Fall in Los Angeles is always kind of a fake out, and triple-digit temperatures in September (!) mean one thing: takeout is king. Luckily, L.A. restaurants are facing down the heat with plucky ingenuity, uniting previously unrelated concepts with fearless abandon. Indian-Italian fusion? Check. (This delicious merger has the added bonus of a sports bar as a backdrop.) There are also luxury fitness clubs with health-centric rooftop restaurants for when the sun goes down, a Miami favorite popping up on an outdoor patio in the Arts District, and plenty more rooftop, poolside and open-air offerings on the rise.
When it’s this hot, nothing else will do. Check out some of the city’s best new (and new-ish) culinary offerings, casual though they may be.
Fiish is a sustainable sushi restaurant at Platform LA from hospitality veteran Jamo Willis and Chef Colin Whitbread, a former professional surfer who dry-ages all his locally sourced fish before serving it. You’re in already, aren’t you? After receiving the seafood fresh, the fish is aged anywhere from 5 to 12 days. Beyond that, Whitbread’s style is traditional with plenty of tongue-in-cheek moves, like his salmon topped with ponzu, lemon and a dollop of caviar. Expect to be surprised and delighted by the chef’s insistence on the excellence of his ingredients. His devotion yields dividends, and every risk pays off.
None of us knew we needed an Indian-Italian fusion sports bar until it showed up on our doorstep. Now, Silver Lake can’t live without this cozy neighborhood spot — it’s constantly packed, so good luck getting a table to enjoy a nice slice of pijja (that is, pizza), which comes in green chutney or saag, as well as build-your-own varieties. Owner Avish Naran envisioned his parlor as a space to offer an Indian take on American bar classics, along with multiple TVs and plenty of sports paraphernalia. Pasta and chicken wings abound, as do slight variations on traditional fast-casual appetizers; the onion rings are battered in dosa, an aloo tikki slider is made with potato patties, not beef, and the wings are yellow with turmeric alongside the spicy mustard. Somehow, against all odds, everything works. Expect Naran’s inventions to soon outgrow this corner of Silver Lake and spread elsewhere in the city.
The crown jewel of Heimat, a luxury fitness club that broadcasts Equinox-gone-boutique vibes, Michael Mina’s rooftop restaurant and bar is less green juice and summer roll and more pea-protein ice cream and ice cold crudites. Begin your meal with a flavorful assortment of veggie-forward dips, like whipped avocado and beet hummus, and make your way through cavatelli (with spirulina!) and a Brazilian-style fish stew that just might change your mind about striped bass. Finish with — what else? — pea-protein soft serve that tastes exactly like the real thing. Eating healthy always felt good. Now it tastes good, too.
Though this stretch of the Arts District is packed with restaurants worth revisiting again and again, like Bestia, Damian and Yangban Society, there’s always room for another option. Mandolin Taverna, sister restaurant to the tremendously popular Mandolin Aegean Bistro in Miami, has arrived as the long-awaited ground-floor restaurant at Soho Warehouse. Unlike the rooftop and house kitchen, Mandolin is open to the public, and odds are it will keep up just fine with the rest of the competition in the neighborhood. Expect (mostly) patio seating and a menu that’s heavy on idyllic snack plates, like baked feta, calamari and köfte meatballs. Salads, sandwiches and flatbreads round out a menu designed for sharing, with surprising mains like the dumplings with minced beef, Aleppo pepper and burnt butter, quickly reminding American diners that we’ve barely scratched the surface of Turkish culinary traditions. Layer on the dishes here for a drawn-out happy hour vibe; the al fresco setting is one of the nicest in the area, thanks to Soho’s well-appointed furniture and decor.
Replacing the newish Celestina as the rooftop dining option at Culver City’s latest hotspot hotel, The Shay, Canopy Club already had a great canvas to work with. Who doesn’t like a poolside restaurant to escape to after work? Situated perfectly among all the new developments of Ivy Station and other tech giants in the area, Canopy Club is a little slice of golden hour after a long day. Unlike Celestina’s Mexican-ish fare, this new concept is all about classic desert decadence — 1940s Palm Springs style — with a modern twist. Tuna crudo gets a hint of spice with chili and chives, and a simple gem salad is dotted with watermelon radishes. Do up the traditional shrimp cocktail with a side of bluefin tuna sashimi, or even king crab — or tone the evening down with fried avocado tacos. Umami salmon on a bed of fresh cucumbers is practically a salad, while a tamarind-marinated steak comes with rice and veggies instead of bread or potatoes. Everything here feels fresh and light, just like poolside fare should.
One of several F&B offerings at the new Conrad hotel, Agua Viva is more proof that José Andrés is an icon for a reason. Chef Andrés was a pioneering force when it came to introducing Spanish tapas to American diners, and Agua Viva continues that tradition with shareable starters like patatas bravas, crab fritters, and watermelon and tomato salad. Burgers and a lobster roll are available for the casual diner, while more substantial mains like a whole fried sea bream showcase this chef’s inventive, playful nature. Situated on the hotel’s 10th floor, with stunning views of the downtown skyline, Agua Viva is the perfect patio oasis for anyone looking for a relaxing spot to sprawl out with friends across several rounds of drinks.
This article was featured in the InsideHook LA newsletter. Sign up now for more from the Southland.