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Happening Right Now: New LA Restaurant Intel

PHOTO: Tommy Trinh

You already have the Hit List, our regularly updated guide to the best new restaurants in LA. But based off Team Infatuation's recent restaurant experiences, here’s our newest intel:

10/3/2016 Update

  • Another day, another restaurant opening inside the Far East Plaza in Chinatown. This time it's Lao Tao Kitchen, a fast casual Taiwanese place we love. Its second-floor location isn't exactly prime real estate, but the food is already bringing in the lunch crowds anyway. The Beef Ban Main (flat noodles in a spicy bone marrow broth) and twice-fried popcorn chicken are absolute must-orders.

  • The new restaurant Destroyer is very cool. It's in a part of Culver City where we imagine lots of architects work. They project their menu onto a wall. They serve breakfast and lunch food that looks like it came out of a lab. Instead of avocado toast, there's avocado confit, and the oatmeal is served raw. Most importantly, everything tastes good. You should probably wear all black, though.

  • Bakery and breakfast spot Lodge Bread Co. in Culver is by no means new, but we finally stopped in recently and were blown away. Obviously the bread is good, but there’s also shaksushka, avocado toast, and the best and biggest cinnamon roll we’ve ever had. They're usually only open during the day, but on Sundays they open back up at 5pm for pizza night, serving only one kind of pie until they sell out. We'll be back to check it out.

  • It’s no secret we love Hollywood’s Mud Hen Tavern - it’s on our guides to outdoor eating, last minute dates, and even our bottomless brunch directory too. But all that love wasn’t quite enough, because they’re closing for good on October 11th. Get there in the next week for one last round of chicken and waffle croquettes. And then maybe another one.

  • You've probably seen San Francisco's Mr Holmes Bakehouse, their cruffins, and their “I got baked in San Francisco" sign all over Instagram. All these things - including an LA version of that sign - made the jump south when Mr Holmes opened in Highland Park this past weekend. We plan to stop in to see if the cruffins are worth the unavoidable wait.

  • Thai Town was badly in need of a beer and wine bar, and the new spot Tabula Rasa is here to serve. The bare-bones space is a nice change from the usually-stuffy wine bar vibe, and its tiny snack menu is excellent. Get the Cubano and the chocolate mousse.

  • Remember Luna Park? That great little spot on La Brea and Wilshire? It closed last year, but the same team is back with the new seafood-based Mexican restaurant Pata Salada. And while the service and space are solid, they have some major food kinks to work out. The scallops we tried were so drenched in a green sauce you couldn't taste them, and the octopus was inexplicably mushy. We'll be checking back in on this place again to see if they've turned things around.

9/6/2016 Update

  • TikiFish comes to Palms courtesy of the same people as Phorage, and is conveniently located right next door. Yes it’s another poké place, and while the poké is good, we are all about their Mexican style ceviche, served with a big tostada - and plenty of hot sauce added on top.

  • Beefsteak recently opened as the vegetable-loving sister restaurant to the meat-centric Wolf on Melrose. While we'd be lying if we said this city was in need of another healthy, vegan-friendly restaurant, our first couple meals here have been very good. Its casual, order-at-the-counter set-up is ideal for a quick lunch.

  • Georgie, the new restaurant in the Montage hotel, is very Beverly Hills. A table on the patio is likely to be flanked by ladies who are lunching on one side and a power meeting on the other. But, the food here is better than it needs to be, even if it comes at BH prices. The deconstructed greek salad is actually phenomenal.

  • Erven recently took the place of the Santa Monica Real Food Daily and continues to fly the healthy food flag. There’s both a grab and go section and a proper dining room that serves sandwiches and salads for lunch (and a very tasty gazpacho) and more interesting-sounding dishes at dinner. We’ll be back.

  • Remember Nighthawk, the breakfast-themed bar in Hollywood that closed (through no fault of their own) as quickly as it opened? They’re back and as good as ever in Venice, and even serving brunch on the weekends now.

8/2/2016 Update

  • We recently stopped into the brand new Here's Looking At You in Ktown and had a fantastic dinner. The bright, modern space has a great energy, an excellent new American menu (seriously, that steak tartare), and cocktails that'll certainly get the mood going. Your next great date spot has been found.

  • Status Kuo in Mar Vista just reopened after a refresh, getting larger in the process and transitioning from that place you got to-go rotisserie chicken from to a full-out modern izakaya. Big changes indeed. The menu is a real mix of things - there’s shishito skewers, gochujang wings, pasta, and even a cheeseburger. It all sounds a little nuts, so we’re looking forward to heading in and checking it out.

  • The Alma at The Standard pop-up is no longer temporary - they're taking over all food operations at the Sunset Strip location. We love what they've been doing at The Standard - it still feels like the original DTLA Alma, but way more relaxed - so we're intrigued to see how their approach translates to the usually boring category of hotel restaurant.

