It takes some effort to get to the 71st floor of the U.S. Bank Tower building downtown. But once there, oh, it is a beautiful sight with sparkling views of the city. Chef Vartan Abgaryan also creates sheer beauty on the plate with stunning cocktails and an impressive wine list to match. The modern American menu offers gorgeous bites like plump poached oysters topped with uni and caviar; silky foie gras terrine with beets and pistachios; and tender sea scallops with vadouvan curry. Some stay put; others change with the seasons. Although it’s one floor above the Skyspace observation deck and Skyslide, this is no tourist-trap restaurant. Instead, it’s an elevated experience for locals and visitors alike. 213.712.2683
This minimalist daytime-only spot set in Culver City is barely noticeable from the street—it's almost as if Jordan Kahn is trying to hide something. But, once inside, the kitchen is open and the cooks are working in almost austere motion. Every dish is about the reveal: Lift the blanket of the translucent radish slices to find a small mound of beef tartare studded with grains and pickled mushrooms; tender pieces of chicken confit camouflaged by large, crisp green romaine leaves and sprigs of dill have a pool of brown butter vinaigrette and a dollop of yogurt underneath. Destroyer is not fine dining, and it’s not typical counter-serve fare either. Like an enigmatic sculpture, it’s what you make of it.
In the hands of chef Evan Funke, it’s hard to deny the beauty of a freshly cut pappardelle or orecchiette. Seeing it be made in the “Pasta Laboratorio” in the middle of the dining room makes it taste even better. You’re practically transported to some little village outside of Rome. The heart and soul of the place beats Italian, from the flowery wallpaper in Nonna’s Room to the sexy siren call of Sophia Loren, a sort of patron saint of the restaurant, immortalized in a giant mural outside. While things like the focaccia, creamy ricotta with vegetables, and lacy fried squash blossoms stuffed with fior di latte are amazing, it's the trofie, tonnarelli cacio e pepe and pappardelle with ragu that are musts on the menu. 424.387.8622
This is what dining in Hollywood should be about. A dazzling space that’s still a little bohemian, with custom-made everything, from the rose-colored marble tables to the art deco light fixtures, dripping crystal chandeliers and vintage glassware. Chef Curtis Stone and brother Luke opened Gwen as a grand two-story meat lovers paradise—a perfect contrast to the small subtleties of Curtis’ more intimate Maude in Beverly Hills. The tasting menus change seasonally, but the stars are gorgeous cuts of meat, from fire-roasted pork to Blackmore Farms wagyu—all butchered in-house and either smoked, cured or gloriously grilled in the asador that’s as much a centerpiece of the dining room as it is the kitchen. 323.946.7500
Here’s Looking At You
The name has nothing to do with Humphrey Bogart’s famous quote from Casablanca, nor does it really have much to say about the spot's concept—but it's just as interesting as the restaurant itself. Anchoring a corner of Koreatown, the resto's co-owners Lien Ta and chef Jonathan Whitener let influences span the globe, from Mexico to Vietnam to local farmers markets. The menu changes practically daily, so you might find a refreshing riff on the classic avocado and citrus salad or whole fried prawns with an earthy sauce “diabla.” HLAY is neither Korean nor American, but “progressive SoCal”—a perfect representation of the trends in Los Angeles right now. 213.568.3573
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