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LA's Best New Restaurants Of 2022

We spent the year looking for the best new restaurants across Los Angeles. This is where you’ll find them.

This year, we spent more time in new restaurants than your average City of Los Angeles health inspector. So much time that our dreams these days tend to start with someone asking if we know how the menu works and if we’d prefer still or sparkling. So, what did we learn after all that eating?

Well, aside from the fact that interior decorators probably need to cool it on the Tulum theme, and that it was definitely a down year for the Westside, it’s that the best new LA restaurants of 2022 delivered incredible food without pretense. The places on this list are a joy to hang out in and even more fun to eat at. That includes scrappy pandemic-era popups that have grown up into brick-and-mortars, sort-of-casual spinoffs from two of the city’s best Middle Eastern and Japanese spots, and a few places that are just unexpectedly awesome, like an Indian fusion sports bar and a fine-dining-tier truck that serves amazing seafood tacos. Without further ado, start planning your next great meal. These are LA’s best new restaurants of 2022.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Jakob Layman

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We had a feeling this East Hollywood spot would be a smash hit well before we set foot inside its dining room. That’s mostly because Saffy’s is the restaurant equivalent of a nepo-baby—it’s from the same people who run Bestia and Bavel, two excellent spots in their own right. But much like Tracee Ellis Ross' career, this glamorous kebab house exceeded our expectations anyway. Building on the Middle Eastern menu at Bavel, Saffy’s serves food worthy of a special occasion with the bubbly energy of a neighborhood fixture. You come here for juicy meat skewers cooked over a wood-fire grill and to scoop up luxuriously creamy hummus with warm laffa bread. And you’ll inevitably want to linger in a bright yellow booth until they kick you out. Getting a table at Saffy’s might take some work, but the thrill of eating here makes all the fuss worth it.

We’ve been ride-or-die for the Hainan chicken at Pearl River Deli since day one. But if 2022 proved anything, it’s that this new-wave Cantonese spot in Chinatown is more than a one-trick pony. With equal passion, we love their sweet-sticky glazed char siu, the plump wontons, and the fried Macau pork chop bun brushed with a delicious layer of crystallized sugar that would make any dentist wince. Those dishes alone warrant a high rating, but Pearl River Deli keeps things interesting by mixing in unique specials (spicy mungbean jelly salad) and seasonal desserts (kabocha cheesecake) that we track on Instagram like a hypebeast following a sneaker drop. Basically, we’ll find any excuse to grab lunch and/or dinner at Pearl River Deli and think you should do the same.

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This year, tons of pandemic-era pop-ups made the transition into full brick-and-mortars. Our favorite of the bunch is Kuya Lord. The creative Filipino comfort food here is every bit as spectacular as it was at the former Bestia chef's pop-up in 2020. Only now you get to hang out while you eat. The Melrose Hill cafe keeps things fast-casual, but it’s much more than a spot to pick up a chicken rice bowl in between meetings. If it’s your first visit, go for a Kuya Tray, which comes with big portions of sticky java rice, stir-fried pancit, pickled vegetables, and a protein of your choice (the sweet pork sausage is a must). And make sure to return for some of the elaborate specials that are only served at dinner, too.

If eating the best pasta in LA is your priority, head here. Formerly a pop-up Downtown, Cento reemerged in a new West Adams space this year with a leafy front patio and a wrap-around marble bar that offers intimate views of the pasta-making spectacle in the kitchen. Our tip: sit at the bar. Wherever you land, you’ll eat standout dishes like briny squid ink mafaldine with prawns, towering beet spaghetti topped with ricotta, and spicy pomodoro with a tiny pool of basil oil in the middle. This isn’t traditional Italian—whatever that means—but it is delicious and different from anything else you’ll find in town.

Considering there’s no website, reservation system, or landline (at least one that’s picked up on a regular basis), Cobras & Matadors easily wins for the most mysterious restaurant opening of the year. Or reopening, actually—the original closed in the same space in 2012. And yet, when you walk into this Spanish bistro in Beverly Grove, all you’ll be hit by is how warm and welcoming it feels. Antique tables with mismatched wooden chairs fill the dining room, and copper pots hang from the ceiling. Large groups of friends pass around plates of sweet soca cakes and buttery gambas al ajillo. Dates in the corner split succulent half-chickens. Dinners at Cobras are measured not by the hour, but by how many wine bottles are opened (it’s BYOB with a $20 flat charge). You know those quirky little neighborhood restaurants that seem to only exist in rom-coms? That's what's happening here.

It's going to take you a long time to get a dinner reservation at DTLA's Pizzeria Bianco. But whether it's waiting months for a reservation or hours for a walk-in table, your patience will be rewarded with some of the best pizza in Los Angeles, if not the country. These thin-crust beauties exist in the Goldilocks zone of pies: they're fluffy but sturdy, charred but chewy, and "just right" in every way. They're yeasty vehicles for smart topping combos, like salty soppressata and perfect marinara on the Sonny Boy, or pistachio, rosemary, and funky parmesan on the Rosa. And we know what you're probably thinking: isn't waiting two months for pizza a bit much? Then go have a few of the excellent New York-style slices they sell from their lunchtime walk-up window. They're not exactly the famed pies from the dinner menu, but they'll scratch the same itch.

