Nothing “sparks joy” in my life quite like dining at a – really f*cking awesome and downright delicious – *new* restaurant in LA. And then sharing the bounties of my discoveries with my best friends of course! It’s a full-time job trying to keep up with the dining scene in LA, but know that anything that makes it on this list hits most if not all of my pre-requisites, some of which include: A+ ambiance, quality service, an interesting menu, a worthwhile splurge, lives up to the hype, or simply offers damn good food. This post will be ongoing and continuously updated, so everything you find here has opened within the past 6 months or less and is without a doubt worth putting on your radar. Now, let’s eat, shall we?
If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, be sure to check out my TOP 100 RESTAURANTS IN LA list!
THE FIVE BEST NEW RESTAURANTS TO TRY AS OF MAY 2019
I’m just going to come right out and say it… Alta Adams is, so far, my favorite restaurant opening of the year. From design to cocktails and of course dishes, it checks off every single box and then some. The space itself is simple yet beautiful, and they’ve got a great patio out back for a little al fresco dining. The menu is focused on Southern cuisine and it truly is the epitome of comfort food, and it’s done so well to the point that I simply cannot shut up about this place. Menu standouts are the black eyed pea fritters, the fried chicken, and the oxtails and rice. If you come for brunch – probably my favorite brunch in LA right now – make sure to order the biscuits and gravy (LIFE CHANGING), and the cornmeal pancakes.
From the chic “Hollywood glam” / art deco inspired decor to its polished Japanese influenced menu, Pacifique is an absolute stunner. When I first walked in and saw the space, especially that adorable window seating area in the front room, I thought “you fit right in”. When I heard “Japanese influenced” I didn’t totally know what to expect, but after having tried several dishes I am so beyond impressed by how inventive and fun the menu was – and still approachable. Chef Danielle Sobel is a total freakin’ badass in the kitchen and absolutely blew my mind with her marinated fried chicken, potato agnolotti, and local mushrooms dishes. Order all the things at Pacifique, but whatever you do, do not skip out on their insane cocktail menu or their desserts! I highly recommend the Malay Malee (Mezcal, Nam Phrik, Chipotle, Hibiscus, Lime) and the Yuzu Tart (Lavender Meringue, Tarragon, Lemon Verbena).
For my foodies, this might be old news at this point, but it’s worth reiterating once again that the long-awaited Manufactory project at ROW DTLA is officially open! The Manufactory is helmed by the famed team behind Tartine and James Beard Award-winning chefs Chad Robertson, Elisabeth Prueitt, & Chris Bianco. The concept can be more or less described as a dining “complex” (if you will) where guests can enjoy takeaway items from the bakery/market/coffee shop, or dine at one of the two restaurants, Tartine Bianco or Alameda Supper Club. Tartine Bianco is known to be the slightly more casual of the two restaurants, and what you’re here for is the bread. Anything and everything bread – order it, eat it, never forget it. Alameda Supper Club is the more elevated dining destination of the two and is becoming known for their fresh pasta as well as their grilled dishes. What’s fun about The Manufactory, is that there is something delicious to devour at almost every hour of the day, and you could spend pretty much all day there and be entertained! Start with coffee, maybe some baked goods, have lunch at Tartine Bianco, followed by cocktails at Alameda Cocktail Club, then dinner at Alameda Supper Club, and finish the night off with an ice cream from the walk-up window… and you’ve got yourself a pretty excellent day if I do say so!
If you’re looking for arguably the most difficult restaurant in LA to get into right now… and for good reason… then allow me to introduce you to Nightshade. Chef Mei Lin is one of my personal favorite chefs, and I cannot tell you how long I have been anxiously waiting for her to open a restaurant of her very own in Los Angeles! She is one of the most wonderful and talented chefs I have personally ever met, and to say Nightshade is meeting everyone’s expectations would be an understatement. She and the entire Nightshade team are killing it. The bill won’t be cheap here so I’d consider this particular Arts District hot spot more of an upscale dining situation – as it should be I am telling you! From the restaurant design to the dishes themselves, every single inch of Nightshade is a beautiful work of art, we are lucky to have them call LA home.
If you’re looking for something a bit off the radar, something that could be considered a hidden gem, Simonette is just the ticket. Located inside the brand new Palihotel in Culver City, Simonette occupies the first-floor space that is a gorgeous open-air space that is both indoor and outdoor. Their cozy patio is easily one of my favorites at the moment. Simonette is French inspired from decor to dining, and in true Parisian fashion, they offer an all-day menu as well as a late night menu. Simonette is a great place to visit for great drinks and girl talk at the bar or on the patio, but the French fare is definitely not to be missed. The menu is full of bistro classics like steak frites, moule frites, oysters, a burger, etc and all are superb. Nothing too fancy, but nothing overrated – it’s honestly just a stunning and solid local spot – and not to mention a great place to take a date or friend from out of town.
