Openings

25 New Restaurants to Try Around Los Angeles

By Lesley Balla | May 1, 2015 By Lesley Balla  |  May 1, 2015
Photo by: Toca Madera/Ryan Forbes

The seasons change, restaurants come and go, but the eternal question remains the same: where should we eat tonight? We're here to help answer that with a roundup of new and notable openings around LA over the last month, from Downtown LA to Burbank to the South Bay. This week: a new boulangerie downtown, taquitos and tequila on West Third Street, and mariscos and mezcal in Studio City. Check them and more out in the slide show below, starting with the most recent debuts at the top. And be sure to check back every week for the latest and greatest openings.

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  • Photo by: Maradentro/Ryan Tanaka

    Maradentro

    Jesse Gomez and chef-partner Jose Acevedo, the guys behind the Mercado restaurants and Yxta Cocina Mexicana, have debuted their third in Studio City. The mariscos-focused spot was designed by the prolific Ana Henton, who transformed the relatively short-lived La Ventura space with clean lines, blue and wood paneled walls, and an overall subtly nautical feel. The menu features the seafood side of Mexican cuisine, like a oysters “Rajafeller,” a creamy crab queso dip, sweet shrimp cocktail, lobster tacos and fideo with jumbo scallops, shrimp and clams. And of course there’s lots of tequila and mezcal cocktails at the bar.

    11929 Ventura Blvd.; 818-358-3423

  • Photo by: Pitchoun

    Pitchoun!

    Now open near Pershing Square downtown, this French patisserie, bakery and cafe is from husband-and-wife expats, Frédéric, a graduate of L’Ecole de Boulangerie Patisserie de Paris, and Fabienne Soulies. The name means “kiddo” in Provence, and it does have a very family-friendly slant, including a kid’s menu.  The place is big, filled with lots of repurposed wood, including chairs and tables fashioned out of wine barrels, a fireplace, French books on the shelves, chalkboard menus, and an outdoor patio. A window offers a peek into the bakery and kitchen. You’ll find it all here: croissants, croquet monsieurs, tartines and clafoutis, but also kouign-amann, tarts, pan bagnat sandwiches and a pastry-wrapped French hot dog. Pitchoun opens 7 AM-5 PM, Monday through Friday, and 8 AM-4 PM, Saturday and Sunday.

    545 S. Olive St.; 213-689-3240

  • Photo by: Toca Madera

    Toca Madera

    You do get the sense that imbibing and looking good is almost as important, if not more important, than eating here. It's a gorgeous space, carved out of the former St. Nick's dive bar near the Beverly Center, with a small dining room surrounded by dripping succulents and skylights in the back, and a huge bar filled with high and low lounge tables in front. There's velvet, leather, skulls and naked Day of the Dead paintings, so it's pretty sexy. Agave spirits reign supreme with clever and rather good cocktails, and chef Raymond Alvarez's menu is full of sharable plates: small vegan tacos, tableside guacamole studded with pomegranate seeds and pepitas, wagyu cooked on hot stones, sashimi agua chilies, mini short rib taquitos. The kind of dishes fitting the West Hollywood crowd. And then there’s the churro ice cream sandwich. Toca Madera opens 5 PM-2 AM, Tuesday through Saturday.

    8450 W. 3rd St.; 323-852-9400

  • Santa Monica Yacht Club (SMYC)

    Unlike many chefs and restaurateurs, Andrew Kirschner seems immune to the pull of Downtown. He personally rarely crosses the 405, so it makes sense that he debuted his second restaurant, Santa Monica Yacht Club, or SMYC, in the same neighborhood as Tar & Roses. In fact, SMYC is the perfect counterpoint to Kirschner's first restaurant, which anchors the other corner on the same block near the Third Street Promenade. One is all about the wood-burning grill, whole-animal dishes and meaty things like roasted bone marrow. The other is all about the sea, from the yachtlike interior (even the benches are used as storage, like a boat) to the almost-all-seafood menu (there are only a few landlubber dishes). With so many restaurants near the beach in Santa Monica and Malibu, you'd think there would be more great seafood restaurants. With its raw and cooked dishes, all composed, innovative and globally inspired, this is one to add to the list. Here's a look at the space and menu.

