From fresh, Southern-inspired fare in the modish Arts District to the handsome nighttime counterpart of a breezy all-day café in Santa Monica, there’s a lot going for Los Angeles’ latest restaurants.
Image Courtesy of Manuela.
Birds & Bees
Located in the historic core of Downtown Los Angeles — and, fun fact: housed in a space that previously functioned as a gym for the LAPD — this mid-century modern speakeasy takes inspiration from the 1950s. Enter through the hidden door and make your way underground, where seasoned bartenders craft excellent cocktails. Book now at Birds & Bees.
Located in Silver Lake at Sunset Junction, Bowery Bungalow operates out of a charming cottage. The homey restaurant features modern Mideast cuisine, a bar pouring craft beer and select wine, and a wood patio for al fresco dining. The menu, which draws inspiration from the food that owner George Abou-Daoud’s mother and grandmother used to cook, pays homage to some of the world’s most ancient flavors. Book now at Bowery Bungalow.
A pioneer of the new wave of Highland Park dining, Cafe Birdie is an ideal neighborhood hangout. It’s big, bright, and airy; it has a marble-topped bar serving craft cocktails; and its food menu has plenty of easy options suitable for any given night, including salads, Moroccan-spiced fried chicken, steak frites, and several pastas. Book now at Cafe Birdie.
Charcoal Venice is inspired by the backyard BBQs that its Michelin-starred chef, Josiah Citrin, hosts on weekends for friends and family. At this inviting neighborhood joint, everything is cooked over live fire, and the food is best enjoyed family-style. Specialties of the kitchen include cabbage, baked in the embers, and kampachi, lightly smoked over the coals. Book now at Charcoal Venice.
Chef Nick Barainca, formerly of Liason and Mélisse, is at the helm of this pop-up dinner series at Santa Monica’s OP Café. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, enjoy a five-course tasting menu for $47. Menu highlights include black garlic bread and pork collar cooked over almond wood. Book now at Gargantua.
Affectionately considered the “handsome” dinner counterpart to its neighboring sister restaurant, Lunetta All Day, both restaurants are owned and operated by chef Raphael Lunetta in Santa Monica. At Lunetta, the charcoal-colored walls are accented with leather banquettes, cozy lounge seating complete with a fireplace, and a brass-topped bar. Best of all, enjoy elevated American fare, like grilled chopped salad and steak & fries. Book now at Lunetta.
Manuela brings Southern charm to the culinary landscape of Los Angeles’ Arts District. Executive chef Wes Whitsell, who has teamed up with Iwan and Manuela Wirth, channels his Texas upbringing by applying artisanal Southern techniques to his food (think in-house smoking, fermenting, preserving, and pickling). Fun fact: the restaurant also houses an on-site chicken coop, home to 12 rare-breed birds. Book now at Manuela.
Chef Maycoll Calderón of the acclaimed Mexico City restaurant, Huset, has set up camp in Silver Lake. And the space does justice to al fresco dining: the vast majority of its 120 seats are located outside, at wooden tables surrounded by lush greenery and hanging lights. The seafood-centric menu showcases the chef’s signature “cocina de campo” (country kitchen) style of Mexican cooking and wood-fired fare, like seabass tostada and roasted red snapper. Book now at Tintorera.
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