Where Hollywood Eats: L.A.'s 20 Hottest Restaurants Right Now (May 2018)

6:00 AM 5/16/2018

by Gary Baum

THR ranks the town's buzziest dining spots — from Majordomo to 189 by Dominique Ansel — for the month of May.

Tuck Restaurant
Tuck Restaurant
Courtesy of Emi Kitawaki

Though few things are more fickle than the entertainment business, the foodie-focused dining scene that serves it surely fits the bill. 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 May, say hello to Petit Trois Le Valley, Crustacean and Somni. Rosaline, Tintorera and The Hearth & Hound 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.

  1. 20
    20

    189 by Dominique Ansel

    189 The Grove Dr. (Last month: No. 17)

    Courtesy of Netfli Jakob N. Layman

    QUICK PITCH Dominique Ansel, Manhattan's pastry prince of the social media age, has opened a 10,000-square-foot, two-story restaurant at The Grove. Yes, there's his trademarked Cronuts. Yes, there's his rendition of kouign-amann. Yes, there's his rather frisky, hey-we're-in-L.A.-now menu options like sweet corn "elotes" milk bread. And yes, the interiors will look great on your Instagram.

    INSIDE DISH Executive chef Hyun Lee previously worked at the acclaimed Bazaar by Jose Andres.

  2. 19
    20

    Triple Beam Pizza

    5918 N. Figueroa (Last month: No. 8)

    Courtesy of Dustin Rasmussen

    QUICK PITCH L.A.’s sainted dough dame Nancy Silverton (Mozza, La Brea Bakery) is at it again, this time heading to the Eastside with Silverlake Wine owner Randy Clement and Everson Royce Bar chef Matt Molina on a pay-by-the-ounce, Roman-style pizza concept in Highland Park. Ruth Reichl has already stopped in, ordering the nettle and borage pie.

    INSIDE DISH Molina made his name working under Silverton as the executive chef at both Osteria and Pizzeria Mozza.

  3. 18
    20

    The Exchange

    416 W. 8th St. (Last month: No. 16)

    Courtesy of Adrian Gaut

    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.

  4. 17
    20

    Vespertine

    3599 Hayden Ave. (Last month: No. 14)

    Courtesy of Vespertine

    QUICK PITCH Pedigreed 34-year-old chef Jordan Kahn, late of Beverly Hills’ shuttered Red Medicine, helms this high-concept tasting menu experience in a postindustrial tract of Culver City. A meal can easily run $500 per person. Expect culinary oddities like crystalline ice plant with lime mist presented on or in minimalist ceramic sculptured dishware whose baffling forms call to mind well-meaning and unreturnable house gifts from the aliens in Arrival.

    INSIDE DISH The atmospheric instrumental score, which suffuses a doomy gloom, is a custom sequence by the same composers who provided music for World War Z.

  5. 16
    20

    Best Girl

    927 S. Broadway (Last month: No. 12)

    Courtesy of Spencer Lowell

    QUICK PITCH Michael Cimarusti (Providence, Connie and Ted's) returns to downtown L.A. for the first time since his days in the kitchen at Water Grill with a confident takeover of the Ace Hotel's previously lackluster all-day lobby restaurant. The acclaimed seafood chef leans landward here. Still, the menu's crab cake is unsurprisingly outstanding.

    INSIDE DISH The spot's been rechristened after the Mary Pickford film My Best Girl, which premiered 90 years ago at the historic United Artists Theatre next door.

  6. 15
    20

    Dialogue

    1315 3rd St. Promenade (Last month: No. 13)

    Lisa Aileen Dragani

    QUICK PITCH Forget back alleys, private homes, decrepit warehouses and tents in the wilderness. For many snooty Angelenos, the most mind-boggling place to come upon exquisite, elaborate tasting menu fine dining — the molecular gastronomy kind — would be along Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade. And that's just where chef Dave Beran, who spent a decade at Chicago's esteemed Alinea and Next, has opened this tiny, reserve-long-in-advance stunner.

