Welcome to The Infatuation Hit List, 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 worth 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.
And if you’re looking for the best new places to drink in LA, we’ve got that covered, too - check out our Bar Hit List.
New to The Hit List (as of 7/17): Birdie G’s, Elio’s Wood Fire Pizza
All restaurants featured on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team. The Hit List is presented by the American Express ® Gold Card. Click here to learn more about the benefits and rewards you get from paying with the Amex Gold Card while dining out.
Birdie G’s industrial space in Santa Monica doesn’t look much different from other new restaurants in LA. There’s exposed air ducts, an open kitchen, and an eager waitstaff proudly proclaiming that everything’s meant to be shared. But once the food starts hitting the table, all those lingering “We’ve seen this before” thoughts quickly fade away. Whether it’s mustard-doused German potato salad, crab and prawn cakes, or sloppy joes on Texas toast, this is the kind of hearty, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food that you just can’t find in this city. Also, it all tastes great. Birdie G’s is the most excited we’ve been about a Westside restaurant in over a year.
LA’s best new pizza spot is operating out of a liquor store parking lot in Silver Lake. Elio’s Wood Fire Pizza sets up shop in the same lot on Sunset every night, with some picnic tables, a mobile fridge full of toppings, and a wood-fired pizza oven in the back of an early-aughts Chevy Silverado. Their (very good) cheese pizza is $10, and you can build your own pie for $1 per topping - we recommend adding some sausage, pepperoni, or both. Plus, the dough, is springy, chewy, flavorful, and perfectly blistered in all the ways you want wood-fired pizza to be. Head here now before the line goes all the way to Echo Park.
On paper, Bon Temps looks like a fairly straightforward French restaurant in the Arts District. In reality, it’s one of the more exciting places we’ve eaten at this year. Yes, its large space has all the industrial touches you’ve come to expect from upscale restaurants in the AD, but as soon as the first canapés hit the table, you realize something special is happening here. Whether it’s the excellent cocktails (get the pisco-infused Galapagos), full raw bar, or incredible crab cakes, Bon Temps is one of the most impressive all-around restaurants we’ve been to recently - and you should probably make a reservation while you still can.
The second location of Mizlala - this one’s in West Adams, right across from Alta - is pretty different from the Sherman Oaks original. You order at the counter, grab some pickled sides from the bar, and take a seat on the patio. But one thing hasn’t changed: The excellent Israeli food. The menu is small, but it’s hard to go wrong - there’s a great, salty chicken shewarma, and very good spiced kefta. You can get any of the main proteins in a pita, on a salad, or as a plate with rice, hummus, and veggies. Don’t skip the sides, either - the fried broccoli and Brussels sprouts are both fantastic.
It’s not easy to have an Old Hollywood feel on the day you open - but Dear John’s in Culver City pulls it off. Stepping inside feels like a time-machine trip to the ’60s, when people wore suits to restaurants and ordered things like lobster thermidor. Come for a martini, chicken parm stuffed with cheese, and a tableside Caesar salad that’s perfectly briny, stay for the incredible ambiance. Be sure to take it all in, because unlike most restaurants, Dear John’s has a very real expiration date - its building is being torn down in 2021.
If you’ve had dinner at Tsubaki in Echo Park at any point during the last six months, you no doubt noticed the construction of their second restaurant, Ototo, next door. It’s open now, and after a meal there last week, we can safely say this casual Japanese spot is one of the more exciting restaurants to open this year. This is the kind of place where you roll in with a few friends on a Tuesday, have too much sake (their drinks menu comes with a table of contents), share a bunch of plates of haricots verts, sweet and sour fried chicken, and panko fried oysters, then do it all again on Friday.
Located on Sunset Blvd. in East Hollywood, Northern Thai Food Club is our favorite Thai restaurant to open in LA in a long time. The tiny strip mall spot only has about four tables to go around, so no matter when you come, expect to share table space with complete strangers. As far as the food goes, stick to the hot bar in the back, where you’ll find the daily soup specials, plus the best Thai sausage we’ve ever eaten. Throw in a sweet and savory khao soi and a spicy papaya salad from the regular menu and you’ve got one of the best meals in Thai Town right now.
Recently, great new restaurants have been hard to find on the Westside - especially near Abbot Kinney. But Yours Truly is an exception. Its menu might read like it was created using some sort of New Restaurant Algorithm - avocado hummus with salsa macha, Nashville hot shrimp - but the food’s pretty great. There are some things we liked a little less, like squid-ink pasta shells “carbonara” that could have used a lot more flavor, but overall, this is a place you need to check out if you’re looking to book an upscale date or business dinner on the Westside.
A tiny new sake and wine bar on the grounds of Yamashiro in Hollywood, Kensho is one of the best new date spots in town - and the next place to come when you want to convince someone that you’re cooler than you actually are. You can order the entire menu for around $100, including dishes like a unique (and excellent) black cod with matcha and pickled mustard sauce, and burrata and tomatoes on sesame sourdough bread. But the best thing on the menu is the rice porridge, which involves egg, goat cheese, and dill, and tastes like that feeling of having a Labrador puppy in your lap. The staff will help you find the perfect sake to pair with your meal, and they aren’t stingy when it comes to pouring sample sips, either.
The first thing you notice about Firehouse is simply how impressive the space is. Located on the ground floor of an old fire station in the Arts District (the rest of the building is a fancy boutique hotel), Firehouse resides in an entirely outdoor side patio that’s easily our favorite new place to eat outside in LA. That said, this place is more than just looks - the global menu is very good as well. The Japanese sweet potato and cavatelli should definitely both be ordered, but if the house burger doesn’t make it on the table at some point, don’t even bother telling people you came here.
