Eaten while dining outdoors in February, this truffle-laden tuna tostada was a welcome delight and distraction amid what was then a ramshackle early vaccine rollout with an uncertain springtime ahead. Lightly dressed bluefin tuna sits atop a bed of avocado on a blue corn tortilla, with shavings of black truffle and a few choice peaches of Santa Barbara sea urchin. Although this exact iteration of this dish isn’t always available, you’ll be sure to find a seasonal truffle tostada on chef Joshua Gil’s market-driven menu at this upscale seafood restaurant in Beverly Hills.
Amid widespread vaccination and L.A. County’s gradual reopening, 2021 was a year of thoughtful, innovative and downright great dining and drinks from the city’s best-in-class restaurants and bars. From Michelin-recognized and newly starred spots to the flurry of delayed new restaurant openings, chefs and bartenders across the city have made it their mission to make up for lost time. Starting sporadically in the spring, and with increasing frequency this summer, fall and winter, we ate our way through them all (and made sure to double back on old favorites, too).
While not every item on this list is available on a regular basis, we’ve only included dishes you could reasonably expect to find—whether at a traditional restaurant, regular pop-ups or a chef’s other restaurants. As a result, this also means we’ve excluded a few standouts, like an outstanding takeout gujeolpan from Naemo we had in February (though as of December 1, you can now find Naemo’s chef Ki Kim at the newly opened Kinn in Koreatown), Shiku’s seafood jajangmyeon special in November, and a chicken thigh ssam plate from Black Sheep All American’s pop-up at Melody in August.
Whether they’re brand new or just new to you, however, read ahead for the 60 best L.A. dishes and drinks we had in 2021.