Looking forward to also trying…
THE 5 BEST NEW RESTAURANTS TO TRY: AS OF MARCH 2019
[Cheeseburger Dumplings at My Little Dumpling]
Ma’am Sir kinda had me at “Ma’am Sir”. But this was one of those restaurants all of my foodie friends have been hyping since it first opened, so let’s just say this place has been at the top of my priority list for quite some time. I finally made it in for dinner a few weeks ago and was totally blown away by how fun the whole experience was – from the colorful space (that wallpaper and those hanging plants tho…) to the cocktails, to the actual food, it was all just fun. Ma’am Sir is located within a prime area in Silverlake and really brings something totally new and different to the already bustling neighborhood. You can expect to dine on “modern Filipino” style cuisine here at Ma’am Sir, so have some fun ordering – as previously mentioned, it’s nearly impossible not to. I personally LOVED the Hangover Fried Rice, the Garlic Crab Noodles, and the mushrooms to start. I’ve heard the Chicken Adobo is also to die for – I’ll be coming back for that!
The first thing to note about Simone is… she.is.stunning. A “nouveau art deco” work of art in my opinion. If your heart’s desire is to be surrounded by beauty and glamour as you sip one of the best cocktails in LA… Simone is your spot. Located in a semi-secret part of the Arts District in DTLA, Simone brings a little bit of sass and sophistication to the immediate area where its neighbors include the ever popular Urth Cafe and in true DTLA fashion: warehouses and apartment buildings. I actually went into Simone for brunch a few weeks ago, and while I thought the menu seemed a bit small and limited, what we did order was absolutely fantastic. Sometimes less is more! And the Plantain-Polenta Pancake is not to be messed with! I’ve heard wonderful things about the dinner service, and can’t wait to see for myself soon enough.
Again with a name worth going in for alone?? “My Little Dumpling“?! I love it. And fortunately, the name is just as cute as the restaurant itself and the whole staff as well. Heck, even the food is cute, I’ll go there. My Little Dumpling opened just a few weeks ago on West Third Street and has already created quite the buzz for themselves over their let’s just say “non-traditional” dim sum style dining experience. Have you ever wanted to marry a cheeseburger and a dumpling? Or a Reuben with an egg roll? At My Little Dumpling… many things are possible, and surprisingly delicious! If however, you’re a dumpling purist (trust me, I get it), fear not, My Little Dumpling offers plenty of familiar and beloved dim sum favorites. Did I mention the cozy decor is kind of an Instagram dream?
It’s rooftop season people, and if there’s a hot new roof in town (lol) it’s Margot’s in Culver City. I swear it felt like I’d been waiting years to see what would finally open up as a restaurant at the gorgeous and more often than not, empty space, located a the top of PLATFORM’s highest point. The space was definitely meant to be a place to come and enjoy the views – preferably with a cocktail in hand. I recently went into Margot for drinks and was genuinely impressed by how beautiful and functional they made the entire – and entirely huge – space. Now, things to note: the drinks were good, I have heard mostly good things about the food (I haven’t tried yet so I sadly cannot personally attest!), but the space is definitely Margot’s main selling point. I have a love/loathe relationships with rooftop bars/restaurants as I feel like they attract… some of my not favorite people (sorry!!! I’m getting old!!!) BUT, if you go at a reasonable hour before the rush, I have no doubt you will be able to happily bask in all of its sun-drenched glory, without too many douchebags killing your vibe.
Sooo, Elephante isn’t exactly a “NEW new” opening in LA… but it’s new enough and I loved it too much not to share. Elephante is arguably Santa Monica’s most gorgeous and beloved new restaurant opening – this place is P O P U L A R. And for very obvious reasons as it turns out. Namely because – go figure – it’s a rooftop! Well, kind of sort of, really it’s just a restaurant higher up with big windows that open so we’ll call it “rooftop-ish”. So as you can imagine (please read Margot recap), prior to visiting, I was a little nervous to see what I’d be walking into. But to my incredibly pleasant surprise, I walked into a completely tranquil, total oasis. Seriously, when I stepped out of the elevator I nearly gasped while admiring its beauty. The whole experience felt like a vacation, and isn’t that what we all want some times? And I felt like no matter where you sat you’d be satisfied. I had one of the best cocktails I’ve had in LA that day (I actually had two.) and the food was flat out fantastic. Life changing? No, but in the space and in the moment – perfection. Could not recommend this place more. But get those reservations honey, because as mentioned – we’re entering rooftop and tourist season!
