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The 15 Hottest New Restaurants Around LA

By Lesley Balla
July 15, 2014
Photo by: Alimento/Ryan Tanaka

We've seen an amazing group of newcomers appear around the Los Angeles dining scene over the last few months. From new Italian charmers in Silver Lake to fried chicken madness Downtown and a veritable food hall in the South Bay, it's almost impossible to keep up. Still, here's an updated list of the hottest, newest restaurants on the scene right now. Check back often for new updates.

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    ChocoChicken

    Why It’s Hot: Because no one knew that chocolate had a place in fried chicken — until now. Adam Fleischman’s AdVantage Group teamed up with self-taught cook/entertainment producer Keith Previte, along with film/TV producer Sean Robins, to open this newfangled fried chicken joint in the South Park neighborhood downtown. Just about everything on the menu has a hint of chocolate, from the martinis to the mashed potatoes. You'll be surprised where it turns up.

    Must-Order: To keep the chocolate overload at bay, just try the chicken sandwich or stick with a piece or two and a biscuit. Even the fries and ketchup have chocolate, which may or may not be overkill, depending on how much you really love chocolate.Take a closer look here.

    Insider Tip: The place is huge, so getting a table shouldn’t be a problem. There’s a nice big bar, however, for solo diners or walk-ins.

    403 W. 12th St.; 213-403-1786

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    Superba Food & Bread

    Why It’s Hot: This everything restaurant is a welcome sight on a stretch of Lincoln Boulevard in Venice that really needed more great food options. It’s a coffee and wine bar, breakfast and dinner spot, a brunch powerhouse and bakery — and it all works. Fans have already picked favorites from chef Jason Travi's menu. They can't stop talking about croissants, desserts and breads from pastry chef Lincoln Carson and head baker Jonathan Eng.

    Must-Order: Breakfast pastries like pretzel croissants and currant scones; testa-covered toast with hot-pepper jelly; butter lettuce salads with colorful carrots; seared Arctic char covered with a tangle of pea tendrils; the rotisserie rib-eye that’s only available on Saturday nights.

    Insider Tip: Pay attention to the daily specials, which range from the Golden Arcs Burger (Mondays) to fried chicken with greens and biscuits (Sundays).

    1900 S. Lincoln Blvd.; 310-907-5075

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    Mastro’s Ocean Club

    Why It’s Hot: If they aren’t at Nobu, they’re here. The former Chart House is now a swank seafood-centric restaurant for the Mastro's chain. Like the Beverly Hills steakhouse, high price tags are attached to things like crab cakes, sushi, escargot, a towering chilled seafood selection and other straightforward steak and seafood fare.

    Must-Order: Chilled seafood tower filled with everything from Dungeness crab to oysters, lobster and shrimp cocktail, complete with dry ice for dramatic effect. Seared tuna with black truffle is quite nice. The gorgonzola mac 'n' cheese is a decadent treat (and a huge portion). Butter cake is on every table for dessert.

    Insider Tip: If you just want to see and be seen, check out the bar. If that’s full, there are a few lounge tables in the dining room off to the side. Getting a table directly along the window will take some finagling, but if you can’t, the view is great from just about every seat. Here's a cheat sheet for more.

    18412 Pacific Coast Hwy.; 310-454-4357

  • Photo by: Ryan Tanaka

    Alimento

    Why It’s Hot: Silver Lakers are flocking to chef Zach Pollack’s (Sotto) first solo effort. Situated near L&E Oyster Bar and LAMILL, the rustic Italian fare and accessible wine list is a nice addition to the neighborhood. Different regions of Italy as well as the tastes of LA inspire Pollack’s menu, so you’ll find small and large plates, seasonal salads and handmade pastas. Larger plates, like the hearty bone-in pork shank, are great for a group.

    Must-Order: The chopped salad with chickpea purée; tortellini that are like soup dumplings with prosciutto cream sauce; squid ink radiatori with shellfish and summer vegetables; the budino.

    Insider Tip: The diminutive dining room gets full fast, and reservations are already tough to come by. Slip in on the earlier or later side and you can probably get a seat at the bar, which is reserved for walk-ins. Take a more in-depth look at some of the food here.

    1710 Silver Lake Blvd.; 323-928-2888

  • Smoke.Oil.Salt.

    Why It’s Hot: Traditional Spanish cuisine full of all three — smoke, oil and salt — is what you'll find at this Melrose newcomer. Chef Perfecto Rocher is giving new life to the former Angeli Caffe space with a regular menu of specialties from Valencia, Spain and beyond, plus paella nights on Sundays and Mondays.

