Welcome these newcomers to 2019’s 101 Best Restaurants in Los Angeles list
Harissa-slicked spot prawns at Angler.(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)
Nearly a quarter of the 2019 edition of 101 Best Restaurants in L.A. are newcomers. Many — but not all of them — reflect reviews of newer restaurants published over the last year by Times critics Bill Addison and Patricia Escárcega, who researched and wrote the list. This roster of 22 first-timers is presented alphabetically; to see where each restaurant placed in the ranked listing, check out the full 101 guide.
Alta Adams (54)
Keith Corbin, a native of Watts, calls his cooking “California soul food.” It’s his way of honoring the African American cooking of the interior South that traveled to other regions of the country, most notably during the Great Migration, while also owning his instincts to innovate and lighten. His oxtails are wonderful, braised in a liquid zapped with miso and soy and served with rice to catch all the goodness. The restaurant, a partnership with Bay Area chef and restaurateur Daniel Patterson, has an adjoining coffee shop; it’s a great place to work and the Cobb salad makes an excellent lunch. — B.A.
5359 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 571-4999, altaadams.com
Angler rates as one of the most bravura seafood restaurants to open in Los Angeles this decade. Also, the place is a trip. The setting — taxidermy, stacks of wood, aquariums with sea creatures awaiting their fate — creates a distinct mood: fishing lodge by way of David Lynch. Beyond the fire-kissed seafood options, splurge on the tableside caviar service, during which a staffer spreads the roe over banana pancakes dripping butter infused with barbecued banana peels. It’s a ridiculous, miraculous thing to eat. — B.A.
8500 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (424) 332-4082, anglerrestaurants.com
rria made from carne de pierna de res (round steak); and first-rate chicharrón en salsa verde. The restaurant’s platillo especial is a modern-day classic: two beef birria burritos in chile verde pork sauce, sealed with a glossy mantle of baked-in melted cheese. This is essential L.A. food. — P.I.E.
5120 N. Peck Road, El Monte, (626) 350-8286 (and other locations), burritoslapalma.net
Chaak Kitchen (64)
At her sleek Old Town Tustin restaurant, chef Gabbi Patrick pays homage to her family’s Yucatecan heritage with time-intensive interpretations of the region’s revered dishes. Banana-leaf-wrapped cochinita pibil, smoked over red oak for 11 hours, is intensely succulent. Seekers of flavor at full throttle will want to sample the restaurant’s charred habanero salsa, a dense, ink-black, devastatingly spicy substance that may haunt your palate for days. — P.I.E.
215 El Camino Real, Tustin, (657) 699-3019, chaakkitchen.com
Dear John’s (93)
Actor Johnny Harlowe opened Dear John’s in 1962 under the advisement of his pal Frank Sinatra, or so the story goes. In April 2021 the building will be razed to make way for a new development. Meanwhile, three accomplished new owners — chefs Josiah Citrin and Hans Röckenwagner and entertainment executive Patti Röckenwagner — are throwing the place an extended farewell. For a time-capsule romp featuring tuxedoed servers, heavy-pour martinis and continental cooking that’s far better than it needs to be, this is a party worth attending. — B.A.
11208 Culver Blvd., Culver City, (310) 881-9288, dearjohnsbar.com
La Diosa de los Moles (56)
Rocío Camacho is the undisputed mole whisperer of Los Angeles. She cooks all the dense, complex mother sauces you would expect from a top Mexican kitchen: a complicated, ink-black mole oaxaqueño; a sweet, viscous mole poblano; and a mild and nutty mole verde. Camacho’s signature dish is la cuchara, wild salmon bathed in a “manchamanteles” (tablecloth stainer) mole. The mole fiesta plate showcases many of Camacho’s most distinct moles. On the weekends the restaurant hosts a Mexican brunch to end all Mexican brunches. — P.I.E.
8335 Rosecrans Ave., Paramount, (562) 740-8710, ladiosadelosmolesinc.com
You don’t need hummus to eat well at Hasiba. There’s a satisfying shakshuka on the menu, along with a crisp falafel sandwich. You’ll probably want to snack on the drippy, delicious mess that is the warm, overfilled Israeli street sandwich known as a sabich. But Hasiba is a counter-service restaurant patterned after Israel’s neighborhood hummusiyas, or quick-service hummus shops. So you are here for the hummus, especially the wild mushroom hummus, which is bolstered by a garlicky slash of Moroccan chermoula. — P.I.E.
8532 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (424) 302-0225, hasibarestaurant.com
The latest world-class dining experience in Los Angeles is a signless, seven-seat restaurant, all but anonymous among the concrete gorges of the Row DTLA complex. Brandon Hayato Go pulls inspiration from the canonical structure of kaiseki, emphasizing a blur of different cooking techniques (fried, simmered, grilled and so on); he also takes exhilarating liberties with the form. — B.A.
1320 E. 7th St., Los Angeles, (213) 395-0607, hayatorestaurant.com
The Taiwanese menu at this Highland Park treasure is remarkable in its concision and its enormous appeal: a few soups and bowls of noodles, a handful of rice dishes, half a dozen riffs on sandwiches. Take a moment before ordering to study the cold appetizers in the case near the counter. You might see wood ear mushrooms, curled and inky; bamboo shoots, resembling a jumbled pile of woodwind reeds; pig ears, sliced into squiggles; and crunchy-soft braised peanuts. With most dishes priced under $10 and a tirelessly cheerful staff, the place is a 2019 archetype of an open-hearted neighborhood restaurant. — B.A.
