Jack and I recently traveled to Los Angeles to spend the holidays with his family. Jack grew up in L.A. and I went to college there, but these days we are very out of the loop when it comes to restaurants in the area. So, as I’ve been known to do, I reached out to my friends and family via Facebook to get their recommendations for restaurants in the area. We received a lengthy list of dining spots, from casual to fancy, which I thought I’d share with you here.
Bestia: “Bestia is a multi-regional rustic Italian restaurant focusing on a “from scratch” approach, offering house-made charcuterie, in addition to handmade pastas and pizza made in an Acunto oven. On the pastry side, the desserts focus on a clean and simple approach to create a daily changing menu that is centered on the freshest, most local ingredients possible.” Italian/American cuisine located in Downtown L.A.
Broken Spanish: “Broken Spanish displays Chef Ray Garcia’s distinct culinary perspective with an elevated contribution to a bountiful culinary history. The cuisine is expressed in bold yet refined flavors. Preparations demonstrate elements of long-established tradition, while finished dishes are showcased with modern appeal.” Described by my friend Nikki as “casual but not cheap.” Mexican cuisine located in Downtown .LA.
Clark Street Bread: Organic, hand-crafted bread vendor located inside the Grand Central Market in Downtown L.A.
Otium: “Otium strips away the formalities of dining while focusing on the quality of food, warm service, and relaxed casual ambiance. It is designed to be a social restaurant with an open kitchen merging indoor and outdoor spaces. The restaurant’s name, Otium, has its roots in Latin, a word that is meant to emphasize a place where time can be spent on leisurely social activities.” New American cuisine, located in Downtown L.A., near the Broad Museum
Little Dom’s: “The menu at Little Dom’s features fresh and delicious Italian-American fare for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Favorite dishes include Homemade Linguine Carbonara, Gnocchi Fritto and Meatballs. For Breakfast try the Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes, an Italian Frittata or Steak and Eggs with a Fennel Pollen Hollandaise sauce. Some local favorite dishes include the wood-oven Pizzas, the Meatball & Mozzarella Sandwich or Cedar Plank Salmon with Pomegranate and Baby Celery. Start off your meal at Lunch or Dinner with some Rice balls, a mixture of mushroom risotto with fresh mozzarella, parmesan, and provolone rolled in bread crumbs and fried.” My friend recommended the breakfast pizza. Italian cuisine, located in Los Feliz.
Cleo*: “Enjoy delicious dinners and handcrafted cocktails by Chef Danny Elmaleh in a warm, inviting Matthew Rolston-designed setting that marries old Hollywood glamour with relaxed Mediterranean charm – in the heart of Hollywood.” Mediterranean, tapas/small plates, located in Hollywood.
Katsuya: “Katsuya pairs master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi’s fresh takes on Japanese classics with design icon Philippe Starck’s sleek and sultry interiors in a unique sushi restaurant.” The crispy rice and spicy tuna is a must-order. Japanese cuisine, sushi bar, with four locations: Hollywood, Brentwood, Downtown, and Glendale.
Providence: “Chef Cimarusti is completely dedicated to procuring the finest sustainable seafood—from regional coasts and international waters—and treats those ingredients with uncompromising respect and sophisticated technique. “First and foremost, what guides us here is sustainability,” Cimarusti says. “We use only wild-caught, sustainable products, mostly from American waters, and look to highlight their finest qualities.”” Fancy seafood restaurant (#1 on Jonathan Gold’s 101 best restaurants in L.A. list), located in Hollywood.
Angelini Osteria: “Gino Angelini’s kitchen philosophy is simple and authentic, focused on the products and the region; a kitchen that renews itself without losing sight of the true Italian tradition.” Italian cuisine in the Fairfax district.
El Coyote: Mexican cuisine, located in Fairfax district “just a few blocks south of Melrose and a stone’s throw from The Grove.”
Odys + Penelope: “Opened in January 2015, Odys + Penelope is a casual, churrasco and grill by Quinn and Karen Hatfield, the culinary couple behind the popular neighborhood eatery, The Sycamore Kitchen. At the heart of Odys + Penelope are its open grill, wood-fired smoker and Brazilian churrasco. Using these elemental live-fire cooking methods, the restaurant offers an eclectic menu of flavorful and simply prepared California fare, with a strong emphasis on locally sourced and sustainable meats, seafood and seasonal vegetables.” Traditional American cuisine, located in district La Brea, Fairfax district. Jack and I recently ate here; read my review here.
Osteria Mozza: “Osteria Mozza is the brainchild of Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Nancy Silverton. In an origin story that has become restaurant lore, Mario asked Nancy to lead the pastry and bread department at the nascent Del Posto in New York. Nancy declined. Two years later, the two set out to collaborate on a Los Angeles project and Pizzeria Mozza was born. After a series of delays, Osteria Mozza followed. And the rest is history.” Italian Wine Bar, located in the Hancock Park neighborhood.
République: “Café, Bakery, Bar, Bistro.” French cuisine, also serves breakfast & brunch, located in Hancock Park neighborhood.
The Bazaar: “From smoking cocktails to spherified olive tapas, The Bazaar by José Andrés offers a magical culinary experience of traditional Spanish flavors and cutting edge culinary techniques in a fanciful indoor piazza by Philippe Starck at SLS Beverly Hills.” Spanish, tapas/small plates, located in Beverly Grove.
