Handmade pastas, po’ boys brimming with catfish, and inventive omakase menus are just some of the offerings that brought LA-area Chowhounds to their feet in 2013. In alphabetical order, here are Chowhound picks for the year’s best openings. [This article was updated on November 30, 2017 to reflect two restaurant closures.]
1. BUCATO — CLOSED
3280 Helms Avenue, Culver City
Evan Funke’s well-priced, house-made pastas and the restaurant’s impeccable service are drawing crowds to the Helms Bakery District.
2. CHENGDU TASTE (no website)
828 W. Valley Boulevard, Alhambra
The cumin lamb—mind the toothpicks—is a Chowhound favorite, as is the long list of well-executed, spicy dishes that numb the tongue just right.
3. CHI SPACCA
6610 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles
Meat takes center stage at the third and newest restaurant in the Mozza complex; the beef and bone marrow pie, with the bone jutting out of the center like a settler’s claim flag, is a force to be reckoned with.
4. THE FACTORY KITCHEN
1300 Factory Place #101, Los Angeles
The name is simple, but the Italian food isn’t. Pastas and breads are made in-house (try the olive-flecked pappardelle) and fresh ingredients are locally sourced.
5. FISHING WITH DYNAMITE
1148 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach
David LeFevre’s fancy fish shack prepares incredible oysters and scallops, but the grilled octopus, chowder, and crab cakes are also out-of-the-park hits.
7. ORSA & WINSTON
122 W. Fourth Street, Los Angeles
At his third restaurant in the Old Bank District, Josef Centeno exercises his culinary creativity with five- and nine-course tasting menus that change at his whim.
8. TACO MARÍA
3313 Hyland Avenue, Costa Mesa
In another episode of food-truck-turned-restaurant, Carlos Salgado turned in his wheels and opened Taco María, where he wows Orange County with modern Mexican food—think guacamole with pistachio, flax, and Concord grape.
9. TACOS PUNTA CABRAS — CLOSED
2311 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica
You could get a cheaper taco in other neighborhoods, but the lightly battered fish and killer house-made salsa selection may be worth a few extra dimes.
10. TROIS MEC
716 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles
No phone available
Power trio Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook, and Vinny Dotolo created a bit of a frenzy with Trois Mec’s online dining ticket system, but those who have scored a table in the 30-seat space have been delighted by the team’s high-caliber omakase dinner sets.