LAGuide

12 Exciting Dinner Spots To Try In LA Right Now

A night out at one of these places feels overwhelmingly of the moment.

12 Exciting Dinner Spots To Try In LA Right Now guide image

photo credit: Wonho Frank Lee

For anyone wondering which sit-down restaurants are currently hot in LA right this second, you have arrived at the right figurative Internet place. What does “hot” mean, you ask? Well, it’s safe to say that we put on relatively cute outfits to dine at each restaurant below (possibly even that pair of shoes that make our ankles bleed a little). A night out at one of these places–whether it’s for a casual catch-up with a friend or an impressive date night–feels overwhelmingly of the current moment. Many of them are brand spanking new, but we’ve also listed a couple of old spots that are either doing something new or have finally reopened for the first time in a while.

And, as always, we wouldn’t be recommending any of these restaurants simply for having a memorable scene. We’ve been to each and every spot and loved the food they serve, so you can plan your dinner confidently.

THE SPOTS

Catch Steak  imageoverride image
6.8

Catch Steak

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Located mere blocks from the original Catch, Catch Steak is a meat-centric spinoff that follows the same template as its predecessor: build a tacky, semi-exclusive space with generic food that tastes good, and the rich will follow. You’ll see Tiffany blue Teslas and camo-printed Rolls-Royces parked out front along La Cienega. Inside, things get even more wild. The ballroom-esque space is filled with belligerent studio execs eating $250 tomahawk steaks and dudes in Armani suits refusing to take off their sunglasses even though it’s 9:45pm. Espresso martinis are guzzled like seltzer. You’ll eat a crisp, well-dressed caesar and be pleased with whatever cut of prime/dry-aged/wagyu beef lands on your table, but that’s not the point. A night at Catch Steak is about the extravagance unfolding around you, so keep your head up and your eyes peeled—the show goes on all night. 

There will never be such a thing as too many industry dinner spots in Hollywood. Feel free to add Gunsmoke to the rolodex. This upscale Japanese-American spot has all the necessary elements to put agents and their clients at ease: a semi-hidden location behind the Columbia Square complex, a shiny dining room with lots of privacy to close deals, and a very good house martini. But what sets Gunsmoke apart from the pack is the food. You’ll eat dishes like tuna sashimi topped with little flecks of dry-aged ham, warm cabbage salad, and a very spicy lamb sisig. Not everything is a success here—we wanted more flavor and heat from the crispy quail with Szechuan peppercorn—but overall, Gunsmoke’s menu is interesting and far outpaces the neighborhood competition. 

The people behind legendary Arts District restaurant Bavel have opened another hit with this snug Middle Eastern spot in East Hollywood. Saffy’s is basically a glamorous skewer house on Fountain Avenue, serving a range of creamy dips, fluffy breads, and slow-roasted meats presented on two-foot-long spears. The food is so good, it’ll have you plotting your next visit before the check arrives. But you should also come for the magnetic energy in their dining room. Whether you’re sitting down for a meal at 5pm or 10pm, you’ll be greeted with a bumping playlist, kind servers, and glares of admiration from other diners asking what you ordered. Saffy’s is unapologetically cool, and an ideal place to drop in for a martini and some hummus at the bar or share a full-on feast in one of their bright yellow booths.

photo credit: Lisa Corson

Mother Tongue review image
7.0

Mother Tongue

$$$$

At this rooftop dinner spot in Hollywood, a kitchen of culinary vets takes the snoozy, stereotypically LA healthy dining experience and turns it on its head. The menu reads like a Top Chef challenge held at Erewhon: think fresh veggie spring rolls with a side of caramelized coconut sauce, spirulina cavatelli tossed  in fresh moringa pesto, and roasted duck breast with hazelnut dukkah and “chewy beets.” Considering this a scene-y restaurant inside of a high-end gym, there is way more attention to detail in the food than you'd expect. Fitness influencers and stylish locals bump elbows at the glossy patio bar, which overlooks a members-only pool. And that’s where you’ll want to be, the next time you want a luxe dinner on a rooftop involving dishes that are sort of healthy, but also aren’t boring grain bowls.

Hidden behind a vine-covered wall and a noreen curtain that flaps in the breeze, N/Soto is an izakaya in Mid-City run by the chefs from N/Naka. Though this spot is more casual, it still feels intimate and special—there’s a not-too-loud indie soundtrack in the dining room and covered patio out back, and the food shows the polish you’d expect from people who were given the star treatment on an episode of Chef’s Table. Chewy fresh mochi comes lightly fried and wrapped in sheets of nori alongside a creamy cod roe dip. Seared beef tongue, meant to be eaten taco-style with sheets of lettuce and pickles, is so tender it melts. Order whatever the seasonal tempura is, plus a plate of sashimi and a few grilled skewers—it’s all perfect drinking food and a great excuse to explore the excellent cocktail menu, which makes use of things like ume-infused shochu and mandarin shaved ice.

When it comes to exciting dinners in Hollywood right now, one doesn’t need to look far: between Mother Wolf, Grandmaster Recorders, Ka’Teen, Cabra, Ardor, and Bar Lis, this neighborhood has more big, shiny attractions than any place else in the city. The newest kid on the block is Mes Amis, a swanky French brasserie that’s here to fill the Bon Temps-sized hole in your heart (a now-closed spot from the same chef). It’s a hotel restaurant attached to the Hyatt Thompson, a fact they try to obscure with unmarked doorways and a separate entrance… but why? Mes Amis might be one of the best hotel restaurants in LA right now. There are black-and-white photographs of a young Brigitte Bardot, wrought-iron chandeliers, and plush green velvet seat cushions. The space is divided into two levels a half-step apart, which creates a nice flow and room to people watch. Some things we loved—like a black truffle risotto laced with Ibérico ham that’s decadent and wonderfully salty—and others we didn’t, like the needlessly complex mackerel sashimi covered in baby vegetable escabeche, or the winding stroll through the hotel lobby you have to take to get to the bathroom.

