While Los Angeles is known as being the hub of the entertainment industry, its food scene shines equally bright. Whether you’re looking for a restaurant to see and be seen or a laid-back spot for cocktails and small bites with friends, OpenTable has you covered with the right restaurants for anything. Here Caroline Potter, our Chief Dining Officer, rounds up where to eat now in Los Angeles.
Openaire, situated in the Koreatown hotel The Line, lives up to its name. It’s set in a greenhouse structure, poolside with indoor and outdoor seating options. Greenery abounds — in the plants that pepper the walls and ceiling as well as the tables; this is boost-your-mood ambience, a lifestyle guru’s dream backdrop come to life. However, the appeal runs far deeper than that with legendary Michelin-starred chef Josiah Citrin of the revered Melisse behind the burner. Lunch features a fun hotel classics section (Cobb salad, grilled cheese and tomato soup, for example) and also offers an only-in-LA power lunch menu that is named just that (which is a thrifty $25 for two courses). Dinner options often include influences from the eatery’s K-Town location, such as the chicken fried quail with shiitake aioli and fermented chili and whole steamed fish with green papaya kimchi and coconut lemongrass sauce. The flavors here are far-reaching, though, with a bone-in, dry-aged prime New York steak and pastas, such as mushroom agnolotti and even an available in large-format tagliatelle with duck ragout that serves four. The dark chocolate cake is a shareable way to seal your meal.
Sound Bite: “Very cute restaurant with delicious food and drinks! Perfect for a special occasion or everyday dining!”
Make a reservation at Openaire.
CATCH LA, West Hollywood
Catch a reservation if you can at this LA hotspot that’s renowned for its people watching almost as much as its food. The west coast outpost of Manhattan’s Meatpacking District seafood restaurant CATCH, CATCH LA is a quintessential Los Angeles dining experience. There are crowds clamoring for primetime tables and tastes of CATCH classics like truffle sashimi, wagyu on a rock, and Cantonese lobster. Take in vistas of downtown LA and the Hollywood Hills from a bustling rooftop perch in the 340-seat open-air dining space. It’s a magnet for celebrities (and paparazzi hoping to snap a shot of them), but be discreet in your admiration (and please, no furtive recording with your phone).
Sound Bite: “Excellent service and lovely culinary presentation are the norm at CATCH, one of our favorite eateries. Often spectacular outdoor seating (dependent upon weather) and always Instagram-worthy backdrops. CATCH offers the amenities of a high-class restaurant with a warm welcome.”
Make a reservation at CATCH LA.
Atrium, Los Feliz
Although there are proteins aplenty at Atrium, the menu is a veggie-lovers delight, with inventive preparations including Brussels sprouts Waldorf, campfire-roasted honeynut squash, and grilled cauliflower shawarma. In a magnificent space featuring lush banquettes, a horseshoe bar, and warm wood accents everywhere, chef Hunter Pritchett combines bold flavors with humble ingredients, such as the prawns in a housemade Clamato sauce and the massive Patchamama pork chop katsu with burnt apple bulldog sauce, cabbage slaw, dijonnaise, and brioche. The designers bring a bit of the outdoors in with an olive tree gracing the dining room. For fans of al fresco dining, there is also outdoor seating. This bright, airy space is a welcome contrast to the dimmer spots that once defined Los Feliz nightlife.
Sound Bite: “One of the best new restaurants I have been to in a while. The food is fantastic, the ambiance is earthy and inviting. It isn’t too loud and the staff is top-notch. I already ate there twice in one week.”
Make a reservation at Atrium.
The Exchange, Downtown
Housed in the stylish Freehand LA hotel which took over the historic Commercial Exchange building in downtown Los Angeles, The Exchange is named for its former occupant (whose neon sign still glows). Chef Alex Chang marries Israeli flavors with a California sensibility in every plate. Think grilled branzino with black olive and seaweed chermoula, smoked lemon ponzu, radish, and labneh or grilled lamb kebab with ayocote morado beans, cilantro, mint, tomatillo salsa, and pistachio. The setting is colorful and bright with fun embellishments such as the original mosaic tile “owls,” which represent the former entry to the Owl Drug Store, that have been restored. The cocktails, created by the team behind Bar Lab, are superb, especially the Grapefruit Black Pepper 11 with clarified California grapefruit and citrus, black pepper, tarragon, Absolut vodka, dry vermouth, and seltzer.
Sound BIte: “This restaurant has some of the best food in LA. The flavors in all of the dishes are truly fantastic. As a DTLA resident, it’s my go-to spot when I want a fresh, flavorful meal with a good cocktail.”
Make a reservation at The Exchange.
Native, Santa Monica
You’d be hard-pressed to beat chef Nyesha Arrington to the Santa Monica Farmers Market. She’s an early-bird shopper who regularly procures products and finds inspiration for the dishes she creates as an expression of love through food. She’s appeared on Top Chef and won other cooking show competitions, including Chef Hunter and Knife Fight. Here, Arrington embraces the bounty of local vegetables in a big way, from the radishes with cultured butter to the tomato toast with tomato jam and burrata. Mains feature Asian accents, such as the wagyu beef tartare with aisoon sauce, Korean mustard, and scallion, in what is perhaps a nod to her tutelage in her Korean grandmother’s kitchen. The dining room is posh and regal, while the al fresco area offers up plenty of California sunshine.