5100 York Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 999-7642, joyonyork.com
Come in the morning or early afternoon to Akira Akuto and Nick Montgomery’s 10-seat Echo Park cafe and marvel at its precision constructions modeled after Tokyo convenience store sandos, with fillings of pork or eggplant katsu with the sheerest crusts, or the fluffy strata of a dashi-seasoned omelet. Croissants and canelés are baked in small quantities; there is probably no better pain au chocolat on the West Coast. — B.A.
1463 Sunset Blvd., (213) 278-0007, konbila.com
Northern Thai Food Club (37)
To understand what splendidly sets apart “Nancy” Amphai Dunne’s 12-seat Thai Town restaurant, meet her at the steam table. The steel barge is a transporter to her native Chiang Rai, Thailand’s northernmost province. She’s constantly tending intricate, brothy stews such as gaeng hung lay, a pork belly curry animated by chiles, sour-sweet tamarind and the zap of julienned ginger. Anyone invested in the ecology of L.A.’s Thai dining landscape should put Dunne’s tiny storefront on their itinerary right this minute. — B.A.
301 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 474-7212
The cooking at Mei Lin’s debut restaurant in the Arts District is driven as much by ideas as ingredients. Her signature dish is probably the mapo tofu lasagna, a slinky block of egg noodles layered with Sichuan peppercorn ragù and tofu cream. But try the Sichuan hot quail, a brilliantly spicy dish that reckons with the local obsession with Howlin’ Ray’s and the numbing properties of Sichuan peppercorns. Her congee is a thick, molten swirl of XO sauce, pork floss, crisped-up scallions and egg. It may be the most satisfying dish in the house. — P.I.E.
923 E. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (213) 626-8888, nightshadela.com
Daniele Uditi is one of the city’s most accomplished pizza maestros. His neo-Margherita is as much of a statement of intent as it is delicious sustenance: bready, tangy crust; San Marzano tomatoes simmered down to their essence; and melted dollops of fior di latte mozzarella, with a finishing sprinkle of basil-infused bread crumbs. Other pizzas (spicy arrabbiata, porky amatriciana, creamy carbonara) pull cleverly from the pasta lexicon: cacio e pepe, as in its noodle form, is hardest to resist. — B.A.
11712 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 481-7108; also at 60 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 657-4662; pizzana.com
Playa Amor (59)
At Playa Amor, Thomas Ortega’s beachy, marina-adjacent restaurant in Long Beach, Ortega goes full-bore into his brand of Chicano “pocho” cooking. He makes poutine dolloped with black mole; pasta is tossed in a New Mexico Hatch green chile sauce; and lobster is roasted with clarified butter and served with fresh pico de gallo, Puerto Nuevo-style. Short ribs are justly popular, cooked until they collapse into a fragrant, musky birria. — P.I.E.
6527 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 430-2667, playaamorlb.com
Spoon by H (62)
In the tiny kitchen of her Beverly Boulevard café, Yoonjin Hwang builds kinetic, color-blasted sculptures from cut fruits and shaved ice. She pulls extra-crisp rice flour waffles, ornamented with berries, caramelized bananas and Nutella, out of the breakfast space and into the treat zone. Hwang really sets herself apart, though, with the restaurant’s savory dishes, particularly her interpretation of tteok mandu guk, rice cake and pork dumpling soup. — B.A.
7158 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 930-0789, spoonbyh.com
Taste of Tehran (34)
Seek out Saghar Fanisalek’s six-table restaurant hidden among Westwood’s throngs of Iranian American cafes and markets. Her menu dabbles in modernist concoctions such as spiced lentil-quinoa salad with raisins and dates, but the heart of her cooking lands squarely in tradition: kebabs (the koobideh kebab is particularly masterly), rice and dips, all prepared with exacting finesse. — B.A.
1915 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 470-0022, tasteoftehran.com
X’tiosu Kitchen (87)
Oaxacan-born brothers Felipe and Ignacio Santiago spent years working in local Lebanese kitchens, and they bring that experience to their baby-blue storefront in Boyle Heights, where they cook Oaxacan-inflected, Lebanese-inspired dishes. The menu at X’tiosu (pronounced “sh-tee-oh-sue,” it means “thank you” in Zapotec) yields various marvels: ruddy, delicately spiced house-made chorizo kebabs; black bean hummus punched up with cayenne pepper; crisp falafel that eschews chickpeas and fava beans in favor of black beans, garlic and cilantro. — P.I.E.
923 Forest Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 526-8844, xtiosu-kitchen.business.site
Yours Truly (70)
In many ways, the avocado hummus at Yours Truly is the perfect California dish. The satiny blend of avocado — spliced with tahini, poblano chiles and yuzu — revels in easygoing multiculturalism. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s delicious. Chef Vartan Abgaryan is fond of Middle Eastern spice blends, Japanese seafood, Mexican peppers and Italian cheeses; sometimes you find them all on the same plate. — P.I.E.
1616 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 396-9333, ytvenice.com