The 100 best dishes and drinks in Los Angeles 2016: Appetizers and small plates

Going out to dinner with friends? Start your meal off with the best appetizers and small plates in the city.
Scallops at Paley
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman Scallops
By Erin Kuschner and Time Out editors |
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If we hear "Our menu is full of small plates that are meant to be shared" one more time, we might throw some tables. Then again, sharing is caring. Who doesn't love a good charcuterie board? We nibbled our way through skewers, salads, dips and dumplings to find the very best appetizers and small plates in L.A. Check out our favorites from 2016! 

RECOMMENDED: The best dishes and drinks in Los Angeles

L.A's best appetizers and small plates of 2016

Boudin Blanc at Salt's Cure
Photograph: Rozette Rago
Restaurants, Californian

Boudin blanc at Salt's Cure

icon-location-pin Hollywood

This simple sausage, served over a bed of warm veggies wilted in a wood-ear mushroom broth, has a crisp skin and a juicy, flavorful middle. It’s a small dish, but packs a serious punch and leaves you completely satisfied. $18. - Kate Wertheimer

Macaroni & cheese at Little Pine
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Vegan

Macaroni and cheese at Little Pine

icon-location-pin Silver Lake
Toss aside any misgivings you might have about vegan versions of this dish. Made with gluten-free pasta and house-made "cheese" sauce, and topped with toasted breadcrumbs, it’s a clear standout among the other menu items at Little Pine—thanks, in part, to a nice textural contrast between the crust and the al dente noodles. $12. - Erin Kuschner
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Maitake Mushroom at Mardi
Photograph: Rozette Rago
Restaurants, American

Maitake mushroom at Mardi

icon-location-pin West Hollywood

Back and better than ever, chef Kris Tominaga launched Mardi at Palihouse in West Hollywood this year. Set in the picturesque courtyard of this boutique lodge, Mardi offers shared plates in large portions—not the comically tiny servings we've become accustomed to. A favorite dish: the maitake mushroom, a crispy mushroom bloom drizzled with malt vinegar and accompanied by garlic ricotta. It's both tangy and sweet, and enough to feed a couple adventurous diners. $17. - Erin Kuschner

Sesame fries (Ozu Style) at Ozu East Kitchen
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Contemporary Asian

Sesame fries at Ozu East Kitchen

icon-location-pin Atwater Village
Like Ozu’s seating arrangements, the food at this Atwater Village eatery is designed for communal purposes. Share a bowl of sesame fries done “ozu style,” drenched in an addicting mess of sesame oil, wakame, yuzu mayo and ketchup. $7. - Erin Kuschner
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Potachos at Beefsteak
Photograph: Courtesy Beefsteak
Restaurants, American

Potachos at Beefsteak

icon-location-pin Melrose

Chef Marcel Vigneron brought a healthy spin to fast casual eating with Beefsteak, a plant-based restaurant where vegetarians and meat-eaters can co-exist peacefully. Case in point: the potachos, a bowl of cubed, fried potatoes tossed with carrot queso, sunflower sour cream, pico de gallo and pickled jalapeño. It almost makes you want to give up regular nachos entirely. $13. - Erin Kuschner 

POCO Wine Bar
Photograph: Courtesy POCO Wine Bar

Scallop skewers at POCO Wine Bar

While POCO Wine Bar—and Smoke.Oil.Salt—recently shuttered, I'll always have a special place in my heart for the bar's fantastic skewers. It's a magical moment when you show up to a happy hour expecting standard bar snacks, and are instead treated to gourmet skewers boasting some of the most succulent scallops on the Westside. RIP, POCO. - Erin Kuschner

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Kimchi dumplings at Plant Food + Wine
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Vegan

Kimchi dumplings at Plant Food + Wine

icon-location-pin Venice

Many of Plant Food + Wine’s dishes are almost too pretty to eat—almost. The kimchi dumplings arrive looking like origami fortune tellers—three neat little packages made from dehydrated Thai coconut and stuffed with tangy kimchi. A coriander ginger foam oozes out of their tops while a splash of beet sauce turns the plate into some kind of pop-art piece. Light and clean, they’re an excellent start to lunch or dinner. $15. - Erin Kuschner

Chicken Liver Crostone at Alimento
Photograph: Dylan + Jeni
Restaurants, Italian

Chicken liver crostone at Alimento

icon-location-pin Silver Lake

We’ve never tasted a smoother, more evenly balanced mousse than Alimento’s. The paté is spread generously across half the plate, opposite crusty hunks of grilled bread and dollops of quince mostarda (though frankly, we’d be perfectly happy just eating it with a spoon). $11. - Kate Wertheimer

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Lost at Sea
Photograph: Courtesy Lost at Sea
Restaurants, Seafood

