It's hard to keep up with all the restaurant and bar openings, closings, chef swaps and revamps that happen every day in this city. What's worth spending your money on and what's all just hype? We're here to help you out with that. At the end of each month, I'll give a recap of the most exciting additions to enter LA's dining and drinking scene, whether it's a new ice cream shop or a creative cocktail bar. Here are a few March openings that are worth a visit:
Knuckle & Claw: Oh hell yes. There are some solid lobster roll spots in the city, but Knuckle & Claw, which first sold its rolls at farmers' markets and finally opened a brick and mortar a few weeks ago, has really nailed down their signature dish. Cold and fresh, the lobster roll is served in two sizes (four-ounces of lobster in a large bun, two-ounces in a small) and accentuated by a small amount of butter and mayo, plus a secret blend of spices. There are other items on the menu, too—Dungeness crab rolls and shrimp rolls, for instance, which you can sample in a flight of mini rolls. If you grew up on the East Coast, you'll appreciate the pure nostalgia that this place evokes, with decor channeling Martha's Vineyard and photos of founders' Chloe Dahl and Nikki Booth's families covering the wall.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams: Do we need more artisan ice cream shops in LA? Sure, why not. The opening of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in Los Feliz drew quite a bit of buzz, but for good reason. Founded by Jeni Britton Bauer, the shop is now in six states, where ice cream is made from the ground up. You know the deal—grass-fed cows, ingredients from the farmers' market, no chemical dyes—but it's really the unique flavors that sweep you off your feet. I tried goat cheese and cherry, as well as Savannah buttermint, on a recent visit, and both were some of the creamiest, decadent flavors I've had in a long time. Welcome to the 'hood, Jeni!
Break Room 86: Let's be honest—it's only a matter of time before the newest Houston Hospitality bar is drawing lines around the block that make you wonder if an hour-long wait is worth a drink that tastes like Rock-It Pops. But for now, the '80s-themed bar and karaoke lounge is a sight to behold. Located in an alley adjacent to The Line Hotel, a secret entrance (of course) leads you to a bar decked out in cassette tapes and album covers, arcade games and TV monitors showing music videos. There are four karaoke rooms that you can reserve starting at a whopping $150 an hour, alcoholic push pops, and wine coolers that you shouldn't drink if you want to be a functioning adult the next day. A small dance floor fills up as the night goes on, and impromptu performances happen both on the main stage and the hidden one behind the bar. It's worth experiencing—even if it's just once, on a Tuesday, when you might be able to sing "I think we're alone now" in one of the karaoke rooms and actually mean it.
Birch: The Cahuenga Corridor seems to be a death trap for a lot of restaurants, but I'm pretty excited about the arrival of Birch, a new solo project from British chef Brendan Collins (you may remember him from Waterloo & City). The rabbit baklava is already garnering raves (just in time for Easter, guys!), but I'm also impressed with their cocktail program—Sal Roses, from MB Post, is in charge of the drinks. Come here for a post-work beverage and a couple small plates—plus, when brunch service starts, it's going to be an all-day affair, lasting from 10am to 7pm on the weekends.