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. Catch & Release
Just when you thought the East Coast seafood trend was going out with the tide, in comes chef Jason Neroni to share lobster rolls and smoked cod chowder with Marina Del Rey diners. Catch & Release takes over the former Paiche space, offering a menu influenced by both Southern California and Maine. Dive into everything bagels with trout roe and burrata, sea urchin carbonara, and red snapper hot dogs.
2. Jon & Vinny’s
One of the most anticipated openings of the past few weeks was 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.
Brooklyn expat chefs Sarah Kramer and Sarah Hymanson’s stylish falafel shop inside Grand Central Market has arrived in full crunchy, vegetable-strewn glory. Choose between red and green styles of falafel wraps or salads, then take a seat at the marble counter. Beet-sumac soda and orange blossom yogurt drinks are both creative and refreshing.
Hidden in a small space behind Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese is the newst project from chef Eric Greenspan, an intimate European bistro called Maré. Pass through the sandwich shop up front to enjoy a quaint patio and dishes like clams in vadouvan green apple broth, fried smelt, and skirt steak with chimichurri sauce. The menu is as compact as the space, but packs a variety of bold flavors.
5. Pitchoun! Bakery & Café
This ambitious French bakery and patisserie is bringing a touch of Paris to Downtown. Linger at one of the patio tables with a latté and croissant, or choose one of the several sandwiches, salads, or tartines on the menu. Fresh slices of quiche lorraine and French toast with housemade jam undoubtedly be a draw for DTLA brunchers.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Mabel’s Chicken & Waffles
Fried chicken from former Pici chef Jason Harley is the star attraction at this old-fashioned restaurant in Downtown. Pair that yardbird with sweet or savory waffles, potato salad, coleslaw or other side dishes. Currently in soft-open mode, expect Mabel’s to serve their free range, overnight-marinated fried chicken for lunch and dinner daily.
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.