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The 15 Hottest New Restaurants Around LA

By Lesley Balla
August 18, 2014
Photo by: The Line Hotel

Another month, another new group of culinary newcomers across the Southland. Here's the latest spots getting tons of buzz, from oyster luges in the Valley to a diminutive French bistro from the Trois Mec crew and yet another Roy Choi restaurant at the Line Hotel — set in a greenhouse. It's almost impossible to keep up, but here's an updated list of the hottest restaurants on the scene right now, whether brand new or still worth the hype. Check back often for new updates.

  • 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

  • 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

    Petit Trois

    Why It’s Hot: One of the biggest openings of the year comes in the most diminutive of spaces. Petit Trois is the sophomore effort for dream team Ludovic Lefebvre, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, who also own and operate Trois Mec next door. Like Trois Mec, the very classically French menu is handled more by Lefebvre, with Shook, Dotolo and their team handling the operational side of things.

    Must-Order: The menu is tres petit, so — everything. Jambon beurre, a ham and butter sandwich, and the pan bagnat at lunch; the Boursin-stuffed omelet; steak smothered in French onion sauce with perfect thin frites; mussels; the chicken leg with frisse; any dessert; and definitely the panache, a lemonade and beer concoction that goes down too easily. Here’s a closer look.

    Insider Tip:  Like its sibling, there are rules: no reservations (no phone at all), no cash (credit card only) and the gratuity is already added to each check — whether it's for a glass of wine or a full meal.

    718 N. Highland Ave.

  • Photo by: Audrey Ma

    Commissary

    Why It’s Hot: It has the Roy Choi touch. The chef’s fourth and final concept at Koreatown’s Line Hotel is more vegetable-focused than Pot or Cafe, and set in a greenhouse near the pool.

    Must-Order: Once you figure out the menu — there are cards with hand-drawn images of vegetables and details behind each dish; you match up the vegetable with the sauce, etc. — you’ll find things like grilled radicchio and romaine with bacon, avocado and peaches; grilled corn with crushed red chile pepper; radishes with butter; and even a rib-eye. Drinks are from Matt Biancaniello, and as with the Pot Bar, they look normal on paper but are full of oomph in the glass, like “gin and juice,” which is prepared with fresh beet, watermelon, apple or carrot juices.

    Insider Tip: Unlike Pot, Commissary takes reservations. It’s only for dinner now, but will soon debut breakfast and lunch.

    3515 Wilshire Blvd.

  • Photo by: KazuNori

    KazuNori

    Why It’s Hot: The group behind fast-casual sushi chain Sugarfish, Kazunori Nozawa and the Nozawa family, debut their inaugural hand-roll bar in Downtown LA. Like Sugarfish, KazuNori serves fast and efficient sushi at an affordable price. But here it's all hand rolls, all the time. After all, Kazunori Nozawa was a hand-roll pioneer at his original Sushi Nozawa, the beloved Studio City sushi bar he closed in 2012 after 25 years. It's a no-brainer.

    Must-Order: Choose from three omakase menus — three, four or five hand rolls for $10.50, $13 or $17.50, and there's usually hamachi, cucumber, toro and salmon. You can add on extra hand rolls à la carte, if you wish, and there’s always one sashimi special of the day. Eat them immediately to taste the quality, when the fish is cold, the rice still a little warm and the nori crisp.

    Insider Tip: If you sit outside on the patio or order to go, those hand rolls will be cut. 

    421 S. Main St.; 626-470-7655

  • Saint Martha

    Why It’s Hot: An eclectic, inspiring menu from up-and-coming chef Nick Erven in an unlikely, hidden spot in Koreatown. Sure, there’s plenty of sea urchin and seaweed on menus in this part of town, but none serve uni with seaweed “Doritos” like Erven. The space is small, with a chef’s counter, a neon "hipster" sign and a fun wine list.

    Must-Order: The aforementioned uni; Santa Barbara spot prawn tartare sits with market melons, crisp radishes and a touch of burnt-orange oil on a block of Himalayan sea salt; baby summer corn with whitefish roe and crumbles of crunchy chicken skin; fried chicken thigh with steel-cut oats seasoned with Moorish spices; the hoisin-glazed, slow-cooked brisket.

    Insider Tip: Ask general manager and wine director Mary Thompson pick your wines for you. She’ll dig up crisp whites from Texas and hard-to-find Japanese sakes among other unique finds.

    740 S. Western Ave.; 213-387-2300

  • Photo by: Moretti Photo

    Tipple & Brine

    Why It’s Hot: Bringing a taste of the sea to the Valley, or at least a place for super-chilled oysters, an extensive whiskey list and a menu of seasonally charged small plates, Tipple & Brine has become a hotbed of activity. Chef Mike Williams has created a tantalizing menu, the oysters are great, and the energy is fun. By the looks of the Sherman Oaks crowds slurpping it all up, the place was much wanted and needed.

    Must-Order: Things like roasted cauliflower with currants, almonds and cauliflower cream; slabs of toast smothered in avocado mousse, briny slivers of uni and cool radishes; fried octopus with squid ink, charred shishito peppers and mojo; pork chop.

    Insider Tip: If you’re there on the weekend, checkout The Tunnel Bar down the alley. It's a speakeasy-ish spot with a more extensive cocktail menu and a stricter dress code.

    14633 Ventura Blvd.; 818-528-2550

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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: For one of the tastiest happy hours we can think of, every day from 5:30-6:30 PM you can get the "early bird" fried chicken and canned Ballast Point beer special for $12.

    2024 Sawtelle Blvd.; 424-273-6469

  • 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: This is a great walk-in spot when Old Town surges with crowds. The bar makes a fine spot for a glass of wine and a few light bites.

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

  • 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

  • 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

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Maude

American • Beverly Hills

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
Union

NonePasadena

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Faith & Flower

New American • Downtown

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
Fifty Seven

New American • Downtown

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
Superba Food & Bread

American • Venice Beach

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
smoke.oil.salt

Spanish • Fairfax

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
ChocoChicken

NoneDowntown

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
Playa Provisions

NonePlaya Del Rey

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
Mastro's Ocean Club - Malibu

Seafood • Topanga

Food26 Decor26 Service23 CostE
 
 
 
Alimento

NoneSilver Lake

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
 
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