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. E.P. & L.P.
With a killer West Hollywood rooftop dining area, duo-concept bar and restaurant E.P. + L.P. has arrived just in time to become one of the hottest dining destinations for summer. Aussie chef Louis Tikaram is serving Pan-Asian plates that are both playful and progressive, including wood-grilled abalone with curry paste, spice salmon larb, and “Lou Dogg’s” fried chicken with black vinegar. Alex Strauss’s cocktails menu is equally entertaining, providing tropical, quaffable drinks sure to please the late-night crowds mingling on the roof deck.
Akasha Richmond, chef and owner of Culver City’s Akasha, has expanded next door to recently vacated Ford’s Filling Station space to launch her new Indian fusion concept, which blends house-made curries and regional dishes from the subcontinent with lighter Californian fare. Expect lots of action from the kitchen’s wood-powered tandoori oven.
3. 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.
4. 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.
Washington D.C.’s popular salad bowl chain has arrived on West Third St. offering customizable creations topped with everything from kale to quinoa. The menu touts seasonal, farm-fresh produce (which we are already spoiled by in California) along with speciality bowls like “Rad Thai” and “Guacamole Greens.”
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.
8. Barrel Down
Located near 7th & Grand in Downtown, this new “American Beer Hall” is offering 40 draft taps from across the country and avante-garde snack food from former Allumette chef Derrick de Jesus. Drink-friendly dishes like K-town wings, cauliflower popcorn, and avocado grilled cheese share space with hearty offerings, like a grain bowl with fried sweet potato and steak fries.
9. 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.
10. Top Leaf
Three entrepreneurial UCLA students are supplying traditional Taiwanese fare to Westwood Village, thanks to their new restaurant serving SGV-quality dumplings, steamed buns, and noodle bowls. Stop by for breakfast as well, including rice porridge and sticky rice doughnut rolls—both a rarity on the Westside.