Top Chef, Bravo’s competitive cooking show that’s hosted by legendary judges Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi and Gail Simmons, has built quite a legacy. Since the series premiered in 2006, Los Angeles has fielded a wealth of culinary talent, including five champions: Ilan Hall, Stephanie Izard, Michael Voltaggio, Mei Lin and Brooke Williamson. While some former "cheftestants" are between gigs or moved on from LA, Top Chef alums helm kitchens at numerous restaurants across the city. Discover where to enjoy dishes by your favorite chefs from the high-drama series.
NOTE: Hours and opening dates change frequently. Check individual restaurants for updated information.
Jackson Kalb: Jame Enoteca
Food & Wine described Season 19 competitor Jackson Kalb as a "Pasta Prodigy" when the then-27-year-old opened Jame Enoteca in June 2018. The title is more than just hype - Kalb started a catering company at age 12; apprenticed at Josiah Citrin's two Michelin-starred Mélisse in high school; and later staged at Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas and Grant Achatz's Alinea in Chicago.
Tucked inside an El Segundo strip mall, Jame Enoteca showcases Italian cuisine with a California twist. To start, the wildly popular Kale Salad is a must - parmigiano, avocado, cilantro, fresh herbs, and sweet-spicy almond vinaigrette (recipe at KCRW). Signature handmade pastas include capellini in a 36-hour tomato sauce; and scarpinocc with braised beef cheek, brown butter, sage and saba. Non-traditional favorites include the squid ink bavette with rock shrimp and stracciatella; and tagliatelle al ragu - puréed avocado gives the "Hollywood-style Bolognese" its hit of creaminess.
Jackson Kalb: Ospi
Jackson Kalb and Melissa Saka opened their sophomore restaurant, Ospi in September 2020. Located a block from the famed Venice Boardwalk, Ospi - short for ospitante ("host") - features Southern Italian cuisine in a sun-splashed dining room with a wraparound patio. Open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, Ospi serves a few pasta dishes and the amazing kale salad from the duo's acclaimed Jame in El Segundo.
Kalb's personal favorite of the cracker-thin pizzas is the Hapa, topped with slow-smoked pepperoni macinati, slow-roasted pineapple, jalapeño and pickled Fresno chiles. The tomato-less Funghi includes smoked scamorza, mushrooms, taleggio, and four-hour caramelized onion.
For dinner, start with a cocktail from the Negroni section to pair with antipasti like crispy provolone, Neapolitan meatballs, and the aforementioned kale salad. Fett’unta (thick slices of toasted country bread) include options like garlic, beef tartare, or a Calabrian chili spread with stracciatella, basil oil, and toasted pignoli. Primi highlights include spicy rigatoni, a Jame favorite; lamb neck cannelloni, and hand-rolled malloreddus (Sardinian gnocchi) with beef cheek ragu. Secondi features butter chicken with cultured brown butter and lemon (be sure to get it "Ospi parm-style"); and the Wanderer Farms bone-in ribeye with black garlic cream.
Stephanie Izard: Girl & the Goat
In Season 4, Stephanie Izard made Top Chef history when she became the first woman to win the title. In July 2021, Izard opened the highly-anticipated Girl & The Goat - her first restaurant outside of Chicago - in the Downtown LA Arts District. The sun-splashed interior features a loft-like exposed ceiling, rattan chairs, and a plethora of houseplants from Rolling Greens.
The family-style menu features the global influences and bold flavors of Izard's Chicago flagship, with inspiration from California's bounty of seasonal ingredients. Namesake dishes include confit goat belly with plum pickle relish and spiced pecan crunch; and the LA-exclusive goat curry with masa chips, radishes, and pickled veggies. Vegan options include naan & dips with tahini tofu and carrot "hummus"; grilled pineapple salad, and sticky glazed fried maitake mushrooms.
Proceeds from rotating dishes are donated to local nonprofits. Currently $1 from each order of the signature sautéed green beans goes to No Us Without You, which provides food security for undocumented immigrants in the hospitality industry.
