LA’s Best New Dishes Of 2022
photo credit: Jessie Clapp
This year, as per usual, we ate more food than we can remember. But there were some exceptional dishes that we'll never forget—like garlicky seafood paella, a lamb wellington that makes wellingtons feel cool again, and a very good bar burger. Of the hundreds of dishes we tried from new restaurants in 2022, this list has our 16 favorites. Make it your goal in 2023 to get familiar with every single one of them.
Cento Pasta Bar is no stranger to viral pastas. Their cartoonishly purple beet spaghetti basically broke LA’s internet in 2015 when the restaurant originally popped up at a Downtown wine bar. These days, they’re cooking at a shiny new space in West Adams, and while the beet spaghetti is still on the menu—and still delicious—it’s no longer the star. That award goes to the spicy pomodoro: conch shells are tossed in a creamy, bright-orange sauce and topped with a giant dollop of ricotta and a pool of basil oil. It’s spicy, sweet, and herbaceous, with just the tiniest kick of truffle at the end. And it’s one of the best pastas you can eat in LA at the moment.
Paella Del Mar
Spanish food had a big moment in LA this year, with places like Bar Moruno, Dono, and Cobras & Matadors popping up across town. But none of them pulled off paella quite like Dos Besos, a Spanish spot that opened in Old Town Pasadena earlier this year. The paella del mar is studded with gem-like shellfish and calamari rings, but the rice below is undeniably the best part. The fat, saffron-infused grains come out tender on top, crispy on the bottom, and flavored with generous amounts of garlic and white wine broth. Just keep in mind that each pan requires a solid 30 minutes to prepare, so be sure to place your order with that first round of sangria if you're not on Spanish time.
Hot take: Most breakfast sandwiches (even the good ones) tend to taste pretty similar. But after our first bite of the one at Bub & Grandma’s, we knew it was special. There isn’t anything wild going on—just pillowy eggs, American cheese, mayo, and ketchup on a soft kaiser bun. But the simple, high-quality ingredients stacked in the correct ratios are what makes this sandwich so delicious. If you’re ever in need of a perfect little breakfast sandwich to get your week started right, drive to this Glassell Park diner.
When was the last time you ate something worthy of a grand ceremony? Chances are, it’s been a while. Consider this your cue to experience the jollof rice at Ilé, a West African tasting menu pop-up in Hollywood. Served from a big smoking cauldron, the fluffy jollof smells like smoky tomato puree with a pinch of sweetness from the slices of ripe plantain cooked inside. The chef explains the inspiration behind the dish while he doles it out: an attempt to end the (mostly friendly) rivalry between West African countries over who makes the best version. His recipe blends elements of Nigerian, Ghanaian, and Senegalese jollof in one huge pot, to create something wholly original and deeply personal.
Boniato Yam Tapioca
Of all the dishes at the newly relocated Kato in Row DTLA, this salty-sweet dessert is the clear standout. Technically it’s not a new dish—it was on the original tasting menu back when Kato was in West LA—but we imagine the demand to bring it back was even louder that the crowd at BTS’ farewell concert. At the bottom of the bowl sit squishy boba balls made from starchy yams, which get coated in brown sugar syrup and a savory cheese foam that looks a bit like shaving cream. Those pencil shavings on top? They’re actually brown butter sable, sliced razor thin. We didn’t think 2022 would have us extolling the pleasures of cookie shavings, but hey, here we are.
The crispy octopus is the only optional dish at Kinn, a grown-and-sexy Korean tasting menu spot in the heart of Koreatown, but you should consider it mandatory. This $21 add-on offers a rare moment of bliss in which we feel like we finally did something right. Each plump tentacle is braised in its own juices until tender, then flash-seared and slathered in a nutty gochujang sauce. The result is crispy skin that's so crunchy, we thought it was battered and fried. It’s remained on the rotating menu at Kinn since day one, and we pray that it never comes off.
Special Beef Noodle Soup
With places like Mian, Sapp Coffee Shop, and Golden Deli, LA has an abundance of spots that serve excellent beef noodle soup across lots of different cuisines. We think it’s time to add the version at Luyixian to that all-star lineup. This Shanghainese noodle shop in Alhambra makes a kind of soup you eat on a Monday, dream about all week, and then have again on Friday because your body can’t go any longer without it. The dark, cloudy broth is rich and spicy, and thin, chewy noodles soak up the intense flavors as you eat. Thick chunks of braised beef tie it all together—they’re so succulent that chewing is an optional activity.
Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Emmy speech, Don’t Worry Darling’s press tour, and the night Renaissance came out—these are some of our fondest memories of 2022. Another instant highlight in Hollywood was when our server at Mes Amis presented this lamb wellington to our table. Encased in a golden, flaky pastry, it felt like being handed a magical artifact with the power to solve the world’s most pressing issues. The staff at this upscale French bistro eventually sliced it up, revealing a thin ribbon of earthy, chopped mushrooms and a center filled with tender lamb that solved our most pressing issue (being hungry). The $89 price tag is a splurge, but even if you split it with someone else, you’ll definitely have leftovers.
We’re big suckers for dive bars, but dive bars with food that you would face rush hour traffic on the 101 to eat? Sign us up. This dingy Studio City watering hole is a great place to grab a stiff drink, but it’s the food that made us immediate regulars—particularly the burger. A heavy helping of cilantro is something we’ve never seen on a burger before, but Oy Bar proves it’s a great match with a thick, juicy beef patty. Add in gooey Toma cheese, hoisin ketchup, lettuce, red onion, cucumber, and dijon—stacked on a plump sesame bun—and you’ve got yourself a fragrant, savory masterpiece.
Eating dinner at Pizzeria Bianco in DTLA requires patience and determination—two things many of us lack when starving. But once you manage to land a table here, don’t waste precious time dissecting the menu: just order the Rosa. The toppings on this chewy, perfectly charred pizza are like a high-budget synchronized light show: there’s a lot going on, but it’s one beautiful, cohesive spectacle. There’s a toasty crunch from crumbled pistachios, salty funk from the parmesan, a big punch of rosemary, and a jamminess from thinly sliced red onions that nearly caramelize in the oven.
Grilled Lobster Skewer
This buzzy Middle Eastern spot on Fountain Ave. isn’t afraid to riff on traditional recipes—just look at their green falafel with beet zhoug or unbelievably good grilled onion and endive salad. But the most exciting twist on the menu at Saffy’s is the lobster skewer. Cut into chunks, coated in green harissa, then grilled to perfection, the juicy pieces of lobster tail glisten like a teen idol in a skincare commercial. There’s a dollop of serrano-lime yogurt on the side, but the meat is so incredibly tender it’s almost unnecessary. Like everything at Saffy’s, it’s a decadent luxury made to taste effortlessly simple.
Soft Shell Crab Taco
Seeing tiny fried legs poking out of your tortilla might be a little jarring, but any shock factor will disappear the moment you bite into this crispy seafood taco. The crab has a golden beer-battered crust, the spicy mayo adds heat and extra decadence, and the diced pineapple and pickled onion brighten the whole thing up like a Christmas tree plugged into a megawatt generator. The only thing that improves this taco is fully utilizing Simón’s refrigerated salsa cabinet and applying a healthy amount of their sweet, nutty pica piña salsa.
The return of the iconic Tail O’ The Pup hot dog stand in West Hollywood was one of the year’s feel-good stories. And while we love the new, expanded space—with an air-conditioned interior and a massive double-decker patio—the thing that keeps us coming back is the Chicago Dog. Topped with sweet relish, onions, tomato, sliced sport peppers, mustard, and a dill pickle spear, this take on a Chicago-style classic is a pinnacle of the form and proof that more is more when it comes to toppings.
Jidori Chicken Liver Pâté
It seems like every new restaurant has a chicken liver dish these days, and most of the time, they’re nothing special. But the chicken liver pâté at Tet-A-Tet is a major exception. It’s smooth like softened butter, not too livery, and packs a savoriness that will have you swiping it up with your finger once the baguette runs out. On the side, sweet mango jam and fragrant lemongrass chili crunch add a burst of brightness and cut through all that butter and offal-ness with X-Acto knife precision. Of all the bold, creative Vietnamese dishes at Tet-A-Tet, this is one we nearly ordered a second round of before we even finished the first.
Just when we thought we were immune to the powers of crudo, the kanpachi at Cobi’s got through to us. This appetizer is outstanding. Fatty but firm slices of fish absorb the lemongrassy coconut milk they bathe in, and finger lime pearls explode with citrus in every bite. It’s different and easy on the eyes, kind of like Cobi’s as a whole. While this Santa Monica spot technically opened in late 2021, we snoozed on them last year and didn’t want to keep this dish to ourselves any longer.
Fungi, Onion & Truffle Boureka
As you stand in line to pick up flaky Israeli pastries at Borekas, a kosher takeout window in Sherman Oaks, you might hear a regular say, “I’ll die if they sell out of the mushroom ones.” If that’s not a sign to add one to your order, we don’t know what is. This light and crispy turnover comes stuffed with mushrooms, caramelized onions, and a whiff of black truffle, baked until its buttery, brown edges develop a slight char. Every order comes with cups of spicy red schug and fresh tomato pulp—dunk a slice into each and watch the layers of crispy phyllo dough soak up the flavorful sauce.