To the surprise of absolutely no one, it’s been another break-neck year of restaurant openings throughout Los Angeles. From new projects in beloved old spaces, big-time chefs expanding their empires, and under-the-radar spots that came out of nowhere, 2015 continued to build Los Angeles’s reputation of having some of the best restaurants in the country.
But which places really stood out? Who delivered on their sky-high expectations? Here is our list of the best restaurants that opened in Los Angeles in 2015.
Did the biggest opening in LA come in the smallest package? Trois Familia’s six table dining room certainly makes it the smallest restaurant on the list, but with Chef Ludo manning the kitchen, there’s nothing minute about the place. People might not be accustomed to a shared plate experience during breakfast, but get into it. Because you’re going to want as much of this French/Mexican brunch explosion as possible.
When the guys behind Animal announced they were opening a casual Italian restaurant across the street from their red meat sanctuary, most of LA was put on high alert. And luckily, Jon and Vinny’s delivers on almost every level. The casual Italian menu is fantastic and while the interior looks more like an Icelandic steam sauna than a pizza/pasta joint, it’s all part of the allure that’s made Jon and Vinny’s an instant LA staple.
If you had told us in January one of our favorite new spots was going to be a BBQ joint on Sepulveda in Culver City, we would’ve laughed in your face. But here we are in December and we still can’t stop talking about Maple Block BBQ. The brisket is getting all the early deserved praise but we think it’s the rest of the menu that sets the place apart. Pimiento Cheese Sandwich, you have our heart.
How it took so long for someone to realize putting a Korean BBQ joint outside of Ktown would be a pretty good idea is beyond us. But Culver City is now reaping the benefits. Hanjip’s trendy atmosphere and melding of traditional Korean and contemporary techniques have sent the Westside (and most everyone else too) into complete hysteria. Expect to wait for a table.
When a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles makes a list like this one, it should not be taken lightly. But then again, Broken Spanish is no ordinary Mexican restaurant. This is Mexican cuisine from the future, with a menu drawing from both Latin and California influences and ingredients, all set in a sleek and stylish downtown space. Lamb neck tamales anyone?
If we see “seasonal” on one more menu in LA we might go crazy. But luckily, Estrella is bringing actual meaning back to this vastly misused word. Fresh ingredients that aren’t just in-season but actually taste like the season itself and an aesthetic that reads more Ojai peyote den than Sunset Strip hotspot has us very into this fantastic Weho restaurant.
It’s not particularly difficult to pinpoint the formula amongst Santa Monica’s most successful restaurants: Sleek, upscale-casual space serving familiar (and good) California cuisine. Enter Cassia, dropping down on a rather derelict stretch of downtown, serving delicious and relatively surprising Southeast Asian cuisine in a redone space that simply needs to be seen. Consider the mold broken.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Forma dropped down on Montana’s chardonnay-drenched sidewalks and gave the rather geriatric neighborhood a major helping of youth. That’s not to say Swedish House Mafia rolled into town though. Forma is an old-school Italian joint but with an immensely welcoming and unstuffy vibe. Take note, Westside. You just got yourselves a great new date spot.
Proving once again that hidden restaurants are more fun, this entirely outdoor enter-through-the-kitchen-of-a-grilled-cheese-shop Mediterranean restaurant is one of the true gems to open this year. Just don’t come expecting your bowl of hummus and pita. This is coastal Mediterranean cuisine and that means seafood. But with good prices, creative dishes, and palpable romantic vibes, Melrose just got a perfect new date spot.
On what’s slowly becoming Culver City’s restaurant row, LA waved good bye to Waterloo & City and said hello to Hatchet Hall, the beautiful Southern-tinged restaurant that made us quickly forget about the old standby it replaced. The food is a fantastic fusion of Southern comfort and modern Californian in large space (with a hidden back bar) that’s as eccentric as it is romantic.
Whatever fears the words “Santa Monica Yacht Club” create inside you, breathe a sigh of relief. Because this SMYC is a rather delicious and accessible seafood joint by the same people behind another Westside favorite, Tar & Roses. The muted ambience might read like a 70’s luxury charter to Nantucket but the menu is chock-full of surprising stuff. Striped-bass ceviche in a half-cut coconut? All aboard.