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Collage of images from L.A. Times Food editor's picks
Clockwise from top left: shrimp torta ahogada from Birote Deli, interior of Jellyman Tea shop, martinis from Mars, pastries from Gusto Bread and a burrito from Mid East Tacos.
(Collage by Brandon Ly / Los Angeles Times. Photos by Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times and Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

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

Maybe it’s the holiday haze, but in many ways, it feels like the new year gets its proper start in February.
This is also true if you follow the lunar calendar, which marks Feb. 10 as the start of the new lunar year.

The lunar new year is celebrated all over the world, including right here in Los Angeles. As we enter the Year of the Dragon, considered the most auspicious animal in the Chinese zodiac, local establishments are marking the occasion with multicourse feasts, festivals and more.

February also brings Valentine’s Day, a chance to celebrate the love in your life, whether it’s a romantic partner, longtime friends, family or even yourself. Whatever your feelings toward the Hallmark-contrived holiday might be, it’s a great opportunity to indulge in special, one-night only dinners at the best restaurants in L.A.

And if you’re looking to switch things up and try a newly opened spot, our food writers have you covered. January might be a sluggish month for most of us, but L.A.’s restaurant scene didn’t slow down, offering us openings that include a Mexican Armenian taqueria in Silver Lake, a buzzy new pasta bar in Eagle Rock, a slew of new Smorgasburg L.A. vendors and a glitzy bar in Hollywood. Here’s everywhere you need to eat and drink across L.A. this month:

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The spicy chicken burger from Ace Burger in Alhambra.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Ace Burger

Alhambra Chinese Burgers $
The spicy chicken burger at Ace Burger is modeled after the crispy sandwiches that owner Kai Jiang says are popular in China, featuring a juicy fried chicken thigh sandwiched between a typical seeded hamburger bun with mayo and iceburg lettuce. In addition to Ace Burger’s fast-casual takeout shop in Alhambra, you’ll find similar chicken burgers in the shopping complex that’s adjacent to the San Gabriel Hilton, from Macho Burger and Chickii Fried Chicken, though Jiang’s stands out with hints of soy and white pepper that recall a Shanghai flavor. New Orleans-style wings — apparently invented by KFC China more than two decades ago — are another signature item at Ace Burger.
Learn about Chinese-style chicken burgers in San Gabriel Valley.
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The "noprese" salad, which adds nopales, or cactus, and hibiscus salt to a classic caprese, at Amiga Amore in Highland Park.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Amiga Amore

Highland Park Italian Mexican $$
Danielle Duran-Zecca and Alessandro Zecca, the husband-and-wife team behind Highland Park’s Amiga Amore, with a menu that blends their Mexican and Italian backgrounds, are recognized as semifinalists in the category of emerging chefs in the 2024 James Beard Awards. The pair first launched their concept as a pop-up in 2018, with signature dishes that can now be found at the cozy neighborhood restaurant, such as elote agnolotti and a “noprese” salad that puts a spin on the typical caprese salad by adding nopales and hibiscus salt. The cocktail menu takes a similar approach with concoctions like a margherita margarita with agave wine, tomato water and basil, while Sunday brunch brings a carbonara with cilantro pasta and chorizo-stuffed fried pizza.
Read about the 2024 James Beard Award semifinalists.
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A to-go box of  Battambong BBQ nachos piled with pulled pork, pickles, ribs and pork belly on a yellow wooden bench
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Battambong BBQ

Downtown L.A. Cambodian Barbecue $$
Chef Chad Phuong, known as the Cambodian Cowboy, has lassoed a 2024 vendor spot at the popular Smorgasburg L.A. food bazaar that pops up at Row DTLA every Sunday. Phuong’s Battambong BBQ pop-up takes a low and slow approach that merges Texas and Cambodian barbecue styles. Diners can order trays with brisket, tri-tip, chicken or get their preferred meat stuffed in an herbaceous num pang sandwich, while house specialties such as smoked pork belly seasoned with Kampok pepper and sour sausage prove equally tempting.
Read about the 2024 Smorgasburg vendors.
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The shrimp torta ahogada sandwich drenched with lobster stock. A side of Brussels sprouts sits behind.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Birote Deli

Paramount Mexican Deli $
The chef behind L.A.-hued taqueria concept Macheen has launched a modern torta shop in Horchateria Rio Luna in Paramount. Instead of using the traditional bolillo or telera bread, chef Jonathan Perez opts for a type of Mexican sourdough called birote salado, which he slices and stuffs with shrimp ahogada and chicharron for a take on banh mi. Sides include picnic-worthy options like esquites potato salad with cotija and a chorizo macaroni salad. With another location in San Fernando, Horchateria Rio Luna has a full menu of pastries and classic and Mexican coffee drinks, plus aguas frescas and several horchata options. Food can be enjoyed in the on-site dining room or ordered to go via the drive-through window.
Read about the new torta shop from chef Jonathan Perez.
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The Na's Peking duck from Bistro Na's restaurant.
(Ariel Ip)

