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A selection of food photos from January
(Los Angeles Times)

The best places to eat and drink in L.A. right now, according to our food writers

We’re in a new year, but time still feels as ephemeral as ever. January in particular always feels like an awkward month, with everyone burnt out on holiday socializing and overwhelmed by all of the emails they promised to circle back on — and two weeks of back-to-back rainstorms certainly didn’t help matters.

While Angelenos cocooned indoors, our food scene remained as lively as ever. A stylish, family-run banquet hall landed in Arcadia, while a splashy disco-inspired dance hall lit up in the Arts District. Sadly, local favorites like Konbi, Genever and Eszett permanently shut their doors this month. Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles gave us a scare when they unexpectedly closed their long-standing location on West Pico, but as they shared with our reporters, the planned closure was intended to redirect focus to the newest outpost on the corner of La Brea and Washington.

If you need help deciding where to dine as we move into February, L.A. Times Food has you covered. We’ve been braving wet roads to bring you the city’s breaking food news, including a whimsical waterfront restaurant from heavy-hitting restaurateurs, a Vietnamese food crawl with an Emmy-winning host, sustainable sweets from a Michelin-starred destination and plenty of pop-ups in between. Here are some of our highlights from the last month and your best options for eating and drinking in L.A. right now.

If you’re searching for the essential food of L.A., let our critic’s 2022 restaurant list be your guide. Find the best vegetarian, Italian, Mexican and more.

Dec. 6, 2022

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The gobernador taco at the Simón mariscos truck
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)


Hollywood Mexican Seafood $
Food trucks have long been ubiquitous in L.A.’s street food scene, and the pandemic only proved the essentiality of such mobile eateries. One to pay attention to is Simón, helmed by taquero Francisco Aguilar, who parks his bright blue truck at Sunset Triangle Plaza in Silver Lake six days a week. The trucks features a rotating lineup of seafood tacos, including creative takes like fish al pastor and a spicy shrimp gobernador with griddled quesillo. You’ll also find ceviches, aguachiles, cocteles and fried pescadillas that hark back to the Costa region of Aguilar’s home state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Don’t delay on visiting though — as Times food critic Bill Addison says in his review, “Exciting, creatively assertive tacos like these never stay a secret for long in Los Angeles.”
Read Bill Addison’s Simón review.
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An overhead photo of ramen featuring pork, half an egg, green onions and nori. From a corner, chopsticks lift noodles.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)


Hollywood Japanese $$
Tokyo ramen chain Tonchin has branched from two stateside locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn to a new address on Melrose near Larchmont. Upon entering, guests are treated to a view of a machine pulling crimped ramen noodles, which are made from scratch daily and featured in an array of broths and formats. You’ll also find wings (including a cheesy curry option), gyoza, unagi rice balls and yakitori, plus sake, beer, natural wine and tea. A full bar is forthcoming.
Read about the noodle-making room at Tonchin.
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Trinity Fried Rice with shrimp from Monarch
(James Emrani and Gardenia Rosales)


Arcadia Hong Kong Taiwanese $$
The Leon family, behind aesthetically driven Chifa in Eagle Rock, just opened Monarch, a Hong Kong-style banquet hall in Arcadia that reporter Stephanie Breijo describes as “a love letter to the San Gabriel Valley.” Family matriarch “Popo” Wendy Leon and son-in-law John Liu primarily helm the kitchen, offering a blend of classic Hong Kong cafe staples as well as dishes that speak to Liu’s Taiwanese heritage. The cocktail program puts an emphasis on Asian-led spirit brands, with nonalcoholic cocktails offered in partnership with Optimist Botanicals. With a hand-roasted coffee bean program and a modern take on tea service, Monarch’s romantic, cobalt-drenched palace is a tempting option for almost any occasion.
Read about the Leon family’s new restaurant.
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West Hollywood's new Or Bar fills the former Gold Coast space with late-disco-era touches.
(Chelsea Lauren)

