The Hit List: New LA Restaurants To Try Right Now image


The Hit List: New LA Restaurants To Try Right Now

We checked out these new restaurants in LA and loved them.

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. The latest addition might be a sunny rooftop serving spreads of whole fish. Or it might be a lunch counter in the back of a convenience store where you can pick up an incredible pupusa and a pack of cigarettes.

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 (11/15): Budonoki, Justine's Wine Bar


photo credit: Brant Cox



Virgil Village

$$$$Perfect For:Drinks & A Light BiteBig GroupsFirst/Early in the Game DatesEating At The Bar
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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 inside this dimly lit Virgil Village izakaya is that infectious. Friends huddle around tables snacking on shareable dishes like jidori chicken oyster skewers and bowls of 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 little penguin mugs, and servers will happily pull up a chair to discuss the restaurant’s playlist like it’s a family heirloom (we would too, it’s that good). Budonoki skillfully straddles the line between a fun, kitschy party spot and a neighborhood hangout with delicious food. Don’t be surprised if you see a few sake bombs go down.

While some wine bars are just spaces to performatively chain-smoke Parliaments and glug pét-nat, others are genuinely cool places to hang out, like Justine's. This dark, kooky Frogtown spot behind vegan bakery Just What I Kneaded—owned by the same people–has plush velvet booths to sink into with a bottle of chilled red, as the Cocteau Twins mumble gibberish from the speakers and a hypnotic, glowing orb illuminates the tiny space from behind the bar. The sultry, campy ambiance is a big reason we love this spot, but its vegan Italian-leaning menu is why we keep going back. The excellent Sunday-only lasagna hides under a blanket of basil-kissed ragú, small, blistered pizzas are topped with peppery "sausage" and tiny vegan ricotta clouds, and the crispy mushroom "calamari" could fool any Italian fritti connoisseur in a blind taste test.

Atla is a casual, NYC-based Mexican restaurant with famous fine-dining siblings (Damian and Pujol) that recently opened a location in Venice. Translation: Abbot Kinney now has a place making thoughtful versions of Mexican classics. There’s a barbacoa consommé that warms up your entire body, and potato and cheese flautas that shatter when you bite in. Even their simple quesadilla feels special, with its house-nixtamalized tortilla and stretchy quesillo hiding epazote. Naturally, you're paying high prices for glam food and the location—that quesadilla costs $16. But the dishes on Atla's all-day menu are genuinely delicious and warrant a splurge.

In a town full of great Korean food, Perilla stands out for its focus on banchan. The former pop-up now operates out of a tiny cottage in a Chinatown cul-de-sac. Umbrellas sway over patio tables, people sip yakju and yuzu soda in the garden, and, much like the drama at Bravocon, all of the vegetables on the menu change seasonally. The dishes we’ve had here let greens do the talking, like a dosirak arranged with Italian sweet pepper muchim, marinated okra, and charred, honey-glazed cod. So ditch your boring lunch and just eat gimbap next to a banana tree, instead.

It feels like 90% of LA restaurants have sashimi on their menu, but we'll never forget Si! Mon’s curried hamachi version. It’s meaty and sweet with a distinct hit of warming spices, and just one of the very good dishes at this Panamanian seafood spot in Venice. Baked oysters bubble with shallot butter, kanpachi steams in banana leaves, and a half tequila-half mezcal margarita made us realize we’ve been drinking horrible margaritas lately. The restaurant is still in soft-open mode (only one of the dining areas is open, staff members are shadowing each other). But there’s no reason to wait if your focus is the food.

photo credit: Jessie Clapp


Inside a parking garage in Beverly Hills is this omakase sushi bar that feels like the kind of secret Tokyo spot that people make Youtube videos about. Only here you’re eating otoro below a surgical art studio on Rodeo Drive and customers refrain from calling themselves “citizens of the world.” The sequel restaurant to Sushi Note only has four counter seats and a handful of quiet tables where you’ll eat a 20-course parade of simple, elegant sushi, with an emphasis on classic cuts like dry-aged amberjack and scallop with sea salt. The $190 price point (excluding the optional $100 wine pairing) feels earned from the second you drive down the parking ramp.

Slices have to be special to justify an afternoon commute. The beauty of Shins—a new walk-up pizza shop in Cypress Park from the Barra Santos and Found Oyster people—is that it doesn’t even feel like it’s trying to be special. It just is. Each slice folds in half like there’s a perforated edge down the middle, while the crust has all the sturdy chew of a classic NY-style pie. Toppings read as fun and inventive without going full manic pixie dream girl, like a mortadella-covered white pie with pistachios or one with sweet Chinese sausage, pepperoni, smoky speck, and sambal. Finish your sub-$20 lunch with a cup of tart, calamansi Italian ice. Just prepare to stand on the curb while you do so: There’s no seating.

Few restaurants have captured LA’s attention like Baroo, the casual Korean cafe that opened in 2015 in East Hollywood and specialized in fermented vegetables. Now it’s time for Baroo’s next act: an eight-course, $110 tasting menu served in a sleek Arts District space. While we do miss the hearty bowls and kimchi toasts of the past, dishes at the new Baroo—red-yeast rice squares topped with 'nduja and pichuberry, fried fermented soft-shell crab, and chamoe panna cotta—are just as special as anything at the original. Just because there's a tasting menu doesn't mean Baroo is suddenly stuffy and self-serious, either. This is one of the coolest places you can spend $150 right now in LA (that includes tax and tip).

