THR ranks the town's buzziest dining spots — from The Exchange to Officine Brera — for the month of July.
Though few things are more fickle than the entertainment business, the foodie-focused dining scene that serves it surely fits the bill. Ingénue restaurants debut every week, yet their moment in the spotlight often is brutish and short. The Hollywood Reporter ranks the hottest Los Angeles spots on a monthly basis as these dining stars shine and dim.
In July, say hello to Jean-Georges, The Exchange, The Rosy Oyster and Woodley Proper. Sweet Chick, The Mar Vista, The Flats and Friends & Family have fallen off the chart.
Note: While this list considers the traditional core dining metrics (food, service, value and atmosphere) of the best restaurants, great weight is placed on an ephemeral quality that the entertainment industry treasures: the buzz factor. Think of it as an edible heat index.
QUICK PITCH Like Bestia, this newcomer has an industrial lofty-chic interior in downtown L.A.’s Arts District and Italian countryside cuisine leaning hard on the handmade pastas and the wood-grilled oven. But Officine Brera is relatively less loud and, at least for the moment, quite a bit easier to book a reservation. The chicken thigh salad with butter lettuce and candied oranges is an understated winner.
INSIDE DISH Beware the traffic-diverting closure of the historic Sixth Street Bridge (a frequent shooting location, from Grease to The Amazing Race) a gnocchi’s toss away. Its demolition, begun in February, will last through the fall.
QUICK PITCH The San Fernando Valley’s most ambitious chef, Phillip Frankland Lee, has added to his Encino strip mall menagerie of adjoining concepts. (First came Scratch Bar, the tasting menu restaurant that rocketed the former Top Chef contestant to L.A. prominence, then more recently the nouveau seafood shack Frankland’s Crab & Co.) Woodland Proper, nominally a gastropub, can’t help but turn standards on their heads, like marrow roasted in toasted sourdough in the shape of a bone.
INSIDE DISH Lee just opened an unnamed experimental omakase sushi counter in a back room. There’s no reservations.
QUICK PITCH Chef Wes Whitsell, a vet of Gjelina, has conceived a menu rooted in his rural Texan childhood. Like fellow buzzy Arts District redoubt Bestia, the crowd skews early thirties across the sprawling central courtyard space in the austere new Hauser Wirth & Schimmel blue-chip gallery complex. Lean into the spirit: deer burgers, hushpuppies with molasses butter, fried dill pickles, smothered home fries with hot sauce.
INSIDE DISH The restaurant is named after the gallery’s Swiss partner Manuela Wirth, who along with husband Iwan is one of the most powerful people in the art world.
QUICK PITCH The entertainment industry’s go-to downtown L.A. destination restaurant is situated in the warehouse-strewn Arts District, just west of a still-dystopian stretch of the Los Angeles River. The incredibly loud, reliably accomplished, contempo-agro rustic Italian concept – where tattoos and tagliatelle appear to be worshipped in equal measure – is best known for its wood-fired pizzas and handmade pastas. Don’t miss the smoked chicken liver pate.
INSIDE DISH By far the oldest spot on this list, Bestia, which opened in late 2012, remains an impossible Saturday dinner reservation (at least at a non-absurd hour) – unless, of course, someone has a connection.
QUICK PITCH The seafood super-scene that originated in Manhattan's Meatpacking District has bowed on a lush, expansive rooftop across the street from the Pacific Design Center and incited an immediate feeding frenzy. Find A$AP Rocky powwowing with Chris Brown, Sylvester Stallone and Jerry Bruckheimer each holding court, along with half the Clippers in residence on a single night. (Everyone from Ari Emanuel to Kendall Jenner have also been in.) No wonder the place has quickly grown polarizing for its rare-for-L.A. restaurant doorman.
INSIDE DISH Given its overwhelming popularity, Catch initially suspended OpenTable reservations for a period, but the restaurant — with another West Coast location "on the horizon" — is now back online.
QUICK PITCH John Terzian, who’s been leveraging lush midcentury nostalgia at the popular Nice Guy on La Cienega Blvd. for two years, melds his childhood memories of Hollywood dinners at Chasen’s with a meticulous Baz-does-Gatsby swoon for Art Deco. The menu is contempo-traditional American brasserie, where there’s an expertly cooked filet mignon but a Portobello mushroom steak with chimichurri dressing and yucca fries too. Don’t miss the carrot soufflé.
