Though it lacks the tumult of the San Gabriel Valley’s vast dim sum halls, Northern Cafe compresses that vibe into a casual pocket-size spot near the Beverly Center. Juicy xialongbao dumplings arrive nestled in a steaming tray, scallion pancakes are nicely crusted, and the beef noodle soup’s as potent as at any place on Garfield.
2. The Exchange
The new Freehand hotel’s restaurant (located off the lobby) melds Latino and Israeli influences with aplomb. A dribble of the hot sauce zhug pushes the heat in a crisped tuna baguette sandwich amped with chile morita; airy grated tomato sits on a cloud of tahini. Dinner skews rustic—think whole grilled fish. Cocktails are strong, with date honey rounding out an old-fashioned in a new way.
Travis Lett’s beachy izakaya juts out along Abbot Kinney like a mountain carved from slate. Inside, black stools crowd around an open kitchen where sake-marinated chicken wings sizzle over binchotan charcoal. The Gjelina chef’s dedication to local sourcing is on display even as he adheres to Japanese tradition: House-made noodles bob in heritage pork broth, while a vinegary salad features Big Sur seaweed.