Every year, we eat at a frankly stupid number of restaurants. For each great place, we try at least three not-great places, but the point of all this eating is to tell you about the very best ones. This year, these 10 restaurants stood out.
And strangely, with a couple of exceptions, we could have written this list in July. Most of the restaurants on this list opened in the first half of the year, and it was clear from the start how good they are. They also couldn’t be more different - included in our top three is a restaurant where you sit on milk crates and could eat the entire menu for $100, as well as a place where you need a password to enter before dropping $700 on dinner.
These are our Best New Restaurants Of 2017. Now it’s time for you to start working your way through the list.
If we were going to name two things that happened a lot this year, we’d say Silver Lake restaurants and Mediterranean restaurants. Mh Zh, the almost-entirely-outdoor Israeli restaurant just past Sunset Junction, is better than all of them. The menu includes everything from beets in a bed of red peppers and labneh to crumbled lamb in a garlicky tahini stew to a giant grilled steak, and the fact that you could probably order the whole menu for under $100 is just a bonus. Oh, and you’re also sitting on milk crates on a sidewalk along Sunset, ordering off a menu written in sharpie on a paper bag, realizing this place has gotten everything else right too.
Located in an industrial development in the Fashion District, Rossoblu is a blockbuster from the second you walk in till the moment you crawl out in a food stupor. You aren’t coming here just because they make incredible pasta or because your dad likes their wine selection. You’re coming here because no facet of this restaurant feels less important than any other - the space, the service, the wine, the atmosphere, and the massive Italian menu are all operating at the highest level possible. If you’re looking to throw down with a big group or impress somebody important, you won’t find a better new spot in town than Rossoblu.
A lot of LA dinners involve sharing plates in a loud restaurant while yelling over a hip-hop soundtrack, but sometimes you just need something different. Something really special. That something is Dialogue. It’s hidden inside a food court on the Third Street Promenade (stay with us), in a tiny, fairly quiet room, and they do a 21-course tasting menu that changes with the seasons. Despite what that last part might make you think, the magic of Dialogue is that it isn’t the least bit stuffy. The food is super creative, but more importantly, all 21 courses taste incredible. This is a once-in-a-lifetime restaurant (you’ll end up spending around $700 on dinner for two), but Dialogue is one of the greatest special occasion dinners you can have in LA. Or anywhere.
Some restaurants take a minute to figure things out, but not Felix. This upscale Italian place on Abbot Kinney has had it together from the minute they opened in April, and is confident in a way most restaurants (and, come to think of it, people) will never be. They serve a big menu, but they’re booked solid every night of the week for one reason: the incredible pasta. The 10+ daily offerings are made in a climate-controlled room in the middle of the restaurant, and while they’re excellent across the board, we’d eat the rigatoni all’Amatriciana every day if our bodies and wallets could take it. If you want to reaffirm that going out to eat is the best hobby you’ve got, have dinner at Felix.
Lodge has technically been open in Culver City since 2015, but it wasn’t until this year that they evolved from a tiny space making bread and a few toasts to a full restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and (early) dinner. Which makes a lot of sense, because there’s no reason not to eat here for every meal of the day. Between the shakshuka in the morning, hummus and pita at lunch, white pizza for dinner, and child’s-head-sized cinnamon roll any damn time, you could close your eyes and point at anything on the menu and walk away happy. This is the kind of place you instantly want to hang out in, and start coming up with all kinds of excuses to do so.
Welcome to 2017, where fast dining is the norm and lingering at a restaurant must mean the service is subpar. Tsubaki, however, is here to prove that wrong. The casual Japanese izakaya in Echo Park doesn’t just allow you hang out all night, they actually encourage it. And with an excellent small-plates menu stacked with things like daily sashimi and curry soba noodles and the best green beans you’ll ever eat, no one is in a rush to leave. If you want the best experience possible, sit at the bar in the back, where you can hang with the servers, talk about the food, and drink sake until you book a flight to Tokyo on your phone.
You could put Kismet in a bucket with all the other restaurants in LA that make healthy-sounding food that turns out to be not that good for you. That would be a mistake. Yes, the food is attractive, and yes, there will probably be a famous person here, but you probably won’t notice either of those things because you’ll be wondering how they get the flaky bread so damn flaky. And then thinking about why no one put broccoli on toast before, and also why every meal can’t involve little bowls of olives and cucumber salad and house-made labneh and more of that flaky bread. Kismet might look like an LA cliche, but there’s so much more to it. Even if the food does look great in your depth-effect photos.
Lasa wasn’t thought up by some anonymous “restaurant group,” we’re pretty sure there wasn’t any kind of interior designer involved, and no decisions were made with your social media feed in mind. And all of that is what makes this place so great. Lasa is family-run (you’ll probably meet both brothers when you visit), low-key, and home to both truly delicious modern Filipino food and some of the friendliest service we’ve had all year. Lasa flies pretty under-the-radar, and that’s all the more reason to become a regular here.
There are casual neighborhood pizzerias all over LA. Very few of them are establishments where you want to spend a Thursday night. But Cosa Buona is the Echo Park spot from the Alimento crew that’s everything you could want in a laid-back pizza place. For one, the pizza’s excellent. Secondly, no matter how last-minute you and your friends are, they always seem to have a table ready in under 15 minutes. Not to mention the solid wine and craft beer list and the best mozzarella sticks you’ve had since Meghan Johnson’s sleepover in the 6th grade.
If you live in LA, dealing with Grand Central Market never seems particularly worth it, between the tourists and the lines and the inability to ever find somewhere to sit. But you should make the exception for Sari Sari Store, the Filipino rice bowl stall the Republique people opened this year. The rice bowls are great, but the breakfast sandwich is even better, and if there was one dish we couldn’t stop thinking about this year, it was their coconut pie that called to us every time we got on the 110.