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Rossoblu [Official photo]

The 38 Essential Los Angeles Restaurants, Winter 2019

Eater’s recommended restaurants in the City of Angels

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| Photo by Rossoblu [Official photo]

Los Angeles is the most amazing place to eat in America, thanks to an incredible variety of international cuisines and some of the most talented chefs in the world. LA’s great seasonal produce and access to ingredients makes it an ideal place for restaurants to thrive — but how do you know which ones to go to? Here to help is the Eater 38, a collection of restaurants that aims to answer the question, "Can you recommend a place?"

Eater will continue to update restaurants every three months, adding in eligible places that have been open for at least six months. And do check out the Eater LA heatmap for a rundown of the hottest places to eat in the city right now.

Restaurants are located in geographic order, from west to east.

Added January 2019: Bäco Mercat, Joy, Bavel, HomeState

Removed January 2019: Michael’s, Trois Mec, Broken Spanish, Uovo

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Dialogue

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1315 3rd Street Promenade Suite K
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Celebrated Chicago chef Dave Beran of Alinea and Next made headlines when he moved to Los Angeles. His first project, a diminutive tasting menu in Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade, might be one of the most innovative places to dine right now. The nearly $200 experience comes in around 20 courses, with a whirlwind of elegantly plated textures, flavors, and ingredients.

Dialogue, Santa Monica
Wonho Frank Lee

2. Scratch|Bar & Kitchen

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16101 Ventura Blvd #255
Encino, CA 91436
(818) 646-6085
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Phillip Frankland and Margarita Lee have taken their tasting menu restaurant to the next level thanks to a retooled dining experience (like the cocktails and amuse bouches at a secret new bar entrance) and sharper, more polished flavors. This Encino restaurant is now the premier dining destination in the Valley, with a slew of creative dishes that excite and delight diners with every course. Reservations required.

Scratch|Bar & Kitchen [Official Photo]

3. Rose Cafe-Restaurant

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220 Rose Ave
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 399-0711
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This iconic Venice restaurant has undergone a complete makeover, offering a wide-ranging menu to anticipate the neighborhood’s every dining need, from breakfast through dinner service. Jason Neroni's produce-driven, pasta-centric menu is sure to please most people, while the multifaceted building allows for everything from a casual bite at the bar to a more composed sit-down experience on the patio.

The Rose, Venice
Wonho Frank Lee

4. Felix

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1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
(424) 387-8622
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Evan Funke returns to Los Angeles with one of the city’s most celebrated new restaurants, a temple of pasta and Italian cuisine in Venice in the iconic former Joe’s space along Abbot Kinney. Start with the superb focaccia, served in a plush round at the start of the meal. Then venture into one of the fresh salads prepared as lovingly as the pastas. But the main draws are the handmade pastas: rigatoni all’amatriciana, tonnarelli cacio e pepe, and pappardelle bolognese.

Felix, Venice
Wonho Frank Lee

5. Pizzana

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11712 San Vicente Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 481-7108
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LA’s pizza game has been very strong lately, and this newer entrant in Brentwood takes the artform to new heights thanks to its detailed approach to Neapolitan pizza. But unlike many other pizza specialists, Pizzana isn’t afraid to play around with the medium, incorporating new techniques and flavor combinations that reflect the diversity of LA. And the best part? The racked pizza dishes mean that every bite has a slightly crispy crust without any of that standard sogginess.

The Messicana pizza with chorizo, cilantro sauce, and pickled chiles from Pizzana
Wonho Frank Lee

6. n/naka

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3455 Overland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 836-6252
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Niki Nakayama’s phenomenal California-Japanese kaiseki might possibly be the most impressive restaurant to visit in Los Angeles. If the Michelin Guide were still rating in LA, n/naka would be a strong contender for three stars. The hidden-in-plain-sight building in Palms hosts one of the warmest, loveliest dining rooms, with fantastic wine pairings and pristine seafood prepared with a master’s touch. Reservations required, often weeks in advance.

7. Spago

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176 N Canon Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 385-0880
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Wolfgang Puck's Beverly Hills flagship still has a compelling tasting menu with global influences that stands up to the city's best. Throw in a star-powered crowd with world-class service, and there's a truly iconic LA restaurant that will appeal to high-end diners and people-watchers alike. Don't be surprised if Wolfgang himself is working the dining room and giving tours to the kitchen.

