The Hit List is our guide to the best new food and drink experiences in LA. We track new openings across the city, and then visit as many as we can. While the Hit List is by no means an exhaustive list of every good new spot, one thing you can always rely on is that we’ll only include places that we have genuinely checked out.
Our goal is for this list to be as diverse as the city itself—inclusive of a wide range of cuisines, price points, neighborhoods, chefs and owners of all backgrounds, and the multifaceted communities within the industry. If you think we missed a great new place, we want to hear about it. Shoot us an email at email@example.com.
New to the Hit List (5/18): N/Soto, Dos Besos, Pijja Palace
Lovely, charming, delightful. Those words are usually reserved for pretentious arthouse films or our friends' babies, but at Dos Besos, they don't feel empty. Tuna carpaccio drenched in decadent olive oil, and imported ham—sliced ever so thinly—with a plate of grilled bread is what you'll find at this new Spanish restaurant in Pasadena. Paella is the specialty, served in a large, shallow skillet that can feed two-to-three people. Spoons scrape against the cast-iron in a pleasing way and saffron-tinged rice comes in a color akin to a bad fake tan. Get the paella del mar, a seafood-rich dish packed with mussels, shrimp, calamari, and two giant prawns. Yes, the bill will be very high (around $100 per person), and you will need quarters for the parking meters (this is Pasadena, after all), but your spare change is worth it, for Dos Besos.
photo credit: Wonho Photo
We are not immune to the Chef’s Table-fueled N/Naka craze, and were therefore extremely excited to try the new izakaya in West Adams from the N/Naka chefs. At N/Soto, even a simple piece of toro nigiri made us say “wow.” And the majority of what we sampled on first visit blew us away. Mentai mochi come ever so slightly fried and placed in nori wrappers alongside a nutty dipping sauce. Scallop sashimi is presented like caprese, layered between tomatoes and topped with pepitas. The kushiyaki fill the dining room and patio with meaty smoke, making it impossible to not get involved (we love the kurobuta sausage skewers that snap under your teeth). And the steamed clams in a delicate dashi broth are a non-negotiable. Reservations are tough to snag, but dinner at N/Soto really feels like trying something new.
Here's a sentence we didn't have on our 2022 Bingo Card: Silver Lake is LA's hottest restaurant neighborhood right now. New spots open every week, like Bar Moruno, Causita, and now, Pijja Palace—a maximalist Indian sports bar that 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 uses mid-century modern furniture and neon lights in a way that reminds us of a vintage arcade. And the food is just fun. Thin-crust pizzas come topped with saag gravy, stinger chiles, or baingan jawa fry, a deep-fried eggplant dish made with mustard oil. Wings are doused in masala and Kashmiri red chilis. And our favorite is a wonderful pasta—cheese and shells, brimming with saffron, parmesan, and Indian long pepper. It's our new go-to comfort dish. Come here to watch a game (duh), but also for casual hangs with friends when you need something fresh, pronto.
If you ate tapas in LA in 2010, there’s a decent chance it was at Cobras And Matadors. The excellent Spanish restaurant had a few locations at one point, but when the original in Beverly Grove closed in 2012, it was the end of an era. Fast forward a decade and the beloved spot has taken a page straight from _Brigadoon_ and emerged from the mist of restaurant heaven. That’s right, Cobras And Matadors is back—under the same ownership, in the same Beverly Blvd. location, and now, with even better tapas. You’ll eat dishes like perfectly grilled asparagus topped with sweet manchego, crispy green lentils with jamon serrano, and buttery gambas al ajillo you’ll think about for days—all in a lively little dining room filled with groups of friends drinking wine they brought from home (yep, it’s still BYOB).
There wasn't a single underwhelming dish when we ate at Tokki, a new Korean tapas restaurant on W. 6th Street. Noodles are coated in fresh soy scallion oil. Raw Hokkaido scallops—soft and supple—are smeared in black truffle pate and dipped in hot brown butter. The kimchi fried rice is so beautiful, it almost looks like a Renaissance painting. Although completely unique, we hesitate to use the word “modern” when describing Tokki (because, what does that even mean?), but food here blends the past and the present, for dishes like fried tteokbokki rice cakes laced with rosé gochujang and uni served on onion aioli and toast. This spot is fun, creative, and takes risks, and we’d like to model our personality after it. And of course, it’s all extremely delicious.
Here’s the thing about Manzke—at $225 per person with an optional $165 wine pairing, it’s one of the most expensive dining experiences in LA. That said, if those prices are palatable to you, this prix-fixe spot in Beverlywood is a place to prioritize. Run by the people behind Republique and Bicyclette (it’s located above the latter), a meal in the intimate, bi-level dining room is the kind of space that transforms you into a noble dignitary who should be feared. Conversations are had in hushed whispers and tables are spaced so far apart from one another, you’ll probably forget other people are eating there too. Is the energy a bit dull at times? Sure, but the food is excellent. The 11-course experience features dishes ranging from a tuna tostada and Thai crab curry to white asparagus with caviar and beurre blanc. Plus, there’s a guy who’ll come to your table with a foot-tall tower of butter. Extravagance has its price.
