Two of L.A.’s most anticipated new restaurants open this week

Rockfish and yellowtail sashimi from Yess Restaurant in Los Angeles' Arts District.
At Yess Restaurant in the Arts District, chef Junya Yamasaki works with local fishermen to serve daily sashimi as well as whole grilled trout, miso black cod and other specialties.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Yess Restaurant

The highly anticipated Japanese restaurant from the team that brought a colorful line-caught-seafood truck to the Arts District is now open. Yess Restaurant is the fully realized follow-up to the ambitious and pandemic-spurred Yess Aquatic truck headed by chef Junya Yamasaki (formerly of London’s Koya). Short-lived Yess Aquatic served casual but impressive sashimi, fish katsu plates and prawn sandwiches. Yess Restaurant, also in the Arts District, maintains the truck’s commitment to hyper-local seafood and produce but deviates with a more formal setting and focus on Japanese shareable plates.

“It’s the concept of really traditional Japanese cooking, and [Yamasaki] has quite a pure take on it,” said sous-chef Giles Clark. “We have to follow the seasons and celebrate the nature around us through the food we cook and eat every day.”

Pork belly kakuni in grapefruit tepache from Yess Restaurant in Los Angeles' Arts District.
Yess Restaurant spotlights daily, locally caught seafood as well as Japanese shareable plates such as kakuni, pork belly braised in grapefruit tepache.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Yamasaki and his team work with Southern California fishermen to ensure daily sashimi and other fresh, locally caught seafood for the restaurant. Yess’ seafood menu, which changes frequently, also features grilled miso black cod with turnips and rhubarb; yellowtail with fennel and lemon salad; and trout with loquat. Other dishes include silken tofu with house-made mala sauce; pork belly braised in a grapefruit tepache made from the fruit and leaves found on Peads & Barnetts’ pork farm; and a vegan interpretation of chirashi informed by Yamasaki’s training in a Zen monastery outside of Kyoto. Small-producer sake, plus shochu cocktails, wine, tea and kakigori, are on offer in the restaurant, with a fully open kitchen with wraparound counter seating.

The hospitality group behind the new restaurant — Hi Hi Heel Productions — plans to open additional projects soon, including combination cafe and wine bar Yess Cafe and salon-style, members-only music and food space Good Brown. Yess Restaurant is open Wednesday to Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to “late,” with last seatings at 9 p.m.

2001 E. 7th St., Los Angeles,

Artichokes and house-made bread at Evan Funke's Beverly Hills restaurant.
Funke, the newest restaurant from Mother Wolf and Felix chef Evan Funke, focuses on handmade pastas as well as specialties from “less traveled” regions in Italy.
(Eric Wolfinger / Funke)


Evan Funke’s sprawling, dual-concept restaurant that serves handmade, hyper-regional pastas, fried artichokes, pizzas, stuffed squash blossoms and Italian-leaning cocktails across three floors opens May 5 in Beverly Hills. The eponymous restaurant marks the third for the Felix and Mother Wolf chef, who has spent years traveling Italy and studying its culinary traditions and heritage.

“Funke is a place where the generational histories and culinary traditions of Italy can live in full illustration,” Funke said in a statement to The Times, “exploring the regions less traveled and seeking out the rare, obscure pasta shapes and the women who have mastered them.”

The new restaurant is a partnership with real estate investor Kurt Rappaport with a main floor that features an amaro bar, an open kitchen and a two-story pasta laboratorio where diners can view Funke and others rolling, cutting, pinching and otherwise creating the restaurant’s array of fresh pastas. Each is listed on the menu by pasta shape, the region or specific town where Funke tried it, and the name of the woman who taught him about it. The second floor features more seating and a private dining room in addition to a mezzanine bar, which serves the restaurant’s full menu, and serves cocktails such as a pour-over Negroni — featuring single-origin coffee — designed by bartender Joey Mar. On the roof, walk-in-only Bar Funke serves a separate, more limited food menu that includes caviar service, sfincione, desserts and other dishes. Funke is open Monday to Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10:30 p.m. The rooftop Bar Funke is open Monday to Thursday from 5 to 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5 to midnight.

9388 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills,

Durango Cantina

With an array of tacos, wood-grilled fish, chipotle-glazed beef ribs, fresh tortillas, aguachiles and seafood cocktails, Durango Cantina is now open from one of the city’s most lauded taqueros. The Melrose restaurant is a partnership between Bee Taqueria’s Alex Carrasco and Boulevard Hospitality Group (Yamashiro, Kodo, Adults Only). It riffs on flavors and recipes from Durango, Mexico.

