Asterid. The menu at L.A. chef Ray Garcia’s new restaurant, Asterid, inside Walt Disney Concert Hall, is as sleek and curated as the restaurant’s design. The dishes are, in some ways, a departure from the extensive fare Garcia offered at his previous B.S. Taqueria and Broken Spanish. Here, Garcia’s expertise gets condensed into a modern California-leaning menu with dazzling seasonal starters like sunchoke rösti with crème fraîche and strawberry pepper jam. The chicken liver mousse is a masterpiece in a bowl covered with a bouquet of grape compote, sliced pear, pickled pearl onions, and mustard, and served with sliced toasted sourdough. The lamb shank with pomegranate, preserved lemon, and ancho chiles comes with warm flatbread and is more than enough to share. Its location inside one of the city’s iconic music venues makes it a convenient place to eat or drink before or after a show, but Asterid’s food and cocktails make it a destination all its own.
141 S. Grand Ave., asteridla.com $$
french bistro DOWNTOWN
Camphor. Chefs Max Boonthanakit and Lijo George met in 2020 while working at Alain Ducasse’s Blue in Bangkok, and now, with Camphor—their sleek, minimalist, white-walled Arts District bistro—they’ve brought something entirely new to L.A. The stunning interior creates a lofty, transporting experience, while the chefs’ access to spices from George’s southern Indian homeland makes for extraordinary meals. After guests are greeted by a staff dressed in white, the space becomes a canvas for food plated with precision. Lobster tail is presented and finished with bisque at the table. Steak au poivre comes with cast-iron pots piled with frites and plates of steamed asparagus blanketed in béarnaise. Yes, it’s bistro fare, but Camphor is so much more. What appears to be a chocolate soufflé is actually chocolate meringue atop hazelnut ice cream, with marshmallows and toasted hazelnuts. Since opening, the restaurant has launched a brunch and a bar menu including one of the city’s most succulent burgers. It’s made of duck meat and dry-aged beef and served on a duck fat brioche bun with caramelized onions.
923 E. 3rd ST., camphor.la $$$$
seafood MARINA DEL REY
Dear Jane. The Sister restaurant to Dear John’s, the old-school steak house in Culver City from chef Hans and Patti Röckenwagner and chef Josiah Citrin, Dear Jane’s is an old-school seafood restaurant by the water in Marina del Rey. The separate bar is an experience in and of itself, with a roaring fireplace and a slightly more casual ambiance but with food and cocktail options similar to those in the dining room. An entire side of the lively and buzzing formal dining area offers an unobstructed view of boats moored in the marina. The multi-tiered room evokes a feeling of special occasions, with white tablecloths and mannered table-side service for items like shrimp Louie salad, which gets drenched in a citrusy, homemade Thousand Island–like dressing. There also are seafood towers, fish sticks with caviar, Dungeness crab cakes, oysters Rockefeller, and a list of classic dishes like trout amandine, fish-and-chips, and cioppino. Dear Jane’s successfully re-creates the nostalgic style of dining so many crave while serving food that still manages to surprise and impress.
13950 Panay Way, dearjanesla.com $$$$
Kinn. There is only one menu at this cozy, dimly lit, 20-seat Koreatown gem where chef Ki Kim uses curated ingredients to delicately weave together Korean flavors into dishes that exist in a genre all their own. A place at the chef’s counter is ideal and provides a front-row seat for watching Kim and his team’s detailed, balletic plating. At $72 for six courses, Kinn’s is one of the more affordable tasting menus around and includes an evolving, playful menu of thoughtfully crafted dishes like yellowtail in a bath of oyster sauce and charcoal-grilled Wagyu short ribs. The menu can be upgraded with add-ons such as crispy Spanish octopus and hen of the woods mushroom confit with uni. Though the restaurant lacks a cocktail menu, it features a selection of European wines and Korean spirits that pair well with Kim’s menu.
3905 W. 6th St., kinn.la $$$
filipino EAST HOLLYWOOD
Kuya Lord. Kuya Lord began as a pop-up in 2019, serving Filipino street food at bars and breweries around L.A. During the pandemic, chef Lord Maynard Llera, once the sous chef at Bestia, began cooking in his garage in La Cañada Flintridge, and word spread quickly that his dishes were available for weekly pickups. Today, his extremely popular food has a home in a small storefront in East Hollywood. There are 21 seats for dining in, though Llera’s take-out business is hopping. The shareable trays are a great way to experience a selection of proteins—sweet or savory sausage, grilled Caledonia blue prawns in garlic crab sauce, or Llera’s famous lucenachon (crispy roasted pork belly)—all while sampling glistening chami noodles, tomato-cucumber salad, and wonderfully bright and vinegary pickled green papaya. Finish a meal here with tangy and sweet Filipino Calamansi key lime pie with pandan whipped cream. Though this brick-and-mortar has been a long time coming for Llera, who had been planning to open a Filipino restaurant since leaving Bestia in 2016, it is, in many ways, just the beginning. We can’t wait to see what he does next.
