- The Ponte – Same beautiful patio (R.I.P. Pane e vino, Sirena, Terrine) . From the team that brought you Scarpetta’s plate scraping deliciousness, another solid Italian addition to the neighborhood.
- Commerson - Industrial vibes + open flame, fish-forward menu at this new La Brea spot. A little ahead of its time for the area, but when the new metro gets built, expect the traffic to pick up. Sit Chef’s table and watch the charcoal sparks fly.
- Odys + Penelope – Beautiful dining room, open wood-fire pumping out creatively grilled dishes. By Quinn and Karen Hatfield (of Sycamore Kitchen and formerly of Hatfield’s) – now also serving brunch!
- République – From Walter Manzke – the man who gave Church and State it’s joie de vivre – comes LA’s hotly anticipated République. She’s a cafe by day and sexy bistro by night, and Manzke’s wife, Margarita, is wholly responsible for the bakery’s mean assortment of desserts and pastries. Great for brunch.
- Petty Cash Taqueria – Trendy but casual, serving untraditional Mexican food. Bueno for drinks and an appetizer. It’s mostly about the tequila.
- Goldie’s – From Nick Mathers of Eveleigh, comes this seasonal eatery, good for any meal, including brunch, and single men in suits, at the bar. They’ve got their cocktails going for them.
- Gusto – Your other, other go-to Italian restaurant. Library feel, good food, you just never think of it. (Expanding soon to the old PistoLA space).
- Izaka-ya by Katsu-ya – No different from your above-average LA sushi spot, but people fucking love this place. Spicy tuna sticky rice, albacore with crispy onion, baked crab hand roll… Blah, blah, blah.
- TART – A central spot located in the Farmer’s Daughter Hotel. Ideal for boozy brunches on a shady patio. Free brunch if you jump in the pool afterwards.
- Sushi by H – A paper napkin place, with fresh fish and exceptionally friendly staff. An affordable crown pleaser.
- Culina – It’s Four Seasons locale makes it convenient for fancy out-of-towners. Don’t miss the upstairs patio. Old Bosses like this place. Especially with their hookers.
- Joan’s on Third – Classic, easy lunch. Prepared food, coffees, pastries and a fun patio for people watching. Best thing on the menu is the short rib sandwich. The Dean and Deluca of LA.
- Sycamore Kitchen – Breakfast or lunch spot with a prepared menu and large patio. Good for a quick meeting, with or without your dog.
- Ray’s and Stark Bar – LACMA dining… Indoor or (preferably) outdoor seating. Great post museum event or reading. New American, from pizza to house-made spaghetti topped with uni and roe.
- Escuela Taqueria – Great for tacos and guacamole. BYOB. No reservations, but there is one large round table that can be reserved for 8-12 people. Get there by 7pm on a weekday for no wait.
- El Chato / Taco’s Leo – If Boss ever calls at 2:00am looking for drunk eats (God forbid), direct the sauced bastard to El Chato or Taco’s Leo around the corner – the only two taco trucks to make the list. Recommend the Al Pastor burrito and go back to sleep.
- Canters – Classic Jewish deli. Open 24/7, 365. Where to get some chicken soup if Boss isn’t feeling well.
TRIED AND TRUE
- Animal – A highly influential restaurant in LA. Veal brains, beef hearts, and pig’s ears never tasted so good. Exploratory carnivores only. Order the marrow bone. You can’t go here enough. Now serving brunch!
- Son of a Gun – From the guys behind Animal comes this powerful little seafood restaurant. The lobster roll is killer. As is the shrimp toast… and the chicken sandwich… and the oysters. Fuck it, everything is great. Make a reservation.
- Angelini Osteria – An institution. Unbeatable spinach lasagna. One of the top Italian places in the city. A cozy favorite of many, including the mayor. You really can’t go wrong.
- Sugarfish – Nozawa’s gourmet, fast-food sushi. Trust me. Locations all over LA.
- A.O.C. Wine Bar – Elegant French/Spanish tapas. Incredible, locally sourced wine list. One of the best patios in LA.
- Beaty & Essex – Located in Hollywood’s new Cahuenga drag next to Avenue, Tao and the Dream Hotel, your New York millionaire friends will feel right at home, surrounded by struggling actresses and models. Not one person who has eaten here can remember what the food tasted like.
- Baroo – Hailed as one of the best holes in the wall of 2016, this tiny gem is serving Michelin caliber, flavor packed Korean fusion. Super casual, super fine dining – possibly the future of LA cuisine.
- Birch – Sweet little new American restaurant. Fresh market cooking, minimalist vibe. Spills out onto the street. Whole fried snapper and rabbit baklava.
- Rao’s – An East-Harlem transplant in Hollywood serving Italian food with an old school New York vibe.
- Cleo – Loud + yummy Mediterranean fare if you need somewhere up on Vine. From the swanky SBE restaurant group (Katsuya / Mercato di Vetro / Tres / The Bazaar).
- Yamashiro – Panoramic views of LA, cheesy but experiential for eager tourist-clients.
