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Best Restaurants in Los Angeles, CA

by Andrea Lita Rademan

By the time you finish reading this guide to some of the latest restaurant launches in this Hollywood-driven town, three more will have opened their doors and four others will have shut them. Surprisingly, even in the face of intense competition, classic big ticket draws such as L’Orangerie, Valentino, Campanile and Matsuhisa are booked every night. Stylish lounges have kicked the bar scene up a notch and are now an integral part of any new restaurant that can squeeze one in. Note: Because Los Angeles is a city of neighborhoods, we have included the nearest ones in the addresses listed below. Also, all hotels serve breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

 

Acadie Hand Crafted French Crepes
213 Arizona Ave.
Santa Monica

http://www.crepescompany.com/



A. O.C.

8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles; 323-653-6359.

A.O.C. (“Appellation d’Origine Controlle”) on a French wine label signifies the wine’s origins. Hence the name of Chef Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne’s trendy wine bar. To go with wonderful small plates of charcuterie, cheeses, and cooked dishes from a wood-burning oven, choose from the encyclopedic selection of wines by the glass. Dinner Daily.


Beacon
3280 Helms Ave., at the Helms Bakery complex, Culver City; 310-838-7500.

Kazuto Matsusaka, who was Wolfgang Puck’s opening chef at Chinois, hastened the gentrification of Culver City with his terrific Asian café. California fresh, modern Japanese-Chinese-Thai dishes such as oyster fry, Beacon roll, and grilled hanger steak, are mostly under $10 and nothing is over $20.
Lunch and Dinner Daily.



 

Beechwood
822 W. Washington Blvd., Venice; 310-448-8884.

Brooke Williamson and Nick Roberts turned a bad-luck corner into a bar scene that’s hotter than the fire pit on the patio. Maybe that’s because the well-executed dinner and bar menus are eclectic and affordable and the bar is open late, a rare combination in this early-to-bed town. The bar menu is reason enough to go, although serious diners opt for the separate dining room. Dinner Daily.



 

Boa Steakhouse
101 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica; 310-899-4466; 8462 W. Sunset Blvd. in the Grafton Hotel, West Hollywood; 323-650-8383; and Las Vegas.

Not your father’s steakhouse, this casual contemporary meat palace is a hit with well-heeled — both financially and fashionably — youthful trendsetters. This latest addition may signal the start of an upscale mini-chain where only the meat is aged. Anyone for a blackberry smash martini, or cotton candy dessert? Hours at individual locations may vary.

 

 

BOE
403 N Crescent Dr. at the Beverly Crescent Hotel, Beverly Hills, 310-247-0505.

The name is an acronym of Bacchus, Orpheus, and Epicurus, the party gods of Greek mythology, and partying is as important as the New American cooking at this young mogul’s Dodd Mitchell-designed hotspot. Happy hour “mingles” take place on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, and Thursdays feature a live DJ.

 

 

Cabo Cantina
8301 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA  90069
http://losangeles.citysearch.com/profile/35714529


Campanile

624 S. La Brea Ave.; Los Angeles; 323-938-1447.

Since Chef Mark Peel bought out his former wife and partner, La Brea Bakery founder Nancy Silverton, he’s added a bar menu to go with wine manager David Rosoff’s expanded wine list. The Monday night family dinners, weekend brunches, Thursday night grilled cheese bar, occasional Wednesday night farmer’s market tasting menus, and fabulous rustic Mediterranean cuisine assure its continued popularity in a fickle town.

 

 

Chameau (shuh-moe, French for “camel”)
339 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax District; 323-951-0039.

If you’re unfamiliar with bestila, merguez, couscous, and tagine, this petite quirky Moroccan bistro, with a talented chef and an interesting seasonal menu, is a fine place to get to know them.

 

 

Clementine
1751 Ensley Ave, Century City; 310-552-1080.

