2015 Preview: LA's Biggest Restaurant Openings
This year is shaping up to be a mighty tasty one with new ramen shops, more Pok Pok, wood-fired specialties and artisanal donuts from Downtown to the South Bay. Here's a look at some of the biggest openings to get excited about for 2015. Come hungry.
Odys + Penelope: The new restaurant from Quinn and Karen Hatfield opening this month, probably mid-January, isn’t as fine dining as Hatfield’s, the flagship restaurant the two closed in December, and not as casual as Sycamore Kitchen, their bakery and cafe on La Brea. A wood-burning oven will be the centerpiece of the kitchen, where the Hatfields will turn out charred meats, fish and seasonal vegetables. “This restaurant is really how we like to cook for ourselves at home,” says Quinn. “I’m really into grilling and smoking, and that’s what we’re doing here.” Why the name? The original columns in the 100-year-old space reminded them of the Greek epic The Odyssey, starring Odysseus and Penelope (127 S. La Brea Ave.).
Ramen Champ: Instead of opening a noodle stall at the Grand Central Market as originally planned, Eggslut’s Alvin Cailan and Johnny Lee (one of last year's 30 Under 30 honorees), along with partner Nathan Asamoto, a chef from well-known Little Tokyo spot Men Oh, will debut this ramen spot in Chinatown’s Far East Plaza. Joining Chego and the very new Pok Pok Phat Thai, the Tokyo-style ramen shop lives on the second floor with stools surrounding black granite counters. The menu has three types of ramen, including the über-porky tonkotsu, chicken karaage and more. Look for the debut any day now (727 N. Broadway).
The District by Hannah An: Hannah An, one of the siblings from the famous family behind Crustacean Beverly Hills, goes out on her own with this solo project slated to open in January. Located in the short-lived Duplex space on West Third Street, the menu incorporates French, Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese influences with Southern Californian seasonality (8722 W. Third St.).
BierBeisl Imbiss: The new chapter for chef Bernhard Mairinger is still underway at the Spring Arcade Building in Downtown LA. When it opens by the end of February, Imbiss will feature similar traditional Austrian fare that he served at the original BierBeisl in Beverly Hills, which he closed last year, like the excellent housemade wursts and schnitzels, plus an adjacent bakery turning out breads, Viennese pastries and other specialties (541 S. Spring St.)
Plant Food and Wine: After almost 25 years in business, 15 of those on Abbot Kinney, Axe will be replaced by this new vegan restaurant from chefs Matthew Kenney and Scott Winegard from M.A.K.E. The menu is seasonally focused, featuring dishes like grilled and pickled chiles with macadamia yogurt, and mushroom bouillabaisse with black garbanzos and sea palm. There will be a craft beer and biodynamic wine program, as well as coffee, tea and nonalcoholic “cocktails.” Look for an opening sometime this spring (1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd.).
Sāmbar: Akasha Richmond (Akasha) took over the original Ford’s Filling Station space just a few doors down from her Culver City restaurant. In its place she’ll be doing Indian food her style — “Indian-ish,” she sometimes says, meaning: with her signature California twist. Look for the multiregional menu of street and comfort food with a full bar to debut this spring (9531 Culver Blvd.).
Jon & Vinny’s: From Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (Animal, Son of a Gun), this new spot on Fairfax will be a more everyday, all-day spot for the duo. The menu is Italian-inspired, but from a decidedly American standpoint — especially for two guys who grew up in Florida. Think hand-rolled pastas, meatballs, eggplant parm. There will also be a retail wine shop in the back called Helen’s, named for director of operations for the restaurant group (and wine director), Helen Johannesen. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the target date is spring (412 N. Fairfax Ave.).
Pok Pok LA: The second of chef Andy Ricker’s two Pok Pok concepts is slated to open this spring in the former Fu Ling space in Chinatown’s Mandarin Plaza. The two-story space will have a lounge and courtyard seating, with a menu similar to Ricker’s Portland restaurants, Pok Pok PDX and Whiskey Soda Lounge (970 Broadway).
Otium: Later this year, the new restaurant from French Laundry alum chef Timothy Hollingsworth, former Bouchon chef Rory Herrmann and restaurateur Bill Chait will open next to the new Broad museum in Downtown LA. The menu is best described as “contemporary American,” with dishes from Hollingsworth’s repertoire like hen egg agnolotti with jamón, English peas and crispy garlic. On the name: “Otium means leisure, peaceful quiet reflection,” says Chait. “The whole vibe of Downtown is social interaction; that’s what makes this area so unique.” Because the restaurant lives in the new park filled with 100-year-old olive trees adjacent to the museum, the outdoors will play a role. “It will be like a sophisticated treehouse,” Chait adds (221 S. Grand Ave.).
The Hatchet Hall: After Waterloo & City closes at the end of January, chef Brian Dunsmoor (Hart and the Hunter, Ladies' Gunboat Society) and partners Jonathan Strader and Louie Ryan (The Townhouse, Zanzibar) get the keys for their new wood-fired concept in Culver City. The menu will feature rustic Californian fare with a few Southern twists, plus a cocktail program from Cappy Sorentino, a 30 Under 30 honoree from Healdsburg. Hatchet Hall is named after the house where Carrie Nation lived, a woman who radically used to take an ax to booze-selling establishments in the South during Prohibition (12517 W. Washington Blvd.).
Sidecar Doughnuts: Coming north to open a second location in Santa Monica by April, the very popular Costa Mesa outfit is known for making donuts from scratch throughout the day. Everything is made in-house, from the glazes to the jams and other toppings, and there’s always at least one daily gluten-free option and vegan flavors (631 Wilshire Blvd.).
Belcampo Farm Kitchen: The sustainable-meat company will reopen its restaurant concept in Santa Monica, which briefly debuted and shuttered (to fully flesh out the space and menu) last year (1026 Wilshire Blvd.).
Little Sister: Chef Tin Vuong and his business partner, Jed Sanford of Blackhouse Hospitality (Little Sister, Abigaile, Wildcraft and Dia de Campo), have big plans for 2015. Further planting their stance in the South Bay, a new steakhouse will debut in Hermosa Beach in January, with a new still-unnamed Redondo Beach concept in the summer. But they’re also heading more inland to open a new Little Sister outpost this February/March in Downtown LA. Vuong hit a homerun with his Southeast Asian fare at the first LS in Manhattan Beach (523 W. Seventh St.).
Cassia and Esters: Adding to their budding empire, Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb (Rustic Canyon, Huckleberry, Milo + Olive, Sweet Rose Creamery) will open two new projects in a restored Santa Monica art deco building this spring and summer. Cassia, the Southeast Asian brasserie helmed by former Spice Table chef Bryant Ng and wife Kim, will focus on housemade charcuterie, chilled seafood, wood-grilled meats and vegetables, noodles and rice with Cal-Asian flair. Esters, the wine bar and retail shop opening in mid-2015, will be overseen by former Rustic Canyon sommelier, Kathryn Coker and husband Tug, with a small snackable menu from Rustic Canyon chef Jeremy Fox for dining in or taking out (1314 Seventh St.).