INSIDE DISH Six years ago, when the place was still S&M-themed club Voyeur, the Republican National Committee erupted in scandal over a $2,000 tab filed with the Federal Election Commission.
QUICK PITCH A former auto body shop in Atwater Village next to the revitalizing Los Angeles River has been converted into a stylish indoor-but-mostly-outdoor ode to mesquite-grilled Mexican cooking: tacos, frijoles, esquites, the occasional heirloom tomato salad. All about al fresco, Salazar’s hang-loose patio offers both surprisingly cheap beer and serious cocktails.
INSIDE DISH Modernica, the massive industry prop house (a favorite of Mad Men), is a block away.
QUICK PITCH Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (Animal, Son of a Gun) have started elevating red-sauce Italian basics – pizzas, pastas, salads – much like their Trois Mec partner Ludovic Lefebvre did for French bistro classics at Petit Trois last year: amp them up with top-shelf ingredients and finely calibrated technique. Chef director Jon Favreau has already popped into the kitchen while Jimmy Kimmel and Kanye West have each sidled up to the host stand.
INSIDE DISH The Little Nats pizza – pepperoni, tomato, oregano, parmesan – is named after Shook’s two-year-old daughter Natalie with UnREAL star Shiri Appleby.
QUICK PITCH Right out of the gate the most ambitious and accomplished restaurant in Hollywood by a mile, TV chef Curtis Stone’s successor (with brother Luke) to the far tinier Maude in Beverly Hills is likewise tasting-menu-only. The five-course dinner in the modern-Deco dining room, which begins with a selection of housemade charcuterie, is anchored by what’s broken down at their adjacent custom-and-cut butcher shop (lamb, duck) and then cooked multiple ways. Ben Aviram, previously at The French Laundry and Alinea, runs the wine program.
INSIDE DISH Gwen, like Maude, is named after Stone’s grandmother.
QUICK PITCH A dozen summers after Amanda Scheer Demme briefly turned the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel's David Hockney-painted pool into the hottest place in town with Tropicana Bar, an adjacent cabana suite has been converted into this instant bold-faced-name magnet – a 35-seat wine and oyster bar that melds Malibu and Antibes. Kristen Stewart and Stella Maxwell can be found slurping an array of bivalves steps from the likes of Brett Ratner and Jeremy Scott as vintage Elvis Costello songs cycle through the playlist. There's cold fried chicken wings and mini lobster rolls.
INSIDE DISH Ask for seconds of the delicious complimentary candied bacon.
QUICK PITCH Power dining nexus Toscana's spiritual sequel has arrived at the edge of Beverly Hills, across from the Beverly Hilton and a doable walk from Century City. Co-owner Andy Brandon-Gordon conjures the Amalfi Coast in a refined, intimate modernist dining room, leaning hard on a staff pulled from his father Michael Gordon’s pedigreed Brentwood restaurant. The grilled crostino with Apulian burrata and Santa Barbara uni can’t be beat.
INSIDE DISH The deal-making gang's all here (Harry Sloan, Ken Ziffren, Steve Tisch) every night. Meanwhile, the upstarts are flirting upstairs in the cocktail lounge.
QUICK PITCH The TAO Group, known for its glitzy operations in Manhattan and Vegas, brings one of its gild-the-lily concepts to Hollywood's Cahuenga Corridor with this bacchanalian 10,000-square-foot club-staurant heavy on poke tacos, bone-in ribeye steaks and a whole lot of champagne. Chef-partner Chris Santos’s postmodern polyglot fusion cuisine aims to crowd-please. (Think grilled cheese and tomato soup dumplings, or Mexican street corn ravioli.)
INSIDE DISH It's 2017 and we're still in the grip of the fetish-fad for faux-speakeasy entrances, so you'll be arriving through an ersatz pawn shop in an alley off Selma Ave.
QUICK PITCH A pair of vets from Animal have made off with some of that pioneering late-aughties restaurant's inventive creative energy and neighborhood-establishing vibe as they help fellow newbies Horse's Mouth and Terra Cotta transform western Koreatown into a white-hot dining destination. Expect to find the unabashed New Fusion on display (and an Animal-style no-modifications-and-substitutions policy): stracciatella cheese in league with yuzu kosho, blood mole paired with Asian pear.
INSIDE DISH Nope, the restaurant's oddball name isn't a reference to Casablanca. Co-owner Lien Ta swiped the expression from an old greeting card she saw.
