Believe it or not, even with a massive number of openings and expansions over the past few years, the Los Angeles restaurant scene still has room to grow. Some of the city’s leading chefs are returning to kitchens, a prominent duo is expanding their focus and out-of-towners are adding culinary heft. Learn about 10 of the most promising L.A. County concepts slated to debut between now and mid-June.
Bryant Ng (2012 Food & Wine Best New Chef) and wife Kim earned raves for their Singaporean and Vietnamese cuisine at the Spice Table in Little Tokyo. Now they’ve teamed with Santa Monica power couple Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan on Cassia, which celebrates Southeast Asian cuisine influenced by the brasseries of France in an Art Deco setting. According to Bryant Ng, the food will evoke “the fresh, vibrant and familiar flavors of Southeast Asia with a unique balance of soulful ancestral cuisine and contemporary, ingredient-driven cooking.” House-made charcuterie, crafted from pork and lamb, will factor into the menu, as will spicy chicken wings, wok-fired with chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. Also expect wontons with cod, shrimp country ham, Napa cabbage and chile oil. Cassia should debut by early June. 1314 7th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401
Chef Ray Garcia, a market-driven veteran of FIG Santa Monica and the reigning Cochon 555 King of Porc, will draw on his Mexican-American heritage at Broken Spanish, which replaces Rivera in South Park. Expect “authentically inauthentic cooking” with “migrant-rich flavors” fueling dishes like oxtail birria and rabbit mole. Well-regarded L.A. barman Julian Cox will craft cocktails like the Orange Bangarita, with Orange Bang and mezcal. Garcia, front-of-house partner Jacob Shure and the Sprout Restaurant Group, backed by Bill Chait, Michael Glick and Aileen Getty, are set to debut the restaurant in early May. In early April, the group is also opening the more casual B.S. Taqueria in what was last Mo-Chica. With a name like that, and dishes like chicken chicharrones and a beet Milanese torta, downtown’s in for some fun. Broken Spanish, 1050 S. Flower St., Los Angeles, CA 90015; B.S. Taqueria, 514 W. 7th St., Los Angeles, CA 90015
Jon and Vinny’s
Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo are the powerhouse duo behind Animal and Son of a Gun, and partners with Ludo Lefebvre in Trois Mec and Petit Trois. Now they’ve taken a turn toward Italian-American cooking down Fairfax from Animal, in the former Damiano’s Mr. Pizza space. Food Republic’s Matt Rodbard previously interviewed the chefs, in which they discussed Bolognese with polenta, eggplant parmesan, wood-grilled prawns with lemon and crushed chile, and “hours-old mozzarella.” The chefs have also tested spinach gnudi with brown butter and sage. Their longtime director of operations, Helen Johannesen, will helm a wine shop called Helen’s. An event space, corporate offices and a test kitchen will also be under the roof. Look for an April debut. 412 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036
Catch & Release
Jason Neroni, who last cooked locally at Superba Snack Bar, is teaming with Bill Chait and his Sprout partners in Paiche’s former Marina Del Rey home. Catch & Release is inspired by Neroni’s childhood summers in Maine. He’s got his eyes on the seasons, sustainability and West Coast seafood. Expect a custom oyster bar by the door, classics like lobster rolls and po’ boys, salads and specials driven by “catch of the day.” Kids will be able to order Red Snapper Frankfurters — neon red beef and pork hot dogs that are beloved in Bangor. 13488 Maxella Ave., Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
BierBeisl Imbiss + Bakery
Chef Bernhard Mairinger earned acclaim for house-made sausages and upscale Austrian food in Beverly Hills. The young but accomplished chef brings a different concept to downtown’s historic Spring Arcade building. Imbiss translates from German to “snack shop,” and Mairinger will offer house-made links and schnitzel, plus additions like veal loaf. Viennese pastries will of course include strudel, plus breads to support sandwiches. Mairinger is on track for a May opening. 541 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013; bierbeisl-imbiss.com
Grand Central Market
This reinvigorated market, which dates to 1917, already earned an appearance on Bon Appétit’s America’s Best New Restaurants list in 2014. Now GCM is getting even better. In late March, local Campanile legend Mark Peel will debut Bombo, which showcases seafood dishes prepared in high-powered, steel-jacketed steam kettles. Peel will also sell seafood by the pound and in grab-and-go Cryovac pouches. April brings Madcapra, a vegetable- and falafel-focused restaurant from chefs Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson, who previously found success with Glasserie in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. 317 Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013; grandcentralmarket.com
Brian Dunsmoor and front-of-house partner Jonathan Strader, who previously teamed at The Hart & The Hunter and Ladies’ Gunboat Society at Flores, are due to open Hatchet Hall in early May in Waterloo & City’s former Culver City home. They teamed with Louie Ryan and wife Netty, who own places like Del Monte Speakeasy and Menotti’s Coffee Stop. A patio framed by Louisiana cast iron gives way to a dining room with a granite oyster bar, domestic hams hung in an old butcher’s box, and a long bar fronted by old icebox doors. Dunsmoor has a brick hearth with white oak grill at his disposal, which helps fuel farm-driven, “rustic, wood-fired American”cooking. Cappy Sorentino contributes a culinary cocktail program. In back, the Shotgun Bar stars whiskey, cask beer, and a fireplace with a wood mantel and Montana elk horns. 12517 W, Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90066
Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee
Chef Brooke Desprez, Chi-Lin Pendergrast and Sumter Pendergrast stirred a gourmet doughnut cyclone in Costa Mesa. Now the partners are aiming for a June debut in a renovated Art Deco building in Santa Monica. They’ll continue to rotate flavors monthly, which could include coconut cream pie, cara cara orange or sticky toffee pudding. Modern classics like Huckleberry Cake and Maple Bacon will also make the jump from Orange County. In Santa Monica, they’ll step up their market-driven game by sourcing California fruits and herbs from the famed farmers’ market. Expect an early June launch into donut orbit. 631 Wilshire Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90401, sidecardoughnuts.com
Joshua Lurie is the L.A.-based founder of Food GPS.
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