Stephanie Izard: Cabra
Stephanie Izard's second Chicago import, Cabra is perched on the rooftop of The Hoxton, the stunning Beaux Arts style hotel located in the Fashion District. Opened in January 2022, Cabra boasts incredible city views to accompany the Peruvian-inspired menu of shareable plates. Enjoy an unforgettable sunset while sipping a poolside cocktail like the classic Pisco Sour or the refreshing LA Dreamin' with tequila, pomegranate and ginger ale.
Starters include Izard's famed goat empanadas, two versions of Peru's national dish, ceviche; hamachi tiradito with dashi leche de tigre and smoked trout roe; and chicken thigh anticucho with peanut aji panca sauce and yuzu-cilantro.
Mains feature skirt steak saltado, sweet & sour branzino with crispy potato herb salad; and chicharron de puerco - skin-on fatty pork shank with pickled squash salad, mango & aji salad, and sweet potato flatbread.
Alex Eusebio: Cascabel
Season 5 competitor Alex Eusebio situated his chile-inspired Mexican restaurant between a dentist's office and the 134 freeway. The Toluca Lake space features a rattlesnake mural and fenced-in back patio with strings of lights. Guacamoles feature the vegan Classic and Smoked Bacon. More ambitious dishes include hard-shell lobster tacos with crème fraiche and caviar; whole seared branzino in a tangy guajillo adobo; and braised chicken mole negro.
Alex Eusebio: Sweetsalt Food Shop
Eusebio's sandwich shop, Sweetsalt resides in Toluca Lake right down Riverside Drive. The chef’s first space features wood floors, picnic tables out front, and grey walls with framed drawings of vintage utensils. Sandwiches are especially popular, particularly Lavender Duck Confit, Steak & Brie, or an untraditional - but still righteous - Shrimp Po’Boy with Cajun-seasoned shrimp, chimichurri, crumbled potato chips and spicy aioli on ciabatta. Eusebio was smart to have customers order at the counter, since that plants them before a tempting pastry case.
Antonia Lofaso: Black Market Liquor Bar
Antonia Lofaso, Season 4 and Season 8 All-Stars competitor, has become a breakout star. The Cutthroat Kitchen judge now contributes mightily to LA’s culinary landscape along with Mario Guddemi and Sal Aurora. In 2011, they debuted Black Market Liquor Bar in the former Studio City home of the Victory Motorcycle Co., complete with an L-shaped bar, arched brick ceiling and reclaimed wood accents. Share-friendly plates might consist of meatballs with garlic crisp and basil, peel & eat lemon pepper shrimp, Sriracha-spiked shrimp toast, and deep-fried Fluffernutter sandwiches.
Antonio Lofaso: DAMA
Lofaso teamed with Guddemi, Aurora and talented bartenders Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix to open DAMA at City Market South in the DTLA Fashion District. The former industrial space now features exposed wood rafters, a quintessential SoCal patio, and incorporates fetching floral elements into the design. Lofaso’s cooking leans a bit more towards the Mediterranean and Mexico than her other projects. Some of DAMA’s most compelling share-friendly dishes consist of lamb chops slathered with olive salsa verde and a herbaceous bowl of clams and chorizo lavished with butter and Spanish cider. Go big with plates starring proteins like whole snapper and crispy pork shank.
Antonia Lofaso: Scopa Italian Roots
In 2013, Lofaso initially partnered with the same four people on Scopa Italian Roots, a perpetually mobbed Italian restaurant in Marina del Rey with brick walls, marble tables, communal wood tables, and a backlit bar. Favorite bites from Scopa’s sprawling menu include a meatball hero with orbs crafted from chuck and tenderloin; house-made pastas like linguini with clams; and a stupendous 24-ounce T-bone steak loaded with Katarina’s oil, garlic and parsley. Food-friendly cocktails like the Bullock’s Wilshire and Negroni Sbagliato are impeccable.
