A vegan wine bar is now pouring in Frogtown (find it behind plant-based Just What I Kneaded bakery)

At left: an interior bar shot of Justine's Wine Bar, draped in plants. At right:  Wine pours into a glass in front of a mural
The new wine bar from plant-based bakery Just What I Kneaded serves vegan pizzas, small plates and sweets alongside natural wine and fortified-wine cocktails in Frogtown.
(Rebecca Peloquin / Justine’s Wine Bar)

Justine’s Wine Bar

A verdant, colorful new bar is pouring wine and serving freshly baked pizzas and local vegetables behind one of L.A.’s best vegan bakeries. After roughly four years in the making, baker-owner Justine Hernandez of Frogtown’s Just What I Kneaded recently launched Justine’s Wine Bar, which serves plant-based bites alongside organic and sustainably made wines.

The wine list offers a blend of Old World Austrian and French wines and funky, fun more-local labels, plus low-ABV mixed drinks. Hernandez believes that blend of old and new, of traditional and experimental, is Justine’s Wine Bar (and Just What I Kneaded) in a nutshell: “That’s kind of what we stand for,” she said. “We have this sort of old-school cafe [bakery] in the sense that it’s almost like a diner with biscuits and Pop-Tarts, but with the new-school way of making it vegan.”

Though the new business is named after herself, Hernandez sees the wine bar as a collaboration by local artists: Her friends designed the lighting, painted the mural, and arranged and curated the floral arrangements found throughout the bar. “Everybody had input to create this very unique space,” she said. “It’s kind of transformative: from this industrial neighborhood to a sort of feminine jungle that you step into. It’s a sexy escape.”

A spread of food from Justine's Wine Bar in Frogtown, including two pizzas, a side of fries, potato croquettes, and more.
A former Plant Food + Wine chef is helming the food program at Justine’s, which, like its sibling concept, is also entirely vegan.
(Rebecca Peloquin / Justine’s Wine Bar)

With her knowledge of dough, Hernandez is helping her executive chef make pizza to order. Simone Schlanger — of Just What I Kneaded and formerly of Plant Food + Wine — is leading the kitchen at Justine’s, serving marinated olives, polenta with meatballs, 10-inch pizzas and seasonal salads, with specials such as pasta and roasted vegetables. She and Hernandez use a rotation of soy- and nut-based cheeses, and often use an array of vegetables in lieu of meat, including mushrooms that take the place of squid in a dish that nods to Italian calamari with marinara and salt-and-pepper Chinese stir-fry, sautéeing the mushrooms with garlic and peppers. Cheese croquettes with saffron aioli get rolled in a house-made panko crumb from sourdough that’s made in the bakery. The Moroccan cigars scent Impossible ground meat with cinnamon and raisins; dip them into mint yogurt. Justine’s seats roughly 40, with 12 at the bar, and takes over the Just What I Kneaded patio during the evening. The bakery, now keeping time with its sibling concept, stays open later for pastries and coffee. Justine’s Wine Bar is open Thursday to Monday from 4 to 11 p.m., with plans to expand to daily service.

2029 Blake Ave., Suite 102, Los Angeles,

A nigiri sampler with one salmon temaki from Grand Central Market vendor Sushi Rush against a white background
Grand Central Market vendor Sushi Rush specializes in nigiri and open-topped temaki.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

New at Grand Central Market

Downtown’s historic food hall has served as a continuous hub and host of food vendors since its founding in 1913, and this month it’s welcoming three new food stalls to its ever-changing roster. Culver City mainstay Maple Block Meat Co. has opened on Grand Central Market’s patio, taking over the former space of Horsethief BBQ along with its outdoor bar serving craft beer and wine. The second location for the barbecue restaurant from owners Daniel Weinstock and Mike Garrett sells a streamlined menu of their hits from Culver City, including smoked wings, brisket, baby back ribs, the Block burger, loaded brisket fries, and sides such as mac and cheese, cornbread and slaw, plus items from their new pop-up, Maple Block Chicken, including chicken wraps and salads. Maple Block Meat Co. is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Indoors, new vendor Sushi Rush is laying raw and torched fish atop hand-formed rice balls for nigiri and temaki at the former PBJ.LA stall. It’s a new, quick-and-casual concept from Tomohiko “Tomo” Kawamura (formerly of Katsuya and Jinpachi) and Nao Kikuchi that specializes in nigiri and “Rush rolls,” or open-topped hand rolls, which can be ordered a la carte or as part of set meals. Additional items, such as yellowtail carpaccio, edamame, sashimi and kakigori, are also on offer. Sushi Rush is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. A third vendor, Teddys Tiny Bites, is slated to open in late August with Armenian-inspired mini pancakes from owners and longtime friends Paul Manjikian and Robert Baburian, and operate in the stall adjacent to Sari Sari Store.

317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles; Maple Block Meat Co.:; Sushi Rush:; Teddys Tiny Bites:

A paper barbecue tray of ribs, brisket, pickles, sauce and onions with mac and cheese from Maple Block Meat Co.
Barbecue restaurant Maple Block Meat Co., now with a location at Grand Central Market, serves ribs, sides such as mac and cheese, and weekend brisket.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Black Restaurant Week

With specials and spotlight menus from Caribbean, African American and African restaurants across the region, L.A.’s Black Restaurant Week is back. Now in its sixth year, the annual celebration highlighting Black-owned restaurants, bars and food companies runs Aug. 25 to Sept. 3 with participating juice bars, casual sandwich spots and fine dining restaurants such as Sky’s Gourmet Tacos, Camille’s Culinary Creations, Compton Vegan, Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen, Pip’s on La Brea, the Peppered Goat and more. A national directory helps spotlight these restaurants year-round.

