the-best-places-to-eat-and-drink-in-la.-right-now,-according-to-our-food-writers

The Best Places To Eat And Drink In L.A. Right Now, According To Our Food Writers

Clockwise from top left: Food from Saucy Chick Goat Mafia, 626 Hospitality, Si! Mon, Maison Matho and Two Hommés.

(Collage by Brandon Ly / Los Angeles Times; photographs by Oscar Mendoza / For The Times; Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times; Si! Mon; Shelby Moore / For The Times; Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

No matter how you celebrate, the holiday season brings a certain magic to Los Angeles. Shopping centers and seasonal pop-ups erect giant decorated trees, blast fake snow machines and hang sparkling lights, but I’m talking about the last two weeks of the year, when transplants head home and the city empties out.

Homegrown Angelenos and those who skip the travel are rewarded with empty freeways and easier-to-nab dinner reservations, plus a rare almost-stillness that feels akin to the season’s first snowfall (this native Southern Californian is guessing as to what that actually feels like).

As for where to soak in the holiday spirit, you’ll find it at the most anticipated food event of the year — the reveal of The Times’ 101 best restaurants list by critic Bill Addison, held at Rolling Greens on Tuesday, Dec. 5. You might even feel it at a restaurant in or near your favorite shopping destination (because what could be more miraculous than indulging in a delicious meal after facing holiday crowds?). Or perhaps the solution is to skip town to Riverside for a day of festive lights, good food and small-town charm.

Here are 25 more ideas for how to fill your dining and drinking calendar this December, including a Cypress Park patio serving vegan Levantine cuisine, a downtown sandwich shop that marries Mexican and French influence, and a Studio City wine bar that’s hidden in a plant shop.

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Auntie Beulah’s Biscuits & Chicken

Mid-City Southern Breakfast $

Brightening up the corner of Pico and La Brea with its bright orange storefront is this takeout-only biscuit and fried chicken joint from Aryn Drake-Lee. She collaborated with chef Melvin “Boots” Johnson of Harlem Biscuit Company on a Southern-meets-New York bodega menu that lets you mix and match fresh-baked biscuits in flavors of traditional buttermilk, chive and everything seasoning, available a la carte, smothered with white chicken gravy or in sandwiches with fillings like house-made chicken sausage, fried chicken and bacon, cheddar and egg. Biscuits can be slathered in sauces and spreads such as chili honey, maple cayenne butter and strawberry lemonade jam, and fried chicken and tenders are available in combos that come with sides like collard greens, mac and cheese, French fries and grits. Hot and cold brewed coffee is available as well as lemonade and jamaica that are sweetened with house-made maple syrup.
Read about the new Black-owned business on Pico and La Brea.

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B’ivrit

Cypress Park Israeli Vegan $

The Levantine pop-up from Israeli chef Amit Sidi has put down permanent roots in a charming backyard lot in Cypress Park, offering a tight vegan menu with her signature gluten-free falafel that can be ordered on its own, in hummus or in a warm pita. Slow-roasted cauliflower shawarma and sabich pitas fill out the menu, or order the “Friend” special with half falafel pita and half cauliflower shawarma if you can’t decide. Make sure you grab a Mason jar of pickles to take home. Bottled sodas, kombucha and sparkling water are served at the makeshift bar, plus a cucumber basil lemonade that’s made in-house. Sidi plans to offer house-made pita and desserts in the future.
Read about B’ivrit’s permanent pop-up in Cypress Park.

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Brothers Sushi

Culver City Sushi $$$

Culver City will have easier access to some of L.A.’s best sushi with the recent opening of Brothers Sushi’s third location in the former K-Zo space, which closed in October after nearly two decades of service. This newest outpost is modeled after the original in Woodland Hills, with a slightly more casual omakase menu compared to the edomae-style version served in Santa Monica. Guests can expect dry-aged and fresh fish in cut rolls, sashimi, nigiri and omakase, plus a revamped sake menu and additional imported draft beer options.
Read about the new Brothers Sushi location in Culver City.

