Wondering where you should be eating in Los Angeles right now? You’re in the right place. The Infatuation Hit List is 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 as worthy of 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.
New to The Hit List (as of 10/17): Destroyer, Mr Holmes Bakehouse, Lao Tao, Belle Vie, Andare by Cento, Cafe Birdie, and Manuela.
Destroyer is here from the future, to show you what a cafe looks like in 2050. In a weird part of Culver City, filled with plenty of creative offices, this daytime spot has been open barely a month and is already slammed. Interiors are as minimal as you get (bright white walls, the menu projected onto a wall), until you reach the built-in coffee machine that looks like launch control for a nuclear arsenal. The biggest surprise though is the food - it looks modern and interesting and tastes delicious. The raw oatmeal sounds like something a righteous vegan would eat, but it's way better than what a righteous vegan would eat, with the oatmeal itself hidden under a little vanilla crust you have to tap to crack.
For all the development reigning down on Highland Park right now, the northeast neighborhood still lacked that big signature restaurant you could force someone to drive across town for - but they just got one in Cafe Birdie. Directly next door to the also drive-worthy bowling alley Highland Park Bowl, Cafe Birdie is the kind of upscale, but laid-back restaurant that fits perfectly in the area. The service is excellent, the food is great (get the pork cheek ragu), and there's a secret detached bar in the back for more revelry afterwards.
Instagram-famous bakery Mr. Holmes has come down south from San Francisco, bringing its cruffins, churro croissants, and strawberry jalapeño bear claws with it. The very white shop in Highland Park is social-media ready (you can't miss the “I got baked in Los Angeles” neon sign), and very busy - those cruffins can sell out within a couple of hours. More importantly, everything is actually really tasty. The white chocolate and cardamom donuts are a must-try, although that strawberry jalapeño bear claw didn't quite do it for us. Be sure to get in early before they run out.
Just when we all thought there couldn't be any more room left for new restaurants in Chinatown's East China Plaza, in comes in Lao Tao - a modern Taiwanese street food shop that is downright phenomenal. The order-at-the-counter spot is affordable, quick, and just the right amount of gluttony to leave you feeling satisfied but still able to get work done afterwards. The move is the beef ban mian (flat noodles in a bone marrow broth) and the best godd*mn popcorn chicken we’ve had in LA.
Belle Vie, a wine bar and restaurant on the saddest part of Wilshire in West LA, has been open a couple of months, and we're pissed we didn't stop in to check it out sooner. It might be right next door to a McDonald's, but as soon as you walk in, you'll feel like you're in a bistro somewhere in France. There's a big bar where you can post up with a glass of wine and hang with one of the French owners, or you can take over a booth and be charmed by the heavily-accented waitstaff. There's a printed menu, but also little blackboards that they'll bring over and prop at your table with all kinds of specials. But really, you should probably just let one of the servers take charge - they'll choose well-executed dishes for you as you start looking at Airbnbs in Paris.
You probably have never said the words “Let’s go have lunch on Cahuenga,” but now that Andare has appeared there's actually a reason to do so. It’s a bare-bones operation that takes over the dining room at Birch for weekday lunches, and they’re putting out some impressive Italian food. Definitely start with the chicken liver toast and then go straight for the pastas. The ricotta gnocchi with ‘nduja is a must.
If you’re going to open a restaurant inside a big-deal art gallery in an Arts District warehouse, it better be ridiculously good looking. Luckily, the Southern-ish spot Manuela more than satisfies this requirement, with its kind-of-country, kind-of-sleek outfit, multiple bars, and a patio that makes you forget that you're inside a warehouse, not technically outside. They’re just doing lunch for now, serving things like a Redneck Platter with country ham, pimento cheese, and biscuits, alongside pulled pork sandwiches and a deer burger. Definitely check it out, but we have a feeling Manuela will be at its best come dinnertime, which is due to start this month.
You probably know Main Street in Santa Monica as a sad, bro-filled jagerbomb apocalypse. But the Venice part of Main Street isn’t like that - especially places like Chez Tex. This little spot, run by a young couple who you'll probably meet when you visit, is aiming to be a neighborhood bistro, but better than most. The food is upscale but not pretentious, and they’ll let you taste all the wine before you order. We did not abuse this kindness, not one bit.
