The Five Hottest Restaurants In LA…Now

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Los Angeles has a knack for opening stylish restaurants that bring in the cool kid crowd. But how to strike that perfect balance of food, location and vibe?

With so many new spots to sort through, we’ve whittled it down to five favorites. From open air tacos in Frogtown to bahn mi in DTLA, these spots are attracting contemporary locals and a-listers alike.

Sawyer

A seafood-focused seasonal California restaurant, recently opened in Silver Lake, has quickly become a neighborhood favorite. The casual setting, which seats 90 guests both inside and outside, features an airy garden atmosphere, striking tile work, butcher block countertops and tables, modern Windsor chairs, hand-painted wall accents, flowered wallpaper, a large handmade copper door, street-facing floor to ceiling windows, and a cozy back patio with olive & birch trees and roaring fireplace.
Celeb Factor: John C. Reilly, Mandy Moore, Rachel McAdams, Mena Suvari

Sawyer, Ryan Tanaka 2016

Kettle Black

This rustic Italian restaurant in Silver Lake is helmed by Executive chef Sydney C. Hunter III. The 3000 square foot space, originally home to the California Bank, features a modern approach to a rustic aesthetic, for artisanal eats and cocktails. Inside, the restaurant prominently displays an original vault from when it was first built in 1922, and focal points also include original tiles and wood beams.
Celeb Factor: Zac Efron, Kate Bosworth, Kristen Wiig, Arctic Monkeys

Kettle Black, Ryan Tanaka 2016

Winsome

A new spot opened by Marc Rose and Med Abrous,  known for The Spare Room and Genghis Cohen. The modern style diner attracts a day crowd of television writers and an evening crowd local hip kids. The menu offers all the clean flavors of Southern California, a pastry/coffee bar and full cocktail bar, all brought together in a thoughtful way.

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Salazar

One of the buzziest restaurants on the east side of Los Angeles right now. Nestled in Frog Town, between Griffith Park and the LA River, Salazar offers up elevated Mexican mesquite grilled dishes. Chef Esdras Ochoa, who grew to cult acclaim via his taco concept Mexicali, highlights true Sonoran-style BBQ. Beverage Director Aaron Melendrez concocts inventive cocktails with dynamic Mexican flavors, including a boozy horchata, as well as limited run beers from local LA breweries.
Celeb Factor: Carrie Brownstein, Kiernan Shipka, Busy Phillips

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Little Sister Downtown 

This French colonial jewel box is housed near the corner of 7th Street and Grand Avenue in the heart of Downtown. A reimagined interpretation of its Manhattan Beach counterpart with a lighter aesthetic and expanded menu options, it introduces Angelenos to the cultural and culinary influences of imperialist rule in Vietnam during the 19th century. Highlights of the 50-seat restaurant include Vietnamese-style breakfast with housemade breads, porridge (congee) and banh mi.

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French New Wave Hits the Lower East Side with ‘Le Turtle’

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Photography: Leta Sobierajski & Wade Jeffree

On the corner of Chrystie and Rivington in the Lower East Side, modern french restaurant, Le Turtle, sits chicly with the cool laissez faire of any member of the downtown crowd. Inside is a decor dream with an all marble bar, raw concrete accents, a plush pink velvet perch, Horween-leather lined seating and nods to architectural icons like Carlo Scarpa and Sol Lewitt.


HyperFocal: 0Photography: Scottie Cameron

Founded by Taavo Somer of Freemans and Carlos Quirarte of The Smile, Le Turtle is all about atmosphere. The scene is a mix of fashion types, creatives, film stars and a table of patrons that were surely Andy Warhol’s friends. At the bar, you’ll overhear a debate about whether or not Purple Rain was the greatest record of all time and under the neon lit tables conversations are adamantly declaring that Julianne Moore saved the new Greta Gerwig movie.

When it comes to music direction, expect a soundtrack transitioning between old school Biggie, Major Lazor, Rick Ross, Jay Z and ’90s R&B. There might be a moment when Rihanna comes on and the host starts dancing to “Work,” which infectiously inspires the rest of the restaurant to begin moving their shoulders, as well. What else would you expect from a staff outfitted in straight up jump suits?

