The Hit List: New LA Restaurants To Try Right Now guide image


The Hit List: New LA Restaurants To Try Right Now

We checked out these new restaurants in LA and loved them.

When restaurants open, we check them out. This means that we subject our stomachs and social lives to the good, the bad, and more often than not, the perfectly fine. And every once in a while, a new spot makes us feel like Angelyne driving her convertible down Santa Monica Blvd. When that happens, we add it here, to the Hit List. 

The Hit List is where you’ll find all of the best new restaurants in LA. As long as a place opened within the past several months and we’re still talking about it, it’s on this guide. The latest addition might be a sunny rooftop serving spreads of whole fish. Or it might be a lunch counter in the back of a convenience store where you can pick up an incredible pupusa and a pack of cigarettes.

Keep tabs on the Hit List and you'll always know which new restaurants you should be eating at right now.

New to the Hit List (9/12): Baroo



Few restaurants have captured LA’s attention like Baroo, the casual Korean cafe that opened in 2015 in East Hollywood and specialized in fermented vegetables. Now it’s time for Baroo’s next act: an eight-course, $110 tasting menu served in a sleek Arts District space. While we do miss the hearty bowls and kimchi toasts of the past, dishes at the new Baroo—red-yeast rice squares topped with 'nduja and pichuberry, fried fermented soft-shell crab, and chamoe panna cotta—are just as special as anything at the original. Just because there's a tasting menu doesn't mean Baroo is suddenly stuffy and self-serious, either. This is one of the coolest places you can spend $150 right now in LA (that includes tax and tip).

What happens when one of LA's best bakeries teams up with one of our favorite pizzerias on the Westside to make sandwiches? Very good lunch, that's what. Tre Mani, a collaboration between Jyan Isaac and Ghisallo, serves Roman-style flatbread sandwiches that could easily become your personality for the week. Each one comes on Jyan's slabs of schiacciata that brown and bubble at the top while staying spongy like a fancy mattress that requires a payment plan. Meanwhile, all of the seasonal preserves, cold cuts, and creamy spreads are Ghisallo’s doing. Stop by Ghisallo in Santa Monica from 12-3pm Tuesday to Sunday to try the mortadella version with a smidge of heat from horseradish and some sweet balsamic onions (preferably enjoyed on Ghisallo’s outdoor patio).

The corner store where you buy dish soap and 1am cigarettes might be convenient, but it’s nowhere near as memorable as this East Hollywood mini-mart serving bun bo hue beef noodles. The casual set-up is exactly what you might expect from a shop selling prawn chips and iced tea. Head to the counter to order Vietnamese staples as well as twists on classic noodle dishes (the shop is run by the people behind Silver Lake’s Gingergrass). Then find a sidewalk table where you can sip a salted plum spritz and snack on grilled rice paper pizza with eggs, scallions, and smoked oysters that add some necessary salt punches. The entire experience feels just as quick as a last-minute dish soap run, except here you get to eat egg noodles with stewed beef shank in the span of about 10 minutes.

Queen St. excels in the art of the “what’s the rush?” dinner. This crowded raw bar in Eagle Rock will make you forget about your to-do list with Charleston-style dishes like chargrilled oysters, fried flounder, and smothered pork chops. Inside, clog-wearing couples bliss out on wine and crunchy hush puppies while groups share plates of thick, juicy swordfish along the patio. It won’t be easy to reserve a table, but you should at least prioritize getting a stool at their walk-in-only bar right now. That’s where all the best people-watching happens anyways.

When it comes to smoky, Sonoran-style asada and chewy flour tortillas, we've been spoiled by Sonoratown and El Ruso. Now there’s another delicious option in town called Tacos La Rueda. The moment you walk into this Bellflower strip mall spot, you’ll hear the whacks of a meat cleaver chopping asada and the sizzle of tripe grilled so hard it tastes and feels like chicharrón. We don’t know how it’s gravitationally plausible that these buttery, nearly translucent tortillas hold Tacos La Rueda's portions of meat, but they do. While you peruse the salsa station, snack on some blistered serrano chiles in salsa negra and salted radishes that'll cool your taste buds.

