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. Jon & Vinny’s
Last week’s biggest news (aside from the Shake Shack announcement, maybe) was the debut of Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s all-day Italian restaurant on Fairfax, and we’re still excited. The menu focuses on classic red-sauce fare, including crisp-crust pizza, fresh pasta with bolognese, and meatballs. There’s tiramisu for dessert. Tucked behind the dining room is where you’ll find Helen’s, a small wine shop.
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.
Studio City’s Restaurant Row gets a taste of Mexican seafood thanks to Jose Acevedo, the chef behind Mercado. On the menu you’ll find lobster guacamole, grilled fish tortas, crab queso, and oysters “Rajafeller.” Drinks include white sangria, made with El Tesoro tequila, micheladas topped with shrimp, and the SMP, made with shishito peppers, mango, and pisco.
4. 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.
5. Ingo’s Tasty Diner
The latest project from the owners of The Misfit, Ingo’s makes use of the retro Callahan’s space in Santa Monica, where you’ll now find farm-to-table American cooking, like a whitefish club sandwich, grilled pork chop with root veggie hash, and ever-popular pimento cheese dip. With breakfast and lunch to debut shortly, Ingo’s looks to be a friendly diner option for Santa Monica locals.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Bacchus’ Kitchen
Chef Claud Beltran’s rustic Pasadena restaurant packs plenty of international flair: You’ll find coconut-milk shrimp, seared lamb belly with couscous, chicken pozole, and grilled rib eye with gumbo sauce. To pair, there is a lengthy wine list and big windows, which offer a nice view of Washington Boulevard.
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.
10. La Tostaderia
The newest tenant in the ever-growing Grand Central Market specializes in Mexican ceviches, tostadas, and tacos made with seafood sourced from Baja and other parts of the Pacific Coast—the perfect cure for the soon-to-be-here summer heat wave. Try chef Sandra Felix’s tender octopus “pops” with aji amarillo creme fraiche served on beautiful hand-painted plates from Morelia, Mexico.