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Café Telegrama

Coffee Breakfast/Lunch $

A stylish, convivial cafe is drawing Melrose Hill locals with an unfussy menu that features a breakfast burrito, brown-butter pancakes, market-driven salads and sandwiches on Jyan Isaac bread. Local roaster Canyon Coffee is behind the coffee program and Friends & Family bakery provides the fresh-baked goods. The daytime destination comes courtesy of executive chef and partner Evan Algorri (Marea and Bouley in New York City), real estate developer Tyler Stonebreaker, visual artist and creative director John Zabawa and partner and general manager Andrew Lawson (Flora Bar and Estela in New York City), who are set to open Ètra, a casual Italian-hued dinner restaurant, next door to Café Telegrama on Dec. 5.
Read about the sunny new cafe in Melrose Hill.

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Cookbook Larchmont

Larchmont Grocer Café $$

The high-end neighborhood market from Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo has launched its largest location in Larchmont, featuring a split-level space stocked with local produce, fresh bread, pantry and frozen items, wine and home goods, plus a coffee bar with pastries and grab-and-go sandwiches. Attached to this location is a quaint all-day cafe with separate seating, including a white-picket-fenced patio with umbrellas.
Read about the latest location of Cookbook in Larchmont.

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Cosette Wine Bar

Studio City French Wine Bars $$

Take a break from holiday shopping at Cosette, a hidden wine bar on the second floor of Rolling Greens in Studio City’s Shops at Sportsmen‘s Lodge. Sasha Hagenlock, the plant shop’s retail director, who happens to be a sommelier with experience at some of Napa Valley’s most prestigious institutions, is behind Cosette, which offers more than 30 wines by the bottle and a dozen by the glass, with a focus on European labels and select California options. The food features a similar bent, with shareable small plates such as French onion soup dip, steak tartare and chamomile-poached shrimp cocktail. Bonus: You can scope out plants for a potential holiday gift while you eat and drink.
Read about the plant-filled wine bar in Rolling Greens.

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Din Tai Fung

Glendale Taiwanese $$

A convenient restaurant to visit in between holiday shopping is this newly relocated Din Tai Fung, which just moved to the Glendale Galleria after a decade next door in the Americana at Brand. The new location is the largest in the L.A. region for the Taiwanese dumpling chain, spanning over 11,000 square feet with a spacious patio. Sit inside to catch a view of chefs preparing the famous xiao long bao and other menu items in the glass-walled kitchen. Hot tea, milk and cream tea and cocktails such as a lychee mojito and a yuzu margarita round out the beverage menu.
Read about Din Tai Fung’s new location in the Glendale Galleria.

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Fabby’s Sandwicherie

Downtown L.A. Mexican French $

Columnist Jenn Harris cites downtown L.A. as her favorite neighborhood to dine in recently, with Fabby’s Sandwicherie being one of the standouts. The sandwich shop from Alejandro Guzmán blends French, Mexican and L.A. influences for creations such as a beef Bourgignon torta that substitutes the usual French wine with a Grenache blend from Valle de Guadalupe in a 24-hour beef braise, with buttery potato puree, stringy Oaxacan cheese and pickled carrots on sliced bolillo bread that’s crispy from the panini press. Other dishes include a mushroom coq au vin and steak tartare served on a tostada. Open from noon to midnight Wednesday through Sunday, the 21-and-up cafe also offers margaritas and features a speakeasy bar in the back.
Learn more about the creative sandwich shop and speakeasy.

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Kismet Rotisserie

Culver City Mediterranean $$

The vegetable-forward California rotisserie from chefs Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson just opened its largest location in Culver City, with an expanded kitchen that’s allowed for menu additions such as bone broth and a combo plate with roasted vegetables. Staple items including crispy-skinned chicken, schmaltzy potatoes and turmeric-stained cauliflower also are available, as well as select pastries from pastry chef Meadow Ramsey, who plans to introduce ice cream sandwiches soon.
Check out the new Kismet Rotisserie in Culver City.

