Fall arrived with a bang for L.A. diners, as contenders for the city’s new favorite restaurant are cropping up all over the place. Hoping for your vote (and reservation): a former pop-up turned jaw-dropping izakaya on the edge of Silver Lake, blaring hip-hop and serving up stiff drinks alongside pressed sushi and umami appetizers. Or maybe you’re more into Italian elegance in Beverly Hills, where a New York transplant offers the best views of the city and an even better Martini. Feeling more casual? An all-day seafood joint in Brentwood is the ticket. Check out these picks and more below.
Oshizushi (pressed sushi) and chicken and negi onion skewers in spicy-sweet galangal sauce are just a few of the delights that await on the brief, vivid menu at chef Dan Rabilwongse’s izakaya joint in Virgil Village. Formerly a beloved pop-up, Rabilwongse recently made the transition to a brick-and-mortar space near Sqirl, and is now serving up his snack-style Thai plates and sushi with plenty of loud hip-hop on the side. Though it’s only a few weeks old, this spot is already packed to the gills and poised to be a neighborhood favorite. Get the seafood crepe for a latticework of scallops, shrimp and mussels, topped with their own sriracha.
If all Dante did was offer the best views in Beverly Hills, it would still be popular. The fact that it affords these golden-hour scenes — from the second floor of the Maybourne Hotel — while also providing the Mest martini in the city is quite a feat. Detractors might quibble on the Martini thing, until they try one. Turn happy hour into a full-on dinner service with classic appetizers like creamy steak tartare, crispy mare misto, or the super fresh tomato and melon salad. Pizzas and pastas hold their own, even in a city more obsessed with great Italian food than ever before. Do not miss the tiramisu.
The first thing you’ll see when you enter Baar Baar is a stunning mural by local artist Jess Kollar, who playfully captioned it “Bolly Barbie,” her own tie-in with the recent Barbie craze. The mural is just one example of the way Baar Baar proudly showcases its Indian heritage, as chef Sujan Sarkar’s modern take on the classic cuisine gets an L.A. twist. Consider the Kashmiri duck birria taco, served right alongside classic sweet potato chat, traditional black dairy dal and even a staple like butter chicken. More adventurous eaters will love the lamb chop burrah kebab, or whole sea bass in banana leaf, but on a recent visit there wasn’t a single dish we didn’t love, whether it was already familiar or not. Dining with a friend who had serious dietary restrictions wasn’t an issue either, a notable plus.
Replacing a Nancy Silverton joint is no easy achievement, but Shirley Brasserie has waltzed confidently into the former Barish space. Tucked into the lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt, this French stunner is an ideal spot for a nosh. Chef Craig Hopson has spent a fair amount of time in French kitchens (like Le Cirque) but his take is surprisingly fresh, with an herbes de Provence salad, salmon tartare and lobster pasta with chanterelles and heirloom tomatoes. Get the excellent halibut for a break from the familiar branzino, and finish with profiteroles.
The Georgian, a ’30s Art Deco Gem, Gets the Makeover It DeservesIf you’re not staying at the renovated Santa Monica landmark, at least go for the late-night piano bar and discreet power dining
Straight from Italy, this all-day boutique deli has brightened up Montana Avenue’s already packed culinary offerings with high-end meats, cheeses, and of course, Italian wines. As the first West Coast shop from the brand, founded by childhood friends Pietro Brembilla and Brian Persico, Sogno Toscano imports their offerings straight from Tuscany. The shop functions as both a cafe and a retail space, with indoor and outdoor dining, and the casual environment works well for breakfast and lunch, a quick glass of wine and a snack, or a full-on dinner.
Jackson Kalb is a Top Chef alum, so plenty of diners already know him from that — or from his Venice hit, Ospi; or his El Segundo flagship, Jame. Now, Brentwood denizens will know him for Jemma di Mare, a playful seafood spot on the second floor of Brentwood Gardens Plaza. The space is absolutely beautiful, decked out in blues and woods with lots of light, and the super simple smoked trout dip with Ritz crackers is a dish I think about daily. On the other end of the spectrum, a lobster pasta featuring an entire lobster is an easy — if pricey — lunch for two. Also get a plate of Kalb’s infamous spicy rigatoni for good measure, and follow it all up with a tableside sundae.
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