Thank goodness sexy restaurants aren’t defined by Edison bulbs, communal tables and midcentury-modern furniture (as much) anymore in LA. We're heading back to real glamour these days, with gold-dipped decor, art deco accents and colorful custom murals. Last year, places like Paley, 71Above, Gwen, Otium and others graced the list. This year's top 10 newcomers once again have rooms that are just as gorgeous as the food.
Jean-Georges Beverly Hills
From the time you valet to the white-glove door service, many “hellos” from staff upon entry, floral-lined walkways and dripping chandeliers, this is a hotel befitting the Beverly Hills scene. The dining room has soaring ceilings and windows, creamy white leather furniture and comfy booths and banquettes. For Vongerichten’s first West Coast outpost, the whole place seems to be dipped in gold. The patio is equally stunning, tucked away from the horrible traffic that still surrounds this corner.
9850 Wilshire Blvd.; 310-860-6566
The Israeli-Latin-California mash-up at the Freehand Downtown is clearly not your everyday hotel restaurant. New York design firm Roman and Williams helped create the look, from the honey-hued wood tables and dark blue walls to the lush greenery, mosaic tile owls (in honor of the former Owl Drug Store that lived here long ago) and floating kite light fixtures. It’s all sort of homey and warm, yet slick and urban, at the same time. It fits the communal, buzzy vibe.
416 W. 8th St.; 213-395-9531
Nestled on the ground floor of the Douglas Building in Downtown’s Historic Core, Spring is a triumph for chef Tony Esnault’s California-French cuisine. Brought to life by architect David Wick and interior designer Beth Thorne, the space is filled with leafy trees and bubbling fountains, with the entire kitchen on view to the dining room. An atrium lets in tons of light during the day and adds a gardenlike setting to the evenings. Hues of green and golden yellow pop out from the white marble walls. The open kitchen and marble bar are lively anchors for different sides of the room.
257 S. Spring St.; 213-372-5189
For Steve and Dina Samson, their new Downtown Italian stunner couldn’t be more different than their underground, candlelit Sotto on Pico Boulevard. Designed by Marwan Al Sayed, with interiors by Mies Al Sayed and creative direction from J.P. Guiseppi, Rossoblu is pretty grand, with huge ceilings and windows of an old warehouse turned into a stylishly mod dining room. There’s a gorgeous brass and marble bar on one side, and the open kitchen with its fiery grills and ovens on full view. The sofas and banquettes patterned with lace add homey texture to the industrial-chic space. Bringing street art inside, one wall is covered with a colorful piece by CYRCLE meant to represent Italian tradition and the grit of contemporary LA.
1124 San Julian St.; 213-749-1099
Evan Funke once said that he wanted his Venice trattoria to feel like a grandmother’s house, only if his grandmother was Sophia Loren. The bombshell actress is, in fact, a patron saint to the restaurant — there’s a huge mural of her on a wall outside. Along with Janet Zuccarini, the sole force behind Felix’s parent company, Gusto 54, and Wendy Haworth Design, the restaurant almost feels like home. The dining room is awash in warm tones, filled with sexy modern furniture and big windows that let in that wonderful beachy early evening glow. In the center of it all is the pasta “lab” where Funke and his team roll out pasta shapes throughout the day and night.
1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; 424-387-8622
“It is a spirit that exists between worlds. A place of shadows and whispers.” That's the official description of Jordan Kahn’s other-worldly dining experience in the wafflelike Hayden Tract building in Culver City. And, although many have tried to explain it further, it’s still difficult to pin down. The building designed by Eric Owen Moss is eye-catching, for sure. A marvel of twisting steel and glass that both reflects and retracts the blue sky commandeers respect, and yes, many Instagram photos. The entire building plays a part in the experience, from the valet to the roof, the austere dining room and the garden out back. It’s been described as “depressive,” “like eating on Neptune” and “astonishing,” and something one must see to even come close to understanding.
3599 Hayden Ave.; 323-320-4023
For Ricardo Zarate’s newest restaurant, Kevin Tsai Architecture transformed the former Comme Ca into an open, sizzling Peruvian paradise. With a greenhouselike dining room towards the back, warm wood accents, meticulous tiles and pops of color, it’s the perfect place for some of Zarate’s best food to date.
8479 Melrose Ave.; 323-297-9500
Chef Raphael Lunetta along with Daniel Weinstock and Mike Garrett debuted a two-in-one neighborhood concept for Santa Monica. Taking over the longtime Josie and Josie Next Door space, design firm De JONG & Co. transformed one side as a bright, sunny, all-day bistro. The dinner-only side is much sexier with supple leather and plush green velvet furniture, teal tile, copper tabletops and a brass-top bar. That fireplace in the back is still the place to be on chilly nights.
2424 Pico Blvd.; 310-581-9888
Whether you think Tao opening in Hollywood is hot or not, in true dramatic fashion, the space is a jaw-dropper. Burrowing into the ground at least two stories, the sunken dining room with soaring ceilings has the same Rockwell Group hallmarks as Tao in New York and Vegas: faux-Asian motifs, sexy reds and glittering golds, a 20-foot Quan Yin statue overlooking a koi pond and more grandiose accents. The food might not be as stunning, but that hasn’t stopped the hordes from going there.
6421 Selma Ave.; 323-593-7888
Set inside the Hollywood Historic Hotel, a fabulous art deco marvel just a stone’s throw from Paramount Studios, this under-the-radar gem features a massive handcrafted stone-top bar, ornate chandeliers, red booths and richly hued dark wood furniture throughout. From the laser-cut iron door at the entrance to the rolling library ladder behind the bar, it’s become a throwback hideaway for cocktails and more.
5168 Melrose Ave.; 323-645-5225