- Franco on Melrose – Unassuming on the outside, delicious authentic Italian on the inside. Feels a bit like Goodfellas in LA. BYOB and a clutch $5.00 corkage fee.
- The Pikey – Pubby, dim, atmospheric. A masculine, straight-man pleaser.
- Pace – Tucked away, atmospherically perfect, especially for a date. A little Italian grotto. Flirt with Che on the phone for a better table.
- Hungry Cat – Unassuming location, cracking seafood (start with oysters), memorable cocktails. The lobster rolls are buttery, fresh, and straight out of your New England dream vacation. Random fact: renowned for having one of the top burgers in the US.
- Trails Cafe – A lesser-known cafe located at the base of Griffith Park. Not an everyday spot, but a great pre or post-hike recommendation, for when Boss has some decompressing to do.
- Jitlada Thai – Authentically Thai, for when you’re feeling the need to remind yourself that wonderful diversity still exists in the LA food scene. Beware, shit’s spicy. Must get: spicy jungle curry. Paru’s Indian Vegetarian Restaurant – Authentic, divey, fun. Don’t forget to order a chai. One of my favorite spots to surprise adventurous people with.
- Cafe Gratitude – Strictly vegan; for the hippie Boss or client. (Now with second location in Beverly Hills)
TRIED AND TRUE
- Pizzeria Mozza – Where Boss can act like an adult and eat like a kid again. Solid wine list. Unconventional “fancy” pizza, but they still nail it.
- Chi Spacca – Mozza’s Italian offspring is a tough ticket, but walk-ins sit around the open-kitchen bar. Bone marrow pie, truffle flatbread, Bistecca Fiorentina ($210, try both cuts, instant heart attack). Aka, don’t bring your vegetarian girlfriend here.
- Salt’s Cure – Quality meats smoked in an open kitchen aka meatlovers’ paradise. Bonkers brunch. Brand new bigger location on Highland (in Ammo’s old spot) as it becomes one of the city’s most consistent neighborhood restaurants.
- Providence – The most serious seafood restaurant in LA. Reflective prices.
- Bar Marmont – Get in for ‘Oysters at Cost Mondays’. Oysters between $1 and $1.30 a shell all night.
- Musso & Frank Grill – The celebrities are as old as the spot (and Musso’s is Hollywood’s oldest restaurant). No frills waiters serve the type of food your grandparents ate, paired with martinis you can get down with. Great sightseeing for out-of-towners.
- Trois Mec –It may look like an unmarked pizza shack, but it’s actually Ludo Lefebvre’s first permanent spot. Get your ass up at 8am on a Friday to buy dinner tickets online for Boss. It’s the only way in and well worth it. LA’s Holy chef trinity (Ludo + Jon and Vinny).
- Petit Trois – Ludo Lefebvre’s sister spot and casual next-door neighbor to Trois Mec. Vibey French bistro, fantastic cocktails and fun bar seating for lunch or dinner. No reservations, so best to go early or late. Still, easier to get into than Trois Mec. Famed for their velvety Boursin Omelet.
+ West Hollywood
- Norah – High design and décor from the floor to the high ceilings make for a great ambiance. Great for boss’ client’s new girlfriend to take Instagram selfies, good enough that you can actually eat dinner.
- Spartina – Rustic fine dining at this Italian inspired restaurant. Excellent, reasonable wine list, with several all-star dishes on the menu (fire roasted chicken, devil’s pizza, short rib ravioli, anything with lamb). Sit inside or out front on the patio.
- Wolf – Molecular gastronomy inspired chef cranks it down to fit the everyday eater, Shotgun layout provides for intimate dining.
- E.P.L.P – Anything with an outdoor patio is going to kill it in WeHo. Downstairs restaurant is missable, but the view upstairs is breathtaking. Worht it for a day or nighttime drink.
- Catch – Just like New York (literally, just full of people in town from New York). Hit or miss sushi, but you’ll be eating it next to Leonardo DiCaprio…so there’s that.
- Jon & Vinny’s — Simple Italian-American dishes (pizzas, pastas, meatballs), razor sharp execution. Sleek, hip minimalist ambiance. Open breakfast to dinner.
- Night + Market – Northern Thai street food and sister restaurant to Night + Market Silver Lake. Casual, quick, spicy, delicious and husband & wife run. No reservations but the wait is never killer. Pair dinner with a bottle of the Hofgut Falkenstein, because a good Riesling is spicy Thai food’s best friend. Order the fried off-menu chicken sandwich because it’s finger-licking good and what the owners eat in their off time.
- L’Assiette Steak Frites – Streak frites, sous-vide style (a method of cooking a steak, vacuum sealed, in airtight plastic bags in a water bath for longer than normal cooking times at an accurately regulated temperature that is equal to the desired ending temperature, in this case 135° F for 4-4 ½ hours).
- Connie & Ted’s – Lobster rolls, oysters, strawberry rhubarb pie, chowda’. A hardy seafood chalet that could possibly be heaven on earth for an east coast palate.