Spago, Beverly Hills
Elizabeth Daniels

8. Lukshon

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3239 Helms Ave
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 202-6808
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Sang Yoon put together one of the most impressive (and most unsung) dining rooms in the city. Yoon continues to tinker with the Asian-inspired menu, pulling off old favorites like the General Tso’s chicken pops and testing new ones without any remorse. All the flavors will seem familiar, but come presented in a fresh, more thoughtful way. There’s also a chef’s tasting menu at the counter for anyone that wants to see Yoon’s A-game in action.

Spot prawn from Lukshon’s tasting menu
Matthew Kang

9. A.O.C.

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8700 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 859-9859
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Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne’s enduring West Third Street classic has one of the most pleasant patio spaces in town, making for a quality lunch with pristine produce and great execution. Dinner’s even more expansive, with Goin's trademark touch on rustic American cuisine coupled with suave service. Nearly everyone has a plate of the Spanish fried chicken on their table, though anything from the wood oven would be a solid dish to order. A.O.C. is one of LA’s modern icons, and everyone should dine here at least once a year.

A.O.C.
A.O.C. [Official photo]

10. Rosaliné

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8479 Melrose Ave
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(323) 297-9500
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Ricardo Zarate makes a triumphant return with this popular West Hollywood ode to Peruvian cuisine. The scene is bustling most nights, and often celebrities come in hordes (apparently the cast of Crazy Rich Asians met up here recently). Start with some of the most creative cocktails in town, then order up a slew of ceviches and small plates before ending with a grand platter of paella or lomo saltado.

Rosaliné, West Hollywood
Wonho Frank Lee

11. Animal Restaurant

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435 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-9225
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After ten years, one of LA’s most iconic restaurants continues to pursue greatness along Fairfax Avenue. One could argue that Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo helped launch LA’s standing from a national and even international food city. It started with these meat-centric small plates and inventive comfort food preparations that still hold up after a decade.

Chicken liver toast at Animal
Matthew Kang

12. Republique

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624 South La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(310) 362-6115
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When Walter and Margarita Manzke took over the iconic Campanile space, they knew the stakes were high. And who in LA would have thought they would’ve succeeded this much, offering a swell breakfast-to-dinner menu with a French point of view? Throw in some pockets of new American and even Asian influences, and the bill of fare will likely appeal to everyone. The desserts, breads, and pastries by Margarita are as good as one can expect, while the charcuterie board is sure to stun anyone.

Elizabeth Daniels

13. Pizzeria Mozza

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641 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 297-0101
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Nancy Silverton’s enduring pizzeria opened ten years ago, heralding a new kind of elevated but casual restaurant in LA. And the salads, pizzas, and desserts are still extraordinary, a credit to the James Beard award winner and years of consistency. Order the tricolore or chopped salad to start, follow up with a wood-fired pizza, and finish with the caramel coppetta dessert.

Pizzeria Mozza
Pizzeria Mozza

14. Petit Trois

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718 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 468-8916
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Ludo Lefebvre perfected this facsimile of a Parisian bistro right next to his first effort, Trois Mec. Serving near-ideal renditions of classics (with some leeway here and there), Petit Trois is probably the most well-executed French restaurant in the city. Try the omelet, steak frites, escargot — pretty much everything on the tight menu is worth ordering.

Joshua Lurie

15. Luv2eat Thai Bistro

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6660 Sunset Blvd P
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 498-5835
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Since it opened just a few years ago, Luv2eat has ascended into the heights of LA's Thai restaurant scene with wonderfully prepared plates of Southern and sometimes Northern specialties. The Phuket-style crab curry should be on every table, along with the khao soi. Kua gling, a Southern Thai spicy dry meat curry, is fantastic, along with the fried sour Thai sausage, served with crunchy vegetables. Just remember, anything “medium” spicy or above will likely blow the lights out for most people, so order mild if intense spice is an issue.

16. Gwen

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6600 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 946-7500
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Gwen’s menu has meandered from a tasting menu to a more approachable a la carte bill of fare, and it’s done wonders for the overall usability of celebrity chef Curtis Stone’s grand Hollywood restaurant. Though meat and seasonal roasted vegetables are still the stars of the show, carefully prepared seafood now plays a solid supporting role. With magnificent ambience and impeccable service, Gwen stands as one of LA’s more upscale dining experiences.

