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 long-awaited Santa Monica restaurant from this Bay Area-based sustainable butchery outfit is 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. 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.
3. 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.
4. Sweetfin Poké
Poké, you so hot right now. With fast-casual concepts serving Hawaiian-inspired raw fish bowls popping up all around the city, it makes sense that a pedigreed chef like Dakota Weiss would take her own crack at the beachside favorite. Her casual, surfer-vibe Santa Monica restaurant serves poké combinations like spicy yuzu salmon with edamame, and albacore with mango, ginger, and macadamia nuts. Customers can customize their own bowls too.
5. Auntie Em’s Kitchenette
Who doesn’t need more red velvet in their life? Popular Eagle Rock restaurant Auntie Em’s has opened a 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.
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.
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.
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. La Tostaderia
The newest tenant in the ever-growing Grand Central Market specializes in Mexican ceviches, tostadas, tacos made with seafood sourced from Baja and other parts of the Pacific Coast—the perfect cure for the soon-to-be-here summer heatwave. Try chef Sandra Felix’s tender octopus “pops” with aji amarillo creme fraiche served on beautiful hand-painted plates from Morelia, Mexico.