LA is made for summer: The days are long and hot, but not too hot, and without a trace of humidity. Dining out is perfect when darkness doesn’t fall until 9 p.m., letting dinners linger in the most beautiful light of the year.
Below, a few of our picks for where to spend these long, late-summer evenings — or, on the other hand, some leisurely brunches ‘n’ lunches. Between a brand-new Mediterranean stunner in East Hollywood and a swanky Mexican steakhouse smack dab on Rodeo Drive, there’s plenty of options for summer splurges.
The hottest new restaurant in town is in…Sherman Oaks? Even if the Valley has long been considered a kid sister to LA proper, this incredibly charming neighborhood is growing into quite a foodie haven. With outposts from Osteria La Buca, Petit Trois and even Pizzana in the mix, a new upscale Mexican spot from owners Christian Corben and Paul Carroll and chef Adam Titze is completely packed with a line out the door every weeknight.
With classics like a salsa tower and street tacos, the menu features surprising California twists, like a slew of raw dishes including ceviche, aguachile, tuna tartare and a shrimp and crab cocktail. Chilean seabass and a shareable dish called “lobster bomba rice” seasoned with coconut, chile butter and lime double down on Casita’s surf offerings, but the undeniable $42 wagyu tacos prove their take on turf is just as solid. Crispy, buttery beef is topped only with microgreens and lime, sinfully delectable and worth every penny. Wash it all down with some seriously strong passionfruit or hibiscus margaritas, and you’ll start to understand why there’s barely walking room in this Valley haven.
If you’re eating out in Santa Monica without an ocean view, you’re doing it wrong. That’s the mantra of beachside spots like Patio del Mar, a new restaurant out of Shutters’ sister hotel, Casa del Mar, that doubles down on their oceanfront appeal. Literally steps from the sand, chef Gio Koletty focused his menu on elevated seafood supper fare that perfectly suits the tastes of the neighborhood. From fresh oysters, seafood salpicon and shrimp ceviche with veggie chips, the starters alone would be enough to lay out a meal of raw snacks to finish out a long day of work, travel or surfing. More substantial fare comes in the form of a Maine lobster roll done just right: toasted brioche, lemon aioli, thick-cut chips on the side. A chicken panini and wagyu burger make sure there’s something for everyone, but a glass of Albariño and burrata salad gets the job done, too. Whether you’re a hotel guest or a local, add this to your list for the epic ocean view and effortless, fresh seafood.
The Bestia and Bavel imprimatur was always going to guarantee a crowd — and this fast casual spot in East Hollywood doesn’t disappoint. Fans of Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis’ more upscale downtown spots will probably love Saffy’s skewers, shawarma and kebabs, dips and falafel, all manners of hummus and olives and roasted vegetables. They’ll also find plenty of vegetarian options as well as a bevy of grilled meats, inventive seafood (red snapper tagine, turmeric mussels) and a drink menu that spans classic cocktails and plenty of NA selections. Saffy’s caters to everything East Side residents love, with a firm grasp on both Mediterranean flavors and wonderful hospitality.
For a certain crowd, eating out in Beverly Hills is a way of life, a fashion show and a chance to see and be seen. Dining at a steakhouse on Rodeo Drive is necessarily going to come with some of that fanfare, and this new spot from Jeffrey Best gets buzzing and loud later in the evening — if you’re looking for a quiet dinner, go earlier. Quite literally hidden away off Rodeo, the appropriately named spot is accessed through a courtyard and down a set of stairs. Once you’re there, you’ll find a haven for tableside, large-format meat dishes and luxurious specialities like duck carnitas, lobster tempura and 36-hour brisket. Drinks from well-known mixologist Julian Cox run $20 a pop, but this is Beverly Hills, so be prepared to pay for the ambiance, the aesthetic and the zip code.
There’s never a lack of great plant-based options in Los Angeles, but a dark, baroque dining room on Melrose is raising the stakes. Avant Garden Bistro leapfrogged over to the West Coast from New York City, where the flagship opened its doors in East Village back in 2015. Founded by Death & Co. creator Ravi DeRossi, who picked up a James Beard Award for outstanding restaurateur earlier this year, the LA iteration of Avant Garden Bistro is helmed by LA native Sarah Stearns, previously of Mírame and Vintage Wine + Eats.
Each dish is titled by one main ingredient, so begin with the Avocado, a luscious half splayed out on a bed of crispy sushi rice, miso, blistered shishitos and carrot ginger dressing. Cremini, a mushroom toast with walnut puree and crisp slices of red grape, is another standout, as is the smoked bok choy served with housemade sourdough fritters, and succotash in a piping hot skillet. Don’t forget to check out the cocktail menu for pairings as well — after all, DeRossi’s libations at Death & Co. did put him on the map.
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