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L.A. Chef’s Kitchen

Panorama City International $

A new food hall claiming to be the largest in the San Fernando Valley has opened its doors at the base of the Panorama Tower residential building in Panorama City. With a goal of supporting local food businesses, the collection of kitchens serves as the first bricks-and-mortar location for many of the new tenants, most of which are family-owned. Among the 16 vendors are standouts like Taquitos y Mas, with tacos, burritos, loaded fries and more from chef Eddie Gonzalez; Ticas Teppanyaki, from former street vendors and husband-and-wife duo Wilber and Helen Ticos; and Greek Souvlaki Kitchen, with gyros, pita wraps and grilled meat combos. Booths dedicated to aguas frescas, handmade ice cream and crepes, teriyaki, pasta and burgers also share space at the bazaar.
Read about the new food hall in Panorama City.

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Ladyhawk

West Hollywood Mediterranean $$

Beirut-born chef Charbel Hayek, a “Top Chef: Middle East and North Africa” winner, is behind this Mediterranean-inspired restaurant on the lobby level of West Hollywood’s La Peer Hotel. Start with shareable mezze platters crowded with hummus, falafel and muhammara before moving on to creative vegetable dishes such as charred cabbage with pomegranate and wood-fired fish or dry-aged duck. The beverage program follows a similar format, with concoctions such as a persimmon sour and Mamara & Black, featuring the Levantine spirit arak, plus wines sourced from Lebanon, Israel, Spain, Georgia and beyond. Currently open for dinner, Ladyhawk plans to expand with lunch and brunch service.
Read about the new restaurant at the La Peer Hotel.

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Le Champ

Downtown L.A. French $$

Take a quick jaunt to Paris without booking a flight at Le Champ, a French restaurant and wine garden with a generous patio. From Matt Bronfeld and chef Justin Hilbert, the Arts District space offers a set a la carte menu with highlights such as escargots and a burger with caramelized onion and Gruyère cheese, as well as rotating plats du jour that have included chicken liver terrine with port gelée and lamb Basquaise. Old-world and natural wines from across Europe and California are the focus, with all bottles under $70.
Take a trip to France in downtown L.A. at Le Champ.

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Maison Matho

East Hollywood French Bakery $$

Ready to satisfy your craving for seasonal French pastries and sandwiches is Maison Matho, which chef-owner Daniel Matho operates out of a Melrose Hill pickup window near the 101 freeway. In his review of the walk-up cafe, columnist Lucas Kwan Peterson praises the jambon beurre, prosciutto, bresaola and French omelet sandwich with trout roe, all served on house-made baguettes. Also noteworthy is the cheesy French ravioli with parsley and spaghetti squash in a creamy Vadouvan curry, though it’s hard to go wrong with the short, well-executed menu. Pastries, coffee drinks and tea also are available.
Read about the French sandwich shop in Melrose Hill.

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Mercado González at Northgate Market

Costa Mesa Mexican $

The family-owned Mexican grocery chain with 43 locations in California has launched Mercado González at Northgate Market, a massive hybrid food hall and supermarket in a Costa Mesa shopping center. Visitors can pick up freshly made tortillas, breads, pastries and desserts, butchered meats, salsa and guacamole and more to enjoy at home, or linger at food stalls specializing in everything from mariscos to Michoacán-style carnitas, grilled meats, tamales, birria and more. The winding market also features the first bricks-and-mortar location for longtime Santa Ana food truck Chivas Tortas and the first stateside location for El Moro, a Mexico City-based churro chain. For a fancier sit-down option, Maisano is a modern, masa-focused restaurant from Grupo Apapacho, which is behind Cha Cha Chá in downtown L.A. and sister location Terraza Cha Cha Cha in Mexico City; the hospitality group also runs Entre Nos, a bar that anchors the back of the market near the stage where mariachi bands play.
Read about the expansive Mexican food hall and supermarket that just opened in Costa Mesa.

