This city just won't quit.
This is a year where David Chang’s Majordomo opened on the same January day that Curtis Stone’s Maude reopened, just a couple days after Daniel Humm unveiled The NoMad in L.A. It’s also a year where, a couple Saturdays ago, Christina Tosi opened Milk Bar on the same morning that Palisades Village had its ribbon-cutting and the same morning that Valley Urban Market debuted with Dave Grohl serving barbecue. All three of these September 22 openings, which happened a couple days after Jessica Largey’s white-hot Simone debuted and on the same weekend Carlo Mirarchi started selling pizza at his L.A. outpost of Roberta’s, were mobbed. This is pure madness, people.
We totally understand if you’re overwhelmed. We get it if you’ve decided that it’s all just too much and you’ve decided to microwave burritos for the rest of the year. But we’re also here to complicate things. Here’s our cheat sheet with seven more big-deal 2018 openings in L.A.
If you know chef Daniel Snukal from the beloved Tacos Puntas Cabras, which closed last year, you’ll be happy to learn that his new and bigger Baja-inspired restaurant includes a daytime taqueria menu offering tacos filled with tempura-fried scallops, shrimp, or fish. For dinner, Snukal (formerly at Urasawa and LudoBites) is serving ribeye truffle costras, which is a rarefied version of a late-night snack he fell in love with at a Mexico City taqueria. In Mexico City, Snukal enjoyed costras with thinly sliced ribeye wrapped in cheese that was melted and put inside a flour tortilla. He decided to revise this dish by making his costras larger, using a mix of Chihuahua and smoked Gouda cheese, and coming up with seafood and vegetable fillings along with the ribeye truffle option. Plus, he’s putting his costras inside a housemade non-GMO tortilla or a lettuce cup.
Snukal and partner Mark Mittleman are happy to color outside the lines of a typical Mexican restaurant: Another comforting dinner dish is wild red snapper with a green curry featuring cherry tomato and avocado. The curry comes with coconut rice.
Puntas Cabras is a fun place to dine with a group. It’s a restaurant where you can take turns spinning around the “salsa Susan,” which is a contraption that resembles a lazy Susan but is designed to hold six salsas, including chipotle, puya, and pineapple habanero. We also recommend sharing the crab-and-lobster taquitos and the “gringo” picadillo tacos with chorizo and ground chuck. If you want to go big, pre-order the whole pig’s head 48 hours in advance. This large-format specialty is brined for two days before being braised, crisped, carved tableside, and served with cilantro pesto, pickles, salsas, tortillas, and lettuce cups.
930 Broadway, Santa Monica, 310-917-2244
Chef Vicki Fan Matsusaka’s patty melt with grass-fed beef, balsamic onions, and both cheddar and American cheese is a satisfying lunch or dinner at this sunny all-day spot, where a grain bowl comes with kale pesto and rainbow cauliflower. This restaurant is in Santa Monica, the neighborhood with L.A.’s best farmers’ market, so getting seasonal ingredients here is a breeze. One warning for the many former New Yorkers who live in the area: The Gables’ “bodega breakfast sammy” comes on ciabatta, so it doesn’t really resemble any bodega sandwich you’ve had before. But if you’re just looking for a Nueske’s bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich, this might do the trick. For something sweet, the restaurant’s moist olive oil cake works for any time of day.
331 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 424-280-4470
Chef Royce Burke knows exactly what he’s doing with this hyper-focused breakfast-and-lunch spot inside the Hyperslow yoga/meditation wellness complex on Fairfax Avenue. Burke is here to remind you that vegetables are delicious as he cooks on Breville Control Freak induction burners and makes elegant vegan dishes like a carrot tartine with roasted carrot purée, shimeji mushrooms, crispy leeks, beets, and fennel pollen on Bub and Grandma’s sourdough. Yarrow’s vegetarian breakfast burrito, loaded with assorted roasted vegetables alongside charred lemon romesco, roasted carrot purée, eggs, and cheese should brighten up any morning.
Burke is a prolific chef you might recognize from local food festivals, music festivals, his Secret Lasagna pop-up, his stint at Chimney Coffee, or assorted events with Eggslut founder Alvin Cailan’s Unit 120 crew. Making carrots this tasty might be his greatest accomplishment yet.
487 S. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, 323-413-2773
This Studio City slice joint from the crew behind Luzzo’s in Brooklyn makes exemplary margherita and sausage pizzas. There’s nicely spicy salami on the diavola slices here, and you can amp up the heat on any pizza by drizzling on some difference-making chile oil. The signature LBK pie, meanwhile, pairs speck, fresh ricotta and black truffle pâté with mozzarella and tomato sauce. This is a place that cares so much about being true to the New York pizza experience that it’s been shipping in New York water. Soon, we’re told, LBK will have a filtration system that simulates the mineral content of New York water.
4359½ Tujunga Ave., Studio City, 818-824-3511
Brianna Abrams is making a strong case as L.A.’s premier pie-maker with her new outpost on what’s become a formidable West Third Street restaurant row. (Neighbors include Joan’s On Third, Son of a Gun, the new Inko Nito, and all the new restaurants at the Beverly Center.) With pie bites, hand pies, five-inch mini pies, slices of pie, and whole 11-inch pies, Abrams has all your small and big pie needs covered here. Abrams is a North Carolina native, and we enjoy Winston Pies’ Southern-inspired year-round flavors like Dixie classic cherry and chocolate cowgirl. Abrams (a former lawyer who started selling pies she made in her home kitchen before opening her upper-crust Brentwood pie shop last year) is also known for seasonal and holiday specialties like a fall pumpkin pie and a cranberry orange chess pie.
8366 W. Third St., Los Angeles, 323-925-4743
Want some spectacle during your dinner or drinks outing? This new Melrose Avenue bar from former Patina Restaurant Group corporate beverage director Evan Charest will saber bottles of champagne upon request. There are also large-format champagne punch bowls, playful cocktails like the sake-based Thai pineapple whip, and esoteric wines. (Every server and bartender at Severance is a certified sommelier.) Beyond the requisite cheese boards and charcuterie, fellow Patina alum Weston Ludeke’s food menu includes crab-and-avocado toast and a dramatic double fondue burger with emmental cheese.
7274 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 323-424-7294
This Cantonese restaurant inside the new fancypants Sheraton Los Angeles San Gabriel hotel features luxurious dishes like braised whole abalone, sizzling whole lobster, and black pepper wagyu beef. The Peking duck here is organic Grimaud Farms duck that’s roasted and air-dried in a special duck oven. The barbecue pork is Kurobuta pork that’s glazed in wildflower honey. This is a restaurant (part of a AAA Four Diamond hotel that also includes the similarly high-end EST. Steakhouse and Bar) that should work nicely for blowout banquets. If you want bird’s nest soup, you’ll have to order it 24 hours in advance.
303 E. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel, 626-607-2018