It’s been a while since we’ve heard much from Eagle Rock, but this area just got a great, big new restaurant in Red Herring. The two-story building in the heart of the neighborhood is beautiful, and while the menu isn’t necessarily going to blow your mind, sometimes you just want a comfortable dinner involving things like yam fritters, crab cakes, and short ribs. Red Herring is date night gold.
Being mere steps away from Howlin’ Rays and its never ending line, Easy’s has its work cut out for it. But we get the feeling these guys are going to be able to hold their own. Get a (highly impressive) cheeseburger with spicy fries and a chocolate shake and feel good about the fact that you’ll be finished before most of the Howlin’ Rays crowd gets to the front of the line.
Nighthawk’s original Breakfast Bar came and went from Hollywood earlier this year, but Nighthawk is back - this time in Venice. And with this new version, you don’t even have to eat breakfast for dinner if you don’t want to - in addition to nighttime french toast, they're serving weekend brunch now too. The food all sounds outrageous, but tastes good, although maybe leave those who don't do carbs/meat/anything good in life at home.
Located on the 71st floor of the US Bank Tower in downtown, 71Above is genuinely one of the most impressive spaces we’ve ever seen in LA. But it’s far more than just a good view - the food is excellent too. It's a fairly wide-ranging menu with everything from tomato tarts to black truffle agnolotti to curried scallops - and it all works. You'll definitely need to dust off that black dress or suit jacket for this, but in the end, you'll be glad you did.
Your next great date night has arrived. Located on the slightly quieter western edge of Ktown, Here’s Looking At You is another fantastic addition to a neighborhood that can’t seem to do any wrong. The bright space has a cool, casual vibe, an excellent new American menu, and some seriously great cocktails. Also, if you don’t get the steak tartare you can’t actually say you’ve been here.
If you still haven’t gotten over how perfectly Sawyer fits into Silver Lake, you might want to sit down. Because right when we all weren’t looking, the same people opened up a brand new Italian-ish spot next door and it might be even better. The eggplant is out of this world good, and you should also order the pulpo.
There’s a lot going on at Gwen: a butcher shop with sandwiches for lunch, a snack menu at the bar and on the patio, and a $95 meat-focused set menu that you need to book "tickets" for. The food is great - outstanding housemade charcuterie, killer pasta, and lamb served family style. We’d love for the service to loosen up a bit, but overall, this is a huge addition in the heart of Hollywood and a great option for your next special occasion.
The next best thing to going to Japan? Going to Shibumi. There’s a long counter where you can sit and be served by chefs, the darkly-lit room is just like those you find in underground restaurants in Tokyo, and there’s even one of those insane $7,000 toilets with a heated seat. They serve a kappo-style menu, a kind of Japanese cuisine we don’t see much of in LA - it's a step up from an izakaya, most often prepared in front of you by the chef, and still meant to be shared. All this makes it a step up from sake bombs, but not so fancy (or pricey) that it couldn't become a regular dinner spot.
There honestly might be too much to like about Daw Yee Myanmar Corner. The new outpost of a San Gabriel Valley favorite, Daw Yee serves Burmese food in a modern, cool Silver Lake strip mall location. The food is delicious, and the staff seems really excited to have you there.
Sure, you’ve been to strip malls for sushi, but for high-end tasting menus? Not so much (other than Trois Mec). Kato is here to change that, with a five-course Japanese and Taiwanese-inspired menu (a steal at $49). Expect things like hamachi with a charred scallion sauce or a sukiyaki-inspired soup. Whatever you do, definitely go for the pork belly rice add-on. They're still working on their liquor license, but you won't even notice the lack of booze when the food is this good.
Something big is happening, and it’s going down in Frogtown. No, that’s not the name of a section in Disneyland, it’s an actual LA neighborhood, and home to an extremely exciting new spot: Salazar. The massive space is almost entirely outdoors, with a menu featuring everything from a mesquite-grilled trout to carne asada quesadillas - but you're going to want to go heavy on the tacos, because they're incredible.
When you think of "fusion" restaurants, a wine bar/Thai restaurant isn't a mashup that immediately comes to mind. However, Same Same proves it’s a combination that works. The former Rambutan Thai space has been morphed into a relaxed bar with a stellar wine list and the kind of unpretentious vibes that make you want to hang there for a while. As for the old Rambutan Thai - don’t worry, its kitchen remains entirely in tact. Meaning all the Khao Soi to pair with your German Riesling.
