From an over-the-top seafood temple to a great noodle joint, here are the city’s best new restaurants for every taste and occasion.
Enjoying Angler requires a few mental leaps. You have to overlook the fact it’s in the Beverly Center. And that it first opened in San Francisco, where the dining room has more typical charms like views of a bay. You must also have an appreciation for cheesy ’80s hits. An expense account also helps. But make the jump if you can, because on the ground floor of an old mall—in a dark room with luxe gothic fishing lodge decor and a kitchen with a flaming hearth—chef Joshua Skenes, 40, and staff are sending out some of the most delicious and exciting food in the city. Our favorite dish of the year is the caviar with banana pancakes, but the Radicchio with Radicchio X.O. salad—a satisfying whole head of radicchio dressed with a sauce made from the vegetable’s outer leaves, shallots, and garlic that’s served with a large knife—and spot prawns (when in season) are also not to be missed.
»The vibe: Huey Lewis and the News blares. A $1,000 Alaskan King crab claws at the sides of its tank. Are you in a lost scene from American Psycho? Who cares? You curl up in the soft blanket neatly folded on your chair and tuck into some exquisite seafood.
»Inside tip: If using GPS, map to Angler, not the larger Beverly Center. Valet parking in front of the restaurant is free. Whatever you do, do not enter the mall.
Angler, 8500 Beverly Blvd., Ste. 117, Beverly Grove | $$$$
You might almost miss the narrow entrance to Atrium walking down Vermont Avenue—but don’t. It leads into a great neighborhood restaurant that the bustling stretch has long needed: a place that works for multiple occasions. An early brunch with a baby in tow after a hike up to the Griffith Observatory? Check. It opens at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, and the kimchi-and-bulgogi breakfast burrito is a perfect spin on the morning gut bomb. Drinks after work? Check. There’s a good happy hour to be enjoyed around the semicircular bar or beneath tasseled umbrellas on the front patio. Date night? Check. Order up some Negroni oysters and share a fried fish and a couple of glasses of funky Georgian wines while enjoying the beautiful, greenery-filled exposed-beam space (formerly the Skylight Theatre rehearsal area). The globe-trotting menu from chef Hunter Pritchett, 36, walks the perfect line between comforting and intriguing, from the foccacia with kimchi butter to a fried mushroom dish that evokes General Tso’s chicken—with the bonus of pickled cucumber to set off the sweetness.
»The vibe: Singles with mustaches on low-key dates; cool dads with mustaches; Eastside toddlers in chic, modern high chairs.
»Inside tip: The plush, green booths lining the back wall are the best seats in the house; request them when making a reservation.
Atrium, 1816 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz | $$
The name might be generic, but this recently opened spot in the old Malo space at Sunset Junction is anything but. On one side it’s a dimly lit bar; on the other it’s an instantly charming ’80s wonderland with pale-pink travertine walls and rosy marble tables, palm fronds, and Patrick Nagel-esque art. Both sides feature the same concise menu of playful, vaguely French and deeply delicious dishes from chef Douglas Rankin, 34, who was Ludo Lefebvre’s right-hand man for years. A salad of raw brussels sprouts, nutty Mimolette cheese, and Japanese pumpkin surrounding a large orb of creamy labneh gets things off to a fun start. Plump mussels Dijon are topped with curly fries and rest on a piece of milk toast. General manager and wine director Pier-Luc Dallaire has assembled a delightfully funky wine list, with 11 options available by the glass. He saunters about the dining room, offering suggestions in a mustard-brown rayon suit. Go ahead and order another bottle.
»The vibe: Date night in Silver Lake. Mom and dad got a sitter for baby Zenith and are ready to get silly on orange wine.
»Inside tip: Two three-course set menus ($43 or $53) are on offer. They’re a great way to sample several dishes. Everyone at the table does not need to order a set menu; they can be shared.