  • We'll be honest here - the food at El Tejano is pretty mediocre. But that's not why you should come here. You should come here because this rowdy new Mexican cantina in the heart of Noho has one of the better outdoor patios we've seen in a while (corn hole anyone?) and margaritas served in goblets the size of your head. Party on.

  • This week we made the long overdue visit to Sri Siam, the 30-year-old Thai staple in North Hollywood, and it did not disappoint. Home to the original crunchy rice salad, this no-frills family Thai spot is one place you need to put onto your list immediately. Expect more coverage very soon.

  • We popped into Zafran Pot, a new-ish Indian spot in a Culver City strip mall for lunch and came away pretty satisfied. The combo #2 involves an appetizer, your choice of three curries, rice, and naan - and at $9.45 it’s a total steal. The Chicken Tikka Masala is amazing, and it’s worth stopping in on Fridays or the weekend for a big serving of Lamb Dum Biryani - the only times this signature dish is available.

7/11/2016 Update

  • Santa Monica needs another fast casual restaurant like Meryl needs another Oscar nomination, but in comes Flower Child to change our mind. Heartier than Sweetgreen, less terrible than Lemonade, and with table service once you’ve placed your order at the counter, there are a lot of choices here, most of them good. Also, it’s very, very, pretty.

  • Pingtung Market is a neighborhood gem that has completely flown under the radar, and we’re kind of mad about it. Check out this Asian fusion spot on Melrose for excellent dumplings and the best patio you never knew existed.

  • Insanely popular Brooklyn food market Smorgasburg has just started a permanent run in LA. Head downtown to the Alameda Produce Market on Sundays for all kinds of bites, including those weird Raindrop Cakes you’ve seen on Instagram. Just be prepared for crowds.

  • Charcoal has been doing their grill-heavy thing in Venice for a little while now, but only started serving brunch last month. And it’s very good. Eggs Benedict comes with a charcoal hollandaise, which despite looking like ink from that pen you snapped in half is actually delicious.

  • The first part of Curtis Stone’s restaurant and butcher shop, Gwen, opened a week or so ago. Mimicking the standalone butchers that are in every neighborhood in his native Australia, there are all kinds of meat available (including sausages made in-house), and friendly staff to help you decide on your order. You can pick up a $15 sandwich and a coffee for lunch, and grab a peek at the rest of the space, set to open at the end of the month.

  • Craft brewery Ballast Point opened down in Long Beach just in time for last week’s holiday. Expect the usual brewhouse-type eats (burgers, tacos, wings), and many, many beers on tap.

  • It was only a matter of time before NYC’s always-slammed (and actually really good) vegan counter-style restaurant by CHLOE came to its spiritual home, the Eastside of Los Angeles. So in the new, less expensive Whole Foods (sorry, "365 by Whole Foods") in Silver Lake, there she is, serving up vegan meatball sandwiches that aren’t terrible.

  • If you’ve spent any length of time in NYC, you’ve definitely been told to visit The Halal Guys. If you’re into their legendary shwarma, you no longer need to fly across the country - they’ve just opened their first LA outpost in Koreatown. Fingers crossed those combo platters are as good as the original.

  • Ok, so Mardi is a hotel restaurant - a thing that just isn’t a thing in LA. The food is more creative than you’d expect, but still nothing to write home about. It’s also very quiet. However, the patio is a thing of beauty, and a new after-work drinks-and-a-bite place to add into your rotation.

  • We finally made it down to Chica's, which wins the award for best dressed in the increasingly crowded downtown taco world. The tiny spot on Olive is beautiful, with a cool retro vibe. Oh and the tacos themselves? Delicious.

6/6/2016 Update

  • NYC's The Cannibal has just gone bicoastal, opening a butcher and sandwich shop, as well as a full restaurant in Culver City's new Platform development. The General Tso's Pork sandwich at the butcher shop has been haunting us since we stopped in for lunch.

  • We haven’t had a chance to get down there yet, but with the openings of both Chica’s and Sonoratown, the DTLA taco situation is in hyperdrive right now.

  • If you can put up with the sceney crowd, our recent stop in to Laurel Canyon classic Pace proved they're still cranking out excellent Italian dishes.

  • On the other hand, we had a disappointing dinner at Lobster & Beer in Palms. With a name like that, we were expecting great things, but the menu wasn't quite what we expected (no whole lobsters?), and we waited an eternity for food that wasn't overly impressive. We'll chalk it up to opening pains and be back when they settle in a little more.

  • We've been hard at work eating our way through LA's best sushi (more on our findings to come), and one of our standouts so far has been Jinpachi. The omakase we had there included more unusual fish like monkfish and some seriously tasty barracuda.

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