LA’s 5 Best New Restaurants
Including a spectacular, 13-course, wagyu-and-caviar-centric tasting menu
This is one of the best times of the year to dive back into the restaurant scene. So far, 2023 has delivered plenty of exciting newcomers to LA, from an East Coast seafood mainstay to a high-end Japanese concept that focuses on the traditional yakiniku grilling technique. (Also, a meal introduced by a healer, there to help set your intention for the evening.) Here’s a rundown of those and a few other new spots to check out.
The appearance of this Boston staple, one of the most exciting openings in LA in a minute, on the West Coast is a boon for seafood lovers. With a massive menu of tinned sea snack treats, an extensive caviar selection, seafood towers, raw bar and smoked fish selections, plus inventive, pescatarian-friendly takes on classics like lobster spaghetti and fried lobster and waffles, the under-the-sea options are almost endless. Usual suspects like a burger and steaks are available, too, but why go wagyu when there’s calamari, clam chowder and lobster rolls to be had?
The prix-fixe Yakiniku tasting menu at Niku X might come with a side of sticker shock, but across 13 courses, the samples of caviar, tartare and wagyu add up to one incredibly decadent experience. Guests are seated at large wooden tables with a grill in the center, similar to a Korean barbecue setup, so aged proteins and tender ribeye, striploin and short rib can be cooked to order. If you want to go even bigger than the $230 prix fixe, there’s additional sides of truffle and uni that can be added, or you can go the Tomahawk tasting menu route, either $399 or $499 for two people, which adds a massive, dry-aged cut to the end of the meal.
A beloved New Orleans fried chicken spot made its way to the West Coast, first at a to-go window setup as part of the Colony’s delivery and takeout model in Santa Monica, and now in its own brick-and-mortar in Venice. There’s everything from the famous chicken to cornbread and gumbo on this menu, but don’t sleep on the mac and cheese and candied yams. There are plenty of chefs doing Southern cooking in LA, but these recipes come straight from a bona fide Louisiana legend, and the difference is palpable.
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As the new ground-floor restaurant in The Hoxton’s downtown LA location, Café Basque is competing with Stephanie Izard’s small plates Peruvian, Cabra, on the rooftop. No matter: chef Daniel Rose has crafted one of the more distinctive menus in the area with a substantial mix of Basque Country favorites that combine French and Spanish flavors to great success. Tuna á l’huile in espelette oil, mushroom croquettes and tomatoes stuffed with pine nuts and fennel kick off a beautiful “pinxtos” or finger foods section, with crab gratin, striped bass in vivid green parsley broth, and a classic sirloin with sauce poivre rounding out the mains. A massive serving of fries on the side is a must to accompany the steak — as is a couple of martinis, which are icy and strong.
From the minds behind Toca Madera and Sparrow Italia comes a light, airy and spiritual addition to the Sunset Strip’s dining renaissance. Located on the ground floor of the Mondrian hotel in the heart of West Hollywood, guests at Casa Madera are first greeted by a healer, who will help you set an intention if you’ve got a taste for diving into the woo-woo side of things. With live musicians and performers scattered throughout the sprawling dining room, entertainment is all part of the ambience here. So is elevated coastal Mexican, with “arrachera” skirt steak tacos and a near-perfect wagyu top cap as the standouts. Mayan hummus with olive tapenade and tuna timbale are great starters as well, to begin dinner or round out a happy hour with the kind of city view that makes all the traffic and expensive rent worth it.
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