What happens when one of LA's best bakeries teams up with one of our favorite pizzerias on the Westside to make sandwiches? Very good lunch, that's what. Tre Mani, a collaboration between Jyan Isaac and Ghisallo, serves Roman-style flatbread sandwiches that could easily become your personality for the week. Each one comes on Jyan's slabs of schiacciata that brown and bubble at the top while staying spongy like a fancy mattress that requires a payment plan. Meanwhile, all of the seasonal preserves, cold cuts, and creamy spreads are Ghisallo’s doing. Stop by Ghisallo in Santa Monica from 12-3pm Tuesday to Sunday to try the mortadella version with a smidge of heat from horseradish and some sweet balsamic onions (preferably enjoyed on Ghisallo’s outdoor patio).

The corner store where you buy dish soap and 1am cigarettes might be convenient, but it’s nowhere near as memorable as this East Hollywood mini-mart serving bun bo hue beef noodles. The casual set-up is exactly what you might expect from a shop selling prawn chips and iced tea. Head to the counter to order Vietnamese staples as well as twists on classic noodle dishes (the shop is run by the people behind Silver Lake’s Gingergrass). Then find a sidewalk table where you can sip a salted plum spritz and snack on grilled rice paper pizza with eggs, scallions, and smoked oysters that add some necessary salt punches. The entire experience feels just as quick as a last-minute dish soap run, except here you get to eat egg noodles with stewed beef shank in the span of about 10 minutes.

Queen St. excels in the art of the “what’s the rush?” dinner. This crowded raw bar in Eagle Rock will make you forget about your to-do list with Charleston-style dishes like chargrilled oysters, fried flounder, and smothered pork chops. Inside, clog-wearing couples bliss out on wine and crunchy hush puppies while groups share plates of thick, juicy swordfish along the patio. It won’t be easy to reserve a table, but you should at least prioritize getting a stool at their walk-in-only bar right now. That’s where all the best people-watching happens anyways.

When it comes to smoky, Sonoran-style asada and chewy flour tortillas, we've been spoiled by Sonoratown and El Ruso. Now there’s another delicious option in town called Tacos La Rueda. The moment you walk into this Bellflower strip mall spot, you’ll hear the whacks of a meat cleaver chopping asada and the sizzle of tripe grilled so hard it tastes and feels like chicharrón. We don’t know how it’s gravitationally plausible that these buttery, nearly translucent tortillas hold Tacos La Rueda's portions of meat, but they do. While you peruse the salsa station, snack on some blistered serrano chiles in salsa negra and salted radishes that'll cool your taste buds.

photo credit: Jessie Clapp



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Shirube is technically an izakaya, but no one should merely snack and drink here. This Santa Monica Japanese spot is so good you should stick around for a full meal of smoked black cod, expertly grilled duck breast, and udon noodles swirled in salty cod roe butter that'll coat your mouth like lip gloss. For roughly $20 a plate—the excellent sashimi platter for two floats around $40—you’ll have a meal that feels almost too reasonably priced to be true. If you insist on just coming for drinks and one or two snacks, prioritize sake. The list is long, the pours are generous, and your glass of snow-aged Hakkaisan will go exceptionally well with a plate of corn ribs glazed in shoyu butter.

Tacos Los Cholos is OC taco royalty, and their first LA location already holds its own in the city's crowded taco scene. Juicy asada soaks up smoke from Los Cholos's charcoal grill and the charred beef rib—with its crispy, fatty bits—is so soft it melts away. Order across the spectrum of carbón-kissed things, like minced al pastor, arrachera, and squeaky slabs of panela cheese. But there’s no need to rush a meal at this Huntington Park taqueria like you do at some taco spots. Enjoy table service (no booze, though), TVs playing the Dodger game, and the lingering mesquite smell that tells your brain the taco party ain’t over 'til you need to be wheelbarrowed out of there. 

This new Italian American restaurant in Echo Park already has that friendly, familiar feeling of a neighborhood standby. (Only imagine your neighborhood standby resembles a flower-bombed spot in a strip mall.) Unlike its sibling bars Lowboy and Bar Flores, Donna's concentrates on uncomplicated red-sauce classics. Come with a group for martinis and pinwheel-shaped lasagna bolognese or bring a date and share creamy tiramisu while developing some liquid courage at the bar.

LA finally has the Mexican-Italian fusion spot it deserves. Amiga Amore is a charming husband-and-wife operation that started out as a pandemic project in a parking lot. They’ve now found permanent digs in a tiny Highland Park space with a massive patio: you’ll see the owners serving tables and mingling like they're hosting a dinner party. Most of the “Mexitalian” menu is made up of clever, borderline genius remakes of familiar dishes, like plump elote agnolotti, a caprese with diced cactus, and a bowl of chorizo and clams with thick slabs of toast. They’re currently BYOB, so plan on bringing a bottle of gamay and kicking back under the string lights eating food that’ll live in your head rent-free for weeks.

For almost three decades, Stir Crazy, the cutesy cafe between Highland and La Brea, was a go-to spot for laptop warriors and midday coffee dates that ended in sex. That version of Stir Crazy closed in 2022, and after an extensive renovation, it has transformed into a breezy, chilled-out wine bar that feels like a green room after-party at The Largo. The menu is pretty bare bones at the moment with snacky stuff like marinated tomatoes, serrano ham, and a particularly delicious plate of anchovies. So instead of planning a full dinner experience, do as the locals do: use it as a laid-back hangout filled with great wine, great music, and a bunch of people who probably have Netflix comedy specials coming down the pipeline. 

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photo credit: Jessie Clapp

The Hit List: New LA Restaurants To Try Right Now image