    620 Santa Monica Blvd.; 310-587-3330

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    Jon & Vinny's

    Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo debuted their much-ballyhood all-day Italian-American restaurant on Fairfax, just a penne’s throw from their first baby, Animal. Divvied up into a space for their catering kitchen and dining room, the restaurant is light and bright with clean lines and subtle pops of color from green pizza boxes and wines from Helen’s, the wine retail shop in the back (named for and overseen by the duo’s longtime director of operations and wine guru, Helen Johannesen). The food is reminiscent of an East Coast pasta and pizza joint but with a heavy SoCal hand: the pastas are all handmade, sides and salads are seasonal, and the bubbly personal-sized pizzas come topped with the best Italian cheeses and meats. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, Jon & Vinny’s is a great neighborhood joint (and also delivers, even wine). Here’s a closer look.

    412 N. Fairfax Ave.; 323-334-3369

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    ICDC

    The name stands for ice cream, donuts and coffee, because really, what more do you need in life. The new teensy shop from Amy Knoll Fraser (BLD, Redbird) and her longtime friend, pastry chef Mariah Swan, debuted this long-awaited sweet shop this week. The ice creams, sorbets and sherbets, in flavors like Guiness chip, pistachio and tangerine vanilla bean, are all handmade, as are the salt-and-pepper caramel, curry-sugar or Mayan milk chocolate glazed donuts. The real treat is the ICDC, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a salted caramel donut topped with vanilla bean ice cream and a shot of espresso. A loaded affogato, if you will. See more here.

    7450 1/2 Beverly Blvd.; 323-930-9744

  • Photo by: Ingo's Tasty Diner

    Ingo’s Tasty Diner

    From the same group behind The Misfit and Pasadena’s La Grand Orange and Luggage Pizza comes this new old-school-style diner in Santa Moniac that focuses on seasonal ingredients, fresh cocktails and comfort food. Think: basil gimlets, deviled eggs with goat cheese and beets, pimento cheese dip, fish club sandwiches, rotisserie chicken with Tuscan kale and stewed chickpeas, leg of lamb with harissa yogurt, and grass-fed beef burgers. Housed in the former Callahan’s diner, which was open since the 1940s, the space gives a nod to its roots with Formica tables, black booths and a big diner-style counter. But there’s a full bar with plenty of spirits lining the walls, a few quality craft beers on tap, and wines by the glass and bottle. For the daily happy hour (4-7 PM, except for Tuesdays, when the restaurant is closed), well drinks, signature cocktails, beer and wine are only $6. Ingo’s opens for dinner at 5 PM.

    1213 Wilshire Blvd.; 310-395-4646

  • Photo by: Lauren di Matteo

    Belcampo Meat Co.

    Only a year at the Grand Central Market, and the Belcampo Meat Co. butcher shop and counter is a fixture to the growing food scene downtown. Now Westsiders can get a taste. After a brief tease last year, the new full-service Belcampo restaurant and butcher shop officially debuted in Santa Monica, bringing a full lunch and dinner menu, plus beer and wine, and craft cocktails created by Julian Cox and Josh Goldman of the Soigné Group. As you'd imagine, meat is the star of the show here, all raised and sourced from Belcampo Farms in the Shasta Valley in Northern California. Chef Maiki Le (Josie) makes use of all the cuts from various animals with dishes like tallow chips and Taleggio cheese; grilled beef heart with warm vegetables and salsa verde; mutton chops with English peas; a variety of tartares, including one with goat meat; brick-grilled quail with little gem lettuces; and grilled pork sausages with Yukon potatoes and spring onions. The butchery opens at 9 AM daily, and the restaurant is only open for dinner beginning at 5 PM.

    1026 Wilshire Blvd.; 424-744-8008

  • Churro Borough

    After making a big impact on the ice cream social at last year's Food Truck Fest, sibling team Sylvia and Paul Yoo officially open their brick-and-mortar Churro Borough shop in Los Feliz on Friday, April 17. Sylvia cut her sweets chops at places like WD-50 and Jean-Georges in New York, and Red Medicine here, created this churro frozen treat a few years ago and had some great success at pop-ups and catering. Now the churro ice cream sandwiches, made with scoops of homemade horchata, Mexican hot chocolate, vanilla custard, orange creamsicle and more, are available just about all the time — except Mondays, when the shop closed.