Sweet corn velouté at Lost at Sea

icon-location-pin Pasadena

Lost at Sea was a wonderful addition to Old Town Pasadena in 2016. Their seasonal menu includes soup, salads and beautifully prepared seafood dishes, along with a sweet corn veloute that, depending on the season, sometimes features chunks of lobster floating in a creamy lobster broth. Chanterelle mushrooms, charred corn and sea grapes add to the rest of the dish for a complex, indulgent soup. $11. - Erin Kuschner

Salt Cod Brandade at Sawyer
Photograph: Kim Mahair
Restaurants, American creative

Salt code brandade at Sawyer

icon-location-pin Silver Lake

Sawyer brought seafood into landlocked Silver Lake in the form of small plates, both cold and hot, to be enjoyed inside the quaint restaurant or on its dreamy outdoor patio. You'll drop a pretty penny here, but the salt code brandade is worth it. Served in a small tureen, the brandade is a luxurious blend of whipped potato, white truffle and rosemary anchoiade crumble; scoop it up with a side of grilled bread and you're golden. $12. - Erin Kuschner

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Century Egg Tofu Salad at Lao Tao
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Century egg tofu salad at Lao Tao

The entire menu at this new Far East Plaza restaurant is a winner, but edging slightly above the rest is the century egg tofu salad, which could hardly be considered a salad. Silky tofu cubes are accented by Hong You sauce, and surrounded by rousong (a pork floss that has the texture of cotton candy) and century eggs, a blackened delicacy that looks far more intimidating than it tastes (and it tastes incredible). $6. - Erin Kuschner 

North Italia
Photograph: Courtesy North Italia
Restaurants, Italian

Chef's board at North Italia

icon-location-pin El Segundo
Among the athletic shops, clothing stores and solitary SoulCycle at the Point in El Segundo, North Italia is a bastion for hungry South Bay residents in need of a serious carb overload. Before diving into plates of pasta and pizza, though, consider the Chef's Board: a beautiful, and massive, spread. The board features a selection of prosciutto di parma, artisan cheese, marinated eggplant, roasted pepper, castelvetrano olive and marcona almonds, along with grilled bread that makes for a solid scooping vehicle. $16. - Erin Kuschner
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Scallops at Paley
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, American

Scallops at Paley

icon-location-pin Hollywood
Though Paley might scream “steak and martini” when you walk in, its raw bar—and seafood in general—is the restaurant's shining star. On one visit, I had a scallop ceviche so good that I thought the dish couldn’t get any better. On another visit, we were told the scallops had changed, and I prepared for disappointment. But they were a step above the second time around: the bright mollusks were now sliced thinly like carpaccio, drizzled in finger limes and topped with slices of sweet toy box melon and jalapeño. $15. - Erin Kuschner
Beet salad at Salazar
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Mexican

Beet salad at Salazar

icon-location-pin Frog Town

Yes, the tacos at Salazar are great, and so is the paloma and the street corn and the grilled steak. But what really wowed me on one particular visit was the beet salad. Topped with some of the creamiest Mexican ricotta in recent memory, the sweetness is cut by a few bunches of wild arugula and the most tender beets. $11. - Erin Kuschner

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Chia Jam at Honey Hi
Photograph: Rozette Rago
Restaurants, American

Sprouted toast with jam and tahini at Honey Hi

icon-location-pin Echo Park

Honey Hi’s healthy, organic offerings are a welcome addition to Echo Park. The most snackable menu item, crunchy sprouted toast with tart, homemade jam, balanced with a fatty drizzle of tahini, is a perfect, guilt-free indulgence at any time of day. $7. - Kate Wertheimer

House Focaccia at Baran's 2239
Photograph: Ann Fishbein
Restaurants, American

House focaccia at Baran's 2239

icon-location-pin Hermosa Beach

Making a splash in the South Bay this year was Baran's 2239, an intimate restaurant helmed by executive chef Tyler Gugliotta. The meal stars off with a bang in the form of their house focaccia, pillowy and warm and infused with parmesan and herbs. It comes with side of addictive umami butter that you could spread on the bread—or, you know, eat with a spoon. $5. - Erin Kuschner

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Roasted Tandoori Cauliflower with Mint Cucumber Dip at 1886
Photograph: Rozette Rago
Bars, Wineries

Roasted tandoori cauliflower with mint cucumber dip at 1886 Bar

icon-location-pin Pasadena

When you see cauliflower on a bar menu, you expect to see a few florets arrive on your plate. So cutting into nearly an entire head of cauliflower, soaked red in oven-roasted spices, comes as a complete surprise, one made all the better with mint cucumber yogurt dip. $13. - Michael Juliano

French Fries at Zinque
Photograph: Rozette Rago
Restaurants, French

French fries at Zinque

icon-location-pin Venice

Thin cut, crispy and well-seasoned, these fries are the ones you’ve been looking for. Zinque pairs them with their delicious house sriracha mayo sauce that is almost good enough on its own. $5. - Rozette Rago

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