Or Bar

West Hollywood Bar Bites $$
Located in West Hollywood, where the historic queer bar Gold Coast once operated, Or Bar comes courtesy of Rob Novinger (Circus of Books), Stephanie Schestag and former “Fashion Police” co-host George Kotsiopoulos, who have transformed the beloved neighborhood haunt into a glittering cocktail lounge, complete with a crystal-studded chandelier that hangs over the bar island. The bar menu offers playful twists on classic recipes, like a New Fashioned with blood orange honey and an Or 54 in place of a French 75. A selection of wine, beer and $12 well drinks are available, in addition to bar snacks like plantain chips and mixed olives. A daily happy hour discounts well cocktails to $9, house wine and bubbly to $8 and beer to $6 from 4-7 p.m.
Read about West Hollywood’s newest bar.
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Fried shrimp tacos with avocado and salsa from Correa's Market at Smorgasburg LA
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Correa's Mariscos at Smorgasburg

Downtown L.A. Mexican Seafood $
The popular Eastside mariscos pop-up is one of the new Sunday vendors at Smorgasburg, offering ceviche and freshly fried shrimp tacos. Correa’s Meat Market operated as a butcher shop in Lincoln Heights for 19 years, gaining a new following in 2017 when the owner’s nephew Edgar Nava began hosting his seafood pop-up on-site. The original market and Nava’s pop-up were forced to close late last year after the landlord raised their rent to market rate, which makes Smorgasburg visitors all the luckier to have the new stand available on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The family also secured a new location in Lincoln Heights at 1917 Zonal Ave., with temporary hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Learn about the 2023 Smorgasburg L.A. vendors.
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A box of Tikka Tikka pizza from Forever Pie.
(Danielle Dorsey / Los Angeles Times)

Forever Pie

Beverly Grove Pizza Italian American Vegan $$
Two heavyweights in L.A.’s pizza and plant-based arenas have opened a new pizzeria in Beverly Grove, serving whole pies and pizza by the slice, salads, wings, baked pastas, fried mozzarella sticks and garlic knots from noon to midnight daily. Partner Nic Adler is behind the Eat Drink Vegan festival and a co-founder of Monty’s Good Burger and Nic’s on Beverly, while Anthony Carron boasts a background that includes 800 Degrees and Coast Range. In a neon-brimmed shop that recalls a video arcade, they’re offering inspired creations like Killa Beez with meatless pepperoni, Calabrian chiles, marinara, garlic and vegan honey, and Tikka Tikka with “Magic Tikka” sauce, chick’n, red onion, jalapeno and cilantro. The owners hope to expand to a second location in Echo Park later this year.
Read about Beverly Grove’s new vegan pizzeria.
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Shrimp Louis, sand dabs with sides of broccolini and lemony potatoes, clams casino, bougie fish sticks and stone crab claws are on the menu at Dear Jane's, a seafood-focused restaurant in Marina del Rey.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Dear Jane's

Marina del Rey Seafood Cocktails $$$
A sister seafood restaurant to nostalgia-fueled Dear John’s, Dear Jane’s makes use of its picturesque location along the Marina del Rey waterfront. Like its sibling steakhouse in Culver City, the seafood restaurant delivers retro glamour with dramatic tableside presentations and decadent dishes alongside rich sauces — the bougie fish sticks are crowned with crème fraîche
and a dollop of caviar, with seven-layer dip served on the side. In Bill Addison’s recent review, he hailed the shrimp scampi as his favorite of the four pastas and praised the trout amandine, blackened salmon and sand dabs grenobloise — the latter of which he petitions to appear on more L.A. menus.
Read about Marina del Rey’s new seafood haven.
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Fatteh at Nawal, a creamy, savory dish of garbanzo beans, fried pita chips, house yogurt sauce, house hummus sauce, fried almond slivers, chopped parsley, hot oil drizzle and house seasoning.
(Oscar Mendoza / For The Times)


Elysian Park Syrian Breakfast $
Our critic calls this Syrian breakfast pop-up from two brothers “a straightforward pleasure, relaxed and wholesome and gently evolving.” You’ll order vibrant and comforting takes on fatteh, labneh and ful, with rotating monthly specials that lovingly reference the family’s Circassian heritage, from a window behind their house, and you can take your selection to go or pull up a seat in the cozy, plant-lined backyard.
Read about the Syrian breakfast pop-up.
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Let's Go! Disco, a new cocktail and disco lounge, riffs on 1970s glam in the Arts District.
(Cannon Schmidt)

