The Top 10 Best New Restaurants of 2016

These star newcomers represent L.A. at its no-limits finest. From a beachside vegan café to a strip mall destination in the South Bay to a rotating cast of concepts in a Chinatown shopping center, 2016 was a year of eating on the glorious edge
Lasa’s beef cheek menudo at Unit 120

Photograph by Joe Schmelzer

No. 6

Unit 120

727 N. Broadway, Ste. 120, Chinatown, 213-537-0053

At chef-founder Alvin Cailan’s culinary incubator, three or four temporary ventures occupy the kitchen at the same time. Show up at the take-out window during the day and you might find chargrilled burgers from an L.A. nightclub veteran; at night the full-service dining experience might center on the stoner-chic Americanized Chinese food from Golden Boys. Opening a restaurant in L.A. is increasingly difficult, but Unit 120 provides risky concepts like Lasa—where brothers Chase and Chad Valencia craft a modern, seasonal Filipino tasting menu—a chance to prove themselves to investors and diners. You don’t come to Unit 120 for the decor, ambience, or wine service; you come to try delicious food that exists nowhere else in L.A. That is, unless you know of other restaurants serving charred octopus sinigang with clarified rhubarb broth. Some concepts already have left the nest to become their own brick-and-mortars, but with Cailan doing the curating, a carousel of brilliance continues to rotate through Unit 120. —J.S.