There is not a day that goes by without a new restaurant opening somewhere in the Southland. While most establishments serve the neighborhood in which they operate, the most exemplary places are able to meet diners’ needs and bring forth a culinary point of view that shapes and sways Los Angeles’s greater dining scene. From the nation’s first cannabis restaurant in West Hollywood to Tijuana-style tacos in Downtown, here now are the 16 most important restaurant openings in 2019.Read More
16 Most Important Los Angeles Restaurant Openings in 2019
From the nation’s first cannabis restaurant in West Hollywood to Tijuana-style tacos in Downtown
1. Yang's Kitchen
Yang’s Kitchen is redefining Chinese cooking in the San Gabriel Valley by celebrating whole grains and traceable ingredients. The beef noodle soup and braised pork rice have emerged as the restaurant’s two runaway hits. Both are Taiwanese in origin but manage to capture a real sense of place with their ethos and execution.
2. Cannabis Cafe
Cannabis Cafe is America’s first licensed cannabis consumption lounge and restaurant where diners can eat a meal while consuming cannabis or eat cannabis-infused edibles on the premises. The vegan nachos are especially good because chef Andrea Drummer centers most of the cashew cheese towards the bottom of the dish, allowing crispy chips to thrive long after the plate lands on the table.
3. All Day Baby
Los Angeles, CA 90026
The highly-anticipated follow-up to Koreatown’s Here’s Looking At You opened just after Thanksgiving. The 2,000 square foot Silver Lake corner lot has been fully transformed and reimagined into an all-in-one neighborhood diner, bar, and bakery complete with patty melts, sticky buns, and boozy milkshakes. Early hits include the melty beef and cheddar sandwich, along with the fresh-baked conchas.
4. Spoon & Pork
Purveyors of modern Filipino fare Spoon & Pork opened a physical location earlier this year on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake. The comforting menu is largely unchanged from what was served on the truck, including adobo belly nigiri and the Chori Burger, a house-made Filipino pork chorizo on a toasted Hawaiian bun.
Auburn is the debut restaurant from chef Eric Bost, a North Carolina native who spent the last decade in the kitchens of Alain Ducasse in Paris, Guy Savoy in Las Vegas and Singapore, and most recently, République in Los Angeles. Here in this comfortably minimalist dining room, he’s striking out on his own in stunning fashion. The multi-course dinnertime tasting menus dazzle and delight at every turn.
Mozza alum Chad Colby finally has a place to call his own with Antico, a single-room strip mall restaurant at the edge of Larchmont, Koreatown, and Hollywood. The rustic Italian menu includes a rotating cast of pastas, lots of grilled meats, simple vegetable preparations, and the finest freshly spun ice cream around.
Echo Park’s cozy Ototo is a small neighborhood anchor in a sea of competition. The Japanese snack shop and sake haven hides just up the hill from Sunset and steps from Dodger Stadium, which in any other city might mean there would be no room for a local hangout with under 40 seats that skews delightfully obscure. Thankfully this is LA, and Ototo is perfect for the neighborhood and the whole city, turning out intriguing sakes from a meandering, thoughtful list, while also cooking up Japanese-style chili burgers, katsu sandwiches, and some snappy and slightly spicy green beans (yes, really) that are the absolute mindless snack when drinking and conversing. That’s right: This is 2019, and Ototo is so good at what it does, it has made the green bean feel cool.
From the bay scallops with a coconut vinaigrette to the Szechuan hot quail and the squid ink tagiatelle with cuttlefish bolognese, there isn’t a single miss on chef Mei Lin’s globally-influenced menu. The desserts are as memorable as the savories, so be sure to save room for the coconut mousse with lime coconut granita.
9. Tacos 1986
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Tacos 1986 found a permanent home this year in Downtown on the corner of 6th and Spring. Victor Delgado and Jorge “Joy” Alvarez-Tostado’s Tijuana-style taco shop makes fresh tortillas, grills meats over fire, and builds each taco with guacamole and salsa. There’s plenty of melty cheese, which distinguishes these from more typical LA specimens.
10. Bon Temps
Chef Lincoln Carson is serving up good times from morning until late-night in the Arts District. For breakfast are some of city’s finest croissants and pastries, while lunchtime brings a casual daytime menu with oysters and composed plates. Best of all is dinner, where savories and sweets are thoughtfully composed, expertly balanced, and dreamily plated.
Jessica Koslow, the force behind the impossibly hip daytime cafe Sqirl, has teamed up with Gabriela Cámara, arguably one of Mexico’s most important restaurateurs (Contramar in Mexico City, Cala in San Francisco), to open Onda on the ground floor of the Proper Hotel in Santa Monica. The menu leans light, vegetable-forward, and herbaceous, with items like jackfruit sopes and a hearts of palm ceviche.
12. Dear John's
Dear John’s, the Frank Sinatra co-signed steak and martini bar in Culver City, is a collaborative effort between chefs Hans Rockenwagner and Josiah Citrin. There’s a punchy shrimp cocktail and a rich chicken Parmesan on offer, plus cocktails like martinis and Manhattans for all to enjoy. Come by before April 2021 when the restaurant gets demolished to make way for a new development.
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Here at chef Dave Beran’s upscale but relaxed Santa Monica bistro, diners indulge in French classics like beef tartare, chicken liver pate, and turbot meunière. The restaurant’s table-side preparations are especially fetching — caviar is weighed on an 1840s postage scale, while a whole roasted duck is pressed in an antique contraption.
14. American Beauty
Grilled simply over wood and dressed with butter, the 15-day dry-aged Flannery steak at American Beauty exemplifies the restaurant’s simple, but modern approach to the classic steakhouse experience. American Beauty comes to Venice thanks to Jeff Goodman and Paul Hibler of American Gonzo Food Corporation, along with Bruce Horwitz of the Tasting Kitchen and chefs Elisha Ben-Haim and Anthony Goodwin.
15. Court Cafe
Los Angeles, CA 90045
In early summer, the South LA trio known as the Foodminati opened a daytime restaurant. Nestled on the border of Westchester and Inglewood, Court Cafe is a collaboration between Taco Mell’s Jermelle Henderson, Bleu Kitchen’s Calvin Johnson, and Keith Garett of All Flavor No Grease. The menu aims to please with original dishes like Garret’s ocho burrito with lobster, chicken sausage, shrimp, bell peppers, spinach, eggs, etouffee sauce, and smoked gouda cheese sauce.
Owner Kristin Colazas Rodriguez has been popping up at farmers markets around San Pedro for some time now and finally settled in on Alma Street. Rodriguez’s breads and pastries lean into the San Francisco tradition featuring long fermentation, non-commodity wheat, and tons of personal touches.