Welcome to The Infatuation Hit List, your guide to the city’s best new restaurants.
And when we say “best new restaurants,” we mean it. Because we’ve tried every single one of these places - and we’ve also left off countless spots that simply aren’t worth your time and money.
The Hit List is our record of every restaurant that’s opened in the past year that we’d highly recommend you try. This guide is sorted chronologically, so at the top you’ll find our latest entries to this list (the newest spots), and as you keep scrolling you’ll find the places that are on the older side - but are great enough that we still haven’t stopped talking about them.
And if you’re looking for the best new places to drink in LA, we’ve got that covered, too - check out our Bar Hit List.
New to The Hit List (as of 11/13): Onda, Yang’s Kitchen
Some spots you might have heard about that didn’t quite make the cut (click their names to learn more): Lolo.
All restaurants featured on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team. The Hit List is presented by the American Express ® Gold Card. Click here to learn more about the benefits and rewards you get from paying with the Amex Gold Card while dining out.
The second you walk into Yang’s Kitchen and spot the line snaking away from the counter, you realize there’s something special going on at this modern Taiwanese spot in Alhambra. Then the food arrives and you understand why everyone is here - these aren’t just some of the best Taiwanese dishes in the SGV, they’re also some of the most interesting. Whether it’s a beef roll served on a giant whole grain scallion pancake and eaten like taco, or pork rice braised in onions and apples, the food is what makes Yang’s one of the most exciting new restaurants to open in Alhambra in years.
Even if you aren’t the kind of person who religiously tracks every new restaurant in LA, chances are you’ve heard about Onda. That’s simply what happens when the people behind Sqirl and Mexico City’s Contramar decide to open up a Mexican restaurant in Santa Monica. So, does it live up to the hype? Well... it’s a work in progress. The service has occasional lulls, the sterile space feels like you’re on the ground floor of a car museum, and just about every dish could use less salt. So why on earth is Onda on our Hit List? Because when this place is good, it’s really good, and despite some early flaws, there are simply too many interesting and exciting elements here to ignore. The trout tostada, Caesar salad, smoked pork jowl with habanero hot sauce, and inside-out turkey quesadilla need to be the top priorities when you order.
Located on the ground floor of the massive Ava apartment complex in Little Tokyo, Yapa is a new restaurant specializing in Nikkei cuisine (Japanese-Peruvian), and the results are tremendous. As one might expect, there is no shortage of ceviche and tiradito on the menu, and while both are very good, the real highlights come from lesser-known dishes like tacu tacu, a traditional Andean rice-and-bean pancake, and korokke, a Japanese-style croquette stuffed with Peruvian corn. The space is definitely upscale, but if you show up in jeans and a t-shirt on a midweek first date, you’ll be more than comfortable. If you’re rolling in with a big group, the leafy side patio is ideal.
Pasjoli is a new French restaurant in Santa Monica and one of the most exciting places to open on Main St. in years. It’s from the same people who brought us Dialogue, but instead of a hyper-minimalist setting and a $230-per-person tasting menu, Pasjoli has the look and feel of a casual bistro on the backstreets of Paris. You’re definitely still going to spend a lot of money here (entrees run in the $40-50 range), but whether it’s a caramelized onion tart, chicken liver brioche, or a clam and spot prawn bisque we’d buy in bulk, this is the kind of rich, over-the-top food you wake up texting your friends about. If you’re feeling particularly extravagant, the $165 whole duck (complete with a tableside pressing demonstration) is an absolute must.
A new steakhouse on Rose in Venice, American Beauty is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a Venice steakhouse - in the best possible way. It feels like a brighter, less-smoky version of a family restaurant from the ’80s, the crowd is cool, and the seafood may actually be better than the steak. The scallop carpaccio and Monterrey squid appetizers are both perfectly prepared (and very fresh), and the whole-cooked orata with smoked eggplant and tomato might be the best thing here. The dry-aged ribeye - while tender, salty, and overall good - is a bit unevenly cooked. But the steakhouse burger is super juicy and flavorful, and topped with sweet caramelized onions and what seems like an entire block of Swiss cheese.
If you’re looking to make a splash at your next potluck, head immediately to Fisherman’s Island in Leimert Park. This order-at-the-counter seafood spot has a “You buy, we steam” mantra that rewards you with giant platters of everything from perfectly cooked shrimp to crawfish to snow crab clusters - plus sides of broccoli, potatoes, and the best corn on the cob we’ve had in a while. Everything comes out in tin trays, making it ideal to take to a party or eat with some friends right there in the restaurant. You get to choose your own seasoning, and we highly recommend a mixture of spicy cajun and lemon pepper.