Gwen, Hollywood
Wonho Frank Lee

17. Gish Bac Restaurant

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4163 W Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90018
(323) 737-5050
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There are a bevy of excellent Oaxacan restaurants in Los Angeles thanks to influx of settlers from the 1990s, and Gish Bac might be the best of the bunch thanks to the work of chef and owner Maria Ramos. This Mid-City classic serves a bit of everything from Oaxaca, including a great tlayuda and delicious torta, but the star of the show is the goat barbacoa enchilada, slow cooked for five hours in guajillo chiles. Truly one of LA’s best regional Mexican restaurants.

Torta from Gish Bac
Matthew Kang

18. Otafuku

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16525 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 532-9348

This all-around izakaya and noodle shop in sleepy Gardena feels like a terrific Japanese restaurant plucked out of a Tokyo back alley. Packed with salary men and women coming for after-work drinks, the food is wonderfully prepared, reasonably priced, and always delicious. Order the zaru soba during lunch or pick up a bunch of the grilled skewers with some beer for dinner. The eel tempura is another must-order.

Noodles, tempura, and yakitori at Otafuku
Stephie L./Yelp

19. Here’s Looking At You

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3901 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(213) 568-3573
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Former Animal chef Jonathan Whitener has opened a bustling restaurant in the heart of Koreatown with some of the most creative and delicious cuisine in Los Angeles. There’s no easy way to categorize these plates, but perhaps the best way would be to describe them as an elemental, but unexpected presentation of global flavors.

Here’s Looking at You
Shant Kiraz

20. Park's Barbeque

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955 S Vermont Ave G
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(213) 380-1717
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This is the Korean barbecue to end all arguments, with the highest quality meat and banchan one can find in Los Angeles, which is one of the world’s epicenters for Korean cuisine. Order some wagyu beef and prime American short ribs and eat with the restaurant’s pristine kimchi and fresh lettuce wraps.

Thinly sliced short rib at Park’s BBQ
Matthew Kang

21. Kismet

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4648 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 409-0404
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Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson opened this sleek modern Middle Eastern restaurant in early 2017 with a commitment to refined, restrained technique and top-quality farmers market produce. The result is one of the most popular new restaurants in the city. The morning Turkish-ish breakfast is a solid daytime pick, while the mezzes and small plates rule the roost for dinner service.

Wonho Frank Lee

22. HomeState

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4624 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 906-1122
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Any homesick Texans will love this casual daytime breakfast taco restaurant with locations in Los Feliz and Highland Park, serving everything from Cuvee coffee and queso to egg-filled tacos. Throw in some Topo Chico carbonated water or a beer (at their Highland Park outlet) for an experience that feels plucked right out of Austin.

Breakfast taco at HomeState
Wonho Frank Lee

23. Sqirl

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720 N Virgil Ave #4
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 284-8147
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Jessica Koslow realized that the Eastside was bereft of a great everyday breakfast and lunch spot, and Sqirl was the answer everyone was waiting for. Tucked away on a sleepy stretch of Virgil, this seasonal kitchen produces surprising food that balances flavor with superb ingredients. Consider the rice bowl, topped with ricotta and fermented hot sauce, or the incredible ricotta toast covered with its signature jam. Just be ready to wait in line.

24. Langer's Delicatessen-Restaurant

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704 S Alvarado St
Los Angeles, CA 90057
(213) 483-8050
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Yes, the No. 19 pastrami sandwich is an amazing sandwich, but the pure pastrami on house-based rye is simplicity at its best. There's a reason why people make pilgrimages to try this place’s pastrami and even corned beef: There is no better version anywhere in town. Pro tip: Try the No. 54, a blend of both the pastrami and corned beef in one sandwich. And don't skip the rest of the classic Jewish deli menu — it's all very well executed in one of the best daytime dining rooms in town.

Langer’s #19 sandwich
Wonho Frank Lee

25. Night + Market Song

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3322 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(323) 665-5899
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Kris Yenbamroong built this place from the ground up, and while his original spot in West Hollywood still goes strong, this second rendition in Silver Lake seems to reflect the young chef's ethos a tiny bit more. With a cadre of excellent Thai dishes — pork toro, Bangkok mall pasta, and larb — in a fun, convivial atmosphere (crack open a tall boy of Miller Lite to start a meal), Night + Market Song is the place to be any night of the week on the Eastside.