Bistro Na's

Temple City Chinese $$$
Whether you’re celebrating the lunar new year or just craving some decadent duck, it doesn’t get more regal than Na’s Peking duck at Bistro Na’s. The Chinese banquet hall presents the bird whole and glazed, before returning to the kitchen to slice it into glistening strips. You’ll dip the duck in sugar, eat it wrapped in a thin pancake with scallions and cucumbers and, for an additional cost, slurp it in a soup or gnaw on its deep-fried bones. We can hardly think of a more fitting way to ring in the Year of the Dragon.
Read about the Peking duck at Bistro Na’s.
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The duck set from Duck, Eric Greenspan's virtual duck restaurant.
(Eric Greenspan)


Duck $$$
If you prefer to eat duck while bingeing your favorite show at home, keep an eye out for the next delivery from Duck, a virtual duck-focused restaurant from chef Eric Greenspan. While Greenspan’s version recalls Peking duck, it is cured in an anise-forward blend and cooked rare. Condiments include buckwheat crepes that are rich with duck fat and brown butter; shaved Napa cabbage, Belgian endive and apple tossed in an rice wine vinaigrette; and honey mustard and plum sauce with roasted apples. There’s even a “duck-ah” mixture with fried duck skin, toasted hazelnuts, scallions and garlic for crunch. Duck deliveries are done through Postmates, and future drops may include fried duck wings or different preparations. Check the Instagram page for updates.
Plan for the next Duck drop.
An overhead photo of a round focaccia di Recco from pop-up Glad, topped with shaved fennel
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)


Downtown L.A. Italian $$
Former Chi Spacca chef Cihan Kaymakcalan is slinging freshly stretched foccacia di Recco with toppings like shaved fennel and ground beef with raisins and pine nuts at his new Glad pop-up that’s joined the 2024 vendor lineup at Smorgasburg L.A., held every Sunday at Row DTLA. For a snack, try the tiny, airy foccaccettes filled with ingredients such as creamy goat cheese, bok choy and spinach. Glad also pops up at the Silver Lake Market every Tuesday and Saturday.
Read about the new 2024 Smorgasburg vendors.
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Fruit Galettes from Gusto Bread
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Gusto Bread

Long Beach Mexican Bakery $
The James Beard Foundation has released its list of semifinalists for the 2024 awards, with 18 L.A.-area chefs and restaurants recognized in this initial round. Gusto Bread, an organic, Mexican-influenced panadería from owners Arturo Enciso and Ana Belén Salatino, stands out as the only California semifinalist in the outstanding bakery category. Head there early for a wider selection of goods and pick up a fresh loaf for sandwiches at home, or savor the quaint coffee shop vibes with artisanal options such as a piloncillo-sweetened espresso paired with a jalapeño-studded bolillo or cacao-topped concha.
Read about the 2024 James Beard Award semi-finalists.
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A horizontal closeup of a sushi lunch set at Ikigai on a black plate.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)


Eagle Rock Japanese $$
For a casual Japanese dinner, look no further than Ikigai, the newly opened shokudo in Eagle Rock from husband-and-wife team Peter and Sooji Park. The menu features nigiri, sashimi and signature sushi rolls that the pair first revealed at their former restaurant in Alaska. Ikigai also presents itself as an affordable lunch option with combination plates that include yakitori, steamed rice and shrimp and veggie tempura, or sushi with miso soup. Expect changes as the restaurant gets its footing, like the recent addition of chirashi to the menu.
Read about the new shokudo in Eagle Rock.
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A large white, featureless statue stands in left corner of the interior of blue-hued Jellyman Tea, near the register.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Jellyman Tea

Silver Lake Boba Tea $
Actor and musician Donald Glover, a.k.a. Childish Gambino, has partnered with musician and executive Luke Wood on an ultraviolet tea shop in the former Blossom space in Silver Lake. The stylish spot offers an array of teas, including oolong, jasmine and barley , with the option to customize your sweetness and with add-ons such as boba, jelly, egg pudding, chia seeds and maple salt foam. The most popular drink thus far is the Peanut Butter Jelly Man with oat milk and chewy jelly, though you’ll also find floral lattes, milk teas and matcha concoctions.
Read about Donald Glover’s boba tea shop.
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An overhead of butternut squash and carrot soup with crispy lentils. A spoon lifts a bite from the bowl at Mangette.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)


Long Beach French $$
Marie DelBarry and Alicia Kemper, who helm the Long Beach natural wine bar and tasting room Buvons, have opened a cafe next door, with chef Noe Duran (formerly of Heritage) leading a French-inspired menu. The bistro offers craft coffee drinks, soft-scrambled eggs and granola for breakfast, while lunch expands the menu with soup, sandwiches on toasted Levain bread and butter beans. DelBarry and Kemper plan on hosting pop-ups and chef collaborations, as well as introducing dinner service in the near future.
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An olive-adorned martini in the foreground with a banana daiquiri behind from Mars bar in Hollywood on white table
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)