In the fall of 2018, the fantastic and unique Baroo closed up shop. If you still miss their hyper-modern Korean food and fermented vegetables, we have good news - they’re back and better than ever. Located inside the Union Swapmeet at Santa Monica and Vermont, Baroo Canteen is little more than a counter and a few tables, but with a brand new menu that includes things like mung bean falafel, pastrami fried rice, and some of our favorite Korean fried chicken in LA, this is easily one of the most exciting meals we’ve had this year. Unfortunately, the Swapmeet itself is set to be demolished in 2020, so go now while there’s still time.
For as small of a neighborhood as Los Feliz is, it’s home to a staggering amount of casual French sidewalk cafes. But it takes one meal at Loupiotte for you to realize that there’s always room for more. The daytime-only space on Vermont has exposed brick walls, mix-and-match wicker chairs, and tons of shelves filled with random knick-knacks. In short, it’s adorable, but not in a way that feels solely for social media. As for the food, it’s a fairly straightforward menu, featuring excellent dishes like a creamy polenta, pea and asparagus risotto, and a tomato tapenade sandwich you’ll go back for the next day.
This tiny spot on a quiet stretch of Hyperion is an excellent addition to your Eastside date night rotation. The menu is small, but features some really interesting takes on raw fish, from a more traditional striped bass ceviche with xni-pec (habanero salsa), to an experimental yellowfin tostada with habanero sorbet on top. It’s tough to go wrong - unless you don’t order the scallop shooters, which come with pomegranate and serrano, and are the kind of shots we plan on doing the most this summer.
It started as as a catering company, but now Aduke African Cuisine has a fantastic full-service restaurant at Pico and La Cienega. The menu is composed of traditional Nigerian food - jollof rice combos, yam porridge, and a whole section of African soups. The pumpkin seed-based egusi is our favorite, but no matter which soup you order, get a side of fufu to go along with it. It’s basically a giant ball of boiled yuca flour, and the ideal dipping device for the spicy and fragrant egusi. The portions are quite large here, so make sure you bring some friends and coworkers.
There are a bunch of places to eat inside The Manufactory, the big complex at The Row DTLA from SF’s Tartine Bakery, but the newest is the best. Alameda Supper Club has an atmosphere similar to its roommate, Tartine Bianco, but displays more of an Italian influence (mostly because there’s a pasta section on the menu), and the food is both more refined and more interesting. But maybe the best thing on the menu is the cheddar and smoked ham toast - two little strips of buttery toast with cheddar mornay sauce and smoked ham shaved over the top.
You probably don’t go out of your way for museum restaurants very often, but you should make an exception for Audrey at the Hammer in Westwood. It’s in the objectively beautiful courtyard of the Hammer, and serves fantastic food involving (mostly) vegetables. At lunch, you should eat celery root soup and trout roe toast in the beautiful outdoor space, and watch museum-goers roll around in chairs that are more like human-sized dreidels. The restaurant is open for dinner when the museum closes, when you’ll find meatier things like a great pork porterhouse - it’s salty, juicy, and cooked perfectly. Don’t leave without getting a cocktail (our favorite is the Audrey).
You may already be familiar with Maury’s, a bagel pop-up that used to always sell out at Dinosaur Coffee and the Hollywood Farmer’s Market. Now it’s gone permanent in Silver Lake, and it’s better than ever. The fresh bagels are very good, but the real star is the fish they cure in-house. We like the whitefish salad and traditional Nova lox, but our absolute favorite is the ikura (red caviar), served open-face with cucumbers and dill. Despite lines out the door, things move quickly, so even if you’re hungover and grumpy, you’ll still be very happy. Seating options are limited, so make sure you grab a seat at one of the picnic tables outside if you can.
The small, minimalist interior at Woon in Filipinotown is a nice place to hang out, but the main event is the fantastic Shanghainese-influenced food. The order-at-the-counter spot is known for noodles, which come out chewy and near perfect, especially once you use the garlic chili sauce and white vinegar to make them what the staff call “Mama’s Way.” The rest of the relatively small menu is just as good - especially the preposterously crunchy fried tofu fishcakes.
This is a very good Southern spot in West Adams that serves cornbread you’ll want to take home by the loaf. The dishes are simple - the cornbread comes with a plate of very good homemade butter - and the portion sizes are gigantic, so you could easily split the fantastic and surprisingly light oxtails and rice between two people as an entree. Sit on the back patio, and you’ll most likely be surrounded by family dinners or casual dates having cocktails and black-eyed pea fritters, which are delicious and taste like hushpuppies that grew up to be falafels. Service can be a bit slow, but the food more than makes up for it.
If you live on the Westside, having a meal in the San Gabriel Valley is pretty much a day trip. And while day trips are fun, sometimes you want excellent Chinese food without sacrificing half of your Saturday. The third location of Szechuan Impression is here to change that. The popular SGV restaurant on Santa Monica Blvd. in West LA is Szechuan-style, so expect flavors to be spicy, intense, and worth every bit of the hour-long wait you just endured to get in. The two-story restaurant is massive with a party-like atmosphere and that can accommodate however many friends you roll in with tonight. Order the tea-rubbed ribs, mapo tofu, and wontons in chili sauce.
On a corner in Historic Filipinotown, Porridge & Puffs might look like any other daytime spot with minimalist decoration and lots of natural light. But you won’t find eggs on toast or kale salad here - just bowls of rice porridge, chewy bread puffs, and a few vegetable dishes. The porridges are fantastic, especially the one topped with five-spice braised short rib and another with Chinese sausage and black-eyed pea miso. It’s simple, confident food that you’ll want to keep coming back for, so we’re glad to hear they’ll be serving brunch and dinner soon.