- Gracias Madre – Mexican vegan from the guys behind Cafe Gratitude. The difference? They serve alcohol – tequila and mezcal-based drinks by Jason Eisner (Drago Centro). A new hit.
- Petrossian Restaurant & Boutique – For the caviar lovers.
- Laurel Hardware – Great patio, seasonal and delicious plates, even better cocktails. Buddy-up to Cole, the unassuming guy in glasses behind the bar. His cocktails will knock your socks off.
- Crossroads – Trendy Vegan with impressive cocktails to level out any semblance of healthy eating.
- Plan Check Kitchen + Bar – Former Umami chef goes rogue to create his very own burger – many argue it’s the best in the city. Terrific cocktails to compliment comfort food. Locations on Sawtelle, Fairfax and Downtown.
- Bludso’s Bar & Que – Nothing fancy, just straight-up Texas-style BBQ. Tell Boss to bring a bib and prepare for melt-in-your-mouth brisket.
- Taste on Melrose – Consistently good food. Ideal for a weekend breakfast or brunch in WeHo if you’re sitting on the enclosed patio.
- Fleishiks – Eric Greenspan’s kosher sammy-shop on Beverly. Bubby and Zayde approve. Come hungry, roll out the door.
- Chateau Marmont – Old school Hollywood at its finest. Great patio, never without a recognizable face or two, good for making memories.
- Soho House – Exclusive, members-only dining. If Boss wants to apply for membership, advise he remove the tie (they don’t care for suits).
- Cecconi’s – Sceney, but for the right reasons. Sink into a bowl of pasta, admire the marble floors. Comfort Itali-Cali fare, always good. Tip: Boss eat there much? Mention half-off Monday’s – a perk of the “Friends of Cecconi’s” membership.
- Ago – Solid Italian food, popular amongst East Coasters. Great patio, private room.
- Terroni – Great for a date, dark wood booths, industrial lighting, old Italian movies on repeat. Try Nonna’s pasta or be adventurous and see if you like dandelion.
TRIED AND TRUE
- ink. – Hip, minimalistic, and the food looks like art. New revamped menu offers reason to come back again and again.
- Eveleigh – Feminine, with pretty everything – including the waiters, clientele, patio and food.
- Fig & Olive – Tuscan-mod with two-story ceilings and a rear courtyard. Decent food, better atmosphere.
- Lucques – California-Mediterranean cooking; a talented female chef and it shows. Ask for a table on the patio. Legendary Sunday family dinners, $45 p/person.
- Sushi Park – A celebrity sushi favorite, hidden in a strip mall.
- Il Piccolino – Old Hollywood Italian spot. Order anything with truffles.
- Madeo – Longtime celebrity favorite (from Fabio to Katie Couric, because I’ve seen both there); underground, old school sort of atmosphere. You’re best off ordering traditional Italian standards, i.e. mare caldo, spaghetti alla bottarga, linguine con vongole, branzino al forno. Bonus points if you can order in Italian.
- Manuela – Tucked inside of one of LA’s best new museums, Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, Manuela transports you into the future of casual fine dining. The character of being in Europe, the flavor of eating Japeño Cornbread.
- 71Above – Way up in the sky, there is a glass slide, and just underneath that, is LA’s highest restaurant. Expect to fork over the big bucks to eat a decent meal with a view. Caters to people with expense accounts and second dates. Be sure to reserve a window seat in advance.
- Broken Spanish – Former Rivera space. Innovating Mexican cuisine. Lamb neck tamales, for example.
- B.S. Taqueria – More new-American Mexican downtown. Heirloom corn tortillas, made to order. Great casual lunch with co-workers.
- The Springs – A holistic megaplex in a former paper factory. The headline is their 100% vegan restaurant, but The Springs means going from yoga, to the juice bar, to a business lunch, to a massage, without so much as stepping on a gas pedal.
- Bestia – A longtime downtown hot ticket. Loud, Italian, come-here-for-the-food, admire the space kind of place.
- Redbird – Iron Chef Neal Fraser’s (BLD) long-anticipated, stunning restaurant downtown, which exists in a 1933-built rectory inside the Vibiana Cathedral (‘Redbird’ is a reference to the cardinal who once lived in Vibiana’s rectory). Lounge, drink, dine, host a private party… your choice.
- Langers - The #19 only refers to one thing for a true Angeleno, the G.O.A.T. pastrami sandwich downtown. (Not actually goat meat). Plan Check Kitchen + Bar – Former Umami chef goes rogue to create his very own burger – many argue it’s the best in the city. Terrific cocktails to compliment comfort food. Locations on Sawtelle, Fairfax and Downtown.
- Ledlow – Pete’s post-makeover. Hefty American classics by Josef Centeno (Baco Mercat, Bar Ama, Orsa & Winston).
- Factory Kitchen – Northern Italian fare in a 3,000-square-foot space. Yet another warehouse restaurant in the rising Arts District of DTLA. Order the handkerchief pasta.
