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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.