This might be a tough pill for some Eastsiders to swallow, but when it comes to restaurants, Sunset Junction has become pretty sleepy. Bar Moruno might just reverse that trend. The upscale Spanish spot had a brief stint at The Original Farmers Market in 2016, but has now realized the full version of itself in Silver Lake. Bar Moruno’s party-like energy hits you the second you walk in—friends hover over canned fish and swap today’s best drama at the walk-in-only bar area that starts popping by 6:30pm every night. It feels as close to a tapas bar in Barcelona as you’ll get in LA. And to that end, we recommend filling your table mostly with smaller dishes. The chorizo-filled Scotch egg is already one of our favorite bites of the year. That said, we’d come to Bar Moruno just to drink, too. There’s an entire gin martini section (try the salmon gin), a coffee-infused negroni, and a roaming Sherry specialist who maybe, just maybe will get you to appreciate Sherry.
Pearl River Deli is back, and not to be cliché, better than ever. After a brief closure, the excellent Chinese/Cantonese restaurant has moved to a bigger, brand new space in Chinatown next to Thank You Coffee and Sesame. Now, they have dine-in service, which means you’ll sit at long wooden tables and eat the food the way it was meant to be eaten: hot and fresh out of the kitchen. It reminds us of a café in Hong Kong, a place where you’ll see friends catching up over char siu and noodles, and families trying everything on the menu. There are, of course, old favorites—hello perfect, beautiful Hainan chicken—as well as exciting new additions, like the tenshindon, a glossy crab omelet served over rice and covered in gravy. Oh, and get the Macau pork chop bun. The bright yellow pineapple buns are now made in-house, which adds a new layer of sweet, crispy goodness.
Ryla is the most exciting thing to happen to Hermosa Beach since Jack Black lived in the neighborhood. (Or at least since Fishing With Dynamite opened, a place coincidentally run by the same restaurant team.) Unlike most restaurants that sit a few thousand feet from a coastline, Ryla falls into the Dark And Sexy category. The candlelit dining room is loud enough for you to identify which R&B song is playing, but not so loud that people wouldn’t notice you singing along. And all of the Japanese-Taiwanese dishes and drinks we've tried are worth ordering again. We especially like the Hokkaido milk bread, sea bream soaked in a limey coconut broth, and the Penicillin with tea-infused toki. Come to Ryla if you’re looking to impress someone who will appreciate snacking on inventive seafood or sipping a couple of rounds of top-notch cocktails.
Over in Pico-Robertson, in a small, barebones space with some counter seating and a giant oven is Pizzeria Sei. It’s run by a husband-and-wife duo whose combined credits include stints at Providence, Angelini Osteria, Pizzana, and Ronan (phew) and their specialty is Japanese-style Neapolitan pies. What does that mean, exactly? Like a chic French girl’s outfit, the pizza seems simple and effortless. The blistered, chewy dough lets a few high-quality ingredients really shine, like plump Castelvetrano olives, shaved mushrooms, and handfuls of dried spices. Plus, you get to watch a man in a sealed-off glass room toss pizzas in and out of the oven with the deft precision of an Olympic curler. Get the prosciutto plate.
Thanks to a hot tip from Mike Pak who runs the @koreatown Instagram, we recently checked out this new late-night tofu spot on Vermont Blvd., and loved every aspect of our meal. For starters, there’s parking. Second, there’s parking. Third—and most importantly—the food was delicious. The menu isn’t much different than other popular tofu spots in the neighborhood (we’re looking at you, BCD), but the quality is higher. There are 10 or so different stews on the menu, ranging from Korean tripe to ham and sausage, but know that each one comes with the same perfectly soft tofu that hits the spot whether you’re on a solo lunch run or it’s 1:30am and you just stumbled out of Go Pocha next door. The hot stone bibimbap with nicely crisp rice on the bottom should also make it on your table.
Here's Looking at You
Seeing restaurants that closed during the pandemic finally reopen is easily our favorite thing about 2022 so far (apologies to Che Diaz). The latest one is Here’s Looking At You. After raising nearly $85k in a crowd-funding campaign, the Ktown spot is back in the same exact space with a menu that mixes old favorites with plenty of new dishes as well. If you were a regular, you’ll recognize the tomatoes topped with crispy lap xuong, steak tartare mixed with red chili and tamari, and frog legs in a spicy salsa negra. If you’re new, you’ll get to experience those plus plenty of new standouts like the crispy, crackly duck confit that’s meant to be eaten with your hands and massive veal imperial rolls with tonnato sauce in celebration of Lunar New Year. A full meal at HLAY does get a bit pricey, so we recommend using this place for those special date nights when you want to impress, but also have zero desire to wear shoes that make your feet hurt.
