A Taste of What's Hot
People dining in Los Angeles and Orange County, whether local or tourist, have one important question: Where should I eat right now? Restaurant obsessives want to know what's new, what's hot, which favorite chef just launched a sophomore effort. Below is a taste of some of the top favorites.
1241 5th St., Santa Monica
Santa Monica is becoming one of LA’s hotbeds of Italian pasta. Former La Botte chef Stefano De Lorenzo has opened a lunch-only handmade pasta restaurant with an eye toward classic, lovable Italian dishes at a very reasonable price. Try the bouncy bigoli pasta with aglio e olio sauce or the terrific lasagna.
2454 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
The former Wilshire restaurant in Santa Monica has transformed into a gorgeous place to eat, with a superb patio for warm summer (and fall) nights. Chef Brendan Collins does a mostly market-based California menu with highlights like black truffle cavatelli and whole grilled dorade. The whole thing feels like a hot celebrity backyard party.
2421 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica
Jeremy Fox’s new restaurant in Santa Monica’s industrial Bergamot Station area is already packed with eager diners. The menu is an ode to the big American flavors of his youth, inspired by his grandmother Gladys’s cooking. The Hangtown fry is a remade version of the California diner classic while the desserts are sure to steal the show.
9552 Washington Blvd., Culver City
Josef Centeno brings his trademark Tex-Mex while throwing in a dose of California at the former Bacoshop space in Culver City. From lunch to dinner, and happy hour in between, think reasonably priced favorites like carne guisada tacos and a mound of loaded nachos. Wash it all down with hibiscus frosé or a wide selection of craft beers.
8500 Beverly Blvd Suite 117, Los Angeles
Joshua Skenes, one of the Bay Area’s most celebrated chefs, has opened a second location of his Embarcadero restaurant Angler onto a ground floor of the Beverly Center. Inside, there’s a dimly lit open dining room with faux taxidermy and the blue glow of fish tanks. Everything on the menu here takes on Skenes’s unique, elemental style of cooking that leans heavily on Michelin-level finesse and the kiss of wood fire.
7156 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
The classic Formosa Cafe, first opened nearly 90 years ago, is reborn with a completely updated interior and a fresh Chinese-American menu from Little Fatty chef David Kuo. The weekend scenes are clearly more of a bar scene, but Formosa recently started a late menu food menu until 2 a.m.
6703 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles
Talented chef Eric Bost has put together one of LA’s most refined new restaurants in Auburn, into the totally remade former Hatfield’s space on Melrose. The dining room boasts a Nordic minimalist look with subtle birch-style wood, lightly plastered gray walls, an open ceiling. and ample greenery. The menu is clever and creative, with twelve courses — nine savory and three sweet — with diners picking a choice of any four, six, or nine. Meals start at $85 and go up to $160 depending on the number of courses, plus more for wine pairings, but one could see this elegant but relatively approachable experience is clearly reaching for Michelin status.
4653 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles
Former Chi Spacca chef Chad Colby has opened his own ode to Italian cooking along the eastern edge of Larchmont adjacent to Koreatown called Antico. The vibe here is minimal and rustic, aiming to focus on the plate. Find excellent handmade pasta and well-grilled meats from the open kitchen. Everyone’s talking about the fresh ice cream — be sure to order that too.
4845 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles
Brooklyn’s stylish Five Leaves restaurant has opened a light-filled expansion in East Hollywood, serving an all-day menu of pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, corn fritters, and chopped black kale salads. A grass-fed burger with pineapple and crispy chicken sandwich rounds out daytime items while the dinner menu compiles more composed plates like grilled barramundi. In all, perhaps the most exciting restaurant to open in East Hollywood this year.
1538 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles
Echo Park has a sweet new vintage-design restaurant called Adamae with all the trappings of a scene from the 1970s. The food is tinged with Spanish and Mediterranean flavors but with an eye toward California sensibility. Order the roast chicken and some small plates to share.
300 The Promenade N, Long Beach
Long Beach’s first-ever distillery comes into a big corner space with a full gin and vodka production, and eventually rum and other spirits. In addition to cocktails, the place offers lunch, brunch, and dinner with a friendly menu of burgers, chicken and shrimp pasta, and a Nashville-style hot chicken sandwich that appeals to the diverse crowd that drops in on weekends.
3313 Hyland Ave, Costa Mesa
(714) 538-8444 Carlos Salgado rightfully continues to earn accolades for his upscale modern Mexican restaurant at the OC Mix Mart, which — besides being delicious — actively seeks out pre-Hispanic ingredients and heirloom products to work with.
3333 Bear St #316, Costa Mesa
Located inside South Coast Plaza, Terrace by MixMix showcases the cooking of former Patina Restaurant Group chef Ross Pangilinan. The menu, inspired by French, Italian, and modern Filipino flavors, features things like pork adobo fried rice and albacore tostada. The $20 prix fixe lunch is particularly notable.
695 Town Center Dr Suit 160, Costa Mesa
Vaca remains a dining destination for Orange County, thanks to chef Amar Santana’s stint on Top Chef. The Spanish-inflected Costa Mesa restaurant hits on all cylinders, from meat to seafood to fresh produce to one of the best wine lists in the county.
428 E 17th St., Costa Mesa
Playa Mesa has been lauded by the OC Register as one of the best Mexican restaurants. The crowds have certainly embraced the place, showing up early and often for big, busy lunches and dinners in Costa Mesa.
2001 Westcliff Dr #100, Newport Beach
Olea’s the Newport Beach strip mall spot with the big, wide bar and inviting patio. The Russ Bendel-owned place keeps racking up well-deserved accolades while turning out casual plates like Jidori chicken schnitzel and beef cheek stroganoff.
2801 West Coast Hwy., Newport Beach
Piero Selvaggio’s newest restaurant with Ron Salisbury of El Cholo fame is the place to be for all that’s meaty and Italian. Dig into pastas, prime steaks, and chops while taking in the restaurant’s 180-degree view of Newport Bay.
3408 Via Oporto Suite 103, Newport Beach
The stylish Lido Marina Village has found itself a summery anchor tenant in Lido Bottle Works, the drinks-focused hotspot by the beach doing everything from simple roast vegetables and wine to hearty burgers and beer.
7862 Pacific Coast Hwy., Newport Beach
The beloved Orange County staple has pulled in a new generation of diners at its classic-looking digs inside the Crystal Cove shopping center. Expect top-notch service, white tablecloths, and a menu filled with French classics with a modern twist.
853 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach
Head to Oliver’s Osteria in Laguna Beach for top-notch Italian cooking. Chef Erik De Marchi, who comes from Angelini Osteria, draws inspiration from the cuisine of the Emilia Romagna region in Italy. The cacio e pepe is a must.