From Santa Monica to Downtown, new Los Angeles restaurants
are enlivening neighborhoods and appetites across the city.
Chef Jason Ryczek, formerly of Innovative Dining Group’s Boa, is the man behind the stoves at this congenial downtown spot, but it’s much more than a full-service restaurant. The space in the historic Pacific Electric building includes a bar where mixologists concoct experimental libations, while up front is a deli counter and small gourmet shop for diners on the go. Don’t be in too much of a hurry, though, otherwise you’ll miss market-fresh dishes created by Ryczek such as seasonal ceviche with pomegranate, cumin seeds, red chile slices, almonds and crème fraiche; gourmet flatbreaks; and Duroc pork jager-schnitzel made with dry-aged pork chop, chanterelles in a juniper brandy cream sauce, cave-aged gruyere kaesespaetzle and red sauerkraut.
600 Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90014, 213-622-6333; ArtisanHouse.net
This is the casual new downtown eatery from Chef Josef Centeno (Lazy Ox Canteen), that’s only been open a few months, but has already attracted an army of devotees. Though the chef serves up his signature cuisine of eclectic world foods such as Szechuan chicken ribs and chile relleno with pork and ricotta, the focus here is on the traditional Catalan flatbread sandwich from which the restaurant derives its name. Try “The Original” with pork belly, beef carnitas and salbitxada sauce he used to make just for friends, or the more innovative one with beef tongue schnitzel, pickle, harissa and smoked aioli, and leave room for little snacks like the spiced roasted peanuts with paprika, and the mixed olives with pecorino and lemon. We also hear the Sunday “Hair of the Dog” brunch will cure whatever ails you after a night out on the town.
408 S. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90013, 213-687-8808; BacoMercat.com
Mendocino Farms has developed a cult following thanks to gourmet sandwiches made from ingredients sourced from some of California’s finest farms. Now the team behind this burgeoning gourmet chain has opened a slightly less casual sit-down restaurant (in the former Casa space at California Plaza) that has become their new sandwich laboratory of sorts. Among the new creations is a pastrami burger created by Chef Jason Travi with a patty of ground pastrami topped with pickled cabbage and Thousand Island dressing; and a French Dip sandwich with braised short rib, cave-aged gruyere and roasted mushrooms on a Dolce Forno soft roll with horseradish crème fraiche and caramelized onion jus that they suggest pairing with an Alesmith Speedway Stout; though we prefer the milkshake Old Fashioned spiked with pecan-infused whiskey.
350 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90071, (213) 621-2249; BlueCowKitchen.com
Sai Sai Noodle Bar
At first glance, this cheery new Vietnamese-inspired lunch spot seems a bit out of place at the landmark Millennium Biltmore, but don’t tell that to the crowds of Downtowners who come here for power lunches over bowls of lobster-miso ramen or spicy pork kimchee ramen and after-work drinks like a frosty mug of Amnesia IPA.
501 S. Olive St., Los Angeles, CA 90071, (213) 624-1100; MillenniumHotels.com
Gardens on Glendon was a Westwood fixture for years, but the beautiful 1933 brick building on the corner of Glendon Avenue and Lindbrook Drive in Westwood has remained forlornly empty for a couple years now since it closed. It’s getting a new lease on life, however, thanks to new ownership and a new restaurant concept called Skylight Gardens whose menu mixes traditional Italian dishes with fresh California ingredients. Designer Osvaldo Maiozzi (Rivera) has updated the space with a Tuscan estate aesthetic in mind, while in the kitchen, Executive Chef Sebastian Gonzalez Bracco (who’s spent time at El Bulli) will be turning out dishes like handmade pastas, imported Italian meats and cheeses, and sumptuous desserts like passion fruit cheesecake. Sounds like a classic is being reborn.
1139 Glendon Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024, (310) 824-1818; SkylightGardens.com
Tar & Roses
Chef Andrew Kirschner left an exalted tenure at Wilshire Restaurant in Santa Monica to strike out on his own, and after several months, he’s finally opened this quaint bistro-pub not far from his former haunt. Free to pursue a more daring menu, the chef is serving adventurous treats like charred octopus skewers with salsa verde and piquillo pepper aioli; and mains like a bone-in ribeye for two, plus selling little gourmet foodstuffs like couscous and quince paste in the front corner.
602 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401, (310) 587-0700; TarAndRoses.com