Each Friday, the Digest surveys the burgeoning L.A. restaurant scene and compiles this (highly unscientific) list of the most hyped and heralded restaurants in town this instant. Whether old or new, big or small, near or far, these are the restaurants that have people talking. Whatever that means. Anyway, we recommend getting a seat at these places while you still can.
After months of anticipation, chefs Ramiro Arvizu and Jaime Martin del Campo’s Baldwin Hills restaurant is finally open. As promised, you’ll find a stunning variety of regional Mexican dishes, tamales steamed to order, and one of the most ambitious mezcal cocktail programs in the city.
2. Steak & Whisky
Chef Tin Vuong’s dominance of the South Bay dining scene continues with the opening of his new American-inspired steakhouse in Hermosa Beach. Expect riffs on classics like steak tartare with red curry, Kurobuta pork short rib with white polenta, and beef tendon gratin dauphinois. As the name implies, there is an ample selection of Japanese whiskies—as well as wine, beer, and seasonal cocktails.
3. Odys + Penelope
Fresh off the closure of their acclaimed fine-dining restaurant Hatfield’s, husband-and-wife duo Quinn and Karen Hatfield wasted no time launching Odys + Penelope, a more casual, grill-centric restaurant that channels the type of cooking the Hatfields like to eat in their own home. There are Argentinian-style and Uruguyuan-style grills, offering different levels of char for meats and vegetables, along with a churrasco and a smoker. Don’t forget Karen’s renowned dessert items either.
The old Mo’s space in Toluca Lake has been flipped into an “upscale classic” restaurant specializing in comfort dishes like baked turkey bolognese, chopped salads, and brisket Reuben sandwiches. Add in a full bar program with throwback cocktails, and this new eatery is an attractive offering for the power-lunch set.
5. Aza Mesa
Located in the heart of touristy Hollywood, the former Lexington Social House has re-emerged as Aza Mesa, an Asian-Latino restaurant and bar that serves globetrotting dishes like shrimp anticuchos, yucca fries, and gochujang-glazed chicken wings. Not a bad place to stop for a meal before a show at the Pantages.
Neal Fraser’s long-awaited restaurant has opened in the former rectory of the old St. Vibiana’s cathedral. Fraser’s ambitious multicultural roster of dishes includes a riff on pozole with crisp pork belly and chiles, spot prawns with sea urchin and wasabi “snow,” Delicata squash salad with feta and hazelnuts, and a Thai-style Dungeness crab soup.
7. The Lost Knight
High-end British pub fare is the latest eclectic addition to Echo Park’s growing restaurant scene. Nibble classic Brit dishes like steak pies or fish and chips, or try something lighter like the pastry crust-wrapped Beet “Wellington.” And because of course what would a pub be without beer, the Lost Knight offers an array of locally brewed, British-style lagers and ales on cask.
8. Der Wolfskopf
Surly Goat owner Ryan Sweeney has expanded his beer bar game to Pasadena with a massive German-style beer hall. Feast on sausages, schnitzel, and other Teutonic bar bites, while enjoying craft beers from both German and local breweries.
9. New School Kitchen
Popular food truck The Dim Sum Truck has settled down with a brick-and-mortar on the Sawtelle strip. They’ve expanded their menu, steaming fresh dim sum, of course, along with traditional specials like Hainan chicken and pork belly bao. A great option for the ramen-weary luncher in Little Osaka.
The owners of popular vegan spot Elf Café have opened shop in Atwater Village, serving hot-from-the-fryer falafel on house-baked pita bread. There’s also beet and feta sandwiches, and–as a departure from the veg-only mantra–a lamb sandwich with yogurt. Stand inside at the small counter or grab a picnic bench along Glendale Boulevard and indulge in an updated take on one of the world’s oldest street foods.