The Hit List is our guide to the best new food and drink experiences in LA. We track new openings across the city, and then visit as many as we can. While the Hit List is by no means an exhaustive list of every good new spot, one thing you can always rely on is that we’ll only include places that we have genuinely checked out.
Our goal is for this list to be as diverse as the city itself—inclusive of a wide range of cuisines, price points, neighborhoods, chefs and owners of all backgrounds, and the multifaceted communities within the industry. If you think we missed a great new place, we want to hear about it. Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New to the Hit List (8/25): Hansei
For a truly unique dining experience, head to Hansei at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center in Little Tokyo. Dinner here begins with a tour of the property’s lush gardens followed by shochu-infused drinks and “LA Nikkei” small bites, a nod to the chef’s LA upbringing as a fourth-generation Japanese American. Eventually, you’ll move to an interior “chef’s counter” for the main courses—like beautifully marbled wagyu steak in teriyaki and a play on the California roll that includes fried seaweed topped with crab, uni, cucumbers, and avocado. From there, you’ll head to the garden for dessert. There are a lot of moving pieces, no doubt, but you can set your own pace. We suggest hanging in the garden to watch the sunset or sipping green tea long after dessert is served. It’s certainly pricey—the nine-course menu runs $175 per person (before tax and tip)—but for a splurge-y dinner that’s unlike anything else in LA, this is a table worth snagging.
Much like Lady Gaga’s career over the last few years, Nossa in Los Feliz has evolved into a new era. The Brazilian restaurant now doubles as a neighborhood bar, and it’s already one of our favorite new spots for cocktails and a light bite. Their open-air dining room and sidewalk patio offer front row seats to the northern stretch of Hillhurst Avenue—a set of blocks that tend to be a parade of people who look like they’re in a psychedelic rock band. But the main draws here are hearty bar snacks like chicken heart skewers and mortadella sandwiches, plus refreshing caipirinhas, the daiquiri-like national cocktail of Brazil. Bring a date who would appreciate an expertly made drink mixed with hibiscus or passionfruit, and share some cheese-stuffed pão de queijo on a warm summer night.
A restaurant with a roaring open fire in the dining room doesn’t sound like the coolest place to be peak summer, but Dunsmoor—a rustic, high-ceiling space in Glassell Park from the chef who used to run Hatchet Hall—is packed with creative types in cardigans who somehow aren’t sweating in the 90-degree heat. Most of the Southern-leaning menu here is cooked over a wood-fired hearth, which gives a subtle smoky edge to dishes like sour milk cornbread flecked with green chiles and roasted oysters in a rich Creole sauce. Ironically though, the best dishes we had were raw, like an umami-bomb lamb tartare and a glistening albacore crudo with raw ginger and crispy shallots. Our only gripe is that the dessert menu is just a slice of so-so peach pie (for now). Otherwise, even in the context of an ongoing discussion surrounding gentrification, Dunsmoor has the makings of a solid NELA spot with fantastic, decently priced food.
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On Tail O’ The Pup’s opening weekend, they sold out of hot dogs. Which is frankly touching, considering this historic establishment is a literal life-size hotdog brought back to life from its original location, which opened in 1946 near where the Beverly Center currently stands. People in the crowd seemed excited to revisit their old favorite hotdog stand and we understand why. The dogs come in charming little boats with all sorts of classic topping options, the staff will ask you how you’re doing and mean it, and there’s even a menu for (actual) dogs. They also serve burgers, alcohol, and soft serve, and there’s tons of seating, making this an ideal patio to let time tick by. We won’t be surprised if the Shake Shack next door goes out of business.
Is this 2013? Because Silver Lake is having a moment. Between Bar Moruno, Pijja Palace, and the dog park where we saw an extremely cute mutt in an argyle sweater, this neighborhood is booming right now. The latest addition is Simón, a turquoise mariscos truck parked in front of Sunset Triangle where you’ll find vibrant seafood dishes both raw and cooked. The chef comes from a fine dining background in Oaxaca, which explains the complex flavors in everything here, from soft shell crab tacos to cochinita pibil with a crispy cheese crust served on pillowy flour tortillas. The mixed ceviche is tangy and sweet, with generous amounts of diced mango and a mouth-puckering leche de tigre, but the real star is the aguachile negro, an ink-black dish made with burnt tomatillos, which lend a silky texture and acidic pucker. Eat this to cool down on a hot afternoon stroll (your AC wall unit might need a break), paired with a crunchy tostada or michelada.