Mogu Mogu is a noodle spot in West LA that requires a bit of effort on your part. They specialize in mazemen - brothless ramen - though if that wasn’t clear, the very specific instructions on the wall should clue you in. You combine your bowl of thick noodles with a variety of toppings (including a poached egg, chives, and spicy minced pork) “for about 30 seconds,” and add their Umami Vinegar midway through (and not before) to create a rich sauce. It may be a meticulous way to approach a meal, but the result is a complex bowl full of chewy noodles, flavors like briny fish powder and bright chives, and a savory sauce. You’ll probably even break a sweat, but when you’re working your way through something as satisfying as Mogu Mogu’s mazemen, it’s worth the effort.
From the outside, Colapasta looks like a new Bank Of America branch, but inside, the massive photo of the kid with a colander on his head will tell you you’re in the right place for handmade pasta. On weekday afternoons, it’s packed with people eating excellent lasagna, bigoli aglio, and beet ravioli in brown butter. Everything’s under $14, so this is a great addition to your lunch routine, or solid go-to for a casual (and shockingly affordable) dinner in Santa Monica. They don’t have their liquor license yet, but they say it’s coming soon.
Broad Street Oyster Co. is always popping up around LA (right now, they’re at Smorgasburg, the Hollywood Night Market, and Santa Barbara’s MUNI Wine every week), and they’ve just opened a brick-and-mortar location in a Malibu shopping center. But you wouldn’t know you’re right next to a SoulCycle - they’ve got fresh seafood from tons of nearby places, like Channel Islands box crab, Morro Bay oysters, and Santa Barbara uni. Order at the counter, get a glass of wine, and find a seat by the window for great views of the Malibu Lagoon next door. But head there soon - Broad Street plans on leaving their Malibu location in November to look for a new home.
After a few years as a food truck, Spoon & Pork has opened a brick-and-mortar on Sunset in Silver Lake. And the change has been great for them - this is excellent, interesting, and affordable Filipino comfort food. Like the name suggests, there’s a lot of pig-based things on the menu, specifically pork belly, served as nigiri, on French bread as a sandwich, or deep-fried in a rice bowl. Our favorites, though, are the chorizo burger, and the massive, fantastic patita, a slow-cooked-then-deep-fried pork shank served with chili vinegar garlic sauce. It’s a very special dish, and at $22, is roughly one-fifth of what you’d pay for the exact same dish at a bigger-deal restaurant.
Venice is always in need of more great, low-key neighborhood restaurants - and Dudley Market is back to fill that void. This iconic seafood spot, which had closed in 2017, is less than a block from the Boardwalk, and despite that, somehow remains tourist-free. It’s a fantastic place to just have oysters and some natural wine, but if that’s all you do, you’ll be missing out on the full menu of excellent seafood caught that day. Don’t leave without getting the pork belly and clam toast, and if it’s on the menu, you need to order the rockfish - an excellent whole-fried fish with sambal. The servers will treat you like you’ve lived next to them on the Canals for 15 years, and the sommelier might come by with another glass of wine he thinks you’d enjoy, just because.
Great news for Culver City folks (and hammered Rush Street patrons next door): Roughly two months after BäcoShop closed, the team behind it has reopened the spot as Amácita. Like its DTLA cousin, Bar Amá, the space is cool and casual, and the menu features some of the same Tex-Mex favorites - like queso dip and pillow-y handmade tortillas - but Amácita offers plenty of new options, too. The charcoal-grilled baby corn, with queso fresco and a tangy morita chile crema, is a creative play on elote, and larger plates like the pork collar pibil, served with sweet-and-sour roasted pineapple and pickled habanero onions, are great for sharing (and pair well with cocktails like a hibiscus frosé). They’ve also kept one of Bar Amá’s best features: The Super Nacho Happy Hour, with daily deals on tacos, drinks, and more.
Birdie G’s industrial space in Santa Monica doesn’t look much different from other new restaurants in LA. There’s exposed air ducts, an open kitchen, and an eager waitstaff proudly proclaiming that everything’s meant to be shared. But once the food starts hitting the table, all those lingering “We’ve seen this before” thoughts quickly fade away. Whether it’s mustard-doused German potato salad, crab and prawn cakes, or sloppy joes on Texas toast, this is the kind of hearty, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food that you just can’t find in this city. Also, it all tastes great. Birdie G’s is the most excited we’ve been about a Westside restaurant in over a year.
LA’s best new pizza spot is operating out of a liquor store parking lot in Silver Lake. Elio’s Wood Fire Pizza sets up shop in the same lot on Sunset every night, with some picnic tables, a mobile fridge full of toppings, and a wood-fired pizza oven in the back of an early-aughts Chevy Silverado. Their (very good) cheese pizza is $10, and you can build your own pie for $1 per topping - we recommend adding some sausage, pepperoni, or both. Plus, the dough, is springy, chewy, flavorful, and perfectly blistered in all the ways you want wood-fired pizza to be. Head here now before the line goes all the way to Echo Park.
