It’s an exciting time to eat your way through Los Angeles. As a spirited American city that soaks in global influences and culinary traditions from its diasporic communities, the Southland boasts one of the nation’s most diverse restaurant scenes. And this season’s new entrants confirm just that.
A locally loved chef debuted a sleek sushi and sake spot in Silver Lake. In Frogtown, the duo behind a popular sandwich cafe will soon open a place that pairs Californian bounty with French techniques. A chef with MICHELIN cred serves decadent Basque plates at a hotel restaurant downtown.
In a city crammed with restaurants to explore, these are some of the hottest new ones. Read on for a guide to LA’s six must-book spots right now.
Casa Madera (Hollywood Hills)
The getaway vibes are strong at this modern Mexican haven. When renowned hospitality group Noble 33 opened Casa Madera on top of the Mondrian Hotel in January, they were determined to bring beachy elegance to Hollywood Hills. That mission is accomplished by rustic wood finishes, hand-woven furniture, and rope-and-thatch pergolas—but it’s the jagged Los Angeles skyline that steals the show. The delicious view pairs well with coastal Mexican plates such as duck carnitas tacos with garlic crema and chipotle cherry salsa. Even the cocktails pay tribute to the Mayan Riviera. Round out your earthy escape with one of the tequila- and mezcal-centered drinks sweetened with flavors including watermelon, agave, and eucalyptus.
Café Basque (Downtown)
Café Basque breathed new life into a neighborhood dominated by traditional French restaurants when it opened its doors in December. The new Hoxton Hotel spot is steered by Daniel Rose (of MICHELIN-starred Le Coucou in New York City) and looks to French Basque country for cues instead. Expect a parade of pintxos such as creamy crab gratin plus mains including grilled duck breast and almond puree. No meal here is complete without burnt Basque cheesecake, which jiggles ceremoniously as it’s placed on your table. Enjoy the Pyrenees-inspired feast in a warm, diner-like backdrop dressed with soft lights, deep burgundy booths, and parquet floors.
Omakase by Osen (Silver Lake)
In October, Izakaya Osen chef Damon Cho debuted a cozy sushi spot in Silver Lake. But don’t be fooled by the low-key interiors—Osen’s offerings are anything but laid-back. The chef’s choice lineup features a cavalcade of seven small plates such as clam miso soup and monkfish with seaweed salad plus nine pieces of nigiri and a dessert (matcha mochi cake, if you’re lucky). The a la carte offerings are just as robust with highlights including chirashi sushi served in custom-made wooden boxes and top-notch baked king crab handrolls.
Willie Mae’s (Venice)
Award-winning New Orleans institution Willie Mae’s branched out from the Big Easy for the first time in December. At its Venice location, in addition to serving its legendary fried chicken and iconic wings, the restaurant dishes up solid Southern sides such as candied yams, mac and cheese, and melt-in-your-mouth butter beans. LA’s fried-bird lovers can tuck into it all in a rustic wood and brick dining room filled with colorful New Orleans art.
Negroni on 3rd St. (Beverly/Fairfax/La Brea/Third St.)
With its Argentina-inspired cocktails and unique sushi menu, Negroni on 3rd is a playful new addition to Mid City. When it opened in December, it became the second U.S. location from an expanding international chain. The LA edition occupies a roomy bi-level space fit for lively happy hours and early-in-the-game dates. As a tribute to its name, the spot stirs up ten riffs on the popular Italian cocktail including a classic, sour, and espresso version made with mezcal. All pair well with inventive nigiri pieces topped with unexpected accents including truffle honey, romesco, and crispy quinoa.
Lingua Franca (Frogtown)
The power duo behind superhit sandwich cafe Wax Paper is poised to open their first all-day restaurant in late February. Peter and Lauren Lemos will head Lingua Franca, a charming sit-down spot along the LA river. The innovative menu pairs Californian bounty with French techniques resulting in dishes such as quail with poppyseeds—a clever nod to the state bird and flower. Local artisans contributed to the interiors with tables and light fixtures fueling a quintessentially Californian ambience.
Tried them all? Check out other options here.
Lisa Kwon is a reporter and writer focused on arts and food culture in Los Angeles, CA. Find Lisa on Instagram and Twitter.