When it comes to choosing a eatery for that third date or catch-up with friends or family gathering, it’s often a lot simpler to go with what you already know—or what you know has gotten rave reviews. It’s just a fact: Well-established spots in town can sometimes eclipse equally fabulous yet still under-the-radar, newer restaurants from chefs and alum.
To help you branch out with confidence, we’ve put together a list of highly recommended restaurants brought to you by chefs you already know and love. Some are quite similar and some are major swerves, but all of them belong on your L.A. roster.
This is what happens when the Silverlake Wine people team up with Mozza alum Matt Molina. Tucked between the wine shop and their Triple Beam Pizza concept, it’s bustling, big, and extremely communal. Try not eating everything on the menu, from seasonal starters, to handmade pastas like tagliolini with wild boar ragu or corzetti with clams, to pancetta-wrapped quail with honey. Yeah, it’s all fantastic—even the light and perfectly chewy handmade gluten-free pasta. Reservations recommended. 5916 1/2 North Figueroa Street
From the guy who brought you the famed Father’s Office burger, this slick, Southeast Asian restaurant in the Helms Bakery complex is one of the best eateries everyone forgets about, making it a great quiet spot for a date or a meeting you don’t want everyone listening in on. On a pedestrian-only street, the outdoor patio with firepits is perfect in the summer. No detail was spared in both design and menu, with things like spicy chicken pops (lunch only), crispy whole fish, and crab-fried rice keeping things spicy. Single-origin teas, wines on tap, and an excellent Japanese whiskey selection are keys to happiness. 3239 Helms Avenue
Lasa means “flavor” in Tagalog, and it’s brought in spades by two Filipino-Californian brothers fusing tastes of their family traditions and L.A. freshness: wok-roasted shisitos with crispy rice, a tapaslike surf and turf with octopus à la plancha, and longanisa (basically a Filipino chorizo). Now established members of the Far East Plaza’s culinary revival, the brothers initially started their own pop-up after one worked at Sqirl, and eventually got their boost from chef Alvin Cailan of Eggslut, who invited them to work out of his Chinatown incubator—which is now their home. 727 North Broadway
Adding a bit more bling to the Westfield Century City mall, this massive new steakhouse turns its eye toward luxury everything. From the same fam as Del Frisco’s, this is a more elevated approach to chophouse fare, complete with plush seats, dripping chandeliers, and the swank Frank Sinatra Room for cocktails and wine. It’s a chain, sure. But with things like seafood towers, caviar service, dry-aged steaks, and potatoes stuffed with Fontina cheese and shaved truffles, who cares. Westfield Century City, 10250 Santa Monica Boulevard
317 South Broadway
From the team behind Italian favorites Factory Kitchen and Officine Brera, both of which share the same Arts District nook, this handsome spot specializes in beautifully bubbly Neapolitan-style pizza made by real Italians. Small plates like salads and pastas and meatballs fill the menu, but trying to figure out if the Margherita is better than the white pie is way more fun. Bonus: Cocktails and wines are excellent. 1335 East 6th Street
If you thought this was just another hotel restaurant, you’d be wrong. From chef Casey Lane (Tasting Kitchen, Breva) comes a tour along the Mediterranean coast via West Hollywood. His menu brings flavors from Italy, France, and North Africa to handmade pastas, wood-fired seafood and pizza, and a delicious chicken tagine for two. La Peer Hotel, 623 North La Peer Drive, West Hollywood
Ernesto Uchimura, the brain behind such L.A. mainstays Umami Burger and Plan Check, reins in his wilder instincts for the gastropub-on-a-train-vibed Electric Owl, which features only one beef burger on the menu. Still, the so-called Smash Burger stands out with some interesting flavors, particularly in the cheese department, where a crispy cheese bun and house-made Cheddar elevate the dish. 1451 North Gardner Street, West Hollywood
Taking over a storied spot along Melrose, not to mention directly across the street from the Mozzaplex, this cool and stylish restaurant is the fresh, bright, minimal answer to the L.A. heavyweight Republique. Chef Eric Bost has an impressive résumé (including a stint at Republique) that leads to seriously complex seasonal dishes served in four, six, or nine courses. If à la carte is your thing, grab a seat at the bar, order a cocktail, and try some avocado butter or duck. No matter where you sit, the room is open, airy, and as California chic as it comes, thanks to custom-designed everything, right down to the bowls. 6703 Melrose Avenue
Going from the sky-high kitchens at 71Above to the trendy sea-level streets of Venice comes off as perfectly natural for chef Vartan Abgaryan. The sunny, vibrant, and altogether comfortable room of this upbeat Abbot Kinney spot is exactly the place you’d want to be for his chicken liver mille crepes, avocado hummus, and Nashville-style hot shrimp on milk toast. In essence, it’s L.A. on a plate in one of the most L.A. of all neighborhoods. 1616 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice
Just when you think there couldn’t be enough restaurants (new or old) around the Beverly Center, Emilia comes along to prove that there is room for more—and more Italian. The corner building is flanked by two patios with an Art Deco vibe inside. The menu leans toward the northern dishes, plus favorites from Amici Brentwood (its sibling), things like salads, poached eggs, asparagus, and panini during the day, and risotto cacio e pepe, turkey lasagna, and veal chops at night. 8500 Burton Way
Taking heed of what customers really want—queso—chef Josef Centeno opened an offshoot of his popular Bar Amá in the heart of Culver City. Amacita is a jaunty neighborhood spot, a place equally good for locals, families, studio workers, execs, and anyone who finds himself in need of tacos on house-made flour tortillas or in an old-school crispy shell, unique seasonal vegetables like blistered okra with ranchero sauce and queso fresco, and sangria. 9552 Washington Boulevard, Culver City