- Baco Mercat – Moderate prices and transformative sandwiches, worthy of eating for dinner. Great for brunch, too. By Josef Centeno (Ledlow, Bar Ama, Orsa & Winston).
- Bar Ama – Earthy/industrial feel, Tex-Mex cuisine, smooth tequila. By Josef Centeno (Baco Mercat, Ledlow, Orsa & Winston).
- Eat.Drink.Americano – Handsome, dimly-lit, industrial-rustic gastro pub.
- Little Bear – High-ceilinged, Belgian-style pub.
- Daily Dose – Keep this place close to your chest – it’s too good for the world to know about. Don’t leave without eating The Farmer sandwich. (The day they named a sandwich after me was one of my proudest.)**
- Little Jewel of Los New Orleans Market and Deli – Southern market and deli, with cheap sandwiches like a Surf and Turf Po’Boy ($15) that’s ten inches long and stuffed with fried shrimp and roast beef. Oh and, banana pudding. A stone’s throw from Philipe.
- Philipe the Original – Historic deli, birthplace of the French dipped sandwich.
- EggSlut – Dangerously easy breakfast (that you can eat for lunch). Formerly in a truck, now in Grand Central Market at their first brick and mortar.
- Wexler’s Deli – A successful addition to Grand Central Market. Nothing like an O.G. Sandwich, or bagel, lox and cream cheese that tastes like their motto: “real Jewish soul food.” Make time for the line.
- Wurstküche – Fun, casual, sausage house with long wooden tables and a DJ. Bring Tums, order truffle oil fries, imagine you’re in Germany for the evening.
- KazuNori – Fast-casual hand rolls served to order at the bar, by the people behind SugarFish. Quick and easy addition for the Downtown suits.
- Angel City, Boomtown Brewery, Mikeller Bar – The Arts District has become the long awaited and much needed hang out for beer aficionados. Taste and hang out all day at any of these spots.
- Faith + Flower - Handsome and versatile – pleasing for weekend brunches, evenings out, private parties (large or small), and those escaping the Staples Center. Great cocktails and a new, $18 prixe fix lunch menu.
- Sugarfish – Nozawa’s top-notch, stripped away sushi experience – essentially quick and quality sushi for the non-traditional. Locations in Brentwood, La Brea, Marina del Rey, Studio City and Santa Monica.
- Sushi Zo – Easily one of the highest-quality sushi spots in Los Angeles. Omakase only, ranging from $130-150 p/person. 20+ dynamite courses, served by a friendly staff in a sleek little space. 100% worth it, but not a short dinner.
- L.A. Chapter – Ace Hotel’s lobby bistro. Chic, with crowd pleasers such as buckwheat waffles and a Bloody Mary I swear by. Pretty damn good for hotel cooking. B, L or D.
- Q – Uncompromised, Tokyo-style sushi. Sitting at the bar is really a must. Lunch omakase, $75; dinner omakase, $165.
TRIED AND TRUE
- Orsa & Winston – A tiny Japanese-Italian spot with sparse waiting room and prixe-fix menus only ($50-$195); located next to Bar Ama, which makes killing time and pre-dinner boozing easy by Josef Centeno (Baco Mercat, Bar Ama, Ledlow).
- Church & State – Lit with string lights in the prettiest building in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles. A humming French Bistro with an old school feel.
- Patina – Contemporary French fare, located in a swank corner of the Walt Disney concert hall. Wine drinking is a sport here.
- Hama Sushi – A cosy, classic, sit-at-the-bar sushi joint.
- Water Grill – Straightforward, high-quality seafood house that’s been around for years. Order oysters and martinis at the bar to kick off a great date.
- Drago Centro – Prego-style service, carved into a former bank downtown. Private parties enjoy dining in a former bank vault. Looks onto the Central Library.
- Bottega Louis – Downtown’s permanently popular Italian-leaning restaurant (with a full bar), no matter what time of day. Bright, loud and cavernous. Nothing new, but ya’ll keep coming back.
- Salazar – The tac-o-of-the-town. The best restaurant in LA right now. Sure, you have to Google where the hell Frogtown is (pro-tip: it’s juuuust past Silverlake), but the Carne Asada taco here is, in our humble opinion, the best LA has to offer. Can’t go wrong with an order here, just all around incredible. No reservations, but grab an incredible cocktail or snack at the bar while you wait.
- Kismet – Hip Mediterranean-California fusion from LA’s dynamic duo (Jon + Vinny) + Madcapra (+Glasserie!) pros (Sara Kramer + Sarah Hymanson) made their name. Pricey and sceney, but tasty and fun.
- Maré – Exceedingly simple menu emphasizing whole branzino and customizable shellfish stew. Inexpensive wine. An affordable date gem. Keep this one for yourself, maybe. (Also a Santa Monica Location)
- Trois Familia – Chefs Jon, Vinny and Ludo have more or less defined this decade’s food in LA. Right now it’s about the breakfast tacos and beet tartare in Silverlake. Open 7 days for breakfast and lunch only. No reservations.
