10 of the Best Restaurants in Los Angeles
1. ANIMAL – Mid-Wilshire
435 N Fairfax Los Angeles , CA 90036
Sure, these guys’ newer Italian restaurant Jon & Vinny’s is hot right now, too, and their seafood restaurant Son of a Gun is also a stone-cold classic at this point. But the OG from these dudes still stands out for its delicious creativity; years in, they haven’t let the menu get stale at all, which means you’re gonna be ordering the classics — and then whatever insanity they’ve put on the menu today, since it may not be there again tomorrow.
2. BESTIA – Downtown LA
2121 E 7th Pl Los Angeles , CA 90021 213.514.5724
Since its opening in 2012, Bestia’s sort of become the definitive LA restaurant, offering a menu that appeals to both eat-anything foodies (pan-roasted chicken gizzards!) and eat-carefully dieters (tomato & plum salad!) in a setting that feels both industrial and homey, with prices that won’t make you feel wallet regret when you wake up in the morning. It’s no surprise it’s still one of the few tough reservations in the city; despite its size, everyone who leaves immediately wants to go back.
3. SHIBUMI – Downtown LA
815 S Hill St Los Angeles, CA 90014
Jonathan Gold just positioned this buzzy, newish Japanese joint at the No. 2 spot on his coveted list, so you already know great things are afoot here. And with a chef who previously spent time at Urasawa and L’Orangerie, serving up an elevated, seasonal kappo-style menu — a more formal approach than izakaya — you know you’re in good hands. Try for a seat at the 30ft-long chef’s counter, made from a single cypress tree, and keep an eye out for dishes like the seabream sashimi, the silky egg tofu with uni, and the grilled pork in koji rice.
4. BAROO – Hollywood
5706 Santa Monica Blvd Los Angeles , CA 90038
This tiny James Beard-nominated restaurant, hidden in a strip mall in a no-man’s-land section of East Hollywood, would be voted least likely to succeed on looks alone. Once you glance at the tiny, challenging-to-understand menu, you may be even more tempted to bounce. Don’t. The food is from guys who did time at Noma and Daniel — two of the world’s best restaurants — and the $15-or-less grain bowls and pastas they’re serving burst with the flavor and love of those 10-times-as-expensive world-class restaurants. Just call ahead and make sure they’re open before you head there — they leave for months at a time for “inspiration trips,” but when they come back, the food’s somehow even better than before.
5. PROVIDENCE Hollywood
5955 Melrose Ave Los Angeles , CA 90038
Despite lots of competition from upstarts, Providence is still LA’s best special-occasion restaurant: The service is impeccable, and the seafood Michael Cimarusti cooks is without peer. For its 11th anniversary, right now there’s a $90 four-course menu — it’s not cheap, of course, but it won’t hurt your wallet as much as you may have expected.
6. GWEN – Hollywood
6600 W Sunset Blvd Los Angeles , CA 90028
Curtis Stone (the Aussie celeb chef behind the hard-to-get-a-reservation Maude) and his brother, Luke, have been busy drawing crowds to their beautiful new Hollywood destination, which pairs a whole-animal restaurant with an in-house butcher shop. You’ll find an excellent lineup of top-notch, wood-fired meats like the flat iron wagyu or the 30-day dry-aged rib-eye, charcuterie like the duck speck, as well as plenty of smoked, roasted, and pickled veggies. And while you can impress your date with the five-course tasting menu in the vaulted dining room beneath chandeliers, a smart move is to grab some excellent a la carte options and killer cocktails at the bar or on the bustling patio.
7. CATCH – West Hollywood
8715 Melrose Ave Los Angeles , CA 90069
Having long wowed the masses in NYC, this new seafood-centric powerhouse is already packing the tables in West Hollywood. The massive rooftop spot features a wraparound patio and a retractable roof for year-long outdoor dining even when you’re indoors, and a menu that features hits like the spicy king crab hand roll, A5 wagyu cooked tableside on a hot stone, and a herb-roasted branzino. There’s even a separate vegan menu — this is WeHo after all.
425 Washington Blvd Marina Del Rey , CA 310.751.6794
Look, anything Mélisse chef Josiah Citrin touches is going to end up buzzy. But everyone on the Westside has been tripping over themselves getting to this new casual spot, which — no surprise — cooks its proteins (and more: It has a whole-smoked cabbage with lemon, sumac, and yogurt) over (and within!) open flames.
9. ERVEN – Santa Monica
514-516 Santa Monica Blvd Santa Monica , CA 90401
Since opening in July, chef Nick Erven (formerly of Fundamental LA and Saint Martha) has already built a strong following at his namesake spot with what he refers to as an “accidentally vegan” menu. Whether you’re tearing into the beer-battered tofu or falafel sandwiches at lunch or slurping the black-eyed pea and farro hot pot at dinner, you’ll find so many bold and creative spins on veggie fare it won’t even occur to you that there’s no meat involved.
10. N/NAKA – Culver City
3455 Overland Ave Los Angeles , CA 90034 310.836.6252
Before she was on the wildly popular Netflix show Chef’s Table, Niki Nakayama’s hole-in-the-wall Culver City spot — where she makes impossibly meticulous Japanese food that seems to hit all your taste buds at once — was already one of the most buzzy restaurants among foodie-type people in LA. But now that the cat’s out of the bag, it’s become nationally famous as well, which means getting in is a struggle — a totally worth-it struggle.