5 Blockbuster L.A. Restaurant Openings You Need to Check Out This Summer
L.A. street-food sensation Tacos 1986 is officially opening its first brick-and-mortar location today, putting an exclamation point on a beautifully overwhelming month of blockbuster restaurant debuts.
It’s hard to overstate how insane the last several weeks have been in Los Angeles. It’s hard to imagine that L.A. has ever had a more intense span of prominent restaurant openings. And if you’re one of those L.A. food enthusiasts who’s all about criss-crossing the city to check out new hotness, it’s hard to imagine your Google calendar having any empty space this month.
The L.A. dining scene, more than ever, feels like pure possibility at this moment. Here’s a look at five restaurants that are a big part of summer blockbuster season:
Tacos 1986 serves excellent Tijuana-style tacos, which means that superstar taquero Jorge “Joy” Alvarez-Tostado is slicing adobada off a trompo, putting the marinated pork on fresh corn tortillas, and smearing guacamole on top. Joy, who co-owns Tacos 1986 with founder Victor Delgado, also makes quesadillas, mulitas, and vampiros with adobada, carne asada, chicken, or mushrooms. The mushrooms, tossed in a salsa-macha vinaigrette, are as show-stopping as any meat option. Regulars are also inclined to order off-menu carne asada perróns with beans and melted cheese on flour tortillas.
The standing-room-only Tacos 1986 restaurant was already packed and felt like a party last week, when Joy and his team were offering a sneak peek for anybody who felt like wandering in and ordering a taco. The thing you need to know about the Tacos 1986 crew is that they do not and will not stop. Joy has been saying again and again that his goal, now that he has a restaurant, is to be open forever. Tacos 1986 will still be at the Smorgasburg food market on Sundays. Tacos 1986 will continue to do pop-ups and special events around the city, like Tuesday nights at Doheny Room in West Hollywood and Thursday nights at The Bungalow in Santa Monica. What’s different now is that you can find Tacos 1986 for lunch, dinner, late-night cravings, and everything in between seven days a week at the new restaurant, which is down the street from other buzzworthy downtown newcomers like The Wolves and Ricebox. Come and feel the Joy.
609 S. Spring St., Los Angeles
Dinner at chef Lincoln Carson’s Arts District restaurant means starting small and enjoying delightful canapés. These bite-size morsels, with uni and caviar, or tomato tartare, or ham and eggs, are a perfect beginning to a leisurely meal that could also could include oysters, a blue-prawn cocktail with crispy heads on the side, and a strawberry-and-crescenza salad before you move on to the main event. We recommend going big for your entree, especially if you’re dining with a group. The 45-ounce dry-aged Creekstone rib eye at Bon Temps is flawlessly cooked and tremendously delicious. It comes with onion rolls and an assortment of sauces that showcase Carson’s classical training and desire to have fun. Carson was the longtime corporate pastry chef for Michael Mina’s restaurant group, and the desserts at Bon Temps, like a passionfruit posset and what might be the city’s best chocolate souffle, are fully formed masterpieces.
Bon Temps plans to add breakfast, lunch, and mid-afternoon dining with raw-bar selections in the near future.
712 S. Santa Fe Ave., Los Angeles, 213-784-0044
After conquering ritzy Brentwood, pizzaiolo Daniele Uditi has opened an outpost of his neo-Neapolitan restaurant in West Hollywood, where he has a lovely patio that should be quite popular this summer. Uditi’s doing fun new things like making a perfectly proportioned smoked-salmon pizza (with bottarga, ricotta crema, dill, parsley, chive, and lemon zest) that’s inspired by Spago. The sud a sud pizza with California-grown San Marzano tomatoes is a stellar option that screams summer. Uditi is also taking his handmade dough, made with organic stone-ground flour, and using it for his version of New York-style slices that he’s serving late-night guests. From 10 p.m. to closing time, you can get cheese slices or slices loaded with little pepperoni cups. We highly recommend both.
Pizzana is best known for pizza, of course, but it’s also where you can start with meatballs, artichokes, and salads. And you can end with desserts like salted-caramel panna cotta and dark-chocolate olive-oil cake from Candace Nelson, the Pizzana co-founder who’s also the pastry powerhouse behind Sprinkles Cupcakes.
460 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-657-4662
Former Chi Spacca chef Chad Colby’s long-awaited Italian restaurant on the edge of Larchmont and Koreatown wants to thread the needle between rustic and refined. Meat and fish are cooked in the open kitchen’s wood-fired hearth, but you’ll see Colby carefully garnishing entrées like a fine-dining chef. Order antipasti and you’ll get satisfying little bites of salumi, cheese, and bread that could include a flavor-packed anchovy toast. You might also want to start with a plate of creamy burrata and nicely seasoned sungold tomatoes. Unlike his time at Chi Spacca, Colby is serving pasta, including a purposefully simple bucatini with lemon and anchovies as well as cavatappi with a comforting lamb ragu. End your meal with some freshly spun ice cream. The creaminess and airiness of this housemade ice cream are stunning, and putting big pieces of Harry’s Berries strawberries into a cup of strawberry ice cream perfectly expresses what summer in L.A. can and should be.
4653 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, 323-510-3093
Chef Charles Namba and Courtney Kaplan have opened a deeply pleasing sake bar next to their popular Tsubaki izakaya in Echo Park. At Ototo, Namba is continuing to make great umami-packed drinking food: Plump fried oysters come with smoked daikon remoulade and fennel pollen. The menu also includes pork-belly okonomiyaki, chicken katsu sandwiches, tangy potato salad, and a burger with Japanese chiles, shredded iceberg lettuce, tomato, and yuzu thousand island dressing.
Kaplan is showcasing craft sakes from small independent brewers and making it easy for sake newbies to join the fun. Tell her what you usually like drinking, whether it’s a savory red wine or a specific kind of beer, and she’ll find a sake to suit your palate and maybe tell you a crazy story about the origin of what she’s recommending. The user-friendly sake menu, with sections that include “fruit + flowers” and “delicious weirdos,” might also convince you to try something new. You can also order shochu, beer, and wine here.
1360 Allison Ave., Los Angeles, 213-784-7930