Each Friday, the Digest surveys the burgeoning L.A. restaurant scene and compiles a list of the newest, most hyped and heralded restaurants in town this instant. Whether big or small, near or far, these are the restaurants that have people talking—us among them. Snag a seat at these hotspots while you still can.
1. Broken Spanish & B.S. Taqueria
No one in L.A. is having a better week than Ray Garcia. Not only were both Broken Spanish and sister restaurant B.S. Taqueria named finalists in Esquire magazine’s Best New Restaurants list, but Garcia was named 2015’s chef of the year, joining the ranks of recent winners Paul Qui and Michael Chiarello. And this all comes less than a year after leaving his executive chef gig at FIG in Santa Monica. It’s unique flavor bombs like Broken Spanish’s chicharrón with elephant garlic mojo at the clam and whipped lardo tacos at B.S. Taqueria that put Garcia’s mini-empire on top of both Esquire’s list and ours.
2. Aburiya Raku
Eateries along the Las Vegas strip seem to fall into three categories: regionally specific zeitgeisty fast-casual chains (looking at you, Shake Shack and In-N-Out), sprawling monuments to celebrity chefs (ahem, Giada, ahem), and all-you-can-eat sushi and prime rib buffets (bless them). That’s why you had to go off the strip to find Vegas’ real gems like the the Izakaya-style Raku, which just opened a location in West Hollywood. Think yakitori and robata skewers galore, house-made agedashi tofu, plates of mountain yam with poached egg, and foie gras egg custard all being overseen and executed by Raku founding chef Matsui Endo.
What does former Osteria Mozza chef Matt Molina do when he’s not confined to Italian? Find out at E.R.B. (short for Everson Royce Bar), the new Arts District drinking and small-plates destination from Silver Lake Wine owner Randy Clement. It’s a dream team of sorts: Clement, a sort of manic wine wizard, is popping the bottles; Chris Ojeda, a Varnish vet, is on the jiggers; and Molina, a James Beard Award winner, mans the grill. Surprise! There’s a mozzarella dish, with tomato and cucumber. But there are also potato taquitos, crispy shrimp and pork dumplings, and buttermilk biscuits with honey butter. The kitchen serves till 1 a.m., so we expect this to become a serious chefs hang.
With a culinary style self-described as “nuevo rancho,” which pulls the region’s agricultural history forward by blending traditional Hispanic ingredients with contemporary farmers’ market fare, chef Anne Conness has drawn L.A.’s collective culinary attention towards El Segundo. The menu features classic Mexican dishes like beef and goat birria and not-so-classic Mexican dishes like the oxtail picadillo empanada.
Sitting non ironically in a Hollywood strip mall—right next to a nail salon and just across the street from Tony’s Liquor—this 19-seat hole-in-the-wall is the last place you’d expect to find elderflower meringue, lemongrass coconut foam, and an assortment of lacto-fermented pickles that would make the Vlasic family blush. But chef Kwang Uh, fresh off a stage at Noma, doesn’t seem to care about his first restaurant’s lack of white tablecloths and valet parking. Baroo’s menu is full of funky fermented ingredients, heirloom grains you’ve never heard of, and some of the most mind-blowing flavor bombs in L.A. And that’s what really matters.
6. Dudley Market
Chef Jesse Barber—formerly of The Tasting Kitchen and Barnyard—further rooted himself in Venice’s restaurant scene earlier this month when he opened Dudley Market, his first solo venture. The charming all-day restaurant serves a laundry list of classic breakfast and lunch entrees, like the frisée lardon with egg and brown butter vinaigrette and eggs florentien with lox and hollandaise. But it will also serve as a retail outlet connecting local farmers, winemakers, and artisanal food purveyors to consumers.
The Santa Monica super collabo between Bryant Ng, his wife Kim Luu-Ng, Josh Loeb, and Zoe Nathan just received three glowing stars from Patric Kuh in this month’s review. Kuh lauds Ng’s cuisine for the kind of cultural breadth and honesty normally reserved for a Singaporean hawkers market. The short rib pot-au-feu with anise-spiked oxtail broth and extensive menu of Vietnamese-inflected charcuterie didn’t hurt the restaurant’s case for Westside supremacy either.
8. Maple Block Meat Co.
Culver City has scored one heck of a ‘cue joint, with pitmasters Adam Cole and Daniel Weinstock hailing from Ink. and Spago, respectively. All meat is butchered in-house from whole animals (Cole worked at shuttered boutique butcher Lindy & Grundy) before being smoked over local peach wood. The results include chopped pork shoulder, bone-in prime rib, a brisket sandwich, pork spare ribs, and more. Craft beer will wash it down, but expect the smoke will stick with you.
9. Hatchet Hall
We may finally be at a point where Brian Dunsmoor and Jonathan Strader can no longer be referred to as “the guys from Hart & the Hunter.” At Hatchet Hall—situated in the grand Culver City space that was formerly home to Waterloo & City—chef Dunsmoor takes on a manly hunter-fisher menu heavy with game (grilled rabbit, tea-smoked duck, roasted game hen), as well as local stone crab, ridgeback prawns, oysters, and market produce. The through line is the wood-fired grill that lends a smoky char to most dishes. Take a seat at the “Old Man Bar” for a root beer G&T.
10. The Bellwether
The Valley’s food scene scores another point with the Bellwether, from executive chef Ted Hopson and beverage director Ann-Marie Verdi—both graduates of the Fathers’ Office/Lukshon line. Charred octopus- and Greek yogurt-topped tabbouleh and roasted carrots with chamomile-carrot jus are among the small plates, which share equal billing with drinks like the white negroni and house-infused booze. The look is sort of modern Tudor (yes, that’s a thing) thanks to architect Anna Henton.