Elizabeth Daniels

26. Raffi's Place

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211 E Broadway
Glendale, CA 91205
(818) 240-7411
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This massive Persian dining hall features some of the best kebabs in the city. With an expansive indoor-outdoor space, servers weave through tables carrying platters of grilled meats, white rice, and mezze to large parties and families. Start with an eggplant dish called kashk o’bademjan and then order a parade of shish, koobideh, and barg kebab for a satisfying celebration meal.

Raffi’s Place, Glendale
Raffi’s Place [Official photo]

27. Rossoblu

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1124 San Julian St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 749-1099
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Steve Samson, whose Southern Italian accomplishments at Sotto continue to excel in West LA, opened this incredible ode to Northern Italian cuisine, especially from the region of Bologna and Emilia-Romagna. The modern dining room is one of the most attractive spaces in the city, while the wood-roasted meats and pastas would please anyone. Try the tortellini in brodo.

Rossoblu, Downtown LA
Wonho Frank Lee

28. Sonoratown

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208 E 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 628-3710
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Regarded as one of LA’s most impressive taco restaurants, this tiny Downtown LA spot prepares an authentic Sonoran-style tacos and quesadillas with grilled meats and flour tortillas. Don’t forget to order the chivichanga, a burrito with cheese and shredded chicken or machaca beef. It’s all really affordable too, though parking can be tough in this part of Downtown.

Taco from Sonoratown
Farley Elliott

29. Tsubaki

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1356 Allison Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 900-4900
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Don’t be fooled by the diminutive size of Echo Park’s Tsubaki. The modern Japanese restaurant carries a small footprint but is big on flavor, with dishes like sake-marinated foie gras terrine and rich yakitori skewers. Don’t sleep on the robust sake list or the pre-Dodger game deals from this Sunset Boulevard star situated just down the hill from Chavez Ravine, either. —Farley Elliott

Tsubaki, Echo Park
Wonho Frank Lee

30. Mariscos Jalisco

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801-, 899 E 10th St
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(323) 309-1622

This wonderful seafood truck in East LA is one of the most reliable street-food experiences in town, with deep-fried shrimp tacos topped with a fresh salsa that might be one of the best bang-for-your-buck dishes in LA. The epic (and spicy) Poseidon, a massive tostada of chopped octopus, is worth sharing if you're adventurous. Only open during the day, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Mariscos Jalisco’s crispy shrimp tacos
Matthew Kang

31. Bäco Mercat

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408 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 687-8808
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If there’s a restaurant that represents modern Los Angeles cuisine with a heavy dose of seasonal produce, Bäco Mercat might be it. Chef Josef Centeno’s four restaurant empire, all located on a single block in Downtown LA, has multiple perspectives, but Bäco remains the most malleable, the one that fuses Latin, Middle Eastern, and Asian influences across easy, shareable plates. Order the ox tongue baco, a sort of folded flatbread sandwich.

Bäco

32. Howlin’ Ray’s

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727 N Broadway #128
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 935-8399
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Johnny Ray Zone and Amanda Chapman might have the single busiest restaurant in Los Angeles, with a line that snakes around Far East Plaza in Chinatown for nearly every hour. What's everyone waiting for? Nashville-style hot chicken, made to perfection. Everybody should order at least one item as spicy as they can handle, and try the fried chicken sandwich too. It's truly a marvel of fried chicken in Los Angeles.

33. Bavel

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500 Mateo St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 232-4966
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Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis’s second restaurant is a true winner, representing both of their varied Middle Eastern heritages in one lovely-looking Arts District restaurant. The bustling space demands reservations for prime meal times, and there’s often a line of people waiting to walk in. Order the duck nduja hummus, grilled oyster mushrooms, spicy prawns, and lamb shawarma for a polished modern Middle Eastern dinner.

Bavel, Arts District
Jakob Layman

34. Bestia

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2121 E 7th Pl
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(213) 514-5724
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Bestia is the hallmark of seasonal, meat-driven rustic Italian located in the heart of the Arts District. Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis cook fantastic Neapolitan-style pizzas, inventive pastas, house made salumi (a true rarity in LA), and large plates like a great pork chop. Wines and cocktails are top rate, and the desserts from Gergis are simple, but prepared with a perfectionist’s attention to detail.

Bestia, Arts District
Sierra Prescott

35. Majordomo

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1725 Naud St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(323) 545-4880
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David Chang’s Chinatown restaurant has been one of the most impressive openings in Los Angeles this year, and he’s done a masterful job of blending seasonality with many of the Asian flavors and cuisines that Angelenos love and understand. The sleek industrial environs work well with the often modestly presented plates. Start with bing breads and dips, then venture into the noodles or raw seafood before finishing strong with tableside smoked short ribs.