On paper, Bon Temps looks like a fairly straightforward French restaurant in the Arts District. In reality, it’s one of the more exciting places we’ve eaten at this year. Yes, its large space has all the industrial touches you’ve come to expect from upscale restaurants in the AD, but as soon as the first canapés hit the table, you realize something special is happening here. Whether it’s the excellent cocktails (get the pisco-infused Galapagos), full raw bar, or incredible crab cakes, Bon Temps is one of the most impressive all-around restaurants we’ve been to recently - and you should probably make a reservation while you still can.
The second location of Mizlala - this one’s in West Adams, right across from Alta - is pretty different from the Sherman Oaks original. You order at the counter, grab some pickled sides from the bar, and take a seat on the patio. But one thing hasn’t changed: The excellent Israeli food. The menu is small, but it’s hard to go wrong - there’s a great, salty chicken shewarma, and very good spiced kefta. You can get any of the main proteins in a pita, on a salad, or as a plate with rice, hummus, and veggies. Don’t skip the sides, either - the fried broccoli and Brussels sprouts are both fantastic.
Located on Sunset Blvd. in East Hollywood, Northern Thai Food Club is our favorite Thai restaurant to open in LA in a long time. The tiny strip mall spot only has about four tables to go around, so no matter when you come, expect to share table space with complete strangers. As far as the food goes, stick to the hot bar in the back, where you’ll find the daily soup specials, plus the best Thai sausage we’ve ever eaten. Throw in a sweet and savory khao soi and a spicy papaya salad from the regular menu and you’ve got one of the best meals in Thai Town right now.
Recently, great new restaurants have been hard to find on the Westside - especially near Abbot Kinney. But Yours Truly is an exception. Its menu might read like it was created using some sort of New Restaurant Algorithm - avocado hummus with salsa macha, Nashville hot shrimp - but the food’s pretty great. There are some things we liked a little less, like squid-ink pasta shells “carbonara” that could have used a lot more flavor, but overall, this is a place you need to check out if you’re looking to book an upscale date or business dinner on the Westside.
A tiny new sake and wine bar on the grounds of Yamashiro in Hollywood, Kensho is one of the best new date spots in town - and the next place to come when you want to convince someone that you’re cooler than you actually are. You can order the entire menu for around $100, including dishes like a unique (and excellent) black cod with matcha and pickled mustard sauce, and burrata and tomatoes on sesame sourdough bread. But the best thing on the menu is the rice porridge, which involves egg, goat cheese, and dill, and tastes like that feeling of having a Labrador puppy in your lap. The staff will help you find the perfect sake to pair with your meal, and they aren’t stingy when it comes to pouring sample sips, either.
In the fall of 2018, the fantastic and unique Baroo closed up shop. If you still miss their hyper-modern Korean food and fermented vegetables, we have good news - they’re back and better than ever. Located inside the Union Swapmeet at Santa Monica and Vermont, Baroo Canteen is little more than a counter and a few tables, but with a brand new menu that includes things like mung bean falafel, pastrami fried rice, and some of our favorite Korean fried chicken in LA, this is easily one of the most exciting meals we’ve had this year. Unfortunately, the Swapmeet itself is set to be demolished in 2020, so go now while there’s still time.
This tiny spot on a quiet stretch of Hyperion is an excellent addition to your Eastside date night rotation. The menu is small, but features some really interesting takes on raw fish, from a more traditional striped bass ceviche with xni-pec (habanero salsa), to an experimental yellowfin tostada with habanero sorbet on top. It’s tough to go wrong - unless you don’t order the scallop shooters, which come with pomegranate and serrano, and are the kind of shots we plan on doing the most this summer.
It started as as a catering company, but now Aduke African Cuisine has a fantastic full-service restaurant at Pico and La Cienega. The menu is composed of traditional Nigerian food - jollof rice combos, yam porridge, and a whole section of African soups. The pumpkin seed-based egusi is our favorite, but no matter which soup you order, get a side of fufu to go along with it. It’s basically a giant ball of boiled yuca flour, and the ideal dipping device for the spicy and fragrant egusi. The portions are quite large here, so make sure you bring some friends and coworkers.
You may already be familiar with Maury’s, a bagel pop-up that used to always sell out at Dinosaur Coffee and the Hollywood Farmer’s Market. Now it’s gone permanent in Silver Lake, and it’s better than ever. The fresh bagels are very good, but the real star is the fish they cure in-house. We like the whitefish salad and traditional Nova lox, but our absolute favorite is the ikura (red caviar), served open-face with cucumbers and dill. Despite lines out the door, things move quickly, so even if you’re hungover and grumpy, you’ll still be very happy. Seating options are limited, so make sure you grab a seat at one of the picnic tables outside if you can.
There are a bunch of places to eat inside The Manufactory, the big complex at The Row DTLA from SF’s Tartine Bakery, but the newest is the best. Alameda Supper Club has an atmosphere similar to its roommate, Tartine Bianco, but displays more of an Italian influence (mostly because there’s a pasta section on the menu), and the food is both more refined and more interesting. But maybe the best thing on the menu is the cheddar and smoked ham toast - two little strips of buttery toast with cheddar mornay sauce and smoked ham shaved over the top.