by Mar Yvette - 482 Reviews - 150 List
Eat much in 2010? So many new Los Angeles restaurants opened this past year and if you were anything like me, you ate at as many of them as you could. So what qualifies a restaurant to be considered among the best? One: the food has to be good--really good. Two: there's gotta be some excitement beyond the food, like spectacular views (WP24) or an inspired approach (Test Kitchen, Forage). Three: I like it. In other words, making the "best of" list is a tasty mix of style, substance and subjective opinion. Happy eating!
Updated: March 25, 2011
Going out to eat in 2010 was never more exciting than at Test Kitchen, LA's short-lived but brilliant culinary laboratory. Opened for only four months (August-December 2010), Test Kitchen was where LA's most celebrated chefs offered never-before-tried menus, mixologists concocted delicious potions and the at-capacity crowd (which, on any given night, had everyone from Jonathan Gold to Michael Voltaggio) buzzed with anticipation. This is one test we're hoping pops up again in 2011.
This restaurant at the Four Seasons is just as swanky you would expect, without any of the stuffiness you might have feared. The staff at Culina always makes you feel at home (if home is an enormous, beautiful charmer with a lush, heated outdoor patio) and chef Victor Casanova does wonders for your palate with clean, light, modern Italian fare that includes the must-try sweet corn ravioli stuffed with mascarpone.
Wolfgang himself might not be in the kitchen of this expansive restaurant and lounge that weaves along the 24th floor of the Ritz-Carlton, but so what! This restaurant offers stunning views of the Downtown LA skyline, along with deliciously artful renditions of Asian fusion and Chinese cuisine. If you wanna splurge, this is where to do it.
Okay, so technically Hatfield's is not a "new-new" restaurant, but it did close its old location before opening up this space on Melrose in 2010. Chefs/co-owners Quinn and Karen Hatfield's consistent take on California-French cuisine is some of the best to be had in LA, while the knowledgeable staff will help guide you through every course.
Like any SBE property, Cleo is one dining spot that delivers a real scene alongside the sustenance. The space is shiny and swank, and the Mediterranean small plates will make you want more. The brussels sprouts--shredded, salty, chewy yet crispy pieces sauteed in oil and tossed with almonds, capers and red wine vinaigrette--will change your life.
LA finally got a real gastropub in 2010 with Waterloo & City. The homemade terrines are standouts (try the house-smoked salmon with fried egg and gribiche) as is the corn soup with Parmesan ravioli and the late-night menu's curried chicken meatball pizza. And, of course, there are the pubtails, including the Dark & Stormy, Pimm's Cup and Piccadilly Martini.
Probably the most exciting dining concept along with Test Kitchen, Forage in Silver Lake is the little restaurant that could. The kitchen employs food from local farms and ranches and actively seeks produce from anyone who'd care to share. Have too many tangelos on your hand? Or extra peas from your garden? Bring them in and they just might be what's cooking next time you eat here.
Named after a Vietnamese herb, Tiato is a refreshing addition to Santa Monica. Even though the location is a bit odd (it's in the MTV/Lions Gate building), the huge, eco-friendly indoor/outdoor space cooks up delicious bites, from minty tiato macaroons to turkey taco salad, spicy eggplant tofu and turmeric-poached salmon.
Probably no other LA restaurant on this list had more hype surrounding it in 2010 than Red O, chef Rick Bayless' first restaurant outside of Chicago. More of an SBE club experience than foodie destination (there's a doorman with guest list at the entrance... seriously), Red O makes the cut based on chutzpah alone. Well, that and the deliciously smoky taquitos, chunky guacamole and cocktails such as Flowerpot and La Sirena.
Folks in New York have been enjoying Scarpetta for years, so it was no surprise that chef Scott Conant's first West Coast outpost at the Montage became an instant hit. As for that famous, perfectly al dente house-made spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce and basil? Yeah, it's enough to warrant a visit.