Shirube is technically an izakaya, but no one should merely snack and drink here. This Santa Monica Japanese spot is so good you should stick around for a full meal of smoked black cod, expertly grilled duck breast, and udon noodles swirled in salty cod roe butter that'll coat your mouth like lip gloss. For roughly $20 a plate—the excellent sashimi platter for two floats around $40—you’ll have a meal that feels almost too reasonably priced to be true. If you insist on just coming for drinks and one or two snacks, prioritize sake. The list is long, the pours are generous, and your glass of snow-aged Hakkaisan will go exceptionally well with a plate of corn ribs glazed in shoyu butter.

Tacos Los Cholos is OC taco royalty, and their first LA location already holds its own in the city's crowded taco scene. Juicy asada soaks up smoke from Los Cholos's charcoal grill and the charred beef rib—with its crispy, fatty bits—is so soft it melts away. Order across the spectrum of carbón-kissed things, like minced al pastor, arrachera, and squeaky slabs of panela cheese. But there’s no need to rush a meal at this Huntington Park taqueria like you do at some taco spots. Enjoy table service (no booze, though), TVs playing the Dodger game, and the lingering mesquite smell that tells your brain the taco party ain’t over 'til you need to be wheelbarrowed out of there. 

This new Italian American restaurant in Echo Park already has that friendly, familiar feeling of a neighborhood standby. (Only imagine your neighborhood standby resembles a flower-bombed spot in a strip mall.) Unlike its sibling bars Lowboy and Bar Flores, Donna's concentrates on uncomplicated red-sauce classics. Come with a group for martinis and pinwheel-shaped lasagna bolognese or bring a date and share creamy tiramisu while developing some liquid courage at the bar.

Not only does LA's first lesbian bar in about a decade party so hard the crowd spills out onto the sidewalk and even into the parking lot, it also makes excellent diner classics. If you’re coming to The Ruby Fruit in Silver Lake to eat (which you should be), we recommend arriving during lunchtime when things are calmer and the comfort-food menu is even larger than what’s available in the evenings. Think tuna melts topped with shaved celery and crumbled potato chips, a mortadella-stacked breakfast sandwich on a pretzel bun, and curly fries that have bravely endured a gooey raclette flood for your enjoyment.

You no longer have to hire a cyber-hacking OpenTable henchman to eat Pizzeria Bianco’s pizza. Now that the team has opened Pane Bianco, a lunchtime-only sandwich and slice shop in the same Row DTLA complex, you can eat their Oprah-approved New York-style slices without much of a wait. While we liked the mortadella sandwich, you're better off prioritizing pizza. Pizzeria Bianco’s famous pistachio pie isn't featured on Pane's short menu, but you won't miss it. You'll be too busy thinking about the green slice topped with a spinach sauce that tastes like a Super Bowl Sunday dip with which we'd canoodle.

Lingua Franca has the power to make the LA River feel romantic (well, almost). This inviting Frogtown restaurant from the Wax Paper team balances the worn-in feel of a neighborhood spot with the stylish scene of a place where you might see Eric Wareheim. It sits along a riverside bike trail, serving natural wines and a rotating mishmash of elevated picnic food. There’s crunchy lavash with pepper-crusted albacore crudo, a bright green pea risotto with pistachio pesto, and a truly excellent burger served on an English muffin with fistfuls of matchstick fries. We highly recommend dropping by for Happy Hour on the river-facing front patio, then squeezing into the intimate dining room for a mellow dinner.

LA finally has the Mexican-Italian fusion spot it deserves. Amiga Amore is a charming husband-and-wife operation that started out as a pandemic project in a parking lot. They’ve now found permanent digs in a tiny Highland Park space with a massive patio: you’ll see the owners serving tables and mingling like they're hosting a dinner party. Most of the “Mexitalian” menu is made up of clever, borderline genius remakes of familiar dishes, like plump elote agnolotti, a caprese with diced cactus, and a bowl of chorizo and clams with thick slabs of toast. They’re currently BYOB, so plan on bringing a bottle of gamay and kicking back under the string lights eating food that’ll live in your head rent-free for weeks.

