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 1/22): Dan, Nightshade, Wax Paper Chinatown
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.
Dan is a low-key dumpling and fried rice spot in Pasadena. The dungeness crab fried rice will occupy your headspace until you go to sleep, and then fill your thoughts a couple hours before lunch the next day. The xiaolongbao are soupier than some other soup dumplings in town, which is a good thing when the broth is so tasty. The ones with blue crab and pork should be your first order of business. Tack on some super garlicky sauteed green beans, and call it a meal. Be prepared for a line if you go at peak times, but things do move pretty quickly here.
This new outpost of Wax Paper is in a Chinatown arcade, and it’s as good as the tiny original in Frogtown. You’ll see some repeat classics, like the too-big-to-usually-finish Italian sub and the panzanella salad - but there’s also a whole bunch of new stuff highly worth checking out. Like a turkey sandwich with an insane slaw that involves clementines and serrano peppers, a roast beef sandwich with pickled beets and French onion sauce, and a ham sandwich topped with walnuts. The space is significantly bigger than the sedan-sized first version, so you can go with a group and grab one of the tables in the hallway outside, or go alone and sit at the bar.
In case you were worried that there aren’t enough places to eat in the Arts District that involve exposed pipes, hanging plants, and golden accents, Nightshade opened up at the start of 2019 with all of those things. But this Asian-American spot feels different because it’s smaller and a little cozier than the warehouses around it. The menu runs through a whole bunch of different dishes that don’t always sound related - there’s a tom yum bloomin’ onion, congee with pork floss, Szechuan hot quail, and a lasagna with pork ragu and tofu cream. They all have some sort of Asian influence, they’re mostly the right balance of interesting and delicious. With great cocktails and dim lighting, Nightshade is a fantastic date night option in this restaurant-heavy area.
The guy behind Slab started out as a secret pop-up in his Studio City driveway (that he called Trudy’s Underground BBQ) and is now operating inside a shiny space on 3rd Street in Beverly Grove. The order-at-the-counter space is casual and straightforward, and the BBQ is some of the best you’ll find in LA city limits. Most people are here for the brisket, but it’s the spare ribs that we’re still thinking about. Be sure to throw in a side order of mac and cheese, and leave yourself some extra time - lines get long during peak lunch hours.
If you’re looking for a low-key, relatively affordable dinner spot before a show at the Arclight or Palladium, this is an excellent option. An Italian spot on an extremely touristy part of Hollywood Boulevard, Vino Bistro has a huge wine list and serves some great Italian small plates. If you sit at the bar, there’s a good chance the bartender will give you three or four different samples of wine “just because” before you pick one. For appetizers, focus on the taglieri (cheese and charcuterie) section, where you can choose six things for $12, or the whole list for $24. The cured beef carpaccio is salty and delicious, and the lobster gnocchi is going to have a measurable positive effect on your life.
This Korean bowl spot is in the old Baroo space, which might be a lot to live up- to, but BBQ + Rice serves fantastic and affordable Korean food that’s a nice change of pace from your usual salad/sandwich/poke lunch routine. The bowls come with excellent things like bulgogi or short ribs, pickled cabbage, and sweet and salty vegetables. Nothing on the menu is more than $13, and even though one bowl is more than enough food to fill you up, you should still add a side order of pickles and spicy fried chicken.
At first glance, Fiona looks like a pretty straightforward bakery. It’s an order-at-the-counter set-up with pies and biscuits in a pastry case and a wall of bread. And while the rich, but somehow light chocolate chess pie and the perfect baguettes are fantastic, there’s also a whole slew of savory Asian dishes that deserve your attention. For lunch, we like the chicken and cabbage salad, or the celery root pancake, but you should also come back at night when they transform into a table-service restaurant that serves bigger dishes like hangar steak and grilled pork shoulder.
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.
Sushi Note won’t be your once-a-week sushi spot, but it’s a place where you’ll want to plan your next visit before you even leave. If we were only judging this tiny Sherman Oaks spot on its sushi, it would waltz onto the Hit List. But because this place also has incredible wine and a laid-back space that feels like a neighborhood bar, we’ve decided that Sushi Note is one of the most exciting places to open this year. We recommend going all-in on the omakase (which is a very fair $80 considering the amount of food you get). Drink-wise, the bottle list is extensive, and you should let the sommelier pair out a wine tasting with each course of sushi that hits the table.
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.
Journeymen in Atwater Village was open for less than a year and never figured out what it wanted to be, but the same people have re-jiggered things and opened a very appropriately named pizza place called Hail Mary in the same spot. They’re focused on pizza, serving five-or-so pies a night, alongside salads, a few appetizers, and a small wine list. While the pizza is great, there are still some weird touches that don’t sit right (we don’t like raising our hands at the call of our name when the food is ready). But with families dropping in for early dinner, and younger locals lingering with bottles of gamay later in the night, Hail Mary seems to be a strong fit for the neighborhood.
If you’re anything like us, one of the highlights of your week used to be when the Guerrilla Tacos truck was even remotely close to your neighborhood. But the truck has recently retired, and now Guerrilla has a permanent restaurant in the Arts District where you can sit at a table (instead of the curb) while eating your sweet potato tacos. It’s an order-at-the-counter setup, with a way bigger menu (get the open-faced mushroom quesadilla), but the tacos are just like they’ve always been: impossible not to eat in under a minute. There’s also alcohol.
Workshop Enoteca is a tiny Italian spot that serves lunch and dinner in an El Segundo strip mall. Its bright interior is more reminiscent of a Panera Bread than a legitimate Italian restaurant, but don’t let that fool you - this is the best pasta we’ve discovered since we first ate at Felix. Your ideal strategy is to come with a few people, order several pastas, and then fight about which one is the best. The beef cheek scarpinocc is our favorite at the moment (be sure to get the stracciatella on top), and the kale salad is great, too.
This hummusiya (yes, a restaurant that specializes in hummus) run by the same people as Lodge Bread Co. combines many of our interests, like eating fantastic food and eating hummus. In a small space with an even smaller front patio in Pico-Robertson, they serve four different types of chickpea puree (the wild mushroom is the best), plus a couple of shakshukas, and some pita sandwiches. Get here for a fun lunch, a casual dinner, or really, whenever you can. You shouldn’t need an excuse to eat here.
Ma’am Sir is a modern Filipino restaurant that recently took over the Bar Angeles space in Silver Lake. The place is bright and colorful, with hanging vines from the ceiling (the Edison lights of 2018) and leafy wallpaper that makes you feel like you’re on vacation. You can’t go wrong with any of the food, but our early favorites are the longganisa (sweet sausage) sandwich, the whole milkfish, and a mango verrine dessert that’s basically the best parfait in existence. Definitely make a reservation as this place is already very crowded.
La Morra Pizzeria isn’t really a restaurant - it’s a portable pizza oven, built on the back of a trailer, that shows up on Tuesdays at Hayden in Culver City, and Thursdays at Tabula Rasa in Hollywood. And this mobile pizza pop-up is worth making space in your calendar for. They serve only five or so pizzas a night, all with pretty simple toppings (Margherita, Funghi, something with salami), but they’re close to perfect, with charred and chewy dough. Plus, given that both locations are wine bars, your drinks will be good too.