Tacos on the Westside can be a pretty hit-or-miss proposition. Loqui, the casual order-at-the-counter taco spot in the Culver City’s Platform development, is here to change that. The menu is limited - it’s either tacos (with house-made tortillas) or snazzy burrito bowls they call molcajetes, and you can’t go wrong with either. Scratch that - if you don’t sprinkle the dry salsa and chile on top of everything, you are wrong.
Culver City’s Platform is clearly where it’s at, because the development also plays host to the carnivore’s paradise that is The Cannibal. The NYC transplant is a two-for-one deal the butcher shop is casual with excellent made-to-order sandwiches, and the restaurant side is where you go to throw down on some charcuterie, steak tartare, and maybe a General Tso’s pig’s head - yes, you should order it.
It comes as no surprise then that the opening of a second Wexler’s in the heart of Santa Monica has locals pretty damn excited. Staying faithful to the Grand Central Market original, there are bagels, lox, pastrami, and egg salad, with a mix of counter seating and tables. What’s different? Slightly earlier hours, specially-roasted coffee, smoked trout, matzoh ball soup, and some very tasty babka. It’s also far enough from the Promenade to not be a total death trap - which wouldn’t stop us from visiting anyway.
With several high-profile (and very delicious) DTLA taco spots now open, it’s not easy to choose these days, but our favorite is definitely Sonoratown. This tiny, order-at-the-counter taco spot is bit removed from the main downtown hustle, but it’s worth the extra few blocks walk. All the tortillas are made in house and the carne asada is phenomenal. And it’s just nice to know $2 tacos still exist.
Nashville hot chicken food truck turned LA food cult Howlin Ray’s brick and mortar is open in Chinatown’s Far East Plaza and it’s an all-out blockbuster. But you’ve been warned: open only from 11pm-4pm daily, you’ll be greeted with an hour-long wait no matter when you go. That said, we would wait two. Everything about this place works, and despite the wait, it’s exceptionally well-run. As for the chicken? Incredible. Order it dark or white (or in a sandwich), pick your heat level, and enter into fried chicken nirvana.
Next door to Commissary and its hoards of struggling actors/writers/have-you-seen-my-webseries comedians is this part deli, part market, part gourmet fish shop that is so fantastic you should probably just drop everything and go right now. Want to pick up some fresh fish for dinner tonight? Cape Seafood has the highest quality east of the 405. What about a quick sandwich at lunch? Their smoked salmon sandwich and bagel and lox is the best we’ve had in a long time. Welcome to the neighborhood Cape Seafood, you’re going to be here awhile.
Wolf marks yet another massive coup for a Melrose district that up until recently was best known for its ripped jean emporiums and your marijuana dispensary. Wolf probably won’t catch your eye from the street, but the interior is stark and cool. And the menu? Simple and excellent.
Atwater Village got itself a brand new lunch spot this year and everyone should be very jealous. Why? Because Ozu East is an affordable, order-at-the-counter Asian fusion spot with great food from top to bottom. The chicken confit bento box is all we ever need for a $10 lunch stop-in.
Attention Larchmont: there is a fantastic American restaurant in your midst and the time is now to be going. The modern, upscale spot also has an excellent full-service lunch (the wheat berry risotto is a must-order), giving all the stroller moms and nearby Paramount workers a tremendous new midday option.
Le Relais de L’entrecote is a straight-up Parisian original and one that delivers on its promise of steak and fries and then more steak and fries. There’s no menu, no daily specials. You choose how you want your steak cooked and then you sit back, relax, and not worry about the rest. Its prime Weho location in the Melrose design district doesn’t hurt either.
This cool spot on the south end of Echo Park is hidden on the side of some weird high-rise off Sunset, but not to fear, it’s awesome. Winsome's space is like if Jonathan Adler got commissioned to redesign a diner off the Jersey Turnpike. Everything from brunch to the burger is good, there’s a cool patio, and the housemade aguas frescas are worth the trip alone.
Run don’t walk people. Norah is located in the old Don’t Tell Mama space in the heart of West Hollywood, and it's phenomenal. Everything from the cocktails, to the octopus, to the cauliflower popcorn are outstanding, and all we can think about is when we're going back next. The space is gigantic and stunning, with an aesthetic that reads something close to Moroccan-Industrial and we want all of it.