Brooke Williamson: Playa Provisions
Season 14 champion and Season 10 runner up, Brooke Williamson built a successful restaurant group called Company For Dinner with chef/husband Nick Roberts. While they're no longer involved with their inaugural effort, Hudson House, the couple continues to run the 7,000 square-foot Playa Provisions, which houses four different concepts under one roof in Playa del Rey.
Up front, King Beach Café and Small Batch ice cream parlor sport sleek wood design, sea blue and bright green furniture. Dockside restaurant faces the water, and Grain Whiskey Bar resides in back, complete with bourbon barrel shelving.
King Beach features breakfast and lunch, including biscuits with dulce de leche and sea salt; and a breakfast sandwich with turkey-bacon sausage, Gruyere, over-easy egg, vinegar cooked collards and avocado with house-pickled habanero hot sauce on ciabatta. Lunch brings sandwiches like the Patty Melt, Corned Beef, and the Connecticut-style seafood roll with Dungeness crab, lobster and shrimp.
For dinner, Dockside's coastal menu includes a Shellfish Tower, yellowfin tuna & tiger shrimp ceviche, and squid ink rigatoni with shrimp sumo and bottarga. "From the Land" offers shio koji marinated half-chicken and 12oz prime New York strip steak.
Dakota Weiss: Sweetfin
Season 9 stalwart Dakota Weiss partnered with Seth Cohen, Brett Nestadt, and Alan Nathan on Sweetfin, a fast casual poké concept that now has nine LA outposts, including Downtown LA, Silver Lake, Larchmont, Westwood Village, Westfield Topanga & The Village, and Abbot Kinney. Opened in 2015, the original Santa Monica location touts spiral tabletops, geometric designs carved into counters, potted succulents, and a system of lights and piping that combine to resemble a circuit board.
Build your own poké bowl (aka "BYOB"), or consider a Signature Bowl like the Yuzu Salmon with piquant yuzu kosho sauce, edamame and jicama. Spicy Tuna incorporates creamy togarashi, hijiki and avocado, topped with crispy onion. Be sure to grab a container of Weiss’s signature Matcha Popcorn (white chocolate, matcha, coconut and sesame seeds).
Elia Aboumrad: Cassell’s Hamburgers
Elia Aboumrad appeared on Season 2 and Season 8 Top Chef All-Stars, where she competed against Marcel Vigneron and other repeat participants. At Cassell’s Hamburgers locations in Koreatown's Hotel Normandie and on 8th Street in Downtown LA, Aboumrad fills glass cases with house-made pies while chef/husband Christian Page oversees the signature burgers. Depending on the season, her sweet repertoire might include banana cream pie with dulce de leche and whipped cream; vegan and gluten-free chocolate peanut butter pie; and classics like apple, pecan and pumpkin.
Ilan Hall: Ramen Hood
Season 2 champion, Ilan Hall opened his vegan Ramen Hood at Downtown LA’s prestigious Grand Central Market in 2015. Instead of using eggs, Hall and his on-site chef, Rahul Khopkar craft whites with GMO-free soy milk set with agar, and yolks starring spherified nutritional yeast and black salt. They created a bold broth with sunflower seeds instead of pork tonkotsu, and char siu is reimagined as King oyster mushrooms.
Small plates include Togarashi Tater Tots with Ramen Hood Spice Blend and vegan Sriracha mayo; fried broccoli with soy chile glaze, and Ahi "Tuna" Crisps - spicy "tuna" beets with yuzu avocado puree.
Mei Lin: Daybird
Mei Lin was a sous chef at Michael Voltaggio's ink. when she left to compete on Top Chef Season 12 and emerged as champion. After a stint as Oprah's personal chef, Lin opened her now-closed modern Chinese restaurant, Nightshade in 2019 and followed up with Daybird in March 2021.