This multi-floor Italian spot in Beverly Hills is the third restaurant from the Willy Wonka of pasta, chef Evan Funke. And much like his other two spots, Mother Wolf and Felix, Funke is the kind of exciting, blowout dinner spot that actually deserves the hype. The loud dining room is full of Gucci-clad guests sipping vintage Barolo and shouting travel stories over perfectly al dente orecchiette. You’ll have the kind of fancy Italian experience where servers course the meal with precision and refill water before you hit empty. But you’ll do it in the shadow of a 20-foot glass pasta workshop where cooks roll fresh agnolotti for your entertainment and eventual enjoyment. Come here the next time you want to throw down on a baller meal that’s actually fun, or head up to the walk-in-only rooftop for a special occasion date night.

There’s an air of mystery surrounding Le Great Outdoor in Santa Monica. The name sounds like it could be an REI surplus store and its Instagram presence, however beautiful, doesn’t give away many details. So here’s the deal: it’s an order-at-the-grill dinner spot in the Bergamot Station parking lot where meat, fish, and veggies are cooked right in front of you. The menu is essentially a list of Things Alice Waters Might Bring To A Potluck—bok choy with sumac, goat cheese tartines drizzled in local honey, and a whole branzino that was probably caught before you went to work this morning. Everybody’s hanging out on picnic tables (you might know this area as Bergamot Cafe during the day), drinking chilled wine from Argentina, and eating platters of root vegetables like it’s a horticultural block party. And maybe that’s what this place is. We’ll be there all summer long.

If someone tasked us with creating our ideal summer lunch spot, it would look a lot like Za Za Zá, from the same team as LA Cha Cha Chá and another recent Hit List addition, Loreto. You'll find the order-at-the-counter mariscos spot in Loreto's tree-filled Frogtown courtyard that feels like a designated pocket park. The daytime-only menu has 10-or-so items that are exactly what you want to be eating when the marine layer burns off and suddenly, you're sweating a little. Think dishes like tostadas layered with yellowtail and tobiko mayo, calamari-topped guacamole, and gooey, griddled Oaxacan cheese tacos. There’s also a full drink menu with agua frescas, micheladas, and boozy punches—which you’re obviously dabbling in, it’s summer and you just turned off Slack notifications.  

For almost three decades, Stir Crazy, the cutesy cafe between Highland and La Brea, was a go-to spot for laptop warriors and midday coffee dates that ended in sex. That version of Stir Crazy closed in 2022, and after an extensive renovation, it has transformed into a breezy, chilled-out wine bar that feels like a green room after-party at The Largo. The menu is pretty bare bones at the moment with snacky stuff like marinated tomatoes, serrano ham, and a particularly delicious plate of anchovies. So instead of planning a full dinner experience, do as the locals do: use it as a laid-back hangout filled with great wine, great music, and a bunch of people who probably have Netflix comedy specials coming down the pipeline. 

Sometimes the pre-party ends up being more fun than the actual party, which might be the best way to describe a meal at Barra Santos. This narrow, brick-walled Portuguese spot in Cypress Park from the Found Oyster people is somewhere between a bar and a restaurant, making it a perfect destination for a glass of sherry and some salty snacks, though maybe not a full-on meal. While the menu here is fairly short, we’re happy to report everything on it is flat-out delicious: bright, lemony tuna crudo, shaved Iberico ham, garlicky prawns dusted with chili flakes. You’ll also find a few more substantial plates, like a confit chicken leg in vinegary piri-piri sauce or a juicy pork sandwich with herb sauce, but nothing is heavy enough to kill your appetite before dinner. Barra Santos only takes walk-ins, so plan on showing up early if you want to grab a seat at the gorgeous, dark-wood counter where bartenders pour chilled wines and chat up customers—we can’t think of a better place to start your night.

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photo credit: Wonho Lee

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