Westsiders breathed a collective sigh of relief when Annie Miller opened this self-serve "Bakery Take-Out Catering" cafe, where she turns comfort food into an art form. An alumnus of Campanile, she describes her heavenly breakfasts, sandwiches, pastries, and takeout — including packed kiddie lunches and picnic baskets, as "homemade seasonal food. Open Mon – Sat. till 7:30.



 

Coral Tree Café
11645 San Vicente Blvd.
Los Angeles
http://www.coraltreecafe.net/

 



The Courtyard

8543 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, 310-358-0301.

If the cloistered brick patio of this charming tapas restaurant feels like it was transplanted from Barcelona’s downtown Rambla, that’s the effect the owners intended. Some of the “small” portions are actually quite generous, i.e., marmitako (Basque albacore soup), paella, and dates wrapped in bacon.

 

Cut
The Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel
9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills
310-276-8500.

Designed by renowned architect Richard Meier, Wolfgang Puck's Cut and its sidebar lounge offer casual hipness in the form of a steak house. Open for dinner only, Cut serves fat-rich Wagyu beef, among others. The glassed-in kitchen makes for a fun atmosphere.

 

 

Dakota
7000 Hollywood Blvd. at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel; West Hollywood; 800-950-7667 or 323-769-8888.

Tim and Liza Goodell, who own some of Orange County’s foremost restaurants, make their second foray into L.A. since Meson G. Dodd Mitchell’s black leather design evokes the bygone glamour of the 1927 hotel where the first Academy Awards were held. The menu is seafood cocktails, grilled meats with a choice of sauce, and a la carte sides. Sunday brunch in addition to daily hours.

 



Dolce Enoteca
8284 Melrose Ave.; West Hollywood; 323-852-7174.

Ashton Kutcher is one of the Hollywood investors in this trendy spot where the contemporary Italian food is better than it has to be. Check out the popular enoteca menu for fresh ricotta laced with anise seeds, polenta topped with wild mushroom sauce and potato gnocchi. Dodd Mitchell covered the tables and curved booths in black leather and furnished the patio with Philippe Starck's clear plastic Louis XVI chairs.


Dominick's
8715 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood; 310-652-2335.

Not since the Golden Age of Hollywood has this off-and-on eatery had it so good. Owners Warner Ebbink and chef Brandon Boudet have resuscitated standbys like Italian wedding soup, grilled artichokes, and spaghetti and meatballs, added ricotta fritters, and made enthusiastic use of the brick-walled rear patio. Reasonable prices are bringing back the Hollywood crowd, albeit a younger one.



 

Doug Arango's
8826 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; 310-278-3684.

Many regulars have followed Chris and Julie Bennett’s beloved Palm Desert spot to its a new home. Chris makes everything but the salt in-house and in season. Familiar favorites such as calves liver, BBQ pork ribs and thin crust pizza have no peer. The user-friendly wine list and Monday hamburger nights add to the enjoyment. Lunch Mon - Fri. Dinner Mon - Sat.

 



Enoteca Drago
410 N. Canon Dr, Beverly Hills; 310-786-8236.

The latest from the dean of Los Angeles’ Italian cuisine, Celestino Drago, is an Italian wine bar serving small plates: fried green olives; oxtails Roman style; spit-roasted suckling pig; lardo (cured pig fat melted on fried bread); and "la bomba" (domed pizza). Over 50 regional Italian wines are available in tasting sizes, to be consumed in the casual downstairs space, which features a communal table, or in a more formal room upstairs.

 

Falcon
7213 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, 323-850-5350.

Chef Chris Robbins, formerly of the Patina group, is the new toque at the restaurant/lounge that was once Rudolph Valentino’s domicile. Younger Valentino-types now come for late night revelry, Monday night jam sessions, and Wednesday night tasting menus with noted sommelier Jeff Morgenthal.


Five-Sixty-One Restaurant
561 East Green Street
Pasadena
http://www.561restaurant.com/

 

 

Fogo de Chao Churrascaria
133 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, 310-289-7755.

