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 firstname.lastname@example.org
New to the Hit List (11/23): Antico Nuovo, Varro, Berbere, Sazon
“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.
- Kat Hong, Staff Writer
Berbere fills a massive hole in LA’s Ethiopian restaurant scene. The BYOB counter-service spot in Santa Monica is run by a couple who used to operate the T&T Lifestyle pop-up at Smorgasburg, and it’s home to a bunch of incredible plant-based Ethiopian dishes that are easy for just about anyone to love. Yes, even your friend who’s built his entire personality around carne asada. We stopped in for a late lunch and tried the Eat The Rainbow combo, which came with four small bowls of legumes, vegetables, and a few rolls of injera. Both the red lentil and turmeric garbanzo stews were creamy and rich, while the purple cabbage with potatoes and sauteed greens smelled like a well-stocked spice cabinet. In addition to some classics, Berbere serves Ethiopian twists on tacos, sliders, and breakfast burritos that’ll make you want to show up about as often as a mama bird returns to its offspring’s nest. And you can, considering that the walk-in-only restaurant has tons of seating downstairs, plus a small loft-style dining room upstairs that’s just waiting to be claimed by a group of regulars.
- Nikko Duren, Staff Writer
Taking full advantage of a prime corner property at Venice and Abbot Kinney, this breezy Argentinian wine bar has a massive, shaded front patio and a light-filled interior that feels designed solely with first dates in mind. On our first visit, however, we sat right at the bar and found it to be an ideal perch. Here is where you can chat up the somm until you find the exact right wine you’re in the mood for (their list includes both South and North American wines, as well as European) and then stare longingly into the open hearth filled with sizzling meats and vegetables. As far as food goes, we’ve yet to try anything here we dislike, but the aubergine escabeche, a marinated eggplant dish topped with stracciatella cheese and raisins, is a standout.
- Brant Cox, Editorial Lead
One of the hottest - and most fun - brunch spots on the Eastside is Sazon, a Huntington Park restaurant specializing in Guerrerense and Yucatecán cooking. Run by a mother-and-daughter duo who’s spent years in Boyle Heights’ Mexican street food scene, they’re now slinging cochinita pibil, chilaquiles, and pozole verde - a bright, spicy stew that’s exactly what you want after a long night of [REDACTED]. The move is to come here on the weekends, when there’s live music ranging from queer Latinx dance sets to tropical house parties to, if you’re lucky, a Selena karaoke sing-along. So grab your most colorful outfit, a comfy pair of shoes, and get ready to double fist mimosas and chorizo-stuffed breakfast burritos.
The Pikey on Sunset in Hollywood was a place for the people. Even if the British pub took reservations, I never knew anyone to make one. Instead, you’d wander in for a drink and maybe a snack, and end up staying for dinner. So naturally, when it shut down for good last year, the neighborhood was left heartbroken, and territorial of their local hang. Now, Horses has moved in, and the Horses people understand that. Beyond the nod to the name, (The Pikey used to be called Ye Coach & Horses) Horses has preserved the dark and casual, anything-is-possible-tonight feel in the main dining room - where the same narrow red booths are already packed and the worn-in wooden bar practically asks you to please sit down and order a vesper. The food is not exactly as accessible as the setting, but that’s not a bad thing. On our first visit, the cornish hen with dandelion panzanella was so juicy and frankly adorable, that we picked up the bones and sucked every morsel of meat off the carcass. The braised cranberry beans and pork chop with baked peach were also tasty. With a $27 burger on the menu, Horses may not be a casual neighborhood hang I’d pop into without a reservation, but it’s absolutely one of the very best new restaurants of the year.
-Arden Shore, Editorial Director
The stretch of Melrose between Fairfax and La Brea can be chaotic. Traffic is often at a standstill, lines snake out of sneaker stores and dispensaries, and the amount of people careening around on electric scooters seems to double by the month. And in the thick of it all, there’s a calm new Indian spot that smells sensational. Once inside Roots, you’ll find bright tapestries, both upright tables and cushion-on-the-floor seating, and thoughtful, delicious Indian food. The menu is full of dishes like clove-y lamb vindaloo, perfectly-marinated chicken tandoori, and butter chicken that more than lives up to its name. Everything can be ordered a la carte, but if you’re with someone else, go for a combo package. Ranging from $50-60, each one comes with three different entree dishes, plus samosas, raita, rice, naan (upgrade to onion if you like good things), and your choice of dessert. It’ll eliminate all arguing about what to order and also confirm what we have already decided - that this is the best Indian restaurant to open in the Melrose/Weho area in years.
