AFM: Where to Eat

Courtesy of Alen Lin
Water Grill

Refuel after a day of dealmaking at these hot new Westside dining spots.

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's November AFM stand-alone issue.

There's no need to indulge in repeats when it comes to dining out during AFM. Check out these half-dozen key new restaurants along the coast that have opened since last year's event.

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At this cozy manifestation of the farm-to-table moment, chef Jesse Barber, who previously worked at the nearby Tasting Kitchen, focuses on low-key simplicity, from brown-butter-and-squash turnovers and braised octopus with chickpeas to precisely plated crudo presentations. The restaurant is just a few blocks from the scenic Venice Canals, so walk off the meal there.

Must orders: Grilled bread, pea tendrils with chicken heart.

1715 Pacific Ave., Venice, 310-581-1015

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L.A.'s lately been on a new-school seafood-shack kick, and this sun-kissed ode to the life aquatic — with its white Carrara marble tables and exposed beams — befits the Venice neighborhood. Restaurateur David Reiss, who went fishy at the well-received Littlefork in Hollywood, has brought in Greg Daniels (a former executive sous chef at Jean-Georges in Manhattan) to run the kitchen.

Must orders: Fish skin chips, the whole fish entree.

1616 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, 310-396-9333

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Decorated in a modernist-masculine style, all antlers and leather-backed chairs against austere lines, this tapas hall marries Iberian flavors with California market ingredients. Expect multiple paellas and a slew of sangrias, plus dishes like squid ink pasta with petit Basque cheese and Majorcan stew featuring monkfish and prawns.

Must orders: Fava bean toast with burrata, crispy pig ears with harissa aioli.

1403 2nd St., Santa Monica, 310-393-3663

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Producer Michael LaFetra and top entertainment attorney Joel McKuin back this rambling, courtyard-starring coastal outpost of L.A.'s midcity original. It's known for its fresh take on Cal-Mex staples, such as espresso-laced "dirty" horchata, and La Super-Rica Taqueria-inspired renditions of tacos. The cocktail list, of the handcrafted bent, is similarly forward-thinking.

Must orders: Grilled sweet corn elote, pastrami quesadillas.

522 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-451-9341

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Downtown's grande dame of seafood, which has produced L.A.'s most acclaimed aquatic-minded chefs — from Michael Cimarusti of Providence to David LeFevre of Fishing With Dynamite — has sprung a second location just off the beach, with a decor that gilds traditional wharf-minded visual cues with plush elan. It's the rare L.A. restaurant with direct Pacific views and excellent food.

Must orders: Cover-the-waterfront shellfish platter, uni toast.

1401 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, 310-394-5669

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Traditional Southern low country cuisine, with its traces of Caribbean, African and Cajun flavors, is imbued with a distinctly Southern Californian light-and-bright flair at this elegant, shotgun-narrow space along the Abbot Kinney corridor. Chef Govind Armstrong (an Oprah Winfrey favorite) sources many of his vegetables from a garden next door.

Must orders: Shrimp and grits, sweet-tea-brined pork chop.

1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, 310-392-2425