Eat your fill at this top-tier Brazilian steak house for lunch Mon – Fri ($32) or dinner ($48.50) nightly. Uniformed gauchos, at a signal from you, slide endless portions of sizzling, smoking filet mignon, pork loin, spareribs, leg of lamb, sausage, top sirloin, chicken, and a few cuts you’ve never heard of, from their sword onto your plate. That’s assuming the ship-sized salad bar that precedes this, or the cheese puffs and condiments that accompany it, haven’t finished you off before you finish.

 

 

Geisha House
6633 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood; 323-460-6300.

A prominent sign is so yesterday, so look for the pink neon lighting up the night and make sure to get your name on the list. Young Hollywood’s take on Tokyo nightlife has A-list investors, wildly imaginative décor, a premium sake bar, and live “geisha” servers. More impressive, executive chef Genichi Mizoguchi (ex-Nobu Milan) runs a serious sushi bar and enticing Japanese food.


Gingergrass
2396 Glendale Blvd., Glendale; 323-644-1600.

Sorghum-top tables, cork-paneled walls, and dark Brazilian wood banquettes add a touch of class to this former dive but the main draw is former Le Colonial chef Mako Antonishek’s signature fresh rolls, spicy fish steamed in banana leaves, lemon-grass chicken, and wok-tossed shaking beef. There’s no wine list but the basil limeade and drip-brewed coffee are excellent.

 



Grace
7360 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles; 323-934-4400.

Neal Fraser’s extensive menu of New American dishes are equal parts imagination and flavor. Pastry chef Elizabeth Belkind has designated Wednesdays “Doughnut Night.” Michael Berman’s design is smart and comfortable. Is it any wonder the lounge and dining room are packed every night?

 



The Hungry Cat
1555 N. Vine St., Sunset & Vine Complex, Hollywood; 323-462-2155.

Owner/chef David Lentz and his wife, Suzanne Goin (Lucques, A.O.C.), opened this hip spot for terrific cocktails and fresh-from-the-East Coast seafood — Baltimore crab cakes, peel 'n' eat shrimp, lobster rolls, oyster chowder, etc. Dine on the patio, or at the horseshoe-shaped bar where you can watch the chef at work.
Brunch Sat and Sun. Daily Dinner.


Jar
8225 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; 323-655-6566.

At Suzanne Tracht’s comfortable neighborhood space the food is equal parts familiar and fabulous, just like the new décor. Sunday brunch, Monday mozzarella bar with Nancy Silverton, and Fish Market Tuesdays leave the rest of the week for supernal versions of pot roast, fried Ipswich clams, and banana cream pie with a good wine or a great martini.

 



La Terza
8384 W. 3rd St., West Hollywood; 323-782-8384.

In their airy, modern two-story space, owners Gino Angelini (Angelini Osteria) and Claudio Blotta specialize in luscious pork belly, squab, duck, and such, sizzled in a wood-burning rotisserie, whole fish boned at the table, and pastas tossed to order. There’s a great wine list and desserts from Nancy Silverton include olive-oil ice cream with sea salt.

 


Lemon Moon Cafe
12200 W Olympic Blvd, West Los Angeles; 310-442-9191.

Elegant Melisse's Josiah Citrin (for “Lemon”) and Cal-French JiRaffe's Rafael Lunetta (for “Moon”) have raised the bar for office building cafeterias in this dandy spot with a sunny patio. A glass case of prepared salads, grilled chicken panini with pesto, cheese and roasted peppers, and hot entrees such as salmon in parchment that change daily, attract even outsiders. Breakfast and Lunch Mon – Fri.

 

Literati II
12081 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; 310-479-3400.

