New & Hot Places

Hottest Restaurants in LA

Seasons come and go, and with the change of weather comes another new group of hot spots across the Southland. This updated list of the hottest restaurants on the LA scene right now includes a hip and modern Chinese spot in Silver Lake, an izakaya in Echo Park and Cal-French fare along La Brea, plus the latest from Madcapra's Sarah Hymanson and Sara Kramer, and a rooftop celeb magnet in West Hollywood. Some you'll need to reserve weeks in advance; others only take walk-ins; but the wait is always worth it. It's almost impossible to keep up, but consider this your checklist for dining out in LA.

Mikkeller DTLA

NewDowntown
Denmark's 'gypsy brewer' Mikkel Borg Bjergso and Mikkeller San Francisco’s Chuck Stilphen transformed a former auto repair shop on the outskirts of downtown's Jewelry District for this outpost of the famed beer bar, which has soaring ceilings, communal seating and more than 60 beers on tap. For food, there are smoked sausages, pickles, burgers and more; next door is Kaffebaren, a full-service cafe for draft cold brew, kombucha and green tea, plus pastries, sandwiches and salads.

Must-order: It's all beer-friendly, from the pickled cucumbers and marinated olive snacks, to the house-smoked pastrami on rye, the burger with cheddar and bacon, and especially the bratwurst and other sausages with a side of pomme frites.

Insider tip: In case you need to sip suds before the bar opens, Kaffebaren, the daytime cafe, serves beer as well as kombucha and green tea on tap, along with coffee drinks.

Kismet

NewMediterraneanEast Hollywood
This bright and minimalist Los Feliz spot from Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson (Madcapra) sports blonde woods and white furniture, a semi-open kitchen and overall communal vibe. The California-centric, Mediterranean menus move from coffee, pastries and light fare in the mornings, to salads and sandwiches in the afternoons, and family-style share plates in the evenings; beer and wine offerings match the cuisine.

Must-order: For breakfast, try the flaky bread with tomato, Little Gem lettuces and labneh; for lunch or dinner, the lemony chicken pies, marinated feta with squash and nasturtium, and Persian cucumbers with parsley seed za’atar are all very sharable, as is the crispy fried rice with a runny, sunny egg in the middle of the pile; and the rabbit feast, a mainstay from the chefs’ time at Brooklyn’s Glasserie.

Insider tip: This is a popular block now with HomeState and Go Get Em Tiger feeding people during the day, and Bar Covell and Kismet serving at night, so parking on Hollywood Boulevard is tight. Plan on valeting, or try some of the small lots on Vermont and walk a few blocks.

Tsubaki

NewJapaneseEcho Park
This Echo Park izakaya blends classic Japanese hospitality with laid-back California sensibility, seen in both the decor — cobalt blue and brick walls, close-knit tables and a small bar — and the menu of small plates and numerous sakes. Chef Charles Namba (Bouchon, NYC’s EN Japanese Brasserie) employs exacting technique on dishes like sake-marinated foie gras with milk bread and pickled crab apples, along with soba, pan-friend dumplings and more.

Must-order: Don’t miss the ocean trout sashimi with pickled daikon and salmon roe; chawanmushi with Dungeness crab; fried blue prawns with yuzu kosho tartar sauce; and the chicken meatballs. Let the sake expert lead you by the glass.

Insider tip: While this place is perfect for couples and small groups of friends, the small bar near the semi-open kitchen is just right for solo drop-in diners.

Commerson

NewMid-Wilshire
A raw, industrial-chic spot along the Miracle Mile corridor, this French-leaning California bistro offers dinner and late-night imbibing on the ground floor of a loft building. The menu from chef and owner Sascha Lyon (Delphine, Balthazar) hits both trends and classics — yellowtail poke to steak frites and an oozy raclette sandwich — while the wine list includes many eclectic local and European finds.

Must-order: The baby kale and shaved Brussels sprouts salad is bright and tangy; the butternut squash agnolotti is a surefire hit; the grilled raclette sandwich on Lodge bread is a perfect early or late evening snack; and the petit filet with foie gras and duck-fat potatoes is pure decadence.

Insider tip: This intersection can sometimes seem hopeless for parking, so trust in valet ($5) or use the garage, which is free for two hours with validation.

Fat Dragon

NewChineseSilver Lake
This super-casual cafe takes up a spot in a popular and centrally located Silver Lake strip mall, with just enough room for a counter and a few tables — the idea is to do more take-out and delivery, but dining-in is encouraged. The menu includes fast-casual renditions of Chinese favorites like mapo tofu, wonton soup, fried rice, moo goo gai pan and honey-walnut shrimp, plus things like fried quail and pork-jowl stir fry.

