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A collage of photos from February's Food stories

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

With the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras and one coveted three-day weekend, February proved a busy yet brief month. Somehow our writers kept pace, scouring the city for bars with food that attracts fans outside of sports seasons, arming you with last-minute date ideas, dishing on where to find the best beignets and Creole cuisine, and diving into what we’ve deemed the best coffee culture in the world. As always, we continued reporting on breaking news from within the food industry, including the ongoing strike from Medieval Times workers and astronomical gas bills that are pushing some restaurants to the point of closure.

To prepare you as we head into a new month, here are the best restaurants and bars to visit in L.A. right now, from a worldly new bistro in Pasadena to a bricks-and-mortar launch from one of L.A.’s favorite taqueros. Including some long-standing favorites like a new brunch menu at one of our favorite New England-style restaurants and Mexico City-style huaraches in South Gate.

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a hand holds out a plate with lamb chop and prawns in front of bright wallpaper
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)


Echo Park Global $$
This fun and experimental newcomer lands at Button Mash arcade bar courtesy of Diego Argoti, the former Bestia and Bavel chef behind the chaotically delicious Estrano Things pop-up. Poltergeist debuted with a label-defying menu that includes al pastor octopus with burrata and squid ink fry bread and a broccoli beef ravioli, plus other small, medium and large plates designed for sharing. Make reservations to secure a dine-in table or booth or enjoy bar snacks from Argoti throughout the rest of the bar.
Read about the exciting new menu at Poltergeist.
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inside of a dimly lit restaurant
(Wonho Frank Lee / Bar Chelou)

Bar Chelou

Pasadena French $$
This new French bistro draws on the drama of neighboring Pasadena Playhouse with show curtains, exposed ceilings and arched entryways, plus a playful menu with global influence. From chef-owner Douglas Rankin of Bar Restaurant and Whole Cluster Hospitality, the opening menu spans shareable plates like clam toast and morcilla “cigars” and larger plates like an Ibérico pork chop and rainbow trout over corn rice.
Read about Pasadena’s newest restaurant.
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lobster roll on a plate
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Saltie Girl

West Hollywood Seafood $$$
This nautical hotspot landed in West Hollywood at the top of the year, with additional locations in Boston and London. In his review, critic Bill Addison recalls a meal at the Boston location that ignited his appreciation for conservas, and shares a few tips for diving into Saltie Girl’s list of more than 100 tinned fish options — one of the largest such menus you’ll find in the country. While diners could certainly compose a meal of conservas alone, especially with accompaniments like crunchy butter, three types of salt, pickled peppers, jam and French bread, Addison advises saving room for the warm lobster roll, which columnist Jenn Harris hailed as the best in the city. There’s also crudo and tuna tartare, caviar service, seafood towers, New York-style smoked fish, and large plates like Alaskan pan-seared halibut and a Saltie Girl burger that’s topped with — what else? — fried lobster. It’s almost enough to make you forget that it’s Pacific-tinged ocean air you’re breathing in.
Read about the new seafood restaurant on Sunset Boulevard.
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chopsticks lift noodles and lamb from a bowl
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Bang Bang Noodles

Culver City Chinese $
Brothers Robert and Nelson Lee brought their handmade biang biang noodle bowls to a stall at Citizen Public Market, plus dumplings made in collaboration with their mother. Chef Robert Lee hopes to add Taiwanese beef rolls to the menu in the future. The downtown location and Highland Park pop-up are on hold while they get settled into the new space.
Read about the new noodle stall at Citizen Public Market.
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An exterior photo of a restaurant space in the strip mall. A blue-and-read sign reads "Villa's Tacos Los Angeles" in cursive
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Villa's Tacos

Highland Park Mexican $
At Victor Villa’s new taco shop on Figueroa Street in Highland Park, you’ll find L.A.-style tacos with fresh-pressed blue corn tortillas that are piled with mesquite-grilled meats, chorizo or vegetarian options like nopales, then adorned with crema, cotija cheese, onions, cilantro and guacamole, available as mulitas or quesotacos with a crispy casing of griddled cheese. Wash it down with an agua fresca. The taqueria is oriented toward takeout, with a couple patio tables and umbrellas out front.
Read about Highland Park’s new taco shop.
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two women sit at a table in a restaurant with wine glasses
(Brittany Brooks / For The Times)

The Ruby Fruit

Silver Lake Wine Bars $$
Two former Eszett employees quickly resurrected the Silver Lake restaurant as the Ruby Fruit, a juicy new lesbian wine bar with simplified snacks like jumbo shrimp in ‘nduja butter and mortadella with pickled peppers. Owners Mara Herbkersman and Emily Bielagus hope to offer movie nights, tastings, book clubs, and other community-building events as they get settled in their revamped home.
Read about Silver Lake’s new lesbian wine bar.
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inside of a sleek restaurant
(Shade Degges)


Culver City French $$$
This French-inspired all-day restaurant landed in the Synapse building near the Hayden Tract neighborhood in Culver City, offering a seafood-driven menu plus a roving bar cart dolling out martinis and tableside champagne in a chic dining room that spills into a spacious patio. Notable dishes include a sea bream tartare with caviar, duck confit “cigars” and lamb rib chops with chickpea puree, but don’t disregard the breakfast or lunch menus with classic omelets, a croque madame and a mushroom tartine.
Read about Culver City’s new French restaurant.
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overhead view of braised pork with rice and chopped peppers and a hard-boiled egg
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)