Tucked inside a Silver Lake strip mall, the fast-casual Daybird showcases the Instagram-ready Szechuan Hot Chicken Sando: breaded Jidori chicken fried in rice bran oil and topped with tangy slaw. Spice levels range from No Heat to Mild, Medium, Hot and Extreme. Lin emphasizes balance at Daybird, so even the heat-averse can level up to Mild or Medium without fear. The minimalist menu also offers one, two, and four-piece Chicken Tenders with Daybird, habanero-ranch, or hot honey sauce.
Phillip Frankland Lee: Scratch | Bar & Kitchen
Scratch | Bar & Kitchen is the Valley’s most ambitious restaurant, an impressive tasting experience from Top Chef Season 13 competitor Phillip Frankland Lee and pastry chef/wife Margarita Kallas-Lee that’s part of a three-concept compound on Encino Place’s second floor. The menu spans 21 courses, costs $185 per person (not including wine pairings), and leaves plenty to the imagination. Courses are listed simply - "spot prawn," "squash," "venison" - but convey so much more. Dinner starts with savory snacks and cocktail pairings in a small bar and continues in a 24-seat dining room with booths and a counter overlooking an open kitchen with a wood-burning hearth.
A recent standout was Mary's Duck - dry-aged for seven days and served with roasted baby beets, pickled green apple, crispy beet root, and finished with a beet reduction. Lobster tartare was seasoned with matcha green tea salt, soy sauce, ponzu and lemon; and topped with Santa Barbara uni, tomato aspic and puffed quinoa. Other highlights from the seasonal menus: Columbia River sturgeon with beurre blanc, caviar and morel; Flying H Squab Ranch roasted squab breast with squab jus and red beet; and Wagyu ribeye with pommel puree and truffled jus, served with "Waldorf" Salad. Kallas-Lee's dessert courses have included triple crème cheese ice cream and a striking bone marrow custard topped with candied marcona almonds, berry granita, lemon verbena, and nasturtiums.
Phillip Frankland Lee: Sushi|Bar
Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee opened their "omakase speakeasy," Sushi|Bar in June 2017. Hidden behind Scratch|Bar, the intimate ten-seat bar showcases California ingredients in a 17-course, $145 menu. Don’t look for chopsticks or soy sauce - guests eat the atypical dishes by hand.
After a complimentary welcome cocktail at Scratch|Bar, courses might feature unagi (freshwater eel) that's fried in bone marrow fat with green tea matcha salt, house-made soy sauce, ponzu, fresh lemon, and poblano yuzu kosho. Recent courses include tai (sea bream) with kazami, fresh lemon, house-made soy sauce, Balinese sea salt; and mirugai (geoduck) that's sprinkled with dehydrated lobster roe and matcha salt. For the sweet finish, Kallas-Lee created a hojicha ice cream bon bon with white sesame shortbread and toasted rice powder.
Phillip Frankland Lee: Pasta|Bar
Initially opened in June 2020 and reopened in April 2021, Phillip Frankland Lee's Pasta|Bar received a Michelin Star for a tasting menu that's described as "one for the books." The 10-course menu is bookended by Margarita Kallas-Lee's oven-fresh sourdough bread and mind-blowing Geranium Sundae. Recent highlights include squid ink garganelli, sunflower agnolotti with black truffle, and raviolo with lobster, corn, grilled lettuce and zucchini.
Shirley Chung: Ms Chi Cafe
A finalist on Top Chef Season 14, Shirley Chung opened the full-service Ms Chi Cafe in Downtown Culver City in October 2018. The menu features Chinese comfort food with a twist, including Chung's signature Cheeseburger Potstickers with crispy cheese and tomato bacon jam. Available only during dinner, the tea-smoked Mary's Farm half-duck is served with steamed lotus buns and a trio of sauces. Veg-friendly dishes include Garden Dumplings with spicy tofu aioli and pickled cauliflower; sautéed yu choy hearts, and vegan mapo tofu. Weekend brunch offers specials like flaky scallion pancakes and hearty pork belly ragu over tots, topped with a fried egg. Save room for gluten-free mochi donuts like black sesame and matcha glaze.