The 5 Best Restaurants That Opened in LA This August
Lox latkes. Figgy ducky. Lots of tacos. Let’s review.
Because every Angeleno loves to eat, even if he has to valet, we bring you Table Stakes: a series that answers man’s eternally recurring question (“Uh, what’s new?”), and recurs once every lunar cycle or so. Bon appétit.
The mind can be easily fooled. Case in point: If you take a mushroom, cook it just right, then add cream and Tic Tac-sized morsels of glistening bacon, you can replicate the flavors and textures of mac and cheese.
Or at least Jeremy Fox can, at his new Santa Monica restaurant, Birdie G’s, where veggies are transformed into the kind of indulgent snacks you’d expect to find at your favorite burger joint or pizza parlor (don’t worry, carnivores — he also serves meat).
It’s one of five new haunts in this issue of Table Stakes, where you’ll also find a neighborhood bar with an inventive lox latka, barbacoa tacos by the ocean and an exclusive date spot for big spenders.
You’re here because: You want to have a memorable dining experience with someone important, be it family, friends or a client. Birdie G’s is kind of like a westside Bestia: it’s located in a warehouse behind the art galleries of Bergamot Station (note the one-way streets and Metro tracks when driving), but it’s airier, more polished, less noisy and better-lit.
You’re dining on: Chicken is a great way to test a chef’s ability, and Fox’s bird offers big, juicy flavors and hints of smoke on its crispy skin. But don’t miss the other bird: the figgy duck. It comes on a bed of creamy, whipped polenta that could fool a Carolina boy into thinking he was eating grits in Dixie. The fig sauce and roasted figs on the side also bring a sweetness that cuts the fatty, gamey quality of the fowl. Drink it with a glass of Rkatsiteli, a crisp-yet-funky skin-contact white from the Republic of Georgia. And leave room for dessert: the pies rotate nightly, and the matzo bark is a Skor Bar for foodies.
You’re here because: You’re on a casual date, or you’re going to see a movie at any one of the theaters on the Promenade. It’s a small, sexy spot that occasionally has live mariachi bands or DJs.
You’re dining on: Barbacoa tacos and nachos. The owner, Barba Kush, hails from East LA and roasts her lamb in agave leaves underground for 36 hours, then adds the soft, spicy trimmings to homemade corn tortillas. There are 20 cocktails on their bar menu, all summery. Because Santa Monica.
You’re here because: You want to have a good time. This is an easy, breezy, music-fueled neighborhood gastropub from Jeremy Fall (Easys, The Nighthawk), with artwork from notable musicians like Quincy Jones and Robin Thicke. It’s in the old BLD space, and they’ve made excellent use of the patio; it’s not hard to imagine this reclaiming its status as a heavily trafficked brunch corner. The bar would also make for a good place to meet for a date.
You’re dining on: Fall’s menu is an amalgamation of his heritage: A little Jewish. A little African-American. A lot of LA. The food is fun and the less healthy you go, the happier you’ll be. So, poutine, chicken liver toast and a smoked salmon ‘n’ latkes are all ideal for the table. Pay special attention to the latter: the cacio e pepe latka is a crispy yet soft foundation for fresh salmon, tomato and the salty capers and cornichons. It’s simple and inventive.
You’re here because: Breakfast or lunch during the workweek, or a mellow breakfast on the weekend. Goodboybob started as a side project for a creative agency that lamented not having access to high-grade coffee nearby. Office workers and residents in the area agreed, and what started as a simple coffee stand has mushroomed into a third home for many folks. Now they have food sourced from the Farmers Market and bread from Gjusta. (Note: it’s hidden in the red-brick office park on Broadway. You’ll have to park at a meter on Broadway.)
You’re dining on: Their avocado toast is legendary. Served on a wood plank, it’s decorated in julienned carrots, sesame seeds and whatever else they get at the market. Their grilled cheese has a layer of jam to help light up your breakfast synapses. The market salad is fresh and light. The coffee is always single origin — Peru, Guatemala, Columbia, Ethiopia — and roasted on site and put through a La Marzocco that matches the breezy, mid-century decor.
You’re here because: You’ve got an important date and you want something dark, classic and accompanied by celebrities. Mason is on Channel right beside Shorebar (it’s owned by the same folks, who also do Nice Guy and Poppy). It has the makings of a place that’s reserved for VIPs only, partly because they host standing reservations for their 14 tables. You may be able to get in at the bar; call.
You’re dining on: Martini’s. Gin. Dirty. Up. Oysters on the half shell. Shrimp cocktail. Steak frites. All this sounds simple enough. But it’s the quality that counts, and it helps that the team in the galley hails from Bestia and The Rose. That means they’re sourcing premium cuts and hitting the Santa Monica Farmers Market bright and early.