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.
1. Belcampo Meat Co.
The Santa Monica restaurant from this Bay Area-based sustainable butchery outfit has been long-awaited, and as of this Sunday, it’s finally here. Former Josie chef Maiki Le is serving inventive dishes like grilled beef heart with salsa verde and goat tartare while Josh Goldman handles the cocktails. Add in the Belcampo butcher shop next door, and all your meat needs will be met.
2. Santa Monica Yacht Club
In a surprising collaboration, the partners behind Santa Monica’s Tar & Roses tapped avant-garde Italian chef Walter el Nagar to launch their shiny new boating-themed, seafood-heavy restaurant. You’ll find intriguing coastal options like swordfish carpaccio, sweet and sour sardines, and avocado rice with dried shrimp.
3. B.S. Taqueria
When a chef of Ray Garcia’s prowess takes on tacos, there’s bound to be excitement. Located in the former Mo-Chica space, this casual sister restaurant of the soon-to-open Broken Spanish concept offers taqueria classics like toasted chiles toreados and cactus salad, as well as a variety of tacos (everything from carne asada to clam and lardo) served on freshly milled corn tortillas.
Studio City gets a new spin on modern Mexican cooking with this new bar and restaurant located on Ventura Boulevard. There are avocado margaritas, as well as Baja-style fish tacos and pressed Cuban sandwiches served from a VW Bus parked inside the rather trendy space.
5. Auntie Em’s Kitchenette
Who doesn’t need more red velvet in their life? Popular Eagle Rock restaurant Auntie Em’s has opened another location Downtown, where you’ll find down-home pastries and sandwiches in a cozy and casual setting. Another great brunch option for the loft-dweller set.
Renowned chef Mark Peel has fired up the steam-kettle pots at his new quick-service seafood restaurant inside Grand Central Market, where you’ll find dishes like steamed clams with sausage, curried shrimp with squash and flaxseed rice, and hearty lobster-broth fish stew with bacon and potatoes.
7. Ox & Son
You’d be forgiven for overlooking the stellar cooking of chef Brad Miller, given that he’s been holed up in Topanga Canyon at Inn of the Seventh Ray for the past few years. But now Miller is set to make a big splash in Santa Monica with Ox & Son, a Southern-tinged, farm-to-table diner offering soulful dishes like chicken-fried duck confit and Benton’s ham and corn griddle cakes. Kale-weary Westsiders rejoice.
Former Waterloo & City chef Brendan Collins is back in the game with an intimate Hollywood restaurant that’s all clean lines and natural wood. The menu pays homage to the Brit chef’s culinary sojourns, including a take on tikka masala made with monkfish and rabbit baklava with dates. Paired with a suave cocktail list from a M.B. Post vet, it’s an exciting respite off tourist-trod Hollywood Boulevard.
9. Hamburguesas Punta Cabras
The team behind popular Santa Monica fish-taco spot Tacos Puntas Cabras have soft-opened their new Mexican-influenced burger shop Downtown. Try the house cheeseburger topped with charred green onions and pickled jalapeño “1000 Islas,” or go full tilt for french fries smothered in chorizo-cheese.
10. Knuckle & Claw
Silver Lake is getting a dose of East Coast-style seafood with the arrival of Knuckle & Claw, a quaint Martha’s Vineyard-esque restaurant offering buttery lobster rolls (stuffed with a quarter-pound of Maine lobster), clam chowder, grilled cheese, whoopie pies, and more. Owners Nikki Booth and Chloe Dahl (granddaughter of British author Roald Dahl) hope to have their beer and wine license soon, but for now it’s Fentimans soda on the sunny patio.