    INSIDE DISH Yes, you're paying hundreds of dollars per person to eat at a mall, but you're no mall rat. There's a special passcode to keep out the riffraff.

  7. 14
    20

    The Henry

    120 Robertson Blvd. (Last month: No. 11)

    Courtesy of Elizabeth Daniels Photography

    QUICK PITCH Sam Fox, the national restaurateur behind True Food Kitchen, has taken over the former Newsroom on Robertson Blvd. with an accessible, vegan-friendly concept similar to its predecessor. (There’s also a wall of magazines as an apparent homage.) The asparagus Caesar with Little Gem romaine and toasted torn bread is destined to be the go-to order.

    INSIDE DISH The restaurant’s opening is part of a larger overhaul of the midcentury Robertson Plaza, including the additions of Blue Bottle Coffee and the cocktail bar Bibo Ergo Sum.

  8. 13
    20

    Kismet

    4648 Hollywood Blvd. (Last month: No. 15)

    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.

  9. 12
    20

    Jaffa

    8048 W. 3rd St. (Last month: No. 10)

    Courtesy of Nicole Iizuka

    QUICK PITCH The vogue in New Israeli cuisine hits Beverly Glove at this high-spirited ode to the revived port town adjoining Tel Aviv. Chef Anne Conness doles out Niman Ranch lamb couscous and turmeric pickles. The place’s essence can be found in its desserts, especially the poppy-and-almond frangipane hamantaschen. 

    INSIDE DISH Aly Iwamoto, previously of the acclaimed downtown mixology mecca The Varnish, is responsible for a cocktail program notably as inventive in its non-alcoholic options as its liquored libations.

  10. 11
    20

    Pizzana

    11712 San Vicente Blvd. (Last month: No. 9)

    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.

  11. 10
    20

    Inko Nito

    225-227 S. Garey St. (Last month: No. 6)

    Courtesy of Frank Lee

    QUICK PITCH A Japanese robatayaki concept lands in downtown L.A.’s Arts District. The austere, high-ceilinged space is sexy. But first-daters beware: Many key offerings (like corn on the cob covered in smoked chili butter) aren’t dainty. Save room for the charred coconut soft serve presented with green tea Pocky.

    INSIDE DISH Arjun Waney, the Indian business mogul behind Inko Nito, launched his international chain of fashionable Zuma restaurants serving Japanese cuisine after he couldn’t get a table at London’s Nobu.

  12. 9
    20

    Freedman's

    2619 Sunset Blvd (Last month: No. 7)

    Courtesy Photo

    QUICK PITCH A new-school Jewish deli with a Kinfolk subscription, this pretty tucked-away spot in an otherwise grotty Silver Lake strip mall is a particular lure for Eastside-leaning members of the tribe who believe the epitome of the Chosen People are the ladies of Haim and the Pfeffermans on Transparent.

    INSIDE DISH There’s newfangled offerings (whitefish “cigars,” trout roe popovers) but the whole multi-generational mishpachah will agree on the arch-traditionalist matzoh ball soup — served in a Pyrex bowl, for full homey-nostalgic effect — and guava cheesecake.

  13. 8
    20

    Felix

    1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd. (Last month: No. 5)

    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.

  14. 7
    20

    The NoMad's Mezzanine

    649 S. Olive St. (Last month: No. 2)

    Courtesy of Benoit Linero

    QUICK PITCH Daniel Humm and Will Guidara (of NYC’s officially designated “World’s Best Restaurant” Eleven Madison Park) are responsible for all of the dining options at the new downtown L.A. outpost of the stylish NoMad Hotel. Fanciest fare is at the Mezzanine, where for $98 guests can try the duo’s signature black truffle roast chicken for two with brioche stuffing.

    INSIDE DISH Clearly intent on attaining a certain social stratum in town, the hotel poached Phil Pavel as its managing director after a two-decade stint as the well-connected, celebrity-mingling prince of the Chateau Marmont.

