The Hit List: New LA Restaurants To Try Right Now

We checked out these new restaurants in LA and loved them.
The Hit List: New LA Restaurants To Try Right Now image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

When restaurants open, we check them out. This means that we subject our stomachs and social lives to the good, the bad, and more often than not, the perfectly fine. And every once in a while, a new spot makes us feel like Angelyne driving her convertible down Santa Monica Blvd. When that happens, we add it here, to the Hit List. 

The Hit List is where you’ll find all of the best new restaurants in LA. As long as a place opened within the past several months and we’re still talking about it, it’s on this guide. Keep tabs on the Hit List and you'll always know which new restaurants you should be eating at right now.

New To The Hit List (5/8): Iki Nori


photo credit: Jesse Hsu



$$$$Perfect For:LunchDining SoloDrinks & A Light BitePre-Theatre Eats


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We walked into Iki Nori in Hollywood expecting a quick handroll lunch. 90 minutes later, we left with a strong Negroni buzz and several texts to friends declaring we found the spot that dethrones KazuNori. This sleek, walk-in sushi bar from the Iki Ramen people takes up the ground floor of an office building on Sunset, making it a lunchtime no-brainer and a great pre-show option for drinks and snacks. Grab a spot at the 12-seat marble bar, admire the floor-to-ceiling windows, and watch young, chatty chefs sear fatty tuna and pack scallop handrolls in front of you. We’d point you toward the $28 four handroll set—it’s enough food to fill us up, with room to sneak in a few chef-recommended nigiri at the end.

We’ve eaten many smashburgers (maybe too many) doing this job, and after a while, they start to blend together. But not Ban Ban Burger. This counter-service spot on Sawtelle from the Tuk Tuk Thai people does Thai-influenced smashburgers that are so good they smacked the flat-patty fatigue right out of us. Combo meals here involve crispy wagyu laab burgers kicked up with mint-garlic gremolata, pale green pandan-flavored milkshakes, and spice-dusted fries with curry ketchup. Everything on the short menu grabs your attention, but we say prioritize the peppery grapow burger finished with a runny egg, or the fried chicken sando on toasted milk bread with panang mayo. Apologies if you wanted the smashburger trend to die—this place is breathing life back into it.

On our first visit to this daytime Persian cafe in Silver Lake, we had a lovely afternoon meal on the outdoor patio eating juicy turmeric chicken. After our second first, we were fully head over heels: This quiet, sun-lit corner spot is a place to bring a book and feel like the world stops spinning over a homey, delicious lunch. After ordering at the counter, a colorful spread arrives in minutes: tomato-y khoresh bademjan, fresh barbari with garlicky yogurt, and grapefruit-sized kofteh tabrizi studded with walnuts and barberries. Azizam also makes top-tier desserts, like the baklava-esque mille-feuille with stripes of soft cream that shouldn’t be missed. In fact, maybe ditch the book and bring a friend so you’ll be able to order more.

This tiny spot in Thai Town is a duck-centric spinoff of our beloved Pa Ord, but unlike most spinoffs, it’s just as great as the original. There are just two tables and a few bar seats, but they all offer a view of Daffy’s personal hell: a tall oven full of glistening roasted birds. You can order your duck over rice, stir-fried, or in a spicy soup, but our pick is the classic carved duck set with garlic oil noodles. The meat is visibly juicy when squeezed, and cut into neat slices with soft, fatty skin—dip them in sweet reduced duck broth and soy-chili sauce for maximum effect. If you don’t want dinner with wings, the pounded-to-order papaya salad and crispy pork belly hold their own, too.

photo credit: Jakob Layman

It took one dinner at this upscale Italian spot in West Hollywood for us to start doing Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire, that is screaming “Stella!” to anyone who’ll listen. The cavernous, two-story space feels like a mega-yacht floating off the coast of Monaco, complete with studio execs ordering vintage wines without opening the menu. But the glitzy scene isn’t the reason to come, it’s the food. Gooey mozzarella and anchovy melted over lemon leaves, silky polenta pasta gilded with crab and trout roe, and grilled Iberico pork that practically melts on your fork—all outstanding and welcome change-ups from LA’s chicken parm and bolognese craze. Stella is pure (pricey) extravagance, but the one-of-a-kind cooking here is worth braving the valet line filled with Cybertrucks.

The bar for impressive tacos in LA is high, but this Mexican-Armenian spot from the Mini Kabob team stands out like Zendaya at a red-carpet premiere. Wedged into a sliver of a space near Sunset Junction, MidEast Tacos folds smoky steak, chicken, and shrimp kabobs into flour tortillas to create clever fusion-y remakes served lunch through dinner. Takeout is big here, but the grilled meats are best eaten ASAP on the handful of streetside tables. Hefty rice-filled burritos taste like a Mini Kabob plate wrapped up (a good thing), quesadillas are decorated with Thai basil and chile arbol toum, and thick cottage fries come dusted in aleppo pepper. But we’d prioritize the simple falafel taco fresh from the fryer—made with three crispy cilantro-green nuggets with soft, steaming cores.

DTLA’s best Thai takeout window has arrived in Atwater Village. At Holy Basil's tiny new sit-down spot, wagyu grapow packs the same heat and crispy pork belly has the same potato-chip skin as at the original, but it's the new seafood options that steal the spotlight. Dishes like spicy-sweet grilled prawns, tart snapper ceviche, and papaya salad sprinkled with fried fish croutons are so flavorful we’d wade across the LA River for them, storm surge or not. We especially love the mussels in a dreamy coconut milk broth punched up with garlic, lime, and a big bouquet of lemongrass. Holy Basil is only taking walk-ins while in soft open mode, so to avoid the longest lines, head in during lunch or right when they open for dinner.