Oh, and the food is great, too. Order their signature Whole Sasson Chicken For Two. It’s the best in the city.

Get the Galli Party Started: Karen Gallo’s Exclusive Playlist for BlackBook

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Tonight marks the opening of Galli’s second outpost, a restaurant where getting up from your chicken parm to dance, generously poured Gavi in hand, is standard. Galli’s been attracting a fashion crowd from the get go, first on Mercer Street, and now on the LES. Behind the restaurant are Steven Gallo, chef, and Karen Gallo— you may know her from lusting after the shoes and bags she designs.

To celebrate opening night, Karen has put together a playlist for BlackBook, a sample of what’ll be playing at Galli.

“Why do we play this music? This is the music I grew up listening to and everything I design and everything I do has a reference point. This music becomes the starting point for us at Galli. For example, the Beastie Boys…this corner is [where the cover for] Paul’s Boutique [was photographed]… we have to play it!”

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Wallpaper in the bathrooms featuring sketches by Karen Gallo, caricaturing staples at the restaurant.

Galli LES is located at 98 Rivington Street at Ludlow, New York, NY

All the Other Kids with the Pumped Up Rents

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IMAGINE YOU’RE AT A BIRTHDAY PARTY IN THE LES and approximately six negronis deep. Beforehand, you may have also had maybe like three hits of the joint left back home as you were getting dressed and listening to Robbie Williams. Someone mentions Greenpoint, Brooklyn and you suddenly perk your ears out of sheer curiosity wondering what new restaurants manifest the area. Let’s face the music. Brooklyn is just as popular as Manhattan, if not more. (Is Baby’s All Right having another sold out show?)

I asked my Brooklynite acquaintance whom I had met only once previously at an art gallery show, “What restaurants are in Greenpoint?” I suppose it may have been a quick transition from discussing buying “purple drank” on Instagram but the question itched me. Bushwick’s Blanca is still on my list but I have to wait two months just to eat there. I haven’t made my reservation yet. (Does that make me pretentious?)

My friend pulled me aside and suggested that I had too many negronis. I sounded “pretentious”, he said. By all means, I didn’t intend to sound like a naive millennial who just shops at Opening Ceremony and bitches about Uber drivers being too late.

Carry on, Taylor…

So, I apologetically stated that I didn’t want to come off as pretentious and/or demeaning in any shameless notion suggesting that Manhattan is better than Brooklyn or that I’m mocking Brooklyn’s prevalent culinary world.

In response, my fellow Brooklynite replied, “There’s a new creperie that opened around the corner.”

“Well, we should go sometime,” I suggested, as if we were really close friends. That just made me feel even more unsettled.

Dinner was over. I walked away with a bitter taste in my mouth asking myself if I really did come off as pretentious. I know that people, especially my age, are on the fence about the move to Williamsburg, thinking it’s significantly cheaper than Manhattan’s downtown living. In some way, I suppose it’s possible to find a cheaper living arrangement but I chose to live in Manhattan because I’m closer to my friends. It’s not that I chose to live in Manhattan so I could live this fantasy world where I go out dancing every weekend at The Box or eat at Koi. Within this last year, I’ve sort of become this post-collegiate stoner cat person who writes, assists, and manages his own work at my desktop. I’ll go to Angelika Center and see the recent Woody Allen with a friend but I won’t buy a table at some club that has bottle service. Honestly, I really do enjoy the simple things and the convenience of where I live.

Do we Manhattanites or Brooklynites really pride ourselves on our living situations? It may sound silly but really…What does it mean to live in the time of living arrangement stereotypes? It’s not like everyone in Williamsburg listens to MGMT and everyone in Manhattan is bourgeoise and takes Uber. How does that affect the social landscapes and interactions in which we place ourselves?

I asked myself these questions and I couldn’t really pinpoint the frustration that seemed to be erupting within me. Much like the LA vs. New York debate that most of my NYU peers discussed when I had attended the university last year, this debate seemed to be surrounding me in real world settings such as the hair salon, bodegas, and coffee shops. It’s probably stemming from the constant exposure of such an argument that I’ve become that person who rolls his eyes. And here I am asking myself, “Does that make me pretentious?” Eventually, living costs will skyrocket (as they already have) and the debate will end. Right? Brooklyn and Manhattan will both be just as expensive. Where will that leave the millennials that pride themselves on living in New York, NY? Or Manhattan? Or Brooklyn? Whatever we settle for…

If Brooklyn does indeed become the equivalent of Manhattan in real estate price then I just hope that for all of us rent-stabilization is still a thing because we have financial challenges up ahead.

