Every year in Los Angeles, we write about 60-something restaurant openings.
That’s quite a few.
Some of them are great for a week. Others for a month. Very few stand the test of time.
Hence: the top 10 L.A. restaurant openings of 2016, which we selected based on whether the food was so delicious and the scene so convivial that we’d brave traffic to return for another round.
From the home-style spot that almost turned me vegan to a joint that disobeys every rule of BBQ but somehow comes out better for it, these are the haunts that are worth the drive.
You’re here for: A date or dinner with friends. The Chef and waitstaff are always bouncing around, which makes it feel like home.
You’re dining on: The spiced carrots with shaved, iced coconut — a combo of flavors and temperatures that’ll blow your mind. Then the hot pot and the cavatelli. If you go for lunch, get the tofu sandwich. It’s fried and juicy in all the right ways.
You’re here for: A couples or client dinner. Get there early to take in the art galleries housed in the same building.
You’re dining on: Cold, pickled veggies served with a light ranch dressing, plump hush puppies with apple butter, and a tender deer burger that’s served without the bun. These guys do haute southern cuisine right.
You’re here for: A large group dinner.
You’re dining on: Doughy wood-oven pizzas, hand-pulled pastas in rich sauces and a roasted chicken that is comfort food done right. And don’t forget to order the table some housemade vermouth at the end of the meal.
You’re here for: The incredible patio. You’re here to drink, too, so any occasion with friends.
You’re dining on: The juicy hanger steak, served on a slab of wood with grilled spring onions and peppers and chewy flour tortillas.
You’re here for: All things casual. They’re open breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s the perfect neighborhood spot, and one we’d drive to.
You’re dining on: The shishito peppers with black garlic sauce and some of the cloud-like salted pretzel rolls with maple butter. The beef chuck has a sweet glaze and comes with a comically large steak knife. The branzino is lightly fried and topped with crispy onions and sweet peppers, and the flavors and combination of textures (crispy, soft and juicy) are similar to the low-country flounder you’d find in Charleston.
Here’s Looking at You
You’re here for: Dinner with friends — especially visiting foodies.
You’re dining on: The quail, which says it’s served with beets, red wine vinegar and spices. But what it doesn’t say is all that makes what amounts to a BBQ sauce, which is how the beets have been rendered. It adds a sweet and spicy dimension that even this Carolina boy enjoyed. Then there are the Brussels sprouts, which come shaved over thick wheat toast with a tahini-navy bean spread.
You’re here for: The food. It’s a solid go-to for a casual dinner.
You’re dining on: The farro with a subtle hint of cheese, crispy onions, bok choy and grilled cucumber. Also: creamy grits with collards. And a tomato tartine that’s incredibly delicate and could pass for a dessert. We could go on. Josef Centeno (Ledlow, Baco Mercat) nails veggies.
You’re here for: Dinner with foodies.
You’re dining on: Walnuts spiced in red chilies, then abalone, silky tofu with uni and definitely some sauteed greens with hemp seeds. Oh, and mackerel … we really can’t wait to go back.
Highland Park Bowl
You’re here for: A damn good time bowling in one of the best historic restorations in town.
You’re dining on: Doughy pizzas from original Italian ovens and cold microbrews.
You’re here for: Something important, be it a business dinner, a romantic dinner or a family dinner.
You’re dining on: The beef tartare. It doesn’t come with a raw egg. Instead, the egg has been dehydrated and then mixed with truffle salt and grated on top so you get a yolky umami without altering the texture of the meat.
For the rest of our year-end content ...