  15. 6
    20

    Rossoblu

    1124 San Julian St. (Last month: No. 4)

    Courtesy of Ed Anderson

    QUICK PITCH Bestia’s in the Arts District. Drago Centro’s in the Financial District. Now chef Steve Samson — who made his mark with Sotto — has bowed his own Italian valentine, postmarked from Bologna, in another downtown L.A. quarter, this one a freshly gentrifying southeastern warehouse corridor. Handmade pastas and meats butchered in-house (order the Ilario’s Grigliata, with its belly-on pork chop) arrive in a big booming room.

    INSIDE DISH Rossoblu’s new upstairs neighbor is the production company of Joe and Anthony Russo, the blockbuster-directing brothers whose next project is Avengers: Infinity War.

  16. 5
    20

    Viale dei Romani

    627 N. La Peer Dr. (Last month: No. 3)

    Courtesy of Antonio Diaz

    QUICK PITCH West Hollywood’s new Kimpton La Peer hotel has put Cecconi’s on notice with this similarly stylish and buoyant coastal Italian dining room engineered for the urges of its high-powered patrons. Chef Casey Lane of Venice’s well-regarded The Tasting Kitchen is responsible for the menu, sending out an often lemon-accented array of pastas, crudos, salads and pizzas.

    INSIDE DISH Busy Lane, a James Beard Award nominee, is also behind the Catalan-leaning Breva, which recently bowed at the revamped Hotel Figueroa in downtown L.A.

  17. 4
    20

    Somni

    465 S. La Cienega Blvd. (New to the list)

    Courtesy Photo

    QUICK PITCH A decade after Jose Andres opened The Bazaar at the SLS Beverly Hills, he’s rechristened the experimental Saam — his tasting-menu-only restaurant-within-a-restaurant — as Somni. Basque chef Aitor Zabala, an Andres disciple who’s helped his boss teach a cooking course at Harvard, is in charge. (Zabala’s also worked under Ferran Adria at El Bulli.) Expect ultra-modernist interpretations of everything from tomato bread to mocha rice pudding.

    INSIDE DISH The striking animal head sculptures at Somni are by the noted Spanish pop surrealist artist Okuda San Miguel.

  18. 3
    20

    Crustacean

    9646 S. Santa Monica Blvd. (New to the list)

    Courtesy of Wonho Frank Lee

    QUICK PITCH Helene An’s two-decade-old Vietnamese cuisine showcase in Beverly Hills is abuzz again after a $10 million renovation and a relaunch marked by its hosting of Women In Film’s pre-Oscar party. Chef Tony Nguyen displays an imaginative levity — think: tuna “cigars” featuring tobiko caviar at their tips — but also plays the hits. (Don’t worry, the legendary garlic noodles and out-of-shell crab dish is still available.)

    INSIDE DISH An is set to open a separate upstairs restaurant, Da Lat Rose (named in homage to a provincial Vietnamese town), this fall.

  19. 2
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    Petit Trois Le Valley

    13705 Ventura Blvd. (New to the list)

    Courtesy of Lucy Lean

    QUICK PITCH The impossibly tiny Highland Ave. location of Ludo Lefebvre’s loving homage to both the fare and fanfare of traditional French bistros has been a magnet for the likes of Jimmy Kimmel and Jeffrey Katzenberg since it opened in 2014. Now the chef has opened a far larger edition a baguette’s toss from his Sherman Oaks home. It boasts a comparatively expansive menu, including a killer trout almondine.

    INSIDE DISH If all goes well, the space next door may become a Petit Trois bakery and market.

  20. 1
    20

    Majordomo

    1725 Naud St. (Last month: No. 1)

    Rachel Murray/Getty Images

    QUICK PITCH David Chang, the man behind the global Momofuku empire and Netflix’s new doc series Ugly Delicious, has elected to open a concept indigenous to L.A. — unlike many Manhattan chefs who simply seek to play their hits for the local audience. His in-your-face yet highly technical cooking is in dialogue with the hardcore flavors of the nearby Koreatown scene.

    INSIDE DISH Brian Grazer, Jon Favreau and Nick Kroll are early arrivals. Bill Simmons can’t stop ordering the smoked bone-in short ribs.

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