Let's Go Disco

Downtown L.A. Cocktails $$
Hidden next to De La Nonna pizzeria is this Italian-inspired nightclub with neon lights, a checkered-mirror ceiling and a high-touch audio system that’s devoted to disco. On the drink menu, you’ll find Sardinian liqueur, amari and a selection of negronis and caffeine-driven cocktails, with fun takes on classic drinks like the margarita, which features two varieties of amaro, fresh ginger, salt and rhubarb. The soundtrack skews toward ’70s disco hits, including genres and artists influenced by the era.
Read about the Arts District’s new disco den.
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Beef skewers with pickled vegetables from Golden Skewer stand at Smorgasburg LA
(Danielle Dorsey / Los Angeles Times)

Golden Skewer at Smorgasburg

Downtown L.A. Cambodian $
Another Smorgasburg newcomer, Golden Skewer specializes in Cambodian street food like charcoal-grilled meat skewers and corn on the cob, served on their own or with pickled vegetables and a scoop of rice. The same team is also behind the Sweet Grass Sugarcane booth, which makes fresh sugarcane juice in flavors ranging from dragon fruit and passion fruit to durian and lychee.
Read about the 2023 Smorgasburg LA vendors.
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El Prado

Echo Park Wine Bars Cocktails $$
L.A. is quickly becoming a destination for natural wine, but this Echo Park bar that’s owned by multidisciplinary artist Nick Fisher might be the coolest option in the city right now, with a 100-bottle list dedicated to micro-producers and rare finds. There’s always something going on at the neighborhood bar off Sunset, whether it’s a chart-topping musician stopping in for an impromptu DJ set, a record release party or an art exhibition, with outdoor tables built for chess games and a popular midnight hot dog service.
Read about the revival of a Silver Lake wine bar.
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Pastry chef Mac Daniel Dimla works in the kitchen of Providence's, piping chocolate into molds.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)


Hollywood Seafood $$$$
This Hancock Park-adjacent dining-scene mainstay is just as committed to sustainability as it is to providing a welcoming and opulent setting for enjoying chef Michael Cimarusti’s creations, such as scallops topped with black truffle and Liberty Farms duck with Napa cabbage. Staff reporter Stephanie Breijo highlights the restaurant’s zero-waste chocolate program in her Waste Not column, which involves sourcing from small farms in Ecuador and Hawaii. Sample the rewards of executive pastry chef Mac Daniel Dimla’s careful harvesting with the Ecuadorian chocolate at the end of your meal, and take home complimentary rotating desserts like flower-shaped truffles to savor later on. Dimla hopes to eventually offer chocolate bars to guests.
Read about Providence’s zero-waste chocolate program.
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Jeannie Mai enjoys a big bowl of Pho at the restaurant Pho So 1 during her Vietnamese food crawl in the San Fernando Valley.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Pho So 1

Van Nuys Vietnamese $
Columnist Jenn Harris accompanied former “The Real” talk show host Jeannie Mai Jenkins on a Vietnamese food crawl around L.A. They started their journey at Jenkins’ favorite pho spot in Van Nuys, where, in addition to ordering her favorite bowl of pho outside of her mom’s, she built her own rice plate with charbroiled pork chop, meatloaf, shredded pork skins and a fried egg, with fried spring rolls on the side. Whatever you order, load your selections with plenty of hoisin, sambal and sriracha.
Go on a Vietnamese food crawl around L.A.
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The jumbo cheeseburger potstickers served with bacon tomato jam at Ms Chi Cafe
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Ms Chi Cafe