Sound Bite: The late, great Jonathan Gold wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “She is a chef whose food tastes like L.A.”
Make a reservation at Native.
NoMad LA, Downtown
The hitmakers behind Eleven Madison Park and The NoMad – James Beard Award-winning, Michelin-starred chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara — in New York have taken their show on the road in the way of The NoMad LA. Housed in the erstwhile Bank of Italy building, the restaurant provides a sophisticated atmosphere in which to dig in to sumptuous fare, such as the famed slow-roasted whole chicken with black truffle, and brioche. It’s a highly civilized affair without the pretense; there are luxe offerings alongside a killer dry-aged burger and expertly fried chicken. The weekend brunch is an elegant way to kick off a Saturday or Sunday (and, fear not, Angelenos, they serve avocado toast).
Sound Bite: “Just superb. Shows the touch of its legendary creator chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park in NYC. The ceviche, the fried chicken, the jasmine goat cheese, and the honey milk ice cream are standouts among an utterly brilliant menu. The room is staggeringly gorgeous. Loved it.”
Make a reservation at NoMad LA.
Celeb chef Curtis Stone partnered with his brother Luke to bring to life a longtime dream of opening a European-style, chef-driven butcher shop and a fine-dining restaurant that pays tribute to their grandmother, the restaurant’s namesake. Gwen’s farm gave the pair their first insights into raising livestock humanely and respectfully and a front-row seat to her practice of cooking over an open fire. They bring these experiences to the meat and butchery homage that is Gwen. The restaurant space evokes old Hollywood at its finest with plush seating and an Art Deco vibe. There is a five-course tasting menu or you can create your own adventure with a la carte selections. Start with housemade charcuterie and be sure someone in your party orders one of the beef selections.
Sound Bite: “Honestly some of the best food my husband and I have had since moving to LA a year and a half ago. It was so refreshing to have thoughtful dishes prepared perfectly, in a beautiful setting with the choreography of service so well-maintained. We will absolutely be back.”
Make a reservation at Gwen.
Tartine Bianco, Downtown
After dazzling San Francisco diners at the something-for-everyone setup complete with a bakery, coffee counter, ice cream window, and small wine bar that is Tartine Manufactory, chefs Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson brought their concept south to LA. They’ve partnered with Chris Bianco of Phoenix’s legendary Pizzeria Bianco, to launch Tartine Bianco in The Manufactory, a 40,000 square foot space, which will ultimately house a bakery, a market, two restaurants, a coffee roastery, and coffee lab. Tartine Bianco, the all-day, seasonally driven cafe, features plenty of options for diners to partake of the signature breads with delicious spreads (try a bunch, but you mustn’t skip the kefir butter) and smørrebrød — the open-faced Danish sandwiches Tartine helped popularize in the states. Save room for adventurous dishes like grilled chicken oysters and hearts with xo sauce, mint, basil, and gem lettuce and the whole hot fish with dilly bean, watercress, country croutons, and delta sauce. Buy a loaf or two to take home as you leave.
Sound Bite: “What a fabulous venue. The staff was warm and welcoming. The food is incredible. Chef Bianco was roaming table to table and was so genuine. I will definitely be a regular. Love the space!”
Make a reservation at Tartine Bianco.
Here and Now, Downtown
Set in the one-time Westbound location, this place is a stunner. The team is a partnership between Westbound’s Sarah Meade and Aaron Melendrez, Othón Nolasco, and Damian Diaz of the Va’La Hospitality. Well-respected bartenders Nolasco and Melendrez are creating cocktails worthy of the gorgeous space that straddles the line between stately and hip. There’s a back patio so you can document your drinks on Insta (you’re gonna want to get the Acapulco Bleu, trust us; it’s available in a large format for a thumb-stoppable shot). Every custom cocktail served has a story that reflects the city of angels. Nolasco said, “Each one was carefully thought out to represent LA.” Plus, there’s a full kitchen (open to 1:30AM for the night owls out there) from which chef Geo Delgado turns out a deceptively simple burger forged from short rib, chuck, and brisket (they also serve an Impossible Burger for veg-heads) and a satisfying meatball sando. Kick things off with fried olives or beluga lentil dip and bask in Here and Now’s splendor.
Sound Bite: “Small, cozy bar that has a cool, retro vibe. Great cocktails and a small menu of snacks and bar food. Really nice experience.”
Make a reservation at Here and Now.
What do Bollywood, butter chicken, and Biggie Smalls have in common? Badmaash on Fairfax. The new sister spot to the downtown LA location, father Pawan Mahendro teams again with sons Nakul and Arjan for this iteration of their funky Indian gastropub that’s equal part love and sass. Butter chicken gets a fork-free update in the way of samosas and, in a nod to their Canadian heritage, they’ve got a chicken tikka poutine. There are traditional dishes and options for vegetarians abound. The space is casual, colorful, and lighthearted (there’s a mural of Ghandi sporting classic shades) and the soundtrack here is classic hip hop. This is Indian food redefined, one dish at a time.
Sound Bite: “I absolutely love this place. The food is smart and contemporary — and delicious. The interior design is perfectly modest. Big windows on the storefront let the light in and allow you to watch all the hip crowds that stroll up and down the sidewalk on North Fairfax.”
Make a reservation at Badmaash.
Photo credits: Adrian Guat (The Exchange); Wonho Frank (Gwen); Jakob Layman (Tartine Bianco).