Hollywood Cocktails Bar/Nightclub $$$
A clandestine cocktail destination has opened in Hollywood with Mars, which opened behind celeb-favorite Motherwolf in January, though it has no affiliation with the restaurant. Take a seat on the patio or at the bar and indulge in classic-leaning cocktails conceived by Steve LaFountain of Horses, including martinis and a riff on a banana daiquiri that’s crowned with banana foam. The bar also offers bottle service, live entertainment in the indoor lounge and a membership program that offers liquor lockers and rare spirits.
Read about the new cocktail bar in Hollywood.
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Genet Agonafer prepares a spread of food
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Meals by Genet

Little Ethiopia Ethiopian $$
The pandemic wrought countless changes across L.A.’s dining scene, including the halt of dine-in service and a pivot to takeout only at Meals by Genet, one of Little Ethiopia’s landmark restaurants, from chef and owner Genet Agonafer. However, as a result of the same rising costs that caused dozens of restaurant closures in 2023, Agonafter recently made the decision to reopen her dining room from Friday through Sunday. Late last year, the bistro was inducted into critic Bill Addison’s Hall of Fame list that celebrates the most enduring food institutions in our region. The charming bistro is open only from 6 to 9 p.m. with no reservations, so be sure to get there early to skip the wait.
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A vertical photo of a hand with two stacked halves of a chicken burrito in front of a mural at Mid East Tacos in Silver Lake.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Mid East Tacos

Silver Lake Armenian Mexican $
What began as an off-menu burrito and grew into a popular pop-up has gained permanence with a new bricks-and-mortar in Silver Lake. Armen Martirosyan of the family-owned Mini Kabob shop in Glendale partnered with longtime customer Aram Kavoukjian on newly opened Mid East Tacos, with a menu that blends Mexican and Armenian flavors in burritos, quesadillas and tacos that are stuffed with 24- to 48-hour-marinated meats, falafel and house-made sauces such as a toum arbol. The crowd-favorite cottage fries with Aleppo pepper from Mini Kabob are also featured on the new menu. Mid East Tacos is takeout oriented, with a few sidewalk tables for dine-in.
Read about the Mexican Armenian taqueria in Silver Lake.
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A hand holds a long, thin chicken shawarma dripping pomegranate molasses from Miya Miya at Smorgasburg.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Miya Miya

Downtown L.A. Jordanian $
L.A. is flush with regional styles of shawarma, and now you can try a Jordanian take with Miya Miya, one of the new 2024 Smorgasburg L.A vendors. Amman-trained chef Yazeed “Yaz” Soudani wraps the freshly shaved chicken shawarma in handmade saj bread with garlic sauce. For an additional dollar, you can get it the “Yaz” way with spicy garlic sauce and pomegranate molasses. The single-item menu is already proving one of the most popular at the market and has sold out every week since the market opened this year. Beef tallow fries are expected to be added to the menu soon.
Read about the new 2024 Smorgasburg vendors.
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A horizontal photo of a spicy pepperoni pizza from Prima Donna
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Prima Donna

Culver City Italian $$
A new wood-fired Italian spot has taken over the space formerly occupied by Etta at the Shay Hotel in Culver City. Prima Donna comes courtesy of chef Michael Santoro, formerly of Beverly Hills Hotel, with an all-day menu that features house-made pasta, pizza and entrees such as Sardinian-sauced rack of lamb and dry-aged orata, plus egg sandwiches, smoked salmon pizza and cacio e pepe scrambled eggs on the breakfast and brunch menu. A lengthy European-leaning wine list is on offer, as well as house cocktails such as an espresso martini take dubbed the First Act with vodka, fresh espresso, cold brew and tiramisu liqueur, amaretto, cocoa powder and orange bitters.
Read about the new restaurant at the Shay Hotel.
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A vertical closeup of a plate of pappardelle in lamb ragu twirled upward at Spina in Atwater Village.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)


Atwater Village Italian $$
A buzzy, no-reservations pasta bar has opened in Eagle Rock courtesy of Pablo Cruz, formerly of Terroni, L’antica da Michele and Terra, and Duc Pham, who closed and flipped the Atwater location of his restaurant Blossom to accommodate Spina. The antipasti menu with fried calamari, beef meatballs and proscuitto and burrata makes for a compelling lunch, while pastas like linguine with lobster and tonnarelli with fresh black truffle and spicy sausage are perfect for dinner. Grilled meats such as a prime rib-eye and a branzino filet round out larger plates, while tiramisu and gelato are tempting dessert options, especially when paired with a bottle of Italian wine.
Read about Eagle Rock’s new Italian restaurant.
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