Bar Restaurant, 4328 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake | $$$
When Rustic Canyon chef Jeremy Fox, 43, opened Birdie G’s, he said he wanted it to be a restaurant for everyone, not a hipper-than-thou hot spot. Judging by the lively, eclectic crowd flocking to this stretch of Santa Monica, he has succeeded. Older patrons linger at tables for two. Large young families nibble on veggies and onion dip from vintage cut-glass relish trays, the tiny tots unaware of the acclaim Fox earned at Northern California’s Manresa and Ubuntu. Later in the evening, 20-somethings nibble on french fries with sublime aioli. A sense of casual fun pervades, from the wine list with sections like “I only drink Chardonnay” and “What the kids are drinking: pétillant natural” to doggie bags featuring a sketch of Fox’s papillon, Butch. But the eclectic menu of elevated diner fare is seriously delicious, from the must-order relish tray with an ever-changing assortment of intriguing vegetables, such as pickled sunchokes, to a Sloppy Jeremy toast, which gets a kick from strawberries. End the night with a slice of pink-rose-petal pie, a jiggly stunner.
»The vibe: All ages and cool quotients in a vaguely gritty pocket of Santa Monica that Fox calls “Arts District West.” It’s the rare restaurant that can charm parents visiting from out of town, food snobs, and cranky toddlers.
»Inside tip: Come by Lyft. Over 90 wines are offered by the carafe (half bottle).
Birdie G’s, 2421 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica | $$
All-day restaurants are all the rage, but at Bon Temps, 50-year-old chef and partner Lincoln Carson takes the idea to new heights. In the morning it’s a casual spot to grab some of the city’s best pastries. By midday Arts District residents tap on laptops around a communal table on the first floor and grab quick sandwiches and salads, while others head upstairs for a more formal lunch—chicken paillard, a great burger oozing with raclette. Come evening, when most all-day operations pump the breaks, Bon Temps goes full throttle with exciting, ambitious food. There are various canapes—yes, canapes— to start, great seafood dishes and a showstopper of a whole chicken to share that’s only available on the weekends. Things end on a very high note, as Carson—who was the pastry chef at Michael Mina’s restaurant group for years—sends out breathtaking desserts, most notable being his St. Honore cake, a marvel of chocolate, caramel, and Chantilly cream.
»The vibe: Arts District industrial chic, with customers taking in the white-brick-walled space and exclaiming: “This feels like New York!”
»Inside tip: The dinner menu is vast with numerous sections, and it’s easy to get carried away—but it’s possible to have a lighter, fairly reasonably priced meal if you order judiciously. Or just pop in for pastries, lunch, or dessert.
Bon Temps, 712 S. Santa Fe Ave., Arts District | $$$$
L.A. has plenty of decades-old restaurants with great histories and not-so-great food. That’s not the case at Dear John’s, a former Sinatra hangout that baker Hans Röckenwagner, his wife, Patti, and chef Josiah Citrin lovingly resurrected last spring. Candlelight flickers off an exposed brick wall on which hang various works of art from the ’50s and ’60s carefully curated by Patti. Waiters wear tuxedos, as they should, and prepare a solid tableside Caesar, but the dishes not to miss are the caviar-topped Bougie Tots and the spaghetti and clams. The latter is based on a Sinatra recipe—but made with more careful technique than Frank might employ—and features a thick, spicy red sauce that clings perfectly to al dente noodles and tons of clams. Sadly, the restaurant is only temporary—it’s set to close in 2021 when the building will be demolished. Although, when asked, Hans doesn’t rule out the possibility of somehow extending things. Fingers crossed.
»The vibe: Cozy and delightfully dark—perfect for scanning the room and seeing what other cool cats are in the house.
»Inside tip: Reservations at peak hours can be hard to come by, but the full menu is available at the 16-seat bar, where eating is an especially convivial experience.
Dear John’s, 11208 Culver Blvd., Culver City | $$$
Chef Mei Lin’s flavors—at once bold and delicate—linger. A raw scallop dish could be yet another scallop ceviche, but in the hands of Lin, 34, who won Top Chef season 12, it’s truly memorable. Vinegar made from fermented coconut water acts as the acid, instead of the usual citrus, giving it a unique zing. Combined with coconut milk and coriander oil, it’s good enough to drink. Other top picks include a prawn toast resting in a pool of Cantonese curry and a Szechuan hot quail on Japanese milk toast. A regular special of aged Peking duck is served with a rotating selection of bold seasonal condiments—peach hoisin, nectarine kimchi. The cocktail list is no less interesting: My favorite tipple of the year is Nightshade’s No. 914, a mix of mescal, shishito tequila, Génépi, pineapple, and lime, topped with several drops of umami-rich black garlic oil. It’s a perfectly balanced mix of sweet, tart, savory, and spicy—intriguing and eminently drinkable.
