chu Dumplings

June

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.

Mortadella sandwich with pickles at Pane Bianco in Downtown LA on a white plate.
Pane Bianco.
Matthew Kang

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.

An assortment of Levain Bakery cookies on blue wrappers.
Cookies from Levain Bakery.
Levain Bakery

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.

An assortment of Japanese dishes at Rakkan Miso Izakaya in Downtown Los Angeles.
Dishes at Rakkan Miso Izakaya.
Rakkan USA

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.

A view of a Casaléna’s atrium, with a chandelier, two rows of long tables, a fireplace, and large windows.
Casaléna’s atrium.
AVABLU

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.

A sleek dining room outfitted with dark wood and lantern-style lights.
Szechuan Mountain House.
Harry Pang

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.

Seating with greenery and coastal Italian decor.
The dining room at Capri.
Wonho Frank Lee

May

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.

An overhead shot of two beef ribs poking out of a saucy clay bowl at Durango Cantina.
Durango Cantina.
Wales Communications

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.

A blue and white restaurant interior with a mural of two women, and a wooden floor.
Baar Baar.
Wonho Frank Lee

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.

A focaccia topped with cheese and tomato sauce on an ornate plate.
Sfincione Palermitana at Funke.
Wonho Frank Lee

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.

Tufted seats for outdoor dining on a stucco patio, dimly light at a restaurant at night.
Mon Ami.
Wonho Frank Lee

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.

Yellow-orange stuffed pasta with edible flowers in a bowl at Amiga Amore.
Amiga Amore.
Wonho Frank Lee

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.

Several dishes from Espelette, plus two hands shown cutting into a plate.
Espelette.
Photography by Vanessa Tierney Photography

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.

A daytime rooftop look down to a sandy patio with summer shades and few trees.
Za Za Zá.
Za Za Zá

Dahlia, Downtown

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.

An amber-colored drink in a clear glass with an orange peel garnish at Dahlia in Los Angeles.
The Old Fashioned at Dahlia.
Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel

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.

Interior of Planta Cocina, with archways and vibrant tiles and pillows.
Planta Cocina.
Planta

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.

Exterior view of the renovated Rose Garden Tea Room.
Rose Garden Tea Room.
Photo: Joshua White / JWPictures.com. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

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.

The drive-thru at Hart House restaurant in Hollywood.
Hart House Hollywood.
Hart House

April

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.

Hands reach across a table at a new restaurant, filled with skewers and salads, and drinks at Isla in Santa Monica.
Isla.
Catherine Dzilenski

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.

An overhead shot of plates and bowls of wine bar food, including shaved ham and charred carrots at Bar Monette in Santa Monica.
Bar Montette.
Bar Monette

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.

Taking the metal ring off a ceviche at Del Mar Ostioneria.
Del Mar Ostioneria.
Cesar G. Peñaloza

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.

A tattooed person holds souffle pancakes stacked on a plate at Gram Cafe and Pancakes.
Gram Cafe and Pancakes.
Ariel Ip

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.

An overhead shot of a Foxhall Steakhouse’s table with white tablecloth and pizza and fish and pasta, too.
Foxhall Steakhouse.
Foxhall Steakhouse

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.

An angled view of a daytime hotel terrace in pink and yellow with views to the ocean beyond at the Georgian.
The Sunset Terrace at the Georgian.
Douglas Friedman

March

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.

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

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.

Casarece pasta with braised lamb, lemon, egg, pecorino, and mint at Superfine Playa restaurant.
Casarece pasta with braised lamb at Superfine Playa.
Wonho Frank Lee

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.

Interior of Flor y Solera with an open kitchen, Spanish tiles, and red and blue accents.
Flor y Solera.
Wonho Frank Lee

Loreto, Frogtown

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.

Mexican seafood dishes from Loreto in Elysian Valley.
Ceviches and other Mexican seafood at Loreto.
Jakob Layman

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.

Green cloth napkins at a wooden restaurant table near a sign that reads Miller High Life.
Table set at Lingua Franca in Frogtown.
Wonho Frank Lee

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.

An overhead shot of a wooden table at a restaurant with bowls of rice and soup and sides.
Jollof rice, soup and more at Ilé Bistro in Culver City.
Cara Harman

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.

A white table with sliced meat, cheese, and a poured glass of wine.
Wine, sliced meat, and olives at Barra Santos.
Allison Zaucha

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.

Lots of green and steel inside a classy wine bar.
Interior of Sur Le Vert in Beverly Hills.
Ryan Gobuty

February

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.

An overhead shot of various bowls and plates filled with seafood fresh off a grill.
An assortment of dishes at Angler.
Jakob Layman

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.”

An overhead shot of four triangles of crepe on a white plate on a marble table.
Crepes Suzette at Juliet.
Liz Barclay

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.

The Ruby Fruit owners Emily Bielagus and Mara Herbkersman sit on chairs.
The Ruby Fruit owners Emily Bielagus and Mara Herbkersman.
Jesse Saler

Sendero, Downtown

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.

A Downtown LA skyline view at Leña restaurant in Downtown.
A Downtown LA skyline view at Leña.
Wonho Frank Lee

Telefèric, Brentwood

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.

An overhead shot of sliced pork with fried green sage on paella at the new Telèferic.
Paella at the new Telèferic in Brentwood.
Abel Rincon

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.

Question Mark Block Tiramisu at Toadstool Cafe in Los Angeles, California.
Question mark block tiramisu at Toadstool Cafe.
Wonho Frank Lee

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.

Victor Villa of Villa’s Tacos.
Victor Villa of Villa’s Tacos.
Erwin Recinos

January

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.

Sprouting cauliflower with Sichuan pepper au poivre at Bar Chelou restaurant in Pasadena, California.
Sprouting cauliflower with Sichuan pepper au poivre at Bar Chelou in Pasadena.
Wonho Frank Lee

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.

A collection of dishes from Café Basque in Downtown.
A collection of dishes at Café Basque in Downtown.
Wonho Frank Lee

Monarch, Arcadia

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.

Trinity Fried Rice at Monarch in Arcadia.
Trinity Fried Rice at Monarch in Arcadia.
Wonho Frank Lee

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.

Hokkaido scallop with herbal clam broth at Corridor 109.
Hokkaido scallop with herbal clam broth at Corridor 109 in Chinatown.
Matthew Kang

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.

White booths and lots of wood at a new rooftop Mexican restaurant, Casa Madera West Hollywood.
Casa Madera, West Hollywood.
AVABLU
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