photo credit: Sara Tramp
Welcome to Perfect For, a weekly Infatuation series of ultra-specific restaurant recommendations from people around town you don't know personally, but might wish you did. Design expert, Emmy-nominated TV host, and author Bobby Berk shares his favorite design-forward restaurants in LA.
Bobby Berk can’t turn off his work brain. Even at restaurants. For the interior designer and Queer Eye star, how a restaurant looks is just as (if not more) important than what’s on his plate. Surrounding yourself with good design is an idea he explores in his new book, Right At Home, so we caught up with him to hear about the LA restaurants with the kind of looks he can’t help but notice. Ranging from oasis-like patios to spaces with a whole lot of Los Angeles history in their bones, these are the spots that get his design seal of approval.
"An industrial brick building isn't the obvious location for a French restaurant, but that's what makes Camphor so unique and unexpected. As soon as you walk through the doors, you're transported into this beautiful, clean white space with navy blue accents. And just like the interior, the food is also a bit unexpected. They've taken classic French dishes and given them a touch of Southeast Asian influence, like beef tartare served with tempura basil leaves or a mouth-watering scallop demi lune. It's all super elegant and elevated, but not too formal or fussy, which I love. I've been telling all my friends to make a res, and I honestly can't wait to go back."
"The Silver Lake location of Bacari is a magical dining experience. You enter this lush garden that is like a hidden oasis, with a huge mature tree and plants everywhere. It's a great spot for date night, birthdays, or weekend brunch. The space alone is reason enough to visit, but the food is also fantastic. For dinner, I like to start with the rainbow beets and tuscan kale salad, then I get the ricotta and beet gnocchi and the lamb stuffed eggplant. For dessert, you can't miss 'the best cake you’ve ever had.' Yes, that's what it's called, and yes, it just might be."
"I've been in love with République ever since I first went there when I moved to LA. The building itself, which was built in 1928 by Charlie Chaplin, is literally a part of the city's history. It feels really special and unique, no matter how many times I've been there. If I'm in the area, I love to pop in for a crostata or bomboloni, but now I'll mostly come here with friends for brunch. The gioiella ricotta toast and potato pancake are real standouts for me. And of course, brunch wouldn't be complete without a mimosa."
"If you're looking for a beautiful patio space, and some seriously delicious Mexican food, I have the place for you: LA Cha Cha Chá in the Arts District. You enter up a flight of stairs into a lush rooftop that is both colorful and lively, while organic and tranquil at the same time. At night, it's even more stunning under the twinkling string lights, and perfect for date night with my husband. Food wise, I like to start with the ceviche de callo and some mushroom tacos. But for me the real star is the pescado cha cha cha, a whole branzino served with blue corn tortillas. It's no wonder this restaurant started in Mexico City—you will definitely feel transported with every aspect of this spot."
"While they have a handful of locations, the Burbank locale of Coffee Commissary has become my new go-to neighborhood coffee spot. It has a laid-back, industrial vibe and a great covered patio. I love a really strong cold brew with oat milk in the morning after my workout, and they have one of my favorites. If I'm feeling especially hungry, I'll also get the Angeleno burrito, which has bacon, guacamole, tater tots, and hot sauce, and is hearty enough to keep me full until dinnertime."
photo credit: Courtesy of My Lai
"My Lai has some of the best Vietnamese food I have ever had (and my husband is Vietnamese, so I know this food very well!) They've taken the classic elements of Vietnamese cuisine and given them a fresh and modern take, including lots of vegan options. I probably eat here at least once a week, and always get takeout whenever I have friends in town. Mama Mai’s Chicken Garlic Rice is my go-to dish, but I also love that you can build your own custom bowl. The original location in Mar Vista is this charming little storefront, with pink neon chopsticks above the entrance. It also has a really lovely back patio that's covered by blooming bougainvillea. A second location on Sunset in Hollywood recently opened (that's even closer to my house), so I will probably be stopping in even more frequently."