I’m not saying a roaring fireplace is a sign that a restaurant is going to be great, but when I spotted one in Bari, a Puglian restaurant in Beverly Grove, it awoke a seasonal euphoria within me that set the tone for a fantastic meal. Not everything on Bari’s menu is a home run, but there are more hits than misses, and it’s also refreshing to welcome an Italian restaurant to LA that doesn’t serve the same northern and coastal standards as everyone else. There are only two pastas - and the slightly bitter, al dente orecchiette is a standout. The rest of the menu leans largely on traditional Puglian meat skewers. The bombette, which is thin pork shoulder wrapped around caciocavallo cheese, is sweet and salty, and the octopus is notably tender and perfectly charred. We also recommend getting involved in their cheeses, some of which are imported daily from Puglia and taste great spread across house-made focaccia. Every element of Bari, whether it be the warm Earth-tone aesthetic, the meat and cheese heavy menu, or the aforementioned roaring fireplace, seems designed to comfort and relax you. And this winter, that’s exactly the atmosphere I’m looking for.
Despite LA’s profoundly vast taco scene, tracking down a great migas taco can be surprisingly challenging. Yes, places like HomeState have been selling them for years, but the fact is this egg and tortilla Tex-Mex dish is still an underrated commodity here. I suspect that’s going to change with the arrival of Hot Tacos. The new taco truck at The Line in Ktown (it’s located in the front valet area) is from the same team behind Austin’s Veracruz All-Natural, one of the most revered taco trucks in Texas and home to the single greatest breakfast taco I’ve ever eaten. Is the migas at Hot Tacos as good as the one in Austin? Probably not, but it comes damn close and is already the best version you can get in LA. Plus, there are plenty of other highlights on the menu, like the citrusy cochinita pibil taco on a crispy grilled corn tortilla and a salty, perfectly-cheesy quesadilla filled with marinated steak that’s been grilled on the plancha. Right now, lines are still very reasonable, but if Hot Tacos becomes anything like its famous Austin sibling, that’s not going to last very long. Plan accordingly.
Outside the world of $400 omakases, it’s rare to find a sushi experience that truly surprises us. But that’s exactly what we discovered at Kinkan, a new half-Japanese, half-Thai restaurant in Virgil Village that feels like an intimate dinner party with friends more than anything else. After running a successful pop-up throughout the pandemic (which was frequented by everyone from Hilary Duff and Jonah Hill to chef Mori from Morihiro in Atwater), chef Nan Yimcharoen launched Kinkan 2.0 in early October 2021 in a beautiful, open space on Virgil Avenue filled with mismatched wooden tables, dried flower bouquets hanging from the walls, and a full sushi bar. The lunch omakase is cozy and conducted almost like a communal gathering: the entire bar is seated at once with free sake and ice-cold green tea before the chef passes out rounds of hotate scallop, ahi tuna that’s been marinating for 10 days, and uni that tastes honestly a little funky (in a good way) to everyone simultaneously. It’s fun and casual, words we usually don’t use when dropping $150 on lunch. They also serve lunch a la carte and a 10-course Thai prix-fixe menu that we will definitely, definitely be checking out soon.
This tiny, order-at-the-counter burger shop in Beverly Grove has exactly four things on its menu, and two of those things - the fries and grilled cheese - are fine. But the thing you come for (hint: the burger) is fantastic. There are actually two burgers to choose from: a traditional smashburger topped with American cheese, pickles, onion, mayo, and mustard, and an Oklahoma, which means the onions have been griddled into the patty itself. We like the smashburger quite a bit, but you can find similarly good versions around town. The Oklahoma, on the other hand, is worth the stop alone. It’s sweet and tangy with a peppery bite from the patty that also mixes well with the salt from the American cheese. Lines tend to form on the weekends, but if you’re driving down Beverly Blvd. on a weekday, pull over, and treat yourself to the best 10-minute lunch in the neighborhood.
