West Hollywood has always had a plethora of cool upscale restaurants, but when Norah opened its doors in 2016, it sent a massive jolt of energy down a stretch of Santa Monica Blvd. that had become a bit sleepy. Crowds lined up nightly at this American spot to dine inside the sprawling, industrial space and eat delicious dishes like cauliflower popcorn, cast-iron cornbread, and uni-poached shrimp. Norah didn’t reinvent the wheel, but what it did do was provide the neighborhood with a fancy, fun spot that you could take anybody to and be confident that they would walk out happy.
Fast forward to today and not much has changed. And yes, that’s a compliment. Sure, some of the artwork and aggressive use of Edison bulbs are a bit dated, but this place still succeeds in making every person who walks through the door feel comfortable. You’ll eat things like buttery potato gnocchi with shaved black truffle, fresh daily crudo, and big plates of lamb with polenta and salsa macha. There’s even a pizza section now with nicely-charred, wood-fired pies.
Nothing is going to shock you or surprise you or cause some grand at-the-table epiphany, but that’s exactly why Norah is handy. It’s the kind of place you can send your boss to on a Monday for a client dinner and then turn back around and head there yourself for Friday date night. Plus nowadays, you can usually score a table day-of. And that’ll give anybody a nice jolt of energy.
Cast Iron Cornbread
This is one of the few remaining dishes from the original menu and it’s easy to see why–it’s delicious. The cornbread itself is soft, but not mushy, and the rosemary-honey butter on the side gives it a sweet, herbaceous punch. Make sure this hits the table first.
Shrimp & Halibut Aguachile
Norah’s menu is definitely a bit on the heavier side, so if you’re looking to balance things out, go for the aguachile. The broth is sweet and citrusy with plenty of plump shrimp and halibut on top. It’s certainly big enough to be its own entree, but it’s best as an appetizer that you can pick at throughout the meal.
This might be one of the most decadent bowls of pasta in LA. Filled with soft, pillowy gnocchi and topped with freshly shaved black truffle, this is the kind of pasta you order if you’ve had a week from absolute Hell or are trying to silently inform the client across from you that you mean business. Either way, it’s a power move that we endorse.
Norah doesn’t have the best pizza in West Hollywood, but it’s a lot better than we expected. Our favorite one on the menu is the calabrese. Topped with fennel salami, Calabrian chile, and fennel pollen, it’s a nice balance between sweet and heat with a chewy, bubbly crust that gets nicely charred in the wood-fired oven.
Among the bigger meat dishes, this is a standout. The lamb itself is so tender that it barely requires chewing, but it’s the buttery milled polenta at the bottom that takes this dish to another level.