- Night + Market Song – Northern Thai street food and sister restaurant to Night + Market WeHo. Casual, quick, spicy, delicious and run by an adorable couple. No reservations but the wait is never killer. Pair dinner with a bottle of the Hofgut Falkenstein, because a good Riesling is spicy Thai food’s best friend. Order the fried off-menu chicken sandwich because it’s finger-licking good and what the owners eat in their off time. (Also a West Hollywood Location)
- Alimento – A tiny, neighborhood spot – Italian “with a twist”. Locally sourced ingredients, small plates, pastas and family-style platters. Keeping Eastsiders happy.
- Blossom – Delicious, casual Vietnamese. Great for cold noodles on a hot summer night. Only bother eating downstairs – it’s unexpected and the atmosphere is excellent.
- Cliff’s Edge – Don’t travel just for food, but the patio is so romantic, you’ll likely be on a date in which food is of minimal importance. Weekend brunch = bottomless mimosas.
- Gingergrass – Casual Vietnamese cuisine. An easy lunch spot if Boss is in the area.
- SQIRL – There’s a hot little joint on the Eastside of town that brews almond milk cappuccinos to die for and is run by a young woman named Jessica who got her start as a professional jam maker. Incredible brunch, dine on weekday mornings to avoid crowds.
- Pine + Crane – Fast-casual, Taiwanese-Chinese food Order at the bar, wait for a table. Fresh, daily veggie selections and excellent minced pork on rice. Vivian Ku (Chez Panisse alum) sources her veggies from her family farm in Bakersfield.
- Black Cat – Steak frites and tufted banquettes and voilà, an LA pub. Friendly bartenders, good for a post-work catchup drink.
TRIED AND TRUE
- L&E Oyster Bar – Cosy oyster bar, fresh to death. A local favorite.
- Cafe Stella – Rise above the dirty hipsters, eat good french food in central Silver Lake. Sit on the covered patio for a business-friendly atmosphere. Tip: Bar Stella – hidden in the back – is the best bar in town.
- Barbrix – Classy, casual wine bar with a just-right selection of tapas. $5 bottomless mimosas at weekend brunch…I go for the Monday night $1 oysters at the bar. Parents love this spot.
+ Echo Park
- Guisados – Delicious tacos, for anyone trying to catch some legitimate eats prior to a Dodgers game… Low-key, it’s BYOB on the back patio, and you can walk to the stadium… Just saying.
- Foodshop – Not necessarily simple, but an absolute pleasure. A monthly, pop-up dinner run by the same duo who have longtime run Foodshop in Venice. If you don’t know it, think dinner in a little toolshed lit with candles and bare bulbs, where there’s a dinner party of strangers transpiring. Get on the mailing list, secure a spot in advance, enjoy a truly fantastic dinner.
TRIED AND TRUE
- Sage Organic Bistro – Clean and delicious with a comprehensive menu, albeit vegan. A loyal customer base (80% not vegan), and easy to see why. Owned by the hippie-daughter of the man behind Cafe Gratitude, who wanted to bring on more comfort food than her father’s menu boasts.
- El Prado – They only serve beer, wine and snacks, but it’s tough to find a spot more reminiscent of a tiny New York City watering hole. Brick-lined, charming and dimly lit – for intimate drinks or a romantic nightcap.
- Here’s Looking at You – Dive deeper into Koreatown to find this gem from the team. Small and cozy, with a sophisticated menu.
- Commissary - Roy Choi is moving up, literally. His new spot – a veggie-forward greenhouse – is perched on the rooftop pool deck of the Line Hotel. If you like plants – in your mouth, and everywhere – check out Roy’s latest digs at sundown for a lite bite and a cocktail.
- POT – Roy Choi (Sunny Spot, A-Frame, Kogi, Chego, Alibi Room, 3Worlds Cafe) has done it again. This time, with kick-ass Korean/American food served up in the Line Hotel. Now served out of the lobby. “Beep Beep” Uni Dynamite Bowl named dish of 2015 by LA Mag.
- EMC Seafood and Raw Bar – Fresh fish, live uni and a dynamite happy hour all featured prominently on the ground floor of K-Town’s City Center shopping mall. EMC is fun enough for a young crowd and fresh enough for the fancy. Open for lunch.
- Escala – Casual Columbian food in K-Town.
- Ham Ji Park – Dynamite pork-focused Korean food and often the perfect remedy to a long week. Pork spare ribs and pork neck stew are a must. Long waits and no reservations make it a no-go for business meetings, but worthwhile the wait on personal occasions.
- Dan Sung Sa – A dark and smokey gem in K-Town. Great for delicious kbbq and an adventurous date… especially if drinking soju in dim wooden booths is your thing.
- Gwang Yang BBQ – Brand new to the neighborhood, but a big hit in Seoul – big enough to make the move to Los Angeles. At Gwang Yang, it’s all about bulgogi – top-notch rib eye, thinly sliced, marinated, then charcoal grilled to tender perfection. Suits appropriate – the space is spotless, vast and versatile.