Alhambra Chinese $$
Our critic reveals a hidden haven in Alhambra for home-style Chinese cuisine that draws from Shanghai and Sichuan regions. Husband and wife Yao Ye and Chun Hua Tao ran restaurants in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang for two decades before bringing their craft to the San Gabriel Valley last August, offering a selection of plates centered around braised meats. Addison recommends the pork over rice, though the beef noodle soup is a tempting comfort for rainy days.
Read about this hidden restaurant in Alhambra.
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inside of an elaborate game-themed restaurant
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Toadstool Cafe

Universal City American $$
When you find yourself in need of fuel while roaming Universal Studios’ new Super Nintendo World land, make a pitstop at the Toadstool Cafe, where you can remain immersed in the Mushroom Kingdom with large green warp pipes that jut from the ceiling and screens that show an animated Toad preparing the food — though he’s occasionally thwarted when Bowser’s warship tears through the restaurant and kitchen. Dine on themed options like a Caesar salad with star-shaped croutons, a bacon cheeseburger or pesto-sauced chicken sandwich imprinted with Mario and Luigi’s iconic mustaches, or a towering Princess Peach cupcake.
Read about the new Toadstool Cafe at Super Nintendo World.
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The braised beef noodle soup at Le Chateau de Tien Tao in Pasadena.
(Justine Wong )

Le Chateau De Tien Tao

Pasadena Taiwanese $$
Columnist Jenn Harris points to Pasadena as one of the city’s most exciting culinary neighborhoods as of late. Opened in January, Le Chateau De Tien Tao has a menu perfectly suited to our recent rainy weather, with a handful of options dedicated to owner Aaron Ho’s love of Taiwanese beef noodle soups. The braised beef proved to be Harris’ favorite, with long, chewy noodles and a soy sauce marinade. The restaurant is in the process of securing a liquor license that will allow them to offer wine pairings.
Read about the beef noodle soups at Le Chateau De Tien Tao
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A photo of a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich served on pineapple buns, sitting on an orange and red plate on the patio
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles)

Arroz and Fun

Lincoln Heights Chinese/Peruvian $
The Leon family, behind the newly opened Monarch in Alhambra and Chifa in Eagle Rock, just launched their third restaurant in the former Gamboge space in Lincoln Heights. The menu celebrates the family’s Chinese and Peruvian backgrounds with pollo guisado served over rice and egg rolls, plus all-day breakfast items like an egg, bacon and cheese sandwich on a pineapple bun. Beverages span coffee drinks (including signature items like a cold brew topped with morro cream), small-batch loose-leaf teas and Taiwanese beer.
Read about the Leon family’s new restaurant in Lincoln Heights.
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delectable-looking French toast
(Bill Addison / Los Angeles Times)


Silver Lake Cantonese Breakfast/Lunch $$
Critic Bill Addison gently guides our attention back to Needle. Opened in late 2019 by Ryan Wong, the restaurant transformed from a pandemic takeout operation to family-style dinners to its current iteration with a brunch-driven menu and afternoon hours. The salted yolk French toast is particularly pleasurable, with custard oozing from between two pieces of deep-fried milk bread and drizzled with sweetened condensed milk and maple syrup, though popcorn chicken, pork chop and char siu buns, and udon noodle dishes also serve as delightful representations of Wong’s skillful cooking.
Read about Needle’s outstanding take on French toast.
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An oozing cheeseburger on a paper plate
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

For the Win

Downtown L.A. Burgers $
Pair one of L.A.’s best smashburgers with an interesting wine at For the Win’s new stall in Grand Central Market. Santos Uy’s pandemic project continues to prove its staying power with a fourth location that’s sourcing wines from his downtown wine bar, Mignon, plus cookies from Culver City baker Lei’d. Current hours are 11 a.m to 5 p.m, but expected to extend soon.
Read about For the Win’s new location in Grand Central Market.
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overhead view of masa topped with vegetables and salsas
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Tacos DF

South Gate Mexican $
There are plenty of places to get tacos in L.A., but if you’re looking for Mexico City-style huaraches, columnist Jenn Harris would direct you to Tacos DF in South Gate. Large, oval discs of masa are filled with beans and flattened and cooked on both sides until crispy, then crowned with your choice of protein, chopped onions and cilantro, queso fresco and a Christmas blend of red and green salsas. Chicharrón is a favorite topping, but carne asada, al pastor, carnitas, chorizo and potatoes, mushrooms, squash blossoms and huitlacoche are also ripe for the choosing.
Read about Mexico City-style huaraches.
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plate of lobster roll with bowl of fries and another bowl of gumbo
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Connie and Ted's

West Hollywood Seafood $$
This New England-style restaurant has been around for almost a decade but continues to draw diners with classic dishes like fish and chips and fried clams as well as new additions like an espresso martini, which landed on the bar menu last September thanks to regular customer requests. You can also dine on a newly launched weekend brunch menu with shrimp chilaquiles, a crab and lobster omelet and a lobster croque “Connie” with gruyere and a sunny-side-up egg.
Read about why the espresso martini is a lasting trend.
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