Don’t let anyone tell you Los Angeles is only good for juice cleanses and kale smoothies. The City of Angels has a lot happening on the food front, and this year in particular has been major for big-name chefs. From Aussie darling Curtis Stone to Top Chef runner-up Marcel Vigneron (an OG from season two almost 10 years ago) to chef Neal Fraser of faves BLD and Redbird, the culinary heavyweights have been making their mark on LA with new eateries that cover the spectrum, from rustic American to innovative global to meat-centric and contemporary Californian. Take a look at the eight coolest places to eat in LA right now…
Here’s Looking At You
What do you get when two veterans from Animal team up on a new spot in Koreatown? A creative, progressive American restaurant that blends African and Japanese design elements with innovative takes on classic dishes, cheeky cocktails and influences as wide-ranging as Vietnamese, Middle Eastern and Mexican. SoCal food is what co-owners chef Jonathan Whitener and Lien Ta are serving in their brand-new intimate 50-seat spot. Must-orders include the mezcal, cynar and watermelon Known Associate libation, signature Beef Tartare (with red chili, ramps and cress), and Sturgeon, which is served with aged rice porridge, buttermilk, caviar and chicken skin. As with the entire concept, it’s wholly original.
With the help of Thomas Schoos, a former nightclub space down the street from stalwarts Sunset Tower and Chateau Marmont was transformed into a sexy, bright restaurant with dishes that are seriously addictive. Take, for example, the cast-iron skillet cornbread, served with rosemary honey butter that defines melt-in-your-mouth goodness. The Roots & Burrata (vibrant baby carrots, beets and pistachio puree) and cider-glazed Heritage Pork are also winning recipes. Sidle up to the marble bar for something like the Hug Cartel, which combines pisco with tamarind, cherry and coconut cream.
The Butcher’s Daughter
Venice’s Abbot Kinney Boulevard is full of hot spots – Gjelina and The Tasting Kitchen to name two – but this new opening proves there was room for more. The fully meat-free menu at this New York transplant has vegetarians and vegans feasting guilt free on creative stone-oven pizzas, Roasted Rainbow Carrots with maple balsamic glaze and Cauliflower T-Bone in droves. Brunch is a popular meal (think hearty avocado toast with a fried egg and a fresh juice flight), when locals crowd the airy, hippie-inflected restaurant and its long plant-bedecked bar area.
West Hollywood – home to the hidden-away Chamberlain – is where it’s at right now. Marcel Vigneron, the runner-up on Top Chef Season 2, took time opening his very first restaurant, and the careful planning and kitchen scheming clearly paid off. Wolf serves a refreshingly small, curated menu that changes along with the season’s best ingredients, and a collection of fresh, refreshing cocktails (like the Thai Hi-Five, with gin, raw coconut oil, house-made lemongrass soda and citrus). Don’t leave the candlelit, refined rustic space without trying the Mushroom Risotto with pancetta, tropical Burnt Carrots or, if it’s on special, the Uni-Corn, which cleverly features uni and a variety of corn.
For a guaranteed Instagrammable meal, try Kali, new this year in Larchmont Village. Each dish by chef Kevin Meehan is prepared artfully and vividly, whether it’s the oh-so-Cali-sounding Charred Avocado, adorned with pistachios, lemon juice, honey, shaved veggies and fine herbs, or the Beet Tartar, which is packed with flavour from the crimson root along with capers, black garlic and local almonds. Sommelier (and co-owner) Drew Langley was previously at Providence, and has curated a can’t-miss list that includes accessible wines from the great state as well as small runs from local private collectors.
Downtown’s exemplary dining scene has yet another winner: Fritzi, which comes from Neal Fraser, the chef behind local favorite BLD and DTLA’s Redbird. This outpost is industrial-chic and focused on one major kitchen feature: a large wood-fired rotisserie. Understandably mouths start watering immediately upon entering the small space. Their classic rotisserie chicken is a no-brainer (for vegetarians there’s spit-roasted cauliflower) with a side of charred brussels or the famous potato waffle. Add a craft beer from the Arts District Brewing Co. and you have the perfect meal.
For anyone but Curtis Stone it would be hard to follow up Maude, his sought-after spot serving a new tasting menu based off a single ingredient each month. But Gwen, which just opened on Sunset Boulevard in mid-July, lives up to expectations. The meat-centric restaurant is named for the Aussie superstar’s grandmother, whose life on a farm outside Melbourne gave him an appreciation of livestock farming. The butcher case is front and center, but the five-course tasting menus include salad and pasta courses along with items like whole grilled lamb. A ‘Butcher’s Scraps’ a la carte menu will be available at the teeny six-seat bar and mezzanine bar soon.
The Cannibal LA
As much as LA loves its vegan fare, it’s clear that meat is in on the West Coast. Another concept from New York, the Cannibal delivers on both ambience (there’s a lovely patio, which is surprisingly not as common as you’d expect with LA’s near-perfect weather) and taste. The gastropub-slash-butcher is inside Culver City’s coolest new development, Platform LA (right near the new Expo Line that goes all the way to Santa Monica), giving it major street cred among fashion types, too. From cured meats to sausages, prime rib sandwiches, skewers and burgers – plus well-crafted drinks – it’s got most every protein imaginable, plus the veggies to complement them.
Featured image is the Butcher’s Daughter