New York Palace Unveils Its Rarities

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Even these days, $140 million still buys a lot of makeover. And with the newly minted New York Palace already showing off a glamorous new restaurant in the form of Villard Michel Richard, all that was missing was an appropriate, well, “power” bar. And so comes the edifyingly monikered Rarities, a reservations-only tippling club, with appropriately aristocratic style. Global design superstars HOK went all historic, with period furnishings and opulent, Empire style wall coverings.

Don’t come here looking for twee, thyme-infused cocktails. This is a place for knocking back $300 tumblers of rare scotch and ordering up $10,000 bottles of vintage Port. The former are dramatically displayed in an illuminated glass vitrine, perhaps in an attempt to elevate fine booze to museum status. For our part, we decisively approve.

Celeb-Fave Loews Regency Hotel Unveils Swish Makeover

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Power breakfasting has the distinct whiff of Hollywood about it; New Yorkers, alas, are not as keen to mix croissants and contract negotiations. But the Loews Regency has been a hive of early hour wheeling and dealing for more than half a century. Yet despite a parade of fame that includes Alan Cumming and Ellen Page (many of whom have strutted their stuff at the hotel’s now shuttered Feinstein’s nightclub), a makeover had certainly come due.

Some $100 million later, the Regency now sparkles anew. It’s charmingly démodé style has been jazzed right into the 21st Century, the glorious Deco interiors now looking rather sexily chic. The velvet and marble lobby, especially, glitters with moderne-ity. Hairstylist-to-the-stars (Salma Hayek, Kate Moss) Julien Farel’s on site salon will cover 10,000 square feet, including a signature Anti-Aging Spa (vanity dies hard, as they say); and the Sant Ambroeus Hospitality Group helms the spiffy new Regency Bar & Grill. Morning, once again, becomes electric.

Indochine’s Michael Callahan Joins Brooklyn’s Culinary Movement with Coco

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The amusement over Brooklyn’s cultural explosion is no longer a subject for headlines, as most people in NYC and around the world are well acquainted with the borough’s emancipation. Brooklyn’s experimental nature has always attracted artists, musicians, and creative types of all sorts, but most recently its culinary movement is making Brooklyn a top destination for restaurateurs as well.

Michael Callahan has been part of the New York restaurant scene since the opening of Indochine in 1984. Through multiple partnerships and connections in the arts and literature worlds he was able to build a mini empire in Manhattan. Now, 30 years and 18 restaurants later, he came across the opportunity to open a place in his native Brooklyn, where his only partner is the landlord.

“I found this place through a friend” said Callahan, admitting to like the “word of mouth” way of Greenpoint.

“This used to be a chocolate factory, and is right next to the music venue Coco 66, so we spent a year renovating it and decided to keep the name Coco, it made sense.” Callahan’s Indochine, Bond St, Republic, and Kitichai all have a lot in common, from the cultural inspiration to their architectonic nature, but Coco is different.

“It’s my baby,” says the restaurateur. Callahan plans to sound proof and insulate the venue next door to create a place for local bands to perform, with the intention to bring in a more music-oriented crowd.

As you walk through the dimly lit hallway past the 12-seat steel bar, an open kitchen with glass windows invites diners to witness the process of what chefs Julie Farias and Joseph Capozzi call “elevated home cooking.” The restaurant’s layout and setup is in perfect harmony with this philosophy – simple, clean, and with a Brooklyn charm. You will feel at home as soon as you see the vinyl collection, tufted white booths, and tall wooden tables. The chefs periodically come out to talk about the dishes and are happy to share stories about the process of finding the best ingredients. According to Capozzi, what attracts him to the Brooklyn Culinary Movement is the emphasis on utilizing only local and seasonal produce, from the wine, to the bread and cheese. “The secret is to use simple recipes with extra loving,” says the chef as he comes over with a platter of grilled oysters with bourbon butter and seaweed beans. The flavors are exquisitely combined and of course, you feel the extra loving.  The $5 bacon cheeseburger is already a favorite, revealing the importance of having something for everyone.