    Must-Order: Catalan tomato toast; cod croquetas; the oyster, mussel and octopus cocktail in tiger-nut milk; sea urchin flan; potatoes bravas with ham and a fried egg; grilled Iberico pork with smoked green onions; lots of wine.

    Insider Tip: Walk-ins are tight in this two-room space, but the wine bar in the second room is usually available if you forgot to make a reservation (you’ll need one).

    7274 Melrose Ave.; 323-930-7900

  • Playa Provisions

    Why It’s Hot: As a follow-up to The Tripel and Hudson House, Top Chef runner-up Brooke Williamson and husband (and co-chef) Nick Roberts unleash four concepts in one in Playa del Rey: an ice cream counter called Small Batch; a market for pastries, desserts, and grab-and-go salads, sandwiches and other treats at King Beach; a back-room whiskey bar, Grain; and Dockside, a full-service seafood restaurant, which is currently only open for weekend brunch.

    Must-Order: At Dockside, the breakfast sandwich with turkey, bacon sausage, Gruyère and a fried egg is turning heads. There are crab pops with Old Bay mayo, and whole pies served family-style with pints of ice cream at the table. Pastries and ice cream at Small Batch are perfect for the summer. 

    Insider Tip: With so many moving parts, it’s been a slow roll-out of all of the concepts, but the whiskey bar just recently started serving nightly (6 PM-2 AM).

    119 Culver Blvd.; 310-821-2119

  • Photo by: LGS/Instagram

    Ladies Gunboat Society

    Why It’s Hot: Chef Brian Dunsmore, one-half of the duo behind Hart & the Hunter at the Palihotel, cooks a Southern-leaning seasonal menu at Flores, one of the few restaurants on Sawtelle to not specialize in Japanese cuisine.

    Must-Order: Johnnycakes with wild king salmon gravlax, crème fraîche, salmon caviar and dill; cornbread muffins with sorghum butter and sea salt; Benton's country ham with lemon ricotta and mint salsa verde; Nantucket Bay sea scallop crudo with baby fava beans; slow-smoked lamb ribs with Moroccan spice.

    Insider Tip: Consider this a residency — the goal is to bring in different chefs for stretches of time — so go now while you can.

    2024 Sawtelle Blvd.; 424-273-6469

  • Photo by: Alen Lin

    Fifty Seven

    Why It’s Hot: This new Progressive American restaurant in the former Heinz 57 loading dock is making a splash with its rotating-chef concept and menus in the Arts District Downtown. Opening chef David Nayfeld has already moved on, with Josh Drew (FarmShop) taking over the kitchen for the rest of the summer. The alley patio is dynamite.

    Must-Order: Drew replaces the tasting menus with market-to-table à la carte dishes like wild spot prawns with grilled black-kale pesto; roasted Jidori chicken with confit thigh, liver mousse and pickled mustard seeds; and Columbia River king salmon with razor clams, tomatillo and scallion.

    Insider Tip: Ask a server if something cool is happening at Downstairs @ Fifty Seven, the basement club and cocktail bar with live music and other entertainment several nights a week.

    712 S. Santa Fe Ave.; 213-816-8157

  • Union

    Why It’s Hot: Bruce Kalman, the pickle king behind Bruce's Prime Pickle Co. and the former chef at places like The Churchill and The Misfit, brings seasonal everything to this Old Town bistro, plus handmade pastas, head-to-tail butchering and charcuterie. Think Northern Italian cuisine with a decidedly California edge. There's paper on the tables and foods that arrive on big slabs of wood for a rustic touch.

    Must-Order: Pork meatballs; cauliflower with capers, raisins, candied garlic and thyme; asparagus and artichoke salad with duck egg; spelt cavatelli; porchetta; spot prawns with treviso and Cara Cara oranges.

    Insider Tip: There’s now a lunch menu with sandwiches (roasted peppers and burrata, porchetta, olive oil-poached tuna with pickled fennel), a few salads and sides.

    37 E. Union St., Pasadena; 626-795-5841

  • Night + Market Song

    Why It’s Hot: Kris Yenbamroong’s follow-up to his popular Night + Market in West Hollywood (“song” means “two” in Thai), this colorful Silver Lake offshoot offers a similar menu of Thai street-food specialties, most topping the spice meter.

    Must-Order: The catfish tamale full of spice and herbs; "party wings," or sweet-and-spicy chicken wings; his housemade sausages like the sai uah, an herbed sausage, and the isaan sour sausage; the spicy salads, like chicken larb minced with chiles, a lot of red onion and cilantro; and stir-fries, including pad Thai but also the dynamite crab fried rice; anything Yenbamroong creates for a special.