Few restaurants garnered the collective attention of the city like Cento when it first opened Downtown in 2015. The daytime-only pasta pop-up was a daily pilgrimage for nearby office workers, A-list celebrities, and anyone else who had enough time on their lunch hour. When it closed in 2020, we were devastated. Good news, Cento is back and it’s every bit as good—if not better—than the original. The new indoor/outdoor space in West Adams is certainly much bigger than the original location, but it still maintains the look and feel of a neighborhood wine and pasta bar. There’s a cozy front patio filled with string-lit trees and a bright interior with a large communal table perfect for groups intent on drinking a lot of natural wine. Our move, however, is to snag a seat at the bar where you get a front-row seat to the show: spicy pomodoro covered in basil, and the iconic beet spaghetti drenched in brown butter, whipped ricotta, and chives. Cento’s menu also has plenty of new dishes like a savory chicken liver crostini and banana pudding tiramisu that continues to dominate the conversation on our team’s Slack channel too, but the reason you come here is for the pasta, which is still among the best in the city.
Walking into Yangban Society in the Arts District for the first time is a little overwhelming. There’s a long glass case filled with dozens of Korean-style deli dishes, several refrigerators filled with wine, soju, and house cocktails, and a tiny minimart in the back where you can buy everything from baseball caps to shrimp crackers. There’s a lot happening, which is why we recommend grabbing a table and a round of drinks before making any sudden movements, and then heading back to the deli counter. This is where you’ll order everything from the deli case and the kitchen. Trays load up fast, and you can't go wrong. From spicy kimchi pozole and chilled acorn noodles in shirodashi vinaigrette, to warm, doughy potato bread, the food at Yangban is exceptional and unlike anything else you can really find in LA right now. They also open at 11:30am, making it a great solo lunch option if you’re in the neighborhood.
In most coming-of-age tropes, you can count on a new kid in town who has the confidence and maturity of Judge Judy even though they’re a barely pubescent 14-year-old wearing a leather jacket. Cobi’s is the cool new kid of Santa Monica. And as the stereotype goes, the Westside is gravitating to this Southeast Asian spot, packing into the maximalist space every night of the week. Whether you come with a date or group, any of the curry-forward dishes (like curry puffs whole branzino in yellow curry, and anything from the “curry” section of the menu) are bright and fresh, even when frying or cream is involved. Cobi’s did get its start as a curry pop-up after all. While the kitschy chandelier and wallpapered interior is cozy and vivacious, Cobi’s is also a great option for those who are only dining outdoors right now. The open-air patio is a garden party, with heat lamps, music pumping, and roses bigger than your head. Without a doubt, this is the most exciting new restaurant on the Westside.
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 that we haven’t liked. There are a ton of new restaurants in Hollywood right now, but Mother Wolf is one you need to prioritize.
Kinn defies all of the stereotypes about stuffy, overpriced tasting menu restaurants. This Koreatown spot is laidback and looks like a massive candlelit sauna. They’ve got a memorable R&B playlist and a concise wine list. For $67, you get six Korean courses that feel special and will leave you feeling full. On a recent visit, we had a spicy mulhoe overflowing with citrusy seafood and a briny fried nori taco. Kinn’s menu is risk-tasting, but nothing about the experience of dining here feels like an over-the-top production. So the next time you want to impress someone who hates white tablecloths or go all out on date night, you know where to do it.
One of our favorite bakeries the entire world, Clark Street Bread took over the old 101 Coffee Shop space in Hollywood. You might remember it from an iconic Megan Thee Stallion music video. They’ve kept much of the interiors virtually the same, so you’ll still find vintage leather booths, a wraparound bar, and classic stone wall (you know, real old-school diner stuff) but have completely redone the menu. It’s a lot smaller than the old 101 one, but everything’s of higher quality—all the bread comes on their signature Clark Street baguettes and toasts, plus they have a fantastic patty melt loaded with freshly ground beef, swiss cheese, and a bit of grilled onions that we haven’t stop dreaming about since eating. Oh, and there’s a free parking lot. Open for breakfast and lunch.
De La Nonna used to be a roaming pizza pop-up at places like like Employees Only and Melody Wine Bar. Now, the team has brought the same menu of airy square pies to a permanent location in the Arts District. The thick, rectangular slices at De La Nonna walk the line between focaccia and pizza, with toppings like roasted fennel, dabs of creamy pesto, and more fresh-from-the-farmers market Italian goodies. Each pie is light enough that you can eat a whole one yourself. But we recommend getting a couple of these brown-edged, buttery beauties for the table, along with a bottle of natural wine and possibly even a half-dozen oysters from the raw bar. With red and white checkered floors inside and the string-lit patio out back, De La Nonna is the ideal place to kick back and spend a couple hours having an adult pizza party right now.
“What’s going on at Antico?” is a question we’ve asked ourselves many times over the past year. This rustic Italian spot in Beverly, located on that deserted stretch between Larchmont and Koreatown, has had many lives. At first, it was a perfectly fine restaurant, then a great to-go market selling focaccia and ice cream, and now, it’s become one of our favorite places to eat in the entire city. It’s Antico 2.0, and they’ve seemed to fix a lot of the things that kept it from becoming truly stellar in the before-times: the room is now soundproofed, the décor feels cozy and reminds us of the beginning of a European Hallmark movie, and there’s not a bad dish on the menu. The focaccia is still as thick as a mattress and drenched in olive oil, the home-style agnolotti are pillows filled with pan drippings that are pinched around the edges. Oh, and if you don’t order at least one of the ice creams at the end, you’ll have to make a return visit, ASAP.