+ West LA
- Sushi Tsujita – Classic, omakase-only restaurant hailing from Tokyo. Specializing in century-old Edomae-style sushi. Small and pricey, but exquisite. Meals go for $120, $150 or $180, but for $120, you’ll get plenty.
- Plan Check Kitchen + Bar – Former Umami chef goes rogue to create his very own burger – many argue it’s the best in the city. Terrific cocktails to compliment comfort food. Locations on Sawtelle, Fairfax and Downtown.
- Hamasaku – Hollywood sushi (rolls named after stars). Outstanding cocktails.
- Craft – CAA agents no longer dine here – Chef went WME. It doesn’t suffer.
- Toscana – 20+ years strong, family-friendly, unwavering Italian fare in Brentwood. Can get loud.
- Hinoki & the Bird – Dynamite black cod and a 6,000 bottle wine cellar across the street from CAA. Make a reservation well in advance or cozy up to a host for a patio table.
- Shunji – High-end Japanese cuisine in an unassuming, barrel shaped building on Sawtelle — a former BBQ joint. Elaborate omakase by chef Shunji Nakao (Matsuhisa’s original sushi chef). $120-$150 per person. A Jonathan Gold favorite.
TRIED AND TRUE
- Sotto – Home to a 15,000 pound, true Neapolitan pizza oven. Authentic and rustic Northern Italian food by Zack Pollack (also of Alimento) and located directly below Peruvian gem Picca, because “Sotto” is Italian for “under.” Solid for a casual/gourmet dinner or date.
- Tavern – Casual, seasonal American larder in Brentwood by Suzanne Goin, my woman crush (The A.O.C., Lucques, The Hungry Cat). Beautiful glass atrium, emphasis on brunch. Prepared foods also available.
- Vincenti Ristoranti – Wood burning oven, intimate space, extensive wine list. Dover sole is the go-to. Laidback upscale Italian, because that’s a thing in Brentwood.
- Sushi Sasabune – I got to know this place because Boss’ famed client would fly once a month from NY -> LA to take meetings… and to eat at Sushi Sasabune. Two locations – West LA & Beverly Hills.
- Picca – From the guy behind Mo-Chica, another Peruvian/Japanese success story.
- N/Naka – A female sushi chef bringing the classiest and most beautiful sushi to LA, served in 10-13 courses, with some of the best optional wine pairings in town. Menu starts at $110 p/person.
- Yamakase Sushi – Super-secret sushi bar in Palms. Excellent service, pristine fish.
- Flores and the Ladies’ Gunboat Society – A semi-permanent pop-up at Flores from Brian Dunsmoor, the guy who co-ran the Hart & the Hunter until recently and a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing prior to that. New-American Southern fare, good for lunch or dinner on Sawtelle.
- Kiriko Sushi – Casual spot serving quality sushi. Fair lunch prices.
- Tsujita Annex – So far as ramen in LA goes, Tsujita reigns king. Busy as hell, but worth it for a bowl of the legendary Jiro-style, Tokyo-popularized ramen.
+ Santa Monica
- Cassia – Large, art-deco space. Expensive and airy, casual and cool. French-Asian fare. Lots of seafood (including a raw bar), served inside or out.
- Belcampo Meat Co. – Swanky dining room, pasture-raised meats from Belcampo’s farm. Goat tartare with ancho chile, etc. Great drinks. Deal closer steak.
- The Courtyard Kitchen – Brunch. All day, every day. A hidden little brunch / lunch spot that’s equally charming as it is delicious. Family run.
- Huckleberry – A masterful brunch spot that manages to stay casual. Consider these pastries the ‘it’ girls west of the 405. Order-at-the-counter deal.
- Father’s Office – Just a great burger and a mean selection of beers on tap. Second location in Culver City’s Helm’s Bakery complex.
- Farmshop – Tone of the restaurant meets the needs of a neighborhood. That includes all day cougar drinking at the Brentwood Country Mart bar.
- Mélisse – French, two Michelin stars. 10-course tasting menu with a $150 price tag… You’re not walking away spending less than $200. Excellent food, obviously.
- Sugarfish – Nozawa’s top-notch, stripped away sushi experience – essentially quick and quality sushi for the non-traditional. Locations in Brentwood, Beverly Hills, La Brea, Marina del Rey, Studio City and Downtown.
TRIED AND TRUE
- Milo & Olive – Artisan bread pizzas topped with the likes of pork-belly sausage and wild mushrooms. Communal tables jam-packed with elbows and half-finished wine glasses. A happy wait with a worthy partner. DO NOT leave without ordering the city’s largest garlic knot… A fat satchel stuffed with garlic cloves and magic.
- Tar & Roses – Gastropub with carefully assembled charcuterie boards and a wood-fired oven. Feels like a railroad apartment boasting an open flame.
- Capo – Italian spot on Ocean Ave, perma packed. Great beach-side wine list, great steak.
- Rustic Canyon – New American tapas and small plates, Santa Monica fixture. Permanently mellow, locals favorite.