From the moment you pull up and hear Usher blasting from the speakers, it’s clear you’ve arrived at Ktown’s hottest party. Welcome to MUN, an upscale Korean steakhouse where you’ll dine on boneless short ribs, beef tartare bibimbap, and kimchi pancakes glued together with molten cheese. Almost everything is painted black, from the walls to the benches to the flashy marble tables outfitted with grills containing tiny, barely perceptible air vents that whisk any smoke away from your face and hair. Everyone on the waitstaff is tatted. And drinks—like Japanese whiskey, cognac, mezcal, soju, beer, and strawberry lychee martinis—are poured at warp-speed. Equal parts do-it-yourself barbecue, drinking den, and informal rave, the energy at MUN is fork-in-the-socket electric. Meals should balance premium meats (the $200 variety combo serves four people and includes flat-iron steak, honeycomb-cut pork belly, pork jowl, and short ribs) with fun, whimsical a la carte items.

What is that saying? "When god closes a Happy Foot/Sad Foot clinic, they open a Pijja Palace?"  The new Indian sports bar in Silver Lake, is, in the best way possible, Stimulation with a capital S. There are three giant flatscreen TVs on every wall, forcing you to stare directly into LeBron James' eyes until you merge souls. The dining room, which is divided into two separate areas, has a slick mid-century modern look that actually feels fresh. And like one of our other favorite restaurants at the moment, Tokki, the food is fun. Thin-crust pizzas come topped with kadai paneer, saag gravy, stinger chiles, or baingan jawa fry, a deep-fried eggplant dish made with mustard oil. And the pasta offerings include a wonderful cheese and shell dish loaded with saffron, parmesan, and Indian long pepper. It's our new go-to comfort dish. Have you ever eaten food like this? Probably not. Order the malted chai soft serve. 

Taking a page straight from Brigadoon, Cobras And Matadors has emerged from the mist of LA restaurant heaven and recently reopened in their original location in Beverly Grove—a decade after closing. If you’re unfamiliar with the old neighborhood Spanish tapas spot, here’s what you need to know: You’ll eat simple, well-executed dishes like perfectly grilled asparagus topped with sweet manchego and buttery gambas al ajillo—all in a lively little dining room that feels like a tavern on a Valencia side street. This is the kind of place you show up to with a few friends and a bottle of wine on a Wednesday night (yep, it’s still BYOB) and accidentally stay until midnight—chatting with the waitstaff and making friends with every adjacent table.

Don’t kill the messenger, but when it comes to restaurants, Sunset Junction has become a complete snoozefest lately. Bar Moruno is already starting to liven things up. The party-like energy at this upscale Spanish spot hits you the second you walk in—you’ll spot friends and coworkers hovering over round wooden tables eating canned fish and swapping today’s best drama and a walk-in only bar area that starts popping by 6:30pm every night. It’s the kind of place you might roll into on a weeknight for silky egg salad and pan con tomate, and accidentally stay for three hours because there’s an entire gin martini section on the menu. Bar Moruno is fun, a little kitschy, and feels as close to a tapas bar in Barcelona as you’ll get in LA. Sunset Junction is more exciting for it.

Sometimes, an excessive dinner is in order. Maybe you’ve got friends visiting from out of town who are looking to have “a night,” or maybe it’s Friday and you want to drink martinis, talk over each other,  and order a few interesting dishes. Grandmaster Recorders from the E.P. & L.P. people is a great option on Cahuenga in Hollywood. This Australian-ish spot borrows from the space’s history (it was once the recording studio by the same name where Stevie Wonder, Bowie, and the Chili Peppers made the magic happen), so music and food carry equal weight. The dishes range from good to very tasty and many are a bit over the top—caviar cannolis and wagyu pappardelle are available, but it’s the grilled scampi and basil hand roll that we’d order again and again. Dinner here is not cheap (with drinks, you’ll likely be paying well over $100 per person). But if you’re looking to kick off an open-ended evening, start here. You can seamlessly continue the night at their adjacent disco bar, or upstairs at the rooftop bar.

While we were all busy nesting and drinking hot toddies in our bedrooms over the holiday break, one of the bigger restaurant openings in LA occurred: Mother Wolf. This massive Italian spot in Hollywood is the second restaurant from Evan Funke, the chef/owner of Venice’s Felix, and while that spot is known for its sexy exclusivity, Mother Wolf is much more of a party. The sprawling dining room is filled with big chandeliers, mirrored pillars, and giant pink booths full of groups of friends and coworkers knocking back one too many negronis. The tremendous menu includes plenty of classic Roman-style dishes like crispy margherita pizzas, perfectly al dente rigatoni all’amatriciana, and the best cacio e pepe we’ve eaten in Los Angeles. We’re anxious to get back and try some of the bigger meat dishes, but we’ve yet to eat anything here we haven’t liked. If you’re looking for a fancy, but fun dinner spot to kick off 2022, Mother Wolf is a great option.

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LA Guide

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