Obsessed-Over Los Angeles Restaurants
The Hart & The Hunter (Hollywood Area)
This phenomenally popular Venice pop-up has moved into the groovy Palihotel on Melrose Avenue with the same delicious Southern food. Chefs Brian Dunsmoor and Kris Tominaga (who trained, respectively, at Five & Ten in Athens, Georgia, and L’Espalier in Boston) serve crispy fried chicken skins with hot-pepper vinegar, an ingenious reinvention of the potato chip. Their lustrous smoked trout comes in a jar with egg, avocado and pickles. thehartandthehunter.com.
Chi Spacca (Hollywood Area)
Superstar chef Nancy Silverton turned the intersection of Melrose and Highland Avenues into one of the city’s most exciting restaurant corners with Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza. Now she adds a third spot: a meat-centric, dinner-only hideaway tucked next to Mozza2Go’s pizza window. Enormous bistecche fiorentine and a rich, flaky-crusted beef-and-bone-marrow pie come out of the open kitchen, and charcutier Chad Colby serves meats that have cured for as long as two years. chispacca.com.
Night + Market (Hollywood Area)
Chef Kris Yenbamroong’s parents were Thai-food pioneers in L.A. with their restaurant, Talésai. At his own new restaurant next to their place, Yenbamroong is introducing L.A. to a fantastic repertoire of Thai specialties, many rarely seen Stateside. In a sparse space with Thai album covers on the walls, he’s offering bold, sometimes screamingly hot dishes from northern Thailand: chile- and-lime-topped pig tails, pork toro made with fatty hog collar and chicken curry noodles with coconut cream. thenightmarket.blogspot.com.
Trois Mec (Hollywood Area)
Before Trois Mec, anyone who wanted to try chef Ludo Lefebvre’s food had to make a mad dash to reserve a spot at his instant-sell-out pop-ups. But he has settled down now and opened a restaurant with partners Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, F&W Best New Chefs 2009 and owners of Animal and Son of a Gun. Lefebvre runs the kitchen, and fans will recognize his brilliant, out-there flavor combinations, like caramelized carrots roasted in barbecue sauce and served with avocado and peppery watercress. troismec.com.
Superba Snack Bar (Westside)
Chef Jason Neroni (formerly of L.A.’s Spago and Osteria La Buca) excels at pastas, and the ones at his new, Italian-accented restaurant are among his best ever: There’s a subtly smoky bucatini carbonara and wakame spaghettini with creamy uni and crab. Nearly every table orders his olive-salsa-topped “T-bone,” made entirely of cauliflower. superbasnackbar.com.
Hinoki & The Bird (Westside)
“California is an island unto itself, just like Japan,” says L.A.’s most vocal Japanophile, F&W Best New Chef 2003 David Myers. His latest opening has a stunning terrace with a living wall of plants. His menu, created with protégé Kuniko Yagi, a Top Chef contestant, melds Californian and Asian influences. Their green-curry-spiked lobster roll comes on a dramatic black bun made with charcoal powder from Japan. The drinks are eye-catching, too, like the Griffith Park Swizzle, made with bourbon, mint, lime and absinthe. hinokiandthebird.com.
Ari Taymor, one of the city’s most forward-thinking young chefs—and nephew of director Julie Taymor—has turned his pop-up into an ingenious restaurant. His seasonal dishes, like artichoke soup with miso, sit alongside specials like salt-baked pigeon, which he calls “one of the highest-quality meats I’ve ever sourced.” Some nights he tops it with chanterelles; other nights, onion and fermented blueberries. alma-la.com.
Bar Amá (Downtown)
L.A.’s Mexican-food snobs like to scoff at fajitas and puffy tacos. But chef Josef Centeno is changing perceptions of Tex-Mex cuisine with this inspired follow-up to his hit Bäco Mercat. At Bar Amá, his chile-rubbed, slow-roasted goat and frito pie with lengua chile con carne are perfect with one of the bar’s rare mezcals. bar-ama.com.
Getting to the always-packed Bestia means driving through the endless warehouse district. In the industrial-style space, Ori Menashe serves robust Italian-accented dishes like hand-cut pastas and a coppa di testa (head cheese) the size of an elephant ear. bestiala.com.