QUICK PITCH Prolific L.A. restaurateur Stephane Bombet (Faith & Flower, Hanjip) has pivoted his indoor-outdoor Cali-French brasserie Terrine into this elegantly by-the-book Italian spot that recalls the Beverly Grove address’ years-ago industry prominence as Pane e Vino. (The twinkle-lit rear patio is in full effect.) New York chef Scott Conant is in charge of the kitchen, which means his pasta al pomodoro – the cult favorite at his shuttered Scarpetta at the Montage – is back.
INSIDE DISH Italy’s romance with the after-dinner digestif amaro manifests itself in bar program director Ryan Wainwright’s nearly 70 offerings of bitters, including a variety of rare and vintage bottles.
QUICK PITCH Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson, Brooklyn transplants (they made their names at Glasserie) who first opened the new-school falafel stand Madcapra at the revivified Grand Central Market, have stepped up their game with this avant-garde Mediterranean mash-up in Los Feliz. The Instagram force is strong with this one. (That jewel-box white-on-light dining room helps.) Romantic, layered dishes incorporating shaved Kohlrabi, Persian cucumbers and labneh target everyone with a well-worn copy of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sam Tamimi's Jerusalem cookbook.
INSIDE DISH Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, responsible for several other restaurants currently on this list, are management partners in the endeavor.
QUICK PITCH Candace Nelson and her husband Charles, the husband-and-wife duo behind Sprinkles Cupcakes, have turned their attention to pies – the savory kind – in Brentwood. Naples-born chef Daniele Uditi specializes in neo-Neopolitan thin-crusts, utilizing his unique "slow dough" fermented for two days. (Order the Amatriciana with crispy prosciutto crudo.) The menu’s secret star, though, is the artichoke starter: charred sliced hearts covered in fried leaves, toasted pine nuts, parmigiana and lemon citronette.
INSIDE DISH Pizzana arose out of Sunday night dinners at the home of actor Chris O'Donnell, now a partner. The Nelsons were guests and Uditi was in charge of the backyard pizza oven.
QUICK PITCH Prominent Baja California chef Diego Hernandez, whose Corazon de Tierra has spent several years on the prestigious World's 50 Best list, brings his distinct modernist Mexican cuisine to the U.S. on a lushly atmospheric patio in West Hollywood. Smoke and ashes swirl through a menu marked by tamales with sorrel juice, chochoyotes with pickled pig trotter and whole baby beetroot with hibiscus powder. Aaron Melendrez, previously at the more casual Salazar across town, heads up the similarly ambitious cocktail program.
INSIDE DISH Verlaine replaces the resurrected Dominick's, which had been financed and frequented by Frank Sinatra in its original incarnation.
QUICK PITCH Evan Funke, who made his name with a porchetta truck, then polished it with Culver City's short-lived if acclaimed Bucato, has taken over the longtime Joe's in Venice. The exactingly handmade pastas are the kitchen's focus, drawing a fizzy crowd with a zeal last seen when Gjelina opened up the street nearly a decade ago. A not-so-secret stunner is the focaccia siciliana with sea salt and rosemary.
INSIDE DISH The chef's father is Alex Funke, the veteran, Oscar-winning special effects director of photography best known for his work on The Lord of the Rings.
QUICK PITCH Two decades after opening at Donald Trump's Central Park property, legendary Manhattan chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten has bowed a West Coast mirror of the original at the newly debuted Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills. Expect high ceilings in the main dining room and serious space between tables to discourage eavesdropping on fellow diners conducting business, like Jimmy Iovine gabbing with Dr. Dre. The urban-resort comfort cuisine – black truffle pizza, organic chicken with shishito peppers, sesame-crusted salmon – is plated to stun.
INSIDE DISH Of course it's expensive, but still: prepare for sticker shock on the iced tea, which is $9.
QUICK PITCH This Israel-by-way-of-California concept has been envisioned by Tel Aviv native restaurateur Elad Zvi and partner Gabriel Orta, along with local chef Alex Chang, an alum of Animal. Joining L.A.'s ascendant Middle Eastern remix wave, the restaurant offers lamb kebabs with stuffed poblano chili and blue crab fried rice. But the focus should be on the sharp small-dish starters, like a chicken liver and foie gras mousse with tangerine jam and fermented date honey.
INSIDE DISH The lively restaurant's name is derived from the 12-story Commercial Exchange neon blade sign that hangs above it. It's one of the largest in town.