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Moonlark’s Dinette

Downtown L.A. American $$

Downtown is becoming a hub for nostalgia-driven diners, with Moonlark’s Dinette joining fellow newcomers Rita’s Deluxe and Denae’s Diner. Find Moonlark’s on the ground floor of the Hoxton Hotel in the former Café Basque space, with all-day dishes like a breakfast quesadilla with chorizo and chilaquiles verdes, plus sandwiches, salads and mains such as grilled spare ribs that are available after 4 p.m. On the beverage side, there are coffee drinks, wine, beer, cider, fruity nonalcoholic options and creative cocktails including a choose-your-own-adventure bloody mary and Duck Season, with duck-washed rye whiskey and amaretto.
Read about the latest diner to open downtown.

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Parmizza

Culver City Italian American $$

The signature dish at Culver City’s Parmizza fuses two of America’s favorite comfort foods: pizza and parm. Chicken, veal, spiced pork and cauliflower are given the parm treatment and pounded to a thin disc before getting topped with an assortment of toppings, from classic pepperoni to unique combinations like the Uber with pecorino, bacon, Parmesan crisps and a sunny-side-up egg. Pair your Parmizza with salads or sides like spicy tuna tartare bites, octopus carpaccio and roasted beets with goat cheese. A Neapolitan ice cream wafer sandwich is on hand for dessert and a trio of spritzes complete the vibe, though a full bar is available to make your drink of choice.
Read about Culver City’s inventive new restaurant and bar.

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Rita’s Deluxe

Downtown L.A. American $

Taking over the former Petite Peso and RiceBar space is Rita’s Deluxe, a burger bar that takes inspiration from East Coast diners and is named after chef Luke Reyes’ grandmother. Expect a straightforward menu that subtly touts Reyes’ fine-dining background, such as the house Rita’s sauce with confit garlic and Dijon mustard that gets smeared on cheeseburgers; they can be made “Deluxe” with bacon, chopped cherry peppers and caramelized onions. A buttermilk and pickle-brined fried chicken sandwich and a rotating monthly special (for December, try a shaved roasted prime rib sandwich with horseradish aioli, griddled red onions and au jus dip) round out the menu, plus crinkle-cut fries that can be topped with melted cheese and fried cheese curds. Fountain sodas and a vanilla milkshake with organic dairy and ice cream are also on offer, with a rotating milkshake that highlights seasonal flavors — currently, it’s an Oreo, peppermint patty and candy cane blend. The cozy space features just six stools and a standing counter, with a frequent line out the door.
Read about downtown’s popular new burger bar.

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Saucy Chick Goat Mafia

East Pasadena Indian Mexican $

Saucy Chick Rotisserie and Goat Mafia, two popular vendors at the weekly Sunday Smorgasburg held at Row DTLA, first combined forces for a bricks-and-mortar in Beverly Grove. But after closing that space in the summer, they’ve now relocated to Pasadena, where a larger space has allowed for menu additions such as smoked chicken wings and papas con chorizo. Saucy Chick dishes fuse influences from Mexican and Indian cuisines, such as “Chaat-chos” that top hand-rolled para crisps with mayocoba beans, crema, roasted peanuts, fresh mint and jeera-spiced rotisserie chicken for a take on nachos that proves just as addicting. Goat Mafia offers traditional goat birria made from a century-old family recipe.
Read about the Pasadena storefront from Saucy Chick Goat Mafia.

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Shim Sham

Historic Filipinotown Bar/Nightclub $

In the space previously occupied by Genever in Historic Filipinotown, Shim Sham is a no-frills bar from Dustin Lancaster and Tyler Bell (L&E Oyster Bar, El Condor) that’s appealing to locals with $4 beers, a weekday happy hour, Western-themed nights every Wednesday, karaoke and more. Flipping the former Art Deco space with a rose-gold horseshoe-shaped bar, craft cocktails include a Creamsicle-reminiscent concoction with vodka and the herbaceous Vendome Spritz with elderflower, lime, basil, strawberry and Champagne. Natural wine and nonalcoholic options ensure there’s something for everyone at this new neighborhood hangout.
Learn about Historic Filipinotown’s new neighborhood haunt.