    1726 N. Vermont Ave.

  • Photo by: Sweetfin

    Sweetfin Poke

    Hot on the poke trend, this new fast-casual adds poke bowls from chef Dakota Weiss, last of the Shangri-La Hotel and a former Top Chef: Texas cheftestant, to the Santa Monica scene. Teaming up with longtime restaurateur Alan Nathan and pals, all who fell in love with poke while visiting Hawaii, Weiss' menu features traditional combinations (tuna, sesame seed, green onion and red chile) to new variations like spicy yuzu salmon with edamame and lime; snapper with napa cabbage and red onion; and albacore with mango, ginger and macadamia nuts. Sweetfin opens daily from 11:30 AM-3 PM and 5:30-9 PM.

    829 Broadway; 310-395-1097

  • Lemonade

    The fast-casual chain is still expanding around town. Now open in the newly named Japantown on Sawtelle, the array of fresh marketplace salads, braises and prepared sandwiches are available to the neighborhood. Look for the cool plate collection on display from artist Ilan Dei. Each one depicts a different LA neighborhood and landmark, including Griffith Park Observatory, Toluca Lake and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, via aerial photographs. Take one home (they retail for $26).

    2047 Sawtelle Blvd.

  • Make Out

    Just because raw food chef Matthew Kenney will be closing his M.A.K.E. restaurant and vegan cooking school at Santa Monica Place on April 30 doesn't mean he's done with LA yet. This week he debuted Make Out in Culver City, the first of two new restaurants he'll open this year. The second, Plant Food and Wine will arrive on Abbot Kinney sometime in May. Make Out is a fast-casual concept with an all plant-based menu, including cold-pressed juices like the Beachwood (celery, dandelion, pear, grapefruit and lemon) and the Hollywood (banana, cacao, almond milk, cacao nibs, and honey); millet bowls with maitake mushroom, watermelon radish and harissa; quinoa falafel wraps with tahini and vegetables; cashew chevre toast with pickled beats and micro basil; vegan pastries and sweets like macarons, citrus bars and fudge brownies; and quick snacks like kale chips. The new cafe is open 8 AM-8 PM daily. More here.

    9426 West Washington Blvd.; 310-394-7046

  • Auntie Em’s Kitchenette

    After more than a dozen years serving the super sweet confection and so much more from a rock-n-roll red building in Eagle Rock, Teri Wahl opens a second Auntie Em's location in the Historic Core downtown. Taking over a former convenience store in the HOFF building, near classic haunts like King Eddy Saloon and Cole’s — you'll know it by the cheerful white stenciled foods on the window — the Kitchenenette has a few greatest hits from the original but also some new DTLA dishes, including quiche with greens, avocado toast, granola parfait, egg and biscuit breakfast sandwiches, short rib grilled cheese, salads and soups. And of course the cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, tarts, pies, brownies and more, all of which will be made at the mothership and brought over. It's mostly a daytime spot for breakfast and lunch, but hours will stretch until 7 PM or "until the cupcakes run out," says Wahl. Auntie Em's Kitchenette opens at 8 AM.

    116 E. 5th St.

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    BS Taqueria

    There's something to say for bologna tacos. At least the ones served at BS Taqueria, the new playful Mexican spot from chef Ray Garcia. After working in hotel restaurants for almost 15 years — most recently Fig at the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica, and The Belvedere at The Peninsula in Beverly Hills before that — the Los Angeles native is finally making his food in his own space. Now open along the Seventh Street corridor downtown, BS Taqueria is the more casual offshoot of his forthcoming Broken Spanish restaurant, which will open in the former Rivera space this summer. It's counter-service only during the day, meant to be quick for the workers in surrounding offices nearby (Monday through Friday only for now; dinner begins April 20).  Look for tacos that run the gamut, from traditional carne asada and carnitas to the aforementioned bologna and even clam tacos. For vegetarians, a beet torta that puts beef to shame. Here’s a closer look at the menu.

