The Hot List: L.A.’s Top Restaurants

Food critic John Mariani finds the hottest tables in town.

Jul 31, 2012
  • Sotto restaurant los angeles california pizza oven
  • Playa Rivera's Dining Room Los Angeles
  • Culina, Modern Italian los angeles restaurant dining room
  • Baco Mercat los angeles restaurant sandwich
  • Ray's and Stark Bar LACMA los angeles restaurant
1/5
Sotto, 310-277-0210, 9575 West Pico Boulevard
Why go: The most authentic trattoria in L.A., friendly, unpretentious and always packed, often with stars, agents, and producers from 20th Century Fox Studios just down the road.
You must try: Any of the pizzas or the calzone called Homage to Caiazzo stuffed with escarole, capers, olives and burrata cheese.
And this: Sit at the communal table and have your headshot ready. You never know who might sit down next to you.
Photography courtesy Sotto
2/5
Playa, 323-933-5300, 7360 Beverly Boulevard
Why go: Veteran chef John Rivera Sedlar turns his huge passion for Latin food into sumptuous themed presentations called Reflexiones. Designed to inspire reflection of memories, featured dishes are showcased complete with dramatic backdrops and classic movie references in the casual décor and table settings.
You must try: Maize cakes filled with wild mushrooms and L’Explorateur cheese.
And this: The signature seasonal cocktails.
Photography courtesy Playa
3/5
Culina, Modern Italian, 310-860-4000, Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, 300 South Doheny Drive.
Why go: Culina showcases the high refinement of regional Italian cuisine in an exquisite dining room fitted with a communal table, marble bar and outdoor patio fireplace. The pastas are fabulous.
You must try: The abbacchio—California lamb chops served with farro, artichokes, dates, almonds and salsa rossa.
And this: Crudo—the Italian version of sushi.
Photography courtesy Culina, Modern Italian
4/5
Bäco Mercat, 213-687-8808, 408 South Main Street
Why go: With a chef-owner, Josef Centeno, whose small plates menu has zest and intensity in every morsel, all made from the best ingredients in LA markets and California farms, this is one of the most exciting little restaurants to open in downtown LA in years.
You must try: Any of the bäcos, the signature soft bread sandwich stuffed with everything from crispy pork belly to shrimp.
And this: The flatbreads called cocas, topped with items like goat cheese, merguez sausage and harissa hot sauce.
Photography courtesy Bäco Mercat
5/5
Ray’s and Stark Bar, 323-857-6180, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Why go: This stunning glass box of a restaurant and adjacent bar designed by master architect Renzo Piano is located on the plaza of the LACMA. Eames chairs and an array of Ellen Palevsky’s collection of more than 150 designer teacups from 1850–1950 fill out the space that the daughter of Ray Stark, late producer of the movies Funny Girl and Steel Magnolias, gave a donation to LACMA to create.
You must try: Chef Kris Morningstar wood-roasted chile made with chorizo, dates, goat cheese and almond sauce.
Photography courtesy Ray’s and Stark Bar

Fine dining and easy-going eating have always marked the restaurant scene in L.A., which for decades has been a crucible of new culinary ideas. It was here in L.A. where Southern Cal cuisine became a star. Here are the new places you’ll want to discover right now.


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One Comment about The Hot List: L.A.’s Top Restaurants

  1. Rolf Marsh says:

    Please take a look at my app for restaurant critics. Promo code is available.

    Regards,
    Rolf Marsh

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