Every year, new restaurants hit the L.A. food scene, and while some don’t make it, others shine and invite you to come back for more. What makes a restaurant work in this city is how the food speaks to you, how the chefs put flavors together, and an enticing atmosphere. From pizza to Mexican cuisine, here are the five best restaurants that opened in 2012.
10889 Lindbrook Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Clearly 800 Degrees knows how to make an amazing pizza pie. The pizzeria opened in January 2012 to rave reviews, and pizza lovers keep coming back for more. You really can’t go wrong in your ordering, but don’t forget to try the fresh burrata bar. The restaurant’s weekly special pizza suggestion never fails. Enjoy specialty pies including tartufo ($11.65) with truffle cheese, roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions and locally grown arugula sprinkled on top, or the capricciosa ($10.45), an old-world Italian pizza with artichokes, funghi, olives and ham. Pizzas here are coined “Neapolitan,” featuring a handmade, thin, four-ingredient crust, a unique sauce with California-grown tomatoes, and each pie is topped with fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. They bake in a wood-burning oven and cook in one minute.
Related: Best Pizza In Los Angeles
The Sycamore Kitchen
143 S. La Brea Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
The Sycamore Kitchen is the brainchild of Karen and Quinn Hatfield, culinary couple superstars and chef-owners of Hatfield’s, which was named best new restaurant by Bon Appetit in 2010. Breakfast at The Sycamore Kitchen is beyond satisfying; it’s an experience like no other. The urban diner opened in summer 2012, and both the savory and sweet tastes of breakfast are worth repeating over and over again. Try the pork belly hash ($11.50), croque madam ($10), and warm ricotta and buckwheat blintzes served with blueberry compote and salted honey butter ($9.50) along with a wonderful variety of morning pastries and baked goods such as a quinoa bran muffin ($3.50) and the salted caramel pecan babka roll ($3.50). If you hang out long enough, it will be time for the restaurant’s delicious lunch offerings.
1416 Fourth St.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Located in downtown Santa Monica, Mercado is the newest (opened May 2012) Mexican restaurant to hit L.A. From the chefs who opened El Arco Iris in Highland Park and Yxta Cocina Mexicana in downtown L.A., Mercado is a happening scene that happens to have excellent Mexican cuisine. Executive chef and co-owner Jose Acevedo’s signature recipes bring out unique flavors staying true to co-owner Jess Gomez’s Mexican roots. The best way to dine here is to order a few small plates including the Mexican kale salad, which is a delicious seasonal blend of kale, arugula, candied pepitos, pears, dried strawberries and fried cotija pesto croutons, alambres de arrachera (grilled prime skirt steak skewers) with Santa Monica farmers’ market vegetables, handmade tamales with fresh masa, chef’s choice of filling and queso fresco. If the lobster tacos are up on the special board, be sure to order them.
Related: Best Fajitas In Los Angeles
Plan Check Bar
1800 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Though it’s located on Sawtelle where Asian restaurants dominate, Plan Check opened earlier this year with an American fare-based menu that surprises and satisfies. Open for lunch and dinner, Plan Check features eclectic starters including egg in pickle juice ($2), baked crab dip ($12), cheeses (noble amish cheddar or rogue smoky blue at $5 each), signature sandwiches and burgers ($11 to $13) such as a Southern fried chicken or a pastrami nosh with kimchi mustard and a sunny fried egg. Creative cocktails and imported ales are star players on the menu as well.
Tar & Roses
602 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Tar & Roses is a Santa Monica neighborhood restaurant, serving a menu of wood-fired, modern and rustic cuisine. This hot spot is the first solo venture of Andrew Kirschner, one of Southern California’s most interesting and accomplished chefs. January 2012 brought Tar & Roses to the scene with simple and complex snacks (popped corn with crisp bacon, brown sugar and chili $6), small plates (ricotta gnocchi with winter squash, roasted brussel spouts and balsamic $11), veggies (Jerusalem artichokes prepared with goat cheese, almonds and lemon $8) and large plates (pork chop served with mushroom risotto, pea tendrils and dried cherry compote $24). Tar & Roses was named after the flavor notes commonly found in Barolo wine.
Sheryl Craig is a writer with a passion for interesting finds and treasures in Los Angeles. She has a background in journalism and public relations. A mother of two daughters, Sheryl integrates her healthy lifestyle into raising her children. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.