    514 W. 7th St.; 213-622-3744

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    Hinterland

    This new bistro quietly settled into the former Joe’s Diner, which lived on Main Street in Santa Monica for almost 30 years. Now locals walk by wondering what’s inside (there’s no sign outside yet), and if that guy they think looks like a Jonas brother is actually one of them. By the way, it is one of them. Joe Jonas partnered with two New York restaurateurs, Matthew Hechter and Chris Brandon of The Heyward and Hudson Clearwater, to open Hinterland. In the kitchen is chef Max DiMare, who’s creating a mix of Southern coastal cuisine with Mediterranean and Southern California touches. Think: shrimp and grits with locally grown shishito peppers; charred octopus with hummus, chickpeas, olives and cucumbers; and tuna crudo with avocado and frisee. Here’s everything you need to know before you go.

    2917 Main St.

  • Photo by: Bombo

    Bombo

    Chef Mark Peel makes a grand return to the LA dining scene with his seafood-centric counter at the Grand Central Market. Other than that short-lived stint at Tar Pit (now Bludso’s Bar & Que), Peel has been missed since Campanile, the restaurant he and ex-wife Nancy Silverton opened in 1989 and closed in in 2012. The name “Bombo” relates to the steel-jacketed steam kettles you’ll see along the counter. That’s where Peel and his crew cook things like steamed mussels and shrimp curry, but also serve fried chicken, fish and chips and pork pot sticker. There’s also fresh seafood available to buy retail. Open daily 11 AM-6 PM.

    317 South Broadway

  • Jinya Ramen Bar

    If you see a line of people on Main Street in Santa Monica, it’s probably this place. The growing chain lands a location near the beach, now serving large bowls of porky tonkotsu, gyoza, chasu bowls and karaage chicken (now simply called “crispy chicken” on the menu for the uninitiated). The space isn’t huge but there is a nice little patio on the side.

    2400 Main St.; 310-392-4466

  • Photo by: Nicholas Roberts

    Cafe Gratitude DTLA

    The third outpost for the vegan chain has landed at the massive One Santa Fe mixed-use complex in the Arts District. Similar to the Venice and Larchmont locations, the restaurant serves breakfast and lunch with menu items named after affirmations like “I Am Grateful.” But there’s also a new dinner menu available after 5 PM, including dishes like the “Abundant” antipasto plate with macadamia cheese and white truffle; grilled asparagus with hempseed hollandaise sauce; whole grain flatbreads topped with seasonal ingredients; and raw enchiladas with pumpkin seed and walnut chorizo. Get things a la carte or as a thrre-course tasting menu along with wine pairings, spritzers or housemade sodas. Open daily from 8 AM-10 PM.

    300 S. Santa Fe Ave.; 213-929-5580

  • Photo by: Bettolino Kitchen

    Bettolino Kitchen

    Brother and sister duo Vince Giuliano and Andreanna Giuliano Liguore, who come from a long line of Italian restaurant owners (their grandfather owned Giuliano’s in Gardena way back, and the family still operates Geatano’s Torrance), have debuted another Italian spot in the South Bay. Now open in Redondo Beach, Bettolino’s features a menu from chef Fabio Ugoletti, a recent transplant from Florence, Italy, including his handmade pastas, fried meatballs with spicy tomato sauce, smoked white fish sandwiches at lunch, and more. Opens daily at 11 AM.

    211 Palos Verdes Blvd.; 310-375-0500

  • Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream

    Jeni Britton Bauer is building quite the ice cream empire. Launching her artisanal ice creams in Columbus, Ohio in 2002, she’s since put pints on thousands of grocery store shelves around the country, opened 18 shops (mostly in the South and Midwest), and penned two best-selling ice cream cookbooks. Now she’s debuted the first West Coast Jeni’s Splendind Ice Cream shop right here in LA. Situated on the busy Hillhurst strip, right across from Alcove Bakery & Cafe, Jeni’s is a bright, stylish shop for scoops in cups and waffle cones, pints, ice cream sandwiches and LA’s own flavor, a bright-green wheatgrass, pear and vinho verde sorbet.  Lines have been long since its debut, but swift. Opens daily at noon, closing at 10 PM, Sunday through Thursday, and 11 PM on Friday and Saturday.

