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Photograph: Ryan TanakaSawyer in Silver Lake.

The most exciting restaurant and bar openings of May 2016

Written by
Erin Kuschner

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, we'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 May openings that are worth a visit.

Salazar (Frogtown): If you're still not sure exactly where Frogtown is, Salazar at least gives you a good excuse to go explore the Eastside neighborhood. Here you'll find Mexican food from chef Esdras Ochoa; it's the only place along the LA River where you can eat barbecued steak and trout, served on a wooden plank, with house-made tortillas and micheladas, all while sitting in a desert oasis with giant inflatable beer bottles for the kids to play with.

The Cannibal (Culver City): As both a meat-centric restaurant and a butcher/sandwich shop, the Cannibal has dropped into Culver City to satisfy all your prosciutto sandwich and spring lamb cravings. On one side, a butcher shop offers shelves filled with local goods and a meat case lined with beautiful cuts of beef, pork and chicken; a selection of cold and hot sandwiches is also available (we're partial to the Italian Combo). The restaurant sits next door, where you can fill up on plates of charcuterie, sausages, burgers and, yes, even the occasional vegetable. 

Sawyer (Silver Lake): We're just as excited about Sawyer's dreamy outdoor patio as we are about the cold and hot seafood plates chef Alex McWilliams is bringing to this Silver Lake newcomer. Under twinkling lights on their back patio, hungry eastsiders can dine on soft shell crab sandwiches, smoked trout and sprouted wheat berries, and Carolina fried chicken. Stop by for happy hour (daily 4-7pm), when you can snag a half-dozen oysters and a draft beer or glass of wine for just $12.

1212 (Santa Monica): Upgrade your Santa Monica Promenade dining experience at 1212, a two-story restaurant wrapped in glass that offers international dishes from different cuisines in an expansive and open space. Armed with two bars, multiple dining areas, a private event space and room for live music shows, it's a definite improvement over some of the Promenade's more stale food offerings.

Baldoria (Little Tokyo): Even if you wind up at Baldoria by yourself, you won't be alone for long—the Little Tokyo cocktail bar and tapas lounge encourages making friends and sharing food with strangers. Cocktails are batched, bottled and numbered, with options like a Smokey Negroni, Baldorian Cold Brew and Baby's First Rye. Clink glasses over plates of ricotta toast, pulled pork sliders, braised bacon arancini and charred octopus pizza. Can't make it during the week? Baldoria offers brunch, too—think chicken and waffle tacos, biscuits and gravy, and ciabatta French toast.

Doheny Room (West Hollywood): Doheny Room feels like your typical Hollywood Hills house party with trendy photographs adorning the walls and beautiful people lingering in every room. This restaurant, bar and lounge hails from the same group that brought us Katsuya and The Bazaar by José Andrés—meaning, of course, everything is Instagrammable (walls, floors, skillet lobster poutine, you name it), making Doheny Room the one stop shop for all your LA nightlife needs. Settle in with a cocktail, a few sliders to split and a goal of spotting at least a couple celebs.

Westbound (Downtown Arts District): As one of the newest members of the Arts District's One Santa Fe complex, Westbound is offering craft cocktails and small plates in an environment inspired by the luxury railcars of yesteryear. Choose from classic drinks like the French 75 or Planter's Punch, or indulge in unique house offerings that include the mezcal-based Westbound and Up. Bonus? They serve complimentary mini brownie bites at closing time.

Wexler's Deli (Santa Monica): A staple fixture in DTLA’s Grand Central Market, Wexler’s Deli opened a second locale in Santa Monica this past month. The joint’s 30-seat outpost houses popular menu items like the Big Poppa, the O.G. and the Reuben, as well as tasty newcomers like pastrami lox, smoked trout, matzah ball soup and a fresh take on the Nicoise salad. Gjelina alum Nicole Rucker brings her pastry chef expertise to batches of babka and black & white cookies.

Did you miss our favorite openings from April? Check out the list from last month

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