Let’s be real: In 2021, every restaurant was a new restaurant, in one shape or another. As we round out the second year of a global pandemic, the term “best” largely fails to capture all the hard work, ingenuity and creativity of the new eateries that opened in Los Angeles this year. After the entire industry started the year in survival mode, at least 75 new restaurants opened (and in some cases, reopened) that had local media buzzing this year, plus dozens of smaller neighborhood spots.
We think these 20 newcomers in particular deserve widespread recognition for exceptional cuisine, ambience and service in the face of industry-wide supply chain issues, a nationwide staffing crisis and the still-ongoing coronavirus pandemic. From takeout to fine dining, these standout L.A. restaurants have created delicious, creative and inspiring food (and dining experiences) while we all found ourselves adjusting to the new normal.
We also invite you to check our list of best new restaurants from 2020, many of whom spent their first months in existence operating entirely as takeout operations last fall and winter. Aside from the now-shuttered Valle, all of them are still open, and still excellent, and while you may not see them on this year’s list, Gigi’s and Mírame were some of the hardest reservations to snag during our brief hot vax summer. A few have already joined our list of the best restaurants in L.A., and we also named Pearl River Deli our Best Restaurant of 2021.
Now that that’s settled, we present our favorite new restaurants from 2021. We don’t think it would be fair to hold this year’s new restaurants to the same standards of the world before March 2020, so instead of ranking our picks this year, we’ve listed them chronologically by opening date. On here you’ll find affordable takeout, big-ticket fine dining and everything in between—just like the collective food scene of Los Angeles itself.