Jilli in Koreatown is a sool jib, which means “drinking spot” in Korean. And if you’ve driven through Ktown, you know there’s no shortage of those places. But that’s not why we’d send you to Jilli. The short menu here involves cheeky takes on Korean bar foods that are delicious whether you need something to soak up booze or not. Friends split bottles of fancy yogurt soju and share plates of mini shrimp toasts, rigatoni alla kimchi vodka with bacon bits, and Chimmelier’s craggy double-fried chicken. The room is a blast, too—the barebones former Kinn space has been amped up with a 2000s hip-hop playlist and a projector broadcasting Korean cartoons. The seats at the long wooden bar are still the best ones in the house.

While we’ll miss fishing $10 from our glove compartment to slurp Thai boat noodles on the sidewalk, the new Mae Malai is an upgrade on all fronts. This former Thai Town street vendor moved into a strip mall storefront and expanded its menu with dishes like pad grapow, crispy shrimp omelets, and “poached and dipped beef,” a spicy offal salad with copious amounts of lime. Still, you’re coming here for those boat noodles, which are so good they have us questioning our loyalty to the iconic Sapp Coffee Shop (much love). For roughly $9, Mae Malai gives you a small bowl of chewy rice noodles, juicy meatballs, and crackly pork rinds in a sweet-sour-spicy broth so intense, it'll light up taste buds you didn’t know you had.

It’s a known truth that LA has the best sushi in the country, so you can’t fault anyone for feeling skeptical about the arrival of Uchi. This upscale Japanese restaurant in Weho hails from Texas, a state more famous for smokehouses than sashimi. Well, throw out any preconceived notions. Housed in an impressive, wood-paneled space that resembles an airport credit card lounge, Uchi serves hot, cold, and raw dishes that go toe-to-toe with the best in LA. The menu is…Texas-sized, so concentrate on the nigiri, then add small plates like vegetable tempura, daikon salad with crispy rice, and smoked yellowtail on a yuca tostada. And don’t be alarmed when you see people putting salmon sushi in their mouths upside down, it’s a thing here.

You've probably heard about Little Fish. This all-day cafe in Echo Park led a previous life as an apartment pop-up run by two chefs with dreams of deep-fried fish. At their new space on Sunset, you’ll find cottage cheese pancakes with cherry jam and nori-dusted crispy potatoes, plus seafood-heavy breakfast dishes like trout tartine and fish congee. And then there’s the famed beer-battered fish sandwich, served only at lunch: Wonderfully crisp and somehow light as a feather on a fluffy potato bun, it’s like the Filet-O-Fish you were promised in TV commercials, complete with tangy Kewpie mayo and briny pickles. They often sell out of these life-affirming sandos on weekends, but drop by during the week and they should be in stock until late afternoon close.

The second we heard a Dominican spot had opened in LA our ears perked up. Our city doesn’t have the options New York does, but in the case of El Bacano, we’ll count our blessings. This colorful spot in a North Hollywood strip mall offers a range of Dominican staples, including a sancocho only available three days a week. Feel free to plan your entire visit around this incredible soup. Brimming with pork, chicken, and beef, the spiced broth is rich with rendered fat and zippy with lime juice—and so delicious you’ll ditch the spoon and start drinking it like a cup of coffee. It’s perfect for a cold day—just know it’s a big portion. Split it with someone and tack on some crispy chicken wings, warm habichuelas, and chewy tostones.

Something occurs in the human body during colder months: we just want to hang out in moody, low-lit restaurants. And right on cue, here comes Ètra. This dark Italian spot in Melrose Hill (located behind the equally chic Café Telegrama) feels like a wine bar in Berlin that only fashion-y people know about. The floors are tiled, the walls are plywood, and every person is so well-dressed you’ll wonder if they’re hired extras. But it’s more than just vibes—the food is excellent. We love the bitter, Ceasar-y chicory salad, the rigatoni that tastes like French onion soup, and the pork ribeye dusted in fennel pollen that’s the best thing on the menu. Reservations are tight, but if you hit the bar before 7pm, you’ll find a seat.

A fortune cookie once told us, “Good things come in small packages.” We didn’t know what to make of that until we met Fabby’s Sandwicherie. This tiny Downtown sandwich counter is easy to miss from the street, but hides luxurious tortas inside. Jalisco-style birotes are toasted on a hot press, then filled with tasty things plucked from a French bistro: wine-braised short rib, pomme puree, and mushroom coq au vin. These sandwiches take time to assemble, so plan on a leisurely lunch that starts with a margarita and a beef tartare tostada while your torta sizzles in the background.

Budonoki is the kind of restaurant where you could walk in half-asleep and walk out ready to hop on the next flight to Vegas. The energy at this Virgil Village izakaya is that infectious. Friends huddle around tables snacking on dishes like chicken oyster skewers and wagyu yakisoba. Dates sip shochu cocktails and split koji pineapple soft serve at the walk-in-only bar. Old-school Missy and Ja Rule blast over the speakers. We love that cocktails arrive in adorable penguin mugs, and servers will pull up a chair to discuss the restaurant’s playlist like it’s a family heirloom (it’s that good). Budonoki straddles the line between a kitschy party spot and a neighborhood hangout with delicious food. Don’t be surprised if you see a few sake bombs go down.

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