Dry January is well over and the year is in full swing, which means restaurant openings galore and a bevy of fancy new cocktail menus to go with them. But hey, you could keep the sober pledge going and dive into the world of mocktails, which are officially here to stay, at least in Los Angeles. So whether it’s a table full of Spanish-influenced tapas in Fairfax or the reawakening of a fancy schmancy seafood purveyor in Beverly Hills, you’ll be covered for dinner, drinks or dupes.
Juliet is a sister restaurant to pre-existing Culver City staple Margot and West Hollywood outpost Norah, but also manages to remain a thing unto itself. Designed by Jeremiah Brent, the Parisian-inspired, patio-heavy space is a gorgeous tribute to European elegance and SoCal minimalism. With a seafood-focused menu and an emphasis on small wine producers, daily oysters, chilled mussels and the whipped cod dip are a great way to start, with little delights like duck confit “cigars” and saffron ricotta gnocchi to round things out. The rare L.A. restaurant that’s open daily from 9 a.m. to midnight, swing by around the magic 3 to 5 p.m. hour for oysters and wine, or hit up breakfast, lunch or dinner at your leisure. Yes, even Mondays.
Hudson House brings a little Southern charm and hospitality to the sometimes frantic Sunset Strip. Just on the edge of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, this charming new restaurant is decked out with globe lights and a curving, warm wooden bar, vintage mirrors and custom tile floors, plus blue leather banquettes. The menu is similarly inviting with seafood classics like a shrimp cocktail, lobster rolls and clam chowder. They don’t just leave it at seafood, either, with comfort food like steak frites, a French dip and a cheeseburger, complete with Hudson’s signature sauce.
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The long-awaited return of Angler has sent a buzz through L.A.’s seafood-loving community — would the new and improved 2.0 version live up to the hype? The answer is a resounding yes, as crowd-pleasers like seaweed rice with cured egg yolk and fried striped bass collar take over Instagram feeds. Backed by Saison Hospitality, the restaurant’s culinary director, Paul Chung, places hearth cooking and the Pacific Ocean at the center of this concept, along with nods to his own Korean heritage. The result is a high-end restaurant that truly feels like a special occasion, but without any of the stuffiness diners once associated with Beverly Hills. Go for the embered oysters and ‘nduja bluefin tuna toast, stay for the absolutely surprising squash blossom nudi — a vegetarian dish that doesn’t feel like an afterthought — and always, always finish with the expertly balanced, salty and smoky embered caramel sundae.
This Latin American bistro and bar is taking North America by storm, and after a visit or two it’s easy to see why. A whole spread of tapas options range from sashimi and sushi to octopus, rock shrimp, tiraditos and tartares, making the fruit of the sea an integral part of this hearty menu. Later on, though, pastas, a heavenly take on short ribs and a massive tomahawk take over, with salads and cauliflower steak rounding out the vegetarian options. If you’re up for a mix of seafood and carbs, go for the unexpectedly great shrimp gnocchi, and pair it with one of their in-house Negroni or spritz options — or keep things chill with the expertly named NA-groni. (If you’re gonna be sober, the least they can do is give you some wordplay.)
While those who live in the infamous San Fernando Valley have long had to schlep to other climes for excellent fine-dining options, that is simply no longer the case! Leona’s Sushi House is the latest truly excellent kitchen to open up shop in Studio City, joining a whole host of newcomers in nearby Sherman Oaks, but managing to stand out from the crowd with three distinct dining spaces. Grab a stool in the casual sushi lounge and watch the chefs perform omakase magic in the early evening, or make it a cozy outdoor date in the romantic outside area. For larger groups or colder nights — which have been weirdly frequent lately — a large indoor “living room” continues the moody, romantic vibe, just with big booths and sturdy tables. Every single thing here is good, but the specialty rolls and udon carbonara are not to be missed, and a sweet-and-sour virgin mojito was one of the best I’ve had in recent memory.
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