    1954 Hillhurst Ave.; 323-928-2668

  • Photo by: Ryan Tanaka

    Ox & Son

    The FNA (Fork n’ Awesome) Hospitality Group, which owns the recently opened Ashland Hill on Santa Monica's Main Street and Art's Table, debuted this American bistro on Montana. The space is filled with custom-designed furniture, dark leathers, woods and rich upholstery, with big windows for extra light during the day. Miller was the chef at the Inn of the Seventh Ray for several years, which is known for it's hippie-ish vegetarian-friendly fare in Topanga Canyon, so there's a finesse with seasonal vegetables as well as boldly flavored, meaty dishes. For every mussel and tomato poutine, char-grilled hangar steak, and Benton's ham and corn griddle cakes, there are bright salads and side dishes to even things out. There's even a whole vegetarian and gluten-free menu. Here's a look at a few dishes. Opens daily at 5:30 PM.

    1534 Montana Ave.; 310-829-3990

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    Birch

    Chef Brendan Collins (Waterloo & City) opened his first solo project along the Cahuenga Corridor in Hollywood. With a few tables in the dining room, a small bar and a couple of communal tables, it's not a big space, but it is a lot brighter than many others along the corridor. The clean lines, whitewashed woods, gleaming marble and unpolished metals stand out among the bump-thumping spots of Hollywood. When weather permits, a garage door opens to the sidewalk and there are balcony barstools that jut outside, plus patio tables along the alley behind the restaurant. For any fans of Collins' menus at Waterloo, his dishes, from small plates to larger format offerings, will seem familiar, only with more LA influences. Here's a first look.

    1634 Cahuenga Blvd.; 323-960-3369

  • Public School 818

    Opening across from the Sherman Oaks Galleria, this new outpost of the school-themed restaurant and bar chain features favorites the other Public Schools are known for: bacon-and-cheddar tots, lamb burgers and brunch plates of eggs Benedict pizza, stuffed French toast and fried Jidori chicken and green chile cornbread waffles. What to drink: There are 24 taps rotating with seasonal, local and craft brews, and the weekday happy hour (Monday through Friday, 4-7 PM) is a great to try them.

    15300 Ventura Blvd.; 818-728-9818

  • Augustine

    The forces behind Bar Covell, Dustin Lancaster and Matthew Kaner, partnered with longtime friend and customer Dave Gibbs to open this charming little wine bar in Sherman Oaks. Full of vintage radios, a piano and other bric-a-brac, it's a slightly funky and fun spot, just the kind of place to stop for a glass of wine and a bite. The ambitious wine list includes up to 75 wines by the glass, including vintage selections from Gibbs' own private collection, so you might find something like an 1874 Chateau Lafite or 1934 Chateau Margaux, but also more familiar Pinot Noirs and rosés from the Central Coast or Italian vermentino, with prices ranging from $10-$100 per glass and bottles up to $1,000. If you ever wanted to drink your "birth year wine," this is probably the place. There are a few rare beers on tap and in the bottle, and a small-but-growing menu of wine-friendly food from new-to-LA chef Evan Algorr, things like root vegetable Caesar salad, with shaved raw and crispy carrots, beets and parsnips; braised octopus with chickpeas, chorizo and cotija-cilantro crema; and striped bass with fennel confit, tomato and saffron.

    13456 Ventura Blvd.; 818-990-0938

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    Knuckle & Claw

    This chic Silver Lake shack from new restaurateurs Chloe Dahl and Nikki Booth is the first to bring a Martha's Vineyard vibe out west. Dahl — if the name sounds familiar, yes, her grandfather is beloved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory author Roald Dahl — grew up in LA, but summered on the Vineyard, so this her homage to both. Booth, a Northwest native who lived in Hawaii, is an island girl in her own right. The two created this fun little space for beach-y eats along Sunset Boulevard, including lobster rolls with whole claw and knuckle meat, and fresh blue crab rolls and shrimp rolls, all made with mayo on the bun and butter and secret spice on top. There are chowders, bisque and whoopie pie chocolate bars, as well. Here's everything you need to know.

    3112 W. Sunset Blvd.; 323-407-6142

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