Must-order: Take friends and order just about everything — the chicken wings, cucumber salad, the half fried chicken and double cooked pork belly are great counterparts to new classics like moo goo gai pan and honey walnut shrimp.

Insider tip: The restaurant delivers to those nearby via Postmates, Caviar and Eat24.

Sushi Ginza Onodera

NewSushiWest Hollywood
This extremely high-end West Hollywood branch of a Tokyo-based restaurant serves an omakase-only sushi menu – with most of the fish flown in from Tokyo's Tsukiji market – in a pared-down yet earthy setting with a wooden sushi counter and only 16 seats. Note: Reservations are mandatory and often in high-demand.

Must-order: Whatever is on the nightly changing menu

Insider tip: Given the restaurant's small size, reservations are hard to come by. You'll have better luck after 8 PM.

Nerano

NewBeverly Hills
The team behind the Toscana in Brentwood found inspiration from trips to the Amalfi Coast for this polished Beverly Hills restaurant, which has an airy, contemporary downstairs dining room and dark and sexy bar upstairs. The menu takes cues from lighter fare found around the coastline, including fresh pastas, baked eggplant and more, with craft cocktails and wines to match.

Must-order: Yellowtail crudo and the pretty yellow beets with goat cheese are the way to start. For pasta, the namesake made with perfect spaghetti, squash blossoms and zucchini done two ways and the rustic garganelli with Black Angus beef ragu. The tagliata, a wood-fired hangar steak, comes with greens and mushrooms.

Insider tip: Don't miss the bar upstairs. It's sexy, swank and the perfect hideaway for a happy-hour or late-night cocktail. It's very hidden, though — look for the elevator and head up.

The Mar Vista

NewMar Vista
A boon to the Mar Vista neighborhood, this restaurant from chefs D. Brandon Walker and Jill Davie (Josie) features an open kitchen, a buzzy bar and a fold-down Murphy Bed–type stage for live music. The seasonally changing, California-centric menu plays to the diverse cultures of LA, with everything from Hawaiian laulau pork to tableside fruit bowls featuring locally grown “ugly” fruit to reduce food waste.

Must-order: There are a world of flavors to experience here, from lamb with curried cous cous and crispy kale to pork belly and squash hot pots; Peruvian bay scallops with aji amarillo; and frisée​ salad with grapes, Gorgonzola and candied garlic.  

Insider tip: Look for live music ranging from jazz to blues to rock on the small stage on weekend nights starting at 10 PM.

P.Y.T.

VegetarianDowntown
Divided by a partition, half of Josef Centeno’s Ledlow has become its own vegetable-focused restaurant in Downtown’s bustling Historic Core, complete with its own communal table, bar and patio. Gorgeous locally farmed bounty is the focus of the menu, which veers from innovative presentations like turnips baked in salt crusts to handmade pastas, plus some meats and other proteins; to drink, cocktails feature cold-pressed juices.

Must-order: Things change regularly, but you might find chapati bread with koji-corn butter; raw and cooked vegetable crudite with tomatillo-chive vinaigrette; roasted kabocha squash salad with wild rice, jujube and beet molasses; khachapuri, or Georgian flatbread, with burrata, carrot cream, tomato and egg; and handmade pastas, some meat and other proteins, as well, like a grass-fed rib-eye with butterball potatoes.

Insider tip: Although divided by a partition, Ledlow is also open breakfast through lunch. And both spots serve brunch on weekends with their respective menus, patios and cocktails.

Catch LA

West Hollywood
Hailing from New York, with outposts around the globe, this hot spot is known for its celebrity sightings, colorful cocktails and enviable rooftop set in the heart of the West Hollywood Design District. The room — under a retractable roof, filled with big circular booths, ivy-covered wood beams and foliage-filled chandeliers — is the stage for massive shellfish towers, loaded sushi rolls, whole wok-fired lobsters and huge plates of meat, with a sizable price tag to match.

Must-order: Prices are as high as the rooftop, so make it count with towering shellfish platters, toro tartare with caviar, lobster mashed potatoes and the giant two-and-a-half pound grilled Cantonese-style lobster.

