Between a resurrected Spanish tapas bar and a whole lot of smoked meat moving into the Arts District, April couldn’t have been more stacked with reasons to get out and eat something new. If you missed these restaurant openings then, you better get them on the schedule for May, as there’s also a stunning new designer restaurant from Tao Group on the Sunset Strip, and a concert hall-adjacent concept from a local veteran.
Here are our picks for the finest new spots to imbibe and devour this spring.
Where chef Ray Garcia goes, loyal diners will follow — and Asterid is well worth the trip. Miles away (thematically) from his last great downtown restaurant, Broken Spanish, Garcia has created an elevated new spot to accompany the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Asterid is billed as a celebration of L.A.’s culinary diversity and the menu executes that concept with precision, from hiramasa ceviche marooned in passionfruit and coconut to beef tartare with crème fraîche and black truffle and even deep-fried maitake mushrooms with turmeric aioli, the expansiveness on display is exceptional. Each dish shows Garcia’s knack for updating classics and creating the unexpected, but by the time you get to the short rib with domingo rojo beans, a warm familiarity sets in. Turns out, no matter what kind of food he’s cooking, Garcia is a master.
After a couple of runs at small spaces, Bar Moruno is back in full force. First at the Original Farmers Market, and then in a stall at Grand Central Market, this Spanish tapas spot has been winning over hearts. Now, it has room to grow. Taking over the old Kettle Black space near Sunset Junction, the big-hearted restaurant from David Rosoff and Chris Feldmeier is already becoming a beloved neighborhood spot. Come for the made-in-California vermouth, served as it should be with a couple of rocks, a couple of olives and a thick orange slice. Stay for the incredible morunos, aka spicy meat skewers, or the juicy mussels with butter beans. Even if all you do is sit at the bar, sip a martini and nosh on some Minerva sardines and fresh bread, the spirit of the place will still be enough to nourish you.
Can’t make it to Italy this summer? No matter, Lavo Ristorante will transport you there for the evening without batting an eye. This luxe West Hollywood newcomer is just as stunning as any seaside hangout in Capri, and tasteful Mediterranean-inspired designs from Studio Collective catapult it to the top of the new hotspots list. Pastas and pizza abound, but one-up your dinner companion by ordering the one-pound (!) wagyu meatball, or a salt-baked sea bass for two, deboned and distributed with grace as a tableside spectacle. Whether you go the pasta or protein route is up to you, both are equally excellent, and the magnificent atmosphere will make it feel like the weekend…even if it’s just a late Wednesday supper.
Never look a gift horse in the mouth, especially if said gift is a brand-new barbecue spot with respect for smoke, sides and a spot-on location. Though chef Omari Williams is surrounded by the likes of Bavel, Bestia and Cha Cha Cha, that hasn’t slowed him or his brisket down one bit. This barbecue menu is broken up into three sections: salads, sandwiches and plates, with both carnivorous and vegetarian options. Guests can add their meat (or vegan/vegetarian protein) to a sandwich or a salad, or have it served up hot with a couple of classic sides like mac and cheese, Brussels sprouts or baked beans. Absolutely get a drink or two to wash that all down, but the real story here is that barbecue in L.A. is back in a big way.
With a prime piece of real estate right on Sunset Boulevard, Magari fills a niche in a location that could really use this kind of elevated dining establishment. The restaurant marries the majesty of Japanese subtlety with strong Italian flavors — the uninitiated might think these two cuisine styles won’t go well together, but strangely they do. With the trifecta of Tokyo chef Yoshiyuki Okuno, Sicilian-born chef Enrico Merendino and James Beard-winner Tony Messina from Boston, Magari’s longevity is all but confirmed, and that’s just a few weeks out from their opening. Agnolotti with shio koji brodo and tagliatelle with yuzu and uni are just a couple of examples of their inventive fusion, which must be eaten to be believed.
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