Da Pasquale: “Da Pasquale is perhaps the only local trattoria that, since its inception in 1989, has consistently prepared all of its dishes in the rich southern Italian tradition of Naples without pandering to American taste buds or trends. Italian favorites, like Pasta e Fagioli, certainly need no introduction to the experienced diner, but, if it’s your first time eating at Da Pasquale, you may just feel like you have been reacquainted. This family-run restaurant takes pride in creating an atmosphere as close to home as you will find outside of your own dining room and is one of the last truly family-friendly restaurants located in Beverly Hills.” One of Jack’s sister’s and brother-in-law’s favorite restaurants. Italian cuisine, located in Beverly Hills.
Scarpetta: “Chef Conant’s Italian cuisine is modern, earthy and refined with the finest seasonal ingredients. Adjacent to the Beverly Canon Gardens, Scarpetta’s beautiful al fresco dining augments the Mediterranean-inspired experience, creating an enchanting backdrop for dinner. Scarpetta creates the perfect setting for tasting menus, romantic dinners or gatherings with friends and fine dining in Beverly Hills.” Fancy Italian/American restaurant, located in Beverly Hills.
BOA Steakhouse: “BOA Steakhouse artfully combines a bold, colorful environment with modern-day steakhouse fare. Steaks and chops include a selection of prime Omaha beef such as the “40 Day” Dry Aged New York Strip and the “Bone In” Rib Eye, as well as Certified Organic Beef and Premium American Wagyu, all served with a choice of rubs and house made sauces, including BOA’s own J-1 sauce. A full complement of traditional steakhouse sides is offered, including the Classic Caesar Salad made tableside and Mac-n-Cheese.” Steakhouse with two locations: West Hollywood and Santa Monica.
Capo: “Capo faire can be described as modern Italian style cuisine. Homemade pastas, fresh seafood and fireplace-grilled meats are some of the Chef Ricky Moreno’s favorites.” Italian cuisine, located in Santa Monica.
Cassia: “Cassia is a partnership between husband-and-wife duos Bryant & Kim Ng and Josh Loeb & Zoe Nathan. Taking its roots from Bryant and Kim’s culinary heritage and experiences, Cassia celebrates the fresh, vibrant flavors of Southeast Asia, striking a unique balance of soulful, ancestral cuisine and a California sensibility, utilizing the best quality ingredients from local farmers.” Asian Fusion , Singaporean, Vietnamese cuisine, located in Santa Monica.
Cha Cha Chicken: “Our colorful beach shack serves an inventive and delicious blend of all the Caribbean flavors. Dine in our garden patio or call in for take out.” My friend recommended the Coconut Fried Chicken. Caribbean cuisine with two locations: Santa Monica and Northridge.
Joan’s on Third: “Our marketplace is a vibrant epicurean emporium, offering café-style seating and an abundant selection of gourmet sandwiches, salads, soups and seasonally inspired dishes to enjoy with us or take home. We offer a unique selection of artisanal cheeses and charcuterie, freshly baked pastries, desserts, and handcrafted culinary products from around the world.” My friend recommended the chocolate with coconut cupcake. American, specialty food store located in Santa Monica.
Milo & Olive: “We serve a bakery driven breakfast from 7 to 11am daily and a menu of wood-fired pizzas and Farmers’ Market inspired salads and small plates from 11am to 11pm daily. Breads and bakery items can also be purchased throughout the day.” Owned by same group that owns Rustic Canyon and Cassia. Known for their garlic knots. Italian Bakery, Pizzeria located in Santa Monica.
Rustic Canyon: “Rustic Canyon offers a regularly changing menu of Farmers’ Market-inspired dishes with ingredients that come from local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen who practice sustainable agriculture.” “Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen”, serving tapas/small plates located in Santa Monica.
Gjelina: New American cuisine, serves breakfast & brunch, located in Venice.
Gjusta: Same owners as Gjelina. Bakery, Deli, Cafe located in Venice.
Tasting Kitchen: New American cuisine, also serves breakfast & brunch, located in Venice.
A-Frame: My friend recommended the Cracklin’ Beer Can Chicken. Hawaiian cuisine, tapas/small plates, located in Culver City.
Carousel: “Carousel is the premier Los Angeles area restaurant providing guests with the complete culinary experience when it comes to enjoying traditional middle eastern and Lebanese cuisine. At Carousel, our menu offers a selection of kebabs to seafood to an array of vegetarian items. We offer more than 60 meza items, ranging from familiar dishes, such as hummus, falafel and tabouleh to more traditional delicacies. Everything that we serve comes from original family recipes passed down through generations.” This is Jack’s Lebanese-Armenian family’s favorite restaurant. Located in Glendale and Hollywood. See my review here.
Grill ‘Em All: “After opening its glorious doors in December of 2009, the Grill Em All Truck blazed a gastronomic path through southern California with its over the top gourmet burgers and general food truck tom foolery. After standing triumphant at the end of the Food Networks very first Great Food Truck Race and being featured on the Best Thing I Ever Ate, the demand for burgers grew strong enough that even two trucks were not enough and the decision was made to open a brick and mortar. The trucks, lovingly dubbed the Beast and Son of Beast, were both laid to rest in a glorious viking funeral.” My friend recommended the H-100 Tater Tots. American cuisine, burgers, fast food, located in Alhambra.
Food Lists & Podcasts
Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants in L.A.
KCRW Good Food Podcast
The Washington Post’s The Ten Best Food Cities in America, Ranked (Los Angeles is #3)
*The company Jack’s works for owns the SLS Las Vegas hotel and casino; therefore, I have had the opportunity to eat at The Bazaar, Cleo, and Katsuya (the locations in Las Vegas as well as L.A.) on several occasions and I wholeheartedly recommend all three of these restaurants.
What are your favorite restaurants, cafés, food stands/trucks in the Los Angeles area?