Each Friday, the Digest surveys the burgeoning L.A. restaurant scence and compile 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.
1. Ladies’ Gunboat Society (Last Week: #2)
The early word on Hart & the Hunter chef Brian Dunsmoor’s new spot on Sawtelle has been very good, as the eager crowds can attest. Dunsmoor and his crew are serving a Southern-infected menu filled with smoked salmon johnny cakes and honey-drizzled chicken-fried rabbit, but since their project is technically a residency, who knows for how long.
Hype for this Northern Italian charmer in Pasadena has been steadily building, with chef Bruce Kalman putting out hearty dishes like roasted porchetta, spot prawns with treviso, and spelt cavatelli. The wine list, which blends local and Italian finds, is worth perusing too.
3. Superba Food & Bread (Last week: #4)
Restaurateur Paul Hibler has assembled something of a chef supergroup (Jason Neroni, Jason Travi, Lincoln Carson) at this casual Venice hangout, which serves everything from breakfast to dinner along with fresh-baked breads, pastries and desserts. Check out the rotating nightly suppers.
4. Smoke.Oil.Salt (Last week: #1)
Perfecto Rocher, former chef at Lazy Ox Canteen, partnered with Adam Fleischman to produce this brooding Spanish restaurant located in the old Angeli Caffe space. Expect indulgent riffs on traditional Catalan dishes like pan con tomate and papas bravas, along with a large selection of Spanish wines.
5. Faith & Flower (Last week: #4)
This opulent space near L.A. Live features an ambitious bar program (milk punch, anyone?) with an equally luxe menu. Chef Michael Hung is turning out dishes like mesquite-grilled ribeye with oyster jus, Dungeness crab toast and miso steak tartare with kombu seaweed. Good happy hour deals help as well.
This upscale restaurant inside the new iPic Theatres in Westwood could hold some promise for the Brentwood-Beverly Hills set. Former Bouchon Bistro Las Vegas chef Bryan Podgorski is offering raw bar selections, a curated lineup Italian salumi and cheese, and delicate pastas and salads to boot.
7. Bird ‘N’ Hand
Chef Adel Chagar has turned his Moroccan restaurant Chameau Delibar into Bird ‘N’ Hand, a retro-style fried chicken specialist serving up szechuan-spiced wings, fried chicken sandwiches with coleslaw and hash browns, and most importantly, ice-cold beer.
With the roll out of his cart-service loncheras menu, John Sedlar has generated renewed excitement in his long-standing DTLA Mexican restaurant. Look for fried oyster “maize cakes” (a.k.a. tacos) and Peruvian pork gyoza, as well as mezcal cocktails to wash them down.
9. Fundamental L.A.
New chef; new menu. This causal Westwood shop is now serving new dinner dishes by chef Phillip Pretty, formerly of Joe’s. Try the fried sweetbreads tossed in kung pao sauce or the “california bouillabaisse.” The $35 tasting menu remains a pretty impressive deal.
10. Horse Thief BBQ
Word arrived this week that Horse Thief has finally received its beer license and would be serving until 6 p.m. every day. That’s perfect timing for those days when it’s too hot to do anything except sit in the shade eating brisket and drinking Shiner Bock.