    Insider Tip: The restaurant is still working on its beer and wine license, so there’s no booze and a strict no-BYO policy (otherwise it will jeopardize proceedings).

    3322 W. Sunset Blvd.; 323-849-0223

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    Pot

    Why It’s Hot: Roy Choi’s first Korean restaurant set inside the boutique Line Hotel in Koreatown is a fun, happening spot for traditional foods and a great wine list. Choi always brought Korean flavors to his food — like galbi tacos and kimchi-topped hot dogs — but here he goes back to his roots with hot pots, blood soups, BBQ and more.

    Must-Order: The menu is as fun to read as the food itself: a newspaper graced with a photo of an old man smoking a giant spliff opens to dishes with names like Kush (a salad with Asian greens, fruit, pine nuts and mustard-seed dressing), Beep Beep, Dang, Son and Jamaal Wilkes (named for the former Bruin and Laker basketball star). Do not miss the uni dynamite bowl, kimchi fried rice or the “old-school” hot pot.

    Insider Tip: Grab dessert in the Pot Cafe or Matt Biancaniello-curated cocktails (uni G&T, anyone?) at the Pot Bar in the lobby.

    3515 Wilshire Blvd.; 213-368-3030

  • Grand Central Market

    Why It’s Hot: The historic Downtown market just keeps getting more and more delicious. Micah Wexler brings new old-school deli sandwiches and bagels with Wexler’s Deli; Olio Pizzeria is serving wood-fired pies; Belcampo Meat Co. has a gorgeous meat case and counter for sandwiches and more; and DTLA Cheese is the spot for quick, melty cheese sandwiches or hunks of cheese and picnic accoutrements to go.

    Must-Order: Bagel with cream cheese and smoked sturgeon, and the Macarhtur Pork, an ode to Langer’s #19, at Wexler’s; margherita pie at Olio; and the goat cheesesteak at Belcampo.

    Insider Tip: A few vendors recently have started selling beer and wine in the market, including Horse Thief BBQ on the patio, Belcampo and Olio Pizzeria.

    317 S. Broadway

  • Faith & Flower

    Why It’s Hot: From the group behind Los Angeles Food & Wine and Pebble Beach Food & Wine, among other things, this swank new Downtown spot is more luxe than it has to be, but is still casual for lunch, brunch or late-night drinks. Chef Michael Hung’s menu is playful with twists on steakhouse and comfort-food classics. The cocktail program is fantastic, as is the ever-growing, eclectic wine list.

    Must-Order: Jidori deviled eggs topped with kimchi; oxtail agnolotti; the roast sturgeon; mushroom pizza (or just any pizza); rib-eye with oyster sauce; and absinthe after dinner, especially for the fiery show.

    Insider Tip: Love oysters? Hit happy hour for $1 oysters, $8 specialty cocktails and more at the bar, only from 5-6:30 PM Sunday through Thursday.

    705 W. Ninth St.; 213-239-0642

  • Maude

    Why It’s Hot: Top Chef Masters host Curtis Stone shows his true culinary prowess in the kitchen of this intimate, prix fixe-only Beverly Hills restaurant. Each month the menu spotlights one ingredient, be it citrus, artichokes or peas.

    Must-Order: The nine-course tasting menu for $75 per person.

    Insider Tip: Request a seat at the chef’s counter for the most up-close-and-personal look at the busy kitchen and Stone.

    212 S. Beverly Dr.; 310-859-3418

  • Republique

    Why It’s Hot: Walter and Margarita Manzke team up with restaurateur Bill Chait to open a gorgeous French-inspired restaurant in the former Campanile space. The old bones hold the new design well, bringing buzzy, fresh energy to this storied location.

    Must-Order: Bread with French butter; beef tartare ($18); buttery escargot topped with pastry puff pouffes ($12); charcuterie board of housemade terrines and pâtés ($24); Brussels sprouts with frisée, bacon and poached egg ($14); and chocolate cake.

    Insider Tip: For fewer crowds and more sunshine pouring in through the new wall of windows, check out breakfast — pastries, breads and Verve coffee — at the bakery.

    624 S. La Brea Ave.; 310-362-6115

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Places Mentioned

Republique

French • Hancock Park

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Maude

American • Beverly Hills

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Union

Pasadena

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Faith & Flower

New American • Downtown

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
Fifty Seven

New American • Downtown

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Superba Food & Bread

American • Venice Beach

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smoke.oil.salt

Spanish • Fairfax

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ChocoChicken

Downtown

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Playa Provisions

Playa Del Rey

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Mastro's Ocean Club - Malibu

Seafood • Topanga

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Alimento

Silver Lake

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
 
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