Capozzi is also a veteran in this industry with 11 Madison Park, Ruschmeyer’s, and The Fat Radish under his belt.  One can’t help but wonder: what is it about them that makes it work? Looking at these restaurant veterans, it’s clearly not only about the food; it’s the atmosphere, the consistency, the location, and most importantly, how you treat people.

Coco had its first soft opening this weekend, serving only specials and a bar menu to those lucky enough to pass by and venture inside. A complete menu with items such as a grilled pork chop with cherry peppers and escarole and a root vegetable casserole with be available this week, along with a full bar.

Coco is located at 66 Greenpoint Ave (between Franklin & West), Brooklyn, NY 11222. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 6 p.m. until late. 

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Fig & Olive Restaurants Launch New Music Series

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There was a time when you could spot a hip restaurant simply by the Thievery Corporation or DJ Dmitry tunes wafting groovily from the sound system (veritably always accompanied by the icy stare of the 6-foot-something model-hostess). Nowadays, however, you might just as likely be serenaded by Sky Ferreira or The Clash, depending on your choice of neighborhood dining destination.

Fig & Olive may have introduced its version of Mediterranean epicurean sophistication on NYC’s Upper East Side in 2005, but its mini-empire now takes in Fifth Avenue in Midtown, the Meatpacking District, West Hollywood…and even Scarsdale (Newport Beach and Chicago are on the way). So the launch of its new series Fig & Olive – The Music Collection, certainly would have to go easy on the preening underground hip. And sure enough, French producer and the restaurant group’s official Music Director Julien Nolan describes the overall vibe as, “dreamy, sensual French Riviera chic.”

But no flaccid background music, this. The inaugural installment of The Music Collection takes in Ivy’s ruminative “I Still Want You”, Imogen Heap’s breezily sexy “First Train Home”, Nouvelle Vague & Coeur de Pirate’s winsome “Voila les Anges” and even some unexpected, rather melancholy gems like Chateau Marmont’s “Wind Blows” and Roosevelt’s “Soleil”.

Nolan confidently insists that the compilation evokes, “Enjoying good champagne and looking at the sunset.” We are at pains to find any fault in such an endeavor.

Released this week, the CD is available for purchase in the restaurants, as well as on www.FigandOlive.com and iTunes.

Kenmare & Travertine Changing, Ludlow Manor Loses Floors

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This week finds me too busy to completely vet your rumors, so you will get a lot of "we hears." For example, I heard the Kenmare closed up "temporarily" while they get their restaurant situation together. We hear the Travertine is getting their kitchen together with a familiar face. It’s an out-of-the-frying-pan into a red-hot-as-a-fire situation. And I was told that Ludlow Manor has been chopped down to size.

For Ludlow, the community board got miffed at the operators, citing all sorts of misrepresentations and misdirections. My source told me (as if he knew everything about it) that they only had one liquor license for iall three floors and were playing some catering license/"private party" type of game. The powers that be put the kibosh on that and closed down two floors. On Saturday night, I walked by and saw the roof without its trademark blue lights on, and the ground floor dark. The side door — which takes VIP types to Luc Carl’s private lair "Casino" — was admitting patrons. The problem with that is my source and published reports say it’s only the ground level that is actually licensed. You can’t take a state-issued liquor license and move it around from floor to floor. I’m afraid that the authorities are going to deal with this continued game of night moves harshly. It’s possible they got some sort of permission to use the paper on a different floor, but I’ve never heard of that. More on that perhaps later.

These closings put a whole lot of people out of work at the worst possible time. I’m not saying it could have been prevented. Kenmare will be great when it returns to the living, and eventually Luc and Georgie Seville will get organized, but the impact in the "right now" is tremendous. Scores of people, including DJs and bartenders and waitrons and security and busers and promoters etc., will have a lot less loot in their pockets to ring in the New Year. It does seem to me that community boards are becoming more aware of the need for joints and therefore jobs. Closing places on technicalities must stop because all of us need to — technically speaking — pay rent and eat and buy things.

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