On paper, Dunsmoor might seem like any other cool restaurant around Northeast LA. It’s dark and loud, there are tiny candles on the tables, and they pour a whole lot of natural wine. But this Glassell Park spot from the former chef of Hatchet Hall has something those other “cool” places don’t: a huge roaring fire in the dining room. And though it does give the room a warm, amber glow, it’s also what makes the Southern-leaning food here some of the best we’ve eaten all year. Almost every dish, from the sour milk cornbread with green chiles, seared albacore crudo with ginger and shallots, and ribeye so beefy it could be a nightclub bouncer, gets kissed by coals and tastes all the more spectacular for it. Whether going whole hog for dinner in the front dining room or popping into their backroom wine bar for a plate of oysters and cider, Dunsmoor is the kind of place we want to become a regular at. 

LA has a lot of great taco trucks, so if you're wondering why you should give Simón in Silver Lake your attention, we have three words for you: refrigerated salsa cabinet. Forget your standard salsa verde, because Simón has jars on jars of nuanced, creative salsas that you won't find anywhere else in the city. And their seafood tacos are just as fantastic, with thought-out flavors, textures, and little touches you'd expect from a fine dining spot. You'll try expertly fried soft-shell crab with spicy mayo and pickled onion and a flaky fish al pastor with caramelized onions and a wedge of charred pineapple. Even in a city filled with ceviche, this curbside operation has expanded our idea of seafood-induced nirvana: sitting on a traffic barrier with an aguachile rojo, a bag of tostadas, and as much of Simón's carrot habanero salsa as we can handle. 

Part of what makes Pijja Palace special is that you can't compare it to anything else in LA. In fact, just describing this Silver Lake spot will undoubtedly raise some eyebrows. Yes, it's an Indian-Italian fusion sports bar, but it looks nothing like the image that probably popped into your head: the mid-century modern decor is slick, the early 2000s R&B playlist is bumping, and the wildly delicious sports bar-ish food plays into the nostalgia factor without giving flashbacks to a Buffalo Wild Wings with sticky floors. Every dish has a subtle or not-so-subtle Desi spin to it, from the dosa onion rings to creamy pasta shells with nihari lamb to the ultra-thin pizzas slathered in green chili chutney that wouldn't look out of place at Chuck E. Cheese. It's pure, unadulterated, slightly chaotic fun—we don't question how it all fits together, it just does.

This Echo Park pizza parlor only really does two things—pan-style pizza and decadent desserts—and both of them are incredible. The pizza is pan-style in its peak form: a buttery, inch-high crust, and a spongy, focaccia-like interior that absorbs the flavors of the toppings. The desserts are nostalgia-rich slab cakes and pies, which are exactly what you want after taking down three crunchy corner slices. There’s also a swift takeout service, but if you have the chance to dine in at Quarter Sheets, you should. The retro, brick-walled dining room feels like a cross between a funky natural wine bar and a '90s-era pizza joint you might’ve gone to after a soccer game. And while the pizzas and desserts change almost daily, we feel confident saying the best thing to eat at Quarter Sheets is whatever is on the menu that day.

Here’s the thing about N/Soto: while it’s more casual than its tasting menu sibling restaurant, N/Naka, this upscale izakaya in Mid-City isn’t exactly a place you slide into on a weekday night. And, frankly, we’re fine with that—because sitting at N/Soto’s moody, low-lit bar enjoying a shochu cocktail, some grilled wagyu skewers, and a bowl of sake-steamed clams is a chance to sample the same sophisticated Japanese cooking for a substantially reduced cost, and without months of waiting for a reservation. Everything about a meal at this zen-like hideaway feels considered, from the tiny dab of caviar on top of the chopped toro nigiri to the tempura squid legs that come with chile-dusted mayo. There are plenty of great izakayas in LA, but none of them have the power to melt away the stress of the outside world like N/Soto.

When this dark, sexy Japanese-Taiwanese spot opened back in February, it became one of the first restaurants of the new year to get us all excited. There was a chill in the air, Season 2 of Euphoria had just ended, and we were served a loaf of Hokkaido milk bread so soft and warm, we wanted to sit on it like a sofa cushion. Run by the same people behind Fishing With Dynamite, this Hermosa Beach spot serves a mix of inventive flavor combinations like miso-marinated black cod, twice-braised ox tongue curry rice, and a cube-shaped matcha tiramisu. Even a simple bowl of truffle fried rice at their back-lit bar, lined with Japanese whisky and sake, is worth braving the traffic on PCH for.

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