Insider tip: If you’re a bona fide gawker, this is a total scene-y celeb magnet. Some names proudly bandied about as fans of the restaurant include John Mayer, Bono, Demi Lovato, Joe Jonas, Cindy Crawford, Selena Gomez, Cuba Gooding Jr., Brie Larson and David Beckham.

AR Cucina

ItalianCulver City
Akasha Richmond (Akasha) looks to Italy for inspiration for this downtown Culver City charmer, a spacious room with an open kitchen, wood-burning oven, small bar and patio. The rustic fare – from housemade pickles to seasonal salads, handmade pastas, risotto, porchetta and more – blends Italian tradition with California sourcing, with a wine and cocktail list to match.

Must-order: Things like burrata with tomato-almond pesto, chopped salad full of salami, cheeses and olives, and handmade pastas are great for lunch or dinner. The evening menus have more secondi, like the fantastic porchetta with dandelion greens and mostarda.

Insider tip: Happy hour (Tuesday–Sunday, 4–7 PM) features half-priced drinks, including wine, beer, Negronis and house cocktails, plus discounted food like arancini and fried calamari.

Shibumi

JapaneseDowntown
This intimate kappo-style restaurant and bar located in the heart of Downtown LA highlights the art of seasonal Japanese cooking and cocktails. Owner David Schlosser hails from top kitchens like Urasawa and L’Orangerie, with a chef de cuisine from Noma, which explains the stunning plated dishes; they're served à la carte at a counter made from a 400-year-old cypress tree, or as multicourse kaseiki feasts in the more formal dining room.

Must-order: Start with cucumbers stuffed with shiso leaf, seeds, umeboshi and bonito; move on to things like sea bream sashimi with ginger bud and pickled plum, silky egg tofu, grilled beef strip with wasabi and steamed rice balls; and finish with green plum “rice” cream.

Insider tip: The place is hidden. Entrance is inside the parking structure on Hill Street.

Destroyer

CafeCulver City
Jordan Kahn (Red Medicine) is back on the scene with this Culver City spot for modern twists on breakfast and lunch. Set in the work-friendly Hayden Tract, clean, minimalist lines set the stage for Kahn’s take on oatmeal with red currants and almond milk, beef tartare with a smoked egg cream, and the ubiquitous avocado toast (here it’s avocado 'confit' on toasted country bread).

Must-order: Breakfast segues from oatmeal with almond milk and red currants, and hen eggs with crispy potatoes to more lunch-y dishes like beef tartare with smoked egg cream, chicken confit with burnt onion and roasted yam with onion caramel and buttermilk.

Insider tip: There are only 16 seats, with counter-only service and a menu that changes daily. Plus, no cash is accepted.

Salazar Mexican Food

MexicanSilver Lake
A former Frogtown auto body shop has been transformed into a stop for Mexican barbecue, tacos, margaritas on tap and micheladas, all to be enjoyed on a colorful and expansive patio. The funky locale is the perfect setting for mesquite-grilled meats, seafood and seasonal produce often folded into tacos and quesadillas, plus a few salads, smoky beans and vegetable side dishes.

Must-order: Mesquite-grilled everything is the name of the game here, including flat iron steak, whole fish and beautiful pork chops, all served on rustic wooden boards with grilled onions, salsa, warm handmade flour tortillas and a small pile of fleur de sel. Fresh salads, like grilled corn with tomato, radish and watercress, will change with the seasons. Don’t miss the amazing cocktail program, from the micheladas to spiked aguas frescas.

Insider tip: Parking is tricky in the neighborhood, with some streets not allowing parking at all and others with limited availability. But if you bike, there are a ton of racks inside the fence of the restaurant.

71Above

New AmericanDowntown
Towering above Downtown on the 71st floor of the U.S. Bank Tower building, this stunning venue offers sky-high dining, drinking and lounging amid geometric-chic design and panoramic city views (through the wraparound electronically tinted windows). With modern American tasting menus from chef Vartan Abgaryan (ex Cliff's Edge) and expertly crafted cocktails, it’s a tough ticket; a cool interactive reservation system adds style to the process.

Must-order: There are two-course tasting menus for lunch ($35) and three courses for dinner ($70), but you get to choose from an array of exciting new American dishes, including poached oyster with uni and caviar; corn agnolotti with black truffle; and suckling pork loin, belly and confit with young lettuces. Dessert is extra ($14), but you'll find items like goat milk ice with rhubarb, basil oil and bay leaf ice cream. Wine pairings are optional, and the cocktails are as stunning as the view.