»The vibe: Media types and minor celebs against a backdrop of green velvet and pink plates that feels very now, if a bit precious.
»Inside tip: If the delicious duck is on offer, get it. It’s served with lettuce wraps, instead of the traditional pancakes, making it a bit less filling than the usual and leaving you plenty of room to try other dishes on the menu. Many items are fairly light, so order up.
Nightshade, 923 E. 3rd St., Arts District | $$$
Dialogue chef Dave Beran has opened a more casual restaurant where you order à la carte—but it’s not that casual. The star dish is the whole roasted duck for two with gratin dauphinois prepared with a century-old duck press that’s wheeled to your table. It’s decadent and delicious, but if you’re not looking to drop $165, the menu is full of other winners, from a beef tartare that gets a unique kick from nasturtium pesto to a truffled chicken liver in brioche that Beran, 38, magically makes taste just like foie gras.
»The vibe: Adult elegance on an otherwise fratty stretch of Santa Monica’s main street; that rare place where they suggest you order your own entree and not share everything.
»Inside tip: The duck must be ordered in advance, and only ten or so are prepared per night.
Pasjoli, 2732 Main St., Santa Monica | $$$
From the rich, subtle broth of the beef noodle soup and the way it comes alive with its accompaniments, to the airy, minimalist decor and the impeccably sourced ingredients—Strauss dairy, Beeler’s pork, Grist and Toll wheat—this counter service spot is a glistening, well-designed concept. Co-owners Chris Yang and his girlfriend, general manager Maggie Ho, both 29, previously worked with Bryant Ng at the consistently delightful Cassia, and it shows. The concise menu features their takes on Chinese and Taiwanese standards—the beef noodle soup, cold sesame noodles—and unexpected twists. A beef scallion pancake wrap gets a refreshing brightness from ponzu pico de gallo; the same braised pork served in a rice dish also pops up in a pasta with Parmesan cheese.
»The vibe: Families and foodies, white subway tiles, and blond wood chairs; friendly staff behind the counter who readily offer up a free dessert for a minor mistake—if only the city’s sit-down spots were as quick to do the same.
»Inside tip: If you want to slurp your noodles with a beer, get them to go. The restaurant doesn’t have anything harder than kombucha.
Yang’s, 112 Main St., Alhambra | $
Vartan Abgaryan isn’t afraid to serve up crowd-pleasers. That might not sound initially novel, but in an era where chefs have been deemed rock stars, not everyone is making great radio hits that you want to stream on Spotify on repeat. At his sunny Abbott Kinney boîte, Abgaryan, formerly the chef at 71Above, is doing just that. Creamy avocado hummus is laced with smoky, peanuty salsa macha and served with warm flatbread sprinkled with earthy Middle Eastern za’atar. Shrimp are fried and seasoned in the style of Nashville hot chicken, then laid to rest on a pillow of Japanese milk bread. Fingerling potatoes are given the cacio e pepe treatment, with the added bonus of a perfectly gooey egg yolk. The hits keep coming. In lesser hands they could flirt with mediocrity, but Abgaryan executes them masterfully, employing fine-dining techniques to deftly marry flavors. The hot shrimp is breaded and fried in oil, then dipped in another oil flavored by spices and shrimp shells to intensify the flavor. Truly hot stuff.
»The vibe: Venice pretty people looking to indulge in food that’s not from Erewhon.
»Inside tip: Not up for trekking to Venice for dinner? Abgaryan serves a mean brunch, with many of the restaurant’s notable dishes—including the hummus, hot shrimp, and potatoes—on the menu.
Yours Truly, 1616 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice | $$$
Want to try some of these spots all in one place? Los Angeles‘ Top 10 Best New Restaurants event takes place on Tuesday, January 28, 7-9 p.m. at Optimist Studios, 5441 W. 104th St., Westchester. Tickets here.
PHOTOS FOR LOS ANGELES BY | Angler: Corina Marie Howell; Atrium: Elisabeth Caren; Bar Restaurant: Corina Marie Howell; Birdie G’s: Elisabeth Caren; Bon Temps: Kyle David Moreno; Dear Johns: Jakob Layman; Nightshade: Frank Wonho Lee; Pasjoli: Kyle David Moreno; Yang’s: Jennifer Chong; Yours Truly: Elisabeth Caren