Chef Chris Kidder (ex-Campanile) does fine casual Cal-Med at this new spot next door to Literati health food café. The one-page menu, which is printed every day, features Niman Ranch steaks and burgers, fritto misto, cioppino, sand dabs, and churros with a side of chocolate pudding dip. The décor runs to photos of writers, an oversized hanging pencil, and a small bar and patio. Lunch Mon – Fri. Dinner Mon – Sat.


Ma’ Kai Lounge (“my ocean”)
101 Broadway Ave., Santa Monica; 310-434-1511.

Owned by a quartet of experienced bartender-friends, this trendy corner packs ‘em in until 2am every morning. The key ingredients — two patios with fire pits and porch swings; Pacific Rim tapas; and Farmer’s market cocktails — are a real Ma’ Kai opener.

 

Mastro's
246 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills; 310-888-8782.

Prepare to share the mastadon-sized portions of everything from dry ice seafood starters, prime (and mostly bone-in) beef entrees, less than exciting family-size side dishes, and desserts like “chocolate sin” cake. Seating is in a plush hushed downstairs dining-room or in the lively piano bar with a smoking balcony above it.

 



Matsuhisa
129 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills; 310-659-9639.

Nobu Matsuhisa’s hot-as-wasabi restaurant empire started at this modest, though recently expanded, storefront. He invented his Latin-spiked Japanese cuisine in Peru long before Robert De Niro lured him to New York to open “Nobu.” Now the darling of celebrities is one himself, as is his creative sushi and miso-glazed black cod, a staple of Japanese home cooking.

 

Mélisse Restaurant
1104 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica
http://www.melisse.com/


 

Michelia Vietnamese Bistro
8738 W Third St, Los Angeles; 310-276-8288.

One-of-a-kind chef, Kimmy Tang, runs a one-of-a-kind restaurant, serving French-influenced Vietnamese creations and updated classics of her homeland cuisine. This is reasonably priced food with that “WOW-factor” that makes food critics among her biggest fans. Service is professional but warm. The room and candlelit patio are intimate and serene. Lunch Mon-Fri; Dinner Mon-Sat.



 

Nine Thirty and The W Backyard
930 Hilgard Ave. at the W Hotel, Westwood; 310-443-8211.

The dining areas in this stylish hotel are run by SGM, a group that knows what their hip clientele wants and has a slate of successful restaurants to prove it. In this case they’ve tapped Chef Travis Lett to wow customers with roast chicken in Riesling sauce, short ribs braised in Zinfandel, and lamb shank with flageolet beans. The W Backyard is a casual space by the pool that remains open most of the year.

 

 

Noé
251 S. Olive St. at the Omni Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles; 213-356-4100.

Thomas Keller handpicked Robert Gadsby to be his sous-chef when he came to L.A. and now, as Omni’s Executive Chef, he’s a star in his own right and opening Noe restaurants at Omni Hin Houston, Chicago and New York. His refined and focused Progressive American dishes are equally impressive served in the dining room or on the terrace. mimosa salad and butternut squash soup.

 

Ortolan
8338 W. 3rd St., West Hollywood; 323-653-3300.

L'Orangerie alum Christophe Emé and his wife and partner, actress Jeri Ryan, bring modern French cuisine to a street where the competition for food on this level is — well, there isn’t any. Presentations are original: twin soups in test tubes are sipped through a black straw; escargot come in a parfait glass. Don’t miss the signature battered langoustine and the chocolate soufflé tart. Dinner Mon – Sat.

 

Osteria Latini
11712 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood; 310-826 9222.

A Little Italy is blossoming in this low-profile high-income neighborhood but Osteria Latini is a standout. Owner/executive chef Paolo Pasio does dozens of daily specials (try the duck ravioli with orange and cream sauce). The wine list is long and everyone is served a complimentary “sgropino” (lemon sorbet, lemon meringue, and champagne). Average customers get the same cosseted treatment as celebs, many of whom are regulars.

 

Patina
141 S. Grand Ave., Disney Concert Hall, Downtown Los Angeles, 213-972-3331.