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Si! Mon

Venice Panamanian $$

Transforming the former James Beach space and bringing a California perspective to Central American cuisine is Si! Mon, a chic new restaurant from chef José Olmedo Carles Rojas. The menu features items inspired by those served in Carles Rojas’ Panama restaurants, such as yuca tostadas that require two days of preparation and Afro-Caribbean shrimp dumplings, as well as those conceived specifically for L.A., like baked oysters and clam guacho with radish-mint picadillo. Carles Rojas partnered with restaurateurs Louie and Netty Ryan (Townhouse, Hatchet Hall) on the opening; they tapped beverage director Mitch Ono Bushell (Townhouse) for a cocktail program that takes similar cues, like a mezcal margarita that gets a tropical kick with passion fruit.
Learn more about Venice Beach’s Panamanian-influenced restaurant.

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Soulo’s Kitchen

Chinatown Soul Food Burgers $$

For a hearty and delicious meal in Chinatown, columnist Jenn Harris points you toward Soulo’s Kitchen, which chef Derrick Bivens operates out of the Lokels Only kitchen space. The comfort-driven menu features turkey, pork and fried lamb chops; oxtails and rice; and seafood including blackened salmon and fried lobster claws. They’re all available with classic Southern sides like mac and cheese, candied yams and collard greens. Bivens also is behind the Billionaire Burger Boyz food trucks; you’ll find that menu available at the downtown location as well. This is the place to go if you’re hankering for a holiday feast but want to skip the cooking.
Read about Soulo’s Kitchen in Lokels Only.

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Suá Superette

Windsor Square Sichuan $$

Fashioned after a Pret a Manger cafe, Suá Superette is a new all-day destination in Larchmont from Jing Gao, founder of Fly by Jing Sichuan chili sauce, and Stephanie Hjelmeseth, a beauty influencer who comes from a family of restaurant owners. Local meal-plan company Organic Oren is behind ready-to-eat items that pair Sichuan flavors with California produce, such as mapo tofu, mala-spiced lotus chips and Chinese eggplant with chickpea miso. A selection of home goods sourced from Asian-owned companies fills the shelves, including pantry items, cookware and Fly by Jing products.
Read about the new Sichuan-inspired market in Larchmont.

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Two Hommés

Inglewood Pan African $$

As diverse as L.A.’s dining scene is, there’s no one else doing what Abdoulaye Balde, a.k.a. Chef AB, and Marcus Yaw, a.k.a. Chef Mando, are accomplishing at Two Hommés in Inglewood. The two chefs put a spin on pan-African and Caribbean flavors in dishes like egg rolls stuffed with smoked lamb shoulder, zucchini that gets brightened with za’atar, and honey berbere chicken bites, with customizable mains like root beer-braised short rib and fried catfish that can be ordered with garlic noodles or Ghanaian-style jollof rice. Classic soul and R&B albums decorate the walls and play overhead, making for a lively brunch or dinner scene.
Read about Inglewood’s pan-African eatery.

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Yum Sະlut

Chinatown Laotian $$

In Chinatown’s Lokels Only, Yum Sະlut is a Laotian kitchen with dishes that recall those that chef-owner Tharathip Soulisak’s mother would make for him growing up. The nem khao, a platter of crispy rice with cubed pork, peanuts, pork skin and green onion, with a mint and cilantro salad that can be used to create lettuce wraps, proves one of the most popular dishes. Columnist Jenn Harris also recommends the pieng xeen, with grilled beef, sticky rice, a green salad and two sauces, including a fish sauce vinaigrette that Soulisak calls “crack sauce” and a traditional jeow bee that’s similar but adds beef bile to the recipe.
Read about the Laotian kitchen in Chinatown.

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626 Hospitality

Arcadia Soft serve $

For those unseasonably warm winter days when the sun shines unmarred, 626 Hospitality is ready with soft serve in pan-Asian flavors. The pandemic-era pop-up from Waldo Yan and Amber Tan takes over the space vacated by long-running Ace Frozen Yogurt, bringing playful and delectable flavor combinations such as yuzu, lychee strawberry and mango calamansi, with topping options such as mochi, cacao nibs and Butterfinger crumbles.
Read about 626 Hospitality’s new bricks and mortar in Arcadia.

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