Los Angeles Restaurants
2424 Main St., Santa Monica
Little Prince started as a pop-up brunch spot in Santa Monica that—thanks to its immense popularity—is now a full-fledged permanent restaurant in an airy space with ceiling fans and beautifully rustic wood furniture. The recent expansion is no surprise, given that its chef is Ari Taymor, who formerly helmed the widely acclaimed downtown hotspot, Alma (which closed in 2015). At Little Prince, Taymor partners with Southern California farms (Flora Bella, JJ Lone Daughter Ranch) which provides the restaurant with high quality produce including squash, arugula, citrus, and avocado. Although brunch is still our favorite time to visit, dinner is just as good, especially the (gluten-free) smoked black cod with beets, sunflower, and fermented apple, and the pumpkin, persimmon, and burrata with grilled bread.
Élephante Beach House
1332 2nd St., Santa Monica
In a rooftop space smack-dab in the center of downtown Santa Monica, Élephante is a breath of fresh air—quite literally, you can feel the ocean breeze from your perch on the terrace. It’s run by Nick Mathers, the force behind West Hollywood spots Eveleigh and Goldie’s, which is to say he knows a thing or two about drawing a crowd. It’s the kind of place you’ll come for cocktails but want to stay for dinner—the food, largely coastal Italian, is really good. In fact, the entire space is a love song to Pantelleria, an island that sits between the coast of Italy and Tunisia, where Mathers visited on a research trip to Southern Italy. Here, every design detail is considered: a Brazilian Tiger-wood deck, soapstone-topped bars, Moroccan rugs, plus lots of Buhera baskets brought in from Zimbabwe. Menu standouts include the whipped eggplant and tuna crudo to start, Tuscan kale salad, and the wood-fired Soppressata pizza, which is great to share with a group. If you really feel like going for it, there’s a whole lobster on offer, too. Be sure to grab a table on Resy before you…
400 S Main St., Downtown
Chef Josef Centeno scored hits with his DTLA restaurants Bäco Mercat and Bar Amá, and he’s done it again with his latest venture, P.Y.T. It sits next door to those two and across the street from another Centeno restaurant, Orsa & Winston, but here, vegetables are the stars of the menu. Ingredients are sourced mostly from an urban farm in nearby Montecito Heights, and used in dishes like charred cauliflower with lemon and walnuts, cold smoked baby carrots, and a perfectly-roasted sweet potato with nori butter and apples. Still, the place isn’t entirely meat-free. If your fellow diners are craving some protein, there’s the grilled kanpachi with seasonal greens, citrus and fried lentils, and a pork collar steak with French potatoes. We also love the space—with its soaring ceilings, huge windows that let in plenty of sunlight, and big, potted ficus trees, it almost feels like you’re eating outside.
1315 3rd St. Promenade, Suite K, Santa Monica
It's hard to imagine that on the second floor of a heavily touristed stretch of Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade you'll find one of the city's brightest young chefs quietly cooking a highly conceptual dinner every night. But lo and behold, Chef Dave Beran, who cut his teeth at Chicago's Alinea and Next, is telling a story uniquely his own—this one, deeply referencing cuisines from around the world while leaning heavily on southern California's farmers' market produce. All of this is to say that there's a reason why Dialogue is appearing on just about every "Best-Of" list. The result is artfully plated dishes built around the four seasons: a sorrel and fennel tart; squab with begonias and plum; kombu (sea kelp) braised for eight hours. At just 18 seats strong—eight at the counter and three tables—nightly dinner service is available via ticketed reservations on Resy. Photos courtesy of Erin Simkin and Mariah Tauger
3033 W. 6th St., Koreatown
Yukgaejang is a spicy, rich Korean soup made with brisket, mushrooms, bean sprouts, and scallions in bone broth, and it’s been perfected at this small, no-frills spot. The menu is limited (printed on a single laminated sheet with pictures), featuring just a few variations of yukgaejang (original, with noodles, or with tofu), as well as handmade steamed pork dumplings, pork belly with a side of kimchi, and cold buckwheat noodle soup.
2716 W. Olympic Blvd., Koreatown
If you’re familiar with one Korean dish, it’s likely bibimbap—a mixture of rice, sautéed vegetables, fermented chili paste, and, occasionally, sliced meat, topped with a fried egg. Jeon Ju specializes in dolsot bibimbap, a variation served in a hot stone pot that adds a whole other flavor dimension to the meal, with a smoky, crispy bottom layer of rice formed from the additional heat.
955 S. Vermont Ave., Koreatown
This is the gold standard of Korean BBQ in this city. The original Parks, in Seoul, is still going strong, and the LA outpost is similarly known for using prime cuts of meat (including American Wagyu and Kobe-style beef) and some of the best-quality banchan—the complimentary small dishes like kimchi, bean sprouts, and soy-brushed lotus root that arrive before your meal—you’ll ever try.
3833 W. 6th St., Koreatown
Incredibly crispy, garlicky, yet not-greasy fried chicken is the specialty at this low-key strip mall spot that was the center of the Korean fried chicken craze a few years ago. The secret lies in the double-fry technique KyoChon uses, but for us, it’s the sauces that really put it at the top of our K-town list. The three choices include honey, hot and sweet, and (our favorite) soy garlic.
3470 W. 6th St., Koreatown
A hearty, rich noodle soup in chicken stock, dak kalguksu is a Korean comfort food that’s perfected at this bright, airy restaurant. The steaming bowls are flavored with garlic and onions and thickened with potatoes. Protein options include Manila clams, crab, and game hen, and each order comes with sides of radish and cabbage kimchi. Be aware that wait times can be long here, especially during cool weather, when people feel like warming up with something nourishing and hot.
3435 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown
Bulgogi is one of the most ordered dishes by visitors who come to eat in Koreatown, and Gwang Yang serves a version that’s been three generations in the making. A family-owned restaurant founded in Korea, this is the only US location. The marinated, thin, barbecued slices of beef are perfectly smoky and tender and usually accompanied by a variety of side dishes, like bibim naengmyeon (Korean cold noodles in a chilled beef broth) and crisp kimchi pancakes.
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