Restaurants come and go, especially in trendy markets like Los Angeles. The overall package of a restaurant including the leadership behind the restaurant, its location and, naturally, a solid menu consistent with the restaurant’s philosophy, makes a restaurant worth the hype and worth the dining experience. From the beach to the heart of L.A., here are five stellar destinations that make the cut for top cuisine, presentation and service. Bon appetite!
Tar & Roses
602 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Eighteen months later, Tar & Roses continues to demand a steady crowd, and stays on top of producing interesting seasonal small and large plates. Chef and owner Andrew Kirschner, a Santa Monica native, focuses on personal passions including travel, which are reflected in his menu. Favorite “snacks” to share include wood-roasted English peas mixed with mint and sea salt, balsamic glazed ribs with fried basil and Atlantic sardine crostini. The best large plates include whole fried snapper for two and a dry-aged rib-eye for two.
6602 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
The dream team of Chef Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich behind Osteria Mozza is frankly impeccable. This rustic restaurant is one of the best places in L.A. for Italian cuisine. Antipasta options are above and beyond the typical platter & Osteria Mozza offers crispy pig trotter, steamed mussels, tripe alla parmigiana and grilled octopus. You can make a meal from the mozzarella bar alone. Burrata, smoked bufala and burricotta cheeses are presented with a variety of interesting ingredients such as Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, leeks and fett’unta, bacon and Cetara anchovies. Each primi or pasta dish like orecchiette with sausage and swiss chard and tagliatelle with oxtail ragu is better than the next.
11334 Moorpark St.
Studio City, CA 91602
Girasol, which means sunflower in Spanish, is a rustic, refined take on California cuisine led by Executive Chef CJ Jacobson. Drawing on the “melting pot of cultural cuisine from surrounding communities” including its Mexican roots and its ties to the Pacific, Jacobson emphasizes community by creating a selection of bar snacks, small plates, entrees and sides to enjoy family-style. The menu features starters including apricots and burrata cheese with crispy lentil, octopus salad with roasted eggplant, rosemary ash oil and toasted lovage, entrees such as whole fried red snapper, fermented Frenso chili, vegan prepared pan roasted cauliflower sourced from Tamai Farms and a beaut of desserts featuring dark chocolate Chiboust with crème fraîche gelato, salted chocolate sable and sprouted fennel seed and fresh buttermilk donuts with strawberry sauce and pistachio purée. In addition the wine list, Girasol reflects the local market influences featuring a selection of California labels.
10100 Constellation Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Steps away from one of the most prestigious entertainment agencies in town, Craft is known for its extensive and elegant meat and seafood dishes. Chef de Cuisine Raymond England brings a longstanding respect for the best hand-selected produce from local organic farms, all natural meats and seafood caught daily. The marinated halibut ceviche and avocado or corn cuscino and truffled pecorino as first-course choices set up diners to enjoy main entrees such as diver scallops complemented by a vermouth butter or beef short ribs. Craft encourages the table to share sides family-style including a variety of roasted mushrooms (trumpet royale, oyster and hen of the woods), sautéed shishito peppers and bintje potatoes. Craft is known for its exceptional service.
1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
Whether you are seeking a hot spot for brunch, lunch, dinner or a late-night snack, Gjelina is still the it place to go on the Westside. This Venice restaurant delivers “big time” with its signature vegetable dishes to share such as grilled summer squash seasoned with za’atar, cherry tomato confit and mint, braised fava beans and wood-roasted cauliflower. The pizzas are wonderful on their own, featuring creative ingredient toppings like fennel salami, lamb sausage and green olives and guanciale. Reservations are a must here.