At first glance, Melanie looks and feels like many other good wine bars around town. There’s a well-curated list filled with mostly European biodynamic wines, a cute space that feels like a friends’ living room right as the party is starting to peak, and a menu filled with snacks you want to be eating while drinking chilled Beaujolais. But what makes this Beverly Grove spot great are the actual people serving you the wine. Melanie is owned by the same crew behind Sushi Note and Augustine Wine Bar, two of our favorite places to drink wine in LA simply because the sommeliers know how to level with you. No question is a dumb question, even if you ask if orange wine is made from oranges. They’ll also happily keep offering tastes until you find your match. As far as the food goes, the mussels are a standout. They’re plump, buttery, and come bathed in a rich, savory vadouvan curry. We also loved the stone fruit toast topped with Iberico jamon, and though it’s not technically on the menu, be sure to ask for a side of their perfectly-crispy shoestring fries. They’ll go great with your next bottle.
Moo’s Craft BBQ is not a new operation. Michelle and Andrew Muñoz started as backyard pop-up in East LA before taking on eventual stints at Smorgasburg. But with a new permanent space in Lincoln Heights - complete with a taproom and expansive side patio - the time to become a devout consumer of this popular BBQ is now. They’re currently only open Friday through Sunday from 11am until sell-out (which usually happens by 2pm), so we recommend showing up early and bringing some patience - you’ll be in line for several hours. So what’s the hype about? Central Texas-style BBQ that rivals the best of central Texas. Think pork ribs, smoked turkey, pulled pork, and the best brisket I have ever eaten. That said, the highlights on Moo’s menu aren’t just limited to big slabs of meat. The mac and cheese is crusty on top and properly gooey inside, the dill-heavy potato salad is light and fragrant, and if you show up to your next friend picnic with some of their tres leche pudding bread pudding, you’ll be the star of the afternoon.
The proliferation of Detroit-style pizza shops in LA over the past year and a half has been pretty extraordinary. And as someone who fell in love with the style as an undergrad in Ann Arbor (Go Blue), I am thrilled. But as more places open up, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to know which ones are doing it right and which ones are just cashing in on the trend. Quarter Sheets is doing it right. The Glendale pop-up (pick-up is at the chef’s home) started last fall on Instagram and has slowly built a rabid follower-base that sells out the pizza within minutes every week. The focaccia-like crust is thick and crispy with inch-high edges that crackle and snap under each bite. The interior, on the other hand, is soft and pillowy, soaking up the sweet red sauce that’s striped across the top. I could say this is my favorite Detroit-style pizza in LA, but I don’t think that’s the whole picture. This is some of my favorite pizza, period. Follow @quartersheets for all the latest details and menu drops.
Listen, I don’t always want to eat French food that tastes like it’s been surgically injected with five to six sticks of butter by Julia Child herself. But when I do, I know I’ll be heading to Bicyclette. Run by the power duo behind République, this cozy, subterranean spot in the old Sotto space in Beverlywood is a traditional French bistro in every sense of the word. Unlike their other restaurants, the focus here is on French home-style cooking; simple, heavy dishes like caramelized onion tarte tatin, crusty baguettes topped with sardines, and beef short ribs served with golden potato mousseline that are so tender, you can slice through them with a butter knife. However, no meal is complete without their escargots en croute – baked in a buttery, flaky pastry crust (which our server instructed us to delicately cut into, before flipping upside down and letting the escargot and its garlic/parsley/butter juices soak through it), it’s exactly what I want to be eating when my cooler, more-cultured alter ego takes over my body and demands nourishment.
- Kat Hong, Staff Writer
In the midst of … ~ gestures towards everything ~ , LASA, the family-run Filipino spot in Chinatown, has pivoted to a new rotisserie concept called Lasita. The streamlined menu focuses primarily on brined meat like pork belly lechon, but after a recent visit, the star of the show was without question the inasal chicken. The chicken itself is stuffed with lemongrass and garlic, giving it sweet and citrusy notes, with an acidic bite at the end. I would say you don’t even need the garlic vinegar and spicy birds eye salsita that comes on the side, but you actually do - they take the already fragrant flavors of the chicken and crank it up a notch. All that said, do not under any circumstance leave Lasita without trying one of their turon cream pies. Filled with banana confit, jackfruit, and brown sugar whip, this is the type of dessert you’ll be thinking about for months.