Insider tip: This comes from experience — give yourself at least 15–20 minutes before your reservation time to park (valet hopefully), check in on the ground floor and deal with the elevators that shoot you up to the 71st floor.

Gwen (Restaurant & Specialty Butcher Shop)

Hollywood
Celebrity chef Curtis Stone and brother Luke are at the helm of this high-end, full-service restaurant and butcher shop in the heart of Hollywood. The retail side features glass cases full of cuts, chops, sausages, fowl, cured meats and more; the polished dining room, with its corner bar, chandeliers and views into the fiery kitchen grills, is a grand setting for the five-course dinner menus – plus cocktails and an eclectic wine program.

Must-order: Like Stone's other restaurant (Maude in Beverly Hills), there is only one menu nightly which starts at five courses, but you’ll get much, much more with little sides added along the way, everything based around the seasons and what meats the chefs have butchered, grilled, roasted, braised, seared or made into sausage. It’s more casual than Maude but still a true dining experience.

Insider tip: If you don’t want to sit for a two-plus-hour meal, there's a bar menu served at the cocktail bar and on the patio downstairs, and at a small bar in the wine room upstairs. Charcuterie, sausages and other small bites are available à la carte, along with expertly chosen wines and creative cocktails, all served in the most glorious vintage barware.

Erven

New AmericanSanta Monica
Chef Nick Erven (Saint Martha) takes a new tack with his modern American cuisine at this casual Santa Monica cafe and restaurant. A painting of Mick Jagger and Gandhi kissing adds character to the dining room serving plant-based fare, from vegan Tuscan bean soup to beer-battered tofu sandwiches, plus organic and biodynamic wines by the glass or bottle.

Must-order: This plant-based menu is unlike most around town, with dishes like a beer-battered tofu sandwich and falafel with pickled turnip, dill-ginger tahini and Freckles lettuce at lunch; and sunchoke bread pudding with braised maitake mushrooms and pho gravy, and summer squash with buckwheat hoisin and smoked eggplant at dinner. The wines take a more organic and biodynamic turn here.

Insider tip: On the go? Grab a salad, sandwich or pastry from the marketplace for lunch.

Here's Looking At You

New AmericanKoreatown
Anchoring a corner in the heart of Koreatown, this chic little restaurant is neither Korean nor distinctly American; instead, the menu features contemporary dishes that take inspiration from around the globe, plus a robust cocktail program. The stylish, comfortable space is filled with slate grays, dark woods and personal touches like books and knickknacks on shelves, plants and even taxidermy.

Must-order: To start, the avocado and citrus salad, amped up with nori, hazelnut dukkah and champagne vinaigrette, or kingfish with radish and serrano chile cream; for sharing, things like fried soft-shell shrimp with chile sauce or duck hearts with grits and plums; and seeded bread topped with chocolate cremeux for dessert. From the bar, splurge on the $26 Almost Original mai tai, which features a particularly rare rum.

Insider tip: Can’t get a reservation for this veritable hot spot? Walk-ins are taken for seats at the bar.

Howlin' Ray's

Southern AmericanChinatown
This small, no-frills spot in Chinatown’s Far East Plaza is the permanent location for Johnny Zone’s popular Nashville-style hot chicken, previously only available via truck. With white tiled walls and blazing red accents, fans fill the counter-only space for mild to super-spicy fried chicken, chicken and waffles, sandwiches and sides from collard greens to cheese fries.

Must-order: Favorites include hot fried chicken that ranges from no spice to "howlin'"; hot chicken sandwich with cool coleslaw, pickles and a buttered bun; a box of wings; and seasonal side dishes.

Insider tip: Howlin' Ray's is inside the same plaza as Chego and Baohaus. Grab something from each, find a communal table in the middle of the courtyard and have a global picnic.

Manuela

NewOrganicDowntown
The expansive restaurant located inside the Hauser Wirth & Schimmel complex in the Arts District features seasonal dishes with a strong Southern twang, many comprised of ingredients grown right at the restaurant – even eggs from its dozen on-site chickens. With rustic-chic decor and a huge patio, it's a draw for lingering lunches during the day and cocktail-fueled dinners at night.

Must-order: Everything here has a Texas and Southern twang, and for brunch, favorites include the cornmeal pancakes with peaches, biscuits with gravy and sunny-side up eggs, and cured duck sandwich. For dinner, elk tartare, smoked pork with collard greens and smoked half chicken are standouts.

Insider tip: The restaurant is a bit hidden inside the Arts Complex, but look for the courtyard and you’ll end up finding the great patio and dining room.

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