Culver City Chinese American $$
In search of an answer to the age-old question “What is a dumpling?,” columnist Jenn Harris met up with the Dumpling Mafia trio at Ms Chi Cafe. They tried an assortment of folded delights that you can learn more about in the video, but to try the dish that wowed “Top Chef” judges, head to Shirley Chung’s Culver City restaurant for cheeseburger potstickers filled with ground chuck, diced red onion and oozing cheddar cheese, with bacon tomato jam served on the side. Other house-made dumpling options include chicken jiaozi, won tons, won ton soup, pork and vegan options, plus rice and noodle entrees and a popular tea-smoked duck for dinner.
Watch how to make cheeseburger dumplings.
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A family meal-sized plate of fried chicken at the new L.A. location of the legendary New Orleans restaurant Willie Mae's
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Willie Mae's

Venice Southern $
You know that a specific fried chicken must be special to columnist Jenn Harris if she went so far as to save a photo of it as her phone’s lock screen. That famed photo depicts the award-winning item from Willie Mae’s, which Harris first tried at the original Willie Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans. You can trust Harris’ expertise when she says that the Seaton family’s second outpost in Venice meets the original’s exacting standards, delivering the same satisfying crunch and tender meat. A full menu of Southern staples, including a gumbo dish that’s exclusive to the new location, is available.
Read about New Orleans transplant Willie Mae’s.
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Three donuts in a box.
(Zifei Zhang / Los Angeles Times)

Holey Grail Donuts

Santa Monica Hawaiian Donut Shop $
Holey Grail’s piping hot hand-fried taro doughnuts are a delicious platform for co-founders Nile and Hana Dreiling’s sustainability-minded values. Each doughnut is crafted fresh to order with ingredients sourced from local farmers in Hawaii and Los Angeles. What started out as a weekend doughnut pop-up on the Dreilings’ burger truck has blossomed into a delicious arsenal of more than 60 tropical and innovative flavors. Alongside the consistent classics menu, Holey Grail rotates tasting-box flavors every Thursday, keeping the menu simple and seasonal. The Original Sin doughnut is where the taro really shines; the Hawaiian vanilla and salted maple elevate the sweet nuttiness of the root. Fried in coconut oil, all of the doughnuts maintain a crispy outer crust and a lovely dense and moist cake center, while the taro flour brings a little springy chew to the dough. Eat them fresh while they’re still hot — the first bite is worth the hot-food-in-your-mouth juggle.
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Chef Travis Hayden's mortadella at wine bar Voodoo Vin
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Voodoo Vin

East Hollywood Wine Bars Small Plates $$
Reporter Stephanie Breijo dives into L.A.’s mortadella moment and highlights some of the most impressive iterations around town. At Virgil Village wine bar Voodoo Vin, chef Travis Hayden is one of the few making his own mortadella with an evolving recipe that’s now a year in the making. With over 400 bottles featured in the wine collection, you’re sure to find something perfect to pair it with.
Read about L.A.’s mortadella obsession.
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An order of wings slathered in Boss Sauce, with a side fries and the traditional piece of bread (under the wings), at CJ's Wings
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

CJ's Wings

Mid-City Chicken Wings $
This snug unassuming shop that hovers between West Adams and Mid-City on West Pico is cranking out some of the best chicken wings in the city, according to resident expert Jenn Harris, who highlighted CJ’s Wings in her column, waxing poetic on the hefty chicken wings and drumettes coated in spicy-sweet Boss Sauce, which the family-owned business has exclusive rights to distribute on the West Coast. CJ’s broasts their chicken, which involves pressure-frying the meat in about half the time it typically takes and results in a crispy outer layer despite a generous slathering of sauce.
Read about Jenn Harris’ new favorite wings.
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The chicken shawarma combo with fries, toum (garlic sauce) and pickles, at Hollywood Shawarma.
(Bill Addison / Los Angeles Times)

Hollywood Shawarma

Hollywood Syrian Shawarma $
Critic Bill Addison followed a friend’s tip to what will likely become his new go-to shawarma spot — even positing in the Tasting Notes newsletter that it could be the best in the city. Choose from lamb and beef or chicken, both of which are coated in a secret marinade and seasoning blend before cooking on a rotating vertical spit. The lamb and beef is dashed with tahini and the chicken with whipped garlic, and both are stuffed with tomato and pickle. Enjoy the pita with a side of fries, or feed the whole family with a 12- or 24-inch version.
Read about Bill Addison’s new shawarma find.
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