5003 Melrose Ave., kuyalord.com $$$
Mother Wolf. Nailing down a reservation at chef Evan Funke’s massive, Roman-style restaurant in the heart of Hollywood isn’t easy, but you’ll be glad you did, as crowds form around the hostess station at the entrance to the 92-year-old art deco Citizen News Building. It’s worth noting, however, that the expansive bar area of this 8,600-square-foot ode to Rome is walk-in only, and there are plenty of seats from which to enjoy the same Italian splendor. Inside, the 20-foot-high ceilings with light fixtures of Murano glass make Mother Wolf unlike any other restaurant in Los Angeles. It’s exciting to step foot inside such grandeur, with tabletops of Siena marble and luxurious red-leather booths. The service is so attentive, it borders on performative. With its open kitchen, Mother Wolf is like theater, where Funke’s talent and enthusiasm for perfecting Italian cooking is the star. Because he already had a major presence locally with his Venice restaurant, Felix, many are familiar with Funke’s ricotta-and-Parmesan-stuffed squash blossoms paired with an earthy glass of Nebbiolo. The food itself is not brand-new to the city, but the kind of experience he has created here most certainly is.
1545 Wilcox Ave., motherwolfla.com $$$
japanese MID CITY
N/Soto. Chef-owners Niki Nakayama and Carole Iida-Nakayama’s West Adams izakaya-inspired restaurant, n/soto, offers all of the precision and excellence that earned the pair two Michelin stars for n/naka, their modern kaiseki establishment. But n/soto exudes a more casual, relaxed spirit. The snow crab sunomono (cucumber salad) doesn’t come with a spoon, but you might secretly want one to savor every last drop of the tosazu broth. Skewers are, of course, the heart of an izakaya, and the tender lamb chops and grilled shiitake mushrooms stand out. Each dish on the menu seems more delicious than the last. The room is filled with diners who know to order the miso-baked bone marrow with umeboshi onigiri rice balls—it lands at most tables. Larger rice dishes like trout and salmon roe with parsley-like mitsuba and pickled vegetables are also available. For dessert, the melon float—a bright-green, soda fountain-style coupe—turns heads. This is the kind of meal that has you planning your return before you’ve finished eating.
4566 W. Washington Blvd., n-soto.com $$$
japanese-taiwanese HERMOSA BEACH
Ryla. In 2022, husband-and-wife team Ray Hayashi and Cynthia Hetlinger combined their considerable culinary experiences with their Japanese and Taiwanese backgrounds to open a lively upscale restaurant in Hermosa Beach. (He previously worked at David Lefevre’s South Bay standouts M.B. Post, the Arthur J, and Fishing with Dynamite; she spent five years at Providence.) Ryla’s modern design draws a crowd to its wraparound bar where classic cocktails, like Suntory whisky Penicillins made with ginger liqueur and honey, are crafted. There is nothing fussy or pretentious about the menu at Ryla. The food is bright, inventive, and comforting. The fried rice comes flecked with sweet Chinese sausage and pickled ginger and is buried in a thick dusting of shaved black truffles from Burgundy. Start a meal with Hokkaido milk bread with fish roe-nori spread and make your way down the menu to a main dish like the grilled New Zealand Tai snapper that comes in a pool of lime-coconut broth with mussels, daikon, and Fresno chiles. Since opening, Ryla has launched a popular brunch menu with everything from cold sesame noodles to breakfast sausage sandwiches to Taiwanese dan bing (egg crêpe).
1220 Hermosa Ave., eatryla.com $$$$
middle eastern EAST HOLLYWOOD
Saffy’s. Chef Ori Menashe had been dreaming of cooking meat on skewers since he and his wife, Genevieve Gergis, opened their other Middle Eastern restaurant, Bavel, in 2018, and Saffy’s is that dream realized. The space is as vibrant as the cocktails being poured behind the pink-tiled bar. Menashe has described the food—shawarma and lamb, pork, and chicken kabobs cooked on a wood-burning stove—to be the most like what he and Gergis might serve to guests in their home. It’s food you crave—like plates of hummus dusted with smoked paprika, Lebanese pine nuts, the spicy green hot sauce zhoug and challah that the chef spent months perfecting. The meat-centric menu is complemented by vegetable-forward sides like green falafel with tahini served atop puddles of a beet zhoug and sprinkled with dill. Keeping with the theme of simplicity, Gergis’s pastry menu is short and, well, sweet: bergamot-chocolate cake with rose ganache, orange blossom creme caramel, and undoubtedly the best soft-serve around, made with house-made bases and rotating farmers’ market-inspired flavors like sour cherry or boysenberry.
4845 Fountain Ave., saffysla.com $$$$
San Laurel. José Andrés is a chef and humanitarian busy with his endless efforts to feed people around the globe via his World Central Kitchen. He also managed to open a few new restaurants in L.A. last year, including San Laurel, which is perched on the tenth floor of the new Conrad Hotel and offers possibly the best view one can have of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The restaurant serves pleasing California cuisine that shows off Spanish flavors. Sea urchin with raw scallops in a pool of gazpacho consommé gets a dazzling dollop of caviar. This bright, cold, refreshing mouthful of the ocean is a surefire way to start a meal here. There is a Basque cheesecake for dessert that comes served with a scoop of guava ice cream. Though the food seems relatively down-to-earth considering the kind of molecular gastronomy that made Andrés famous, the cocktails are whimsical. A server pours a beaker full of liquid steam into a mezcal drink to give it an aromatic orange-thyme “cloud.” Yes, San Laurel feels like a hotel restaurant . . . the kind you want to go out of your way for.
100 S. Grand Ave., sanlaurel.com $$$$
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. news, food, and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.