Venice: Find chef Walter el Nagar’s Barbershop Ristorante pop-up at Local 1205 on Abbot Kinney this month and next. For $95 a person (and with a reservation), soak up Nagar’s particular brand of new wave Italian, from aged duck breast tartare (not a favorite) and sea urchin ravioli to caramelized eggplant and chocolate for dessert (surprisingly delicious). There's no wine or beer available. Bestia chef Ori Menache guest chefs on October 29. » 1205 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. 424-272-5849 or barbershop-ristorante.com.
Atwater Village: L.A.'s appetite for Texas-style barbecue continues to grow. In the space that housed the ill-fated Atwater Crossing Kitchen comes The Restaurant at Atwater Crossing from coffee guy-turned restauranteur Brian Behrend and partners Chris Butler and Jayden Brant. Behrend has been roasting his private label True & Brave beans in for awhile now, though distribution has been limited. Last month, he started popping up behind the espresso machine at ATX Crossing. Mismanagement of The Kitchen led ownership to hand-pick Behrend and offer him the space to make more than just coffee. Pizzas come out of the wood-burning oven; barbecue comes from the team's new smoker. A designer by trade, Behrend is figuring out the restaurant business one day at a time. There's a fine smoke ring on the brisket, but we're wary of 'cue that's tough and dry. » 3245 Casitas Ave., Atwater Village.
Downtown: In the space that was Craby Joes (yes, with one “b”) comes Wendell, a new “jukebox-driven” watering hole that, for all its dive bar associations (the owner also runs Instant Replay in Canoga Park), looks surprisingly swanky. Named for the late Wendell Green of Skybar and Purple Lounge, Wendell offers 14 brews on tap, gothic chandeliers, dark wood fixtures, and high ceilings. Hungry barflys will have to go elsewhere for a bite though, since Wendell won’t be serving any food. Luckily, Garage Pizza is just around the corner. » 656 S. Main St., Downtown, 213-622-7200.
West L.A.: Sure, Sawtelle’s more than a little shoyu-saturated these days, but there’s still plenty of reason to check out Shin-sen-gumi’s latest (and twelfth overall) SoCal spot. Namely, the ability to customize your broth, noodle firmness, and toppings; the wide range of side dishes from standard karaage to bacon butter croquettes; and, the pièce de résistance, the relatively easy street parking. Triple score. » 1601 Sawtelle Blvd. West L.A. 424-208-3293.
Downtown: It’s not often that a downtown-based Chinese gastropub promises to out-SGV the San Gabriel Valley, and yet, this week Peking Tavern is doing just that. "Our food is going to be totally authentic and comparable to, if not better than the best of SGV has to offer," co-owner Andrew Chiu recently told the L.A. Weekly. Menu items include street food favorites like scallion pancakes, beef rolls, and dumplings. The question is, can they live up to the hype? » 806 S. Spring St., Downtown, 213-988-8308.