Majordomo, Chinatown
Wonho Frank Lee

36. Joy

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5100 York Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90042
(323) 999-7642
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Pine & Crane founder Vivian Ku has another casual winner in her second restaurant, Joy, which opened in Highland Park in 2018. With a very affordable menu of shrimp wontons, mapo tofu, dan dan noodles, and minced pork over rice, Joy is a delicious Taiwanese restaurant that’s good enough to visit every week. Don’t forget the milk tea drinks, which might be the best in town with house made puddings and tapioca balls.

Joy on York
Wonho Frank Lee

37. Elite Restaurant

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700 S Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 282-9998
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This sprawling Monterey Park dim sum palace stands out for its consistency and quality, where diners can order siu mai, har gow, and other classics from a menu. Dishes come out as they’re prepared instead of being served from carts, though servers do roam around with trays of ready-to-eat snacks. The congee is especially good here, as are the taro dumplings. Weekday waits aren’t too bad but weekends can mean hour long queues for some of LA’s best dim sum.

Shu mai at Elite
Elite

38. Shaanxi Garden

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529 E Valley Blvd #178a
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 787-5555

There are so many phenomenal restaurants in San Gabriel Valley, but this one has a great mix of hand-pulled noodles, stir-fried specialties, and regional Shaanxi favorites with plenty of space to bring a crowd. Order the biang-biang noodles, lamb “burgers,” and more, and expect to pay around $15 to $20 per person.

Biang biang mian at Shaanxi Garden
Matthew Kang

Loading comments...

1. Dialogue

1315 3rd Street Promenade Suite K, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Dialogue, Santa Monica
Wonho Frank Lee

Celebrated Chicago chef Dave Beran of Alinea and Next made headlines when he moved to Los Angeles. His first project, a diminutive tasting menu in Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade, might be one of the most innovative places to dine right now. The nearly $200 experience comes in around 20 courses, with a whirlwind of elegantly plated textures, flavors, and ingredients.

1315 3rd Street Promenade Suite K
Santa Monica, CA 90401

2. Scratch|Bar & Kitchen

16101 Ventura Blvd #255, Encino, CA 91436
Scratch|Bar & Kitchen [Official Photo]

Phillip Frankland and Margarita Lee have taken their tasting menu restaurant to the next level thanks to a retooled dining experience (like the cocktails and amuse bouches at a secret new bar entrance) and sharper, more polished flavors. This Encino restaurant is now the premier dining destination in the Valley, with a slew of creative dishes that excite and delight diners with every course. Reservations required.

16101 Ventura Blvd #255
Encino, CA 91436

3. Rose Cafe-Restaurant

220 Rose Ave, Venice, CA 90291
The Rose, Venice
Wonho Frank Lee

This iconic Venice restaurant has undergone a complete makeover, offering a wide-ranging menu to anticipate the neighborhood’s every dining need, from breakfast through dinner service. Jason Neroni's produce-driven, pasta-centric menu is sure to please most people, while the multifaceted building allows for everything from a casual bite at the bar to a more composed sit-down experience on the patio.

220 Rose Ave
Venice, CA 90291

4. Felix

1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
Felix, Venice
Wonho Frank Lee

Evan Funke returns to Los Angeles with one of the city’s most celebrated new restaurants, a temple of pasta and Italian cuisine in Venice in the iconic former Joe’s space along Abbot Kinney. Start with the superb focaccia, served in a plush round at the start of the meal. Then venture into one of the fresh salads prepared as lovingly as the pastas. But the main draws are the handmade pastas: rigatoni all’amatriciana, tonnarelli cacio e pepe, and pappardelle bolognese.

1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291

5. Pizzana

11712 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049
The Messicana pizza with chorizo, cilantro sauce, and pickled chiles from Pizzana
Wonho Frank Lee

LA’s pizza game has been very strong lately, and this newer entrant in Brentwood takes the artform to new heights thanks to its detailed approach to Neapolitan pizza. But unlike many other pizza specialists, Pizzana isn’t afraid to play around with the medium, incorporating new techniques and flavor combinations that reflect the diversity of LA. And the best part? The racked pizza dishes mean that every bite has a slightly crispy crust without any of that standard sogginess.

11712 San Vicente Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90049

6. n/naka

3455 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034