Another fun American Chinese and dumpling centric favorite of mine is Ms. Chi! Ms. Chi, located right in the heart of downtown Culver City, is a casual restaurant helmed by the incredibly cool and insanely talented Top Chef veteran Shirley Chung. I love that Ms. Chi offers top-notch creative and quality eats, but maintains a more easy-going and casual atmosphere – and not to mention they’re open basically all day long: breakfast to dinner and brunch on weekends. I came in for lunch and would argue that it was my favorite meal out of all of my recent restaurant visits. While I wish I’d had the chance to try Shirley’s famous Jumbo Cheeseburger Potstickers (they’re only offered at dinner just FYI!) once again, I have a perfectly good excuse to come back. If you do visit Ms. Chi for lunch, be sure to try one of their scallion pancake sandwiches. I’ve never had anything quite like it, and I absolutely loved it. Plus – it comes with tots. Done deal if you ask me.
THE 5 BEST NEW RESTAURANTS TO TRY: AS OF JANUARY 2019
Two words: sushi. and wine. If you’re anything like me, that’s really all ya had to say to peak any interest, but as luck would have it Sushi Note does both fantastically – yes, even together. The dream team behind some of my favorite wine bars in LA (Covell, Augustine, etc) are the masterminds behind the cozy Sherman Oaks sushi and wine bar, so it’s safe to say they were ahead of the game before they’d even begun. While the wine list may be a given, the sushi was impressively outstanding as well – sometimes you really can just do it all. I highly recommend trying one of the sushi sampler options, and if you’re fine with dining on the early side, their incredible happy hour is every day between 5:30 and 6:30. Make sure you make a reservation ahead of time when I said “it’s cozy”, I meant it!
There is a whole lot of “fun in foodieland” to be had at ROW right now. Between Rappahannock, Paramount Coffee Project, Hayato, Smorgasburg LA on the weekends, Pikunico, and even more in the works… the sky’s the limit! Pikunico is one of the most recent openings and, dare I say. my personal favorite in the compound. The adorable and renown chef Kuniko has crafted a totally delicious and fun menu dedicated to the fine art of fried chicken. But, Pikuniko is not your average fried chicken. Kuniko’s fried chicken is made with Japanese techniques and flavors, the ingredients are all locally sourced, the chicken is free-range, AND gluten-free – prepare to have never had fried chicken quite like it. Pikunico is a super fun and easy casual dining spot, when you go make sure you get the fried chicken (duh) and/or the Golden Chicken Sandwich, plus the sweet potato salad.
Ok. So Dama first opened their doors back in July, BUT it was only just a few weeks ago that I finally got to experience it myself for the first time so, it’s new-ish – but new-new to me. Moving right along. Dama, located in the DTLA fashion district, is an ambiance lover’s – and food lover’s – dream. When I first walked in I thought, “are we sure we’re in Downtown Los Angeles?” We could have easily been on some gorgeous tropical Caribbean island – wicker fans in slow motion, free flowing rum cocktails, linen shirts, cigars, and all. The bar, the lighting, the overall design – it’s a sight for sore eyes. And fortunately, so is the food. Dama offers a Latin-inspired menu, and my “must order” dishes would have to be the whipped beans (just trust me), the empanadas, the corn, the oxtail taco, and the seafood tostada. I didn’t have enough room for their bigger dishes but I have heard they’re outstanding. And be sure to save room for CHURRRRRRRROOOOSSS!
Talk about another looker, Atrium is Los Feliz’s latest “hidden” gem. From the street, it looks no more than a cute little hipster hideaway in a cozy alleyway lit with bistro lights, but keep on going to the actual indoor entrance of Atrium to find literally a massive and stunningly beautiful bow truss ATRIUM! A lot of people, myself included, were very excited over this opening, and thankfully it has held up to the hype in my opinion. It’s got it all going on: location, indoor/outdoor seating, a good crowd, a *daily* happy hour, great chefs, and desserts worth coming for alone. Atrium would be my recommendation for the friends you have coming in from out of town – it’s new and it’s a bit of a show stopper. You’ll see what I mean!
Hippo is a total neighborhood gem I wish I could just let remain a neighborhood gem, but it’s just too good not to tell the whole damn world about. So world – meet Hippo. Even if Highland Park isn’t your ‘hood, you’ll kind of want it to be after a night at Hippo (followed by a slice of Triple Beam Pizza, and then a cocktail down the street at Good Housekeeping… I mean if you’re following in my exact footsteps, that is.) Hippo in particular though is one of those all inclusive spaces; it’s great for a date, it’s great for the whole fam, great for a girls night, great for lunch, a snack, a drink, a whole meal – YOU NAME IT. Same idea kinda goes for their menu; it’s mostly Italian but there will be tons of crowd pleasers – done well of course. Get the gang together, make a reservation ahead of time, and take in all of that Highland Park chill.
CLASSICS WORTH RE-VISITING RIGHT NOW: Crustacean (garlic noodles.) // Gusto (I forgot how INSANE their pasta is.) // Fishing With Dynamite (basically everything on the menu and the key lime pie.)