The most famous pizzeria in Phoenix has finally opened in LA and, yes, the hype is warranted. Located within Row DTLA, Pizzeria Bianco sits in an airy warehouse with lots of outdoor seating and some subtle Italian touches (i.e. shelves of canned tomato sauce). The place is still in soft-launch mode, with limited hours and a takeout window only selling pizza by the slice, but the ultra-thin yet chewy crust on these babies is reason enough to necessitate a lunch trip. The marinara on the red slice has a tart, intensely tomatoey flavor that’s a nice foil for salty Calabrese salami, and there’s a green slice with a savory spinach-cheese sauce that’s like a Super Bowl dip turned up to 11. For now, we’re happy to walk up to the window and take down four slices in one sitting, but we’re also eagerly awaiting the full dinner menu, which should be dropping soon.
Kuya Lord, one of our favorite pop-ups in LA and home to some of the city’s most exciting Filipino food, now has a brick-and-mortar space at Melrose and Western—and, shocker, we’re still in love with it as ever. The tiny, order-at-the-counter space only has about four tables inside, but if you happen to roll in with family or friends, there will somehow be enough room. The menu consists mainly of rice bowls with garlicky java rice and your choice of protein (the sweet longsilog with eggs is a standout), but under no circumstances should you leave without the pancit chami. It’s a savory-sweet, decadent stir fry made with fish cakes, pork belly, oyster sauce, and plump, chewy wheat noodles. If you’re with two to three people, go for the long-tap-silog tray, which comes with grilled sweet sausage and short ribs, pancit chami, garlic rice, a salad, pickled vegetables, and several dipping sauces for $42. Leftovers will be a given.
Ideally, we’d have tons of friends who host dinner parties with interesting strangers, good wine, and experimental West African dishes. But we’re nowhere near cool enough for that. There is however Ilé, a “communal dining experience” in Hollywood that’s hosted in a luxury loft apartment and feels like nothing else in LA at the moment. The concept serves a tasting menu inspired by the chef’s Nigerian upbringing and before each of the nine courses arrives—whether it’s spicy lamb suya, mushroom-heavy fish pepper soup, or jollof rice served from a smoking cauldron—a personal story is shared, accented by a 70s Nigerian funk soundtrack and other festive touches. The room seats 16 people split into two long tables, and it’s fully BYOB—though the chef might offer you some complimentary tequila shots throughout the night. Tickets are $250 per person (or four courses for $120), so keep this spot in mind when you want a big, fun night out involving inventive food and sharp storytelling. Book through Ilé’s website.
Saffy’s in East Hollywood is already as packed as its DTLA sibling restaurants, Bavel and Bestia. Here you’ll find the restaurant group’s most casual food offerings: the Middle Eastern menu involves shawarma plates, tagine platters, and juicy kebabs. But Saffy’s isn’t exactly laidback. Dining here means participating in the sexy late-night Fountain Avenue scene right between the Church of Scientology building and Found Oyster. You’ll slide tender beef cuts off of a three-foot skewer with a handful of fluffy laffa bread while a fashion-world-adjacent mob plops down in the next velvet booth. And there will inevitably be solo diners at the U-shaped bar scanning the room with rose vesper martinis in-hand (and looking good while doing it). Booking a table before 10pm might be a challenge right now, but don’t let all the hype stop you from trying. It’s the perfect spot to plan ahead for if you and some friends want a little bit of a party and a lot of really good food without any pretension.
Even in broad daylight, Oy Bar is so dark you need to pause to let your eyes adjust as you step inside. This Studio City bar might be new, but the dimly-lit, slightly dingy atmosphere it exudes is exactly what we want in a Valley dive. Formally called The Bar At Oyster House (hence the new name), this neighborhood drinking hole is now run by the Jeff’s Table crew with a menu full of bar bites worth braving the 101 at rush hour to eat. The “Jeff’s Special” quesadilla is a pastrami-filled, jalapeño-crusted masterpiece and the Oy Burger is the best new burger we’ve eaten this year. Topped with gooey Toma cheese, hoisin ketchup, lettuce, onion, cucumber, dijon, and a heap of cilantro, it’s savory, tangy, and aggressively fragrant. This is the kind of place to come after a rough day of work when you need a stiff drink and to be left alone—if that’s what you prefer.