Chef Alex Carrasco in the kitchen of Melrose restaurant Durango Cantina.
Durango Cantina, the new restaurant from chef Alex Carrasco, focuses on Northern Mexico cuisine — with a few of Carrasco’s signature spins on tacos too.
(Jennifer Wales / Durango Cantina)

“We’re kind of drawn specifically to that area of Durango,” said hospitality group partner Spencer Kushner, “kind of the traditional style of cooking over wood, the really bold and spicy flavors that come from that.”

Carrasco is building upon traditional regional recipes with some of the styles and formats that helped to put Bee Taqueria on the map. He reimagines asado de bodas with marinated lamb shanks wrapped in agave leaves and cooked for hours, and he serves albondigas in both meat and vegetarian varieties. A range of colorful tacos includes shrimp with consommé and an option that tops two carne asada tacos with a marrow-and-morita-aioli-filled bone. His taqueria and Durango Cantina, he says, were a way to return to his roots after cooking French, Japanese, Peruvian and other cuisines.

“I said, ‘OK, wait a minute, I’m getting lost in all these cultures, and I think it’s time for me to actually realize what I want to do and what I want to cook,’” said Carrasco. “I said, ‘OK, tacos, I like this,’ and then [decided] I should focus more on Mexican cuisine: what I like, what I grew up eating.”

The restaurant group combined two spaces — a former quick-and-casual yaki shop along with what was Marcel Vigneron’s Wolf — to form two dining rooms and a bar behind a pair of saloon-style swinging double doors. Cocktails include frozen drinks. Durango Cantina is open Tuesday to Thursday from 4 p.m. to midnight, Friday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. An ice cream pushcart, with paletas and toppings, is expected to launch soon for additional dessert service; brunch is planned for late spring with chilaquiles, tequila bloody Marys and more.

7661 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 405-5194,

A hand pours a sidecar into "the world's coldest martini" in front of a red leather booth in the new West Hollywood Drake's
At Drake’s restaurant, red leather booths, caviar and “the world’s coldest martini” are all on offer in West Hollywood.
(The Real Food Tour / Drake’s)


A splashy Old Hollywood-inspired Texas restaurant has made its way to West Hollywood with global- and L.A.-inspired bites, “the world’s coldest martini,” 24-layer cakes, caviar, steaks, chops and filet mignon pizza. Drake’s, from Vandelay Hospitality Group, opened in Dallas in 2019 and on May 5 it debuts in L.A. with red leather booths and dishes such as bacon-and-jalapeño-smothered “Vin Scully fries”; king crab rangoon; lobster escargot; Wagyu with truffle butter; chicken Parmesan; cracker-thin-crust pizzas, including a vegan option; lobster-and-caviar mac and cheese; and steakhouse sides including twice-baked potatoes and Wagyu fried rice. The bar menu riffs on classics but specializes in martinis (which can be found for $10 during happy hour at the bar), including one variety that stuffs olives with house-made bleu cheese. Drake’s in West Hollywood will be open Sunday to Wednesday from 4 to 11 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday from 4 p.m. to midnight.

8747 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, (213) 334-6789,

Mon Ami

A patio restaurant lush with greenery opens this week in Santa Monica just one block from the pier. On May 5, Mon Ami launches in the former home of 41 Ocean and is the latest project from Pacific Coast Hospitality Group, which operates nearby nightclub Canary. The cuisine and the ambience are both meant to recall the Mediterranean, with a menu conceptualized by chefs Samir Mohajer (formerly of Rustic Canyon) and Sabel Braganza (formerly of E.P. & L.P.). Dishes include tagliolini with lobster in a saffron-tinged tomato sauce; prosciutto-wrapped tomato skewers; mezze platters with house-made flatbread; steak au poivre with grilled vegetables; prawns in Calabrian-chile butter; and cauliflower shawarma, plus spritzes and sparkling-wine cocktails. Mon Ami will open 5 p.m. until “late,” with DJ sets and a supper club slated to start after dinner service. Brunch is expected to launch this summer.

1541 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica,

Chef Yoonjin Hwang, of Spoon by H, sits on a stool in her now-closed cafe.
Chef Yoonjin Hwang, of Spoon by H, will appear as a guest chef at the JACCC’s month-long series in celebration of AAPI heritage.
(Silvia Razgova / For the Times)

Little Tokyo Rising Star Chef Series

The Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) launched a monthlong pop-up series this week celebrating emerging culinary talent with five-course dinners in Little Tokyo. The Rising Star Chef series is curated by Keizo Shimamoto, chef at Ramen Shack and the JACCC’s new director of culinary events, who will also help and collaborate with chefs including Jasper Lynn (May 9-10), Yoonjin Hwang of Spoon by H (May 16-17) and Stella Navarro-Kim (May 23-24). Tickets to each dinner cost $180 and include alcoholic beverages.