2022 has proved to be a banner year for restaurant openings in Los Angeles with the addition of several new hotspots and the reopenings of some favorites. Whether it’s fiery Indian-California fare at a stylish new Long Beach restaurant, beef and lamb shawarma from hit-making LA restaurateurs, or the return of house classics at a beloved Koreatown spot, these must-book restaurants are the places to be right now.
Bar Clara (DTLA)
Head downtown for al fresco dining and drinks with a panoramic view of the city at Bar Clara at Hotel Per La. Spritzes reign supreme on the cocktail menu, with options including an orange spritz with grapefruit, a floral aperitif, and Champagne, and a yellow spritz with citrus liqueur, thyme, and extra dry prosecco. The expansive wine list has varietals from Italy, France, Northern California, and a small vintner from Santa Barbara. Sip on the stellar drinks alongside Mediterranean dishes such as Calabrese salami-stuffed snapper with citrus, tarragon and parsley rub, and roasted halloumi cheese served with honey and pita bread.
CaliChilli (Long Beach)
Star chef Mural Manjunath combines American comfort food and Indian flavors at his spiffy Long Beach restaurant, CaliChilli. Expect dishes such as crispy cauliflower fritters served alongside a fiery sambal aioli, and a flaky chicken pot pie featuring a tomato sauce flavored with star anise and cardamom. The restaurant, which has wall motifs inspired by Indian floral arrangements, seats 58 people inside, and at a 10-seat bar that overlooks the kitchen.
Patio del Mar (Santa Monica)
The last of the summer months are just an added bonus to enjoy the spacious, scenic outdoor seating at Patio del Mar, Hotel Casa del Mar’s beachside bistro.The restaurant remains just as exciting in non-summer months thanks to its seafood menu featuring catch from the California coast and Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. Expect a daily selection of East and West Coast oysters at the Santa Monica spot, as well as shrimp ceviche, a Dungeness crab avocado toast, and more. Pair the food with an Aperol spritz or a sangria, followed by a stroll along the ocean mere steps away from the restaurant.
Saffy’s (East Hollywood)
Bestia and Bavel veterans Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis debuted their latest ode to Middle Eastern cuisine in June. The chefs named the East Hollywood restaurant after their daughter, Saffy, and have set it up as a casual spot where eating with your hands is encouraged. Opt for one of the wraps stuffed with kebabs, falafel, or shawarma. Or go for the house favorite, the turmeric mussels, which are served in a coconut cream broth studded with grated carrots, sliced habanero peppers, and scallions. Sop it up with the flatbread served alongside the dish. Pull up a chair at the curved, 16-seat bar and order one of Saffy’s playful cocktails such as the cherry limeade with tequila, calamansi juice, cherry-lime soda, and a cherry on top.
Here’s Looking at You (Koreatown)
Koreatown’s beloved Here’s Looking At You reopened in January after a 17-month pandemic closure. Buoyed by support from longtime diners, co-owners Lien Ta and Jonathan Whitener have reemerged with house classics such as the beef bone marrow served with a fried baby shrimp and anchovies-laden XO sauce, spicy frog legs with salsa negra, and shishito peppers with huamei (preserved plums). Grab a seat in the intimate 50-seat indoor space or an outdoor spot in front of a mural-adorned wall. Pair your food with one of HLAY’s seasonal cocktails; Prior options have included a blue wet martini inspired by the neon lighting at The Troubadour theater in Los Angeles.
The Royce (Pasadena)
The Langham Hotel’s ritzy steakhouse, Royce, returned in July after a two-year pandemic hiatus. Chef Jorge Delgado and his team serve Prime Cut steaks ranging from Wagyu to ribeye, all prepared over a wood-fired grill. Sides include fries tossed in duck fat and roasted wild mushrooms. A lobster bisque, roasted bone marrow, and oysters round out the appetizer menu. There’s plenty for vegetarian diners here too such as the pappardelle pasta with heirloom tomatoes and garlic confit, and the spring risotto with Meyer lemon and English peas. Reserve a seat on the glass-enclosed veranda for views of the hotel’s serene Japanese garden or at the plush white leather banquettes inside.
Kristin Braswell is a journalist and founder of CrushGlobal Travel, a company that customizes travel guides and authentic experiences around the world.