Locations vary,


Casa Dani and Katsuya Century City

Two noteworthy restaurants are slated to open under one roof next year, taking over a sprawling 17,000-square-foot shared space within the Westfield Century City shopping center. Modern Mediterranean restaurant Casa Dani — from lauded chef Dani Garcia — will inhabit one half, serving the Andalusian and broader Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine also found in his New York City outpost: paella, croquetas, Spanish tuna, steaks, lobster, oxtail brioche and more. Sushi chain Katsuya will take the other, serving as its fourth location in the L.A. region and offering some of the Japanese restaurant’s signature dishes but an entirely new menu otherwise; the opening of Century City’s Katsuya is expected to kick-start a menu rebrand for all locations. Both Katsuya and Casa Dani are managed by the culinary branch of global firm sbe, and the shared Century City location will feature roughly 400 seats spread across the multiple dining rooms, a terrace, a circular bar between the two restaurants, and Katsuya’s own open-air beer garden. The adjacent restaurants will fill the former Gulf Stream and Rock Sugar spaces.

10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles,

A rendering of the terrace at forthcoming Casa Dani and Katsuya in the Westfield Century City
A sprawling, 17,000-square-foot Century City space will soon be home to two restaurants under one roof: Spanish-leaning Casa Dani and the latest outpost for sushi chain Katsuya, complete with a terrace and shared bar.
(Rendering by Rockwell Group / sbe)

Mona Pasta Bar

An Italian-leaning wine bar is now serving house-made pastas amid floral installations and sculptures in the former home of 9th St. Ramen. The new spot comes by way of Devin Carlson, a local resident whose design agency also decorated the space. The wine list is nearly entirely Italian, with a focus on low-intervention bottles that will rotate seasonally. Executive chef Freylin Morales — formerly of All Time, Café Stella and L&E Oyster Bar — is heading the kitchen with a focus on house-made pastas such as pappardelle bolognese made with veal and prosciutto, bucatini cacio e pepe, and casarecce with lamb sausage and rapini. Morales is serving much more than fresh pastas, though: Fried calamari, citrus-cured crudo, burrata-and-tomato salad, veal chop Milanese and whole branzino with caramelized fennel are also on offer. Mona Pasta Bar is open Wednesday and Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m., and Thursday to Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m.

111 W. 9th St., Los Angeles, (213) 814-0094

Tre Mani

A vertical photo of a roast beef sandwich with radicchio on a white plate at Tre Mani and Ghisallo in Santa Monica.
Tre Mani, the casual new restaurant from within Ghisallo, serves Italian sandwiches made using a spin on the pizzeria’s dough. Options include a roast beef sandwich with radicchio and horseradish cream.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Tre Mani, a casual, collaborative lunch spot from one of L.A.’s best new pizzerias, is now open in Santa Monica and offering hearty, massive sandwiches from within Ghisallo. The wood-fired pizzeria from the owners of the Tasting Kitchen already shares its space with Jyan Isaac Horwitz’s bakery, Jyan Isaac Bread, and the baker is also the one creating the schiacciata-style loaves for Tre Mani’s sandwiches. Inside are fillings designed by chef Travis Passerotti (the Tasting Kitchen), such as roast beef with horseradish, balsamic onions and radicchio; smoky eggplant with Calabrian chile, mint, tomato and burrata; and salami with berries, pecorino crema and pea shoots. Tre Mani’s name is a nod to the sizable nature of the sandwiches, meaning “three hands,” or how many are needed to hold them before they’re sliced in two. Tre Mani is open Tuesday to Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

1622 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 399-4060,


A retro-inspired diner is now up and running just off the lobby of one of the city’s newest hotels. The Delphi, which opened in the spring at the former home of the Standard, debuted an open-late diner this month with diner hallmarks of the cuisine and frozen cocktails. Denae’s serves fried-chicken buckets, all-day breakfast, mushroom melts, pies, biscuits and gravy, mac ‘n’ cheese, puddings, meatloaf, chicken pot pies and more, plus fillips such as caviar add-ons. A marquee hangs over the restaurant’s bar, advertising drink specials, while the cocktail menu riffs on more Americana through tipples such as the To Live and Pie in L.A., made with cherry pie-infused scotch. Denae’s is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to midnight. Other restaurants and bars are slated to open within the Delphi hotel within the year, including on the roof.

550 S. Flower St., Los Angeles, (213) 439-3002,

A closeup of two halves of a cheesy, egg-topped sandwich
Downtown’s new Delphi Hotel recently debuted a retro-inspired diner that serves breakfast all day.

McCharlie’s Venice

The TikTok-viral, plant-based McDonald’s dupe that sells Happy Meal spins called Frowny Meals has expanded to the Westside. The bright red-and-yellow restaurant first popped up along La Brea last year and exploded on social media; it recently launched another location, this time in Venice. McCharlie’s offers McDonald’s signatures such as fries, nuggets, burgers and sodas — even a “Big Chuck” in a clear nod to the Big Mac — but all made using Impossible and other plant-based products.

“Growing up I was eating fast food a lot,” co-owner Charlie Kim told The Times. “I’m a big dude, I play hockey and I was used to eating meat and all this heavy stuff. I want to be healthier to take care of my family.” The cheeky chain, which also operates an outpost in San Francisco, also has a philanthropic bent: McCharlie’s partners with local foundations and nonprofits such as the Dream Center to staff its locations, employing those transitioning from homelessness and addiction. McCharlie’s is open in Venice daily from 11:11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

1827 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, (310) 437-0149,