Not to be upstaged by Frank Ghery’s groundbreaking architecture, Chef Octavio Becerra, second in command of Joachim Splichal’s restaurant empire, keeps the cheese and caviar carts, and 1500-bottle wine list intact where the modern French dishes at this most coveted downtown reservation command center stage. Pre-concert and late-night dining. Lunch M-F. Dinner Daily.

 



Providence
5955 Melrose Ave., Hollywood; 323-460-4170.

Chef Michael Cimarusti (ex-Water Grill) and partner Donato Poto (ex- manager of Bastide) moved from downtown into Patina’s former space, vacated when Patina moved downtown. They’ve warmed it up a tad and are serving the freshest and finest seafood available, plus a few non-fish items. Wine prices are fair and they pour 30 varieties by the glass. Dinner Mon - Sat.


Sai Sai
501 S Olive St in the Biltmore Hotel; Downtown Los Angeles; 213-624-1100.

Downtown’s most elegant and historic hotel houses a serene and elegant Nuevo Latin-Japanese gem with a terrific tasting menu.

 



Sona
401 North La Cienega, West Hollywood; 310-659-7708.

Chefs David and Michelle Myers’ (ex-Patina) stunning minimalist space complements their avant-garde cuisine, focusing attention on the elegant tableware, artfully presented dishes, and fairly priced fine wines. Desserts are exquisite and many more are available during the day across the street at Boule, Michelle’s inspired interpretation of a Paris pastry shop.

 

Spago
176 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills; 310-385-0880.

Wolfgang Puck and Barbara Lazaroff took the starch out of fine dining when they launched Spago in 1982. Now the flagship of an empire, this is one celebrity magnet that hasn’t lost its pull, in part because Executive Chef Lee Hefter and Pastry Chef Sherry Yard endlessly reinvent the menu and their food never takes second place to the A-list Hollywood clientele.

 



Table 8
7661 Melrose Ave.; West Hollywood; 323-782-8258.

Preparing to open a restaurant in South Beach and writing his first cookbook have not impaired rising star chef Govind Armstrong’s straightforward seasonal fare at his original restaurant. Specialties such as Kobe-style beef and Kurobuta pork from the one-page menu go with wines from the one-page wine list. The lounge is inviting and you’re invited. Dinner Mon - Sat.


The Tower Bar at the Argyle Hotel
8358 W Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; 323-654-7100.

One of the most historic buildings in L.A., where John Wayne once kept a cow on his balcony for fresh milk, attracts a lively bar crowd. The art deco structure is home base for thoroughly modern chef, Piero Morovich, who dishes out Italian bistro dishes.

 

Urth Caffe
8565 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; 310-659-0628.

New branches of this insanely popular coffee shop recently opened in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. Known for their organic coffees and teas, trademarked granola, chemical-free sandwiches, salads and luscious desserts, they’re packed from morning till midnight.

 



Vibrato Grill & Jazz
2930 Beverly Glen Circle, Bel-Air; 310-474-9400.

This chic grill and jazz club, tucked away in a quiet shopping center, was founded by music mogul, Herb Alpert, and Pasadena restaurateurs Bob and Gregg Smith. Seating is at tables set in a horseshoe around the stage or in a private room upstairs. The jazz is tops but so are the prices. Stick with the steaks and chops. There are 24 wines available by the glass but corkage is $25. Dinner Daily.

 

 

Water Grill
544 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles; 213-891-0900.

LA's best seafood restaurant is not on the water but at the downtown Water Grill, where daily blackboard specials, a seafood-complementary wine list, and perfect service lure power brokers. Although the chef and pastry chef have struck out on their own, early reports say the kitchen is humming.

 


Yu Restaurant And Lounge
1323 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; 310-395-4727.

A candlelit Buddha, Moroccan lanterns and Chinese birdcages spice up this neighborhood spot. Vietnamese spareribs, Bangkok chicken wings and Thai crab cakes star on the pan-Asian sharing menu.



Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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