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By now, all the trend stories about Los Angeles’ rapidly expanding dining scene have been written, and the facts are well-established: LA is a truly fantastic place to eat. (And getting better all the time!)
A mix of retro Hollywood sparkle, the region’s abundantly fresh ingredients, a focus on wellness and clean eating, the city’s vibrant tapestry of immigrant communities, and an overarching spirit of innovation combine to create a map of restaurants that resembles no other city in the world. Each month, Departures will dive deep into the best new eateries opening across the city, as well as exciting chef collaborations, pop-ups, and other culinary happenings. Check back each month to stay up to date!
In celebration of its 35th anniversary, this iconic LA restaurant recently launched a revamped drinks program. The tiki-inspired “foo foo” drinks menu, helmed by Yael Vengroff, mirrors the restaurant’s campy vibe and New York-style Chinese food menu. There’s the lychee martini (coconut oil vodka, lychee pear brandy, aloe vera, and citrus), the Szechuan margarita (tequila, yuzu, Szechuan peppercorns, lime, and Thai basil), Zaydee’s Manhattan (walnut-brandy, ruby vermouth, calvados, and toasted pecan bitters), and a whole section of family-style cocktails designed to be joined in the company of friends.
Set amidst Genghis Cohen’s tongue-in-cheek decor—red leather booths, glowing lanterns, artificial tropical flowers, and tons of red neon, the drinks menu transports diners to a nostalgic and decidedly fun era. 740 N Fairfax Ave; 312-653-0640
Michelin-starred chef Dave Beran (Dialogue) recently opened an elevated French bistro in Santa Monica. Pairing classic French technique and Parisian market inspiration with the bounty of Southern California produce, Pasjoli’s menu is equal parts elegant and exciting. Guests can enjoy caviar service, a tableside duck press, and innovative dishes like blue crab with cauliflower cream, and rack of lamb with olive and lamb jus, artichokes, and grapes.
The dining room follows suit, utilizing whitewashed brick, crackle-glazed ceramic tiles, antique mirrors, and banquettes with bronze Mohair seating to give the space a classic yet comfortable vibe. 2732 Main St; Santa Monica
This month, chef and “mother of fusion cuisine” according to the Smithsonian, Helene An (Crustacean), will debut a new high-end Vietnamese restaurant. The 3,000-square-foot space includes an eight-seat chef’s counter and the $225 tasting menu will feature dishes that are deeply personal and reflective of An’s life and work.
The menu itself will have a shape reminiscent to the conical headwear worn in Vietnam. And the dishes include things like king crab banh khot (a mung bean and coconut cream cake) bread service with bahn mi accoutrement (Remy XO pate, pickled vegetables, Vietnamese cha lua), and a noodle and lobster soup with tomatoes and tamarind. 466 N. Bedford Dr; Beverley Hills
Last month, downtown Los Angeles welcomed this chic all-day dining destination. Set in a 1920’s era converted jewelry store, V maintains a sense of glamour and excitement from breakfast coffee (Vagabond Coffee Company) and pastries (Mr. Holmes Bakehouse) to late night nibbles and cocktails.
Among the highlights is the custom-built oven imported from Genoa, Italy that turns out sourdough pizzas topped with everything from roasted golden beets and chevre to spicy salami, honey, chili flakes, and fior de latte. Other treats include tuna ceviche with ponzu marinated tuna and pomegranate seeds, mushroom crostini with sweet balsamic glaze, and honey and thyme-marinated beets with quinoa, oranges, and yogurt. 515 W. 7th St.
Santa Monica recently welcomed this coastal cuisine-inspired restaurant by chef Brendan Collins (Birch, Waterloo & City, and Michelin-starred Melisse) and Michael Greco. Featuring seafood-forward flavors from California and the Amalfi Coast, the menu includes raw starters like king salmon crudo with pomegranate and oysters with yuzu Szechuan mignonette, and showstopping mains like Baja-style whole grilled dorade and blue shrimp tikka masala with mango chutney. Turf dishes including filet mignon with horseradish butter and stuffed Manchester quail with fig and prosciutto round out the menu.
Beyond the food, Fia’s multi-level outdoor patio—which is strung with warmly glowing lights and outfit with rustic wooden tables, Tuscan gravel flooring, and three outdoor fireplaces—is already the stuff of legends. 2454 Wilshire Blvd; 310-586-1707