Lovely, charming, delightful. Those words are usually reserved for pretentious arthouse films or our friends’ babies, but at Dos Besos, they don’t feel empty. Tuna carpaccio drenched in decadent olive oil, and imported ham—sliced ever so thinly—with a plate of grilled bread is what you’ll find at this new Spanish restaurant in Pasadena. Paella is the specialty, served in a large, shallow skillet that can feed two-to-three people. Spoons scrape against the cast-iron in a pleasing way and saffron-tinged rice comes in a color akin to a bad fake tan. Get the paella del mar, a seafood-rich dish packed with mussels, shrimp, calamari, and two giant prawns. Yes, the bill will be very high (around $100 per person), and you will need quarters for the parking meters (this is Pasadena, after all), but your spare change is worth it, for Dos Besos.
We are not immune to the Chef’s Table-fueled N/Naka craze, and were therefore extremely excited to try the new izakaya in West Adams from the N/Naka chefs. At N/Soto, even a simple piece of toro nigiri made us say “wow.” And the majority of what we sampled on first visit blew us away. Mentai mochi come ever so slightly fried and placed in nori wrappers alongside a nutty dipping sauce. Scallop sashimi is presented like caprese, layered between tomatoes and topped with pepitas. The kushiyaki fill the dining room and patio with meaty smoke, making it impossible to not get involved (we love the kurobuta sausage skewers that snap under your teeth). And the steamed clams in a delicate dashi broth are a non-negotiable. Reservations are tough to snag, but dinner at N/Soto really feels like trying something new.
Here’s a sentence we didn’t have on our 2022 Bingo Card: Silver Lake is LA’s hottest restaurant neighborhood right now. New spots open every week, like Bar Moruno, Causita, and now, Pijja Palace—a maximalist Indian sports bar that is, in the best way possible, Stimulation with a capital S. There are three giant flatscreen TVs on every wall, forcing you to stare directly into LeBron James’ eyes until you merge souls. The dining room uses mid-century modern furniture and neon lights in a way that reminds us of a vintage arcade. And the food is just fun. Thin-crust pizzas come topped with saag gravy, stinger chiles, or baingan jawa fry, a deep-fried eggplant dish made with mustard oil. Wings are doused in masala and Kashmiri red chilis. And our favorite is a wonderful pasta—cheese and shells, brimming with saffron, parmesan, and Indian long pepper. It’s our new go-to comfort dish. Come here to watch a game (duh), but also for casual hangs with friends when you need something fresh, pronto.
If you ate tapas in LA in 2010, there’s a decent chance it was at Cobras And Matadors. The excellent Spanish restaurant had a few locations at one point, but when the original in Beverly Grove closed in 2012, it was the end of an era. Fast forward a decade and the beloved spot has taken a page straight from _Brigadoon_ and emerged from the mist of restaurant heaven. That’s right, Cobras And Matadors is back—under the same ownership, in the same Beverly Blvd. location, and now, with even better tapas. You’ll eat dishes like perfectly grilled asparagus topped with sweet manchego, crispy green lentils with jamon serrano, and buttery gambas al ajillo you’ll think about for days—all in a lively little dining room filled with groups of friends drinking wine they brought from home (yep, it’s still BYOB).
This might be a tough pill for some Eastsiders to swallow, but when it comes to restaurants, Sunset Junction has become pretty sleepy. Bar Moruno might just reverse that trend. The upscale Spanish spot had a brief stint at The Original Farmers Market in 2016, but has now realized the full version of itself in Silver Lake. Bar Moruno’s party-like energy hits you the second you walk in—friends hover over canned fish and swap today’s best drama at the walk-in-only bar area that starts popping by 6:30pm every night. It feels as close to a tapas bar in Barcelona as you’ll get in LA. And to that end, we recommend filling your table mostly with smaller dishes. The chorizo-filled Scotch egg is already one of our favorite bites of the year. That said, we’d come to Bar Moruno just to drink, too. There’s an entire gin martini section (try the salmon gin), a coffee-infused negroni, and a roaming Sherry specialist who maybe, just maybe will get you to appreciate Sherry.
Pearl River Deli is back, and not to be cliché, better than ever. After a brief closure, the excellent Chinese/Cantonese restaurant has moved to a bigger, brand new space in Chinatown next to Thank You Coffee and Sesame. Now, they have dine-in service, which means you’ll sit at long wooden tables and eat the food the way it was meant to be eaten: hot and fresh out of the kitchen. It reminds us of a café in Hong Kong, a place where you’ll see friends catching up over char siu and noodles, and families trying everything on the menu. There are, of course, old favorites—hello perfect, beautiful Hainan chicken—as well as exciting new additions, like the tenshindon, a glossy crab omelet served over rice and covered in gravy. Oh, and get the Macau pork chop bun. The bright yellow pineapple buns are now made in-house, which adds a new layer of sweet, crispy goodness.
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