- Felix Trattoria – After abandoning us and closing Bucato, Mr. Funk makes good by hand-rolling your mouth watering pappardelle every night. Authentic dishes, excellent execution. A good reason to go to Venice when you can’t quite make it to Venezia..
- Rose Café – Coffee shop meets pastry shop meets bar meets patio meets dining room meets other patio. Produce driven, pasta oriented menu makes for a crowd pleaser.
- Plant Food and Wine – Refined vegan. Sleek and minimalist eatery. Organic wine with expansive patio seating.
- Sunny Spot – Roy Choi’s vaguely Caribbean, mostly American restaurant. Great for bottomless, boozy brunches and Bloody Mary’s.
- Gjusta – Beautiful people, beautiful food. Order at the counter, dine on the patio — on crates, but that’s OK, because it’s cool… and Gjusta’s clever way of ensuring that people will leave. Eventually. Cafe/bakery/deli serving breakfast, lunch, coffee, or early dinner. Open 7 days, 7am-7pm.
- Cafe Gratitude – Newer of the two Cafe Gratitude’s. Strictly vegan; for the hippie Boss or client.
- The Tasting Kitchen – Faux casual. Pastas made in-house. Feels a bit like an art collective around the communal tables.
- Scopa Italian Roots – From Antonia Lofaso (Top Chef) and Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix (Black Market Liquor Bar), comes this trendy, hangar-sized Italian addition to Venice. Good for long dinners and lingering, or a quick Negroni and a bowl of pasta e fagioli. Private second floor dining room available.
TRIED AND TRUE
- Salt Air – Seafood-centric small plates on Abbot Kinney from the guys behind A-Frame, Pot, Commissary & Little Fork. Try: fried fish skin chips with harissa and the bright green pea toast with ricotta. Check out the cool maps in the back.
- Gjelina – Have a drink on the patio by the fire pit, admire the beautiful chef, squeeze in amongst the regulars at this longstanding Venice hot spot.
- Foodshop – It’s the weekend and somewhere in Venice, in a little toolshed lit with candles and bare bulbs, there’s a dinner party of strangers transpiring. Get on the mailing list, secure a spot in advance, enjoy a truly fantastic dinner.
- Mastro’s Ocean Club – Douche’s unite! Mastro’s is in Malibu. Seaside surf and turf, great for showing off under a wild sunset with a thick steak and a pricey plate of oysters.
- Malibu Farm - Resting at the edge of the easy to remember "Malibu Pier" is Helene Henderson's Malibu Farm cafe. It's almost impossible not to take pictures of the stunning views from the wood planked path. At Malibu Farms the farm is closer to table - Malibu Farm and actual farm owner, Helen Henderson grows many of her own ingredients.
- Cholada Thai Beach Cuisine – A personal, super casual favorite. Dine roadside (adjacent to the beach) with beautiful surfer families. Order a fresh young coconut, watch as they machete off the top, because it doesn’t get fresher.
- Malibu Seafood – Casual seafood spot – good after a Sunday drive or day at the beach.
- Nobu Malibu – Everything is pretty – the people, the view, the food, the prices. You’re a movie star and you’re dining on set while hired dolphins jump in the waters beyond the patio.
+ Beverly Hills
- Maude – Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone’s first restaurant. Twenty-five seats in the heart of Beverly Hills, $75 for a California-centric, 9-course tasting menu. Check the “theme” before you go; the menu is focused on one key ingredient that changes monthly. Sitting at the bar overlooking the open kitchen makes dinner all the more fun.
- The Fountain Coffee Shop – Cozy breakfast spot in the Beverly Hills Hotel.
- The Polo Lounge – The Polo Lounge: In the BH Hotel. Home to Hollywood’s most private booths.
- E.Baldi – Tuscan fare. Come to see and be seen.
- The Grill on the Alley – Famous for their 14 booths and those that sit in them.
- Bouchon – A hot spot brasserie for CAA, UTA, MGM, and Gersh-ers. Seacrest is an investor, in case you care. Radiates polished comfort.
- La Scala – 57 years and going strong. Famous for their chopped salad (Boss will assume it’s low-cal).
- South Beverly Grill – It’s a chain, but still the best place in BH for an in-and-out lunch.
- Mr Chow – One big scene, that you pay for. Famous? Request 1 of first 5 tables of the dining room.
- Spago – Wolfgang Puck’s flagship. Recent renovation = retractable roof. Contemporary dining, hefty bill.
- Sugarfish – Nozawa’s top-notch, stripped away sushi experience – essentially quick and quality sushi for the non-traditional. Locations in Santa Monica, Brentwood, La Brea, Marina del Rey, Studio City and Downtown.
TRIED AND TRUE
- Joss Cuisine / Traditional – Often cited as the best Chinese food in LA. Small but packs a punch.
- Tagine – Intimate little spot, long six-course Moroccan dinner. Don’t make the mistake of sending two men here. I did.
- CUT – Employs a beef sommelier. You get what you pay for. By Wolfgang Puck.
