The Best New Restaurant Openings in Los Angeles

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Photo courtesy of Redbird, Facebook

The restaurant scene is growing faster than ever here in Los Angeles and although 2015 is just getting under way, it seems like a big opening is happening every week. This year will see many familiar faces, some with their mind on expansion and others just catching a second wind with something new to reflect the ever-changing public taste. We’ll also witness the excitement of veteran chefs, both local and from out of town, that are opening restaurants for the very first time. Let’s start the year off with these delicious new restaurants - some aren’t open yet, but they’re sure to be popular so you’d better call those reservations in now.

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Spicy chicken wings | Photo courtesy of Cassia

Cassia



Ever since the Spice Table closed to make way for the Metro over a year ago, fans of Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef 2012, Bryant Ng, have impatiently waited for his return. The new Santa Monica restaurant - the team includes Bryant's wife Kim and partners Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan of Huckleberry, Milo and Olive, and Rustic Canyon - will feature more Vietnamese influences to augment Ng’s Singaporean explorations. The new concept will serve whole Singaporean white pepper crab, less famous than chili crab but just as coveted in Singapore, laksa (a spicy coconut seafood bowl popular in hawker stalls), and charcuterie fried rice filled with Asian delights.

Jon and Vinny’s

Jon & Vinny's



Like a songwriting duo out of Motown, chefs  Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo can crank out chart-topping hit restaurants: Animal, Son of a Gun, Trois Mec and Petit Trois (with chef Ludo Lefevre). Next up is Jon and Vinny’s, opening soon in the old Damiano’s pizza space on Fairfax. Like all hit-makers, they must produce a new act to escape their own success - their newest concept is all about dining with the family. Everyone can relate to gathering up the kids and heading out for great pasta, pizzas, a little wine and a well-made eggplant parmesan or meatballs. Jon and Vinny’s will have a little something for everyone, mixing Italian American cuisine with a bit of California and Jersey thrown in.

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“Veggie and fruit plate” at Le Comptoir | Photo by Stacey Sun

Le Comptoir



One of L.A.’s most talked about chefs, Gary Menes has been a hard reservation to get in recent years as he only had a pop-up, until he opened Le Comptoir at the newly renovated Hotel Normandie in Koreatown. Menes uses the finest ingredients - some from his own garden - and prepares a $69 seasonal tasting menu in front your eyes as vegetables are coaxed into rapturous textures and flavors. You can get a mostly vegetarian menu and not miss a thing with combinations like the vegetable and fruit plate, which delivers around a dozen fruits and vegetables meticulously prepared with various techniques.

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Chile relleno with mole poblano at Mexicano | Photo by Bill Esparza

Mexicano



When chefs Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu opened La Casita in 1998, they ushered in an era of gourmet cenadurias (supper houses serving antojitos) in Los Angeles, which has continued with Mexicano, their newest location in the Baldwin Hills Mall. The chef duo have kept some of the classics that they’re known for but also included regional plates from their home state, like pollo a la valentina (chicken in a seasoned tomato sauce), a slurp worthy carne en su jugo (meat cooked in it’s own juices), and the rare and complex mole xico, a mole from Vera Cruz that has a mildly sweet profile.

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Pork ribs at Odys + Penelope | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Odys + Penelope



One of the current restaurant trends has to be chefs cooking the way they like to eat. When it's one of L.A.'s top culinary couples, Quinn and Karen Hatfield, it's an invitation to enjoy American-style churrasco (barbecue) with dry-aged sirloin cap and rare wagyu steak in a rich bearnaise sauce. The duo closed their white table-clothed institution, Hatfield's to open Odys + Penelope and offer a more approachable cuisine that appeals to guests looking for a regular spot that serves dishes like tai snapper with beets and fried kale followed by Karen’s famous desserts. A variety of woods are being employed in their South American-style barbecue for cuts meant to be enjoyed with vegetables and sauces, which is the way grilled meats are served in Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay with a nod to such nearby traditions as tri-tip in Santa Maria.

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Tonkotsu ramen at Ramen Champ | Photo courtesy of @estarla, Instagram

Ramen Champ



Chefs Alvin Cailan and Johnny Lee (the team behind Eggslut, one of the marquee stands at the Grand Central Market), have teamed up with Nathan Asamoto of Men Oh Tokushima and joined the Chinatown revival. Ramen Champ features slow-cooked ramen full of local produce and has achieved instant cult status. Be ready to order creamy tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen with artisanal noodles and tender wedges of pork belly while you wait in line, Japanese-style. There’s a shio (salt) ramen prepared with chicken submerged in a rich full-flavored broth spiked with schmaltz (chicken fat) - order a rice bowl and ladle in any leftover stock.

Patio at Redbird in Downtown LA
Patio at Redbird | Photo: Stacey Sun

Redbird



Five years after closing Grace, one of the most important restaurants in L.A., chef Neal Fraser has returned with Redbird, featuring a New American menu that shows the creativity and confidence that’s a breath of fresh air. Those who are devoted to flavor are making the pilgrimage to the former Vibiana cathedral in Downtown L.A., where the new religion includes dishes like chicken pot pie with thyme scented thighs and hearts under a thin crust, John Dory paired with a delicately flavored blood sausage, and clams in bouillabaisse flavors.