- Urasawa – Arguably the city’s greatest sushi, no expense spared ($395 per person, not kidding).
- Matsuhisa – A serious sushi spot, that’s been around for as long as any Angeleno (aka 1987). Chef Nobu’s first restaurant.
+ Culver City
- The Wallace – Well executed, small-plates with fresh produce…something like a California Tapas. Decent size interior, great for a date or a group up 6-8.
- BÄCOSHOP – Joseph Centeno is up to it again with this little sandwich and bowl shop in Downtown Culver. Great for a tasty grab and go, or a quick meal with some FLAVOR. Bäco Mercat spin-off.
- Hatchet Hall – Stylish, lodgelike, meat-centric. Reminiscent of Hart & the Hunter. Hit the hidden spirits bar for a top notch drink.
- A-Frame – One of Roy Choi’s many LA spots. Recently revamped menu (Hawaiian soul food) in a fully renovated former IHOP. For the patient Boss, because they don’t take reservations.
- Father’s Office – Just a great burger and a mean selection of beers on tap. Helm’s Bakery complex. Second location in Santa Monica.
- Akasha – Healthy comfort-food. Optimal location for Fox & Sony execs. Organic and well-sourced.
TRIED AND TRUE
- Lukshon – Sleek, Pan-Asian, by Chef Sang Yoon of Father’s Office, which is right next door. Spicy chicken pops are a must, and the whole steamed fish, slathered in black bean ghee and cilantro is a pretty safe bet. Sauces are house made.
- The Corner Door – Pub menu + bar. Reliable and versatile. The kind of restaurant every neighborhood in LA wants.
+ Over the Hill
- Girasol Restaurant – Cali dining in a sleep setting serving fresh, seasonal dishes. By CJ Jacobson of Top Chef. Beer and wine only. (Studio City)
- Barrel & Ashes – “Suave and casual” BBQ hangout. It’s supposed to be all about the brisket and ribs. It’s really about the hoe cakes and banana pudding. (Studio City)
- The Village – Fun, lively, casual. Yummy small plates with a gastropub feel.
- Ramen by Omae – Casual noodle house serving a mean bowl of ramen. Charred miso ramen involves leaping flames… (Sherman Oaks)
- Cascabel – “Modern Latin” aka bacon guacamole and short rib mole. Casual, fun spot. Great for a margarita and fried chicken tacos… (Toluca Lake)
- Pedaler’s Fork – Half bike shop, half locally-sourced, farm-centric restaurant with a pretty patio. (Calabassas)
- Sugarfish – Nozawa’s top-notch, stripped away sushi experience – essentially quick and quality sushi for the non-traditional. Locations in Brentwood, Beverly Hills, La Brea, Marina del Rey, Downtown and Santa Monica. (Studio City)
- Katsu-ya – The original spot for go-to sushi. (Studio City)
- Joan’s on Third – New location, same deal — market & cafe, serving the classic tuna melt and go-to chinese chicken salad. (Studio City)
- Asanebo – Michelin-starred Japanese food. Kampachi dotted with shaved black truffles, etc, etc. (Studio City)
TRIED AND TRUE
- Black Market Liquor Bar – A solid spot for yummy tapas-style plates and fantastic cocktails. Hidden room available upon request for private parties.
- Mistral – Locals love this French bistro. Romantic vibes, elegant dining room, servers that know better than to interfere. (Sherman Oaks)
- Brandywine – Delicious, intimate, comfortable, old school… Have a bowl of French onion soup under lace-covered windows and be in Marseilles without leaving Woodland Hills. (Woodland Hills)
+ South Bay
- Abigaile – Church turned gastropub offers tasty fusion food with a great casual atmostphere. (Hermosa Beach)
TRIED AND TRUE
- Love & Salt – Formerly Cafe Pierre, now a Cal-Italian destination with an Italian bend. (Marina del Rey)
- Fishing with Dynamite – A cosy, 35-seat, Hamptons-style seafood spot with a raw bar worth traveling bar. (Marina del Rey)
- M.B. Post – New American, delicious seasonal menu, locals’ favorite. Thriving singles’ scene at the bar. Worth going just for the bacon-cheddar buttermilk biscuits with maple butter. (Manhattan Beach)
- Chianina Steakhouse – Classy, family-style steakhouse specializing in grass-fed meats and locally sourced veggies. (Long Beach)
- Bacari PDR – Fun, chic… steps from the beach. Mediterranean-inspired small plates are just as good as the drinks. Great brunch with friends spot, or for a glass or wine, post beach or work day. (Playa del Rey)
- Little Sister – Casual Asian fusion in trendy, minimalist-chic setting. Go for shaky shaky beef and salt and pepper lobster (tell them you want the fried rice after… they’ll use the extra Lobster bits for it). (Manhattan Beach)
- Playa Provisions – Multi-dimensional restaurant with four different dining components: high-end dining at Dockside, backroom whiskey bar at Grain, casual breakfast and lunch market at King Beach, ice cream at Small Batch. Each with different, designated hours. (Playa del Rey)
Food pics on the gram.